Oct 14, 2013 - Junior & Little Joe Bringing Blues
Junior & Little Joe Bringing Blues to the Jazz Hall
Well-known Tulsa-based harmonica player and vocalist Jimmy Markham recently returned from Los Angeles, where he was working with Eric Clapton on a tribute album honoring the recently deceased J.J. Cale – who like Markham, honed his chops in the Tulsa club scene of the 1950s. In a few weeks, Markham heads out on the road with the Governor’s Blues Revue for another round of opening gigs with B.B. King. He also just played several days around the Mississippi Delta, appearing at the King Biscuit Blues Festival.
That’s a pretty busy schedule for anyone, and especially for a guy who started playing music for money during the Eisenhower administration. At this stage of his life, Markham is happy to be as busy as he’s ever been. “The way things are going for Junior, folks who enjoy his playing need to get out to the Jazz Depot this Friday, before he hits the road again,” says Jason McIntosh, CEO of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.
“It sure seems like I’m working a lot,” Markham says with a laugh. “And it’s a good thing. I’m not complaining.”
One of his jobs this month is on the Jazz Depot stage Friday, where he’ll be joined by fellow area blues star Little Joe McLerran. Both, Markham says, will be featured in sets with their own bands: “Joe’ll probably open the thing, or I may go first, I don’t know, but we’ll each do a show, and before it’s all over with, we’ll all be up there together in some form or fashion.”
Markham’s group includes Charles Tuberville on guitar, Alan Ransom on bass, and Chuck Blackwell on drums. Like Markham and his friend J.J. Cale , Blackwell was one of the legendary Tulsa Sound guys who migrated west in the early 1960s to become players on the West Coast rock ‘n’ roll scene. Markham feels sure that a few more of his old musician friends will be showing up to sit in Friday night.
“We need to get together more,” he says, “and I thought the Jazz Hall would be a great place for us to congregate and just all play, you know. I know it’ll make for a great evening.”
Although he wasn’t entirely sure who might be there, chances are good it’ll be some of the top-flight Tulsa players who were invited by Eric Clapton to play on the new J.J. Cale tribute album, set for release early next year. That number included drummers Jamie Oldaker, David Teegarden, and Jimmy Karstein; keyboardist Walt Richmond; and singer-guitarist Don White, along with Markham himself.
“Taj Mahal and I did the harmonicas,” he says. “Tom Petty sang `The Breeze,’ and John Mayer sang `Magnolia.’ It was a very relaxed situation, with a lot of camaraderie, a lot of visiting and carrying on. Eric is just a wonderful guy. He just took care of us, and it was really, really first-class all the way.”
November 23, Markham, Tuberville, and Blackwell head to Oklahoma City to start another round of opening shows for B.B. King. Although it’s essentially Markham’s group, with a couple of added players, that band is officially known as the Governor’s Blues Revue. Markham says the name was coined by famed Tulsa-based promoter Larry Shaeffer, who’s been putting together the shows.
“We were sitting around his office, and he wanted to come up with some catchy named that he thought complemented B.B.,” says Markham with a laugh. “I think he felt that it kind of added some class to the thing. He asked, `How do you like it?’ and I said, `It’s fine.’ Just roll with it, you know.’
“The first round of dates with B.B., we were all over Texas and wound up in Jackson, Mississippi; I was rather humbled and overwhelmed at the response we got. We just do 30 minutes, and it’s at seven o’clock every night, because when we work with B.B., everything’s on time and right to the point. But we got to Jackson, and we got a standing ovation. I was just blown away.”
In addition to his live gigs and work on the Cale disc, Markham is nearing the completion of his own CD, featuring several well-known guest stars and a raft of all-new original songs. Like the Cale tribute, it’s due out early next year. Markham’s Facebook page, where he’s listed under Junior Markham – his alternate first name – is the place to go for details, as well as for photos from the B.B. King dates and Clapton recording session.
The Little Joe McLerran/Jimmy Markham show is set to begin at 8p.m. Friday, Oct. 18 at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First St. Tickets can be purchased at the depot, from www.myticketoffice.com, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $10. Refreshments will be available for purchase.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.
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