Flashback Soul: Junior Wells has the “Hoodoo Man Blues”


 Years ago I had an older, Zen-like guitar teacher Abe who, upon seeing me struggle with a new chord or song, my face contorted and barely breathing, would stop me and say in his fatherly way, “remember, music is supposed to be fun.  Just enjoy it.”   I often think of him when I hear musicians exulting in the act of making music together, and he was my first thought when hearing the fabulous album “Hoodoo Man Blues” by Junior Wells.

Recorded live in the studio in 1965 on just two tracks, the album captures Junior leading his then Chicago club band – with a young Buddy Guy notably on guitar – through originals and blues standards.  It may be the blues, but it’s perhaps the most “joyful” blues ever recorded:  Junior laughs and woops and shouts his way through the record, and his chemistry with Guy, as they trade licks on harmonica and guitar, is just magical.  His lead vocal is the epitome of rich, burnished and bluesy soul.   Have a listen to the title track and “Hey Lawdy Mama” below.  You’ll be happy to have the blues!     

By Robb Patryk

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