In Memoriam

candye kane press_photo

R.I.P. – CANDYE KANE: Nov 13, 1965 – May 6, 2016

The Canadian Pacific Blues Society was saddened to hear of the death of Blues woman, Candye Kane, who passed away at approximately 10 pm on Friday May 6, 2016. She had been battling & undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer for several years, having been diagnosed in 2008.

A California native, born in Ventura, and raised in the Los Angeles suburb of Highland Park, the 51 year old was accepted into the University of Southern California music conservatory’s junior opera program, but dropped out to become part of the punk rock scene in the early eighties. She formed country punk bands and by 1985 had signed a developmental deal with CBS Records. She was initially marketed as a country singer, but the label dropped her when they found out about her controversial past.

At 17 she got pregnant with her fist son, & by 18 turned to adult modeling & stripping to support herself and her son. In 1986 she moved to San Diego, married bass player Thomas Yearsley (of the Paladins), having another son with him. She majored in Women’s studies at a “Local” college, continued to write songs and discovered brash Blues women like Ruth Brown, Etta James, Big Maybelle, Bessie Smith, & Big Mama Thornton.

Kane self-released an album in 1991, and by 1992 Austin music mogul Clifford Antone signed her to a record deal on Antone Records, releasing her “Home Cookin’” album which was produced by Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos fame, Dave Gonzalez, & Thomas Yearsley. Her CD “Knock Out” followed in ’92, before she moved to Discovery Records & recorded “Diva La Grande” which was produced by music legend Dave Alvin & Derek O’Brien. This was followed by other great albums, “Swango” (Sire/London Records), “The Toughest Girl Alive” (Rounder/Bullseye), a few albums on RUF Records including “Whole Lotta Love”, “White Trash Girl”, “Guitar’d & Feathered”, before moving on to Delta Groove, releasing “Super Girl” & “Coming Out Swingin’” on that label.

Candye Kane was a champion for the LGBTQ community, a fat activist, was involved in & supported the “United by Music” charity for those with Downs Syndrome, and toured regularly with her band, traveling around the world playing festivals & clubs, which included stops in Vancouver where she appeared at The Yale Hotel on a few occasions.

 

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R.I.P. OTIS CLAY, February 11, 1942 – January 8, 2016.

The Canadian Pacific Blues Society was sad to hear of the passing of Blues, Soul, R&B & Gospel Legend and Blues Hall of Fame Inductee Otis Clay, who died of a heart attack this past January 8, 2016.  He was 73.

Born on Feb 11, 1942 in Waxhaw Mississippi, Otis Clay relocated to Chicago in 1957.  After his arrival in the windy city he became a member of the Golden Jubilaires.  Then in 1960 he became a member of Charles Bridges’ Famous Bluejay Singers.  In 1965 Clay made his recording debut with a rousing ballad titled “Flame in Your Heart” and signing with Chicago’s One-derful Records, issuing a series of Gospel –tinged Soul records.  In 1968 he helped launch Cotillion Records with a supercharged version of Sir Douglas Quintet’s “She’s About a Mover”.  He then went on to work with legendary Memphis label Hi Records, scoring his biggest seller “Trying to Live My Life Without You” in 1972.  He continued to steadily record and tour after.  He was finally nominated for a Grammy in 2007 for his Gospel CD “Walk a Mile in My Shoes”.

In addition to his recognition for his music, Otis was also known for his humanitarianism & charitable work which included his assisting with development of the Harold Washington Cultural Center.

Some in the Vancouver area may remember Otis Clay’s memorable Millennial New Year’s Eve appearance at Vancouver’s Home of Rhythm & Blues, The Yale as 1999 gave way to 2000, and his appearance at the annual Burnaby Roots & Blues Festival in 2007.

At the time of his death, Otis had a year of touring planned behind his recent “This Time For Real” & “Truth Is” albums, and his most recent Blues Music Award nominations for “Soul-Blues Male Artist of the Year”, and “Soul-Blues Album of the Year”.  The BMA’s will take place this coming May.

 

Portland Als

R.I.P. ALEXANDER SANTE CONTO / “PORTLAND AL”

The Canadian Pacific Blues Society was saddened to hear of the passing of one of Vancouver’s iconic Blues aficionados, a “True Legend”, and an institution on the “Local” Blues scene for many years. Alexander Sante Conto, better known to many in this city as “Portland Al” passed away early last week.

A real character, “Portland Al” ran a corner store at 3rd & Main Street for many years, but it wasn’t your regular run-of-the-mill corner store. Beyond the typical corner store fare, there was an inner sanctum of racks of new and used albums, stereo gear, along with framed pictures, posters, & other music related paraphernalia. Adorning the walls were photos of Al with many Blues luminaries including the late B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, and Big Joe Turner. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Blues and it’s various sub genres and the many artists who played the music. Al dressed like a beatnik complete with beret and goatee, and had earned his nickname, because of his frequent trips to Portland so he could catch certain acts. Over the 40 years he ran the store it was visited by many Blues fans, and by a number of the well-known Blues artists when they visited Vancouver.

