Thursday, August 12, 2010

Westside Andy/Mel Ford Band with Barrelhouse Chuck

Westside Andy Bio  by R.C. Harris

First off, for truth in advertising, I'm a totally biased fan of Westside Andy's harp playing. Been so since dirt was invented.

More modern facts include that Hohner, Inc. lists him as an endorser alongside Rod Piazza, Toots Thielemans, & Corky Siegel, among many other great players. Those who know who these folks are, nothing further need be said. Turn the page.

For those who haven't had that good fortune, know that these are giants on Planet Harmonica. Actually, Corky was one of Andy's most enthusiastic early mentors. In fact, the night they met during a Siegel/Schwall Blues Band set break, Corky asked him to sit in for the entire next set. Andy was 15.

That may have been the galvanizing moment when the "Westside" story really started. Meaning thousands of gigs. Probably a million miles with a trunk full of gear, and how many late nights driving home in ice and snow in the groovy winters of Wisconsin where this blues bird resides. In the process, Andy has shared the stage with James Cotton, Luther Allison, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Charlie Musselwhite, Doobie Brothers, Richie Havens, Muddy Waters, Gary Primich, Jimmy Johnson, Tab Benoit, Hubert Sumlin. Ok, you get the idea. Not to mention his current long-time collaboration with Mel Ford, a blues guitarist/vocalist/songwriter of wide acclaim. And thus, the name of the band. The Westside Andy/Mel Ford Band. Like a winter night's drink. Neat and hot.

But enough of this. Give a listen, and see if the boogie man don't dance.

Alley Cat (Westside Andy / Mel Ford Band, False Dog Records, 2007)
Side By Side (Glenn Davis & Westside Andy, Moonfish Records, 2006)
A Lil Sump'm Sump'm, (Jon Nicholson, Warner Brothers, 2005)
Handyman (Westside Andy / Mel Ford Band, False Dog Records, 2002)
Live On the Westside (Westside Andy / Mel Ford Band, False Dog Records, 1999)
Bon Apetit’ (with Glenn Davis, Moonfish Records, 1998)
Circumstance (with Chris Aaron, Tubetone Records, 1996)
Born with the Blues (with The Chris Aaron Band, Rock Garden Records, 1996)
King Dollar (with Paul Black and the Flip Kings, House of Blues, 1996)
Face to Face with the Blues (with Howard “Guitar” Luedtke and Blue Max, False Dog, 1996)
Two Happy Cowboys From Wisconsin (Waubesa Ranch Records, 1993)
Dixie Highway (with Robert J., Big World, 1992)
Don’t Make Me Get Up (Paul Black and the Flip Kings, Bone Boy, 1991)
United Mine Workers (with Honor Among Thieves, Exudel, 1990)
Heat It Up (w/ Shakedown, All Meat, 1990)
Latin with the Blues (w/ Tino Gonzales, Blues Street, 1989)

Band Bio

Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd calls Andy Linderman “one of the most dynamic electric harmonica players of our generation.” Jazz performer and producer Ben Sidran calls Mel Ford “one of the finest blues players in the Midwest if not the country.”

Put “one of the most dynamic electric harmonica players” on the same stage as “one of the finest blues players in the Midwest if not the country” and you have one of the most exciting blues groups in the country: The Westside Andy & Mel Ford Band.

Andy Linderman and Mel Ford have played together for years. But because of their “other commitments,” this is the first time they’ve made it official.

Andy’s “other commitments” include collaborations with James Cotton, Corky Siegel, Jim Schwall, Luther Allison, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Charlie Musselwhite, The Doobie Brothers, Richie Havens, Muddy Waters, Ben E. King, Tab Benoit, and The University of Wisconsin 250-piece band (Andy stopped the show).

Mel began in opening acts for Albert Collins, Freddie King, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. He played with Bo Diddley, Sunnyland Slim, Zora Young, Junior Pettis, Ben Sidran and Paul Black and the Flip Kings (with Andy). Mel also played the part of bandleader in Mel Ford and the Fairlanes.

So what is the Westside Andy / Mel Ford band? It’s part celebration of a great American music. It’s part the result of all the musicians Mel and Andy have played with. And it’s all about love. They love this music and they love to play it for you. Dan Smith

Barrelhouse Chuck Bio
Barrelhouse Chuck is the only Chicago blues pianist to have studied under Sunnyland Slim, Pinetop Perkins, Blind John Davis, Detroit Junior and Little Brother Montgomery. Barrelhouse Chuck draws on this distinguished lineage to create a blues, boogie-woogie and barrelhouse piano style that places him at the forefront of this celebrated tradition.

Born in Ohio (Columbus, OH - July 10, 1958) where he first learned to play the drums at the age of 6, Barrelhouse Chuck, whose real name is Charles Goering, later switched to the piano and was living Gainesville Fla when he heard his first Muddy Waters record with Otis Spann on piano. This was a major turning point in Chuck's life.

