Walter Shakey Horton – With Hot Cottage (1974)

FrontCover1.JPGWalter Horton, better known as Big Walter (Horton) or Walter “Shakey” Horton (April 6, 1921 – December 8, 1981) was an American blues harmonica player. A quiet, unassuming, shy man, he is remembered as one of the premier harmonica players in the history of blues. Willie Dixon once called Horton “the best harmonica player I ever heard.”

Horton was born in Horn Lake, Mississippi. He was playing the harmonica by the time he was five years old.[3] In his early teens, he lived in Memphis, Tennessee. He claimed that his earliest recordings were done there in the late 1920s with the Memphis Jug Band,[3] but there is no documentation of them, and some blues researchers have stated that this story was likely to have been fabricated by Horton. (He also claimed to have taught some harmonica techniques to Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson I, but these claims are unsubstantiated and, in the case of Williamson, who was older than Horton, dubious.)

Like many of his peers, he lived on a meager income during much of his career and endured racial discrimination in the racially segregated United States. In the 1930s he played with numerous blues performers in the Mississippi Delta region. It is generally accepted that he was first recorded in Memphis, backing the guitarist Little Buddy Doyle WalterHorton01.jpgon Doyle’s recordings for Okeh Records and Vocalion Records in 1939. These recordings were acoustic duets, in a style popularized by Sleepy John Estes and his harmonicist Hammie Nixon, among others. On these recordings, Horton’s style was not yet fully realized, but there are clear hints of what was to come. He eventually stopped playing the harmonica for a living, because of poor health, and worked mainly outside the music industry in the 1940s. By the early 1950s, he was playing music again. He was among the first to be recorded by Sam Phillips, at Sun Records in Memphis, who later recorded Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. For his recordings for Sun, Horton was accompanied by the young pianist Phineas Newborn, Jr., who later was a well-known jazz pianist. Horton’s instrumental track “Easy”, recorded around this time, was based on Ivory Joe Hunter’s “I Almost Lost My Mind”.

During the early 1950s he appeared on the Chicago blues scene, frequently playing with Memphis and Delta musicians who had also moved north, including the guitarists Eddie Taylor and Johnny Shines. When Junior Wells left the Muddy Waters band at the end of 1952, Horton replaced him long enough to play on one session, in January 1953.

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Also known as Mumbles and Shakey (because of his head motion while playing the harmonica), Horton was active in the Chicago blues scene during the 1960s, as blues music gained popularity with white audiences. From the early 1960s onward, he recorded and frequently performed as a sideman with Taylor, Shines, Johnny Young, Sunnyland Slim, Willie Dixon and many others. He toured extensively, usually as a backing musician, and in the 1970s he performed at blues and folk music festivals in the United States and Europe, frequently with Dixon’s Chicago All-Stars. He also performed on recordings by blues and rock stars, such as Fleetwood Mac and Johnny Winter.

walterhorton05In October 1968, while touring the United Kingdom, he recorded the album Southern Comfort with the guitarist Martin Stone (previously with the band Savoy Brown and later a member of the band Mighty Baby). In the late 1970s he toured the United States with Homesick James Williamson, Guido Sinclair, Eddie Taylor, Richard Molina, Bradley Pierce Smith and Paul Nebenzahl, and he performed on National Public Radio broadcasts. Two of the best compilation albums of his work are Mouth-Harp Maestro and Fine Cuts. Also notable is the album Big Walter Horton and Carey Bell, released by Alligator Records in 1972.

He worked at blues festivals and often performed at the Maxwell Street market in Chicago. In 1977, he played on the Muddy Waters album I’m Ready, produced by Johnny Winter. He also recorded for Blind Pig Records during this period. Horton accompanied John Lee Hooker in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers. His final recordings were made in 1980.

Horton died of heart failure in Chicago in 1981, at the age of 60, and was buried in Restvale Cemetery, in Alsip, Illinois.

He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1982. (by wikipedia)

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And here´s a very rare recording with this master of the blues harmonica from the early Seventies (recorded in 1972, published in 1974). He recorded this album with a totally unknown Canadian blues band called “Hot Cottage” (as far as I know this was their only studio album).

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And … this album is one of the lost pearls of Blues … not only because of this great version of “Hound Dog”(with a brilliant Nancy Nash on vocals … you can hear her great voice on “Worried,Worried (a la Chess 1952) ” once more) … but the whole album is a real treasure of the Blues … believe me …  !!!

