Trouble viewing this email? Click here...

EARS logo

(The LJETPRO) Allen-Leake
Danny (The URBAN G) Leake

Principal Photography:
(The Eye) Christy

Volume 26, Number 9 • September, 2011

President – Blaise Barton
Vice President – Reid Hyams
Secretary – Bob Vodick
Treasurer – Eric Roth



"What is really wrong with data compressed audio?"

(Click here to view event details)

EARS is proudly sponsored by

Shure Logo       Vintage king Logo

A Word From the Prez...

Greetings EARS members and Fans,

First, I must apologize for blasting out this edition of the EARDRUM QUITE LATE! Our esteemed EARDRUM editors certainly submitted the edition in a timely fashion, the fault is entirely mine. In the next edition, we will cover the meeting with Dr. Pantelis Vassilakis more in depth, (which was brilliant, by the way.) The EARS team has been busy cooking up one of the most ambitious meeting events yet for October... hold onto your hats and save the date for Tuesday, October 25th. A meeting announcement is forth coming very soon!

A huge round of thanks goes to those that made the Annual EARS BBQ a smash success this year, starting with the fine gentlemen that run EXPERIMENTAL SOUND STUDIOS for hosting the BBQ. Thanks also to our sponsors Joe Zajac from GEPCO and Mark Brunner and Dave Mendez from SHURE for the very generous raffle prizes. Columbia College students DAVE BENSON and DANE FOLTIN for chopping, slicing, and dicing and setting up and breaking down the equipment. And in particular, our own SAM ROGERS for the nth year in a row manning the grills like a virtual grilling machine.

The EARS election cycle is well under way with our own Treasurer Eric Roth having been nominated (simultaneously) by David Moss and Timothy Powell to be the next President of EARS. Members can still nominate other members over the next two meetings up until the election itself which will take place on Tuesday, November 29th. As you are probably aware, I will be stepping down after having served two terms, it certainly has been a real pleasure and great all around experience with you all.

Have a freakin' scary-ass Halloween!

Blaise Barton
EARS President

Rewind Logo

EARS Raffle Signup at ESS Experimental Sound Studio's Lushcious back yard
(1) EARS Members sign up for the raffle at Experimental Sound Studios before…
(2) being ushered into ESS’ lushly-appointed backyard for the EARS 25th Annual BBQ!


On Tuesday August 30th, Experimental Sound Studios opened their doors and beautiful backyard to EARS for our 25th Anniversary BBQ. The event, hosted by ESS and sponsored by Shure, Vintage King Audio, and Gepco, was a resounding success. The beer, brats, beef and veggie burgers were cooked and served by EARS own expert BBQ chef’s Sam Rogers and Harry Brotman.

EARS President Blaise Barton purchased the assortment of delectable entrée’s which 60 or so EARS members and guests eagerly devoured. While Sam and Harry toiled over the grill, EARS members conversed and strolled through Experimental Sound Studios experiencing this unique facility.

In their own words: “Experimental Sound Studio (ESS) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1986, dedicated to the promotion, production, presentation, and preservation of innovative and diverse approaches to the sonic arts, and to the integration of these art forms into the public.” ESS contributes to making Chicago one of the most innovative cities in the world.

Bob Vodick (EARS Secretary), John Christy, John Hardy, Danny Christy Mike Freeman,
(1) EARS Secretary Bob Vodick with John Christy, John Hardy and Danny Christy;
(2) Michael Freeman and Fran Allen-Leake are joined by Jay B. Ross and Danny Christy

After everyone had had their fill, and as a light rain started to fall, Blaise proceeded to raffle off the generous prizes provided by co-sponsors, Shure and Gepco.

And the winners are:

From Gepco:
A camping chair went to Ben Glawe, AV cable rollers went to Fran Allen-Leake and Reid Hyams, Hudson Fair won five 50ft microphone cables, Mike Egan won five 100ft microphone cables, two fold up grills (with cases) went to Suzanne Schnite and Larry Beers, five rolls of gaffing tape went to Gary Kahn, and Mary Mazurek won a package of Neutrik male connectors.

From Shure:
A pair of Shure SRH940 head phones went to Valentine Azbelle and Dan Galogly won a matched pair of Shure KSM141 microphones.

