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Remembering Lacy Gibson, Master Bluesman

1. From Steve Balkin:

This Friday, April 29, 2011, I have been invited to attend an outside street memorial celebration to honor Bluesman Lacy Gibson. He passed away a few days ago.

Lacy was the brother-in-law to Maxwell Street Bluesman Bobby Too Tuff, a friend of mine.

There will be free food and free Blues music. I was told this is a free event. No asking for donations.

The event is from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 2628 W. Wilcox. They will be blocking off two streets for this.

lacy.jpg2. From Alligator Records:

Known for his sophisticated, jazz-influenced guitar style and robust vocals, Gibson was a musician's musician. He recorded three albums under his own name and appeared on scores of recordings. His rich, flashy guitar style was featured in dozens of bands, including those of Son Seals, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, Jimmy Reed, Billy "The Kid" Emerson, Billy Boy Arnold, Sun Ra and many others.

Born on May 1, 1936 in Salisbury, North Carolina, Gibson headed to Chicago with his family in 1949. He gravitated to the city's blues scene, where he met Willie Dixon, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Sunnyland Slim and Muddy Waters, learning directly from the masters.

By the mid-1960s, Gibson was an in-demand session player for local labels, including Chess, where he worked with Buddy Guy and sang "My Love Is Real" with Buddy on guitar. He cut two 45s for the tiny Repetto label in 1968, one of which also features Guy on guitar. His first LP, Wishing Ring, was released on his brother-in-law Sun Ra's El Saturn label in 1971.

Gibson played in Son Seals' band for two years, and appears on Seals' Live And Burning album on Alligator. His opening numbers at Son's shows were always highlights, which is why Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer recruited Gibson to cut four stand-out tracks for the label's Grammy Award-nominated Living Chicago Blues series, released in 1980

In 1983 Gibson released Switchy Titchy on the Black Magic label. During the 1980s and throughout the 1990s he continued to perform locally around Chicago, sometimes with his own band and other times backing Billy Boy Arnold and Big Time Sarah.

Along with his wife, Gibson ran Ann's Love Nest, an after-hours club on Chicago's West Side. Over the years Gibson continued to hone his craft and perform as his health allowed. He appeared at the Chicago Blues Festival in 2004, performing his signature version of "Drown In My Own Tears" to thunderous applause from the crowd.

His most recent release was 1996's Crying For My Baby (Delmark), a first-issue of sessions originally recorded during the 1970s.

Survivors include his wife, Ann Gibson, son Erte Lacy Shaffer, daughters Coronto Shaffer, Synphia Shaffer, Verdonna Shaffer, B.B. Gibson, Tamika Gibson, 17 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

3. From the Reader:

Ann's Love Nest, in the basement of a building near Lake and Western, was run by Gibson's wife Ann.

The only way you'd know if Ann's was open for business was if the Christmas lights were flashing in the window; for a dollar or two you'd be admitted through a ratty old curtain. Ann served beer, wine, and mixed drinks from behind a makeshift bar in the corner. The walls were cracked and dirty, adorned with pictures of dogs playing poker; the tables and chairs were rickety and prone to unexpected collapse; the chips were stale and the beer sometimes lukewarm; the pipes in the bathroom dripped ominously, and the stage looked as if it had been banged together from discarded plywood and tinker toys. Sometimes the entertainers seemed more interested in drinking or squabbling than playing.

Ann's Love Nest closed down about a year ago after an overenthusiastic nightclub owner from outside the neighborhood organized a west-side pub crawl and included Ann's on the itinerary. Neighbors who'd been putting up with the club's all-night guests finally drew the line at crowds of tourists showing up in buses. The authorities were called in and the place was closed down.

Ann has now teamed up with Eula at Midnight Players. Along with the Family Band, many of the Love Nest regulars have found their way here.

4. From Alligator Records:

Lacy credits his mother for much of his style and inspiration. During his youth in Salisbury, North Carolina, she taught him the hillbilly guitar style she played so well, and also the rich gospel-tinged singing that still marks his increasingly rare performances today.

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Since the '50s, Lacy has worked with "damn near all of 'em," from Willie Mabon and Billy Emerson to Lowell Fulson, Ray Charles, Jerry Butler, Red Holloway and Al Hibbler.

*

Lacy laid down the blues with the conviction that can only come from a man whose departing lady once took his false teeth with her.

5. From The Blues Defined:

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6. Supporting Sunnyland Slim:

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7. From The Facts of Life; at a Blues Factory Studio rehearsal with Willie Dixon.

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8. Supporting Willie Dixon at Theresa's Lounge:

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9. Drown In My Own Tears:

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10. Drown In My Own Tears by various artists.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on April 28, 2011


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