[16 October 2009]
When Bob Koester, founder of Chicago’s jazz and blues label Delmark, wanted to celebrate 55 years in the recording business, he decided to celebrate with what turned into a a roof-raising blues jamboree at Buddy Guy’s Legends on March 7, 2008. The mayor of the Windy City, Richard M. Daley, officially declared it “Delmark Records Day”. Now that’s respect. Drawing on the label’s roster of stellar artists, Koester put together a lineup who undeniably proves it ain’t over. The evening, documented as It Ain’t Over! Delmark Celebrates 55 Years of Blues on CD and DVD (the latter boasts extra performances and commentary by Koester), is sealed as soon as funky blues diva Zora Young kicks off the party with a passionate, gospel-infused performance of “Til the Fat Lady Sings” that includes a smokin’ organ solo by Roosevelt Purify. From then on, it’s just one standout performance after another: Jimmy Johnson takes it down a notch with the soulful minor-key blues of “Cold, Cold Feeling”; the late, great Little Arthur Duncan makes his last-ever appearance and belts out a husky swamp-blues version of Eugene Church’s perennial “Pretty Girls Everywhere”; and Tail Dragger takes it home with “My Woman Is Gone”, a blues howler that finds him stalking in the shadows of the Wolf. It marks a special night indeed.