Tribute to Gene Barge

The Chicago Rhythm and Blues Kings trace their roots back to their rst incarnation as The Mellow Fellows, backup band for the late, dapper showman, Larry “Big Twist” Nolan. In their heyday as a Midwest-touring R&B powerhouse showband, Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows commanded the college and club circuit throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s and recorded two albums apiece for the Flying Fish and Alligator labels.


After Big Twist’s untimely death in 1990, the band foundered but carried on, held together by horn men Terry Ogolini and Don Tenuto, and adding vocalists Martin Allbritton and Ernie Peniston. Re-branded as the Chicago Rhythm and Blues Kings in 1993, they made one more Alligator recording in 1996 before going over to Blind Pig to issue a self-titled release in 1999.


In the last handful of years they have worked with saxophone great Gene “Daddy G” Barge to round out the lineup quite magnificently. Barge, born in Norfolk Virginia in 1926, graced many early rock and blues classics, recording with Bo Diddley, James Cotton, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Koko Taylor, Jerry Butler, the Chi-Lites, Fontella Bass, and more.


He won a Grammy for producing Natalie Cole on Sophisticated Lady (1977). Barge has also made several appearances in major Hollywood lms. With the Rhythm and Blues Kings, “Daddy G” sings, plays tenor horn and assists with the band’s killer arrangements, helping to make the Chicago Rhythm and Blues Kings one commanding, high-performance music machine.

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