Little Sammy Davis & Midnight Slim
Info and Reviews
A retrospective collection of classic Chicago, delta blues
merging with soul and r&b, featuring archival studio recordings, new studio
material, and recent "live" cuts.
1 Juke Walkin'
2 Travelin' Man
3 This Old World
4 Tribute to Elmore (Live)
5 Sitting On Top of the World
6 Sam's Blues
7 I Ain't Lyin (Live)
8 I Can't Get Next to You
9 This Old World (Instrumental)
10 When I Leave
In January 2008, Sammy and Fred Scribner ventured to Los Angeles
to record a couple of tracks for the upcoming Delta Groove project, “Low Down
Feeling” with the Mannish Boys. Meanwhile, The Levon Helm Band featuring
Little Sammy Davis, were playing all over the US. The New, Revised lineup of
‘Midnight Slim made it’s debut at the ‘Midnight Ramble.”
The Mannish Boys, “Low Down Feeling” was released. Sammy appeared in a
behind the scenes DVD of Levon Helm’s Grammy nominated “Dirt Farmer”.
Sammy and Fred prepared to hit the studio once again in between Levon’s tour
dates. Fred went out on the road with Joey and Gavin Degraw. Sammy also made a
cameo appearance in J recording artist Gavin Degraw’s music video, “Cheated
on Me”. Levon won the Grammy for “Dirt Farmer”.
In between these road excursions, Midnight Slim was lucky enough to get Sammy in
the studio on a cut by Fred and the late Tom Lonek, only three weeks before he
had a mild stroke. This session resulted in “ “Travelin’ Man.“ Happily,
Sammy got out of the hospital in time to celebrate his 80th birthday and he is
getting better. He’s itching to play again.
The other tracks on this project span the years 1988, pre Little Sammy Davis (I
can't get next to you) to 2002. Including, “This Old World”, written after
the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and “ juke walkin’, a throw-back to Sammy’s
Chicago Days reminiscent of his mentor and friend, Little Walter, a guy who once
brought the police to the club Sammy was playing after hearing some people say
that they saw Little Walter Jacobs.
Walter said, “I don’t mind you playing my songs, and yeah, you do ‘em just
like me, but these people think that you are me!”
Sammy says, “Little Walter was a good guy.”
Little Sammy Davis and Midnight Slim’s first time on the air with Imus back in
’91 (“Sitting on top of the World), a vocal and an instrumental version of
“This Old World”, a fiery version of the Temptations by way of Al Green,
“Can’t Get Next To You”) from’88 and other instrumentals that have
become staples of the past and present, ”Imus in the morning show, including a
couple of Live tracks recorded in the summer of “2007 in Maybrook, NY with the
new Lineup are documented here. The project ends with another Imus fave, “When
I Leave”, an instrumental version of Sammy and Fred’s song about their first
trip to Los Angeles where they were spotted by Scott Dirks, a talent scout for
Delmark Records, featuring Fred on digital guitar/organ.
Along with Sammy and Fred, the players on this disc are:
Brad Scribner, Drums (Piano on “Travelin’ Man”)
Jack Geisenheimer, Bass on “When I Leave”, “Sammy’s Blues”, Tribute to
Rob Curtis, Drums on “Tribute to Elmore”, I ain't Lyin'
Doug Abramson, Bass on “This Old World”, “Juke walkin
Johnny Rush, Drums on “This Old World”, “ Juke walkin‘
Craig Willcox, Organ on “When I Leave” (Piano on “Sam's Blues”)
John Thompson, Bass on “Can’t Get Next To You”, “Sitting on Top of the
Baron Raymonde, Sax on “Cant Get Next to You”
Randy Weimer, Keyboard on “Sitting on Top of the World”.
