The Blue Kitty Music Story
Blue Kitty Music is the brain child of Liz Mandeville and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. It happened one night at Rosa's Lounge, a blues club on Chicago's West Side.
Liz Mandeville, Bob Stroger and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith
@Rosa's Lounge March, 2011
It was a cool night in March, 2011. The joint was hopping and magic was in the air. Willie Smith, the drummer for the Legendary Blues Band, Muddy Waters group, was at Rosa's that night celebrating his Grammy win for an album he'd made with his Traditional Blues group, Joined At The Hip.
Liz had worked with Willie during her 5 year tenure singing at Blue Chicago. In fact Joined At the Hip were all guys she knew from years of performing on the Chicago Blues scene, She offered to stand the band to a round of celebratory drinks. They accepted and she and Willie started talking.
"So when are you and I going to make a record, Willie?" Liz asked.
"What, you wanna make a record with me?" WIllie queried.
"Well, when I was signed to Earwig Music in '97, I told Mike (the label's owner) that I wanted to make a record with you on drums, Willie Kent on bass, George Baze on guitar and Allen Batts on keys, but he told me no." Liz said.
"Hey! Allen moved to Arkansas and all them other MF's is dead!" Willie exclaimed! "You better book the time, little girl, book the time!" He slammed his glass on the bar for emphasis. "And we're going to start our own label and put this out ourselves," he went on, "That's the way we did it for Joined At The Hip and if we can do it you and I can do it too!"
Liz called engineer Jim Godsey the next day. They booked two recording sessions for later that week with bassist Darryl Wright.
Liz, Willie and Darryl recorded 5 tunes at those two fateful sessions. Willie played drums on all 5, blew Blues Harp on a couple and also sang background vocals. Joined At The Hip had a full summer touring schedule. So Liz and Willie planned to go back in the studio to record 5 more songs in September. Unfortunately Willie started getting sick the following month. Sadly, those sessions turned out to be his last, by September he was gone. His loss to the world of Blues is inestimable.
Liz decided to honor WIllie's memory by finishing the record and putting it out herself. That's how Blue Kitty Music was born.
Liz Mandeville had so much fun producing Clarkdale that she's continued to explore new ways of expressing her musical gifts. Collaboration with diverse artists and exploring new ways of creating music are the norm. Liz has continued producing full albums and several singles.
Blue Kitty Music is available in many formats, physical discs, download cards and streaming.This label is highly experimental, exploring a wide range of musical styles from traditional blues, jazz, R&B, rap, dance music and even Kirtan. Here you'll find artists unfettered by preconceived notions of what "the marketplace" wants. No formulas, no pandering, just service to the music.