Archive for lester butler

Photographer Bert Lek’s classic pictures of Lester Butler and Paul Size at Moulin 1993

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , on October 21, 2021 by J.J.

The Red Devils’ incendiary performance at the 1993 Moulin Blues Festival in Ospel in the Netherlands continues to surprise, more than 28 years later.

Photographer Bert Lek recently allowed NoFightin.com to share his photographs of Lester Butler and Paul Size onstage from that festival. Dedicated fans will recognize some of these photos from publication in Block magazine, or as the inspiration for stunning artwork by Theo Reijnders.

We just think they’re cool. (Learn more about Bert’s fascinating life and career in this 2014 story)

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Welcome to nofightin.com

Posted in 13, lester butler, red devils with tags , , , , , , on October 13, 2021 by J.J.
kingking_vinyl

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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Red Devils show ’em in Missouri in 1992

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , on September 11, 2021 by J.J.

The Red Devils played several shows in Missouri in 1992, including two at The Regency Showcase in Springfield, Mo.

Their first date was Aug. 22, 1992, according to an “Early Warning” brief in the Aug. 13, 1992, Springfield News-Leader.

The band’s next show at the Regency would be just a month and a half later, according to the Oct. 8, 1992, News-Leader (“Red Devils unabashed about ‘raw’ blues”). This time they would get the local newspaper interview treatment (Lester Butler drew the short straw) for this Oct. 8 date on their club tour.

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Red Devils play essential set on ‘2 Meter Sessies’ (1993)

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2021 by J.J.

In lieu of a legit Red Devils sophomore album, fans should look to live performances such as 1993’s outstanding “2 Meter Sessies” recording to fill the void.

The 2 Meter Sessies is a Dutch radio series, a live-in-the-studio “unplugged” session. Performers over the years include Radiohead, Foo Fighters, Cranberries, Blind Melon, J.J. Cale, Jackson Browne and many others. Of course, the Devils didn’t unplug at all, giving one of their essential performances — all caught on tape. (Read more about the Sessies on nl.wikipedia.org.)

The Devils’ performance was recorded May 3, 1993, at Bullet Sound Studios in the Netherlands, just two days after their infamous Moulin Blues Festival appearance. This time, the band sounds rested and ready; it’s just as compelling a performance as Moulin, but without the debauchery. It sounds like a hardworking blues band on top of their game.


The set is typical of the band’s show during this period, a solid mix of “King King” favorites and other choice picks. Several of the songs were earmarked as possibilities for the band’s full-length follow-up to “King King.”

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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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1993 tour contracts show work behind Holland tour

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2021 by J.J.

Note: This post was first published on Feb. 20, 2017, and updated May 2, 2021.

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):

devils_tour_091093

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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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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