EARS President Blaise Barton Brats! EARS Members
1) Atop the ESS balcony, EARS President Blaise Barton pulls tickets for the raffle and announces the winners;
(2) Brats, burgers and more were the bill of fare with BBQ chef/Sweetwater's Sam Rogers;
(3) Harry Brotman and Hudson Fair are joined by Benito, Rich Martens, Bill Gould, Suzanne Schnite, Crystal Olson, and
Sam Rogers.

As the party continued, Blaise was interviewed by CLTV and I’m sure Blaise will let us in on when this will air. Again, a great event with great host’s and sponsors, the pleasant company of EARS members and guests with all looking forward to another 25 years of EARS BBQ’s!

Bob Vodick
EARDRUM Secretary

(Ed: Note) A plethora of BBQ photos can be found at the EARS Facebook Page:!/pages/EARS-Engineering-And-Recording-Society-of- Chicago/434458785530

Question MarkFood For Thought…….An Editor’s Opinion

The other day I was at Radio Shack picking up an alignment tool for studio maintenance when I noticed they were selling CDs…..TWO CDs to be exact; Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and Beyonce’s “4”. Seeing that CD stores are getting scarce, it sort of took me back to the days when I would browse for hours reading credits and usually leaving with about $200 to $300 worth of CDs. I picked up the two CDs to check them out technically.

Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” sounded pretty much as I expected i.e., a very well recorded and mixed recording. The credits were listed per track and they included EVERYTHING; the producers, the programmers, the vocalists, the recording and mixing engineers, the studios (Abbey Road among others), the mastering studio…it even had every assistant engineer who had worked on the recording. It also had things like Marketing, Business Affairs, Photography, Hair Stylists, Nails, Fashion Director, Legal… infinitum. It was a lot like looking at the end credits of a movie. Very cool! It was cut all over the World by several engineers and essentially mixed by two (Dave Russell and Trevor Muzzy with an assist by Raja Sardina). It was mastered by Gene Grimaldi at Oasis Mastering in Burbank, CA. (It was credited on each separate song even though Gene seems to have mastered the entire CD.


Now I put on Beyonce’s “4”. It sounded magnificent. From the choice of Music to the recording and mixing this was a stunning presentation of her Art. I was curious as to where it was done, who produced it, who worked on it, who mastered it, etc. When I looked through the CD booklet I saw it was filled with glamour shots (Most of which didn’t exactly look like her. They actually looked like….Lady Gaga.), the songwriters were listed along with the Producers (probably because Beyonce was listed as a Producer or Co-Producer on every cut.) and the photographer of every photo on ever cut was listed….sort of like a Magazine. Additional credits included Marketing, Art Director, Fashion Director, Stylist, Glam Team. Except for an Album mastering credit for Tom Coyne of Sterling Sound, NYC there were no other technical credits in the booklet.

There was just a line that said “FOR COMPLETE CREDITS, PLEASE VISIT BEYONCE.COM & BEYONCEONLINE.COM” (Capitals are theirs not mine.)

I hit the site and found the credits. They were as extensive as Lady Gaga’s credits were. Maybe this is the way things are going to go as Music delivery goes more toward downloads but I can’t help think that this is one more situation where the people who made the recording are being segregated from the Art they helped create. In the “Thanks” section she wrote:

“I thank the writers, producers and friends who made this record with me. Y'all are amazing and I learned from you too. We worked hard and had fun at the same time. This album was made with so much love and a world of experiences. I was able to record at home and all over the world.”

It would have been nice if she had acknowledged their work on the product. I think that maybe their contribution was a little more important than the “Fashion Director”, “The Hair Stylist”, or the “Glam Team” on an audio CD.

Hopefully the website won’t go away.

Danny Leake

EARDo Musicians Have Better Hearing?

