FREE Subscription - For more information  CLICK HERE



Back To Reviews page

Tail Dragger – Live at Rooster’s Lounge DVD

Delmark Records

12 tracks; 75 minutes

Tail Dragger (real name James Yancey Jones) is a veteran of the Chicago blues scene and currently has a regular Saturday slot at Rooster’s Palace (not Lounge as in the DVD title!) on the West Side of town where this DVD was recorded in March 2009. It also comes in a CD version with one fewer track (“Be careful”).

Tail Dragger acquired his nickname from Howling Wolf and his voice is close to the Wolf’s in style. He played with Hubert Sumlin after the Wolf’s death and in recent years his stock has risen, with tours across the States and to Europe. In the bonus commentary Tail Dragger recognizes that he has enjoyed this renaissance and the chance to play regularly to the public. He states that once he hits the stage he takes on this different personality and clearly loves performing.

At this gig the crowd is clearly also enjoying Tail Dragger’s antics. His jacket comes on and off, one moment he is seated front of stage, next moment he is prowling down the bar and serenading the crowd, especially the ladies! Point to note: if you go to see Tail Dragger live, best not to sit at the corner of the bar near the stage. The lady in that seat sees a LOT of Tail Dragger, up close and personal, as he tells her his troubles and offers her advice on her relationships, through songs such as “Stop Lying” and “Be Careful”.

The DVD takes you right into the heart of a Chicago club on a Saturday night. Rooster’s is not a smart place and the fairly basic décor is clear to see. However, the crowd are here for a good time and dancing is going on from the start of the show. The camera work goes in for close ups, so you see all the band and especially Tail Dragger himself in detail.

The band is excellent and has clearly worked this sort of material a lot over the years. The DVD sees the return of Rockin’ Johnny Burgin to the scene after a lengthy sabbatical while raising a family. His playing on one of two lead guitars is very clean and precise and matches well with Kevin Shanahan on the other guitar (who also handles all the slide parts). Both feature heavily, as does an excellent harp player, Martin Lang who has played for many years with both Tail Dragger and Rockin’ Johnny; Martin is referred to as “the best harmonica player you’ve never heard of” and I can concur as I had never heard of him before this DVD!

The rhythm section of Todd Fackler on bass and Rob Lorenz on drums are very tight and the overall sound is quintessentially Chicago blues; close your eyes and this could be one of Muddy’s bands in the 50’s. A guest appearance by Jimmy Dawkins (replacing Kevin Shanahan for “Wander”) is the only change of instrumentation through the set.

The tracks on offer here are five of Tail Dragger’s own, two from Little Walter at the end of the show, two from Howling Wolf aka Chester Burnett, and one each from Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Joe Williams and John Lee Hooker.

This DVD takes you into the atmosphere of a Chicago club and records an excellent band backing a charismatic old school singer. If you can’t get to Chicago for real, this comes a close second!

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music. He has just returned from his first Legendary Blues Cruise.

To submit a review or interview please contact:

For more information please contact:


Home  |  Contact  |  Submit Your Blues News - Advertise with Blues Blast Magazine
 Copyright - Blues Blast Magazine
2010    Design by: Moxi Dawg Design