Get a rotating cast of blues legends and superior players, a lineup of classic-but-not-beat-to-death tunes, mix in some excellent production and a loose vibe, and you get The Mannish Boys, one of the coolest concepts in modern blues.
The Boys (with a foundation of Finis Tasby and Bobby Jones on vocals, Randy Chortkoff on harmonica, guitarists Kirk “Eli” Fletcher and Frank Goldwasser, Willie J. Campbell on bass and drummer Jimi Bott) are back with a new(ish) album on Delta Groove, “Shake For Me.” The disc celebrates the collective’s fifth anniversary, and several special guests abound to join the party, including Rod Piazza, Kid Ramos, Nick Curran, Johnny Dyer, Rob Rio and more.
Debuting with the Mannish Boys on the album closer is longtime Lester Butler Tribute Band frontman “Big Pete” van der Pluijm, who covers 13’s “Way Down South” (with original 13 member Andy Kaulkin playing the keys on the tune yet again).
This isn’t the first time label boss Chortkoff has dipped into the Butler catalog for the Mannish Boys: “I’m Ready” (Tribute to Lester Butler) factored into the 2005 “Live & In Demand” CD.
Chortkoff gets it honest: He and Lester were good friends, and Chortkoff has mentioned Butler in numerous interviews, including this funny anecdote from a 2006 Big City Blues Magazine interview:
One day I was in Venice Beach and Lester was down there like he usually was, riding a skateboard, and working out. I have to say that Lester was not the most hygienic person. He would usually go to his closet and sniff T-shirts till he found one. Anyway he was down at the beach looking all funky in shorts and dirty T-shirt and he looked like he hadn’t washed his hair in a month. I was playing at BB King’s that night with King Ernest. And I said, why don’t you come down, I’ll put you on the list. It was packed at Universal and everyone was all dressed up. And from the stage I saw Lester walk in, looking just like he walked off the beach. I got on the microphone and said, “Ladies and Gentleman there was this kid at the beach today and he was playing his harmonica and saw that I had a harmonica and kept asking me questions. He told me how great he was and all this bologna. So, I told him that if he was so great why don’t you come down to BB Kings tonight and I will let you sit in. I see him out in the crowd right now, kid get up here.” And here comes this grungy greasy looking kid and he got up there and just blew everybody’s mind. And then I came running out on to the stage like I was jealous and pushed him, it was a very high stage, he did this flip off the stage and ran out of the club.