Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 31, 1987)
Tuesday, March 31, 1987
rl rl rl
Blues band has fanatical following
nl m geramg Mggeit mm Mggew
Ti n .9
By Stew Magnuson
It's a rainy night in Berwin,'a suburb
outside of Chicago. In a medium
sized roadhouse called Fitzgerald's,
a tiny man wearing a yacht captain's
hat and a huge grin lets his silver slide
slip down the neck of the guitar, hit
ting notes that send chills running
through the body.
Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials have
a loyal, nearly fanatical following in
their native Chicago. A long table full
of drunk college boys scream with
delight as Lil' Ed Williams hops off the
stage onto the dance floor, picking and
duckwalking his way through the crowd
during "You Don't Exist Anymore," a
killer song from his debut album.
Lil' Ed slowly turns to the table of
his loyal followers, as though a judge
had just entered the courtroom, they
Ed climbs up on an empty chair,
shaking his body to the quivering
notes, squinting his eyes more and
more as the slide gets lower. He climbs
off the chair and duckwalks his way to
some unsuspecting dufus. Ed leans
back in the fan's lap, hits two killer
chords, Hashes his big overbite, 'then
dashes up to the stage just in time for
the chorus, never missing a beat.
Lil' Ed has a booming voice, a big,
loud growl that seems unnatural for
such a small man. He doesn't seem to
care that the tvvo-1'oot-high ledge in
front of his microphone is the end of
the stage. Fitzgerald's was the stage.
Throughout the night he'd jump off the
ledge and sing, not caring that no one
but the nearby dancers could hear a
In the early l(J;50s, Mississippi-delta
bluesmen broke off beer-bottle
necks, melted down the sharp edges
and ran the slides down their Sears
catalogue acoustic guitars. Lil' Ed is
the heir apparent of the bottleneck
boogie blues, the next generation in a
line that included Robert Johnson,
Elmore James and his late uncle, J.B.
"He was more than an influence with
the blues," Williams said about
his uncle. "He was a hell of a spiritual
Backstage, Lil' Ed tugs on a pipe and
talks softly while the local fanatics,
each one drunker and louder than the
one before, come in and heap praise on
him. He greets each with a smile and a
hug, flashing his two buck teeth and
Bugs Bunny smile.
Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials,
including David Weld on second guitar,
Ed's half-brother James Young on bass,
Louis Henderson on drums or bass
when Pete Williams comes by to sit in
on drums, have been kicking out blues
boogie in the Chicago area for 1 1 year's,
rarely venturing out of the Chicago
blues circuit and remaining virtually
unknown to the rest of the world.
Now they have a debut LP on Alliga
tor Records and appeal' on the label's
"The New Bluebloods," an anthology of
the new Chicago blues bands.
The story behind "Roughhousin',"
the debut LP is a Chicago legend. Alli
gator founder and resident Bruce Iglauer
was tired after a long day of recording
two songs apiece lor the anthology. The
last band was Lil' Ed and the Blues
"I was nervous and jittery," Ed said.
"We had never been in a studio before."
But the band started doing what they
did best and launched into a song,
playing as if they were in any club.
During the songs, the band noticed
the whole control room was dancing
and hollering. Iglauer came out of the
control room and offered the band a
recording contract on the spot with a
handshake deal. Someone sent for beer,
the Blues Imperials ripped through an
in-the-studio version of their stage per-
8 a.m.-6 p.m
TAKE A 60 MINUTE BREAK
2 for 1 2
6 p.m. -Close
COUPON EXPIRES APRIL 15, 1987
Private Hot Tub Rooms 818 "P" St.
i.Ywfi of lUMrrgfr. Hrlieren 22ml & 2'irih
Saturday, April 4, 1987
Wilford C. Harris, Retired - Owner
This is a fine older 2 -bedroom home
with original woodwork still in place
living room, dining room, kitchen,
newer bathroom, front L rear porches,
garden storage shed on slab.
roraa tew, jj
LOT SIZE: 45 x 127
BUDGET: Gas: $49; Electric: $18.
FHA LOAN: $6,352 Realtors Loc-Box Approx. 800 Sq. Ft.
TERMS CASH. $1000 down payment upon close of sale.
OF SALE: Balance due April 30th, 1987. Seller will grant
time for mortgage process provided buyer has
prequalified him or herself with Susan Grieger,
a mortgage banker. Office: 475-6812.
Austin Auction Co. m
ni Al IQTIM RPAI TV PRA '" "
Otv Oownt RMltor
73 2528 (Home)
Paul "Mik" Grtigtr
MS N. COTNER LINCOLN, NE 68505 (402) W4-9102
MEMBER: NATIONAL ft NEBRASKA AUCTIONEERS' ASSOCIATION
fo nuance, and the bluesmen cut 30
songs in two hours.
It was a big gamble for Alligator. The
band was virtually unknown out
side of Chicago, and Iglauer hoped
to sell 4,0U() copies just to break even.
So far, the album has sold three times
that many copies, according to Alliga
tor, amazing since the record has
received little airplay and the band had
never toured outside Chicago.
Williams shrugs off the importance
of the album.
"People enjoy the album," he said.
"But being there is the most important
thing. They have to see us to appreciate
The Blues Imperial's stage show is
an energetic dance romp. And that
energy is certainly transferred to the
"I don't plan (to get off the stage). It
just happens. I like to shake my leg.
When I practice at home, I do the same
thing. So it's not an act. A lot of people
stay on stage and never come off. They
say, 'Why don't he move? Does he have
arthritis?' " Williams said.
For more than 10 years, Lil' Ed had a
full-time job as a buffer at a Westside
car wash. Now, as the band starts tour
ing, the job is only part time. He's
already toured the East Coast and parts
of Canada, and has one date in the
Netherlands later in April. As his repu
tation grows, Lil' Ed should soon be
jumping on roadhouse tables full time.
' I, .a -" a
2- f V
13 r AxeU-na
A Mid America Arts
Alliance Program with
support from the National
Endowment for the Arts.
113 Wsstbrook Music BkJg.
472-3375 11th & R Strssts
11 am -5 pm, Monday-Friday
Ks$ft-!a Ur,!sa Nerth D::k
7 am - 2 pm, Monday-Friday
C3 Uwcrity d Kibrssha Uncdn
x - i -; I i
x- sji i I (
- v wi I
1 1 -y.
Courtesy of Alligator Records
Lil' Ed and the Blue Imperials
in the April 2 and 3
UNL Division of Continuing Studies
1S07 Bominop Heading
Course Program Listing
Pick up the Daily Nebraskan Thursday or Friday
or call at 472-6265 for more information.
UNL is a
ALL YOU CAM EAT!
r JL i r ' .V
Every Tuesday through March, Wendy's is serving,
up bowl after bowl of our hot, fresh chili for just
99 cents per person. Bring the whole family!
No coupon necessary Offer only in dining room. Cheese
extra. Not valid with other coupons or special offers.
930 N. 48th Street
2615 S. 48th Street
14th & Q Street
6404 E. 0 Street
Powered by Open ONI