Jimmie "Bluesman" Lawson & Cathouse Radio LP pre-orderUser's  Cathouse Radio project in the category Music

The album you are supporting is a collaboration between the legendary Jimmie "Bluesman" Lawson and the Estonian band Cathouse Radio. Both names are familiar to blues lovers, but its Jimmie, without whom no blues band in the Baltics would sound the way they do – and quite possibly wouldn't even exist. Jimmie Bluesman's influence and contribution to the local blues scene cannot be overstated – after his first performance at the Estonian Augustibluus festival in 1999, he reigned the scene for a decade.

During that period, Augustibluus grew into the biggest blues festival in the Baltics, with Jimmie's ever-changing show as its main attraction. The impact on many generations of musicians was immense: he had backing bands in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland, with every frontman trying to look like Jimmie Bluesman – all dressed up and wearing a hat. Until then, it had never been witnessed up close how a frontman and a singer can lead the band, keep the audience busy and engaged, push the instrumentalists to give their 110%... But it all came naturally to Jimmie.

Guitarist Vilho Meier (nicknamed "Guitar Slim" by Jimmie) first saw Jimmie & Crossfire at Augustibluus in 2001 and was blown away by the performance. In 2004, Slim started playing with Crossfire and his collaboration with the harmonica player and singer Alar Kriisa and Jimmie was to follow soon. Alar was well-known for his work with the bands Bullfrog Brown and Green Bullfrog, his friendship with Slim leading to the formation of the new, bluesbandish Cathouse Radio in 2012. The group became known as "the best news in Estonian blues" and released their full-length debut in 2014. There had been a short pause in his visits to Estonia, but in 2018, Jimmie "Bluesman" Lawson was invited to perform with Cathouse Radio at the Augustibluus festival's 25th anniversary and that's when the friendship got renewed and the idea for recording an album was born.

But how did Jimmie "Bluesman" Lawson come to be?

Jimmie was born in Oklahoma, USA in 1941, so the release of this album celebrates his 79th birthday. "Music has always been a big part of my life, the music has always been big part of black life," he says. In his youth, Jimmie played the drums in school bands, at the same time deeply involved in sports. After serving in the US Marines from 1958 to 1960, where he also played in a band, he moved to Los Angeles and got to hang out on the glowing music scene there with the likes of Little Willie John, Etta James, Bobby "Blue" Bland, James Brown, Little Milton, Johnny Taylor and Johnny "Guitar" Watson. Although his love for sports led Jimmie to become a professional football player in 1965 and to play in the very first Super Bowl in 1967, he never stopped making music.

When football coaches were being recruited across Europe in 1987, Jimmie went to Finland. For the first few years, he would coach there during the summer and return to his old life in the States in the fall, but as he liked to play the piano and sing by himself in his spare time, he was soon discovered as a musician in Finland, too. He got involved with Finnish musicians, was invited to appear at the prestigious Pori Jazz festival, and before long, the local musicians were asking him to stay in Finland longer than the brief coaching season. Which is when people started calling him the Bluesman – a nickname now completely inseparable from the man: Jimmie "Bluesman" Lawson.

This album captures the essence of Jimmie, from the energy of a live performance to  the intimacy of studio sessions. Side A features a studio collaboration with Cathouse Radio on six original songs while side B contains a live recording from the last concert of the mini-tour Jimmie and the band undertook while writing this album – the concert took place at Von Krahl in Tallinn, Estonia on February 29th, 2020. In the words of Jimmie "Bluesman" Lawson: "Everybody can understand the blues!"

Get your copy on 12" vinyl or CD, support the blues and live music!

Next Jimmie "Bluesman" Lawson and Cathouse Radio live shows are planned for 16th of october in Von Krahl, Tallinn, and for 17th of october in GenKlubi, Tartu.

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