The Mannish Boys debuted at #10 on the Billboard Blues Chart with their brand new release "Lowdown Feelin'!" This news follows on the heels of their previous effort "Big Plans" which debuted at #9 on the Billboard charts in May one year after its original release.
"Lowdown Feelin'" is the 4th installment by the The Mannish Boys which looks to capture all the success and forward momentum stirred by last year's universally praised release "Big Plans." Veteran Chicago Blues singer Bobby Jones returns to the spotlight turning out many of the album's stunning highlights along with revered vocalists Finis Tasby and Johnny Dyer. The core band is comprised of Kid Ramos, Kirk Fletcher, Frank Goldwasser, Randy Chortkoff, Ronnie James Weber, Tom Leavey and Richard Innes, and is once again enhanced by an array of special guests including Little Sammy Davis, Fred Scribner, Junior Watson, Lynwood Slim, Al Blake and Fred Kaplan.
You won't believe how good these guys are...
Review By David O. Hoagland (Cottonwood CA)
I just stumbled across this listening to FAT Music Radio on the web (check it out!), looked it up on Amazon and bought the download album. I can't believe there are no reviews on this album, I am in no way qualified to write one, I am sure there will shortly be superlative and erudite reviews for The Mannish Boys here. But this album just knocked me out. It put a bolt through me; like the first time I heard Led Zeppelin (hey it was my first introduction to the 'blues'). This band originates from the same classic roots influences of course but they have completely mastered the forms like no else I've heard. Every one of these 17, count-em, 17 tracks is a modern hip masterpiece of the rhythm and blues yet also as timeless and as authentic as the classic works of the generations of our great and obscure blues artists who have been gone for these many, many years. I am thrilled to have found this band.
Review by: Don Zelazny
If you are a fan of high energy blues performed at a very high level you definitely need to check out Lowdown Feelin’, the new CD from The Mannish Boys. No fewer than 20 artists (the core Mannish Boys group and assorted musical guests) combine to deliver a CD stuffed with 17 tracks and over 70 minutes of great blues. The appeal of this ever-evolving blues super-group is the mix of blues veterans with countless years of performing and new players adding youthful energy, a recipe that has worked for years for Roomful of Blues. The current incarnation of the band is Kid Ramos and Franck “Paris Slim” Goldwasser on guitar, Richard “Big Foot” Innes on drums, Ronnie James Weber or Tom Leavey on bass, Randy Chortkoff, harp and vocals, front-man Finis Tasby on “vocal cords” and very special guests, Kirk “Eli” Fletcher on guitar, and Chicago legend Bobby Jones, vocals. This is “full-bodied” blues with powerful and plentiful instrumentation, not stripped down “blues-light” (not that there’s anything wrong with that..).
Among the many highlight are “Low Down Feeling” and “If the Washing Don’t Get you, The Rinsing Will.” The band prides itself on delivering tunes that haven’t received a lot of attention. Randy Chortkoff says, “There are just so many great blues songs out there that almost no one has ever heard, that no one ever plays...I feel part of keeping the blues alive is keeping some of those great songs alive too.” One you will recognize and enjoy is the lengthy “Rude Groove,” which is basically built over “Green
Onion's” Also check out the pounding instrumental “You Don’t Love Me.” Hopefully the Boys will be able to continue on with this stellar group. Rarely do we find such a great mix of players and tunes!
Lowdown Feelin’ reviewed by David Stine
With 17 songs and 20 musicians, the new Mannish Boys CD is sorta like Jazzfest: if you can’t find something to like, then you don’t like music. The fourth CD from The Mannish Boys is another very enjoyable disc featuring the key players, Kid Ramos, Eli Fletcher, Finis Tasby, Johnny Dyer, Randy Chortoff, Richard Innes, Ronny James Weber, Bobby Jones, Frank Goldwasser, and Tom Leavey. Special “guests” include Junior Watson, Lynwood Slim, Al Blake, Fred Kaplan, Little Sammy Davis, and Fred Scriber. With tons of talent and an ear toward the “less-heard” side of blues songs selection, The Mannish Boys have another “hit” by continuing on a path begun with 2004’s That Represent Man.
