087 – Bob Koester – Delmark Records, Founder, Owner & Operator — A1Blues.Com

087 – Bob Koester – Delmark Records, Founder, Owner & Operator

by A1 Mark on May 14, 2009

Hear Bob Koester the founder of Delmark Records talk about what he likes most, music, his passion.
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Bob Koester was born in the early thirties and grew up in Wichita, Kansas. He had a love for jazz of the twenties but had trouble finding the artists he was looking for. The record companies weren’t reissuing older records. Bob found what he wanted in secondhand stores or buying some ones collection then selling off what he didn’t want. By the time he went to St. Louis University in Missouri he was wheeling and dealing records. First out of his dormitory room, then out of Record Changer magazine. Later he opened a store. Around this same time the St. Louis Jazz Club was starting up and Bob became a founding member. Bob made a lot of contacts through the St. Louis Jazz Club, both for selling his records as well as meeting artists he would latter want to record. Bob got to be well known in St. Louis. He even joked that Big Joe Williams heard about Bob looking for blues artists to record and showed up at the door. Bob jokes “I didn’t discover Big Joe Williams, Big Joe discovered Bob Koester”. He was getting to know who’s who of the St. Louis jazz and blues world. People like Speckled Red, The Windy City Six, Henry Brown, Mary Johnson, J.D. Short and Walter Davis. In the early fifties Bob was starting to record artists like The Windy City Six who were really from St. Louis. He also started buying masters of artists from different record companies. After getting all the masters of Blind Lemon’s recordings from Paramount he decided to move to Chicago where everything was at. In 1958 he closed his record store in St. Louis and opened it in Chicago. The store has moved several times over the years as a result of expanding size. The Jazz Record Mart is at 27 East Illinois in Chicago, Illinois and they are world’s largest Jazz and Blues Record Store.


Bob not only owns a record store (Jazz Record Mart) and he also has Delmark, the recording company. Delmark has had artists like Junior Wells, Magic Sam, Sleepy John Estes, Mississippi Heat, Big Joe Williams, Jimmy Dawkins, Little Arthur Duncan, Otis Rush, Dave Specter, Byther Smith (hear show on Byther Smith ), Buddy Guy and many many more. Bob said Junior Wells’ Hoodoo Man Blues was their biggest seller year in and year out.

This week on the show, Bob Koester is going to be telling us about some of the great artists that are on Delmark’s record 55 Years of Blues. The CD contains 17 tracks of different artist on the first disc and 10 DVD tracks on the second disc. There are so many songs by different artists I’ve chosen to do the show different this week. Instead of playing just four or five songs I’ve decided this week to play only clips of the songs this way you will be able to hear over half of this wonderful CD. The last few weeks of listening to 55 Years of Blues has been a real joy. Finding old blues artists that I was not aware of has been a blast. People like Sleepy John Estes, Bonnie Lee, Detroit Jr. and Willie Kent. This is a CD you will most definitely want to add to your collection. It’s also a good way of finding new artists you may like to own a whole CD of. It worked for me yesterday. I pick up Shirley Johnson’s Killer Diller and Legend of Sleepy John Estes.


Song clips you will hear in the show are:
Junior Wells – Little by Little
Big Joe Williams – Coffeehouse Blues
Sleepy John Estes – I Ain’t Gonna Sell It
J.B. Hutto – Evening Train
Shirley Johnson – Not for the Love of You
Detroit Jr. – Call My Job
Jimmy Dawkins – Feel So Bad
Bonnie Lee – Baby What You Want Me to Do
Roosevelt Sykes – Fine & Brown
Otis Rush – Please Love Me
Magic Sam – I Don’t Want No Woman

Go to buy Delmark – 55 Years of Blues

Delmark Record’s Website

Jazz Record Mart Website (the recorded store)

Delmark Recordeds MySpace
I’d like to thank Bob Koester for taking time out of his many jobs to talk to me.
Thanks to Kevin Johnson for setting everything up.

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Blues Music and Interviews
A1Blues.Com
formerly A1 Artist Spotlight. Com
by  A1 Mark

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