While he's influenced vocally by Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy, Jimmy Reed, and most directly by Howlin Wolf, much of his material is refreshingly original. Refusing to let anyone in the audience miss his point, he sets up his songs with real-life anecdotes, often hilarious, before illustrating his point with a song. When he sings, he can be tragic or humorous, but you can't ignore him as he transports audiences to the cotton fields of his youth and the rough Chicago ghetto clubs he still performs in today. Born in Altheimer, Arkansas in 1940, Tail Dragger came to Chicago in the mid-sixties where he supported himself as a mechanic and fell under the spell of all the great blues artists but most particularly, Howlin Wolf.
The Wolf let him sit in, taught him how to sing in time with the rhythm, and gave him the name Tail Dragger because he would come in late. He had been called "Crawlin‚ James" as, ever the extravagant showman, he would crawl on the floor like the Wolf did. By the early seventies, Tail Dragger was performing under his own name six nights a week on the West Side of Chicago, and would feature blues heavyweights in his band such as Eddie Taylor, Hubert Sumlin, Johnny Littlejohn, Carey Bell, and Big Leon Brooks. The shows were for small, local black audiences and didn't make much money, but his charismatic stage presence along with his stubbornly traditional brand of blues (squarely against the dominant r & b sounds of the day) brought him overseas recognition. By the early to mid eighties he was traveling to Europe often to be featured with Vienna's Mojo Blues Band.
He also recorded a single for Jimmy Dawkins' Leric Music label and was featured on "Chicago Blues Party," released on Austria's Wolf records. In 1996, Tail Dragger recorded his first full length CD under his own name, "Crawlin Kingsnake" for St. George records. He returned to Europe after a long absence to steal the show at the 1997 Utrecht Blues Festival. For over a decade, Tail Dragger had a strong association with phenomenal guitarist Rockin Johnny.
He was a guest vocalist with the Rockin Johnny Band on their 1997 Delmark CD, "Straight Out of Chicago." He followed this with "American People," recorded for Delmark in 1998. Tail Dragger toured Europe again in 1999 with the Rockin Johnny Band, and they also tore up the 2001 San Francisco Blues Festival. He's also attracted attention from unusual quarters for a bluesman: he starred in the independent movie "Two Rivers" and was the subject of a 1999 article in The New Republic. The one and only Tail Dragger recently released a highly acclaimed DVD and CD on Delmark in 2005 called "My Head Is Bald - Live at Vern's Friendly Lounge" with an All Star Chicago blues band of Lurrie Bell, Jimmy Dawkins, and Billy Branch, winning the Living Blues DVD of the year award.
This recording truly captured the Tail Dragger experience - raw and gritty Chicago West Side "ghetto" blues at its deepest that transports you back to the golden age of 50's/60's Chicago blues. A new Tail Dragger DVD and CD is coming this November featuring the cult blues guitar heroes, veteran Jimmy Dawkins and "young" veteran, Rockin' Johnny! Discography - courtesy of Pete from Wang Dang Dula TAIL DRAGGER : SINGLES LERIC LM 102582 TAILDRAGER & HIS BAND So Ezee / My Head Is Bald 1982 US TAIL DRAGGER : ALBUMS EMI AUSTRIA LP 12C066-7937101/MSC CD C7777032THE MOJO BLUES BAND: THE WILD TASTE OF CHICAGO (LP/CD) Just Sitting Here / Please, Mr. Jailer / Just A Poor Boy / The Wild Taste Of Chicago* / Love My Baby** / Good Bye Chicago* (recorded at ACME Studios, Chicago, August 1989, feat. Taildragger:vcl, Erik Trauner:gtr, Christian Dozzler:hca/pno, Markus Toyfl:gtr, Dani Gugolz:bs, Timothy Taylor:dms, A.C.
Reed:vcl*/ten.sax*, Willie Kent:vcl*/bs**, Big Mojo Elem:vcl*, Robert Plunkett:vcl*; tracks 'Please Mr. Jailer', 'Love My Baby' and 'Good Bye Chicago' issued on CD edition only) 1989/1993 AUT EMI AUSTRIA CD 830319 2/MSC CD C7777035THE MOJO BLUES BAND: BLUES ROLL ON (CD) It's Half Past Midnight / Promised Land / Johnny Walker & Jack Daniels* / Restless Man* / I Stay Mad* / Georges' West Side Jive* (recorded live at Metropol, Vienna, November 17, 1992 & [*] at Seagrape Studios, Chicago, March 5-6, 1993, feat. Taildragger:vcl, Erik Trauner:vcl/gtr, Markus Toyfl:gtr, Henning Pertiet:pno, Dani Gugolz:bs, Peter Müller:dms) 1994 AUT ST. GEORGE STG 7706 TAIL DRAGGER & HIS CHICAGO BLUES BAND: CRAWLIN' KINGSNAKE (CD) Don't Trust No Woman / Country Boy / Be Prepared / I'm In The Mood / Do The Do / Cold Outdoors / Crawlin' Kingsnake / Monkey Blues / Baby Please Don't Go / Stop Lyin' / Prison Blues / Root Doctor (recorded in Chicago in 1996, feat.