As a former member of the Levon Helm band, Fred Scribner toured and appears on
the "MIDNIGHT RAMBLE VOL.1 with the legendary "Band" vocalist and drummer. As the driving force behind "Little Sammy
Davis and Midnight Slim", Fred wrote, played guitar and produced the band's award winning,1996
release: "I ain't Lyin'" on the famed" Delmark label, out of Chicago, as well as the band's second album "ten years and forty
days" on their own label-Fat Fritz Records. Fred has performed at major venues throughout the
U.S., including Levon helm's Midnight Ramble, the pocono and D.C. blues
festivals, Colgate university and premier blues venues in the country. In 1991 Fred Introduced Little Sammy Davis To Don Imus and the result was a
hysterical as well as historic interview with Sammy and Fred. Eventually Midnight Slim W/ Little Sammy Davis became known as the" House band for
the "Imus in the Morning" show. Later on, The band could be seen on a daily basis on MSNBC
television as well heard on the radio coast to coast. As a regular contributor to the show, Fred can be heard daily on the current "Imus" show originating
from "WABC radio, ny, behind the "I" man's rants, raves and
commentary. These days Fred has been playing and recording with Joey Degraw,
opening shows for Gavin Degraw, as well as recording tracks on the upcoming Joey Degraw album-"Say Something
Strong". Fred is finishing up the upcoming "Little Sammy Davis " album:
Traveling Man, working on a long overdue solo record and is preparing to record a new "Cactus
Hunters" album as well.
Born in New York City , guitarist Fred Scribner is widely known for his versatility and sensitivity to a multitude of music forms.
Fred was inspired to play music at a young age, after seeing the Beatles’ debut on the Ed Sullivan
show. He got his first guitar at 11 and was playing high school concerts in less than six months. The Scribner family left New
York city and relocated in orange county, ny. Fred secured his first steady paying gig at the age of 13 at a local country bar with a local policeman/country singer named Ken Henry. Fred had been practicing every waking minute ,nearly 4 years and was getting lots of practice since he was rarely seen in
school! At 15,fred was offered a gig on the road, backing up strippers at county fairs all over the country but
alas, his parents weren't going for it and nixed it. At age 17, he made the transformation from country to the rock clubs as he
approached the legal, 18 years and set the stage for future experiences with bands, independent gigs, and professional recordings in future years.
By the early 80’s, as a member of Street Talk, with Debbie Major, Fred performed at many top clubs and resorts in the NY tri-state area, including The Concord Hotel and the jersey shore circuit where he met up with The Benny Troy Band. One night at the concord
Fred and the band had an all night jam with Tom Jones and many more interesting encounters
followed. The Catskills were jumping and there was work at the casinos in Atlantic
City so consequently, Fred to relocated to NJ.
In the 1990s, he moved back upstate as the casino lounge scene took a nose-dive, continuing to play with rock n roll, blues, funk, country, disco, and show bands in the
N.Y, metro area. Having become disillusioned with the concept of being a side man, Fred decided to have a hand at running his own band.
With this motivation in mind, Fred and his brother, Brad resurrected their former band, Midnight
Slim, this time with their friend, John Thompson on the Bass and Randy Weimer and went into the studio to record some scorching instrumentals that became staples of the Imus
Show, Featuring Baron Raymonde on Sax and George Beckett on harp. In 1991, Fred hooked up with legendary Little Sammy
Davis, after hearing about this great former partner of the great Earl Hooker from his brother Brad
Scribner. Midnight Slim brought Sammy into the studio and recorded "Sitting on top of the
World, got the tape to Imus, a radio interview followed, then came many more appearances. This propelled his band Midnight Slim from their spot as background music on the show to a position as a regularly featured act on the popular morning show, and the object of Imus‘ “fiery ire".
They became known as the show’s" house band", playing Delta and Chicago blues, as well as gems from artists like Ray Charles and James Brown. Additionally, they appeared on Broadway, as part of “Imus on Broadway,” at the Saint James Theatre in New York City as well as the
"Tomorrows Children's Fund, S.I.D.S., Imus Ranch radiothons throughout the 90's.
The group appeared on television and radio around the world, including, ”Prime Time Live", The King Biscuit Blues Hour, and Dan Akroyd’s "House of Blues Radio Show."
