Home > Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, trips and journeys > Playin’ The Blues With Dave Specter In Chicago

Playin’ The Blues With Dave Specter In Chicago

February 21st, 2019 Jorma Leave a comment Go to comments

So I was playing at Space up in Evanston outside of Chicago a couple of years ago and I became friends with Dave Specter, a great blues guitarist. Dave’s the one who got me fired up bout Fender Jazzmasters. (Now I have two. Thanks Dave!) I had been sitting on some lyrics I wrote some years ago called, ‘The Blues Aint’ Nothin.’ Try as I might, was never able to come up with the music for it as much as I liked the lyrics. I gave the lyrics to Dave and he set them to music and did an arrangement. He was going to include this tune on his new album and asked me to come to Chicago to play on it. ‘Count me in!’ I loaded up my truck with my Louis Electric Deltone and my Gibson Custom Shop Beano Les Paul and up the road I went.

The weather sucked all the way up. Non stop snow… but nothing was sticking. With heated seats and four wheel drive, ‘Bring it on,’ I said! I made it up to Evanston where the hotel was in about nine hours and right there in the hotel was a farm to table restaurant. The Farmhouse more than rocked. Two dinners and a breakfast. Delightful!

Anyway, back to music. Tuesday noonish I drove over to the Delmark Studios. Delmark has an almost seven decade tradition of great records. Buddy Guy, Magic Sam, Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Anthony Braxton, Fareed Haque and more have all been a part of this amazing legacy. Julia Miller, the President and CEO is more than keeping this legacy alive. Without losing the lineage she is moving into the future with fearless artistic integrity.

Welcoming me to the nerve center!

Welcoming me to the nerve center!

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

We were cutting live, so I put my amp in the Ladies Room for isolation. The first of the great musicians I met was Harlan Lee Terson, bassist.

Photographer Harvey Tillis and Harlan Terson

Photographer Harvey Tillis and Harlan Terson

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Photographer Harvey Tillis was on hand to document the session and I got to pick his brain a bit about some photography geekery.

The personnel was as follows:

Dave Specter, guitar and vocals
John Kattke, piano, organ and vocals
Marty Binder, Drums
Harlan Terson, Bass
Jorma Kaukonen, guitar
Steve Wagner, engineer

Marty at the drums...

Marty at the drums...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

John Kattke at the hundred year old Steinway

John Kattke at the hundred year old Steinway

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

We got the two tunes I was involved in cut in about five hours and I got ready to say goodbye to my new pals.

Harlan, Jorma, Dave, Marty and John

Harlan, Jorma, Dave, Marty and John

Foto by Harvey Tillis

It was a true honor for me to be a guest of Dave’s on this project. More than good times. It was also more than exciting to see what Julia is doing to shepherd Delmark into the 21st Century.

The job done, I loaded up the truck and drove back to the Fur Peace Ranch. Traffic, of course, getting out of Chicago in the AM and then non stop rain for the next 400 miles.

Cracker Barrel and the puzzle... I can do it.

Cracker Barrel and the puzzle... I can do it.

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

A grand trip!

A few more studio shots:

Me and Dave in situ

Me and Dave in situ

Foto by Harvey Tillis

Overdub time!

Overdub time!

Floto by Harvey Tillis

Pondering the muse

Pondering the muse

Foto by Harvey Tillis

  1. carey georgas
    February 21st, 2019 at 14:13 | #1

    I just can’t hardly describe the lift it gives me to see someone a few years my senior still enjoying his life’s work with the enthusiasm of a twenty-something. Your embrace of change(I guess external change. I read one time you said you didn’t like changing furniture around – a commonality) and adventure are truly inspiring and I think about it sometimes when I’m doing things I enjoy – “Can I maintain Jorma’s level of enthusiasm for my rose bushes or my asparagus bed or chasing the largemouth bass?” A lofty goal. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Buddy Guy’s a helluva showman. Seen him a couple of times, always fun. I was at the Woodlands Pavilion in Houston one time when he opened for the Allman Brothers (almost should’ve been the other way around). Anyway, he had a wireless guitar and started wandering through the pavilion shredding away. I had an aisle seat, walked right by me wearing it out.