The CD kicks of with a guitar/trumpet, near-mariachi intro to “These Kind Of Blues.” But it’s not the Butterfield version most of us are used to: Bobby Jones and band own this one in their own right. Randy Chortoff contributes two songs. The boys cover only two more pretty-well-knowns: “The Same Thing,” and “You Don‘t Love Me.” (I question the wisdom of doing the latter as an instrumental with ALL the vocal talent available here.) Also included are Wolf’s “Chocolate Drop,” two Little Sammy Davis tunes, and two-hands full of lesser known gems like “Figure head,” “Something’s Wrong,” and “Dead Letter Blues.” I won’t take the time to mention or review each cut--17, remember?
It’s hard to pick a favorite cut with a CD this long and with so many great players. For those of you unfamiliar with The Mannish Boys, part of their “shtick” is to stay pretty close to older blues confines--read no songs made unbearable long by 15 minutes of guitar soloing. These guys, for the most part, have other things to do, so their acknowledgement of and adherence to the “old school” is a choice not a gimmick. SO . . .given all that, my favorite cuts are “These Kind Of Blues,“ Searchin’ Blues,“ The Woodchuck” for it’s unique hilarity, “”Figure Head,” “Rude Groove,” and “Something’s Wrong”. Does The Mannish Boys near perfect copping of 50s/60s Chicago blues, you ask, automatically relegate them to incidental background music? Not in the least I say. They satisfy at all levels and give us something that has been missing quite a bit lately--old school (great singers, guitars, harmonicas, piano, bass, drums, occasional horns). Which, to me, is good school.
1. These Kind of Blues
2. Searchin' Blues
3. Low Down Feeling
4. Chocolate Drop
5. If the Washing Don't Get You, the Rinsing Will
6. Need My Baby
7. The Same Thing
8. The Woodchuck
9. Fine Lookin' Woman
10. You Don't Love Me
11. Figure Head
12. Rude Groove
13. When I Leave
14. Good Times
15. Something's Wrong
16. Reet, Petite and Gone
17. Dead Letter Blues
About The Mannish Boys
Fresh out of the recording studio after laying down 17 tracks for their third studio release, The Mannish Boys come to you with more polished grit than ever before. Returning to, in essence, the original core of the band, The Mannish Boys have added even more show stopping musicians to the already dynamic lineup which makes up the one band blues festival that is The Mannish Boys. Assembled from the cream of the crop of today’s blues veterans and young bloods, the flexible and rotating cast of vigorous musicians and entertainers keep things interesting and fresh.
Grinding their blues to an incandescent element through appearances before sold-out crowds and on festival stages in the U.S., Canada and in Europe, The Mannish Boys have become universally praised as one of the most exciting blues projects to hit the scene in years! The current lineup features Richard “Big Foot” Innes on drums, Ronnie James Weber or Tom Leavey on bass, Kid Ramos and Franck “Paris Slim” Goldwasser on guitar, Randy Chortkoff blowing harp and lending vocals, front-man Finis Tasby handling the vocals and very special guests, Kirk “Eli” Fletcher, loaded with zeal and fluidity on guitar and resurrected soul and blues Chicago legend, Bobby Jones bringing down the house with his intensely rich B.B.-esque vocals.
The Mannish Boys are guaranteed to bring you a show that will forever be locked in your blues vault of experiences with live music. DO NOT miss out on your chance to see this world renowned SUPER GROUP perform on a stage near you!
