Mighty Joe Young
@ The Blues Saloon, November 8, 1996

Long time Chicago blues man Mighty Joe Young made a rare appearance at the Blues Saloon in November. Backed by his stellar band River City he delivered a fine performance of traditional Chicago styled blues. Young arrived in Chicago in the mid 50's from Shreveport, Louisiana by way of California and Milwaukee and quickly became in integral part of the classic south and west side blues scene. He played with Howlin' Wolf, Billy Boy Arnold, and Jimmy Rogers before spending time with Otis Rush in the early 60's. He became one of the most sought after session guitar players during this time, recording with Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Willie Dixon, Billy Boy Arnold, Jimmy Dawkins, Albert King and later with Koko Taylor and Fenton Robinson (Somebody Loan Me A Dime). In fact it was in 1968 that he played on the million-selling record Can I Change My Mind recorded by Tyrone Davis.

During Friday night's show we were treated to a glimpse of some of those classic Chicago sessions by a very classy man. It was unfortunate that Joe is no longer able to play guitar due to a pinched nerve in his neck suffered about 10 years ago but his voice is still in fine form and he was backed by one of the best blues bands I have heard in a long time -- River City. The band is composed of son Joe Young Jr. on rhythm guitar and vocals, Darryl Mahon long time drummer for Joe, and new comers from Peoria, Joe Roland on bass, and two outstanding musicians who played both lead guitar and keyboards, Josh Shane and Scott Ligon. These two were a treat to watch as they switched instuments thoughout the night.

The band got the joint jumped started with a lot of energy and some great Rhythm & Blues before switching to a slow bluesy Let's Go Get Stoned. They then launched into a raucous Shake Rattle and Roll before bringing on Mighty Joe. Dressed in a dapper white jacket Mighty Joe took the stage with a fine rendition of She's Got A Hold On Me and you could tell how much he enjoyed singing for us. Joe Jr. sang a fine Still Called the Blues and Mahon and Roland provided the solid grove on drums and bass especially evident on the Jimmy Reed songs. There was a nice touch later by Shane and Ligon each playing in unison, one on guitar and the other on keyboards -- note for note.

We heard some Jimmy Reed and Muddy Waters songs as well as some originals from Joe and the band. One of the final numbers that night was a soulful rendition of Stormy Monday. And the audience wouldn't let them go without hearing the Chicago blues anthem, Sweet Home Chicago. I would recommend the 1976 Mighty Joe Young CD Bluesy Josephine (Evidence 26023-2). I was very impressed with Joe's band River City and you can expect to be hearing more from them in the future.
Keep The Blues Alive!

Mailbox E-mail Ray Stiles at: mnblues@aol.com

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