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"Stone Crazy" album by Mr. Buddy Guy 


In the previous entry of this blog, I mentioned about J.W. Williams, the legendary bluesman in Chicago. Notably he was on the album of Buddy Guy entitled Stone Crazy as a bassist. It was released in the early 1980s when I was still in school in Japan. 

前回のブログでシカゴの伝説的ブルースマン、J.W. ウィリアムスについて書いた。知られたところでは、氏はバディ・ガイのアルバム ”ストーン・クレイジー“ でベースを弾いている。それは1980年代始めにリリースされたが、僕はその頃まだ学生だった。 


A few years prior to that, I started digging the Chicago Blues very deep. The style of the blues I liked, and I still like most, was so called Westside Chicago Blues, the unique guitar blues sound developed in the 1950s through 60s by the greats such as Otis Rush, Magic Sam, and Buddy Guy. 

その数年前に僕はシカゴブルースに深くハマり始めた。特にウェストサイド・シカゴブルースと呼ばれるスタイルのギター・ブルースが一番気に入っていたし、今もそうだ。それは、1950年代から 60 年代にかけて、偉大なオーティス・ラッシュ、マジック・サム、バディ・ガイらによって創られたサウンドだ。 


I remember when Buddy Guy’s Stone Crazy album came out, I and my blues buddies in Japan back then were stunned by the bold direction that Mr. Guy took, namely, the contemporary blues sound where his guitar was fiercely screaming. In my humble opinion, the album may be considered an epic turning point for the Chicago Blues to target bigger audience. 



I recognized that J.W. Williams was on that album as the bassist when I started playing guitar for his band The Chi-Town Hustlers last Spring. I did not have the slightest idea that I would end up playing with J.W. in Chicago more than a few decades after I heard, for the first time, the work he participated in recording in the 1980s. 

僕はこの春にシカゴで、JW ウィリアムス氏のブルースバンド ”チャイタウン・ハスラーズ“ にギタリストとして入ったときに、彼がそのアルバムでベースを弾いていたことを認識した。日本で初めてそのアルバムを聴いてから、何十年もたってからのことだ。 


Life is full of chance meeting, but how rare the probability of this to happen in one’s life? Think about it. It is wild. 



Mr. J.W. Williams, the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame inductee JW ウィリアムス氏が殿堂入り 


Today J.W. Williams, the former bass player for Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, was inducted to the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame in the “Legends” category.  It is the highest honor among the inductees.   

今日、JW ウィリアムス氏 (元バディ・ガイやジュニア・ウェルズのベーシスト) がシカゴブルース殿堂入りをした。最も権威のある“レジェンド”のカテゴリーで。 


It also includes the late greats Eddie Taylor Sr., Louis Myers, Fred Below Jr., Oddie Payne Sr. I grew up listening to the music of these big names while I was in Japan decades ago. 



In the picture, J.W. is making his acceptance speech during the award ceremony at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago. Standing aside is his wife Janet. 



It is my supreme honor to be currently in JW Williams’ band called the Chi-Town Hustlers as his guitar player. It is an once in lifetime opportunity for me. 



Congratulations Mr. J.W.!! 


Singing the Blues ブルースを歌う 

From the point of view of playing music, what was most beneficial for me after living in the US for decades? It is undoubtedly that I have become bold enough to SING the blues. Playing instruments can be learned anywhere. 



Blues is about the daily life. Playing instruments and singing can be synergetic in getting my emotion into songs. 



Blues was born in the US, and therefore, to me playing the blues in this country has been a challenge and also the most rewarding experience. 



In particular, when the audience grooves to my play and starts dancing, I often feel that I am even spiritually connected to them. 



Being accepted here as who I am as a blues player is most gratifying. 



My second Winter in Chicago is approaching シカゴでの2度目の冬が近い 

Five years ago I turned myself into a full time musician. It has been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life, as my blues spirit needed to be set free. Being in control of my own music activities is the most rewarding experience, while it is also very stressful to take care of all the band business on my own. 