  2. Tom in St.Louis
    February 21st, 2019 at 14:22 | #2

    @carey georgas
    I understand that Jack has played one of those Largemouth basses, said it sounded great but he got a lure stuck in his finger.

  3. carey georgas
    February 21st, 2019 at 14:44 | #3

    @Tom in St.Louis Yikes! Hope he didn’t have to push the barb through!

  4. John B
    February 21st, 2019 at 16:07 | #4

    Great story Jorma and thank you for putting it out there for us all to enjoy.

  5. Tom Fabry
    February 21st, 2019 at 17:17 | #5

    Farm to table…I am sure it was good chow.

    The Les Paul looks good. Takes 10 years off a man they say. And you are right, The Blues Ain’t Nothin.

    Pressing On.

  6. Chappy
    February 21st, 2019 at 20:20 | #6

    Excellent! Coincidentally, I just finished 2 books about Chicago blues: “Blues with a Twist” by Twist Turner and “Bitten by the Blues” by Bruce Iglauer. Twist was a local drummer who gigged around the Chicago blues scene for many years. Bruce worked at Delmark before starting Alligator Records. Both books had some great stories. Speaking of Fenders and Gibsons, I just cracked a new book titled “The Birth of Loud” by Ian Port about Leo Fender and Les Paul “And the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry that Shaped Rock-N-Roll.” Great books for everyone who loves music and history and musical history!

  7. rich l
    February 22nd, 2019 at 09:44 | #7

    I happened across the movie, “The Rookie,” recently while flipping through channels. It’s an easy one to get hooked into. Dennis Quaid plays a teacher/baseball coach in the forlorn Texas town, called Big Lake.

    The team had won a total of about 5 games over the prior 3 seasons before Quaid took over. At one point in the season, Quaid told the players it wasn’t the losing that bugged him, but that the players quit on themselves.

    Based on the true story of Jim Morris, the players use a little reverse psychology and tell the coach he quit on himself – and should give himself another crack at the majors. (He had a tryout in his youth with the Brewers but blew out his shoulder.)

    The coach and team make a pact – if they make it to the State playoffs, Coach would try out again.

    The next scene shows the beginning of the turn around, and Embryonic Journey is played in the background while they start winning again. It almost seems like the song was wrote for that moment.

    The movie has a great soundtrack, but the haunting sound of Jorma carrying forth was the best!

  8. AndyK
    February 22nd, 2019 at 10:31 | #8

    @carey georgas
    Buddy is still doing his audience walkthru at his shows – a legend for 82 years.

  9. February 22nd, 2019 at 11:34 | #9

    Best place to see Buddy is at his “LEGENDS”, club on Wabash.Hes frequently at door ,with crown on the rocks ,and insuring that all pretty girls get front row seats.
    He shared a scenario one time that was reminiscent of the paraphrase from Manchild in the promised land,he asserted that he knew the “backyards and rooftops”, inferring that if one is “Over served”, that you can weave your way home without police escort.
    Go to Legends

  10. AndyK
    February 22nd, 2019 at 12:27 | #10

    @Greg Martelli
    On my bucket list!

  11. John R.
    February 22nd, 2019 at 13:02 | #11

    Bring it on indeed! The intrepid road warrior.

  12. eaglesteve
    February 22nd, 2019 at 17:03 | #12

    Remembering Papa John, age 76 in 1994, RIP Bro.

  13. AndyK
  14. Ham Neggs
    February 22nd, 2019 at 18:08 | #14

    @eaglesteve
    Thanks
    Hard to believe Jorma is older than the old man in the band. A wonderful gentleman I had the privilege of seeing many times
    Peace love all Ways u

  15. carey georgas
    February 23rd, 2019 at 13:33 | #15

    Send some good vibes Peter Frampton’s way.