After that Chuck started buying the records of every blues artist he could find. A quick study on the keyboards, it wasn't long before Chuck had formed his own band and began opening for Willie Dixon, B.B. King, and Muddy Waters and Chuck was playing with the great Bo Diddley. It was also during this time (the middle 70's) that Chuck and some of his friends began following Muddy Waters around to get some first hand exposure to both Muddy and his then current piano player, Pinetop Perkins.

We used to follow Muddy all around down South. We would wait in parking lots for the Van with Illinois plates to roll up. Pinetop Perkins & Willie Smith would recognize me and get me into their concerts. Then invited me to be back stage with Muddy and the band. Afterward, I'd go out to breakfast with them. I was just in awe.'

Then realizing he needed to immerse himself in blues piano he deciding to go directly to the source. In 1979 he drove 24 hours straight from Florida with Right-hand Frank to Chicago and went directly to B.L.U.E.S on Halsted specifically to see Sunnyland Slim. 'I took a gamble and came to Chicago, and the first thing I did when I arrived was to go to B.L.U.E.S on Halsted. I walked in the door and there was Sunnyland Slim. I went right up to him and said, 'I've just driven 24 hours straight to see you.''

Chuck spent the next 16 years studying with the living legend, who Chuck called 'the great-granddaddy of all the blues piano players.' Through Sunnyland he met all the great blues musicians in Chicago, and often ended up playing with and hanging out with them. Piano greats Blind John Davis, Big Moose Walker, Detroit Junior and Erwin Helfer were also playing blues piano in Chicago. Chuck spent years listening, learning and became friends.

People like S.P. Leary, Smokey Smothers, Erwin Helfer and Little Brother Montgomery took Chuck under their wings, invited him into their homes and made him feel a part of their families.

Chuck formed a special bond with piano legend Little Brother Montgomery with whom he honed his piano stylings during a long internship. Chuck often lived with Little Brother spending many hours with him and Sunnyland Slim playing piano and hanging out. Other great piano players like Tollie & Joe Montgomery, Jay McShann and Lafayette Leake would come by to visit L.B. and play piano. Chuck was instrumental in arranging honorariums, driving him to jobs (and to the hospital when his health began failing) and helping him out in every way he could. Little Brother returned this favor by taking Chuck under his wing and giving him a musical education no other man has ever received. When Brother passed away Chuck lost a mentor and a true friend, but Chuck keeps his music alive when ever he plays. "Little Brother was like a grandfather to me".

The last 30 years Chuck developed his immense mastery of blues piano and went on to perform or record with most of the notable Chicago blues musicians-people like Jimmy Rogers, Eddie Taylor, Kim Wilson, Hubert Sumlin, Otis Rush, Louis Myers, Buddy Guy, Big Smokey Smothers among many others. His recording credits reads like a 'who's who' of modern day Chicago blues. [CLICK HERE for Chuck's recording session & record label credits. CLICK HERE for a list of musicians Barrelhouse Chuck has played with!]

Barrelhouse Chuck is a recording artist for The Sirens Records. He participates on the classic recording '8 Hands on 88 Keys - Chicago Blues Piano Masters Detroit Jr., Pinetop Perkins, and Erwin Helfer. He has also recorded a solo disc entitled 'Prescription for the Blues' and a highly acclaimed band disc 'Got My Eyes On You' with Kim Wilson, Calvin 'Fuzz' Jones, Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith, Eddie Taylor Jr. Joel Foy.

In Feb.2008 Barrelhouse Chuck was asked by Kim Wilson, lead singer and harmonica player for the Fabulous Thunderbirds, to participate with Kim and recorded the soundtrack for Sony BMG's much anticipated new film 'Cadillac Records.' The movie tells the story of Chess Records and includes many of the gifted musicians who started there. Beyonce Knowles is executive producer. Beyonce will also portray famed blues singer Etta James. Adrian Brody plays historic Chess Records founder Leonard Chess; Jeff Wright is cast as blues great Muddy Waters; and Cedric the Entertainer plays legendary songwriter Willie Dixon. Other musicians in the session include Steve Jordan on drum, basssist Larry Taylor (Canned Heat), and guitarists Eddie Taylor, Jr., Billy Flynn and the legenday Hubert Sumlin. Previous to recording for this amazing new film, Kim Wilson and Eddie Taylor appeared on Barrelhouse Chuck's critically acclaimed recording 'Got My Eyes On You', released by The Sirens Records in 2006.

During the past Three decades Chuck has played all over the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America and tours Europe regularly. He has also appeared more than a dozen times at the Chicago Blues Festival. There are only a few of those great piano players left notes Barrelhouse Chuck. Even though most of his teachers have passed on, Barrelhouse Chuck has become one of the bearers of the flame, and keeps both their spirit and music alive, passing it along where ever he plays.

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