Tail Dragger:vcl, Rockin' Johnny Burgin:gtr, Studebaker John:hca, Sho Komiya: Danijela Simon:string bs, Twist Turner:dms) 1996 US DELMARK DE-728TAIL DRAGGER: AMERICAN PEOPLE (CD) Bought Me A New Home / American People / You Gotta Go / My Woman Is Gone / Bertha / My Head Is Bald / Don't Start Me Talkin' / Bad Boy / Ooh Baby (Hold Me) / Long Distance Call / Betty (recorded in Chicago, October-November 1998, feat. Tail Dragger:vcl, Jimmy Dawkins:gtr, Johnny B. Moore:gtr, Rockin' Johnny:gtr, Billy Branch:hca, Martin Lang:hca, Eddie Shaw:ten.sax, Willie "Vamp" Samuels:bs, Aron Burton:bs, Karl Meyer:bs, Rob Lorenz:dms, Baldhead Pete:dms) 1998 US DELMARK DE-720THE ROCKIN' JOHNNY BAND: STRAIGHT OUT OF CHICAGO (CD) (featuring Tail Dragger as a special guest vocalist) 1998 US STYX 1001MOJO BLUES BAND FEATURING TAILDRAGGER: A CHICAGO BLUES NIGHT LIVE (CD) You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had / If It Ain't Me / Take Off BOogie / Sunnyland Train / Young Fashioned Ways / Tend To Your Business * / Long Distance Call * / Just Sittin' Here * / Cold Outdoors * / Be Prepared * / Highway 57 * (recorded live at Papa's Tapa's, Vienna, July 7, 1998, feat. Taildragger:vcl*, Erik Trauner:vcl/gtr, Markus Toyfl:gtr, Siggi Fassl:gtr, Christoph Rois:pno, Daniel Gugolz:bs/vcl, Peter Müller:dms) 1999 AUT DELMARK DE-782/DELMARK DVD 1782TAIL DRAGGER: MY HEAD IS BALD - LIVE AT VERN'S FRIENDLY LOUNGE, CHICAGO (CD/DVD) Introduction / Sitting Here Singing My Blues / Talk / Tend To Your Business / Talk / Prison Blues / Talk / So Ezee / My Woman Is Gone / Talk / My Head Is Bald / You Gotta Go / Cold Out Doors (dvd bonus) / Jump For Joy (feat.
Tail Dragger:vcl, Lurrie Bell:gtr, Jimmy Dawkins:gtr on "My Head Is Bald", Kevin Shanahan:gtr, Billy Branch:hca, Willie Young:sax, Bob Stroger:bs, Kenny Smith:dms) 2005 US BLUESHINE RECORDS BSR-01/Peter Struijk Feat. Tail Dragger - Human Ways 2009 DELMARK DE-803/DELMARK DVD 1803 - TAIL DRAGGER: LIVE AT ROOSTER'S LOUNGE (CD/DVD) TAIL DRAGGER : COMPILATIONS WOLF 120.859V/A: JOHN LITTLEJOHN'S BLUES PARTY - CHICAGO BLUES SESSIONS, VOL.13 (LP/CD) My Head Is Bald (recorded in 1989, feat. Taildragger:vcl, Luther Adams:gtr, John Primer:gtr, Billy Branch:hca, Willie Kent:bs, Timothy Taylor:dms) 1992/1998 AUT WOLF 120.862V/A: CHICAGO'S BEST WEST & SOUTH SIDE SINGERS, VOL.1 (CD) Tail Dragger & his Chicago Blues Band (feat. John primer:gtr & Billy Branch:hca): My Head Is Bald / Highway Bound / My Woman's Gone 1997 AUT ST.
GEORGE STG 7708 V/A: CHICAGO BLUES - ROCKIN' AFTER MIDNIGHT (CD) Tail Dragger & his Chicago Blues Band: Done Somebody Wrong 1998 US DELMARK DD-905V/A: DELMARK - 50 YEARS OF JAZZ & BLUES - BLUES (2-CD) My Woman Is Gone 2003 US DELMARK DX-906V/A: WEST SIDE CHICAGO BLUES - DELMARK 50TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION (CD) You Gotta Go 2003 US DELMARK DE-785 V/A: MICHAEL COLEMAN and the DELMARK ALL-STARS - BLUES BRUNCH AT THE MART (CD) Be Careful , 2006 US DELMARK DE-915 V/A: Delmark - 55 YEARS OF BLUES - (CD and DVD) Tend To Your Business (DVD) / My Head Is Bald (DVD) 2008 US Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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