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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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Lester Butler memorials 1998

Posted in lester butler with tags , , , , on October 8, 2011 by J.J.

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Not long after Lester Butler died in May 1998, I received a package from Enrico Crivellaro, who was Butler’s touring guitarist in 13 in 1997. We had kept in touch after meeting in Kentucky and Indiana, and now he had sent along a memorial flier for Butler, along with a prayer card and short biography (the text of which became the introduction text of Jasper Heikens’ Lester Butler tribute site).

Last year, in a trove of archives sent by 13 drummer Eddie Clark, we received the backside of the memorial flier, with directions to the May 24, 1998, event, as well as a mailing for a “Bad Ass Birthday Blues Bash” for Butler on Nov. 12 and 13, 1998.

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