Archive for lester butler

Eyewitness: Blue Shadows “deadly serious” at the King King

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , on May 14, 2017 by J.J.


Some of the best stories about The Red Devils come from the people who watched it all go down.

One such eyewitness is Kevin Shattuck, who has been recounting his favorite shows, and the stories behind them, on his Facebook page. Not only that but he is assembling amazing collages that render his musical memories in iconography.

He recently did a piece on the Blue Shadows — the precursor to the blues Red Devils — from the summer of ’88 at the King King. That is Genesis 1 in The Red Devils’ nearly 30-year story.

Kevin’s recollections are published with permission below, but it is definitely worth checking out his Facebook page for stories about The Blasters, X, the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Gun Club, Panther Burns and on and on …

In the Summer of ’88, a Chinese restaurant on the corner of 6th & La Brea named “King King” decided to stay open late & book rockabilly & blues acts. I was working at the Beverly Center & the club was on my way home, so I started to drop in fairly often. It didn’t take very long before an astonishingly great punk/blues band named the “Blue Shadows” settled into that space on a Monday nite residency. It included ex-”Blasters” Gene Taylor on keyboards & Bill Bateman on drums, “Radio Ranch Straight Shooter” Greg “Smokey” Hormel (or on occasion) Dave Alvin playing lead guitar & the Bartel brothers Dave Lee & Jonny Ray on rhythm guitar & bass. The front man was a young harmonica player named Lester Butler. He was a pretty good singer, but was a flat out beast on the harp & had a true bluesman’s weathered, world weary demeanor.
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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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Rainy Detroit night 1992, club date + 3 rare cuts

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2017 by J.J.

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Tapes don’t often circulate of The Red Devils during their 1992 U.S. club tour, but guitarist Mike Flanigin passed one from his collection to nofightin.com.

Not only is it a representation of 4/5 of the band that will be on tour this summer, but it is the closest I’ll ever get to The Red Devils just as I heard them almost 25 years ago.

Flanigin’s tape was not labeled, so no clear info on date or location. But he recollects it was from that fall 1992 club tour. From there, two other clues: an emcee, just before the encore, beckons the crowd, “I don’t know Detroit, do you want to hear one more?” And Butler thanks the crowd for coming out on a rainy night.

Sully’s Blues Bar in Dearborn, Mich., is essentially adjacent to Detroit. And, on Oct. 14, 1992, according to Weather Underground, Dearborn saw just more than half an inch of rain.

The relatively short show — 11 songs in the set, plus three in the encore, about an hour and 35 minutes time — lines up with a listing in the Oct. 13, 1992, Detroit Free Press:

RED DEVILS, blues from LA, 8:30 and 10 p.m. Wed., 4758 Greenfield [Sully’s], Dearborn. 846-1920

Two shows.

So, this gig took place the night after I saw them at Jake’s in Bloomington, Ind., about five-and-a-half hours away.
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Zach Zunis on brush with Cash

Posted in red devils, related music with tags , , on February 25, 2017 by J.J.

Since our last post, we have been thinking about guitarist Zach Zunis. Like Mike Flanigin, Zunis could be a mere footnote in the Devils’ story despite filling a critical role in the band for several months.

And let’s be clear: For some people, the Zach Zunis version of the band was the one they saw live, and is the one they probably still talk about.

Zunis was featured earlier this month in a story in the East Hampton Star, focused around his Grammy nom with singer Janiva Magness. There were a couple of Devils-related comments, including passing by the late, great Johnny Cash:

The late Lester Butler, another harmonica player and singer, was often in the audience at Mr. (William) Clarke’s concerts — “Clarke was the man to see,” Mr. Zunis said. Mr. Butler signed with Def American Recordings, the label founded by the producer and music executive Rick Rubin, and asked Mr. Zunis to join his band, the Red Devils.

The group recorded at the famed Ocean Way Recording in Hollywood, the former United Recording, where legends including Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, the Rolling Stones, and Michael Jackson had cut classic tracks before them. “As we were walking through the door, I heard this ominous sound,” Mr. Zunis said. The sound was the inimitable voice of Johnny Cash. “We walked in the control room, and there was Rick Rubin recording Johnny Cash,” he said. “They finished their session, and we started ours. We got to meet him — it was so cool.”

Read more here.

1993 tour contracts show work behind Holland tour

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , on February 20, 2017 by J.J.

As the reunited Red Devils prepare to return to Europe for the first time in almost 25 years, a series of contracts, riders and correspondence show just how much work it took to get the band on the road in 1993.

The documents are primarily between concert promoters and booking agents for the band’s 14-date Nov. 14-29, 1993, tour of Holland (some details redacted by nofightin.com):

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1. This document, from Sept. 10, 1993, details a proposed itinerary for the band for two weeks in Holland. Of interest are protential gigs that didn’t seem to materialize, such as on Nov. 16, 19 and 24.

2. The band’s tour rider, dated Oct. 9, 1993, breaks down what The Red Devils needed to stay on the road. Soundcheck, security, billing requirements and backline (the kind of gear the venues or promoters would provide for the band) were all outlined. If you wanted to know what amps the band was using, this document lays it out.

Most folks will be interested in the last page: What the band required in their dressing rooms. Nothing fancy — beer, soda, water, sandwiches. And a bottle of Jack and two packs of Winston 100s.

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“Dangerous” at the King King 1992

Posted in red devils with tags , , on January 29, 2017 by J.J.

Another live video from the King King club on Nov. 30, 1992 … “She’s Dangerous”

Snake Snake at the Blue Cafe 1997

Posted in 13 with tags , , , , on May 21, 2014 by J.J.

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We have written about Snake Snake before, believing a band with that brilliant a name could only be a myth.

But here they are — Kid Ramos, Willie J. Campbell, Stephen Hodges and Lester Butler — on a June 13, 1997, at the Blue Cafe in Long Beach, Calif.

Funny that this was right after the release of “13 featuring Lester Butler” and several 13 dates.

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