I remember the day in 1966 when I “Hotrodded” my Mother’s console stereo……I had gone to Allied Electronics (the precursor of Radio Shack), got a speaker to earphone adaptor (really just a resistive pad) and plugged in a pair of earphones. The first 45 record I played was “I’m Your Puppet” by James and Bobby Purify. In those primitive phones I heard incredible sound….things I had never heard in the track before….. mind-blowing hi fidelity MONO! Seriously, all I had heard at that point grungy AM Mono. I could hear every nuance of what the guitar player was playing and as a budding guitar player I listened VERY deeply to that track. I also listened very deeply to everything I could get my hands on…Motown, The Beatles, The Who, you name it, I analyzed it. To this day I continue to “Hear Deeply” so I found it interesting when I found an article on the BBC website that said “Lifelong Musicians Have Better Hearing”.

They based this on a study of 74 Musicians and 89 Non-Musicians. This research, by a team at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, looked at adults of all ages - from 18 to 91 - to see how people were affected as they aged.

It seems that 70-year-old Musicians had hearing equal to 50-year-old non-Musicians.

They carried out hearing tests on 74 amateur and professional musicians (who had played since the age of 16, were still practicing and had been given formal music lessons) and 89 non-musicians (who had never played an instrument).

Problems are particularly seen in the central auditory processing system, which is associated with understanding speech, especially when there is background noise. This is often described as the "cocktail party problem".

Musicians were significantly better at picking out speech against noise.

The researchers suggest that lifelong musicianship mitigates age-related changes in the brain, probably due to musicians using their auditory systems at a high level on a regular basis.

That got me thinking, “Musicians are, for the most part, listening musically but what about Producers and Engineers who are listening both musically AND technically while manipulating sound.”

I think that Engineers and Producers experience this same clarity of hearing as they age. (As long as they don’t blow it out with extraordinarily loud monitoring.)

There are producers and engineers mixing/mastering hits today who, by the general rules, shouldn’t even be able to hear what’s happening. Guys like Bruce Sweiden, Joe Chicarrelli, Elliot Scheiner, Bob Ludwig, Greg Calbi……I could go on and on.

I know as a kid I listened “Deeply” but I listen a lot more “Deeply” now than I ever did then. Part of it is the fact that now I know what to listen for. It’s also part of the reason I can’t listen to MP3s. (I hear what isn’t there.) I had my ears checked when I was 50 and was told I had the hearing a 20 year old….and this was after years of Army service, loud guitar amps, loud playbacks, and loud concert mixes. I personally think that the “mechanics” have gone the way of age but the brain, which deciphers everything anyway, has, like Star Trek’s Borg, adapted. I hear in “Colors” and the “Colors” have gotten more vivid over the years.

Older engineers I have talked to have similar experiences. We find we hear things with more clarity than when we were kids even though our younger ears were supposed to be better. I think our older brains decipher the information better.

That said, people who are not Musicians, Producers, or Engineers do not listen as intensely as we do and listening intensely trains the brain to be sensitive to certain things: Frequencies, Clarity, etc. So I guess we can safely say that if you protect your ears from extremely loud playbacks (or stupidly loud earphone volume) you can expect a long career in sound.

My journey started 45 years ago in my Mother’s living room.

Danny Leake

EARS book club logo

Having gone through “Heinous” and quite “Wonderful” recording sessions I have always been interested in what went on in other sessions. Especially sessions of Classic recordings that touched my life. I remember the first time I hear Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You” on the jack legged earphone system I hooked up on on my Mother’s stereo console. I was familiar with Aretha. She was a washed up Jazz singer on Columbia Records. This was on Atlantic and it had nothing to do with Jazz. I was one of the most powerful pieces of R&B I had experienced in my young life. This was transcended a few months later when “Respect” was released. I always wondered about the story of those tunes….how they were done, who did them, how did they come about. The answers are to be found in “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, Aretha Franklin, Respect and the Making of a Soul Music Masterpiece by Matt Dobkin, forward by Nikki Giovanni” St. Martin’s Press 2004.I Never Loved a Man- Book coverThis book goes further than just saying how the record was done. It goes heavily into the histories of the people involved; Aretha Franklin (Diva Extraordinaire), Jerry Wexler (Producer Extraordinaire), Amhet Ertegun (Record Executive Extraordinaire), Tom Dowd (Engineer Extraordinaire), Rick Hall and Muscle Shoals Boys (Engineer and Studio Players Extraordinaire), Ted White (Husband Extraordin…..uhhh no!) It delves deeply into the personality conflicts that came together to make this a truly great album. It goes into great detail about the “Incident” which involved one of the brass players and Ted White, Aretha’s husband that caused the session to be moved to New York. It also goes into the nefarious schemes Jerry Wexler put together to get the Muscle Shoals Boys to New York to finish the album without Rick Hall knowing it. One interesting fact about this session was that all of the session players except Aretha were white. In the Sixties almost all of the recording scenes, except for Motown and Stax, were heavily segregated. What was unique about Muscle Shoals was that those guys played anything; Country, Roadhouse, Rockabilly, R&B, Blues….anything. In the R&B vein they worked on some of the best records of the time.

