THE MANNISH BOYS ARE:
Finis Tasby - vocals / Kirk Fletcher - guitar / Frank Goldwasser - guitar / Leon Blue - piano / Ronnie James Weber - bass / June Core - drums
ALBUM ALSO FEATURES SPECIAL GUEST ARTISTS:
Roy Gaines - vocals & guitar / Johnny Dyer - vocals & harmonica
Mickey Champion - vocals / Paul Oscher - guitar
Randy Chortkoff - harmonica
THE MANNISH BOYS ARE:
The Mannish Boys are one of the most exciting blues projects to come along in quite a while, featuring some of the most dynamic blues talent in the world today, assembled from the absolute cream of the crop of West Coast blues veterans and youngbloods. This is an "All-Star" undertaking in the true sense of the word - each member of The Mannish Boys is widely recognized in the blues field as a master of his craft, and an in-demand artist in his own right.
Powerhouse blues vocalist Finis Tasby was born in Dallas, Texas in 1940,and grew up immersed in the vital Texas blues tradition. As a teenager got his first professional music experience as drummer with the swinging local combo The Blues Blasters. By the early 1960s he'd switched instruments, and was playing bass and singing backup with local legends The Thunderbirds, working regularly with Z.Z. Hill, and also backing Clarence Carter, Lowell Fulson, and Freddie King on regional tours. By the mid '60s Finis had stepped out in front of the band, and began establishing his reputation as one of the most soulful blues singers on the circuit.
In the early 70's Finis moved to Los Angeles, and picked up where he'd left off in Texas. As a bass player, he worked with many of the greats, including B.B. King, Percy Mayfield and Big Mama Thornton. But it is as a vocalist that Finis really comes into his own, and in the '70s he made his first recordings as a frontman. It was during this period that he also formed a lifelong friendship with blues great John Lee Hooker, with whom he often performed locally. Finis' reputation as a strong and soulful singer reached new heights with the releases of several CDs, including "People Don't Care" on Shanachie, from which three songs were used in the film "The Babysitter".
In the late 1990s Finis began his alliance with Rand Chortkoff, when Rand independently produced Finis' CD "Jump Children", which was released to wide acclaim on the Evidence label. (Finis also recently released the CD "Tribute To John Lee Hooker" on the small Kon Kord label.) Finis and Rand have worked closely since then on several other recording projects and numerous live performances, culminating in the formation of The Mannish Boys.
KIRK "ELI" FLETCHER
Guitarist Kirk "Eli" Fletcher is, ironically, a rare presence on todays blues scene: a 20-something African-American man who has thoroughly immersed himself in the classic blues sounds of the 1950s and '60s. Son of a Baptist minister, Kirk's introduction to the blues came as a teenager, through his older brother's copy of B.B. King's "Live At the Regal", and he hasn't looked back since. In Kirk's relatively short time playing music, he's made some big waves and impressed a lot of the right people. Coming up through the ranks of the West Coast blues scene, he's spent valuable time with Al Blake (former frontman of the legendary Hollywood Fats Band), Richard "Lynwood Slim" Duran, and Junior Watson, among others. Eventually he was handpicked for Kim Wilson's Blues Revue, the modern day equivalent of joining, say, Muddy Waters' band in the 1950s. From there he was recruited for veteran harp man Charlie Musselwhite's band, and not long afterwards, with help from Wilson, Blake and Duran among others, he recorded his first CD, for England's JSP label. While continuing to work as one of the most sought after 'hired hands' on the West Coast blues scene, he began an association with blues producer and promoter Randy Chortkoff, which resulted in Kirk's most recent solo CD, "Shades Of Blue". On that project Kirk was supported by some the hottest and most experienced West Coast blues veterans, among them vocalist Finis Tasby, laying the groundwork for The Mannish Boys.
FRANCK "PARIS SLIM" GOLDWASSER
Guitarist Franck "Paris Slim" Goldwasser is no stranger to those who've been paying attention to the West Coast blues scene over the last two decades. Born in Paris, France in 1960, his initial blues inspiration came from Hound Dog Taylor's "NATURAL BOOGIE" LP. After working his first professional gig at age 21 supporting Sonny Rhodes, Rhodes invited his to move to the San Francisco Bay Area. With the commitment of a true believer, Franck packed his bags and moved to the Bay Area within a year, whereupon he was immediately hired by Troyce Key (who gave him the stage name of Paris Slim) to play in the house band at Key's legendary Eli's Mile High Club in Oakland. He eventually assumed leadership of the group while Key took a professional hiatus, and became deeply immersed in the area's still-vibrant blues scene. He racked up three years touring with Jimmy McCracklin, as well as positive reviews for appearances at most of the prominent local venues with a distinguished roster of blues talent including Lowell Fulson, Percy Mayfield and Charlie Musselwhite. Four years after his first single was issued in 1984 on San Francisco's Backtrack label, his CD debut "BLUES FOR ESTHER" appeared, a strong outing album that received a nomination from the prestigious W.C. Handy Awards. Its follow-up, "BLEEDIN' HEART", was co-produced with Joe Louis Walker, who guested along with Sonny Rhodes. An ongoing list of other sessions and frequent European touring (most prolifically as part of the Fedora Records house band behind Clay Hammond, Jimmy Dawkins, Homesick James and others)followed. Relocating to Southern California in 1998, he became a fixture on the vibrant L.A. blues scene, and continued to absorb new influences and hone his art. His recent CD "BLUJU" was produced by Randy Chortkoff, and has garnered acclaim as one of the most progressive blues releases in years while still remaining firmly rooted in the blues tradition. His association with Chortkoff has led to a West Coast tour with Chicago blues legend Jody Williams, and of course, The Mannish Boys.
