Byway Blues

L. Rambin / KEDM

One of northeast Louisiana's legendary Blues singers, Toussaint Mccall, was inducted into the Northeast Louisiana Music Award Hall of Fame in 2016.

As a little boy, growing up in Delhi, Louisiana, McCall was raised by a musically inclined family. After his older sister went off to college, McCall began taking piano lessons and soon began practicing on his own. 

The Soul Queen of New Orleans Still Reigns

May 3, 2016
Lesli Rambin

Irma Thomas was born in Ponchatoula, Louisiana in 1941. Although she never achieved the same level of stardom that her contemporaries, Aretha Franklin and Etta James did, she has earned the title "The Soul Queen of New Orleans," and is in many ways an ambassador of the city.

Library of Congress

Along the Red River and just north of Shreveport lies the town of Mooringsport, Louisiana. Out of this bucolic and unassuming community came a man who would forever change the face of American music.

Huddie Ledbetter, or Leadbelly as he would come to be known, was born in 1885. His parents were both former slaves, and these humble beginnings filled with old spirituals and field hollers would shape Leadbelly's music throughout his life.

Jukin' Into the History Books

May 3, 2016
Geraldine Oliver Barbin

Little Walter was a true pioneer of the blues. He helped bring the harmonica into a spotlight of its own. He became one of the great Chicago bluesmen, helping define and solidify the sound that would become Chicago Blues.

Born Marion Walter Jacobs in Marksville, Louisiana in 1930, Little Walter grew up playing in local clubs with his cousin, Boogie Jake, and later moved to Chicago to seek his fame. In Chicago he met Muddy Waters and became a member of his band in 1948. Eventually, Walter set out on his own, recording for the Checker Label, a subsidiary of Chess. 

The Lost Bard of Louisiana

May 3, 2016

Alcide Gaspard, otherwise known as Blind Uncle Gaspard was born just south of Marksville, Louisiana in 1880. Blinded at the age of seven, Gaspard grew up playing and singing with his brothers, and in local string bands. 

Gaspard came from a community descended from the original French settlers of Louisiana, and this particular dialect of the French language seems to have completely disappeared.

KEDM Receives Grant To Preserve Local Blues Heritage

Dec 2, 2015

KEDM Public Radio received a $2,000 grant from Entergy Charitable Foundation for the production of a new weekly radio series calledByway Bluesbeginning in January 2016.

The grant will allow KEDM to preserve the musical and cultural heritage of Louisiana's blues by recording musicians and artists from northeast Louisiana.

Byway Blues will share the lives and musical accomplishments of famous artists such as Blind Joe Reynolds, Mable John, Doug Duffey, and many more.

Byway Blues: Bobby Blue Bland

Sep 24, 2015
Kirk West/Getty Images / billboard.com

One of the Elite Lounge's most memorable performances came from blues legend Bobby Blue Bland.

In the final highlight installment of the Byways Blues Special, Kirby Rambin talks with Rev. Roosevelt Wright about the performances of Bland, Little Milton, and Tyrone Davis at the Elite Lounge in Monroe's downtown.

Wright also discusses a renovation project for the site, in hopes of keeping and creating memories of talented blues and R&B performers. 

Byway Blues: Ivory Joe Hunter

Sep 24, 2015
jukeintheback.org

Ivory Joe Hunter was born in Texas and blazed a blues trail through the heart of the Louisiana Delta. 

Hunter's musicianship brought honors from different genres of music.  He was recognized by jazz festivals and the Grand Ole Opry.

In the fourth part of the Byway Blues Special, hear about Hunter's travels in northeast Louisiana during the 1940's.

Byway Blues: Savoy Ballroom

Sep 24, 2015
Preston Lauterbach / prestonlauterbach.com

The African-American Business Enterprise established the Miller-Roy building in 1929.

The building housed the Savoy Ballroom.  Kirby and Lesli Rambin catch up with Roosevelt Wright about the ballroom's heyday.  Wright shares that following the stock market's crash, musical acts at the Savoy helped keep the enterprise district alive.

Renowned names like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Fats Domino, and Duke Ellington, all performed at the Savoy in Monroe.

Byway Blues: 3rd Street Woman Blues

Sep 24, 2015
courtesy / youtube.com

Blind Joe Reynolds, who also recorded under the name of Willie Reynolds, was known to have a reputation in the years after losing his sight.

Reynolds moved Lake Providence, continuing to perfect his style of bottleneck slide guitar.  Personally, he was known as a bit of a rogue, who taunted societal norms.  His blindness did not prevent him from fending for himself, as he became known as a crack-shot with a pistol from hearing his target.

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