Memphis Blues Music Award Winner Giles Robson is the first and only British or European blues artist to appear on Chicago’s legendary Alligator Records, the most famous and long-running active blues label on the planet.

Described by blues harp greats Grammy Winner Sugar Blue and Paul Jones as one of the great living harmonica players, Giles has headlined across Poland, Russia, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Spain, Luxembourg, Germany, Holland, France, Belgium, Romania, Italy and the UK.

Robson plays and sings dirty straight harp driven old school blues, both electrically and acoustically…. the timeless qualities of which never fail to win over audiences. Robson is famous for his own world-leading, attention-grabbing and critically acclaimed harmonica playing. Add to that his winning way with the audience, individual singing voice and his top-notch band and you have a killer act.

1. Little Walter – Sad Hours

One of the 20th Centuries greatest instrumentalists. Like Django Reinhart, he managed to possess an impossible mixture of precise technique and an incredible emotional range both of which are present in this melancholic masterpiece.

2. Sonny Boy Williamson – I’m A Lonely Man

Sonny Boy holds an equal place in my heart as Little Walter. When I first watched this performance I was blown away – some of Sonny Boy’s best harp captured on video, awesome lyrics and a great interplay between him and the band. I subsequently included it on Journeys To The Heart Of The Blues with blues legends Joe Louis Walker and Bruce Katz and it’s been one of the most played tracks.

3. Memphis Slim – Mother Earth

Memphis Slim is a big influence on me – not only music but also the highly independent and successful way he took care of business and the witty way he fronted a show and won over an audience. This is one of the wisest blues songs ever written and is particularly relevant now.

4. Roosevelt Sykes – Feel Like Blowin’ My Horn

On Journeys To The Heart Of The Blues, Joe Louis Walker included this awesome song, he had played on a version by Robert Junior Lockwood in the nineties. For publishing, we had to track down the original and here it is – an incredible loose and rocking masterpiece from the great Roosevelt Sykes from a now out of print 1973 Delmark recording – and featuring Robert Junior Lockwood on guitar.

5. Muddy Waters – Long Distance Call – Live Ash Grove

Muddy Waters is, in my opinion, one of the greatest guitarists in history for his timing, rhythm and emotional expression. The Muddy Waters slide guitar solo – always a variation of just several notes, never fails to send shivers up my spine. He said so much emotionally, with such economy. I reckon this is one of the best examples his slide solo caught on video.

6. Billy Branch – Mellow Down Easy

Over the last few years, I’ve had the honour and privilege to work with the world’s greatest living master of the Chicago Blues Harmonica, Billy Branch. Billy learnt his craft from the masters of the music and the harp in the Chicago Clubs. Now he is the reigning master. His latest album Roots and Branches is a beautiful tribute to Little Walter – and I’ll always remember Billy playing this song as Billy, his wonderful wife Rosa and myself drove through the southside of Chicago in his open-top car looking for Little Walter’s grave. When we got there we toasted Little Walter with some cognac, played some harp for him and left a couple of harps on his gravestone.

7. Joe Louis Walker, Bruce Katz – Feel Like Blowin’ My Horn

In 2018 I had the honour of working with two blues geniuses and we recorded the award-winning “Journeys To The Heart Of The Blues”. This is one of my favourite tracks (I posted the Roosevelt Sykes original above) because of the cool riff and the fun lyrics but also Joe and Bruce stretch out and play some incredible solos in the middle – check them out, it’s killer stuff!

LINK (Spotify): https://open.spotify.com/track/15nSwIT59lractClfiYOAX

8. Howlin’ Wolf – The Big House

“You are my people, you made me and I’m gonna howl for ya” and so the mighty Wolf kicks off this live sprawling masterpiece from the Chess Album, Live At Alice’s. The massive riff, the band locking in tight, Wolf repeating verses and adding more feeling each time and the great punchline “And if I can’t sell that big house, (Asks himself) what you going to do with it, Wolf? I’m going to give that bastard away”.

9. Junior Wells – Mystery Train

One of junior well’s greatest albums – is perhaps one of his less celebrated. Come On In This House from the nineties saw some incredible vocal performances and wonderfully phrased, thoughtful harp with real artistic use of space. All these qualities shine through on this reworking of a junior Parker original.

10. JB Hutto – Speak My Mind

This is from the incredible sixties album Hawk Squat on Delmark Records. Sunnyland Slim on organ, rhythm guitarist Lee Jackson playing a tasty pattern and JB singing powerfully and playing otherworldly slide. It’s a sound that sums up the sound of Chicago Blues Bar Blues. I can’t understand all the lyrics – but I took one phrase “Dirty look and sneaky grin” and wrote a song around it for my current album “Your Dirty Look And Your Sneaky Grin” and wrote a song around it for my latest album “Don’t Give Up On The Blues

For more info on Giles Robson click here

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