Bob Stroger has been a part of the Chicago blues scene since the 1950’s. He has played his bass and recorded with Otis Rush, Jimmy Rogers, Eddie Taylor, Eddie Clearwater, Sunnyland Slim, Louisiana Red, Buster Benton, Homesick James, and Snooky Pryor, among others over the years. He has also been a session musician for the renown blues label, Delmark Records, and appeared on over 30 Delmark recordings. Now, at the age of 90, he has released his first recording for Delmark as the band leader for Bob Stroger & the Headcutters entitled That’s My Name. You aren’t going to get to hear too many more artists from that period laying down new tracks so I heartily recommend you give this album a listen. The thirteen songs include 5 originals and a delightful array of covers of Ma Rainey, Eddie Taylor, Big Bill Broonzy, Casey Bill Weldon, and Herman “JR” Parker Jr. penned tunes.
Bob, playing bass and singing, is backed on the recording by a very tight blues band out of Brazil….the Headcutters. The group consists of Joe Marhofer (Harmonica), Ricardo Maca (Guitar), Arthur ‘Catuto’ Garcia (bass) and Leandro ‘Cavera’ Barbeta (drums). There are also two Brazilian guest artists; Luciano Leaes (Piano and Hammond Organ) and Braion Johnny (saxophones) who also provide memorable moments on the recording.
My favorite cut on the recording is Just A Bad Boy. The group lays down a quintessential Chicago blues tune with the perfect vibe. I also loved the recording ambiance on CC Rider. It gives you the feeling of being amongst a small crowd relaxing in a smokey 50’s Chicago blues bar on a wintery week day; it’s like you are right there in the audience. Additionally, the low down blues, wailing harmonica and sultry piano playing on Outskirts of Town and It Was a Dream are priceless.
Kudos to Julia A Miller and Elbio Barilari at Delmark for bringing this project to fruition. AND a special thumbs up to the Headcutters. The core group along with the two guest artists created some music magic with Bob and I look forward to hearing some of their own recordings in the future.
On the title cut That’s My Name, Bob sings that ” you can call me Bob Stroger, you can call me anything you choose, but my real name is the blues. I am the blues.” And that he is!! The likes of Bob Stroger, who lived the blues in its classic heyday in the 50’s and early 60’s, are passing into music history. Grab some of this history in the making right now while you can and enjoy the baddest of the badass Chicago blues!!
Bob Stroger & the Headcutters – That’s My Name (Delmark Records 2022)
Ben Vee started out spinning songs on terrestrial radio and at nightclubs back in the 1970’s in his home state of Louisiana. After a career in the construction business, he returned to DJing in 2011. He now hosts two shows each week on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com and writes about the blues at http://www.benveeblues.com from his home in Connecticut. He also has a 24 hour stream devoted to the Roadhouse Blues… WRHB