Guitarist, vocalist, songwriter Michael “Iron Man” Burks died in Atlanta on Sunday, May 6, 2012. He was 54 years old. He was returning from a tour of Europe and collapsed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. He was rushed to South Fulton Medical Center where he could not be revived. The preliminary diagnosis for cause of death was a heart attack.
Michael “Iron Man” Burks earned his moniker by his hours-long, intensely physical performances, fearsome guitar attack, and tough, smoky vocals. He also earned it by the thousands of miles he personally logged behind the wheel of his touring van. Burks was a true modern blues hero whose music was driven by an intense, blue collar work ethic that had won him well-deserved national and international recognition. His instantly identifiable guitar sound and his live charisma earned him four Blues Music Award nominations. He won the 2004 Living Blues magazine Critics’ Award for Best Guitarist. Burks received a nomination for the 2012 Blues Music Award for Best Guitarist.
Born in Milwaukee in 1957, Burks grew up immersed in the blues, and learned to play guitar at an early age. His family moved to Camden, Arkansas in the early 1970s. There, Burks and his siblings helped their father build the Bradley Ferry Country Club — a 300-seat juke joint. By this time Michael was fronting his own band as well as backing several of the blues and R&B greats that passed through town. Burks left music to raise a family and returned to performing blues in the 1990s.
After self-releasing his first CD in 1997, Burks signed with Chicago’s Alligator Records in 2001 and released three critically acclaimed albums. GuitarOne named his debut album, Make It Rain, one of the Top 200 greatest guitar recordings of all time. He has toured the world, headlining blues festivals, concert halls and clubs. His status as an Arkansas musical hero was confirmed by his receipt of the prestigious Sonny Payne Award for Blues Excellence in 2006, presented by the Delta Cultural Center, and by his multiple headlining appearances at The Arkansas Blues & Heritage Festival. Burks had just finished recording his fourth Alligator CD, which is due for release at the end of July 2012.
“Burks has learned to burn his own signature onto almost everything he touches. The aching passion of Burks’ voice and the probing intensity of his guitar lines come together in a searing evocation of desire and desperation. Burks has the ability and the imagination to fuse the best of the old and the new.”
The Chicago Tribune has named Alligator Records president and founder Bruce Iglauer one of nine 2011 Chicagoans Of The Year. Iglauer’s selection, made by longtime Tribune music critic Greg Kot, is the icing on the cake of Alligator’s 40th anniversary celebration. The celebration kicked off in February, 2011 with the release of the 2-CD set The Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Collection. The album received rave reviews from Rolling Stone, NPR’s Weekend Edition and many more national and international outlets. In addition, Iglauer was featured in a two-part, four-hour interview on XM/Sirius B.B. King’s Bluesville.
Among the many other highlights of the label’s 40th anniversary, one of the most significant came in June during the Chicago Blues Festival, when Iglauer received a proclamation from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Mayor Emanuel honored Iglauer’s contribution to the city’s musical heritage on a night dedicated to the label’s anniversary, featuring performances by blues icons Lonnie Brooks, Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Michael “Iron Man” Burks, Rick Estrin and Shemekia Copeland.
In October, Poland’s Rawa Blues Festival hosted a 40th anniversary celebration, inviting Iglauer along with stars Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, Marcia Ball, C.J. Chenier and Corey Harris. Closer to home, SPACE in Evanston, IL, hosted a six-part concert series featuring Tinsley Ellis, The Siegel-Schwall Band, The Tommy Castro Band, Lonnie Brooks, Charlie Musselwhite, Michael “Iron Man” Burks and hometown favorites Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials.
Last Modified: Jun 22, 2011 02:11AM
The jokesters will say Brian Carpy has just found some great material for a blues number. Carpy just wants his guitar back.
The 32-year-old Scotsman, who quit his office job in Glasgow last year to come to Chicago to play the blues, last saw his guitar Thursday, when he and his girlfriend hopped in a cab for a ride to Blue Chicago in River North. Carpy had hoped to sit in with the band — that is, before he accidentally left his guitar in the trunk of the cab.
“I had a momentary slip of madness,” he said Tuesday. “I looked up, and the taxi was lost in a sea of taxis on Clark Street.”
Carpy’s Fender Stratocaster guitar isn’t just any guitar. It’s signed by one of his heroes, Texas bluesman Smokin’ Joe Kubek. More important, the guitar was a gift from his father for Carpy’s 21st birthday. Carpy’s father died of a heart attack four months later.
