Roosevelt Sykes – Live At Webster College, St Louis, 1974
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DOCD-5688 Roosevelt Sykes Live At Webster College St Louis 1974
Roosevelt Sykes; vocal, piano.
Sub-Genres; Blues piano, Boogie-Woogie piano, St. Louis blues, Chicago blues.
Informative booklet notes by Gillian Atkinson.
Extracts abridged from this CD’s booklet notes:
Document are pleased to re-issue on CD the original Document album DLP 526, Roosevelt Sykes “Live” at Webster College, St Louis (1st Feb 1974) which was released as a Document vinyl LP, limited edition in 1988.
By 1929 Jesse Johnson, the proprietor of the De Luxe Music Shop in St Louis, had secured Sykes a recording date. As Sykes tells his audience on this recording, he can still remember the record number OKEH 8702. The song was a Lee Green composition, the “44” Blues. It was the making of Sykes and the recording remains forever synonymous with him.
From his first recording in 1929 Sykes never looked back. He was rarely out work and was frequently in the recording studio. A wonderful piano player, accompanist, singer and composer, his personality drew others to him including an ever increasing audience. The Honeydripper (a nickname given to him by Edith Johnson) became so popular that he continued to record during the Second World War despite the shellac rationing. Even when the major labels wound down their interest in their traditional rhythm and blues output, Sykes continued performing and influencing “new comers” such as Smiley Lewis and Fats Domino.
Speaking to Val Wilmer in 1961, Sykes told her “I believe the blues are always in demand. They always will be because it’s mostly “soul”. Blues is a thing that people that can’t explain themselves but know what they want to say, can bring out in a song, and that’s for real. Blues is a true confession thing and people always did like the truth. It always has been and always will be. That’s my belief about it”
Of course he was right and his words confounded those who thought the death knell had been sounded for traditional Blues. Long after the revival petered out Sykes continued to perform with his usual style and gusto, as can be heard here in this 1974 concert in front of a young, enthusiastic and receptive audience. He was 68 years of age and still had them rocking in the aisles. The songs are punctuated with his humour and reminiscences of a life well lived to its true potential. Enjoy!