Archive for the lester butler Category

Welcome to nofightin.com

Posted in 13, lester butler, red devils with tags , , , , , , on October 13, 2021 by J.J.
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For those coming to this site for the first time, welcome to nofightin.com.

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 nofightin.com:

  • Reunion tour: All of our exclusive coverage of The Red Devils’ 2017 reunion tour of Europe with ZZ Top.
  • Watch: The Red Devils live at the King King club, the way they were meant to be seen and heard.
  • 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, ruminations on the band we love: Memories of hearing the record for the first time in 1992, a more recent take on just what makes “King King” so special and asking that musical question: Can a record change your life?

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King Ernest rides with Lester Butler on 1997’s ‘Black Bag Blues’

Posted in lester butler, related music with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2021 by J.J.

Of all of Lester Butler’s guest spots in the ’90s, his work on soul singer King Ernest’s 1997 “King of Hearts” (Evidence ECD 26084-2) stands out. Usually, Butler was just adding harp to someone else’s tune, but for California’s “King Ernest” Baker, he contributed an original song, “Black Bag Blues,” notable for being, to our knowledge, the only Butler-credited song not appearing on an official Lester Butler solo or band release.

And unlike some of the more unusual or experimental music he added harp to, “Black Bag Blues” is a straight-up, hardcore shuffle: No frills, no tricks, just soulful vocals, a stompin’ rhythm section and boastful lyrics that just fit the bill.

Over a mean Texas-styled guitar, Ernest lays it out in the first verse, coming out blowing hard:

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The legend of the Kid Ramos/Lester Butler ‘hard-edge blues unit’ Snake Snake

Posted in lester butler, related music with tags , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2021 by J.J.

Of all of Lester Butler’s various bands and gigs, Snake Snake may be the most mysterious.

But its roots go back to California’s bubbling hot, early 1980s blues scene.

“When I first met Lester he was just a friend of Hollywood Fats that would come around in the early ’80s,” Kid Ramos told nofightin.com recently. “I didn’t even know he played harmonica.”

At the time, Kid and Fats were the 1-2 guitar punch in the James Harman Band, which also boasted Willie J. Campbell on bass and Stephen Hodges on drums.

Ramos and Butler would share the stage a few years later in The Blue Shadows.

“He contacted me in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, I think it was and asked me to come sit with them at the King King,” Ramos recalled. “At that time Smokey Hormel was the guitar player and sometimes other people would play guitar. But it was Jonny Ray Bartel, Bill Bateman and … (Dave Lee) Bartel.”

“Lester was too hard for those guys to deal with and it sort of imploded,” he remembered. “Paul Size went back to Texas and I played some more gigs with the band as The Red Devils. Went to Holland and played some gigs over there. But with a different rhythm section.”

A few years later, it was Ramos’ turn to call Butler for a band he was putting together: Snake Snake.

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Groanin’ Lester Butler onstage in 1996

Posted in 13, lester butler with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2021 by J.J.
Back with The Blue Shadows, April 17 at Bar Deluxe (LA Weekly)

Look, putting together a weekly music calendar isn’t easy. It can be tedious, boring and frustrating. Sometimes, you have to find your little spaces of joy to keep the whole endeavor from completing sucking your soul away.

That’s how I would like to think the calendar editor at LA Weekly came up with “Groanin’ Lester Butler” back in 1996. I hope it brought him/her a little bit of joy in a thankless job.

Unwanted nicknames aside, the years between The Red Devils and 13 found Lester Butler playing locally around Los Angeles and Santa Monica, Calif., in various versions of Devils, Shadows and unlucky numbers. He found regular work in joints like Bar Deluxe, Jack’s Sugar Shack and, of course, the Blue Cafe.

Here is a collection of calendar clips and bar ads from L.A. papers in 1996, tracking Butler’s moves before his breakout ’97.

April 24 at Bar Deluxe with The Blue Shadows — “formerly The Red Devils, and now rejoined by Groanin’ Lester Butler” (LA Weekly)
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10 years of Red Devils & Lester Butler gig posters

Posted in 13, lester butler, red devils with tags , , , on June 26, 2021 by J.J.

We’ve collected a lot of great posters, fliers and handbills for various Red Devils-related gigs over the years. Now we’ll start to put them all in one place.

Check out the new posters gallery on nofightin.com, with images from 1988 through 1998 (all of the pictures are not up yet).

Here’s a new image to kick things off from The Red Devils’ Nov. 15, 1993, gig at De Effenaar in Eindhoven, Netherlands:

For most of us in the early ’90s, the fliers and ticket stubs and promo pictures and newspaper clips were the only way to go beyond the “King King” record itself (remember, this was before the internet we all know and love). Most of these images came online only after The Red Devils and 13 were finished.

