Dear Friends,

Before I continue the tale of recording “Blues Deluxe”, I want to mention four upcoming new (well, really, old) releases. One of the true heroes of blues recording history is Lillian McMurry, the extraordinary woman who founded and ran Trumpet Records in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1950s. Against all odds, in a business dominated by men, she made some of the greatest blues records of her era, especially all the early sides by Sonny Boy Williamson.

A few years ago, Marc Ryan’s Acoustic Archives Records released a lovingly presented series of recordings from the Trumpet Records vaults. Marc did a terrific job reissuing and documenting Trumpet’s legacy. However, Acoustic Archives’ distribution was always limited, and the records were hard to find. Now, we’re very proud to announce that Alligator has acquired the rights to most of the Trumpet masters, and we’ll be re-releasing all the Acoustic Archives albums as well as some other great and previously unavailable Trumpet material during 1993. Our first release, in late April, will include three of the previously released CDs: “Clownin’ With The World” with 16 choice cuts by Sonny Boy Williamson and Willie Love; “Strange Kind Of Peelin’,” an anthology of jumping, swinging R&B and blues featuring Tiny Kennedy, Clayton Love and Jerry McCain; and “Delta Blues—1951,” an anthology of great acoustic recordings of Delta blues featuring Big Joe Williams. We also have something brand new (and old)—”Deep South Gospel,” an album of fantastic gospel harmony singing by one of the great groups in gospel history, The Southern Sons! You know Alligator has never been a gospel label, so you have to believe this album is something pretty special and very soulful.

All these releases will be available on CD only. Of course, only the most discerning record stores stock 1950s reissues, so you may need to buy these through our mail order service, or just throttle your local record store manager until he/she gets them in stock!

Now, more about “Blues Deluxe” — when the night came for us to record Muddy Waters and his band on the Blues Stage at ChicagoFest, there wasn’t a blues stage. Just hours before Muddy was to begin, the heavens opened, the wind howled, and everything came down—the awning roof, the PA system, the lights. The only stage left standing was the Main Stage, completely on the other side of the Feat. As the rain slacked off, Fred Breitberg and his one assistant desperately loaded their van and rushed over to the Main Stage. Working with literally minutes to set up, no sound check, no mike checks and no manpower, they placed mikes, ran the electrical “snake” to the van, plugged in the power, and crossed their fingers. As the last drizzles slacked off, Muddy took the stage and played a strong and sure set. Miraculously, all the mikes and cables worked and the entire set went on tape without a hitch. I think this is the only legitimate recording with Muddy’s final band, with John Primer and Lovie Lee and Mojo Buford, so it’s a shame that we could only release one cut from an historic set. At any rate, the last-minute save by Fred was the perfect closer to the most hectic live recording gig Alligator ever undertook. By the way, “Blues Deluxe” is still very much available (and budget priced) and profits still go to the Blues Archive at the Chicago Cultural Center.

More next time,

Bruce Iglauer