I would recommend this book just for the histories of the people involved but this goes even further. In addition to previously unknown facts, the technical aspects, and the trauma involved, this book goes into the cultural impact this album had on its times. As a child of the Sixties I am very familiar with that impact. If you want to know how things were done back then, how divergent personalities come together to make a hit, and how these lessons applies to today’s recordings then I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Read it and enjoy!

Danny Leake



Danny Leake is mastering (at least if I can get the mixes done before he leaves for Brazil early Tuesday) the new Kids In The Hall album tomorrow. For non-hip-hop heads, they are not the comedy troop. This will be for Addidas's new record label. I handled most of the recording & mixing. 2 Chainz was in the studio last night recording for a B.O.B record.

Daystorm logoFrom Gary Tanin’s DAYSTORM MUSIC –

Sam Lllanas Sam Llanas’ new release, 4 A.M., will be available on October 25, 2011.

Additionally, there will be a Sneak preview of Sam Llanas' - 4 A.M. by Bob Reitman on WUWM.
Stream Saturday from 9PM - 11PM CST


On TUESDAY, October 4, Pogo Studio’s – and EARS’ former VP – Mark Rubel will be honored with the 40°N ACE Award for Teaching in Champaign County. The 40°N Awards “honor those who have made contributions to the arts through education, media, advocacy and public service.”

- Mark is also presenting a drum recording workshop and on a couple of panels at the upcoming “BADASS” (Boston Area Definitive Audio Student Summit), along with Radiohead producer Sean Slade, jazz recording engineer Jim Anderson, and others.

- He was recently elected to a 3-year term on the board of SPARS (Society of Professional Audio Recording Services), and wrote the first piece for their blog:

- At the upcoming AES Conference in New York, Mark will take part in SPARS “speed mentoring” programs, as well as being a judge for the AES International Student Recording Competition. As recording engineer for the Ellnora Guitar Festival at the Krannert Center in Champaign, Mark just recorded Taj Mahal, Alvin Youngblood Hart, The Carolina Chocolate Drops and Calexico.


Danny Leake Mastered a 5.1 Surround and 2.1 Stereo mix for Styx’s “Live in Memphis” DVD. Gary Loizzo mixed the project and Terry Fryer of Third Wave Productions was the Director. Other projects:

- Mastering a jazz guitar CD for Buddy Fambro (Mixed by Brian Schwabb)
- Mastering a Live Jazz CD for Ava Logan. Recorded and Mixed by Timothy Powell of Metromobile
- Mastered a Pop/Alternative Rock CD for Tim Stop. Recorded and Mixed by Bob Difazio at Studio Chicago.

LJet Logo  From Fran Allen-Leake’s L JET PRODUCTIONS –

EARDRUM co-editor Fran Allen-Leake jets to Australia on Monday, October 3 as Tour Director/Stage Manager for the upcoming Chicago Soul Collective’s “One World, One People Tour”. Produced by Aussie guitarist/attorney Billy Blake, the CSC The Chicago Soul Collective is a genuine soul-funk/jazz super-group and features Chicago players: Vince Willis (piano & keyboards); Kevon Smith (former Buddy Miles guitarist); Joe Thomas (bass); Lorna Boston (vocals); Bruce Cecil (drums and videographer); and “Southside” Stevie Berek (harp). The 4-week tour will play in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

JoyRide LogoFrom Blaise Barton's JOYRIDE STUDIO -

Big James, Blaise, and Blind Pig label owner Jery DelJuidice recently finished mixing and mastering a new live record for Big James, recorded at the Meridian in Paris, France. Big James (aka James Montgomery) had the opportunity to play in Lou Rawls' band when he was a teenager. Later he became a longtime member of Buddy Guy's touring band and traveled the world meeting and playing with such luminaries as Eric Clapton and BB King. Today, Big James leads his own band and tours the world getting people out of their seats around the globe.