  16. Brian Doyle
    February 23rd, 2019 at 13:48 | #16

    Got to get Buddy out of that “tinkle tinkle” act he does where he plays a few tinkling, teasing sample notes of the song and then stops and cuts it off…He did that on a Manhattan Hudson River boat show I saw in the 1980’s…Come on Buddy – as Little Richard says “You want it all or nothing”…

  17. johno
    February 23rd, 2019 at 15:47 | #17

    Read today that Peter Frampton is doing a Farewell Tour this year. Saw him open for John Fogarty at Bethel Woods last summer. What a show. Frampton was great – very humble guy. It was one of those shows where you knew every song.
    @carey georgas

  18. carey georgas
    February 23rd, 2019 at 15:52 | #18

    @johno
    You didn’t mean very humble pie, did you? I saw Humble Pie way back yonder when Hector was a pup, and again a few years later solo when Do You Feel was at the top at a festival in Austin. Good shows.

  19. carey georgas
    February 23rd, 2019 at 15:57 | #19

    He was on CBS This Motning today talking about his disease and the concert.

  20. Sweetbac Jr.
    February 23rd, 2019 at 17:51 | #20

    Hendrix borrowed a LOT from Buddy Guy..that being said, a little Buddy Guy goes a LONG way.
    These days he talks/teases songs more than he actually plays ‘em….but he’s earned the right to do whatever he chooses.

  21. Tom Fabry
    February 24th, 2019 at 00:42 | #21

    RIP Peter Halsten Thorkelson

    Excuse the longer copy and paste below, but worth sharing…. With a last name like Halsten Thorkelson, it seems like Peter’s father or grandfather was from northern Europe like our blog host.

    I was 10 in 1969 watching the WEEKLY body counts of:

    North Vietnamese #xxx
    Viet Cong #xxx
    South Vietnamese #xxx
    American SERVICE men #xxx

    As a 10 year old I thought in my ahead and maybe said aloud to my Mom or Dad or one of me brothers, “look Dad, we got many more hundreds of the enemy and only 147 American soldiers were killed”. 147 AMERICAN DEAD IN A FLIPPING WEEK!!! Week after week after week, after month, after month, after year. Westmoreland Body Counts. And how many more died, when they got home.

    The Monkees had no major influence on me, but they were on the tv, w Batman and Star Trek, The Rifleman, Laugh In (Sock it to Me?), Nixon, McGovern, Bonanza, and some “radicals” trying to stop that one war… Distraction. The Monkees. The Beatles. Drugs. Filth. Distraction. The genesis of great discord. Bread and Circuses. A thousand truths for one grand lie.

    Now some of the same folks who were pushing back against the military industrial complex in 1969, are upset we may be pulling out of Syria to a degree. Go figure. Lots of diabolical disorientation afoot. Google that one—+

    Anyway, God bless the soul of Peter.. Quite a life… Teaching French, coaching baseball, living in Crosby’s basement, playing w Harrison, etc etc.

    Crossing Jordan do not fear, Jesus is gonna be your engineer. God bless Peter.

    Below a copy and paste from Wikipedia

    “He [Peter] was a Greenwich Village banjo player from Connecticut, who worked for a while as an actor [Monkees], then finally decided that he didn’t want to be a Marx Brother forever. His heart was back in the Village, that’s all.”

    Mickey Dolenz, 2002: “Three of us more or less played ourselves in the series. The odd one out was Peter Tork. Offstage he was a real serious guy who thought a lot about things like religion and world events. He had a copy of William Burroughs “Naked Lunch” confiscated from him at the Sydney Airport once. But in the show he threw off all that and became a dumb-but-likable Marx Brother character who was always doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. He kind of mooned around with a lovesick expression on his face — not like the real Peter Tork at all.”

    Some interesting facts about Tork, post Monkees:

