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KRAB has the Blues
Urban Blues with Dick Shurman
The program guide note for Jan 28, 1970 reads "POST-WAR BLUES - We seem to be bursting with new shows lately. This one, to be hosted by Dick Shurman, will run bi-weekly at this hour. This first program is devoted to Magic Sam, a West-side Chicago guitarist who died recently on the verge of a national career. Sam is remembered for his very individualistic vocal style as well as his versatility on guitar."
With that note KRAB now had complementary blues programs: Bob West with pre-war acoustic blues on Fridays at 8pm, and Dick Shurman with the post-war electric blues on alternate Wednesdays at 5:30pm. In March Dick moved to Fridays, in June to Saturdays, and in Nov 1971 to Tuesdays, where he remained until 1973. (For the young that have been living during the time of the endless war, the reference above is to World War II.) Dick's programs included recorded music from his personal collection, occasional interviews (John Lee Hooker in Mar 1970), and recordings he had made.
In 2014 Dick was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame, and the following biographical sketch appeared in American Blues Scene magazine. It is re-published here with their permission:
Dick Shurman is widely recognized in the blues community not only for the quality and care evident in his record productions and writings but also for his love for the music and the artists who sing and play it. His producing credits include albums by Albert Collins, Johnny Winter, Magic Slim, Charlie Musselwhite, Earl Hooker, Fenton Robinson, Roy Buchanan, Eddie C. Campbell and Lurrie Bell, and his bibliography includes articles for Blues Unlimited, Living Blues and Juke Blues, book chapters, and over 100 album liner notes. He has compiled numerous reissues and put in decades of service with the Chicago Blues Festival advisory committee. What makes his accomplishments even more remarkable is that he has compiled this Hall of Fame-quality blues resume while holding down non-music-related full-time jobs in a library system.
Shurman was born May 23, 1950, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and lived in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, before Boeing offered his father a job in Seattle. Inspired by blues he discovered on the radio, on records and with friends in Seattle, Shurman headed straight for blues mecca when he enrolled at the University of Chicago in 1968. He began befriending blues artists, submitting articles to Blues Unlimited, and making tapes in the clubs (including some by Earl Hooker that were released on LP), but found himself so drawn to the clubs that he decided it would interfere with his studies. He returned to Seattle to earn his degrees, including a master’s in library science from the University of Washington. With the degree he was able to return to the Chicago area and start work at a suburban library, enabling him to earn a living without depending on income from the blues.
A former contributing editor with Living Blues, Shurman interviewed a number of artists he would later produce in the studio, including Albert Collins, Otis Rush, Jody Williams, Johnny Heartsman, Andrew Brown and Lee Shot Williams. His rapport with the musicians extended beyond the studios and clubs as he developed lasting personal friendships, just as he did with a worldwide network of blues aficionados. He continues to produce and write with insight and to display his well-known talents as a punster and as a font of blues anecdotes, printable and otherwise.
Recordings below courtesy of Benny Greatorex. In the 1970's, he, and some buddies, seem to have had weekly blues get-downs during which they recorded programs off the air.
The programs are presented below are in chronological order.
Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB Mar 6, 1971
Begins with a short announcement by the KRAB volunteer board operator.
Listen now - Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB Mar 6, 1971 (64:20)
Recording courtesy of Benny Greatorex, BG0001, Side 1, track 2
Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB May 22, 1971
Little Sonny; KRAB's having a fund raising benefit at The Warehouse Tavern noon to midnight (Compressed Garbage Sleaze Band, Tall Timber String Band, Lake Union Home Wreckers, The Crackers, Mirage, and Ju-Ju - all for $1.00 per person); Louie Myers and The Aces, Baby Faced Leroy, Little Walter, and others. At the end of the recording is the arrival of Tiny Freeman.....