In addition to his store, Al apparently was quite a dancer, and some remember his yellow, and his purple zoot suits, cutting quite a sight on the dance floor. He was often a regular at Blues Shows at the Town Pump, The Yale, and other venues in town to see Blues artists like Albert Collins, and Guitar Shorty.

“Portland Al” passed away in Queen Park Care Centre at the age of 87. He’s survived by his loving wife Margaret and her family, plus his daughters Carol, Christine, & Colleen, plus his brother-in-law Bob Douglas, five grandchildren, three great grandchildren, and many nieces & nephews. Alexander Sante Conto will be interred at Ocean View Cemetery in Burnaby on Saturday January 2, 2016.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Canadian Diabetes Association.

 

smokin joe kubek

Smokin’ Joe Kubek

November 30, 1956 – October 11, 2015

Another Bluesman down.  A frequent visitor to Vancouver some years ago, master Texas Blues guitarist Smokin’ Joe Kubek died from a heart attack shortly before he was to appear at a North Carolina blues festival on Sunday October 11, 2015.  He was only 58.

Smokin’ Joe Kubek, born on November 30, 1956 in Pennsylvania, spent his formative years growing up just outside of Dallas, Texas.  By the time he was 14 he was leading  his own bands often playing in clubs around Dallas.  Like many of us, his first exposure to the Blues was listening to Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck & others, but he soon discovered Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Freddie King, Johnny Copeland & Lightnin’ Hopkins.  By the time he was 19 he was backing many of his Blues heroes, including Freddie King.  He later found himself jamming with many larger-than-life-Blues artists, learning tips, & techniques, soaking up as much as he could from them.

Joe met guitarist / vocalist Bnois King in 1989 at a Dallas area jam session and the two became fast friends, eventually melding their two distinct styles, Kubek’s rocking slide work & King’s subtle, jazzier fat-chord rhythms.  In 1998 they were signed to Bullseye Blues records, releasing their debut CD “Stepping Out Texas Style”, which led to touring clubs, concert halls, & playing both national & international festivals.  On the heels of eight Bullseye recordings, they signed with Blind Pig Records in 2003.  They continued to release albums & their touring schedule increased to over 150 dates per year across the U.S., Canada, & Europe.  They then signed with Alligator Records in 2008, releasing “Blood Brothers” and “Have Blues Will Travel”.  Their last recording “Fat Man’s Shine Parlor” this past February (2015) was on Blind Pig Records.

Joe Kubek is survived by his wife Phyllis.

R.I.P. Smokin’ Joe Kubek (November 30, 1956 – October 11, 2015).

 

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B.B. King

September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015

Blues Legend B.B. King has died in his sleep at the age of 89.

The octogenarian ‘Blues Legend” and Blues Ambassador died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Las Vegas at 9:40 pm on Thursday, May 14, 2015.

Born in Itta Bena Mississippi, Riley B. King began performing in the 1940s. He was considered to be one of the three kings of the Blues along with the late Albert King, and the late Freddie King, and went on to influence a generation of musicians, working with Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, and U2 in later years.

Once considered the third greatest guitarist of all time, King had been suffering ill health in recent months, and was recently in hospital twice due to high blood pressure and diabetes issues.

A former farmhand, who began singing and playing guitar as a young boy, King enjoyed a career that spanned some sixty-nine years, winning many awards. B.B. won his first Grammy Award in 1971 for “Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for “The Thrill is Gone” which became his signature song, and was awarded his 15th Grammy Award in 2009 for Best Traditional Blues Album for his album ‘One Kind Favor’. In 1998 he was awarded a Grammy Hall of Fame Award for “The Thrill is Gone”, an award given to recordings that were at least 25 years old and that have “qualitative or historical significance”.

He was also inducted into both the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2006 he was awarded the “Presidential Medal of Freedom” by President George W. Bush. The BB King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center was opened in his honor in September 2008, located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta near the City of Indianola.

He was only placed behind guitarists Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
Over the course of his long career B.B. King was a regular visitor to B.C. playing concerts in many B.C. communities, including Vancouver. Until recently, he performed in at least 100 concerts a year.

The King is dead, long live the King.

R.I.P. Riley B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015)

Hubert Sumlin

November 16, 1931 – December 4, 2011

We’re most sad to pass along the news that another Blues Legend has died.  Following a brief stay in hospital in Wayne New Jersey, former Howlin’ Wolf Band guitarist Hubert Sumlin died of heart failure this past Sun Dec 4, 2011.

