Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sonny Rodgers - Last Jam

Bluesman Oliver Lee 'Sonny' Rodgers died May 7, 1990 of congestive heart failure in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he had lived since the early 1970's.
Born December 4, 1939 near Hughes, Arkansas, Sonny was 'discovered' by Alan Lomax in the early 1960's during Lomax's Library of Congress recording project. Rodgers was playing with Forrest City Joe and Willie Cobbs at the time.
He also performed with Joe Hill Louis, Joe Willie Wilkins, Eddie Boyd, and countless other Delta area bluesmen. Railroad jobs took Sonny up to Illinois, and later to Minneapolis, where he teamed up with Sammy Lawhorn & Mojo Buford, serving as a sideman on Muddy Waters' tours.
In 1976, Sonny went into the studio with Buford, contributing to the anthology LP 'Mojo Buford's Chicago Blues Summit' (Rooster Records #R-7603).
He formed his own band, the Cat Scratchers, in 1984. They recorded several cassette-only albums before releasing their first single, 'Cadillac Baby' / 'Big Leg Woman' (Blue Moon #BMR-001). The single was a hit with the critics, winning the single-of-the-year award at the 1990 W.C. Handy Awards in Memphis.
These songs were packaged together with others recorded at the now world famous New Moon Studio in Minneapolis, and were released on CD later that year on a British label ('They Call Me The Cat Daddy' - Fattening Frogs #J-2).
Sadly, Sonny had passed away at age 50, a time which should have been the prime of his career as a bluesman. 'He was one singing dude', wrote harmonica ace William Clarke in his note of condolence to Sonny's widow, Clara.
He touched a number of lives in his short time on this planet, including that of Blue Loon Records founder Pat Dawson, who recently declared in an interview with a magazine writer, 'the label owes it's existence to Sonny Rodgers. He got a lot of us started on the paths that our lives have taken.'
His W.C. Handy trophy was on public display for a number of years at St Paul's Blues Saloon. It now graces the wall of the control room at New Moon, where they continue to pump out great blues recordings.

I'm sorry to say that I have no more info on these last recordings of Sonny Rodgers and couldn't find anything om the internet about them. Any info would be welcome.
Thank you to HM for ripping his cassette for us.
Please read the comments for a track listing from Gerard and Bob Mac.

Post: http://www7.zippyshare.com/v/62678000/file.html

6 comments:

Bob Mac said...

These are excellent recordings - good sound, gutsy vocals, ballsy guitar & harp solos.

Unfortunately no tracks titles are provided, either in tags or on the artwork. Searches of Wirz's site and the internet in general have turned up nothing, so we must assume that no titles exist for these tracks. So I've given them a careful listen and offer the following suggestions as titles.

Also no date is given for this "Last Jam" but as Sonny Rodgers died in May 1990 and was musically active right up until his death, then a pretty safe guess would be this last session took place early 1990.


Sonny Rodgers - Last Jam (1990?)


01 - Big Leg Woman
02 - Untitled Instrumental 1
03 - Drowning On Dry Land
04 - Untitled Instrumental 2
05 - Let Me Ride In Your Automobile
06 - Wish Me Well
07 - Untitled Instrumental 3
08 - Untitled Instrumental 4
09 - Untitled Instrumental 5
10 - Black Night
11 - Shake Your Boogie
12 - That's Alright
13 - Untitled Instrumental 6


Oliver Lee Rodgers, Born 4 December 1939, Hughes, Arkansas, USA, died 7 May 1990. Rodgers learned guitar from his father and was influenced by B.B. King, Robert

Nighthawk and Muddy Waters. After forming his first band at the age of 17, he recorded as accompanist to Forest City Joe Pugh in 1959. Two years later, Rodgers settled

in Minneapolis, beginning a long association with Mojo Burford. He also recorded with Lazy Bill Lucas. In the early 70s Rodgers had a spell as guitarist in Muddy

Waters’ band, and after some years out of music, he formed his own band in the 80s, winning several music awards in Minnesota. His Blue Moon single ‘Big Leg

Woman/Cadillac Blues’ was voted ‘Blues Single Of 1990’ in the international W.C. Handy awards. Rodgers only made one full album, which was highly acclaimed on its

release, and tragically coincided with his death on 7 May 1990, just prior to a tour of the UK.

Gerard Herzhaft said...

Apparently this session was recorded at Brad Moe's Blue Moon Studios in Minneapolis on April, 1st, 1990 to pay the bills for Sonny Rodgers's health expanses. Sonny at that time was in bad shape and he is probably only present on two or three titles; He, for sure, sings on "Big legged woman" but probably on nothing else. This session brought in the studio almost every blues musician from the Twin Cities area. They are certainly:
Sonny Rodgers, g/ vcl on Big legged woman; Dan Schwalbe, g; Dave Brown, g; Bruce Pedalty, pno; Marty Bryduck, dms; Curtis Blake, hca; R.J. Mischo, hca; Pat Dawson, g; Jack Taylor, bs; Gregg Shugg, dms; Brad Moe, dms...
The titles of this cassette are:
02. Big legged woman
03. Twin Cities blues
04. Drwoning on dry land
05. New Moon shuffle
06. I'm tore up
07. Wish me well Part 1
08. Wish me well Part 2
09. Blowing the boogie
10. Shufflin' the blues
11. Black nights is falling
12. Shake your boogie
13. That's all right
14. Rodgers' Last Jam
Track 1 is curiously missing.
When this was to be released, Sonny was already dead and Rodgers' harp player Curtis Blake had to go to Memphis to receive the award Sonny had gained for one of his Blue Moon 45.
I don't know how and why this session was finally issued on this cassette. Might be a bootleg or something like that? It would be interesting to know how HM came to get it... Anyway this is a very rare item

HM said...

I think I bought it together with some other Blue Moon cassettes from Pat Dawson.

Bob Mac said...

Thanks for posting the track titles Gerard, I spent a couple hours searching around online today but turned up nothing. I should have just emailed you and saved some time :-)

Yes, I noticed track 1 was missing.

So that's R.J. Mischo blowing harp on some tracks. I thought the musicians were really cooking on most of these tracks.

Xyros said...

Thank you Gerard and Bob Mac for the track listing.
It's possible that the tape only has 13 tracks and that the numbering is incorrect. I can remember HM telling me this when I received the links.

Gerard Herzhaft said...

Glad to be helpful. Infos come from Minnesota Blues Society, Rob Ford' Blues Discography, Living Blues and Blues & Rhythm. Those two mags (and the others) - which pages have not been digitalized - are full of first class and thoughtful infos. That is not always the case on the net.