Born in the rural town of Levon on the outskirts of Dallas, Finis Tasby first encountered the blues when his family moved to Garland, Texas. As a young child, he was inspired to take up the harmonica by local bluesman L.B. Bailey. Finis later started playing drums and began hanging out in West Dallas night spots like the Empire, the Zanzibar, and Clark's where he befriended local sensations Frankie Lee Sims and singing drummer Mercy Baby. In the late '50s, Finis moved to Fort Worth and played drums with his first band, the Blues Blasters. He eventually returned to Dallas switching to bass and formed the Thunderbirds, a band whose name later inspired another famous group featuring a young guitarist by the name of Jimmie Vaughan. Throughout the '60s, the Thunderbirds backed up blues heavy weights, Freddie King, Lowell Fulson, Clarence Carter, Jimmy McCracklin and Z.Z. Hill on regional tours through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas before ultimately disbanding by the end of the decade. After the band split up, Finis gave up playing and worked exclusively as a driver for Freddie King. In 1973, Finis relocated to Los Angeles and found work as an auto mechanic taking gigs whenever they became available, even playing bass behind John Lee Hooker for a short time. Finis recorded sporadically over the years releasing several 45's including 1978's classic "Get Drunk and Be Somebody' and his first LP "Blues Mechanic." In 1997, Randy Chortkoff produced the fantastic CD "Jump Children!" on Evidence Records which featured Finis backed by a host of incredible talent that included Rick Holmstrom, Kid Ramos, Coco Montoya, Lester Butler, Larry Taylor and Richard Innes, a trend that continues to this day in both Chortkoff's and Tasby's involvement in the all-star super group, The Mannish Boys.
Born in Farmerville, LA, Bobby Jones was initially raised on the Country music stylings of artists such as Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, Roy Acuff and Little Jimmy Dickens. At the age of 16, Jones forged his own documents in order to pass himself off as a 20 year old, so he could join the army in an attempt to get away from home. Jones caught his first taste of the blues on WLAC, a radio station in Nashville, TN, that featured late night blues programming and would spin music by Buddy Ace, Ivory Joe Hunter, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Junior Parker and B.B. King, but it wasn't until after relocating to Chicago, IL, in 1959 that his real blues education truly began. Upon his arrival, Jones quickly immersed himself in the thriving blues scene amongst legendary artists Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Hound Dog Taylor, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Fenton Robinson, and soon found himself performing at the many popular establishments of the day including Pepper's Lounge, Teresa's and the Trocadara, all located on the South Side of Chicago. Jones was backed by many of the blues elite including Jody Williams, Lonnie Brooks and Syl Johnson, and even replaced Junior Wells in The Aces when Wells gave up his spot after landing a big hit with "Messin' With The Kid." Jones issued his first single "Sugar Baby" backed with "Lonely Bedroom," and later enjoyed relative success in the charts with "I Am So Lonely" peaking at #3 in Chicago, and also held the #1 spot for 6 weeks in Florida. The flip side of the single featured "Talkin' 'Bout Jones" recorded with Syl Johnson, who also instructed Jones on how to approach his vocals for the song. In 1999, Ace Records issued two recordings; "In the Mood For Love" and "Sneakin' & Freakin'," both distributed by Malaco Records in Mississippi. Jones' career had remained relatively quiet until 2006 when he was brought to the attention of Delta Groove CEO Randy Chortkoff, and invited to join in for the recording session of the Mannish Boys release "Big Plans." Jones will appear on two new Delta Groove projects in 2008 including an all new Mannish Boys release, in addition to his very own solo record debut.
Johnny Dyer is one of those guys who is so steady, and has been doing what he does for so well for so long, that he's sometimes overlooked. But don't take Johnny for granted - he's one of the truly great harp players of his generation, the generation that came out of heyday of the blues harp in the 1950s. Born in Mississippi in 1938, and having spent some of his formative years on Stovall's Plantation in Rolling Fork (also home of Muddy Waters), early on Johnny absorbed the subtlety of phrasing and easy swinging chops that are at the core of all the great blues harp players.
These elemental qualities were ingrained so early that they're completely automatic and natural in Johnny's playing, but often take later generations of harp players a lifetime of study to get a handle on - if they ever grasp them at all. Add to that a voice as rich as Mississippi mud, and you've got a bluesman who is about as heavy as they come these days.