Sumlin was born on November 16, 1931 in Greenwood, Mississippi, then raised in Hughes, Arkansas.   He replaced Chicago guitarist Jody Williams in Howln’ Wolf’s Band, and aside from a brief stint with the Muddy Waters Band, was Wolf’s principle guitar player from the early fifties through 1976, the year Howlin’ Wolf died.  Following Wolf’s death, Hubert was a member of The Wolf Pack made up of several of the players who had backed Howlin’ Wolf, before embarking on a solo career.   Sumlin began recording under his own name even before Howlin Wolf passed away.   This included a rare German recording “American Folk Blues” recorded in 1964 with Hubert being accompanied by Sunnyland Slim, & Willie Dixon.   Over his career Hubert recorded 15 albums under his own name on a number of different labels.  Those albums included “Groove” in 1976, “Hubert Sumlin’s Blues Party” in 1987, “Heart & Soul” in 1989, “Blues Guitar Boss” from 1991, “Pinetop Perkins & Hubert Sumlin: Legends” in 1999, and “About Them Shoes” in 2004.

Respected by his peers, & idolized by other musicians, Hubert Sumlin was a major influence on many of Rock’s icons, like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Levon Helm, & Keith Richards.  Clapton, Helm, & Richards recorded with Hubert on his “About Them Shoes” album.  Rolling Stone magazine ranked Sumlin #43 on the list of all time great guitar players.

Hubert Sumlin is a Blues Hall of Fame inductee and won several Blues Music Awards over his career.  Hubert performed “Live” almost up to the end, and those fortunate to have been there will remember when he played The Yale about a decade ago.

George “Mojo” Buford

November 10, 1929 – October 11, 2011

We regret to pass along the news that another of the Muddy Waters Blues Band alumni has died.  Following a long hospitalization, singer & harmonica player George “Mojo” Buford passed away in Minneapolis on Tuesday October 11, 2011.

Born on November 10, 1929, Buford was born in Hernando, Mississippi.  While still young, he left Mississippi for Memphis Tennessee where he learned his early lessons in the Blues.  He eventually relocated to Chicago in 1952, forming his own band, The Savage Boys, which eventually became the Muddy Waters Junior Band.  That band subbed for Muddy when he was on the road.

In 1959 George played in Muddy’s band for a few years before he moved to Minneapolis in 1962 to front his own combo.  He eventually rejoined the Muddy Waters Blues Band for a year in 1967 and then a longer stint with the band in the early 70’s.  When Jerry Portnoy split with other Waters band members to form the Legendary Blues Band, Buford once again  returned for one last stint with the Muddy Waters Blues Band.

 

 

 

Willie “Big Eyes” Smith

January 19, 1936 – September 16, 2011

We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of another elder statesman of the Blues and a former member of the Legendary Muddy Waters Blues Band.  Legendary drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith died following a stroke the morning of Friday Sept 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.

Born in Helena Arkansas, Smith learned to play just after he moved to Chicago at the age of 17.  Among his influences at the time was Sonny Boy Williamson II.  His mother took him to see Muddy Waters in 1963 where he saw & heard harmonica player Henry Strong who influenced young Willie to take up Blues harp.  In 1955 Willie played harmonica on Bo Diddley’s recording of “Diddy Wah Diddy” on the famed Checker label.

It turned out that drummers were more in demand than harmonica players so Smith switched to drums & began playing in the Muddy Waters’ Blues Band, eventually becoming a full time member of the band by 1961, playing alongside George “Mojo” Buford, Luther Tucker, Pat Hare, & Otis Spann.  He left the band in the mid-sixties for more steady work as a cab driver, rejoining Muddy in the late sixties.

In 1980, Willie, along with other band members “Pinetop” Perkins, Calvin Jones, & Jerry Portnoy struck out on their own, recruiting Louis Myers, to form the Legendary Blues Band.  That was the band that backed John Lee Hooker in the “Blues Brothers” movie.

Over his lengthy career Smith recorded some 84 tracks with the Muddy Waters Blues Band, a number of albums with the Legendary Blues Band, plus some solo recordings including his first “Bag Full of Blues” with Pinetop Perkins, Kim Wilson, Nick Moss, & James Wheeler.   In early 2011 Willie won a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album for “Joined at The Hip” an album he recorded with longtime pal “Pinetop” Perkins.

The last time Willie “Big Eyes” Smith played Vancouver was with the late Pinetop Perkins at The Legendary Yale Hotel on April 26, 2007 .

 

David “Honeyboy” Edwards

June 28, 1915 – August 29, 2011

It was with great sadness that the Canadian Pacific Blues Society learned of the passing of Delta Blues Legend David “Honeyboy” Edwards at the age of 96.

Honeyboy was likely the last direct link to the great Robert Johnson, having befriended and performed with Johnson.  As a matter of fact, he was with Robert Johnson the night that he (Johnson) was poisoned, and died.  David “Honeyboy” Edwards born on June 28, 1915 in Shaw Mississippi, performed with many of the iconic Mississippi Delta Bluesmen of the past century, including Tommy Johnson, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, & Johnny Shines, to name a few.

Honeyboy died peacefully in his sleep in Chicago IL on August 29, 2011.

Vancouverites were blessed to have seen David “Honeyboy” Edwards with his manager & accompanist Michael Frank, and also with Les Copeland at The Yale Hotel, Home of Vancouver’s Rhythm and Blues.  Their last performance in Vancouver was at The Yale Hotel on March 28, 2010.