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Personnel:
Walter Shakey Horton (vocals, harmonica)
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Hot Cottage:
Steve Boddington (guitar)
Bob Derkash (piano)
Brian Koehli (bass)
Nancy Nash (vocals)
Lyndsey Umrysh (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. Big Walter’s Boogie (Horton) 3.06
02. Hard Heated Woman (Horton) 3.53
03. John Henry (Traditional) 0.41
04. Hound Dog (Leiber/Stoller) 2.13
05. Interview (Horton) 1.13
06. They Call Me Big Walter (Horton/Boddington/Derkash/Koehli/Nash/Umrysh) 6.37
07. Looka Here (Miller) 2.34
08. Shakey’s Edmonton Blues (Horton/Boddington/Derkash/Koehli/Nash/Umrysh) 3.32
09. Sugar Mama (Burnett) 3.16
10. Joe Chicago (Horton/Boddington/Derkash/Koehli/Nash/Umrysh) 3.46
11. Worried,Worried (a la Chess 1952) (Horton/Boddington/Derkash/Koehli Nash/Umrysh) 5.35
12. Turkey In The Straw 0.37
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13. Hound Dog & Hard Hearted Woman (great video clip)

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Walter Horton (Big Walter Horton/Walter “Shakey” Horton
(April 6, 1921 – December 8, 1981)

Big Walter Horton & Paul Butterfield – An Offer You Can´t Refuse (1972)

FrontCover1“An Offer You Can’t Refuse” is one of the best blues harmonica compilations put together. Walter Horton’s material on this recording is some of the best music I have ever heard in my life. Horton’s control, note choice, and near endless well of ideas give a textbook example of what every harmonica player (and musician) needs to do in order to be a competent musician.
Horton’s treatment of “Easy” is a bit sparser than the one he did with Jimmy Deberry long ago; he takes a more restrained approach, but still lets it loose on certain parts of the song. Absolutely brilliant work.

“Have a Good Time” is a straight ahead exchange with Robert Nighthawk backing (as throughout the record), Horton lays it hard and down-home through his solos showing just how to treat the song. Horton’s virtue is that he leaves a good amount of space to let his notes breathe through his solos, so that they don’t bunch up and sound insignificant.
“Mean Mistreater” is a slow blues in 1st position that is soulful and pretty. This is how all you harp players need to solo over a slow blues, beautifully done; Nighthawk’s backing is simple and dead-on as well. All you SRV clone twits can learn a thing or two from Robert Nighthawk, it ain’t always about the soloing!

“In the Mood” is an upbeat frisky deal that has Horton throwing notes down with authority. Great singing and solid backing with Horton doing some very hard (yet musical) lines make this alone worth the price of the CD.
“West Side Blues” is a steady, high and lonesome blues feel with very tasteful soloing on Horton’s part. Horton plays the melody through much of this song, but makes it sound wonderful.
“Louise” is another steady feeling blues with Horton singing and dominating; beautiful lines, with acoustic harp make this a winner.

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“Tin Pan Alley” is a sweet lowdown song, Horton’s soloing is slow and well paced.
“Walter’s Boogie” rounds out the Horton section; uptempo, and seriously well done, Horton lays a lesson in tone and control that is near scary at times. Very well done.
The Butterfield section was taken from a 1963 night club gig with Smokey Smothers and Sam Lay. A nice recording, not Butterfield’s best, but a good sneak preview of what was to come from the illustrious Butterfield. A great recording that’s worth your money. If you are learning to play harmonica, this CD should be in your library; it will do more for you than most instructional books could ever do. (an amazon cutomer)

Paul Butterfield

Paul Butterfield’s 1960 high school yearbook photo

An album released on the Red Lightnin’ label in 1972 consisting of one side of Big Walter Horton and the other side with very early Paul Butterfield (1963) (See: Big Walter Horton). Contains six tracks with Butterfield, Smokey Smothers on guitar, Jerome Arnold on bass, and Sam Lay on drums. This was recorded at Big Johns, the North side Chicago club where the Butterfield Band first played in 1963 — some two years before the material on the first Paul Butterfield Blues Band album, which was released in 1965. The six tracks include two instrumentals, “Got My Mojo Working” and the Butterfield-authored tune “Loaded.” Although this is very early Butterfield, the harp playing is excellent and already in his own unique style. The singing is a little rough and heavy sounding. Butterfield fans will want to find this rare vinyl for musical and historical reasons. (by Michael Erlewine)

Recorded live  at the “Big Johns” Club,Wells Street, Chicago, Summer 1963 

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Personnel:

Big Walter Horton:
Big Walter Horton (vocals, harmonica)
Robert Nighthawk (guitar)

Paul Butterfield:
Jerome Arnold (bass)
Paul Butterfield (vocals, harmonica)
Sam Lay (drums)
Smokey Smothers (guitar)

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Tracklist:

Big Walter Horton:
01. Easy (Horton) 3.16
02. Have A Good Time (Horton) 3.18
03. Mean Mistreater (Carr/Horton) 3.03
04. In The Mood (Horton) 3.07
05. West Side Blues (Horton) 3-08
06. Louise (Morganfield) 4.04
07. Tin Pan Alley (Geddins) 2.52
08. Walters Boogie, This Is It (Horton) 2.45

Paul Butterfield:
09. Everythings Gonna Be Alright (Jacobs) 3.40
10. Poor Boy (Horton) 3.53
11. Got My Mojo Working (Morganfield) 3.07
12. Last Night (Jacobs) 4.38
13. Loaded (Butterfield) 2.52
14. One Room Country Shack (Walton) 4.54

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