Get more history by checking out the timeline section on No Fightin’. (Thank you to Frank Verstappe, Vince Jordan, Paul Brown, Feelgood and others for their contributions.)

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Bukowski, drug busts and blues: Inside Lester Butler’s ‘lost year’ (1995)

Posted in lester butler with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2021 by J.J.

This post was first published on March 23, 2014, and was updated April 24, 2021. — No Fightin’

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 nofightin.com has seen a surge in visitors.

One story that has come back around is by Rob Neighbors, called “My Time with Blues Legend, Lester Butler,” 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 (or ’96) — 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.

Neighbors, a writer-director, among other skills, says he lived with Butler and “the family” of artists in a sort of bohemian flophouse on Chandler Boulevard in Sherman Oaks.

“I was 32 years old at the time but hopelessly lost after the departure of my family and was looking for something to hang on to,” Neighbors wrote. “This new home that I had moved into seemed to be it. We partied hard almost every night. We would read Yeats, Bukowski, and Carlos Castaneda aloud, anything that validated what we were doing. We would do humiliating acting exercises like the primal scream, etc., and have crazy jam sessions.

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Lester’s legacy

Posted in lester butler with tags , on July 29, 2017 by J.J.

The Red Devils’ story is tangled and troubled, to say the least. That the band has been able to take their show on the road this summer is satisfying for the musicians and fans alike.

One Devil is not so lucky.

Lester Butler was many things — artist, friend, brother — but he also could be complex and frustrating, especially to bandmates.


A few years ago, the guitarist Alex Schultz, who played with Butler in the short-lived 13, told us that his experience with Lester was different than it was for the Devils just a few years earlier. Schultz described Lester in his 13 years as clear-eyed, focused and creative.

It was 20 years ago this month that I last saw Butler at two shows with 13, and my experience was as Schultz described. I spoke with Lester then, and he seemed humbled that his music meant so much to me and my friends. He was gracious and funny and quite different than in my first encounter with him in 1992.
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Meet Mr. Uninhibited Wild Cat

Posted in 13, lester butler with tags , , , , , on March 22, 2017 by J.J.

Reporters never knew what they were going to get during a Lester Butler interview, as this Aug. 8, 1997, piece by Randy Cordova for the Arizona Republic shows.

Chief among the surprises are some hotel hi-jinks between Les Butler and another guest, the unfortunately named Wes Butler.

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Getty pics: Lester Butler in Europe 1993, 1997

Posted in lester butler on February 17, 2017 by J.J.

There is a wealth of amazing photos in the Getty Images archives, including these pictures of Lester Butler. Pics from these gigs have been seen before, but these particular images don’t seem to be in wide circulation.

Embed from Getty Images

From the Getty captions:

  • The first two are from The Red Devils’ performance at the Paradiso in Amsterdam May 2, 1993.
  • The third pic is a portrait of Lester Butler in London, taken April 25, 1993.
  • The last two are from the Crossing Border Festival in the Hague, Sept. 12, 1997. The caption miscredits the band as “The Red Devils”; it would have been Butler’s 13 at this time.

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Tamines 1997 reissue is a miss

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

A new album with the “Lester Butler” name on the cover is a rare thing, but “Live at Tamines 1997” misses the mark for both hardcore fans and newcomers.

From the song selections, to the notes, to the packaging, so little care seems to have been put into this release. While a new disc could both satisfy and fuel Butler fandom, the release by RockBeat Records likely won’t find the audience to justify any more reissues.Live at Tamines 1997

IT’S OLD: The Tamines festival gig has been floating around bootleg circles for years. Most Lester Butler fans — this online and on early tape-swapping lists — have had this recording in their collections for years.

For them, there is nothing new here. Even a bonus track, “Automatic,” from the 1998 Moulin Blues Festival in Ospel, has been widely circulated and seems to be here just to fill out disc two.

IT’S DAUNTING: A double-album like this naturally costs more. That’s a barrier for new fans, who aren’t going to spend more for an artist they aren’t familiar with, and won’t commit to two discs of unheard live material from nearly 20 years ago.

The run times for this live show, helpfully listed on the CD’s back cover, would scare off even the most sturdy blues fan: 9:57, 8:47, 8:30, 6:17, 12:59, 10:39 …

IT’S LAZY: Though there are production and mastering credits, the disc is clearly bootleg-rific. The drums — especially the kick — are too high in the mix. The entire sound is trebly, with very little bass. The crowd participation, which usually helps justify a live release, is inaudible. Clearly, the recording was from a soundboard mix and was not meant to be heard in recorded format.

The laziness extends to the packaging.
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