Even with these deep roots and surplus of natural talent, Johnny has spent most of his life as a strictly local, part-time player in the L.A. area, where he relocated in the late 1950s. After testing the waters by leading his own band through the early '60s, he eventually took a day job to support himself until the 1990s. But over the last decade he's released a series of well-received CDs on labels such as Black Top and Blind Pig, and he earned a prestigious W.C. Handy Award nomination for "Blues Song Of The Year" for the title cut of his CD release on the Storyville label, "Hard Times Won". Now a charter member of The Mannish Boys, Johnny is featured with the band live and on record on some of their deepest blues material, often paying tribute to his two early inspirations, Muddy Waters and Chicago blues harp icon Little Walter.
Vocals / Harmonica / MC
Randy Chortkoff's passion for music was instilled in him at an early age. His father, who was a dedicated jazz fan, used to invite Louis Armstrong and members of his band into his home for dinner which often resulted in spontaneous and informal jam sessions. Randy's exposure to live blues came later in the '60s, as he frequented the now historic Ash Grove in Los Angeles, in addition to Bill Graham's Fillmore Auditorium and Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco where he witnessed performances by Muddy Waters, Albert King, Freddy King and Jimmy Reed. By the early '80s, Randy had formed his own band and over the years began building relationships amongst the local music scene that included close friendships with Rod Piazza, Lester Butler, Debbie Davies and Alex Schultz. His first project as an independent record producer was Billy Boy Arnold's highly acclaimed comeback release "Back Where I Belong," which helped signal the path that would eventually lead him to the formation of Delta Groove Productions. With the formation of Delta Groove came the formation of the
super group, The Mannish Boys, featuring the best of the best. These days Randy divides his time between performing with The Mannish Boys, running both the Eclecto and Delta Groove labels, as well as applying his considerable talents to financing and production for feature films where he ultimately hopes to combine his passion for blues with film to reach a much larger audience.
Born in Fullerton, CA, David "Kid" Ramos grew up in a musical household. Both of his parents had been opera singers-his mother had a singing scholarship to USC while his step-father had toured with the New York Metropolitan Opera. As a teen, Ramos practiced daily along to records by B.B. King and T-Bone Walker, diligently learning the fundamentals of blues guitar. A chance encounter witnessing the Fabulous Thunderbirds in a small club in 1978 further inspired his musical direction. In 1980, Ramos replaced guitarist Soup Bradshaw in what is often considered the classic lineup of the James Harman Band featuring Willie J. Campbell, Stephen T. Hodges and the late Hollywood Fats. After countless gigs and appearing on many classic Harman recordings including "Those Dangerous Gentlemens," "Strictly Live in '85!" and "Extra Napkins, Vol. 1 & 2," Ramos left the band in '88 to begin a family. Ramos held down a day job for several years delivering bottled water and remained partially active in the blues circuit by performing weekend dates with Roomful of Blues and The Blue Shadows, an early incarnation of Lester Butler's Red Devils. In 1994, Ramos teamed up with Lynwood Slim and issued a recording under the Big Rhythm Combo, following it up a year later with his debut solo release "Two Hands One Heart." It was Kim Wilson who eventually coaxed Ramos back into music full time in '95 as a member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, a band that had inspired him some 17 years earlier. Ramos has since released three successful solo recordings on Evidence Records, was the musical director on Floyd Dixon's posthumous release "Time Brings About A Change" and is currently a member of the critically acclaimed all-star revue, The Mannish Boys, as well as local Tex Mex/Roots music sensations Los Fabulocos.