Numerous appearances ensued, which led to an offer to play at The House of Blues in Hollywood, California. There, the group was spotted by talent scout Scott Dirks. This culminated in the release of “I Ain’t
Lyin’, with Fred producing,“ on Delmark Records and the nomination for the WC Handy Best New Artist Award in 1996 as well as winning "Living Blues" Magazine's "Comeback Artist Of 1996.The band followed "I Ain't Lyin" with they're own effort "10 years and 40 days on Fat Fritz Records..
Albums: “I Ain’t Lyin’”- Delmark Records- 1996
“Ten Years, and 40 Nights”- Fat Fritz Records- 2000
Award Nominations: W.C. Handy Best New Artist Award - 1996shared billing w/ or played with: Delbert McClinton, Solomon Burke Otis Rush Delbert Mc Clinton played with: Levon Helm Lucky Peterson commander Cody Clarence Spadey Joey Degraw Gavin Degraw Harvey Brooks Bakithi Kumalo Mo Holms Ralph Scala (Blues Magoos) Maria
Muldaur Bill Perry Little Elliot Lloyd.
Members of the J.B.'s
Fred opened shows for such greats as, James Cotton, Edgar Winter, Gary U.S. Bonds, and Johnny Winter W/ Little Elliott
Fred has done sessions with Levon Helm, Harvey Brooks, Buddy Miles, The Don Howard
Band, the Mannish boys, Joey Degraw.
Fred produced, Little Sammy Davis', “I Ain’t Lyin, Ten Years and 40 Nights as well as the
upcoming CD: "Travelin' Man" on Fred's Own Label Mr. Fritz records.
In 2002, Fred Scribner and Little Sammy Davis were the subject for the critically acclaimed short documentary by Arlen Tarlofsky, “Little Sammy Davis.” The film played in New York, London, Woodstock, and Silver Springs Maryland.
In 2003, Fred and his old friend, Lance Juckas collaborated in the critically acclaimed album, “Cactus Hunters,” followed by a 2nd CD, Something Gone ,) to the delight of critics and fans alike. The band is booking dates for 2008.
Fred is currently busy working on an all acoustic album in tribute to his partner in this effort, Tom Lonek who sadly passed away in Jan 2008.
Fred and Sammy continue to perform together at, “Levon Helms Midnight Rambles,” in Woodstock NY where the new Little Sammy Davis and Midnight
Slim, Electric Band debuted recently, blues festivals and venues throughout the
US. The band is currently booking dates for 2009.
About Little Sammy Davis
Little Sammy Davis is one of the last, great living Delta bluesmen. Born in 1928 in Wynona Mississippi, Sammy took up the harmonica by the age of 7. In no time he was entertaining on street corners and traveling medicine shows all over the south. Sammy left Mississippi on the back of a chicken truck and eventually ended up in Florida.
He joined up with many blues greats, including Earl Hooker, Pine Top Perkins, Ike Turner, and Albert King. For awhile, Sammy played in a band with both Earl Hooker and Albert King. However as Sammy puts it, “Unfortunately the band didn’t last but a few weeks,” as the two mighty rivals, Hooker and King eventually came to blows, dissolving the band. All totaled, Sammy spent nine years on the road playing with Earl Hooker. When Sammy finally parted ways with Hooker, he headed to Chicago where he played constantly and shared the stage with many greats, including Muddy Waters, Little Walter, and Jimmy Reed. During that time, Sammy would often be called to front Little Walter’s band, “The Mighty Aces” when Walter couldn’t show for a gig.
Sammy married and by the late 1960’s he and his wife settled in the Hudson Valley region of New York State. In 1970, Sammy’s world was rocked when his wife passed away suddenly. Sammy faded from sight, put down his harp, and wouldn’t be seen or heard from for twenty years.
Around 1990, the rumors of an amazing bluesman playing harmonica in a Poughkeepsie barbershop reached the attention of WVKR radio personality Doug Price. As Price began spinning some of Sammy’s old records at the station, the hunt was on to find the lost bluesman. At the same time, Sammy began showing up at blues clubs where he was spotted by drummer Brad Scribner. Brad, along with guitar playing brother Fred were members of the band “Midnight Slim.” The three musicians bonded and the newly formed group, “Little Sammy Davis and Midnight Slim” began playing gigs and supplying background tracks for New York radio’s long running, “Imus in the Morning Show.”
