THE VERY BEST IN ORIGINAL CHICAGO & COUNTRY BLUES SINCE 29 YEARS (1982 – 2011)
Wolf Records is an Austrian record label based in Vienna. Simply put, its emphasis is the blues. Today where nearly every second rate “pop star wanna-be” attempts to incorporate the blues the need for a true representative of this music existed. The story of Wolf Records began in 1974, as 20 daring Austrian blues fans founded the Vienna Blues Fan Club (Mozart, too, would have rolled over!).
Hungry for the blues played by the original artists, the club had enticed many of the blues favorites to Austria. Through 1981 the likes of J. B. Hutto, Honeyboy Edwards, Eddie Taylor, Louis Myers, Homesick James, Snooky Pryor, Brewer Philips, Ted Harvey, Detroit Junior, Houston Stackhouse and Henry Townsend had come to play their specialties.
From these tours came the television series “Fatty’s Saloon” hosted by Fatty George, which captures the highlights of these successful club appearances and two recordings, a sampler “Chicago Blues Live” and “Sad And Lonesome” featuring Homesick James and Snooky Pryor. Earmarked as the beginning of the Austrian blues scene, this genre of music has since exploded. Undertaken by four of the club members (two of which remain, Dr. Herbert Pessiak and Hannes Folterbauer) the Vienna Blues Fan Club in 1982 transformed into what is now Wolf Records.
The label was formed with two purposes in mind: re-releasing original country and blues recordings of the 30s and 40s, as compiled by Johnny Parth, and emphasizing the blues style of Chicago, home of the greats. The first Chicago Blues recordings included “Ingleside Blues” by Brewer Phillips and the combined effort of Eddie “Big Town Playboy” Taylor, Jimmy Walker, Smokey Smothers and Birmingham Jones.
The first 4 years of sales for Wolf Records were minimal. It wasn’t until the best selling release of Chicago’s superstar Magic Slim and the Teardrops that sales began to move. And, not only was Magic Slim’s release a fast seller, but it won the WC Handy Award for the best blues recording of the year. That was in 1986; since then Wolf Records has been sinking its teeth even deeper. The Chicago Blues Session series (57 recordings to date) put the Wolf Record label to the forefront of the Chicago Blues scene, in addition to another pair of WC Handy Awards for Magic Slim and Wolf Records.
“Down Home” field recordings gave the Wolf label something special to speak about… another WC Handy Award for the “Giants Of Country Blues Guitar / Vol. 1” release. In 1990 Wolf cutlined tours for its roster of artists and others, featuring none other than Magic Slim And The Teardrops and Eddie Shaw & The Wolf Gang. Nuturing talents on the homefront, Wolf Records has compiled the Austrian Blues Summit-CD, which features Hans Theessink, Mojo Blues Band, Dana Gillespie, Hooked On Blues and many more.
Also Wolf recorded one more CD by Europe’s best female blues singer, Dana Gillespie, and the great newcomers Christian Dozzler & Blues Wave and Peter Garstenauer.
On the international scene Wolf Records is proud to present the best of Chicago; live recordings during the reknown Chicago Blues Fest. Performing in and around the famous Chicago club circuit: Buddy’s Legend, Checkerboard, Kingston Mines, Blues Etcetera, B.l.u.e.s., House Of Blues, and Blue Chicago, to name a few, will feature Wolf recording artists such as Magic Slim & The Teardrops, Willie Kent, Vance Kelly, Eddie Shaw, Dave Myers, Carey Bell, Booker T. Laury, and others.
Wolf Records would like to extend its thanks and gratitude for the hard work done by our U.S. reps, Willie Kent, Phil Hammer, John Primer, Paul Smith, Brett Bonner, Ray Copeland, Ron Bartolucci, Carl Meyer, Anthony Brisbin, and to the many others who continue their support. We are proud of you all. And, in 1995 Wolf has been eating more… many productions by traditional blues musicians such as Houston Stackhouse, U. P. Wilson and contemporary blues artists Vance Kelly, Michael Coleman, Johnny Laws, Nick Holt, Johnny B. Moore, to name a few.
Also Wolf Records was really proud to win a Living Blues Award 1995 for the best contemporary blues CD of 1994, Vance Kelly “Call Me” (120.977 CD).
In 1996 and 1997 Wolf continues its national and international activities.
Wolf Records USA was founded in 1996 with the help of JoAnne Larson. Chicago was then the center for the mailorder service for the US. Wolf Records USA celebrated its opening with a show at Buddy Guy’s Legends. Unfortunatly Wolf Records USA never made it into the next century. In April 1999 Wolf Records USA closed.
Back in 1996 Magic Slim came for two more tours to Europe! In 1997 Wolf artists Willie Kent and Eddie Shaw got each a W.C. Handy Award and a Living Blues Award for their great music. And of course Wolf Records found another new talent in Chicago: Edward Taylor produced his first CD as a tribute to his father Eddie “Big Town Playboy” Taylor. In April 1999 Wolf Records USA closed.