    - He formed a music/film publishing company that flopped, despite having talent such as Lowell George, (prior to his Little Feat fame).
    - Subsequently, out of funds, Tork lived in David Crosby’s basement briefly, with his second wife.
    - He played banjo on George Harrison’s soundtrack to the 1968 film Wonderwall.
    - In 1972 he was busted for hash in Oklahoma, and did three months. [Can you imagine being his cellmate?]
    - He lived in Fairfax, Marin County for three years.. (so he probably pal’d around with the Dead). He stayed active producing music.
    - In the mid-1970s he moved back to southern California where he took a job teaching high school in Santa Monica and spent a total of three years as a teacher of music, social studies, math, French and history, even coached baseball at a number of schools.
    - For the next 15 years he was involved in many musical projects, often with well-known players. None were widely successful but he had plenty of work. He guest-appeared on numerous TV shows, (including an extended stint on the Uncle Floyd Show out of New Jersey), and appeared in a number of lesser-known films, (including playing the lead in one or two).
    - After a 1985 tour with Davy Jones in Australia, Tork rejoined fellow Monkees Jones and Micky Dolenz for a highly successful 20th anniversary reunion tour. After that, he would join up numerous times with all his old Monkee bandmates for various TV appearances and reunion tours, (including a 45th Anniversary tour after Jones’ death in 2011). Together “the Monkees” produced a couple of credibly-received albums, with either completely new music or heavily rearranged Monkees oldies.
    - In 2009 he was diagnosed with a rare cancer of the tongue and neck. He did well with treatments for ten years, and continued to tour and perform, but eventually succumbed on Feb 21, 2019.

  22. February 24th, 2019 at 07:32 | #22

    You need to check out Buddy’s recording of Leave My Little Girl Alone (1965) as well as his work on Koko Taylor’s album. Take special note of the vignettes on Insane Asylum as well as Willie Dixon’s parts. There were a great number of definitive blues guitarists in the Chicago of the 60’s, but I remember thinking that Buddy was one of the most dangerous. I don’t know if Hendrix was influenced by Buddy. I don’t hear that but what do I know. The evolution of blues based guitar as manifested by Jimi and Eric in their trio format was yet to come on this side of the pond.

    As for Buddy, and me too now that I think of it, it’s hard to be dangerous when your in your 70’s or 80’s. In my opinion, Buddy is the last living link to the Old Ones guys like me look at as legends. The last one who can still play.

    Just sayin’

  23. February 24th, 2019 at 08:51 | #23

    I saw Lonnie Mack at Legends( by my own admissission I had not heard of him before),Buddy and Lonnie tore it up for 90 minutes.On the small stage with Mack’s 4-piece Band was a blind keyboard player ostensibly from some environ in Deep South.He might have been the most adventurous of any that I’ve seen on B-3 w/Leslie speakers,that would include Winwood,Cavaliere and Allman .It was a rareappearance that I have frequently thought I’d like to have relived again.

  24. carey georgas
    February 24th, 2019 at 10:42 | #24

    Yep. Buddy is about the last link in the chain between the original masters and the second (and third?) generation who took the baton. And hey, I’d bet 5-1 you still got a little danger left in you yet.

  25. carey georgas
    February 24th, 2019 at 10:44 | #25

    I mean, damn, I’d bet 50-1 Buddy don’t ride Harleys.

  26. johno
    February 24th, 2019 at 11:34 | #26

    Of course I did.
    Found out about his disease. Too bad…

    @carey georgas

  27. tom
    February 24th, 2019 at 18:55 | #27

    @carey georgas
    Buddy and Junior Wells at the Lone Star Cafe several times late 70s early 80s. Tore the place up

  28. carey georgas
    February 25th, 2019 at 09:37 | #28

    @tom
    I bet they was a mule kickin’ in that stall!

  29. johno
    February 25th, 2019 at 15:56 | #29

    The Lone Star was small – it was a stall. When you walked in, the bar was on your left the stage was on the right wall. It was very tight. Anything electric was usually insane. The music was bouncing off all the walls of the joint.
    @carey georgas

  30. carey georgas
    February 25th, 2019 at 16:39 | #30

    Interesting. Almost oxymoronic. Lone Star makes you think big in these parts.

  31. richu
    February 25th, 2019 at 16:59 | #31

    Thank u jorma for the breakdown…I don’t hear buddy guy in any old Hendrix.but I do hear muddy in a lot.quick check lousiana blues. you the man..and jack in voodoo chile

  32. John B
    February 25th, 2019 at 18:40 | #32

    What is going on with Frampton? @carey georgas

  33. John B
    February 25th, 2019 at 18:46 | #33

    I saw Buddy at the House Of Blues in A.C. about a dozen or more years ago and my seat was upstairs. Buddy comes down off of the stage , takes the elevator upstairs and he’s playing the whole time. When the elevator door opened he stepped out and walked right over to where I was standing and just lit it up right in front of me…….I would go see Buddy Guy any time the opportunity presented itself. His schtik about him teaching Clapton how to play was true…..Hey Hurl how about booking Buddy at the Ranch ? @Jorma

