On this 40th anniversary of Jimmy Dawkins’ record Fast Fingers you’ll get to hear Jimmy talk about (and songs from) the one of his monumental records.
Jimmy was born in a cotton field in Tuchla, Mississippi on October 24, 1936. Jimmy said he was out in the cotton fields with his parents and grandparents when he was young but never actually worked in the fields. A short time later the family moved to Pascagoula, Mississippi this is where his father worked in the shipyards. His mother bought him his first guitar when he was 16 years old, but he did not get serious about playing till after he moved to Chicago in 1955. Jimmy had a job working in a box factory, but at night he’d go out to play guitar on the street corners. Some of the people he’d play with were Willie Black (bass), Left Hand Frank Craig (guitar), Eddie King (guitar) and Lester Hinton (harp). Jimmy really liked Guitar Slim a lot but made it very clear that he wanted to have his own sound and not just be a copy of another musician.
Jimmy really liked the raw bone crunching sound of what was refereed to as a West Side Chicago sound. Magic Sam helped to define that sound and was a big influence on Jimmy’s playing. Not surprisingly Jimmy also really liked Lightnin’ Hopkins whom he got to play on stage with a few times. He worked Willie Dixon, Jimmy Rogers, Otis Rush, and Carey Bell. Jimmy said that Carey was always fun to be around, and that he’d always making you laugh and have a good time. He also felt Carey Bell was the best harp player he’d ever seen. One thing I was surprised by was that Jimmy Dawkins was the one who discovered Luther Allison. Wow, what a discovery, Jimmy talks in the podcast about this.
Bob Koester the founder of Delmark Records remembers Jimmy Dawkins coming into the Jazz Record Mart (Bob’s record store) shopping for records, and Jimmy would tell them where all the blues shows would be that week. One night Bob said he went to a concert Jimmy had told him about, and there was Jimmy on stage. Jimmy had never told Bob he played guitar, or that it was his band he should see. Later Magic Sam formally introduced the two of them. Bob signed Jimmy to Delmark Records, it only took two days in September of 1968 to make a record that people are still praising, forty years later. Fast Fingers was the beginning of a wonderful career for a great blues artist. The guitar playing is outstanding with a tuff blues sound similar to Albert King, and at other times it has the flow of B.B. King, and still at other times it’s pure Jimmy Dawkins. The band on this record is first class. Its not just Jimmy’s playing that sells you on this record, it’s everyone. Keyboardist Lafayette Leake is little known but was still a mainstay at Chess Records. Willie Dixon often used Lafayette on records he was producing for Chess records. A few of the artists he recorded with were a very young Chuck Berry, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Little Walter, Buddy Guy, and Koko Taylor. On rhythm guitar you hear Mighty Joe Young, the man that backed artists like Billy Boy Arnold, Jimmy Rogers, and Tyrone Davis. Most people will add a harp player to widen their sound, but here you get a real sax player. Not just any sax player, but the talented Eddie Shaw. Eddie was jamming with Ike Turner at 14, then Muddy Waters ask him to join his band. A few years later he joined Howlin’ Wolf’s band. The sax, like the keyboards, is in the background. Always keeping the song going while giving Jimmy the opportunity to play his guitar and play it he does. This is a very guitar oriented recording of original blues tunes. A record that any serious blues lover needs in their collection.
Delmark Records has sweetened the CD even more by adding two previously unreleased tracks. Both are as good, and one is even better than some original tracks. If you don’t have this CD, don’t wait another forty years. Get it now and start enjoying Jimmy Dawkin’s Fast Fingers.
Songs in the show:
It Serves Me Right to Suffer
I Finally Learned a Lesson
You Got to Keep on Trying
Little Angel Child
Back Home Blues
Thanks to Kevin Johnson over at Delmark Records for all his help in putting this together.
Blues Music and Interviews
formerly A1 Artist Spotlight. Com
by A1 Mark