Leon Blue (yes, that's his real name!) may just be the finest blues piano man you've never heard of. Not that he hasn't had more than his share of high profile gigs - lengthy spells with The Ike & Tina Turner Revue, Lowell Fulson, and Albert Collins to name just a few - it's just that he's spent most of his career as a sideman rather than out front in the spotlight. But the company he's kept speaks volumes about his talent, professionalism and versatility as a musician.
Born in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1931, Leon was first inspired to play piano in 1940 after hearing records of the pounding boogie-woogie of Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons, and also early live performances by fellow Texan Charles Brown. By the 1955 Leon and his three brothers, all also musicians, had relocated to Los Angeles and were performing as The Four Scooters. Before long Leon was making connections with a who's who of the bustling L.A. blues scene, and over the next three decades played and recorded with some of the biggest names active on the west coast (and elsewhere), including B.B. King, Albert King (who his says hired and fired him three different times), Roy Milton, Fats Washington, Little Joe Blue, and many others. Leon even played fill-in gig in L.A. with Chicago blues great Muddy Waters, when Muddy's regular pianist Pinetop Perkins missed his plane; he says when Pinetop finally arrived, Muddy didn't want to hire him back! All of this in addition to being a regular member of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue during their most successful years, from 1964 until 1978.
Although he relocated to Las Vegas in the early 1990s, he hasn't slowed down bit. He's continued to tour regularly when his old friends like Roy Gaines, Sonny Rhodes or Phillip Walker call, and is frequently in L.A. for gigs and recording sessions, tickling the ivories or pounding out a boogie as needed. But it wasn't until The Mannish Boys sessions in 2004 that Leon got a chance to show off his 'secret weapon' on record for the very first time - a warm and husky blues voice, that we're sure to hear more of in the future.
In a relatively short period of time (in blues years, that is), blues bassist Ronnie James has ascended to the top of his field, and he's now one of the most respected and in-demand players of both the electric and the stand-up acoustic bass in the country. His career began in earnest when he joined the band of blues harp virtuoso Mark Hummel in the early 1990s (and band also featured guitarist Rusty Zinn at the time). With Hummel, Ronnie got the opportunity to back many of the living masters of Chicago blues, including Muddy Waters' guitarist Jimmy Rogers, Billy Boy Arnold, Luther Tucker, and Snooky Pryor. Before long Ronnie had made a strong impression on some high profile players on the contemporary blues scene, and was recruited into Fabulous Thunderbirds frontman Kim Wilson's
solo blues project, and then almost immediately was hired away to join one of the hardest working bands in blues, Little Charlie & The Nightcats, spending the better part of a decade touring the world and recording with them for Alligator Records. As a member of that band, he also backed John Hammond on the Grammy nominated CD "Long As I Have You". In his spare time (!), he's played and recorded with numerous other artists, including Rusty Zinn, Chicago blues legend Dave Myers, Kim Wilson, and many others. In 2001,he was hired (after several offers over the years) by Kim Wilson to join The Fabulous Thunderbirds, a gig he still holds when he's not working with The Mannish Boys.
June Core was born in Cleveland, Ohio, where he began playing drums while still in high school. Cleveland isn't widely recognized as a major blues hot spot, but the city has had a bustling blues scene for many years. Blues legend Robert Lockwood Jr. has been at the center of the city's Blues scene and it's patriarch since 1960, and June developed his skills rapidly enough that by the age of 19 he was playing drums behind Lockwood and another former cohort of Robert Johnson, Johnny Shines. These two blues heavyweights took June under their wings, and tutored him in the finer points of the deep blues tradition while touring the clubs ands concert halls of the world, culminating in June's appearance on the WC Handy Award winning Lockwood LP "Hanging On". While working with Lockwood and Shines, June also had the opportunity to hone his skills and broaden his style by playing with major blues figures such as Willie Dixon, James Cotton, B.B. King, Albert Collins and many others. Since relocating to California in 1986, June has worked and recorded with the cream of the West Coast crop of blues and roots artists, including Mark Hummel, the Soul Drivers, Lavern Baker, Duke Jethro, Angela Strehli, Little Charlie and the Nightcats and John Hammond, and many others. June most recently has been working with harp master Charlie Musselwhite, and doing sessions with the top echelon of West Coast blues talent.
Randy Chortkoff is the mastermind behind The Mannish Boys. As an integral part of the L.A. blues scene for many years, he's been 'behind the curtain' for countless events as the producer and promoter of concerts featuring some of the biggest and most respected names in blues, including Albert King, Otis Rush, Chicago blues legends Jimmy Rogers, Billy Boy Arnold, Carey Bell, Snooky Pryor, Louis and Dave Myers of The Aces, and many others; he also produced the annual Little Walter Tribute concerts in Los Angeles for over a decade. He was instrumental in the 'comeback' of Billy Boy Arnold, independently producing Arnold's first U.S. release in decades, the highly acclaimed "Back Where I Belong", released on Alligator Records. Rand has produced CDs by a host of important contemporary blues artists, including Finis Tasby, Franck Goldwasser, Kirk Fletcher, and was responsible for the first CD by the late great King Ernest.
In addition to his important work behind the scenes, Rand is also a talented performer in his own right, having fronted numerous bands with his deep blues harp playing and vocals over the last three decades. Over that time, he's become a master at spotting new talent, bringing the best out of veterans, and putting together winning combinations of both for recording projects and live performances. The Mannish Boys are the culmination of all the various aspects of his talent as a performer, producer, organizer, and lover of good blues.