Born in Paris, France, Frank Goldwasser's initial blues inspiration came from Hound Dog Taylor's "Natural Boogie" LP. Upon relocating to the Bay area in his early twenties at the invitation of Sonny Rhodes, Goldwasser 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 debut CD "Blues For Esther" appeared, and received a nomination by the prestigious W.C. Handy Awards. It's follow-up, "Bleedin' Heart" was co-produced with Joe Louis Walker, who guested along with Sonny Rhodes. Goldwasser moved down to Southern California in'98 where he eventually crossed paths with Randy Chortkoff. In 2001, Goldwasser headed into the studio to record "Bluju," one of the first official projects under the guidance of Randy Chortkoff for Delta Groove Productions, and it was later licensed and issued on Crosscut Records in Germany. These days Goldwasser resides in Portland, OR, where he performs locally and he's also a featured member of The Mannish Boys, appearing on all four recordings available on Delta Groove Music and tours regularly with the band.
Born in Compton, CA, Kirk Fletcher's early exposure to music came by way of playing guitar in Wilmington Street's Macedonian Church of Christ, where his father was a residing Baptist minister. Fletch's introduction to the blues came as a teenager, through his older brother Walter, and his copy of B.B. King's "Live at the Regal." By his early twenties, Fletcher had found the guidance of Al Blake, who turned him on to dozens of obscure blues recordings, and also introduced him to West Coast guitar wizard Junior Watson. Fletcher soon found himself performing around town with the likes of Janiva Magness and Lynwood Slim, eventually landing a spot in Kim Wilson's Blues Revue. He later was recruited for veteran harp man Charlie
Musselwhite's band, and in 1999 released his debut "I'm Here & I'm Gone" on England's JSP label featuring the support of notable guests Jackie Payne, John Marx and Alex Schultz. Since recording the album, "Shades of Blues," under the production of Randy Chrotkoff and signing on to Delta Groove, Fletcher has been dividing his time between touring and recording with both the Hollywood Blue Flames and the Fabulous Thunderbirds, as well as performing solo dates with his own band at his regular stomping grounds, The Café Boogaloo in Hermosa Beach, CA. He is now a regular in The Mannish Boys lineup.
RONNIE JAMES WEBBER
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 guitar phenomenon 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 front man 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 band he toured the world with for many years.
Tom Leavey is a solid, long-time veteran musician who has been gigging since his high school days in New York in the late 1950's. Throughout the 60's Tom backed a wide variety of Rock & Roll and R&B acts up and down the East Coast before relocating to Los Angeles in the early 70's. There, Tom was an integral part of the flourishing rock scene while still keeping a hand in the blues doing gigs with legends such as Big Mama Thorton, Lightnin' Hopkins and Big Joe Turner. During a brief spell in Arizona in the 80's, Leavey managed to leave his mark by picking up the "Best Phoenix Blues Band" award for his band the Mojomatics, before returning to L.A. for gigs with Otis Rush, Frank Frost, Finis Tasby, Johnny Dyer and while also doing session work for the widely acclaimed comeback recordings by Billy Boy Arnold and King Ernest. In 2005, Tom secured his place in the highly praised and respected all-star band The Mannish Boys by appearing on their concert release "Live & In Demand," and more recently contributed his own composition "Mary Jane" when the band returned to the studio in 2007 to record "Big Plans."
Born in Colfax, WA, Richard Innes divided his time in the bands of Rod Piazza, and the Piazza/George "Harmonica" Smith "Bacon Fat" band of the 1960's, in addition to touring with Little Richard, among others. Innes has forged a uniquely tasteful and economical drumming style that is unparalleled in modern Blues. Having seriously studied the music form, he is the originator of the modern West Coast drumming style and remains it's finest practitioner. Innes claims influences such as Sonny Freeman, Fred Below, Odie Payne, Willie Steele, SP Leary and Earl Palmer. He is a much in demand recording and performing artist on the Blues circuit. Richard now spends his time keeping the beat for both The Hollywood Blue Flames and The Mannish Boys.
Mannish Boys on Live at 9 in Memphis
The Mannish Boys (plus and minus a few members)
performing on the Memphis morning show Live at 9.
This was recorded the morning after the Blues Awards in 2006.