Friday, March 8, 2013
John Brim & Little Hudson - The Job Series Vol. 5
Brim recorded for Random Records, J.O.B. Records, Parrot Records (the socially aware "Tough Times"), and Checker Records ("Rattlesnake," his answer to Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog" was pulled from the shelves by Chess for fear of a plagiarism lawsuit). All of his 1950s recordings for the Chess brothers were later included on the compilation LP/CD "Whose Muddy Shoes" (which also included the few recordings Elmore James made for Chess and Checker; because they share this LP/CD, it has sometimes been assumed that they performed or recorded together, but this is not the case.) On some tracks Little Walter played the harmonica, whilst Jimmy Reed, Snooky Pryor, or James Dalton were also featured blowing the harp. Cut in 1953, the suggestive "Ice Cream Man" had to wait until 1969 to enjoy a very belated release. Brim's last Chess single, "I Would Hate to See You Go," was waxed in 1956 with a combo consisting of Little Walter, guitarist Robert Lockwood, Jr., bassist Willie Dixon, and drummer Fred Below.
In between touring, Brim operated dry-cleaning businesses and a record store. When the royalties from Van Halen’s recording of "Ice Cream Man" came through, they enabled him to open John Brim’s House of the Blues Broadway Nite Club in Chicago.
Brim continued to perform occasionally around Chicago, and was a regularly featured performer on the Chicago Blues Festival beginning in 1991, when he was backed by the local Chicago blues band The Ice Cream Men (drummer Steve Cushing, guitarists Dave Waldman and "Rockin'" Johnny Burgin, and harmonica player Scott Dirks; the band name was coincidental - they were not Brim's regular band, but had been using that name because the members had previously worked with Chicago bluesman Otis "Big Smokey" Smothers, who worked as an ice cream man on Chicago's south side.)
He was tempted back into the recording studio again in 1989 to record four songs for the German Wolf label, and renewed interest in him finally led to his recording his first solo CD, Ice Cream Man, for Tone Cool Records in 1994. It received a W. C. Handy nomination as the best Traditional Blues Album of the Year.
Brim also appeared at the 1997 San Francisco Blues Festival. He recorded again in 2000, 50 years after his recording debut, and continued to tour, playing in Belgium in 2001. One of his final appearances was at the 2002 Chicago Blues Festival.
Brim, who lived in Gary, Indiana remained active on the Chicago blues scene until his death, on 1 October 2003 at the age of 81.
Little Hudson Showers was born in Anguilla, Ms. on September 6, 1919. While in his early teens he moved to Louise, Ms. and learned guitar from his uncles. In 1939 he moved to Chicago, where he followed Lee Brown, Big Bill Broonzy & Big Maceo Merriweather around. Big Bill let Showers sit in with him one night in 1946, and after that he started sitting in with South Side bluesmen such as Tampa Red, John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson & Lazy Bill Lucas. In 1951 he formed his Red Devil Trio with Lazy Bill on piano and James Bannister on drums. They started playing on the South Side to great response and soon they started playing all over Chicago. Joe Brown, the owner of J.O.B. Records recorded six sides by the group in 1952, but Showers had complaints about Brown's production techniques. Brown issued two sides, the other four remained in the can until they appeared in the 1980's on Flyright Records LP compilations in the U.K. Showers didn't make any more commercial recordings. His last recording was a radio jingle for a clothing store in 1958. The Red Devil trio remained on the club scene up until 1964. Showers, quit the music business afterwards no longer feeling at the top of his game. I haven't been able to find any details about the remainder of his life.