Sax man Sam Burckhardt recorded, mixed, and mastered his new jazz record "Bobolink" featuring guitarist Guy King and pianist Leandro Lopez Varady.

Pop Rocker Wes Hollywood put the final tracking and mixing touches on the new Tennis Courts record with mix engineer Brian Leach. Brian and Wes decided to go with a vintage Shure SM-7 for the vocals, a sound choice! The band is releasing the album on vinyl as well as the usual digital formats. In addition, Tennis Courts is releasing a simultaneous vinyl album mixed in mono by Neil Strauch at Engine Studios.

Artful jazz guitarist Jason Steele and his ensemble checked in for two days of tracking with engineer Anthony Gravino. The session was recorded live to 24 track analog tape with no headphones for any of the musicians - all live in the big room...always a refreshing change in this day and age of seperation and isolation.

Jazz guitarist Buddy Fambro did some band tracking at JoyRide for the new record. Buddy enlisted help from some old friends including drummer Kahari Parker (Beyonce / Destiny's Child), trumpet journeyman Ron Haynes (Lenny Kravitz / Ohio Players), and bass man extrordinaire Chuck Webb (Al DiMeola). Urban Guerilla's Danny Leake mastered the record, (see Danny's entry above...)

Hard rock label Victory Records has been keeping mix engineer Brian Leach busy re-mixing stems for the popular video game ROCK BAND. Roughly fifteen of the label's bands have had songs included for Rock Band. To play the game a player assumes the role of a band member (drummer, guitarist, bassist, etc) and must "perform" that part as closely to the original as possible. This requires that the audio is broken out into several different stem parts and the game console figures out which notes are actually heard based on accuracy of the players "performance". Technical requirements for audio submitted to Rock Band are quite clearly spelled out... when the sum of the stems are combined and the part(s) are performed perfectly, theoretically, the track should sound like the original song.

Yet another in a great procession of Jon Langford (Waco Bros, Mekons, Skull Orchard) productions, Jon Langford and Bloodshot's Rob Miller have recorded a fine album for Australian Aboriginal country singer Roger Knox and are mixing the record with Blaise. Upon arriving in San Fran for a recording session, Mr. Knox was denied entrance into the U.S. and was forced to turn around and go back to Australia. Jon Langford went ahead and cut some of the rhythm tracks in S.F. anyway with the Canadian alt-country outfit "The Sadies" as the rhythm section. Back in Australia, Roger sang and played on the tracks and the record was completed. Guest musicians include Jon Langford himself, Kelly Hogan, and Sally Timms.


Jesse Dixon JESSE DIXON -
One of the leading names in gospel music, and the Ultimate International Gospel Singer, Jessy Dixon has written some of the most recognizable songs in the genre. Born in San Antonio, TX on March 12, 1938, Dixon showed a talent for songwriting at a young age, eventually relocating to Chicago as a teenager to try and make a name for himself. He was soon discovered by the legendary James Cleveland, who would go on to record several of Jessy’s compositions. He was tapped by Rev. Milton Brunson to serve as Musical Director for the famed Thompson Community Singers, and eventually formulated the Chicago Community Choir. With the advent of the Jessy Dixon Singers, word spread about his talents, and soon he was singing and performing to appreciate audiences world-wide. He began touring with Paul Simon as a member of his band and they continued to collaborate after the tour on the next two Simon albums. In his own career, Dixon recorded his debut single "It's All Right Now" with producer Andrae Crouch. It became a modest success, and the next few singles built on that success until he was soon one of the premiere names in gospel at the time. In 1993 he recorded his biggest single, "I Am Redeemed," an enormous success in the gospel world that stayed on the Christian charts for almost five years. He continued his solo career as well as writing songs for Amy Grant, Natalie Cole, Cher, and Diana Ross. His participation in Bill and Gloria Gaither's videos and tours have also led to numerous collaborations with the couple. He continued to work in the gospel industry steadily through 2010, releasing albums and touring hundreds of days a year. Jessy did more concerts in Europe, Scandinavia, Africa, India and in the USA than any other gospel artist; more than 500 in Norway alone, a fete unparalleled by any other artist, gospel or secular. Jessy Dixon passed away after a lengthy illness on Monday, September 26 in Chicago, IL.

