Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

Given time and luck, a brash young blood musician becomes an elder statesman with links to the departed legends who provided early lessons and unforgettable experiences.  In this case, ace harp player and vocalist Bill Lupkin leads the equally savvy Chicago Blues Coalition through a personal, seasoned, rousing, and accomplished affirmation of the Chicago Blues scene of thirty years ago.  Born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Lupkin made his move to Chicago at the end of the 1960s, when blues was still mainly heard in the ghetto clubs on the South and West Sides, and most of the great names of the post-war era were active.

One of the great charms of that scene was how approachable the musicians were.  Bill wasted no time falling in with The Aces, former backing band for Little Walter, Junior Wells, and many other greats.  From there, often in collaboration with pianist Bob Riedy, he went on to rub shoulders with the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Junior Wells, and eventually to his most memorable association with Jimmy Rogers, just out of retirement after a few fallow years.  Jimmy's Chess recordings and tastes did a lot to define the place of the harmonica in Chicago Blues, and for Bill the gig was both a thrill and a school.  Bill's fat-toned, vibrato-laden note-bending harmonica was finely honed through local work, touring, and eventually recording on most of Jimmy's Gold Tailed Bird album in Los Angeles in 1972.


(Sample is Bill playing with Nick Moss & The Flip Tops