Archive for the lester butler Category

1997 Tamines bootleg given mainstream release

Posted in 13, lester butler with tags , , , , , on October 31, 2015 by J.J.

Lester Butler is back — sort of — on the above-board release of the long-bootlegged Tamines show from Aug. 29, 1997, at the 7th South Blues Festival in Belgium.

Live at Tamines 1997The two-disc set “Lester Butler featuring 13 Live at Tamines 1997” comes from RockBeat Records, the same folks who reissued “13 featuring Lester Butler” more than four years ago, with bonus tracks from the Tamines festival, clearly taken from the bootleg that had been circulating for a decade by then.

Here’s the back-cover info from the new release:

Lester Butler was a brilliant harmonica player. He rejuvenated the LA blues scene with his group The Red Devils. After they disbanded, Lester formed a group on Hightone Records featuring a back up band he called 13. The live intensity of this show demonstrates how adept he was singing and playing the blues. He died not long after this show from 1997. The blues was hot and Lester was on fire.

Though Amazon shows a release date of Oct. 2, our copy is already on backorder.

So though we don’t have the physical package in hand just yet, there are a few things we know already:
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Intveld on Butler: “Taking something beyond where it’s been before”

Posted in 13, lester butler with tags , , on May 20, 2015 by J.J.

Lester Butler and 13 were supposed to play their first gig at the Dixie Belle Restaurant in Downey on June 27, 1998.

Butler never made it, but a tribute show was held for him that night. (An article that day noted Smokey Hormel, Steven Hodges and John Bazz all playing).

Here are the details by Theo Douglas from the June 26, 1998, Long Beach Press-Telegram:


The late Lester Butler may be gone, but a group of his friends and peers in the Los Angeles music world intend to make sure the harmonica player’s intense music lives on for at least one more night.

Memorial flier, courtesy Enrico Crivellaro

Memorial flier, courtesy Enrico Crivellaro

That would be Saturday night, which is when Butler and his band, 13, were scheduled to perform at the Dixie Belle Restaurant in Downey.

Faced with the harmonica player’s untimely death May 9 from a heroin overdose, Butler’s friends decided to fill in for him Saturday at the Dixie Belle with a set list of his own original songs.

“I felt there was some kind of irony that he didn’t play there. He didn’t make it, but his friends can make it for him,” said Dixie Belle promoter Ed Boswell who booked Butler’s Saturday night show several months ago.

“Maybe he could be there in spirit,” he said.

One thing is certain: Butler, who was 38 when he died, won’t be sitting in on a harp. Recognizing that no one can fill the silence he leaves, the evening won’t be an all-harmonica spectacular.
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1995: Inside Lester Butler’s ‘lost year’

Posted in lester butler with tags , , , on March 23, 2014 by J.J.

In the wake of the Classic Rock article, there seems to be more talk and memories about The Red Devils than there has been in years. Much of it is happening on Facebook, and has seen a surge in visitors.lester_moulin_promo

One story that has come back around is by Rob Neighbors, called “My Time with Blues Legend, Lester Butler.” It was posted last week on the Delta Groove website, but was first posted on Neighbors’ site, Hollywood or Die, in October 2011.

The account fills in the day-to-day about what could be thought of as Butler’s “lost year,” 1995 — lost at least in terms of national prominence. It was clearly after the heyday of The Red Devils, and before the formation of 13 and his renaissance in Europe. Time when he was playing pickup gigs and local shows.

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Welcome to

Posted in 13, lester butler, red devils with tags , , , , , on March 12, 2014 by J.J.

For those coming to this site for the first time, welcome to

We have been here since 2009, cataloging the short but stellar career of The Red Devils and Lester Butler.

Wander around and find rare music, videos and reviews, and meet other fans — and some of the musicians who made the records we love so much.
To get you started, here are some of the most popular and essential posts and pages on

Lyrics: Everything on “King King,” most of “13,” live stuff and more.

2 Meter Sessies: In lieu of a second Red Devils record, this live radio set from 1993 can fill the void.

“Lester’s Legendary Last Gig”: Full coverage of the DVD release of 13’s classic 1998 Moulin Blues performance.

“Lousiana Blues”: The story behind one of the most rare songs in the Devils’ discography, released on a promo tape before “King King” came out in ’92.

“Blues in the Morning”: Hear The Red Devils rock KCRW in 1992, including their rare take on “Shake ‘Em On Down.”

VPRO: Famous & rare Lester Butler TV appearance, blowing a little acoustic harp, talking Little Walter and jamming with G. Love.

Inside King King: Pictures from what is believed to be The Red Devils’ last King King gig.

MTV Europe: The band shuffles through a pair of tunes on the music video channel.

Finally, a pair of ruminations on the band we love: Memories of hearing the record for the first time in 1992, and a more recent take on just what makes “King King” so special.

Thanks to Paul Rees for the mention in Classic Rock Magazine.

Blue Cafe posters ’95-’96

Posted in lester butler with tags , , on January 10, 2014 by J.J.


Our friend Vince Jordan provided these posters from his Long Beach, Calif., club the Blue Cafe. Lester Butler bands, in various configurations, were regulars there.

Even if you never visited the club before it closed 10 years ago, check out the Blue Cafe Facebook page. There are all kinds of great blues photos and memorabilia there.

Dave Alvin remembers Butler and Red Devils

Posted in bill bateman, lester butler, red devils with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2013 by J.J.

Dave Alvin posted his thoughts to Facebook Dec. 4:

Got to thinking today about the late, talented Lester Butler and the short lived but tough little blues outfit, The Red Devils, so I found a good clip of the guys playing some European festival over a decade ago. Yeah, that’s Blaster Bill Bateman on drums and Knitter Johnny Ray Bartel on bass backing up Lester as he blows the hell out of his harp. In those days they battled their demons while dancing damn close to the edge but for a few shining hours they played some great damn rocking blues. I’m glad some film remains of Lester and the guys before things ended as ugly and sad as anything could.

Alvin, of course, is essential to The Red Devils, basically a spin-off band to The Blasters. Dave Alvin played in the original Blue Shadows trio with Bill Bateman and Jonny Ray Bartel, and teams still with Bartel in The Knitters.

As of this writing, the post has 422 likes, 64 comments and 86 shares.

And he posted this video, from PinkPop, more than 20 years ago:

Burnside/Butler remix: “It’s Bad You Know”

Posted in lester butler with tags , , , , on October 13, 2013 by J.J.

Found on YouTube: A new remix of “It’s Bad You Know” from R.L. Burnside’s “Come On In” record. Lester Butler played the harp lick, which became famous in promos for “The Sopranos.”

The video was posted June 3, 2013, by Russ Stevens, with the description: “THIS IS AN EXTENDED VERSION, BY MARE AND SOLARIS, GIPSY BALCAN BOOGIE.”

It’s different, a little repetitive — even for a remix — but interesting to hear Butler’s harp do things you don’t expect. That makes it fresh, and worth a listen for fans.


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