Friday, January 05, 2007

Travis Haddix & Artie White in UK

Shakedown Blues have been buildling up a repuation in the UK for bringing in quality US blues acts on a regular basis to Peterborough venues. The next 2 acts who will be appearing are Travis Haddix and Artie White. See details below:

Travis Haddix

"Travis Haddix was born in Hatchie Bottom, Mississippi in 1938, the son of the multi-instrumentalist bluesman Chamus 'Rooster' Haddix and his wife Sylvia Keenon. Travis's first instrument was the piano but he switched to guitar after seeing B.B King in the studio of Radio WDIA in Memphis.

He moved to Milwaukee after graduation and then went on to Cleveland two years later and has remained there ever since. After a stint in the army Travis became serious about being a professional blues artist and pulled a band together to gig around town. Initially this entailed working in 'rough ghetto dives' but eventually he was booked into the 'finer places' including a show lounge called the 'Plush Entertainment Centre'. It was here that he met and befriended Clarence Carter who recommended Travis to Ichiban Records in 1988.

The Ichiban connection was good for Travis for, although not a great deal of care went into the production of the end products, the distribution network was good and it helped put his name in front of blues fans. They also encouraged his song writing skills which other Ichiban artists, especially Artie White, were keen to sample. Ten years and five albums later Ichiban was bankrupt.

Travis started his own record label Wann-Sonn and began to concentrate on high production standards. This decision began to pay-off when in 2000 the issue of the CD 'Old and Easy' prompted editor Andy Grigg of the prestigious Canadian blues magazine 'Real Blues' to begin a campaign to establish Travis' credentials amongst the blues elite. This campaign was helped by the release of the excellent CD 'Milk and Butter' the following year and the even better 'Company is Coming' made him a force to be reckoned with.

The superb 2003 release 'Blues from Staghorn Street' coincided with a telephone call from Travis asking me to organise a gig for him in England and I naively obliged. A date was set for January 2004. That night a small crowd of enthusiastic friends and relations bought truck loads of Travis' CD's and the Shakedown series was re-born. The heavy Mississippi University based Living Blues Magazine got to hear about the gig and made Travis the featured artist in the 2005 issue # 179.

Since then bookings keep rolling in but thankfully Travis remembers those who helped him during the lean days and has agreed to do another couple of Shakedown shows. In Stamford we will feature Travis with the Mike Carr Trio with Artie White guesting. In Longthorpe the following night the featured artist will be Artie White singing mainly from the Travis Haddix songbook with Travis playing lead guitar and directing the band. Well that's the theory but as you know so well 'live Shakedown jams' don't always work the way they are planned. Expect fireworks!!!"

Shakedown Blues

Artie White

"Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi on the 16th April 1937. His father, a preacher, died when he was three months old and his mother passed away when he was only three. He was raised by his grandmother to sing in church and at the age of eleven joined the gospel group 'Harps of David'. When he was 13 he left school to drive lumber trucks in order to supplement the family income and to take care of his ageing grandmother.

In the early 50's he moved to Chicago and joined the 'Full Gospel Wonders' and ten years later moved over to the 'Sensational True Lights' which is where he met his life long friend Johnnie Taylor. Around this time he became interested in the sounds of B.B King, Bobby Bland and Barrett Strong and he actively began associating with the Chicago blues scene. Albert Collins, Little Milton and Junior Parker became personal friends and it was only a question of time before he himself would cross over.

In 1968 Artie recorded blues for the first time and an obscure single appeared but was not promoted and no copies have been found. Then in the early 70's he recorded singles for Gamma and PM which led to a local hit recording 'Leaning Tree' on Altree Records. On the back of this hit Artie decided to run 'Bootsy's Lounge' and this lasted until he recorded a cracking album for Ronn Records in 1985 called 'Blues Boy' after which he resumed performing fulltime. He then moved to Ichiban where he often recorded material from his fellow label artist Travis Haddix's songbook. Ichiban issued six albums by him including two which reached the R&B charts 'Tired of Sneakin' Around' and 'Dark End Of The Street' before they went belly-up.

In 1993 he moved to the Malaco/Waldoxy empire and recorded three wonderful albums of Southern soul blues which included his big hit 'Your Man Is Home Tonight'. Then in 2001 Artie decided to start his own record label Achilltown and has issued three lovely albums including the wonderful 'First Thing Tuesday Morning'. Fast approaching 70 Artie has given up smoking, kicked the alcohol habit and is still a star name on the Chicago scene and a regular feature at the prestigious Chicago Blues Festival.

Artie White will be the guest artist at the Stamford Arts Centre's Travis Haddix concert on the 12th January. At the Longthorpe Memorial Hall gig the following day he will be the featured artist singing his own considerable back catalogue and plundering Travis' songbook. Travis will play lead guitar, direct the wonderful Mike Carr Band as well as guest on a few vocals."

Shakedown Blues


  1. I met Artie White a few years ago at a book signing WVON jock Purvis Spann was doing for his book "The 40-Year Spann of WVON"; he's a great guy and a great singer (I first saw him peform at the 2000 Chicago Blues Festival, where he replaced Johnnie Taylor as the closing act - Taylor had died three days prior to the festival.)

  2. Hi Jason

    Thanks for the memories!

    I will be doing a write up on Artie's pre-Ronn 45s in another post soon.