Archive for lester butler

Welcome to nofightin.com

Posted in 13, lester butler, red devils with tags , , , , , on March 12, 2014 by J.J.

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.
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To get you started, here are some of the most popular and essential posts and pages on nofightin.com.

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, a pair of ruminations on the band we love: Memories of hearing the record for the first time in 1992, and a more recent take on just what makes “King King” so special.

Thanks to Paul Rees for the mention in Classic Rock Magazine.

Blue Cafe posters ’95-’96

Posted in lester butler with tags , , on January 10, 2014 by J.J.

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Our friend Vince Jordan provided these posters from his Long Beach, Calif., club the Blue Cafe. Lester Butler bands, in various configurations, were regulars there.

Even if you never visited the club before it closed 10 years ago, check out the Blue Cafe Facebook page. There are all kinds of great blues photos and memorabilia there.

‘King King’: There’s only one

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , on January 2, 2014 by J.J.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about “King King” the last few weeks, what makes it special in a way other albums — of any genre — rarely are.

The success of The Red Devils and the “King King” album come down to three things, very simple but so elusive.

It’s those five guys (plus one on the record), playing those 12 songs in that club with that producer.

kingking_vinylThat’s it.

There is no substitute. There is no sequel. All the magic is captured on that disc, starting with the blurry cover with the hipsters outside, to the steam and smoke on that piece of plastic in the player.

At this point, “King King” is old enough to buy a drink, but still sounds as fresh and powerful as it did 21 years ago. And it would have played 21 years earlier, too, in 1971, a muscular rival for the broader explorations of Butterfield and Canned Heat.

It’s easy on paper to peg The Red Devils as a harmonica band. But in reality, it’s a rhythm band. Built on Bill “Buster” Bateman’s impeccable timing and dynamics. Jonny Ray Bartel’s thick bass swagger, so evident on the groovier cuts like “I Wish You Would” and “Devil Woman.” Dave Lee Bartel’s essential rhythm, so unselfish, so signature (listen to recordings of the band with other rhythm guitarists … just not the same).
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Dave Alvin remembers Butler and Red Devils

Posted in bill bateman, lester butler, red devils with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2013 by J.J.

Dave Alvin posted his thoughts to Facebook Dec. 4:

Got to thinking today about the late, talented Lester Butler and the short lived but tough little blues outfit, The Red Devils, so I found a good clip of the guys playing some European festival over a decade ago. Yeah, that’s Blaster Bill Bateman on drums and Knitter Johnny Ray Bartel on bass backing up Lester as he blows the hell out of his harp. In those days they battled their demons while dancing damn close to the edge but for a few shining hours they played some great damn rocking blues. I’m glad some film remains of Lester and the guys before things ended as ugly and sad as anything could.

Alvin, of course, is essential to The Red Devils, basically a spin-off band to The Blasters. Dave Alvin played in the original Blue Shadows trio with Bill Bateman and Jonny Ray Bartel, and teams still with Bartel in The Knitters.

As of this writing, the post has 422 likes, 64 comments and 86 shares.

And he posted this video, from PinkPop, more than 20 years ago:

Burnside/Butler remix: “It’s Bad You Know”

Posted in lester butler with tags , , , , on October 13, 2013 by J.J.

Found on YouTube: A new remix of “It’s Bad You Know” from R.L. Burnside’s “Come On In” record. Lester Butler played the harp lick, which became famous in promos for “The Sopranos.”

The video was posted June 3, 2013, by Russ Stevens, with the description: “THIS IS AN EXTENDED VERSION, BY MARE AND SOLARIS, GIPSY BALCAN BOOGIE.”

It’s different, a little repetitive — even for a remix — but interesting to hear Butler’s harp do things you don’t expect. That makes it fresh, and worth a listen for fans.

Spare bands & one-and-dones

Posted in 13, lester butler with tags , , , , on September 2, 2013 by J.J.

Blues musicians will know … get a group of guys together, come up with a name, and you are a “band” for a night. Might have those same four guys another night, new name. Use a different drummer for a pickup gig, and that’s three. One of those bands, likely, was called the Blues Meisters. Law of averages.

The Red Devils had a fairly monogamous relationship during the prime ’92-’93 years: Butler, Size, Bartel, Bartel and Bateman — save for Mike Flanigin taking North American duties for Dave Lee Bartel in late 1992. But once Paul Size left the band in mid-’93, all bets were off.

Here are some of the random situations featuring Lester Butler, primarily between The Red Devils and 13.

THE BACKSTREET CRAWLERS: “Tonight at 9 [at the Blue Cafe], the Backstreet Crawlers, featuring Lester of the Red Devils on harmonica. The Crawlers are an L.A.-based blues outfit who often have non-musician celebs dropping by to jam.” — Long Beach, Calif., Press-Telegram, July 25, 1992 Continue reading

Block in memoriam: Lester Butler

Posted in lester butler with tags , , on April 10, 2012 by J.J.