“It’s of huge sentimental value,” said Carpy, who lives in Wicker Park and volunteers full-time at a soup kitchen there, where he gets room and board for his work.
Carpy’s girlfriend had called every big cab company in the city (Carpy isn’t sure which company they used), but she had no luck finding the missing guitar Tuesday.
Carpy, who sometimes plays wearing a kilt, says other musicians in the city have offered to lend him a guitar, but he wants the instrument that reminds him of his dad.
“Apart from pictures, that’s all I have,” he said.
If you come across Carpy’s black guitar (serial No. M039048 on the neck), he can be reached at (312) 256-5159 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Copyright © 2011 — Sun-Times Media, LLC
|April 30, 2011 9:00 am||to||May 7, 2011 3:00 pm|
From Cruisin the Blues Highway – We are pleased to announce America’s newest and most exciting ride for music lovers and bike enthusiasts alike.
Cruisin the Blues Highway 2011
Join us anywhere along the route April 30th through May 8th for Cruisin the Blues Highway!
Nothing goes together better than cruisin the highways of America while listening t…o some great blues! So get ready to take a trip of a lifetime and join us for “Cruisin the Blues Highway!” Designed to raise awareness of the Blues Music Awards held each year in Memphis, the inaugural tour will follow the trail forged as Blues made it’s way along the Mississippi. There will be five stops on the tour in cities that played a significant role in the development of the Blues and modern music as we know it today. The mission is to spread the word of the Blues Foundation, educate and entertain those that join us for the experience and to build upon a community based on loyalty and passion.
Each major city stop will offer a daytime shuttle to Blues related attractions and the evenings will be filled with great Blues music at our participating venues. From Chicago, Illinois to Clarksdale, Mississippi, riders will experience the thrill of the open road, action packed stops in the greatest Blues cities throughout the country and endless memories for a lifetime.
There’s too much to explain in this email, so we’ve attached the CBH CALENDAR OF EVENTS to this email.
You can also click below to visit our website www.cruisinblues.com
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT – JOIN CBH FOR THE KICK OFF PHOTO SHOOT SUNDAY MAY 1ST AT BUDDY GUY’S LEGENDS 700 S. Wabash, Chicago IL 60605
WE’LL BE PARKING BIKES IN FRONT OF THE VENUE STARTING AT 12 NOON AND TAKING THE OFFICIAL PROMO PHOTO FOR THE TOUR
THE PHOTO WILL BE TAKEN NO LATER THAN 1:00 PM SO GET THERE EARLY AND BE A PART OF HISTORY!
Hope to see you on the Cruise…..and best Blusin!
Cruisin the Blues Highway
Blues Foundation Board Member
|February 25, 2011|
|7:00 pm||to||11:00 pm|
FRIDAY | 02.25.11
Tickets: $25 General Public/UIC Faculty/Staff/Alumni
$10 UIC Students (1 per student I-card, only available at door).
Soul food buffet included.
UIC Forum, 7 pm
725 West Roosevelt Road
Charles Hayes “The Delta Blues Hog” will be opening act and representing WCBS.
21st Annual UIC Blues Cabaret POSTER! CLICK ME
Old Age Celebration!
|WHEN: SAT JAN 8, 2011
WHERE: Independence Tap
3932 W. Irving Park Rd
(between Harding Ave & Pulaski Rd)
Chicago, IL 60618
Neighborhood: Irving Park
Blues on the Radio
Want to hear some great blues broadcasts? Check out and support these shows: “Blues on the Air” in Chicagoland
(Print me out and keep me by your radio!)
“Blues Edition” on 90.9fm WDCB with Greg Freerksen and/or Leslie Keros with “BlackJack’s Blues Calendar”, 7 to 9 p.m.
“Blues from the Red Rooster Lounge” on 90.9fm WDCB, 9 to 10 p.m.
“The Blues Excursion” on WHPK 88.5fm with Arkansas Red, 7 p.m. to midnight
Blues with Pervis Spann “The Blues Man”, Saturday 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday morning, on WVON 1690am
“Blues Before Sunrise” with Steve Cushing on 90.9fm WDCB, midnight Saturday night to 5 a.m. Sunday morning
Blues on WNUR 89.3fm, 1 to 2:30 p.m., then R&B Flashback from 2:30 to 4 p.m.
“Blue Midnight” with John Gorny on WPNA 1490am, midnight Sunday night to 2:00am Monday morning
“Bluesbreakers” with Tom Marker on WXRT 90.1fm, 9 to 10 p.m.