I first saw Jessy Dixon as a teenager when my grandmother took me to a gospel music concert in the mid-1960s. But our initial face-to-face meeting would not be until 1976 when I auditioned – as a vocalist -- for The Thompson Community Singers (I would later also sing with Jessy’s Chicago Community Choir) The following year, I was asked by Jessy and Rev. Milton Brunson to sit (in the control room!) as a review our newest release, Joy, took place. “What are you hearing, Fran? What do you think?” From both Rev. Brunson and Jessy, I received my 1st taste of “the studio,” and this would turn out to be my initial foray as a producer. Yes, I was hooked. Jessy Dixon was a teacher, a mentor and a friend. He was a brilliant songwriter/musician who was one of the 1st of his contemporaries – of whom I am aware – to successfully merge the sacred with the secular. When I last saw Jessy a few years ago at a gospel concert that I was producing, he gave me the greatest compliment ever: “I knew you had it in you! I’m proud of you, girl!” Thank you for teaching me, Jessy. God Bless You. And, Rest In Peace.

Fran Allen-Leake


Honeyboy Edwards

Grammy-winning Blues musician David "Honey Boy" Edwards, believed to be the oldest surviving Delta bluesman and whose roots stretched back to blues legend Robert Johnson, died early Monday August 29th 2011 in his Chicago home, his manager said. He was 96.

Edwards had a weak heart and his health seriously declined in May, when the guitarist had to cancel concerts scheduled through November, said his longtime manager, Michael Frank of Earwig Music Company.

Born in 1915 in Shaw, Miss., Edwards learned the guitar growing up and started playing professionally at age 17 in Memphis.

He came to Chicago in the 1940s and played on Maxwell Street, small clubs and street corners. By the 1950s Edwards had played with almost every bluesman of note - including Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Charlie Patton and Muddy Waters. Among Edwards' hit songs were "Long Tall Woman Blues," "Gamblin Man" and "Just Like Jesse James."

Edwards played his last shows in April at the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, Miss., Frank said.

"Blues ain't never going anywhere," Edwards told The Associated Press in 2008. "It can get slow, but it ain't going nowhere. You play a lowdown dirty shame slow and lonesome, my mama dead, my papa across the sea I ain't dead but I'm just supposed to be blues. You can take that same blues, make it uptempo, a shuffle blues, that's what rock `n' roll did with it. So blues ain't going nowhere. Ain't goin' nowhere."

Edwards won a 2007 Grammy for best traditional blues album with "Last Of The Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live In Dallas" and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 2010. His death represents the loss of the last direct link to the first generation of Mississippi blues musicians, Frank said.

"That piece of the history from that generation, people have to read about it from now on," Frank said. "They won't be able to experience the way the early guys played it, except from somebody who's learned it off of a record."

Edwards was known for being an oral historian of the music genre and would tell biographical stories between songs at his shows, Frank said. He was recorded for the Library of Congress in Clarksdale, Miss., in 1942.

"He had photographic memory of every fine detail of his entire life," Frank said. "All the way up until he died. He had so much history that so many other musicians didn't have and he was able to tell it."

Edwards gathered those stories in the 1997 book "The World Don't Owe Me Nothing: The Life and Times of Delta Bluesman Honeyboy Edwards." He wrote in the book that his father bought a guitar for $8 from a sharecropper and Edwards learned to play in 1929.

"I watched my daddy play that guitar, and whenever I could I would pick it up and strum on it," Edwards wrote. Honeyboy's life has been intertwined with almost every major blues legend, including Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Big Joe Williams, Rice "Sonny Boy Williamson" Miller, Howlin' Wolf, Peetie Wheatstraw, Sunnyland Slim, Lightnin' Hopkins, Big Walter, Little Walter, Magic Sam, Muddy Waters, and ... well, let's just say the list goes on darn near forever!