The summer in Chicago was hot and humid as compared to that of the West Coast where I came from. But now that we are in October, the temperatures in the evening and morning are dropping. It feels that the Winter is knocking on the door following the short Fall here. 



Entering my second year living in Chicago, my time in this town has been mostly fun but also takes a lot of endurance out of me. 



Namely, some days are good that I am invigorated and motivated to continue doing what I am doing. Other days are such that I feel like I am spinning my wheels and want to pack up and go home. 



In the long run, happiness is about making more good days than bad ones overall. 


The late greatest Mr. Otis Rush 

Yesterday, the Chicago Blues community was saddened by the news of Mr. Otis Rush’s passing. 



Among the Westside Chicago Blues guitar sound developed in the 1950s -1960s by those guitar greats, his guitar had the most influence on me when I started digging the blues. His deep bending and vibratos, combined with his soulful vocals, never failed to send a chill down my spine. 



In retrospect, my first encounter to Chicago’s “squeeze guitar” blues in my high school days were two of his albums - Cold Day In Hell and Live in Japan. In particular, the song called Three Times A Fool of his was the very first song that I learned what the shuffle groove was. 

振り返ると、僕が高校時代にシカゴの“スクィーズ・ギター”系のブルースに出くわしたのは、ラッシュ氏のアルバム2枚、Cold Day In Hell と Live In Japan だった。その中にあったThree Times A Fool と言う曲で、僕は初めてシャッフルのグルーヴを学んだ。 


It is not an exaggeration to say that Chicago had been my ultimate destination because of the legacy of music like his. 



Last night, I humbly had the honor to pay my own tribute to Mr. Rush by playing the song that defined my music direction in my younger days - that is Three Times A Fool, during my gig with J.W. Williams and the Chi-Town Hustlers at Blue Chicago. 

昨夜、ささやかながら僕はブルーシカゴでのライブ中に、追悼の意を込めてラッシュ氏のThree Times A Fool を演奏させて頂いた。僕が音楽を始めた頃に自分の方向を決定づけた曲だ。 


His legacy will live on. 


Playing the Blues in Chicago シカゴでブルースを演ること 


The purpose of my life in Chicago is one thing only – to play the Blues. I keep networking with the local musicians hoping that they will continue to support me in my own band activities. 



Many blues jams happening in town are great to meet the local musicians. In addition, they provide a stage to experiment. I have recently started attending blues jams to play drums and soon I will bring my bass guitar to jam sessions as well. 



Another means for me to connect with the local blues scene was to sit in with the featured bands at primary blues clubs where musicians also hang out. Indeed that was how I landed my current regular gigs. I was very lucky to be at the right place at the right time. 



Nowadays highly skilled blues musicians outnumber the venues in Chicago that book blues bands. Therefore, the competition for survival becomes fierce. 



It takes mental toughness to be a musician in this city. Bar gigs often require living a night life. As someone said, when you have to make a living, it is no fun to play music. I am playing the blues for living, and yet having fun for the love of it. That is a bonus. 


One year anniversary in Chicago  シカゴに来て一年 

It is approaching a year since I came to Chicago. I have come this far thanks to the help of many people. I am now at where I never thought I would be a year ago. I definitely made a right move by coming to this city. 



A few months ago after making continuous efforts to be seen in public for 6 months, I luckily landed a position with the legendary bassist & singer Mr. J.W. Williams. I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I am honored and grateful for the opportunity. In parallel, my own band activity is going forward as well. 

最初の半年ほど、あちこちでネットワーキングを続けた後、数ヶ月前にベーシスト兼シンガーとして伝説的なJW ウィリアムス氏のバンドに入ることが出来た。ちょうどタイミング良く自分がそこに居合わせたのだ。このチャンスを得たことは光栄であり感謝している。それと平行して、自己名義でも活動をしている。 


The musicians who kindly let me share their stage include Who’s Who in the current blues scene in Chicago. I greatly appreciate their open-mindedness and friendship. Now, to make the best use of my spare time, if any, I am getting back to networking more. Being introverted by nature, it is the toughest part for me to do. But music is a great vehicle to be outspoken. 



