Dear Friends,

As I get ready to leave for the airport to head for Japan with Albert Collins and the Icebreakers and Lil’ Ed, I suddenly remember I promised to send in one more LB ad/letter before I left. So here goes a quicky…

I just last night finished two weeks in the studio mixing an album that should be a necessity for every LB reader (and I hadn’t even told you about it!) For those of you who remember the recent Katie Webster interview, you’ll be thrilled to know that the Swamp Boogie Queen has a new album on the way, and it’s a great one! If you caught her recent US tour, you know she’s now backed by a hot band called The Silent Partners, with Tony Coleman on drums (formerly with B.B.), Russell Jackson on bass (formerly with Bobby Bland) and Andrew “Junior Boy” Jones on guitar (formerly with Johnny Taylor). We brought this aggregation into Streetervi 1 le Studios in Chicago in April to cut some rockin’ blues and R&.B tracks, including four Katie originals, two Otis Redding tunes (you’ll remember that she toured with Otis for two years), and a new version of “Sea of Love” (she played on the original). Then Katie, her manager Ice Cube Slim and I flew to L.A., where Robert Cray jammed on a tune, and Bonnie Raitt sat in on two more, one on slide and one on vocals. Then it was off to Austin, where Kim Wilson of the T-Birds played and sang with Katie, and then to Memphis where the Memphis Horns (same guys who played with Otis) sat in on four cuts. Then back to Chicago for the mixes. Whew!

The result is just plain musical heaven for anyone who likes piano blues, swamp pop, boogie woogie and good old (hard to believe it’s old now, but it really is) Memphis soul. This lady is a world class artist and it’s time the USA found out (Europe figured it out a few years ago, which is why she’s on tour there four or five months a year). The album is called “The Swamp Boogie Queen” and it will be out the end of August, same time as the new Elvin Bishop. Start saving your pennies!

I think I’m finally done with the saga of the Norwegian train wreck, and it’s time to tell you about something more positive, like how we signed Albert Collins. It was during the summer of ’77 (I think) that my friend Dick Shurman (possessor of one of the world’s greatest blues record collections) arranged for Otis Rush to travel to Holland and play some dates with a band there called Barrelhouse. At the last minute, Otis cancelled, and Dick called up his old buddy from his West Coast days, Albert Collins, the Master of the Telecaster to fill in. On the way back from Holland, a gig was arranged at the Wise Fools with Lonnie Brooks band to back up Albert, and I got to see Albert for the second time in my life. It was an amazing experience to sit in the front row of a 100-seat club, a few feet from that screaming, echoing amp and watch Albert work the crowd into a frenzy with his natural showmanship (and then cool them down with his very low key and modest raps—”Thank you for accepting me.”) I think I had been getting up and listening to “Frosty” first thing in the morning for about eighty years at that point (I bought a copy of the original “Cool Sound of Albert Collins” LP from Jazz Record Mart for $1.77 in 1970 —eat your heart out, collectors!). Now I had finally gotten a freezing dose of the cool sound in person. Dick and I began to talk then about recording, but I wasn’t sure (believe it or not). Albert wasn’t a confident singer, and I wasn’t sure he could make a really satisfying album. Boy, was I wrong! So I kept thinking, and Albert came back later in the year to play a great gig at Notre Dame University with Jimmy Johnson and his band (where they had a literal guitar battle, sparring and jabbing at each other with their instruments).

More next time,

Bruce Iglauer