SAT MAY 25
An evening with Johnny Rawls (BLUES) Mississippi native Johnny Rawls got his early musical education from his grandfather, John Paul Newson, a blind guitarist who played around the Hattiesburg area. He began playing guitar at age 12, learning as much as he could from players in other area blues bands. While still a teen, Rawls had the opportunity to back legendary singers such as Joe Tex and Z.Z. Hill. After leaving Mississippi for a year when he was 17, he returned, determined to form his own blues/soul ensemble, backing up touring musicians. By the mid-'70s, Rawls joined O.V. Wright's band, working with Wright until his death in 1980. After Wright's death, the band continued to perform his music for 13 years as the O.V. Wright Band, opening shows for people like B.B. King, Little Milton Campbell and Bobby Bland. In the mid-1980s, the O.V. Wright Band also toured with Little Johnny Taylor, Latimore, B.B. Coleman, Blues Boy Willie, and others, including Lynn White.
Working with guitarist L.C. Luckett, Rawls recorded 45 rpm singles for his own label, Touch Records, and continued working around the South, touring regionally with soul-blues singers. In 1994, Rawls and Luckett recorded their first album, Can't Sleep at Night, for the Rooster Blues label. In 1995, Rawls parted with Luckett to lead a new group and found a record company that was interested, the London-based JSP label. Here We Go, his debut for JSP Records, was recorded in 1996, and since then, he's followed it with a slew of solo albums, ten in all to date. johnnyrawlsblues.com