Formats: CD, LP, Digital
Release date: June 14, 2018
Sixty-five years is a mighty long time in the record industry, especially from the label end. In this modern era of digital this, digital that, for a independent label to sustain longevity, let alone a financial profit, is a testament of passion. Bob Koester has that and more. In 1953, Koester founded Delmark Records in St. Louis, but later migrated to Chicago, to perhaps give Chess Records a run for their money. Jazz artists such as Donald Byrd and Bud Powell recorded for Delmark, but it would be blues where the label would make its bones.
Tribute, subtitled Newly Recorded Blues Celebration of Delmark’s 65th Anniversary, is an eleven track compilation of some of the best Delmark has to offer. Artists pay homage to other artists by performing their songs. Omar Coleman gets the party off right with the Junior Wells piece “Train I Ride,” with lots of electric guitar and harp. At the end, Coleman calls out cities Memphis and Chi town. Get on board.
You can’t have a tribute to Delmark without the Bell family. They pay tribute to Carey with “One Day You’re Gonna Get Lucky.” A family affair indeed with a good vibe. “Need Your Love So Bad” is Shirley Johnson’s tribute to Bonnie Lee. This is not your typical begging “please don’t leave me” blues song. You really feel the artist’s pain.
In May of this year, Koester sold Delmark to two Chicago musicians. Koester, who is now in his 80’s is still in the game, but more from a retail end. What a run he had with Delmark. Perhaps the last we will ever see.
Reviewed by Eddie Bowman