Following their first appearance on “Imus in the Morning,” Sammy and the band earned high praise from the New York Daily News and became the official “House Band” for the Imus show. Playing everything from Delta and Chicago blues, to gems from Ray Charles and James Brown, “Little Sammy Davis and Midnight Slim” became one of Imus’ favorite and most frequent guests—often being the object of the “I-Man’s” humor and ire.
In 1996, Little Sammy Davis released “I Ain’t Lyin’” on Delmark Records. The critically acclaimed album was nominated for a W.C. Handy award, received the “Comeback Artist of the Year” award from Living Blues magazine, and received the "Little Walter Lifetime Achievement Award." Don Imus' liner notes for 'I
ain't' Lyin'-* "The two most unlikely people to be in the same band, or for that matter, in the same room together, are Little Sammy Davis and Fred Scribner. Little Sammy, who is a blues singer in the tradition of the great Jimmy Reed, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters looks like a blues singer although he tells me he's never been in jail and does not have a drug habit. He does, however, have more harmonicas than teeth. And the broken-hearted women Sammy's left along the way easily outnumber his harmonicas. Women, I might Do add, who probably still like him about as much as I do. Which is a
lot." Then there's Fred Scribner-the Midnight slim band's lead guitarist.
In fact Fred IS MIDNIGHT SLIM-along with Sammy, of course. There are other People in the band but i have no idea who they
are. Fred keeps kicking them out, so it's difficult to get to know their names.
Also i might add, pointless. But back to Fred. Fred looks like he should be the manager of an Ace Hardware
store. You know, the guy with the plastic pen holder stuffed full of Bics and two hundred keys hanging on his
belt. And he's white. In fact, you can't be. But he can play the blues. Which i suppose
proves what people can also get the blues-when they wreck their BMW's, run out of polo shirts-whatever. The first time i heard the lead cut on this
album, "I Aint' Lyin'", Sammy was sitting in my radio studio singing it with his headphones over his
eyes. At first I thought he had a Ray Charles thing going on. I was relieved to learn the headphones simply
didn't fit. I loved the song. I still do. Both Fred and Sammy are as deserving as any two people i know of the success they are now
enjoying. They indeed do belong in the same room, and together, but if i were
Sammy, I'd insist on separate beds.-Don Imus [Imus in the Morning Radio Show"] In 2000, their second
album, “Ten Years and Forty Days” was released on their own label, Fat Fritz Records. In 2002, movie director, Arlen Tarlofskey chose Little Sammy Davis and Midnight Slim as the subject for a documentary, “Little Sammy Davis” which received critical accolades and appeared at film festivals around the world.
From the “House of Blues” in Hollywood and Boston, to the “Beacon Theater” in New York City, enthusiastic audiences turn out to see Little Sammy Davis perform live. In addition to “Imus in the Morning” being syndicated on MSNBC, Little Sammy and the band have been seen on, “Prime Time Live,” “The King Biscuit Blues Hour,” and Dan
Akroyd's House of Blues Radio Show.”
In recent years, Sammy has been a regular member of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and 2008 Grammy award winning Levon Helm’s band. Sammy and Fred have appeared as an opening act at Levon’s weekly “Midnight Rambles” at his famous studio showcase in Woodstock, New York. 2008 also found Sammy and Fred in Los Angeles recording songs for the upcoming “Mannish Boys” album on Delta Groove Records scheduled for summer release.
Little Sammy Davis currently lives in Orange County, New York and continues to sing and play harmonica as a member of Levon Helm’s band. He also plays gigs with Fred and his own touring band. As his eightieth birthday approaches, Sammy is happy and healthy as ever and receiving the recognition he so rightfully deserves.
Travelin' Man by Little Sammy Davis and Midnight Slim