Detroit Blues Masters Vol.1 – Bobo Jenkins

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Detroit Blues Masters Vol.1 – Bobo Jenkins

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01. Democrat blues
02. Bad luck and trouble

Bobo Jenkins (John Pickens Jenkins) -  vocals, guitar
Robert Richard – harmonica
Albert Washington – guitar
Harry Fleming – drums
Detroit, Mi. 1954

03. Decoration day blues I & II

Bobo Jenkins – vocals, guitar, piano
Detroit, Mi. 1955

04. Baby don't you want to go I
05. Baby don't you want to go II
06. Ten below zero I
07. Ten below zero II
08. Seasick and water bound

Bobo Jenkins – vocals, guitar
Robert Richard – harmonica
James "Rabbit" Johnson -  guitar, bass
Ted Walker – drums
Detroit, Mi. 1957

09. Nothing but love
10. Tell me who

Bobo Jenkins – vocals, guitar
Eddie Taylor - guitar 
Willie Johnson - guitar 
Earl Phillips - drums
Chicago, Ill. 1959

11. You will never understand
12. Tell me where you stayed last night

Bobo Jenkins – vocals, guitar
Walter Cox - piano 
James "Rabbit" Johnson -  guitar, bass
Ted Walker – drums
Detroit, Mi. 1960

13. When I first left home
14. Reeling and rocking
15. Cold hearted blues
16. I love that woman
17. Solid gold
18. You will never understand n°2
19. Tryin' to get you off my mind
20. 24 years
21. I sure got to leave your town
22. Have you heard the news
23. Tell me who
24. I'm glad trouble don't last always

Bobo Jenkins – vocals, guitar, organ, horns
James "Rabbit" Johnson -  guitar, bass, drums
Detroit, Mi. 1972


Although not very well known, Bobo Jenkins has been a mainstay and a driving force of the Detroit blues scene that he has largely contributed to elaborate and establish.

John Pickens Jenkins was born in Forkland, Al. on January 7, 1916 from a family of poor sharecroppers. After his father's death while he was still a baby, Bobo has to work very early in the fields. A very brutal and insensitive uncle (his mother's brother) takes charge of the kid with more kicks and punches than food and education. When he is eleven, Bobo runs away to Memphis where he makes a living as an odd-job boy in several places including a brothel where he hears for the first time the blues. After a stint in the army during the war, Bobo relocates himself in Detroit and finds a secure job at Chrysler's assembly line where he will stay 26 years.

He is also a faithful patron of the Hastings Street clubs, taking pictures and becoming friend with uprising bluesmen like John Lee Hooker, Eddie Kirkland or Eddie Burns. More and more enthralled with the music, Bobo buys a guitar, take some blues lessons with his friends and starts to play some numbers in the clubs.

While in his assembly line, Bobo composes Democrat blues, his first number that boasts his distrust of the winning Republicans at the 1952 Presidential contest.

" The Democrats put you on your feets and you had the nerve to vote'em out"

Impressed by this blues (that he will include later in his songbook), John Lee Hooker brings Bobo and an array of Detroit blues musicians in Chicago in 1954. A quite enthusiastic Phil Chess hurries Bobo and his band (with the excellent harp player Robert Richard) in the studio to record Democrat blues and the flip (written in a few minutes for the occasion by Bobo) Bad luck and trouble. This single is a small hit in Chicago and Detroit and will become an all-time blues classic among blues buffs all over the world.

For some time, Bobo enjoys some fame, is featured in tour packages alongside such luminaries as Illinois Jacquet, Jimmy Reed, Mahalia Jackson, Lionel Hampton, Louis Jordan. But with a large family, Bobo chooses instead of a professional musician's life the security of a steady job. He thus mostly plays in Detroit and even runs a small club where he features most of the local bluesmen, including Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) who stayed in Detroit for awhile. But his recordings are then quite sparse and mostly for local labels like Fortune with a poor distribution outside his hometown. Anyway those records are first rate, alternating personal self-penned blues (Ten below zero) with striking versions of blues standards like Baby don't you want to go.

During the 60's, the ever creative Bobo Jenkins, builds his own studio and starts to record himself as well as most of the local bluesmen. At the end of the decade dominated by Motown, Bobo's label Big Star is almost the only one issuing blues records in Detroit!

With the help of some blues fans like the writer Sheldon Annis and Fred Reif, they persuade the city of Detroit to launch in August 1970 a Detroit Blues Festival that features all the local bluesmen, an event largely covered by the local medias as well as the Living Blues Magazine.

When retired from Chrysler, Bobo devotes himself full time to the blues. He is in and off stage of the Saginaw blues festival, Belle Isle Festival, Ann Arbor Jazz & Blues festival and even becomes a member of Detroit City's Culture Board... He also continues to record for his Big Star label, particularly three albums which are today sought-after items in which he further demonstrates his uncanny ability to compose striking autobiographical blues. Unfortunately, those LP's are a little bit marred by poor and muffled sound.

With Fred Reif's help, Bobo is also able to play in some prestigious venues like the Smithsonian Institute in 1976. In 1982, Bobo is part of the American Blues Legends' European tour but, very ill, he can't play but one gig and has to come back home in a hurry.

He dies in Detroit on August, 14, 1984 leaving an array of quite good records. We have gathered all his singles on Bobo 1 and Bobo 2 features his first (and best) Big Star LP with some tentative enhanced sound! --- Gérard Herzhaft,

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