Edwards was known for his far-ranging travels and played internationally. In his 90s, he was still playing about 70 shows a year. Edwards would visit with the audience after every show, taking pictures, signing autographs and talking with fans, Frank said.

Edwards earned his nickname "Honey Boy" from his sister, who told his mother to "look at honey boy" when Edwards stumbled as he learned to walk as a toddler. He is survived by his daughter Betty Washington and stepdaughter Dolly McGinister.

"He had his own unique style," Frank said. "But it was a 75-year-old style and it was a synthesis of the people before him and in his time."

Honeyboy and Bobby Rush
Honeyboy with Bobby Rush at JoyRide Studio, 2007


Willie "Big Eyes" Smith Willie "Big Eyes" Smith was born in Helena, AR in 1936. At the age of 17 he ventured to Chicago where he heard Muddy Waters for the first time. Willie was hooked on the blues and the attraction to the music persuaded him to stay in Chicago. He passed away Friday, September 16th, 2011.

In 1954 Willie, playing harmonica, formed a trio with drummer Clifton James. The trio built a following in Chicago and gigged around the area for a few years. During this same time, Willie played harp with several other artists including Bo Diddley, Arthur "Big Boy" Spires and Johnny Shines. In 1957 Willie joined Little Hudson's Red Devil Trio and switched to playing drums. After gigs or between sets, Willie started sitting in on drums with Muddy Waters' band. Muddy liked what he heard, and invited Willie to play drums on a 1959 recording session. Willie began to fill in for Muddy's drummer Francis Clay, and continued to play recording sessions with Muddy. In 1961, Willie replaced Clay in Muddy's band and played with Muddy till mid-1964. During this period, as he solidified his Chicago sound, Willie recorded with James Cotton, Jo Jo Williams and Muddy Waters on a tribute to blues vocalist Big Bill Broonzy.

The '60s were lean times for the blues and for a few years (mid-'64-'68) Willie packed up his drum kit and found himself doing odd jobs including working in a restaurant and driving a cab around Chicago. One night in 1968 Willie decided to go out and listen to Muddy. Rediscovering his desire to play, he asked to sit in with the band. The next day Muddy asked Willie to rejoin his band. Willie played in Muddy's band till 1980 and appears on all of Muddy's Grammy-winning albums.

After performing with Muddy Waters, Smith established his own niche within the tradition of the Delta Blues Sound by co-founding the Legendary Blues Band with Pinetop Perkins, Louis Myers, Calvin Jones, and Jerry Portnoy. The group was nominated for several Grammy Awards, recorded four critically acclaimed albums on the Ichiban label, backed up Buddy Guy, Howlin' Wolf and Junior Wells, toured with Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. They played behind Muddy for the soundtrack of the movie The Last Waltz and appeared in the movie The Blues Brothers where they played street musicians backing John Lee Hooker.

Willie "Big Eyes" Smith traditional shuffle style has been regarded as the heart and soul of the Chicago blues sound, with Willie laying the beat behind many of the blues classics. But fans are just as likely to find Willie "Big Eyes" Smith holding on to a harmonica, his first instrument, as a drum stick. Turns out, this award-winning blues drummer is also an accomplished harmonica master and dynamic vocalist.

Most recently, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith received a Grammy in 2010 for his work with Pinetop Perkins for Best Traditional Blues CD for Joined at the Hip with Telarc Records.

Michael Freeman, Willie Smith and Pintop Perkins
Willie Smith in February 2011 accepting the Grammy for "Best Traditional Blues Album"
with producer Michael Freeman and co-Grammy winner Pinetop Perkins.

Magnifying Glass We Want to Know…

What have you been working on lately (and with whom?!) Do you have an idea for an article in an upcoming EARDRUM? Do you have a tech tip? How about an idea for an EARS event? Don’t be shy… contact us:

Fran Allen-Leake, LJet Productons – 312.405.4335 or e-mail

Danny Leake, Urban Guerrilla Engineers –312.310.0475 or e-mail eardrum.editor@ears-

Check out our FACEBOOK page(s)

Look for the New EARS Website!! – COMING SOON!!

Log on to:


To stop receiving stuff like this from EARS click here