“The Evil Show” with Dave Waldman on WHPK 88.5fm, 9 p.m. to midnight
“Paul Parello’s Blues Power” streaming worldwide at http://am1670.net from 9 to 11 p.m., including occasional top-flight guests
Wild Mountain Nation on WNUR 89.3fm, 9 to 10 p.m.
“Beale Street Caravan” on 90.9fm WDCB, 9 to 10 p.m.
“Hambone’s Blues Party”, often with a live in-studio performance, 90.9fm WDCB, 10 p.m. to midnight (and sometimes with “BlackJack’s Weekend Blues Calendar”)
(programming subject to change)
Debut of Koko Taylor Award at Blues Music Awards May 6
Less than three weeks before its 31st annual Blues Music Awards gala event, The Blues Foundation is pleased to announce that, beginning this year, the award for the Best Traditional Female Artist category will be hereafter known as the Koko Taylor Award. The first-ever Koko Taylor award will be handed out to one of five nominees at the Blues Music Awards gala event in Memphis on May 6, 2010.
The re-designation of the category is in honor of deceased blues legend Koko Taylor, known to many as the Queen of the Blues. Taylor, an inducted member of the Blues Hall of Fame, not only received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Blues Foundation in 1999, but also received a record 29 Blues Music Awards out of 37 Blues Music Award nominations total. The Blues Music Awards ceremony itself also has a special connection to Taylor, who held her final live performance at last year’s gala. You can still purchase a DVD from last year’s awards show.
For full article, visit www.blues.org
BluesSpeak includes key selections from OCBA‘s (Original Chicago Blues Annual) seven issues and features candid interviews with Koko Taylor, Eddie Boyd, Famoudou Don Moye, Big Daddy Kinsey, Lester Bowie, Junior Wells, Billy Boy Arnold, Herb Kent, Barry Dolins, and many more. Also featured are heartfelt memorials to bygone blues artists, insightful observations on the state of the blues in Chicago and beyond, and dozens of photographs of performers, promoters, and other participants in the worldwide blues scene.
“This collection strikes an excellent balance between interview, blues reportage, and literary work and will be of interest to blues fans, scholars of black literature, and anyone interested in community arts.”–Barry Lee Pearson, coauthor of Robert Johnson: Lost and Found
Lincoln T. Beauchamp Jr. is a Chicago-based musician, writer, publisher, record producer and promoter. Muddy Waters gave him the name “Chicago Beau,” and he has recorded and performed with some of the most respected names in music, including Memphis Slim, Archie Shepp, Pinetop Perkins, Fontella Bass, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the African choir Amakhono We Sinto, and Frank Zappa.
For more info on the book: http://go.illinois.edu/s10beauchamp
Interview: http://www.wgntv.com/news/middaynews/middayfix/wgntv-author-lincoln-beauchamp-bluesspeak,0 ,7999295.story
from University of Illinois press…
A Blues Dialect Dictionary
An exhaustive, engrossing lexicon of blues idioms
“A valuable, unique work. No other book explains as many new, often subtle aspects of the blues language that Stephen Calt has lived with for over forty years.”
—Kip Lornell, author of The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide To American Folk Music
“Others have tried to unlock the meaning of the old blues, but Stephen Calt sets a new standard in this important work. His book will serve as an indispensable guide for blues fans and delight those who love the twists and turns of American vernacular language at its most creative. Whether you are a scholar or just a browser, this learned lexicon belongs on your shelf.”
—Ted Gioia, author of Delta Blues and The History of Jazz
This fascinating compendium explains the most unusual, obscure, and curious words and expressions from vintage blues music. Utilizing both documentary evidence and invaluable interviews with a number of now-deceased musicians from the 1920s and ‘30s, blues scholar Stephen Calt unravels the nuances of more than twelve hundred idioms and proper or place names found on oft-overlooked “race records” recorded between 1923 and 1949. From “aggravatin’ papa” to “yas-yas-yas” and everything in between, this truly unique, racy, and compelling resource decodes a neglected speech for general readers and researchers alike, offering invaluable information about black language and American slang.
Stephen Calt is the author or coauthor of the blues biographies I’d Rather Be The Devil:
Skip James and the Blues and King Of The Delta Blues: The Life and Music of Charlie Patton.