However, there is a clear line between having fun versus seeking work. Critical eyes are always out there somewhere. Make no mistake taking temptations as opportunities as they say. I will not take my time in this town for granted. I am enjoying every minute of it to the fullest as I aim higher. Break the ice or be broke. 



Lefty Flying V 左利き用のフライング V 

I have been using my Flying V on stage extensively for the last several years. The natural raw tone of it is indispensable to play gritty guitar blues. 

この数年、フライング V をステージで使うことが多い。その自然なトーンが、粗いギターブルースを演るのにハマる。 


I am now working on strings strung upside down by flipping a lefty Flying V. This way high strings can be bent more easily and deeply, like Albert King and Otis Rush - the two greats whose sound I try to emulate in this style. 

今やろうとしている事は、左利き用のフライング V をそのままひっくり返して、右利きで弾くこと。つまり、弦が逆張りになるため、高音弦を曲げやすくなる。アルバート・キングやオーティス・ラッシュは、右利き用ギターをそのまま左利き用に使っている。 


It takes perseverance and devotion to learn how to play guitar this way though, because it is totally counterintuitive. 



Mastering an instrument depends on the product of time and intensity I put in. My next to do on the list is to record a Chicago Blues album where all instruments including guitars, blues harp, bass, and drums are played by myself someday. 



My Goals in Chicago  

From 2013 to 2017 in San Jose, California, I was working weekly at a blues club named Blue Note Lounge for over 3 years and at a restaurant called Louisiana Bistro regularly for a year. 



In these 4 years before I came to Chicago, I had done more than 200 gigs under my name as mostly trio (guitar, bass, drums) and some duo settings (guitar & harp, guitar & bass, or two guitars). I was the singer in these gigs playing guitar. The reason for having the smallest unit was to minimize the cost of hiring players in my band. 



This experience made my guitar play strong in terms of filling on the back of and in between my singing. A strong sense of timing is required to play and sing at the same time. For that I am grateful for the owners of these two venues in CA to nourish my performance over those years. 



Working in Chicago as a blues musician has been my dream come true. My mind has finally realized what my soul has always known. 



What I am doing here is an attempt to integrate my previous experience all in one - be it my vocals, guitar, blues harp, plus band management, etc. My ultimate goal is to have my blues accepted by this city, the home of electric Chicago Blues. 



J.W. Williams & The Chi-Town Hustlers  

I have recently had the pleasure of playing guitar with the great J.W. Williams and The Chi-Town Hustlers. JW’s powerful vocals while playing his groovy bass guitar make my jaw drop in awe. There is so much to learn from his showmanship as well. 

僕は先日来、シカゴで有名なJ.W.ウィリアムス & チャイタウン・ハスラーズと演奏している。JW氏のノリの良いベースギターを弾きながらの、パワフルなボーカルは圧巻だ。氏のショーマンシップからも学ぶところが多い。 


For those who are in Japan and if you are not familiar with his music, he has been playing the blues for over 5 decades in Chicago. Notably he used to be the bass player for Buddy Guy (“Stone Crazy”, “Live At Checkerboard Lounge” albums). 

J.W.ウィリアムスはシカゴで50年以上ブルースを演っている大ベテランで、かつてはバディ・ガイのバンドに居たこともある(バディ・ガイのアルバム “ストーン・クレイジー”、“ライブ・アット・チェッカーボード・ラウンジ” のベース)。 


He has been leading the Chi-Town Hustlers since 1970’s where Lurrie Bell, Carl Weathersby, Carlos Johnson, Melvin Taylor were the guitar players. Shun Kikuta of Japan used to be its member for many years as well. 



Mr. Williams and the soulful Ms. Laretha Weathersby will be headlining the Japan Blues Festival in Aomori this summer. Check them out if you are in the area.