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ROCK ON! This Week's Sound Bites...6/27/14

By Danny Coleman

originally published: 06/27/2014
Seventy years in the entertainment business is hard to imagine; unless you're James Cotton.

Better known to many as "Superharp," Cotton has played with legends of Delta Blues and the artists of today.

Born in Tunica, Mississippi in the 1930's, Cotton was one of eight children who grew up in the cotton fields of the deep south. A Baptist preacher for a father and a mother who used to make chicken and train sounds on her harmonica inspired Cotton to greatness.; especially after receiving his very first mouth harp as a Christmas gift.

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Cotton would listen to a radio program called "King Biscuit Time" which featured the influential and legendary Sonny Boy Williamson. Eventually, James learned Sonny Boy's music, "I heard Sonny Boy on a radio program," he said in halted, breathy tones. "The program was on KFSA and I learned the music, I realized the harmonica could make more than just a few sounds."

Cotton realized his own potential and took it and his harp to Sonny Boy Williamson himself. With both of his parents passed away by the time he was only nine years old, Cotton's uncle took him to meet the infamous blues player; what happened next was nothing short of magical. Cotton played Sonny's theme song for him darn near, if not "note for note." Sonny instantly became enamored with the young prodigy and the two became inseparable. "I saw the harp as a way to make money and in Mississippi, you're never more than two steps away from the blues," he said.

Make money he did, opening for Sonny Boy Williamson and touring with him; sometimes literally on the establishment's front steps due to him being too young to enter the club itself.

One day, Williamson just up and left the band and a young teenaged Cotton couldn't keep it together. Armed with his harp and a sense of determination he bounced around the streets of Memphis, eventually meeting another now legendary blues man; Howlin' Wolf. Cotton shined shoes, drove an ice truck and did various other odd jobs all while continuously gigging to support himself. Taking to the road with Howlin' Wolf whenever possible and blazing a trail as he made a name for himself all over the south, Cotton eventually met yet one more Delta Blues icon, Muddy Waters.

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Muddy introduced himself to the still teenaged Cotton because his harmonica player had just left the band; Cotton spent the next dozen years as Waters' harp player. It is Cotton's harp that gives the classic Muddy tune "Mannish Boy" its character. "Yeah, that was me on that one," he told me recently. "Playing with Sonny and Wolf and Muddy; they are three different people ya' know? They loved their music, they loved it. That is why it was special; they believed in it, loved it."

These legends would be joined by stints opening for or performing with Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, B.B. King, Santana, Steve Miller and even Grammy Award nominations and victories. Cotton names guitarist Robert "Junior" Lockwood as his favorite but is also partial to former band mate Johnny Winter along with B.B. King and Auburn "Pat" Hare. "They are the ones," he chuckled as he reiterated, that once again, they are all special players in their own right.

Cotton was very emphatic when asked about his seventy years in the business and their effect on him; saying, "Nah! I never played for fame. I played because I felt it! I played for me, for the feel and nothin' else and the rest just happened; I didn't go looking for it."

James Cotton will be bringing years of experience and his "Superharp" into Bordentown City on Saturday for an 8 p.m. show at The Record Collector located on Farnsworth Ave. Cotton, who says his favorite type of music is "Good Blues" promises that there will be more of the same, "I'll be playing my good blues" and with his track record, who can argue?

To discover more about James Cotton, please go to To find ticket information and more about The Record Collector please visit .

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Also this weekend, the "Rocks, Ribs and Ridges Festival 2014" is taking place at the Sussex County Fairgrounds located at 37 Plains Road in Augusta, NJ. The entertainment is top notch, featuring George Thorogood and The Destroyers on Sunday June 29 and the classic rockers Grand Funk Railroad on Saturday June 28.

"Well, those coming out can expect a high energy Grand Funk Railroad show," says founding member and drummer Don Brewer as he prepares to come to Jersey. "You're going to hear all of our hits, it will be a great show. "American Band," "Some Kind of Wonderful," "I'm your Captain," It will be a great time for sure!"

The band has evolved greatly since its initial 1973 debut "We're An American Band" which spawned the widely covered rock anthem of the same name. Brewer says he is somewhat surprised at the songs longevity and its impact, "No not really," he said when asked about the tunes impact. "The idea for that tune was conceived while we were flying around the country. I had the chords but the lyrics and the title were not there yet, then one day it hit me, we really are an American band. I mean there were so many things, all these little stories that made that song up. Sweet Connie, the tequila, the whole thing, it was just a crazy time; I didn't expect to be still singing it forty years later let alone still be alive!"

