Blues Hall of Fame to induct Shaw

Feb 14, 2014
Courtesy of: Paul Benjamin Rockland’s Paul Benjamin, left, congratulates longtime friend Eddie Shaw on one of Blues Music Awards. The Chicago sax man credited with bringing the blues to the Midcoast will be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in May.

Memphis — Chicago bluesman Eddie Shaw, who has regularly visited and performed in Rockland for more than 35 years, is among the 2014 inductees in the Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be held Wednesday, May 7, at the Sheraton Memphis Downtown, the night before the 35th annual Blues Music Awards.

During the first 34 years of the Blues Hall of Fame balloting, only one saxophonist, Louis Jordan, was elected. The Year of the Saxophonist has come, however, as Shaw, Big Jay McNeely and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson all blow their way into the Blues Hall. Two other performers — Mississippi hill country patriarch R.L. Burnside and the intense and inimitable Robert Pete Williams — also will be inducted in May.

Among the other individuals to be recognized by the Blues Foundation for their behind-the-scenes contributions are the Rosebud Agency's manager and booking agent par excellence Mike Kappus; Houston music mogul and label owner Don Robey; and prolific Chicago record producer and writer Dick Shurman.

The book “Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke” by Peter Guralnick is the literature entry into the Blues Hall of Fame this year, Guralnick’s fourth book inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Albums are being honored are “Hawk Squat” (Delmark, 1969) by J.B. Hutto and “Moanin' in the Moonlight” (Chess, 1959) by Howlin' Wolf. Singles that will be inducted during the ceremony are: "After Hours" by Erskine Hawkins and His Orchestra (Bluebird, 1940); "Catfish Blues" by Robert Petway (Bluebird, 1941); "High Water Everywhere, Parts I & II" by Charley Patton (Paramount, 1930); "It's Tight Like That" by Tampa Red & Georgia Tom (Vocalion, 1928); and "Milk Cow Blues" by Kokomo Arnold (Decca, 1934).

Shaw, born March 20, 1937, in Stringtown, Miss., learned saxophone at school in nearby Greenville, the hub of blues activity in the Delta. He continued at Mississippi Vocational College (now Mississippi Valley State University) in Itta Bena, all the while working or sitting in with Little Milton, Ike Turner, Charlie Booker, Elmore James and others, including Muddy Waters when he brought his band down from Chicago. Waters was so impressed that he offered Shaw a spot in the band and before long, the sax phenom was a Windy City resident.

Shaw’s most significant work in establishing himself in Chicago, both in the clubs and in the studio, came with Magic Sam and Howlin' Wolf. Shaw also ran a laundry business, an air conditioning service and blues clubs on the West Side. After Wolf died in 1976, Shaw took over the band, with Hubert Sumlin on guitar, and initiated a tireless touring itinerary. His son Eddie "Vaan" Shaw, Jr., soon assumed guitar duties and, along with bassist Shorty Gilbert, has now been with the Wolf Gang for more than 30 years.

Eddie Shaw has recorded for Alligator, Rooster Blues, Delmark, Wolf, North Atlantic and other labels; and has found time in the studio to do sessions with Jimmy Dawkins, Willie Kent, Lonnie Shields, John Primer, Sunnyland Slim, George Thorogood, Big Head Todd and a growing list of others. His son Stan Shaw is a veteran Hollywood actor, and Eddie made his own big screen debut in the 2007 film “Honeydripper.”

Official biographies of all Hall of Fame inductees are available at blues.org/halloffame/index.php. With living musicians like B.B. King and Buddy Guy, and legends like Muddy Waters and Koko Taylor, the Blues Hall of Fame consists of blues music's best and brightest stars. The Blues Foundation is in the final stages of raising the capital needed to showcase these legendary performers and their work with Blues Hall of Fame exhibits at its 421 So. Main St. headquarters in downtown Memphis. The Blues Hall of Fame will honor inductees year-round, provide interactive and educational exhibits; and create a place for serious blues fans, casual visitors, and students to congregate, celebrate and learn more about the blues. The Raise the Roof! Campaign, which North Atlantic Blues Festival co-founder and –producer Paul Benjamin has been working on for several years, hopes to raise the remaining funds necessary to commence construction in June.

For more information on the hall, as well at the 2014 Blues Music Awards, visit blues.org. Founded in 1980, the Blues Foundation has 4000 individual members and 200 affiliated local blues societies representing another 50,000 fans and professionals around the world.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.

Staff Profile

Dagney C. Ernest
A&E editor for Courier Publications, LLC
(207) 594-4401/4407, ext. 115
Email Me

Dagney has been providing Courier coverage of the local arts scene since 1985 and has helmed the multi-paper A&E section since it debuted in 2003. She has been a local performing artist, community and professional, for 30 years and spent a decade writing, producing and announcing on-air for several Midcoast radio stations. When not in the NewsNest, Dagney likes to be in motion.

Recent Stories by Dagney C. Ernest