The introduction page of the April/May/June 1998 issue of Dutch blues magazine Block read, “Daarbij kwam het schokkende nieuws rond het overlijden van Lester Butler, een week na diens spirituele optreden in Ospel.” (“It came the shocking news about the death of Lester Butler, a week after his spiritual appearance in Ospel.”)

The magazine pages have come from our friend Feelgood. The translation — rough as it is — from Google Translate with some contextual editing. Some of the facts here are unverified by No Fightin’, and may be unclear or incorrect because of the translation. Any help with a better English version is appreciated.

In memoriam: Lester Butler

On Saturday, May 2nd the Moulin Blues festival closed with the most exciting and impressive jam that I experienced since North Sea ’83. Lester Butler ruled with a firm hand members of his group of 13, half the James Harman Band, ex-Red Devil Paul Size, Joe Louis Walker and Billy Branch. In addition, he sang and played like he was possessed by the devil.
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Pics: 13 at Rhythm Room in Phoenix 1998

Posted in 13 with tags , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2012 by J.J.

Thanks to photographer David Horwitz in Tucson, we have these great images of 13 from the Rhythm Room in Phoenix from early 1998 (we are thinking this was April 4, 1998).

Horwitz does a great job documenting the blues scene under the imprint David Horwitz Blues Images. These photos of Lester Butler, Alex Schultz, Eddie Clark and Mike Hightower are for sale. If you’d like to use them for your site, or would like to get your own copies or prints, email Horwitz.

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Alex Schultz on 13: “The songs were Lester Butler”

Posted in 13 with tags , , , , , on February 26, 2012 by J.J.

It’s clear that his time with 13 and Lester Butler has had an impact on guitarist Alex Schultz.

When talking with Schultz at the Simi Valley Cajun and Blues Festival last year, he was open, engaging and honest. His experiences differ from some other musicians who worked with Butler over the years, as he fondly recalled the charismatic harp player and singer. And he was more than willing to talk about fleshing out the songs that would become “13 featuring Lester Butler,” his impressions of “Lester’s Legendary Last Gig” and his memories of someone who grew to be a close friend.

On that May day in 2011, Schultz had just gotten off stage where he performed several Butler songs with Pieter “Big Pete” van der Pluijm, Willie J. Campbell and Johnny Morgan. Schultz takes responsibility to be true to those songs and Butler’s memory.

“(The songs) were so unique, and they were so unique to this guy,” Schultz said. “The songs were Lester Butler, and he was such a unique person, unique character. So the songs and the music was kind of singular. They weren’t the type of tunes you would just say, ‘oh, let’s do a cover of that tune’.”

“We got very close as friends. And his approach to the music also was very, like, all-inclusive. You had to be like 110 percent into the music. That’s how he was … To play those songs was like very emotional. Imagine standing next to Lester Butler on stage every night. Some nights it was so incredible and he was so into the music and it was so real, and so I got drawn into it as well, and I played it that way.”

“So it became like an emotional experience to play that stuff. It’s not something you would casually do, and say, ‘oh yeah, let’s do ‘So Low Down.” If we’re going to do that, we’ve got to really feel it and go there.”

Listen to the Schultz interview here, edited for clarity and content:

MP3: Alex Schultz interview May 29, 2011 (26:01)

0:00-12:14: Playing songs from 13; the uniqueness of the music; working with Big Pete; contrasting Butler with William Clarke and Rod Piazza.
12:14-20:15: Writing the songs; demo sessions; “Plague of Madness”
20:15-26:01: How fans remember Butler; Schultz’s friendship with Butler; recovery; memories of Moulin 1998

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All photos by Tina Hanagan except the one with Schultz, Perry and Hanagan.

Red Devils Moulin ’93 review from Block

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , on December 3, 2011 by J.J.

Dutch blues magazine Block was an early supporter of The Red Devils, continuing through the 13 years as well.

This review of the the 1993 Moulin Blues Festival comes courtesy of Feelgood. We’ve done our best to do a translation of The Red Devils’ mention — if you have a better translation, put it in the comments.

Also included: A Block ad for the festival.

Finally — I think — the only other act with a magnetic force field of over 100 km: the Red Devils (because: Mick Jagger!) with their busy and fat-accentuated party hardy clichéd blues. No trace of white and yet not heavy. The band consisted of five top strengths, though star parts were played by drummer Bill Bateman (Blasters) and never-stagnant singer/harper Lester Butler, one of the few to handle Muddy’s “Louisiana Blues.” Butler spontaneously fulfilled a request for one of the slow songs to a fan who was killed earlier that week, though hopefully no one outside of those involved had been in the painful mistake still in his ready-made text. No, of course there is a festival for people like us to get back to. And we were.

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