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The box set Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records: The Definitive Collection brings to light...

Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records - Downbeat 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Downbeat Magazine

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Anyone who's looking to advance their career would be very well served to have Michael...

Sari Schorr

New York songwriter/bandleader/singer

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Michael is a 21st century renaissance man who has both the business acumen and the...

Don Wilcock

Freelance Music Writer

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Jimmy Dawkins

October 24, 1936 – April 10, 2013

Chicago guitarist Jimmy Dawkins would just as soon have left his longtime nickname “Fast Fingers” behind. It was always something of a stylistic misnomer anyway; Dawkins’s West Side-styled guitar slashed and surged, but seldom burned with incendiary speed. Dawkins’s blues were generally of the brooding, introspective variety — he didn’t engage in flashy pyrotechnics or outrageous showmanship.

It took a long time for Dawkins to progress from West Side fixture to nationally known recording artist. He rode a Greyhound bus out of Mississippi in 1955, dressed warm to ward off the Windy City’s infamous chill factor. Only trouble was, he arrived on a sweltering July day! Harpist Billy Boy Arnold offered the newcomer encouragement, and he eventually carved out a niche on the competitive West Side scene (his peers included Magic Sam and Luther Allison).

Sam introduced Dawkins to Delmark Records boss Bob Koester. Fast Fingers, Dawkins’s 1969 debut LP for Delmark–still his best album to date–was a taut, uncompromising piece of work that won the Grand Prix du Disque de Jazz from the Hot Club of France in 1971 as the year’s top album. Andrew “Big Voice” Odom shared the singing and Otis Rush the second guitar duties on Dawkins’s 1971 encore All for Business. But after his Delmark LP Blisterstring, Dawkins’s subsequent recordings lacked intensity until 1991’s oddly titled Kant Sheck Dees Bluze for Chicago’s Earwig Music Company. After that, Dawkins waxed discs for Ichiban and Fedora, and continued to tour extensively, especially in Europe, although he occasionally played US festivals and a few club in Chicago. Jimmy also had a record label, which is now part of the Delmark Records catalog, and publishing company Leric Music. He died at home in Chicago after a prolonged illness at age 76.

-Written by Bill Dahl and Michael Frank

“Jimmy has recorded the best set of his career”
-Blues and Rhythm

“The emotional force of Dawkins’ guitar is devastating… an essential album for lovers of blues guitar…”
-Alabama Blues Society Newsletter

jimmy dawkins blues guitarist