  34. Ham Neggs
    February 25th, 2019 at 20:43 | #34

    @carey georgas
    on top of the Lone Star was a giant lizard that looked out over 13 Street and 5th Ave
    Peace
    Love All ways

  35. Josh Orenstein
    February 25th, 2019 at 20:50 | #35

    Jorma,
    Musically you have been an inspiration to me for a million years, so thank you for that… Dave has been a friend of mine, also for many years, and seeing this collaboration warms my soul. I can’t wait to hear the result! SPACE has been a favorite venue of mine since it opened in ‘08 and I catch you there, or at Old Town, any chance I get. Thanks for everything!

  36. February 25th, 2019 at 22:17 | #36

    I second ,John will work it.
    Buddy at the Ranch

  37. Brian Doyle
    February 26th, 2019 at 03:20 | #37

    Didn’t mean to dis Buddy Guy in my previous post…I saw him do a pretty good jam with Billy Cox 3 years ago…

    Heck, I’d have to crack my Hendrix books to get you an educated reference to exactly how Buddy influenced Jimi but if you listen to this video, and you’re an experienced Hendrix fan, you’ll hear some of Jimi’s deepest blues influences just in what Buddy plays here…I personally hear some of the hottest riffs from ‘Red House’ in Buddy’s style played here… Jimi paid his dues in the Chitlin circuit and learned the styles of the best and absorbed them like a magnet…If Buddy influenced Jimi it is safe to say it was in the area of the deepest Chicago/Delta Tobacco Road blues – the Crossroads man…It’s sort of hard to explain…

    Jimi plays at 6:15 in this video…I’m not sure if Buddy is still playing when Jimi plays…This particular jam is from the phase when Jimi was tinkering with the theme songs of different planets and Neptunian national anthems etc:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq3rWLySRf8

  38. carey georgas
    February 26th, 2019 at 07:27 | #38

    @John B
    He has some neuro-muscular disease I’ve never heard of. He’s fallen a couple of times on stage, but the sadly ironic part is that one of the first things to go are the flexors in his fingers. That’s why the farewell tour, before his playing ability leaves. In the interview I saw he said it was not a life threatening disease, but a life changing one. His sense of gratitude was moving.

  39. carey georgas
    February 26th, 2019 at 08:03 | #39

    @John B
    I don’t know about Buddy & Clapton, but I do know that a fellow Texan had influence on Eric. The late great Freddie King – one of those links who fell away way too soon. Listen to Clapton play rhythm behind Freddie on this cut from “Burglar”called Sugar Sweet.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rBV_ofB2ghQ

  40. carey georgas
    February 26th, 2019 at 09:47 | #40

    Got nothing else to do this morning, so if you will indulge me…the talk about links to the roots of the blues got me to thinking about Lightnin’. I know I’ve talked about seeing him perform before, but his connection to the middle and later generations runs deep. He recalled first playing with Blind Lemon Jefferson as a boy at a fair in Buffalo, TX, where my father was raised. A little over a hundred miles from where I was raised. Listening to him is like what it was like being around older black men as a child and young adult. His idioms and syntax are very similar to what I grew up around. It’s hard to describe, but the shock of recognition is strong. I’ll never forget sitting at his feet just off the stage watching in rapt wonder. A lucky young man was I.

  41. George Henn
    February 26th, 2019 at 11:05 | #41

    @John B
    I remember the Buddy Guy show at HOB Atlantic City, where he featured his protege Quinn Sullivan. He did roam around the room, both levels. My wife didn’t know exactly what to make of that. She was worried that he’d fall from the upper level.

  42. AndyK
    February 26th, 2019 at 11:47 | #42

    @George Henn
    It’s great seeing Buddy and Quinn together. They do some Cream songs together that are fun to hear.

