Former Muddy Waters guitarist Jimmy Rogers brings real blues to the Yale


By Steve Newton

“People who can’t dig the blues, they must have a hole in the soul.”

That’s how veteran bluesman Jimmy Rogers puts it–and he oughta know. For many years Rogers played guitar behind one of the most admired and influential figures in the genre, Muddy Waters.

Muddy may have left us, but his spirit lives on in the spellbinding old-time blues of Jimmy Rogers and his band, which plays the Yale till Saturday.

It was way back in 1946–two years after Waters got his first electric guitar–that Jimmy Rogers met the big man, and started gigging with him in Chicago ghetto taverns and bars.

By ’49 the Muddy Waters band had solidified to include Little Walter on harp, “Baby Face” Leroy Foster on drums, and Rogers on second guitar, backing up Waters’ slide stylings.

New York Times music critic Robert Palmer, in his book Deep Blues, explains the significance of this lineup:

“Muddy and his associates can’t claim to have invented electric blues,” writes Palmer, “but they were the first important electric band, the first to use amplification to make their ensemble music rawer, more ferocious, more physical instead of simply making it a little louder.

“And they spearheaded the transformation of Delta blues from a regional folk music into a truly popular music that developed first a large black following, then a European white following, and finally a worldwide following of immense proportions.”

Joining Jimmy Rogers and his band at Yale will be Ted Harvey, original drummer with Hound Dog Taylor and the House Rockers, and harpist George “Wild Child” Butler, who recorded 11 albums with Lightnin’ Hopkins.

For a taste of some real blues, there’s no better place to be this weekend.

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