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Episode #656 – B.B. King

Air Week: November 28-December 4, 2022

B. B. King

The “Juke In The Back” pays its respects to a true musical icon, B.B. King. Riley B. King was raised on plantations as his mother was a sharecropper. He wanted to play guitar and sing on the radio like his mother’s cousin, Bukka White. He moved from Mississippi to Memphis in the mid-’40s to pursue his dream and finally in 1948, Riley got his big break, filling in for blues harpist Sonny Boy Williamson on his radio program. Soon, Riley became the “Beale Street Blues Boy” and later just “Blues Boy” or “B.B” and scored his own radio show on WDIA. Matt The Cat focuses on B.B.’s first records for Nashville’s Bullet Records and LA’s RPM label. His early sides were cut in Memphis with Sam Phillips at the controls. After a few years of non-charting records, B.B. hit the big time with a smokin’ #1 R&B hit, “Three O’Clock Blues” at the beginning of 1952. From there, he would score 3 more #1s. “Juke In The Back” features all of B.B. King’s great R&B hits from 1949-1955. Many of these you never get to hear these days. B.B. had a life of accomplishments as a great ambassador for the blues. We know how great he became and on this week’s program, we’ll see just where he started from.

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Episode #655 – Pookie Hudson (The Spaniels)

Air Week: November 21-27, 2022

Pookie Hudson (The Spaniels)

Pookie Hudson spent his entire life close to the music he loved. Growing up in Gary, Indiana, he spent his younger days trying to emulate the sound of BIlly Williams, the leader of the Charioteers. In high school, he began to develop his own style using his falsetto with just a touch of quiver to drive the girls crazy. Soon, he and his new group, The Spaniels were in the studio cutting a record for the newly formed Gary-based Vee-Jay label, owned by DJ Vivian Carter and her soon-to-be husband Jimmy Bracken. “Baby It’s You,” heavily based on Shirley & Lee’s “I’m Gone” started getting local radio play and began to take off nationally. Vee-Jay couldn’t handle the early distribution, so they leased it out to Chance Records in Chicago. When Chance folded soon after, Vee-Jay managed to get the single to #10 R&B nationally. Quite a success for a young label and group from Indiana. Unlike many vocal groups of this era, The Spaniels were able to match their vocal greatness with chart success and sales. “Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite,” “You Painted Pictures” and “Everyone’s Laughing” would grace the charts between 1953-58. Matt The Cat had the pleasure of interviewing the great Pookie Hudson in July, 2006, just six month before his death at the age of 72. On this week’s special “Juke In The Back,” Matt features clips from that interview to shed some light on the man, the group and the circumstances that made those songs so memorable.

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Episode #654 – Cab Calloway

Air Week: November 14-20, 2022

Cab Calloway

If you’re “hep to the jive” and can “dig the scene,” then you’re in for a treat on this week’s “Juke In The Back.” Matt The Cat presents Cab Calloway: the “Father of R&B,” the “Grandfather of Rock n’ Roll” and the “Hi De Ho Man.” There is no question that Cab Calloway planted the seeds that would grow into Rhythm & Blues on his 1931 Brunswick single “Minnie The Moocher.” That song would go on to have a life of its own, inspiring sequels and re-recorded versions for the rest of Calloway’s career. The tune would be revived yet again in 1980, when it and Cab Calloway were featured in the “Blues Brothers” film. Cab accomplished so much in his career, from breaking down the color barrier in motion pictures to introducing the world to scat singing and jive talking. He had a musical language and style all his own and we celebrate the great, influential Cab Calloway on this week’s “Juke In The Back.”

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Episode #653 – Cobra Records

Air Week: November 7-13, 2022

Cobra Records

Cobra Records left quite a bite, even thought this little West Side Chicago label was only in existence for three short years. Cobra was started by television repair shop owner Eli Toscano in the summer of 1956. Toscano was lucky enough to snag Willie Dixon from Chess Records to write, produce and scout talent for his new label. They hit gold right out of the gate, when Cobra’s first release, “I Can’t Quit You Baby” by Otis Rush went to #6 on the national R&B charts. Cobra would not score another hit record, but they are credited with popularizing the West Side blues style of their young artists; Otis Rush, Magic Sam and Buddy Guy. In fact, Magic Sam’s “All You Love” and Otis Rush’s “Double Trouble” are considered bonafied blues classics today. Betty Everett recorded her first sides for Cobra and Ike Turner recorded some of his last before forming Ike & Tina Turner. So get ready to fall under the spell of Cobra Records as Matt The Cat spins this little label’s best sides on this week’s “Juke In The Back.”

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Episode #652 – Big Maybelle

Air Week: October 31-November 6, 2022

Big Maybelle

Big MaybelleThe “Juke In The Back” highlights the often ignored early career of Big Maybelle, one of the great female blues shouters. She was born Mabel Louise Smith in 1929 and cut her first record with Christine Chatman’s Orchestra for Decca in 1944. Mabel Smith made her first solo recordings for King in 1947 before being signed to Okeh Records by Fred Mendelsohn in 1952. He renamed her Big Maybelle and she hit the R&B charts right out of the gate with her first Okeh release, “Gabbin’ Blues.” Maybelle would score a few more hits for them before following Mendelsohn over to Savoy Records in 1956. That year, she hit the national spotlight with her interpretation of the standard, “Candy.” Matt The Cat reviews the vocal power and soul of this truly original blueswoman, Big Maybelle, on this week’s “Juke In The Back.”

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Episode #650 – Pee Wee Crayton

Air Week: October 17-23, 2022

Pee Wee Crayton

The “Juke In The Back” honors one of the greatest, yet more underrated originators of electric blues guitar: Pee Wee Crayton.  Matt The Cat digs deep into Crayton’s musical catalog and dusts off more than just his three charting R&B hits.  You’ll also get to hear the fantastic and inspired recordings he cut in New Orleans with bandleader Dave Bartholomew as well as his Vee-Jay Records sides.  Pee Wee Crayton’s story comes to life through his music on this week’s “Juke In The Back.”

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Juke In The Back Promo

1940s & ’50s Rhythm & Blues

At the end of the Second World War, economics forced the big bands to trim their once great size and thus, the Jump Blues combo was born. Between 1946-1954, rhythm and blues laid the tracks for what was to become Rock n’ Roll. So how come, 70 years later, this vibrant and influential music is still so unknown to so many?

Matt The Cat is going to change that with the radio program, “Juke In The Back.” These were the records that you couldn’t hear on the jukebox in the front of the establishment. To hear all this great 1950s rhythm & blues, you had to go to “Juke In The Back.”

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Juke In The Back: Demo The Show

 

Click below to hear a demo episode of “Juke In The Back.”

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