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The American Folk Blues Festival was a music festival that toured Europe as an annual event for several years beginning in 1962. It introduced audiences in Europe, including the UK, to leading blues performers of the day such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Sonny Boy Williamson, most of whom had never previously performed outside the US. The tours attracted substantial media coverage, including TV shows, and contributed to the growth of the audience for blues music in Europe.
German jazz publicist Joachim-Ernst Berendt first had the idea of bringing original African-American blues performers to Europe. Jazz had become very popular, and rock and roll was just gaining a foothold, and both genres drew influences directly back to the blues. Berendt thought that European audiences would flock to concert halls to see them in person.
The concerts featured some of the leading blues artists of the 1960s, such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker and Sonny Boy Williamson, some playing in unique combinations such as T-Bone Walker playing guitar for pianist Memphis Slim, Otis Rush with Junior Wells, Sonny Boy Williamson with Muddy Waters. The Festival DVDs include the only known footage of Little Walter, and rare recordings of John Lee Hooker playing harmonica.
Attendees at Manchester in 1962, the first ever venue for the festival in Britain, included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones and Jimmy Page. Subsequent attendees at the first London festivals are believed to have also included such influential musicians as Eric Burdon, Eric Clapton, and Steve Winwood. Collectively these were the primary movers in the blues explosion that would lead to the British Invasion.
Sonny Boy Williamson's visit to London with the 1963 festival led to him spending a year in Europe including recording the Sonny Boy Williamson and The Yardbirds album, (first released on Star-Club Records in 1965), and recording with The Animals.
On 7 May 1964, Granada Television broadcast Blues and Gospel Train, a programme directed by John Hamp featuring Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Rev. Gary Davis and others. For filming, the company transformed the disused Wilbraham Road railway station into " Chorltonville", giving it the supposed appearance of a southern U.S.-style station.
Promoters Horst Lippmann and Fritz Rau brought this idea to reality. By contacting Willie Dixon, an influential blues composer and bassist from Chicago, they were given access to the blues culture of the southern United States. The first festival was held in 1962, and they continued almost annually until 1972, after an eight-year hiatus reviving the festival in 1980 until its final performance in 1985.
"This time, a contingent from Chicago was chosen, with Howlin' Wolf at the helm. The Chess recording star had brought along his guitarist Hubert Sumlin. The rhythm section consisted of Sunnyland Slim, Willie Dixon and Clifton James. A highly respectable and dependable line-up that fit together very well, as proven by the official studio and live recordings done during this tour, as well as unofficial live recordings circulating among collectors.
The appearance at the Jazz House in Wiesbaden was also captured privately on tape. The date was Monday, Nov. 16th, 1964. The influence of various alcoholic beverages can be noticed on the pictures, as well as on the recordings. An apparently highly revved-up Howlin' Wolf took the rather small house p.a. system to an endurance test, which made the proprietor kind of nervous: "I thought he was about to eat up my microphones." The man operating the tape recorder had no chance of following Wolf's outbursts of sound. On the whole, however, the audience witnessed a varied and musically successful evening with interesting contributions by Sunnyland Slim and Willie Dixon."
American Folk and Blues Festival 1964-11-16
Live at Jazz House, Wiesbaden, Germany
(Soundboard: Not a perfect soundquality but good enough.)
01. Sunnyland Slim: It's You Baby
02. Sunnyland Slim: Everytime I Get To Drinkin'
03. Sunnyland Slim: Bassology
04. Sunnyland Slim: One Room Country Shack
05. Sunnyland Slim: Come On Home, Baby
06. Sunnyland Slim: Goin' To California
07. Howlin' Wolf: Shake It For Me
08. Howlin' Wolf: May I Have A Talk With You
09. Howlin' Wolf: Dust My Broom (w. hca)
10. Willie Dixon Announcement
11. Willie Dixon: God's Gift To Man
12. Willie Dixon: Big Legged Woman
13. Willie Dixon Announcement->Sunnyland Slim: Train I Ride (Love My Baby)
14. Sunnyland Slim: I'm Torn Up (incomplete)
01. Sunnyland Slim Announcement->See See Rider
02. Willie Dixon: Nervous
03. Willie Dixon: My Babe
04. Willie Dixon Announcement of Howlin' Wolf
05. Howlin' Wolf: 300 Pounds of Joy
06. Howlin' Wolf: I Didn't Mean To Hurt Your feelings
07. Howlin' Wolf: I Asked For Water
08. Willie Dixon & Sunnyland Slim: C-Jam Blues
09. Sunnyland Slim: I Done You Wrong
10. Sunnyland Slim: Tin Pan Alley
11. Sunnyland Slim: Theme Song
12. Sunnyland Slim announcement of Howlin' Wolf-> Howlin' Wolf: For My Darling
13. Howlin' Wolf: How Many More Years (w. hca)
Part 1: Link
Part 2: Lnk
Part 1: Link
Part 2: Link