The current line up features Max Carl, former Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick and Tim Cashion, a trio which Brewer says makes up a "Great band." "We've been a great band now for 14 years, it's been a great run. Grand Funk is a unique combination of R & B and rock, everybody in the band has the same commonalities and we all like the same things; it's easy to rock."

"Easy to rock" it is for these giants of music; more often than not bands in every bar room, club or concert hall have covered a Grand Funk Railroad song. Well, this Saturday, you can see the real thing!

Tickets are available for either show at .

That's it for this week! Please continue to support live and original music and until next week....ROCK ON!


Alchemist & Barrister

28 Witherspoon Street Princeton
(609) 924-5555

Thurs. 10 p.m. Paul Plumeri

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Sun. 10 p.m. Kenny Cunningham

Wed. 10 p.m. Open mic. night Hosted by Eric Puliti

All shows 21+

Amalfi's Bar & Restaurant

146 Lawrenceville-Pennington Rd. Lawrenceville

(609) 912-1599

Sat. 8:30 p.m. The Mojo Gypsies

Amarones Windsor Inn

29 Church St. Windsor

(609) 448-714

Thurs. (6:30 p.m.)Pizza Night w/Scott Gager & Debbie (7:30 p.m.) Texas Hold'em

Fri. 8 p.m. Rick & Kenny

Sat. 8 p.m. Sounds of The Street

Tues. 7:30 p.m. Texas Hold'em

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Big Shots Bar and Grill/Hebe Music Lounge

835 E Rte. 130 South, Burlington

(609) 267-1200

Fri. 7 p.m. Plantation, Road Dogs, Frank Cervantes Band, Final Warning.

Sat. 7 p.m. Kenny Young Band, Ripped, Bobby Mahoney and The Seventh Son, Sam Sims

Wed. 7 p.m. Open Mic.


911 Rte. 33 Hamilton

(609) 245-8887

Thurs. NJ 350th Birthday Celebration / Craft Beer Party

Mon. 9 p.m. Karaoke

Wed. 5 p.m. Art Party feat. Billy Hewitt

Candlelight Lounge
24 Passaic St. Trenton
(609) 695-9612

Sat. 3 p.m. Bob Devos Quartet (No cover-$10 minimum)

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Chambers Walk Cafe
2667 Main St. Lawrenceville
(609) 896-5995

Fri./Sat. 6 p.m. Dick Gratton

The Backstage at Championship Bar
931 Chambers St. Trenton

(609) 394-7437

Fri. 7 p.m. Dock Ellis, Aim Down Sight, Stiff Motion. All ages, $8/$10.

Dubh Linn Square
167 Rte. 130 North Bordentown
(609) 298-7100

Sat. 9 p.m. Mike Matisa & Karly Coleman

Sun. 4 p.m.Billy O'neal

Tues. 9 p.m. Open Mic. Night hosted by Shaun Ruymen

Fran's Pub

116 S. Main St. New Hope, Pa.


Thurs. 9 p.m. Drag Show

Fri. 9 p.m. DJ Night

Sat. 7 p.m. Absent

Sun. 3 p.m. The Billy Walton Band

Mon. 8 p.m. Open Mic Blues Jam

All shows 21+

Havana New Hope
105 S. Main St. New Hope, Pa.
(215) 862-9897

Fri. 8 p.m. A Room Full of Blues. Doors at 6 p.m., $30

Sat. 8 p.m. An Evening with Ginger Baker's Jazz Confusion. Doors at 6 p.m., $90

Sun. 6 p.m. JB Kline

Mon. 10 p.m. Karaoke w/ DJ Ron Sherr and Bridge

Wed. 8 p.m. Pat Foran and Michael Ronstadt

All shows 21+

Ivy Tavern
3108 S. Broad Street, Hamilton
(609) 888-1435

Fri. 10 p.m. Gunsmoke

Sat. 10 p.m. El Ka Bong
All shows 21+

John & Peter's
96 S. Main St. New Hope, Pa.
(215) 862-5981

Thurs. 9 p.m. Collin J Rocker

Fri. 9 p.m. Ammunition

Sat. 9:30 p.m. Billy

Sun. (3 p.m.) Drag Show (9:30 p.m.) Fifth on the Floor

Mon. Open Mic.

