A Weekly Dive Into John Hell's Live Bootleg Library
John Hell's Live Bootleg Bonanza - Monday 6-10PM Pacific - John Lee Hooker 1976 & Big Mama Thornton 1970
July 12, 2021 6:00pm


John Hells Live Bootleg Bonanza
John Hell's Live Bootleg Bonanza - Monday 6-10PM Pacific - John Lee Hooker 1976 & Big Mama Thornton 1970
I was raised on the Blues. My dad had it playing in the garage in our house in Toledo, working on old Chevy's and Oldsmobiles from the 1950s. This was in the 70's mind you, but it was the blues of the 50s and 60s that raised me.

One holiday season my dad was late coming home from work. Turns out he was wishing Happy New Year to the owner of the store down the street from his own, who sold pool tables and jukeboxes. My dad knew he was late, and that my mom was waiting for him so they could head out to a holiday party thrown by who-knows-who? I was young, like five.

The story goes that my dad knew he was late, and he couldn't come home late empty-handed, so he purchased a jukebox, had it loaded up with 50 blues and R&B 45s and brought it home, so my mom wouldn't be as angry as she was absolutely going to be anyway. And yes, she was, thank you for asking.
Anyway, my dad comes home stinking drunk, or so my five year self, and 50 year old memory wants to believe, come stumbling up the driveway, sees my mom standing at the door, hand on hip, glaring at him for being two hours late (you can see that I have no real reason to believe this happened any other way), and my dad looks at her throw beer bottle goggles and proclaims in a beautiful drunken stupor "I bought a big record player" and then hit the floor.

God, how I want this story to be exactly how it has been colored to me over the years.

That jukebox was in our family room in one house, the rumpus room of another. What the hell is a rumpus room? Is that a thing still? Was it a thing, ever? It ended up in my bedroom by the time I was 8. That thing scared the hell out of me when I would see it in the dark of my bedroom. I thought it was the robot of Lost in Space. It looked nothing like it, but I was 8, with a vivid imagination, which I still have, thankfully.

It was the music in that machine that made the biggest impact on my young life. If I were to host a full time daily Blues radio show, that would make my life complete.

Tonight's show is all about the Blues. This first hour features the fire and brimstone of Big Mama Mae Thornton in all her 300 pound glory. This is a great soundboard recorded live in Berkeley, CA in 1970, possibly at the Berkeley Folk Festival at the Greek Theater.
The second hour features what might be my all-time favorite John Lee Hooker show. This is recorded live for WXRT at Wise Fools Club in Chicago, IL.

Here's John Lee Hooker laying down some nasty blues/boogie in front of a very enthusiastic Chicago audience. Hooker and his band are clearly feeding off the energy in the room and turn in a blazing performance in return. It's
obvious from listening that the room is quite small and one can imagine how exciting it must have been watching a blues legend work his magic in such an intimate setting.



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