A Blues Dialect Dictionary
Cloth, ISBN: 978-0-252-03347-6 $75.00
Paper, ISBN: 978-0-252-07660-2 $26.95
320 pages – Publication date: November 2, 2009
Contact: Michael Roux: firstname.lastname@example.org
Article in the new issue of
August and September brings a cavalcade of activities for blues fans. From a rare Pinetop Perkins appearance, to a Chicago blues challenge and classic record reissues, blues lovers can enjoy a blues blowout over the coming weeks.
Perkins, the 96-year-old piano master who represents the last great, traditional Delta bluesmen, played at Rosa’s Blues Lounge in August. Born Joe Willie Perkins in Belzoni, Mississippi, he started playing guitar and piano in honky-tonks at 12. After a fateful encounter with a knife-wielding chorus girl, he sustained severed tendons in his left arm, wiping out his guitar skills and leading to a piano focus from the ’40s on. Perkins built his skills with Sonny Boy Williamson on the “King Biscuit Time” radio show and touring with slide-guitar master Robert Nighthawk. After working with B.B. King and Earl Hooker throughout the South, he recorded his seminal version of Pinetop Smith’s “Pinteop’s Boogies Woogie” at Sun Records in 1953.
When Perkins replaced Otis Spann in Muddy Waters’ Band in 1969, he gained the acclaim for commanding the ivories that would increase with each decade. It wasn’t until he was in his 80s that Perkins decided to ditch his sideman label and go solo. For more than six decades, he has been the master blues and boogie pianist, garnering Grammy nominations, a lifetime-achievement award ,and a National Endowment For The Arts National Heritage Fellowship.
The artist represents the last living link to the golden age of post-war American blues, a time when the Delta acoustic and the Chicago electric met and merged. Any chance to hear a piece of this living history should never be missed. “Pinetop is one of the architects of the Chicago blues,” says Rosa’s owner Tony Manguillo. “He was behind the scenes creating the foundation and he helped set the standard for the Chicago blues sound. When it comes to Chicago blues, you can’t get any deeper than Pinetop.”
As far as the Chicago blues legacy goes, the Windy City will finally make its mark on the International Blues Challenge. The 26th-annual, Memphis-based competition between blues musicians from around the world has not included Chicago representation for more than a decade. Over the years, the contest has included acts from Nepal, Taiwan, Finland, and Croatia, but not one from the home of the blues. That’s mainly because musicians must be sponsored by a local blues foundation and, until last year, Chicago didn’t have one.
Now we have The Windy City Blues Society (www.windycityblues.org) and a shot at demonstrating Chicago blues power. The second leg of the Chicago Blues Challenge will unfold at Rosa’s on September 10th. The final International Blues Challenge contest will kick off in Memphis, January 20th.
The WCBS will also sponsor monthly meet-ups for blues fans to gather and listen to their favorite music. According to society committee member BlackJack, the gatherings will solve several issues. “There are a lot of blues fans that are solo and don’t always have someone that they can go to the clubs with, so this gives them the opportunity to make and meet new blues friends and see some great shows,” he says. “We’re also trying to get more people to go to the shows especially since attendance at some clubs is thin or down at times.” New members can also join the Blues Society at meet-ups. Visit it online for times and locations.
Rabid blues-guitar fans like me will rejoice with two recent releases, but music lovers in general are bound to be happy. I attended Stevie Ray Vaughan’s last concert at Alpine Valley in 1990 and the energy and emotion from his performance will always haunt me. Traces of the same magical riffs echo throughout In Session (Stax), a 1983 reissue of a live recording of Albert King with SRV. King was one of Vaughn’s idols, as anyone who has listened to the Texas slinger’s first two albums can clearly discern.
In 1983, King was a towering blues legend and Vaughan was just breaking into the mainstream with a blistering turn on David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and the release of his acclaimed debut, Texas Flood. But King wasn’t even sure who Vaughan was until he walked into the studio and recognized him as “Little Stevie,” the skinny kid who hovered around every time King passed through Austin. The resulting recording is a demonstration of the mutual respect and fiery interplay. Fittingly, it is mostly King’s album, with Vaughan restraining his legendary showmanship for nuanced fretwork on “Call It Stormy Monday,” “Blues At Sunrise,” and “Don’t Lie To Me.” The only time Vaughan leads a song is on his signature “Pride & Joy,” when his fiery shuffle meets King’s thundering Flying V. This is supposed to be the only known recording of the two together and represents the master and star student well.
Tommy Castro released his 12th album, Hard Believer (Alligator), in August. A reliable mix of blues, rock, and R&B, the dozen tracks offer some solid grooves including the soulful title track and the retro “Monkey’s Paradise.”
– Rosalind Cummings-Yeates