Listen now - Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB May 22, 1971 (90:40)
Recording courtesy of Benny Greatorex, BG0002, Side 1
Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB May 29, 1971
Listen now - Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB May 29, 1971 (96:21)
Recording courtesy of Benny Greatorex, BG0002, Side 2
Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB Jun 5, 1971
One of those "mixed bag" shows, this is the "second to last show before the Fall" Urban Blues hiatus; Albert Collins has been in Seattle and is on his way to Tacoma for a couple of shows.
Listen now - Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB May Jun 5, 1971 (96:27)
Recording courtesy of Benny Greatorex, BG0007, Side 1
Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB Nov 9, 1971
Leading off with Son Seals, Dick then introduces the show: "Tonight we are going mostly to listen to the soundtrack of an excellant documentary film made by an Englishman three years ago about Chicago blues."
The film was probably "Chicago Blues", by Harley Cokeliss. Cokeliss was actually an American that had moved to England to study film. It seems to have been released in the UK in 1970, but does not appear to have made it to the US until 1983 (NY Times review). It is currently available from internet sources as a DVD with much better quality audio than we have here.
Once again, starting at 57:31 when Urban Blues ends, we have a sample of late night KRAB, with an un-named announcer doing an unscheduled program of music of their choice.
Listen now - Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB Nov 9, 1971 (94:37)
Recording courtesy of Benny Greatorex, BG0005, Side 2
Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB Dec 14, 1971
We think it is Dec 14th, but it could also be the 7th. There are a lot of clues, but none decisive:
"The latest issue of Rolling Stone has an article about Johnny Otis" - That was the Dec 9, 1971 issue.
'Next week Big Mama Thornton opens at Fresh Air" - That was Dec 17, 1971
"Last weekend Little Milton played the Ebony" - ?
"The last two issues of Living Blues magazine have had an interview of Lowell Fulson" - Those were the summmer and autmn 1971 issue.
Listen now - Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB Dec 14, 1971 (95:27)
Recording courtesy of Benny Greatorex, BG0013, Side 1, part 1
Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB Jan 30, 1973
It is one of those very thin tapes that has flutter and wow, but it gets better as it goes on.
There's a plug for Discount Records which was loaning records KRAB could not afford to buy. Standard Records and 5th Ave Records also used to loan KRAB material. They are all gone now.
We were able to date this using the following There's a benefit dance thirty's style this Friday Feb 2nd at the Campus Christian Ministry Center. The New Deal Rhythm Band will be playing. The benefit is to raise money for "Medical Aid to Indochina" (MAI) to help rebuild the Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi, which was apparently a target during the Christmas bombing of Dec 18, 1972.
This was shortly before the move from Roosevelt to the Fire House was finally complete, as is evidenced by Dick Shurman's hope this "will be the last Urban Blues from the Doughnut Shop."
At 90 minutes Tad Cook takes over with his "All-Night Music Show".
Listen now - Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB Jan 30, 1973 (96:11)
Recording courtesy of Benny Greatorex, BG0006, Side 2
Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB May 1, 1973
Ends with about 10 minutes of Dave Johnson's "USA for Beginners".
Listen now - Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB May 1, 1973 (79:07)
Recording courtesy of Benny Greatorex, BG0010, Side 2
Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB Jun 19, 1973
There are a number of clues in this recording that guide us in the direction of dating this to Jun 1973: Buddy Guy and Junior Wells are coming to the Walrus Jun 27 to Jul 1st; John Lee Hooker is also coming to the Walrus; Gene Ammons cancelled last week; Bob Summerise is doing blues at the Showbiz; and the Heritage House is in danger of folding. That last bit about Heritage House was covered by the Seattle Times on Jun 17th. Anyway, we are going to date it Jun 19, 1973.
For some reason Dick Shurman's voice is a bit crackly - perhaps it was overmodulated when recorded?
At this time Urban Blues was only an hour, so at about 55 minutes, with the Last Poets' "True Blue", David Johnson takes over with USA for Beginners.
Listen now - Urban Blues with Dick Shurman - KRAB Jun 19, 1973 (77:19)
Recording courtesy of Benny Greatorex, BG0006, Side 1
If you possess any souvenirs (program guides, tapes, or photos) or have a story about your experience with KRAB you are willing to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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