The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour can be heard every Saturday night on air and online. Check local radio listings or click the links:
Next show: Air date: Mississippi: Saturday, April 18 at 7 pm: Mississippi Public Broadcasting
Alabama: Saturday, April 18 at 9 pm: Alabama Public Radio
We miss our live audience but hope all of our listeners are safe at home!
Due to ongoing health concerns, all of our April shows will be performed in the studio – the Thacker Shack! – without an audience and using recorded performances sent in by our previously scheduled guests, when possible. We’ll also dip into the Thacker archive for the occasional chestnut from the vault.
This week we’re paying tribute to the April 10th passing of blues musician Big George Brock as well as the cancellation of this year’s Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, MS.
We’ll feature rocking sets from our 2018 visit to the fest by Brock and James ‘Super Chikan’ Johnson and hear a moving blues “testimony” by author/filmmaker Roger Stolle. Plus, Memphis soul courtesy of our house band, the Yalobushwhackers. This is a good one.
This week’s guests (April 18, 2020):
Author: Roger Stolle (“Mississippi Juke Joint Confidential: House Parties, Hustlers & the Blues Life”)
Music: Big George Brock and James ‘Super Chikan’ Johnson
Hosts: Jim Dees and our house band, the Yalobushwhackers
Originally broadcast: April 2018
Veteran harmonicist Big George Brock passed away on April 10, 2020 at his home in St. Louis after an extended illness. Mr. Brock was 88.
Born in Grenada, MS on May 16, 1932, Brock spent his teenage years near Clarksdale before settling in St. Louis, Missouri, in the 1950s. During his career he has shared the stage with legends such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed and others. His CDs include Heavyweight Blues and Round Two (owing to Brock’s former occupation as a boxer), Alive at Seventy-Five and Club Caravan.
In St. Louis, Big George owned a series of blues clubs in the 1960s and 70s, including Club Caravan (formerly the Early Bird Lounge) – where his wife at the time was killed by stray bullets from a drunk’s pistol. He later owned the New Club Caravan.
Brock was known for his stylish onstage dress. One of his flashy three-piece suits is on display at the National Blues Museum in downtown St. Louis. From Living Blues (issue #78): “His tailored red or green outfits and classy fedora tell you he takes his gigs seriously. Brock sings in a straight-ahead style that packs a lot of power.”
Born James Louis Johnson in Darling, Mississippi, James “Super Chikan” Johnson got his nickname from working with chickens on his family’s farms, moving around the Mississippi Delta until they settled in Clarksdale.
Writing songs during long hauls as a truck driver, he cut his debut album, Blues Come Home to Roost in 1997 for the Rooster Blues label. Other CDs include, Chikan Supe, Sum Mo Chikan, and Chikadelic which was named the Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year in 2010. Chikan makes his own guitars (“Chiktars”) from auto mufflers, rifle butts, and plumbing parts as well as cigar box guitars. Johnson is a recipient of a Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.
Roger Stolle is an author, filmmaker, producer and blues promoter in Clarksdale, MS. His latest book is Mississippi Juke Joint Confidential: House Parties, Hustlers & the Blues Life (History Press/Arcadia) with photos by Lou Bopp.
He moved to Clarksdale in 2002 to “organize and promote the blues from within.” Stolle has produced three “comeback albums” for Big George Brock. He is a contributing editor at Delta Magazine and the author of Hidden History of Mississippi Blues (The History Press/Arcadia). Stolle is co-creator (with Jeff Konkel, Broke & Hungry Records) of the web series Moonshine & Mojo Hands. Stolle also co-produced the films Hard Times, M is for Mississippi and We Juke Up in Here.
Stolle is the owner/proprietor of the Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art store at 252 Delta Avenue in downtown Clarksdale.