WXRT BluesBreakers Welcome: James Cotton
with Rob Stone
Friday, May 10, 2013 7:30 PM CDT
Mayne Stage, Chicago, IL
18 years and over
Between his huge, blast-furnace sound, his larger-than-life personality, and his massive frame, Grammy Award-winning blues harmonica master James "Mr. Superharp" Cotton is a blues giant in every respect. Cotton, who in 2010 celebrates his 66th year as a professional musician (starting at the age of nine), has recorded almost 30 solo albums, including two highly-regarded releases for Alligator in the 1980s and the famed HARP ATTACK! with Junior Wells, Carey Bell and Billy Branch in 1990. THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS calls Cotton "the greatest living blues harmonica player." THE NEW YORK TIMES adds, "Cotton helped define modern blues harmonica with his moaning, wrenching phrases and his train-whistle wails."
Rob and the C-Notes have opened for headliners as varied as B.B. King, Sheryl Crow, Robert Cray, and the late Etta James. He’s shared bandstands and recording studios with a dazzling array of blues giants: Robert Jr. Lockwood, Jimmy Rogers, Jody Williams, David Myers, Willie Kent, Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, Henry Gray, David Maxwell, Aaron Moore, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Eddie Shaw, and Koko Taylor, to name only a few. Stone has made three well-received albums as a leader (Back Around Here was preceded by 1998’s No Worries and 2003’s Just My Luck which was nominated for a Chicago Music Award in the Best Blues Album category). Stone was also featured prominently in the Martin Scorsese-produced “Godfathers and Sons” episode of The Blues series that aired on PBS stations nationwide in 2003.
Stone got started on his harmonica-blowing odyssey at age 18, when he slipped into a blues joint in his native Boston to check out harp great Charlie Musselwhite and was instantly transfixed. He bought his first harp the next day. Before long, Rob was learning the finer points of the instrument from ex-Muddy Waters mouth organ maestro Jerry Portnoy and playing regularly with Rockabilly legend Sleepy LaBeef. Relocating to Colorado in 1990, he got his feet wet playing with biker bands on the smoky bandstands around Colorado Springs. Then in ‘93, legendary drummer Sam Lay invited the young harpist to sit in with his combo, leading to a job offer and a move to Chicago the next year. Touring internationally with Sam Lay for four years introduced Stone to blues fans worldwide.