CHICAGO BLUES: The Original Joliet Blues Man T-Bird Huck by Gatorman

Posted on 11/04/2009 by Monica Yasher

I was pretty excited when I heard that a new blues club opened up in a far southwest suburb of Chicago. Last Friday night I was treated to one of the best blue shows ever. T-Bird Huck.  I previously hung out at a club that was cool. This one is even better. The manager, Sterling loves the blues and the other place got rid of the number one fan of the blues, Mike.  It is a dimly lit venue that holds just about 100 people. The staff is very friendly and accommodating. I asked Linda, our waitress for some paper to write this article. She came back with a whole legal pad and pen. She is my favorite pirate or should I say wench she was dressed as one of those because it was the Halloween weekend.  I cannot comment on the quality of cocktails served because I only drink non-alcoholic drinks such as cranberry juice. All drinks are $2 each. They should be at least 4 bucks considering the quality of entertainment that plays there every Friday night.  

T-Bird Huck is an often misunderstood Blues Man. He credits Howlin Wolf as his inspiration. The Bird man told me a story about how a friend and he went to HW’s house and knocked on the door. He was about 20 years old at the time.  The Wolf’s wife answered the door and invited the two of them in. He blabbered something about that HW is the greatest and he was his biggest fan. HW’s wife asked them to sit down. She went and disappeared for a minute and in walked Howlin Wolf.  Greetings were exchanged all around and after that first meet they become friends. T-Bird opened up for Howlin Wolf on numerous occasions and considered him a close friend. T-bird eyes watered when he told me about going to Howlin’ Wolf’s funeral. If it had not been for that knock on the door we may not have had this great blues artist.
T-bird picked up his Telecaster, plucked that guitar and strutted across that stage just like I envision that little red rooster he was singing about. Jimmy (keys) Caleca provided an amazing Hammond M 3 counterpoint to T-Bird’s guitar wizardry. (I never thought I would ever write that word “counterpoint” in a blues post.) Ben Smith, Bassman and Kalbo held the rhythm section in very tight.   I swear T-Bird was channeling the wolf during his performance. It was jammed packed with emotion and a bucketful of pain and absolutely the best rendition of “Little Red Rooster” ever. It is amazing the artistry that the Chicago land area has. It happens all the time around this town. I just wish I was able to hear them all, but I got to sleep once and awhile.  

T-Bird is a musician who absorbs guitar licks like a sponge and plays them in an entirely different blues style. He is a musician’s musician.  During his performance of “Boom, Boom” his shadow fell on a blank wall and that shadow looked like a profile of Stevie Ray. John Lee Hooker and all the “Kings” were manipulating his vocal cords.  Muddy had his right hand and T-Bone held his left.  He performed that song with such intensity and fury that it seemed like some of the candles dimmed in reverence to those departed souls.
“My Own Fault” is a song that is played and played and played over and over again. It has been beat to death.   T-Bird’s version was beyond compare. It sizzled. He sang it like it was the last song he would ever sing. The emotion he bought to this song was as if he was pleading for his life in front of the woman he scorned and she is standing over him with a meat cleaver ready to strike. The thing about T-Bird is the songs that are not his, become his as soon as he picks the first note.  He packs 2,000 pounds of creativity in each and every version and presents them to the audience as an audio delight of raw beauty. He is the Picasso of the Blues.

T-bird plays a damn wicked guitar. He also plays a gut wrenching, full throttle, damn the torpedoes type Mississippi saxophone (Harmonica).  Oh almost forgot, he does a great impression of Vito Corleone from “The Godfather” movie.

You can see and hear T-Bird, Jimmy Caleca and Ben Smith, every Friday night at the D’Blue Room. It is located behind the House of Hughes 201East Maple Street (RT 30) New Lenox, Illinois. 1-815-462-9000 Call ahead to find out who is playing Saturdays, there is always a different act. $5 buck cover pays for the band. It is worth it, every penny.

"Jimmy's Blues" 

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"If your Rocking I'm Walking!!!"

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