Monday, July 15, 2019

July Birthdays on WUMB's Spinnin' the Blues

James Cotton and Willie Dixon
By Holly Harris, host of Spinnin' the Blues from 6 - 9 PM every Saturday at 91.9 FM in the Boston area or streaming at

(James Cotton)

(Willie Dixon)

This month we’ve celebrated the birthdays of Blues greats, James Cotton and Willie Dixon, both born on the same day 20 years apart. Dixon was not only a noted bass player, but a prolific writer and penned many of the classic Blues tunes that we know today such as, “I Can’t Quit You Baby”, “Back Door Man” and “Spoonful” to name a few. I met him personally only once at a lunch in Memphis in 1989, where he was the keynote speaker. He  came around and spoke to everyone in the room. 

I am also fortunate to have spent some time with James Cotton over the years. My favorite interview was done with Cotton, as he was known, on a scorching hot day at the former Quincy Blues Festival. I was the emcee and he was headlining the event. There was no place to go that was private and cool except my car, so that’s where we went. We did the interview with the ac on. He was wonderful and gracious. I recall people peering into the car around us. It was before his throat cancer so he had his full voice. He talked about his life and played a little harp. He left a nip bottle in my car which he signed and I’ve kept to this day. I always went to see him when he came to the Northeast whether at a festival or local club. It was a sad day when he passed away in March of 2017. His music lives on. 

Later in July, Holly will feature specials to Lonnie MackScreamin’ Jay Hawkins, Mike Bloomfield, Buddy Guy and more.

Monday, July 8, 2019

David Allan Coe Discoveries

By Jon Gersh, host of the Dixie Bee Line on WUMB, Saturdays 9 P to Midnight

(David Allan Coe)

Friends, you know I take requests on the Dixie Bee Line. Well, I’ve got some fans up on the North Shore of Massachusetts that I know always give particularly interesting requests. So when they asked for David Allan Coe, I said "Sure! No problem."

Short story: It was a problem. I didn’t have any. Nary a lick of David Allan Coe. So, I immediately went online and ordered some CDs for immediate shipment. No, I don’t tend to download music. For one thing, we need higher quality recordings to broadcast to you! And I like to “own” the music in my collection. Plus the liner notes are sometimes helpful. They weren’t so much with these CDs, but I got them on the next week. Well, I got ONE of them on the next week! One of the turned out to be this X-rated collection of songs... I mean, these things were nasty! In the interests of science (of course) I listened through to this album. Can’t say I didn’t laugh out loud a few times, I did. But the other album was just plain good songs, and I’m glad to have this void in my collection filled. Songs like “The Ride”, that’s a great song. Kind of about the ghost of Hank Williams picking up this songwriter/hitch-hiker on his way to Nashville. I’d like to share the refrain with you, ostensibly Hank Sr. talking to this hitch-hiker:

“Mister, can you make folks cry when you play and sing? Have you paid your dues, can you moan the blues, can you bend them guitar strings? Boy, can you make folks feel what you feel inside? Cause if you’re big star bound, let me warn you it’s a long hard ride.  “  

Anyway, his rendition of this was really excellent; he didn’t write it, but he owned it. It was a bona-fide radio hit in 1983, a little more recent than I normally spin on Saturday nights, but it has that “old” sensibility. Now Coe DID write “Take this Job and Shove It”, another big radio hit. But it was Johnny Paycheck that owned that song, really made it come alive. I play Paycheck all the time, from his early years appearing as “Donny Young” (why did they use pen names in those days?) up through his cigarette-and-whiskey sounding years which included the Coe song. 

So listen in! You might hear some David Allan Coe now. Have a great July! Please join me any Saturday night from 9-Midnight right after Holly spins the Blues.  It’s fun.  

Sincerely, Jon G.
p.s. write to me!