Junior Wells was born Amos Wells Blakemore, Jr., in or near Memphis in 1934, and arrived in Chicago in 1948. He was active as a harmonica player as a very young man and worked with The Aces (Louis and Dave Myers with Fred Below on drums) before Little Walter, whom he replaced in Muddy Waters’ band in 1952, Walter going over to join The Aces. As a young bandleader in the 1950s and early ’60s he cut several enduring singles, notably ones on the Chief, States, and Pro le imprints. He may be best remembered by more modern audiences for his partnership with guitarist Buddy Guy and the years he spent as the resident star of Theresa’s south side basement blues tavern, and later, his frequent appearances at Rosa’s Lounge on Chicago’s north side.
Junior’s 1965 Hoodoo Man album on Delmark is considered to be the first LP release of a blues studio session, and first on which a blues band was permitted to play ensemble, as they would
in a club. With many recordings on a variety of labels, his Delmark LPs stand the test of time, and in addition to Hoodoo Man, include Southside Blues Jam, On Tap, Live at Theresa’s, Live in Boston, 1966, and a collection of reissued United sides, Blues Hit Big Town. Wells passed away in 1998.
Omar Coleman was born in 1973 on Chicago’s west side and became thoroughly immersed in Chicago blues and soul at his moth- er’s place, Louise’s Lounge, on west Madison Street where musicians Tyrone Davis, Bobby Rush and many others would stop by. But since blues wasn’t the music of his generation, he didn’t fully embrace it until he picked up the harmonica at a mature age and found a new appreciation for it. Coleman has a commanding, soulful voice that is perfectly suited for the blues. In 2005, he was one of six harpists chosen to appear on Diamonds in the Rough: Chicago Blues Harmonica Project (Severn). While touring Europe with guitarist Sean Carney in 2011, they recorded Very Lucky Man (Get Down Blues). Coleman followed up with his own West Side Wiggle (Honeybee) the same year. Signed by Chicago’s Delmark label in 2015, Coleman released a well-received set of nearly all-originals, titled Born and Raised, and followed it up last year with Omar Cole- man Live! at Rosa’s Lounge.
Strongly influenced by the music of Junior Wells, Omar Coleman’s urban contemporary sound is rooted firmly in tradition and will do Junior proud. Like Junior, Omar has a confidant brash even street tough approach to life and music.