  43. Dan
    February 26th, 2019 at 12:39 | #43

    When my wife was in her Claptomanic phase I took her to see Buddy. She asked me who he was and I told her, this is the “Guy” who Clapton stole his licks from (and Buddy will tell you that during the show). About halfway through the show my wife leaned over and said to me “Clapton sucks”, a high honor for Buddy indeed. At the time bluetooth was not invented, so Buddy walked through the crowd with his tech unspooling cable and stopped to play right next to her. We have been to many fine Buddy shows, although never been to Legends.

    With Peter Tork passing another light from my childhood has gone out. Hopefully the Monkees will find their way to the Rock and Roll HOF. Hard to believe they have been kept out simply because Don Kirshner was the mastermind picking the songs with studio folks playing on the first two albums, really no different than the Motown groups under Berry Gordy.

    Cant hold anything against Don Kirshner though, after all he did use Hit Single #1 as the outro for his TV concert show for awhile

  44. John B
    February 26th, 2019 at 16:25 | #44

    Buddy riffed in a good natured way about Clapton…..@carey georgas

  45. johno
    February 26th, 2019 at 18:57 | #45

    I think it was a giant green iguana. When Tuna took a hiatus in about 1980 I remember going down to the Lone Star one morning and spoke to the owner Morty. Tt was a country music hang out. I told him all about Jorma. Next thing I knew Jorma was booked there. It began Jorma’s residency at the Lone Star in the 80’s. He played there almost every time he came to NYC. Those were the days.
    @Ham Neggs

  46. GREGG ENGLES
    February 26th, 2019 at 19:34 | #46

    YEA those were the days johno didn’t miss a jorma session . and I would do double headers ranger game, then droped off at lone star. priceless !!!!!!! g

  47. Willy
    February 27th, 2019 at 09:29 | #47

    As Jorma said at one of the many shows of his I saw there ‘84-’88, it was always cerebral at the Lone Star. That revolving door could get tricky for some though! Many a late night at the Cafe, miss that place (the Roadhouse just wasn’t the same)… @johno and @Ham Neggs

  48. eaglesteve
    February 27th, 2019 at 09:51 | #48

    Let’s not forget Wetlands down by the Holland Tunnel. Saw Jorma and Mike there many many times.
    Lone Star memory: Long time ago. Jorma solo. It starts snowing heavy early into the show. Most people clear our about 10ish. Only about 20 die-hards stay. Everyone moves making a circle of bar chairs ringing the small stage. People have their feet on the stage, leaning back in their chairs. An elderly, elegantly dressed black man comes in though the revolving doors, knocking the snow off because it’s now a blizzard. He walks up to Jorma and asks if he can sing a few tunes. Jorma seemingly does not know the man and asks if he can sing. Man says yes, so Jorma invites him up, and he sings several blues tunes with depth and soul. It was beautiful.
    Sometime later that night I wanted to sit at the table nearest the stage but against the stage wall. Only way to the wall chair is to climb over the table. As I climb over a beer bottle slides off and shatters. Jorma is 3 feet from me and opens his eyes, looking directly at me. No “You fool look”, just making sure all is well. I apologize. He closes his eyed and went on playing, never missing a beat. Much later that evening the show ends. I ask Captain if I can get a photo of us together. He says sure, but after he takes care of his equipment and comes back upstairs. Those were the days before cell phones were able to take pictures. I think it was even before cell phones, period. I had my 35 mm camera. Someone took a doozy of us.
    Fast forward about 20 years. I see Electic Tuna at Mexicali Blues in north Jersey. Hand Jorma the photo and a Scripto pen and ask him to sign it. He looks at it, signs, and comments “Those were the good old days”. Indeed, they were, and that nigh in particular. The photo is on my home office wall. It is a prized possession.

  49. Willy
    February 27th, 2019 at 14:18 | #49

    Great story @eagelesteve and good point on Wetlands. I lived right around the corner at the time and saw JK there many a time as well, including 4/14/91 when I snapped a pic (aided and abetted by a flash I am embarrassed to say) that Jorma graciously signed for me during the Live At Sweetwater release party at the 29th St location of Danceteria in November ‘92. One of my favorite shots, check it out on the Tunabase website.

  50. carlo pagliano
    February 27th, 2019 at 16:59 | #50

    Rock Them All So Beautiful Tonight Jorma!

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