Friday, September 30, 2005

A Wallace Coleman Friday

Morristown native and master of the blues, Wallace Coleman, got a true education from a radio station - WLAC - whose musical influence is vast and covers many generations. Wallace plays harmonica and sings with an umistakeable voice. His band and own label, Pinto Blue Music, captures those great sounds live and in the studio. I first heard him about 3 years ago - the picture is from his show at the Rose Center - and I had a chance to interview him in January of this year. He's smooth as silk onstage, and makes that harp talk the blues as good as I've ever heard.

From his website, his bio offers a peek into the making of an artist:

As a youth in eastern Tennessee where country & western music still prevails, Wallace Coleman was instead captivated by the sounds he heard late at night from Nashville’s WLAC….the Blues.

The sounds haunted him by day where, he says, "I would be sittin’ in class and hear the Howlin’ Wolf singin’ just as clear in my head…" It was on WLAC that Coleman first heard those who would become Blues Legends and greatest musical influences: Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters. Laying the guitar foundation on many of those recordings was Robert Jr. Lockwood – a man who, some 25 years in Coleman’s future, would play a role in his musical career.

Moving to Cleveland in 1956, Wallace caught the ear of Robert Lockwood and joined his band, the only harp player to ever join with Lockwood, and he is featured on the Grammy-nominated CD :I Gotta Find Me A Woman." But by then, Wallace was ready to step out on his own. The first two CDs I heard from him are on his own label, Pinto Blue Music, "Live at Joe's" and "Bad Weather Blues" and are always nearby my CD player. He tells a great story of grabbing a bus in Knoxville, TN on the title track of "Bad Weather Blues", and two tunes on the disc showcase his style and his band's easy grasp of cool licks, on his beautiful instrumentals of "Southern Comfort" and his own composition, "Blue Mist".

You can catch his concert schedule on his website, and keep your eyes peeled for annual concerts in east TN usually in Jan. or Feb. It don't get no better.

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