In addition, Wolf succeeded in bringing back a great blues artist: Little Mack Simmons recorded a new CD after an absence of 20 years! On the Zoo Bar Collection, which now comprises 6 CDs, you can hear the best Chicago blues has to offer. We also want to state that the Chicago blues scene couldn’t be imagined without these incredible Wolf artists: L. V. Banks, Johnny B. Moore, John Primer, Michael Coleman, Vance Kelly, and Johnny Laws. All of them have released their first CDs on Wolf!
During the past few years, Wolf Records has organized European tours for Vance Kelly & The Backstreet Bluesband (twice), Willie Kent & His Gents, and John Primer. In the fall of 2000, Wolf Records artists John Primer & Magic Slim were special guests at the Lucerne Blues Festival, and Vance Kelly recorded his first live CD for our label, “Live at Lee’s Unleaded.”. In 2001, Kelly won the prestigious Chicago Music Award.
Other current waxings for Wolf Records include a new recording by Eddie Taylor Jr., Harmonica Hinds and Tré, produced in Chicago and called “From The Country To The City”. Recent CD releases on Wolf Records by Magic Slim, John Primer and Larry Taylor were very well received by both critics and fans. Further releases in Wolf Records’ “Blues Classics” series by Leroy Carr and Memphis Slim received very positive reviews.
Wishing you all the best, Wolf leaves you with this thought:
The Blues will never die!
15 Years of Friendly Co-Operation
WILLIE KENT, 1936 – 2006
Willie Kent CD’s on WOLF RECORDS:
CD 120.867 Willie Kent Live In Chicago At B.L.U.E.S.
CD 120.876 Willie Kent & His Gents
CD 120.889 Willie Kent & His Gents Feat. Carlos Showers
I say thank you for what you have done for the people in Chicago, for your musician friends, for Wolf records and for me, Hannes Folterbauer.
I’m first of all: A blues fan. I came to Chicago in 1982 to record the blues legend Eddie Taylor in the Odyssey studio.
The band members were Tim Taylor on drums, Johnny B. Moore on guitar and Willie Kent on bass, – and they played the best Westside blues I ever heard.
After Eddie had died, I started working with Willie. Of course, he told me to record Johnny B. Moore with his band – this was our first project!! Willie promised that the recording session would be just two hours – and he told no lie – cause the musicians knew each other perfectly. We got second place at the W.C handy blues awards with this record.
This was the first LP by Johnny B., following with a sampler with then unknown Westside musicians like Barkin Bill, Mary Lane, Larry Taylor and Bonnie Lee!!
After that we recorded the first CD´s with Bonnie Lee, and Maxwell street Jimmy Davis. I asked Willie if he could help me to record such legends as Jimmy Rogers, John Brim, Hubert Sumlin and Pinetop Perkins. He agreed, so I had the chance to work together with these legends – the band at these sessions has often been the same: Tim Taylor, Willie Kent, Billy Branch on harp and the great guitar players John Primer and Johnny B. Moore!
So we created the “wolf – sound” which got famous for it’s ORIGINAL Chicago sound: part of culture of the US!!
Willie also brought me together with Eddie Shaw and the Wolf-gang, Billy Branch, Deitra Farr, Zora Young, Big Moose Walker and Lurrie Bell to name just a few!!
Last, but not least, I am proud to have recorded three CD´s with Willie himself and his Gents – the greatest project was to record him live at B.L.U.E.S. He was one of the last ones in Chicago with a deep ‘down home voice’ like Muddy or Wolf!! I can also say that his band played the real Westside blues which is a part of the US culture too!! Willie never wanted any money for making the connection to the musicians for me! I think he was just happy that they got a chance to record – he just played at the sessions his legendary bass lines and helped me with the contracts.
Willie wanted to record a fourth CD for Wolf but we could not do it – of course after the valley bankruptcy we had financial problems too. So I’m happy that also Delmark produced a lot of Willie Kent CD´s, that his work is well preserved on CD´s!!
I’m also proud, having toured one week with Willie and his Gents in Austria, where we also produced a great CD!!
He was a nice person and if we had misunderstandings, we came together after a 5 minute discussion. I think that my steady work with Willie also helped him to get jobs on the Northside, because when I met him in the early 80´s, he just played on the West side! In the last years I always tried to meet Willie when I came to Chicago to see him playing at Blue Chicago. We would go out for lunch. I have often sent his CD´s to him from Austria as a part of royalties so he could sell them from the stage. I always trusted him and so he has done the same: trusting me. I think our friendship helped a lot of musicians to get a better reputation in Chicago and that they thought it made really good sense not to stop playing the blues!!
One last thing, all of you know that my English is really not good, but Willie and I never had problems with that – sometimes words are not the most important things! I thank Maurice that he said that to all of you. I will spend the money I would have paid for the plane ticket and hotel to Willie’s family – I think this will help a little bit!
But, as soon I come back to Chicago, I will visit his grave!!
Good bye, Willie.