Wed. The Invitational (Featuring John & Peter's House Band)
All shows 21+

JoJo's Tavern

2677 Nottingham Way Hamilton

(609) 586-2678

Wed. 10 p.m. Karaoke

Palermo's Of Hamilton
310 Klockner Rd. Hamilton
(609) 838-7979

Thurs. 9 p.m. Karaoke

Sat. 9 p.m. Deep Release

All shows 21+

Patriot's Crossing

1339 River Rd. Titusville

(609) 737-2780

Fri. 7:30 p.m. Two Man Trio

Pete's Steak House
523 Whitehorse Ave. Hamilton
(609) 585-8008

Fri. 9:30 p.m. Phaze Band

Sat. 9:30 p.m. Ernie White & Tom Reock

RHO Waterfront

50 Riverview Plaza Trenton

(609) 393-7300

Thurs. 9 p.m. College Night w/ DJ Jeff Scott

Fri. (4:30 p.m.) Sean Cox (8:30 p.m.) Radio Fiction (10 p.m.) DJ Jimmie Palumbo

All Shows 21+

Spigola Ristorante

3817 Crosswicks Hamilton Square Rd. Hamilton

Fri. 8:30 p.m. Tymes 2

Sat. 8:30 p.m. Kindred Spirit

Sunsets at Cream Ridge

181 Rte. 539 Cream Ridge

(609) 208-2500

Thurs. 7 p.m. Joe Kaplow

Fri. (6 p.m.) Rob Silvers Duo (9 p.m.) Misfit Johnny

Sat. 9:30 p.m. Petronova

Mon. 7 p.m. Open Mic. and Karaoke w/ Rich Barry

Tavern On The Lake

101 Main St. Hightstown
(609) 426-9345

Fri. 9 p.m. FarCry

Sat. 9 p.m. NFN

Wed. 8 p.m. Karaoke Night

The Cool Cricket

216 4th St. Fieldsboro

(609) 291-9110

Fri. 9 p.m. Karaoke

Sat. 9 p.m. Kathouse

Sun. 3 p.m. Bikes, Burgers, Beers feat. The Jeff Palmer Band

The Ivy Inn

248 Nassau St. Princeton

(609) 921-8555

Thurs. 10 p.m. Karaoke w/ Ron Sherr

Fri. 10 p.m. Rhyme & Reason

Sat. 10 p.m. Diablo Sandwich

Tues. 8 p.m. Quizzo w/ Bob E Luv

Wed. 10 p.m. Karaoke w/ Ron Sherr

The Record Collector

358 Farnsworth Ave. Bordentown

(609) 324-0880

Fri. 8 p.m. Clairy Browne & The Bangin' Rackettes. All ages, doors at 7:30 p.m., $20 (advance)

Sat. 8 p.m. James Cotton. All ages, doors at 7:30 p.m., $40 (advance).

The Sticky Wicket
2465 South Broad St. Hamilton
(609) 439-0007

Thurs. 9 p.m. Karaoke

Fri. 9 p.m. Steamboat Annie

Sat. 9:30 p.m. Alright Alright

All shows 21+

The Sun National Bank Center
81 Hamilton Ave. Trenton
(609) 656-3200

Please check web site for upcoming events

Tir Na Nog
1324 Hamilton Ave. Trenton
(609) 392-2554

Fri. 9 p.m. Black Brandt

Sat. 9 p.m. Billy O'Neal

All shows 21+

Trenton Social

449 South Broad Street Trenton

(609) 989-7777

Thurs. 8 p.m. Cinema Thursdays Presents:

Fri. 10 p.m. Friday night w/ Jay Kountree & Jaxx

Mon. 10 p.m. Service Industry Night w/ DJ-Jay Kountree

Tues. 9 p.m. LiveMusic/Open Mic.

Triumph Brewing Company (New Hope, Pa. Location)
400 Union Square New Hope, Pa.
(215) 862-8300

Thurs. 10 p.m. The Jauntee

Fri. 10 p.m. Full Circle. $5 (cover charge)

Sat. (1 p.m.) Holy Ghost Tent Revival (10 p.m.) Rainbow Fresh. $5 (cover charge)

Sun. 8 p.m. Holy Ghost Tent Revival

All shows 21+

Villa Romanza

429 Rte. 156 Hamilton

(609) 585-1717

Thurs. 5:30 p.m. Trenton Freedom Coaches Show

Wildflowers Inn

2572 Pennington Rd. Pennington

Sat. 9 p.m. Live Acoustic Rock
Mon. 9 p.m. Karaoke

All shows 21+

Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 7:000pm EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.



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