“Hard Times is informed by decades spent woodshedding his guitar licks with the masters and leading his own band. Ever the purist, Primer does it all without the aid of effects.”
– Guitar World Magazine
Sometimes you just need a shot of Chicago blues. Straight-up, stripped-down, feel-it-in-your-gut kinda blues like the stuff of Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Junior Wells. And who better to bring it than the man who played with all of them? Through 60+ years in the business, two Grammy nominations, two lifetime achievement awards, a National Blues Hall of Fame honor, and some 87 albums (including 13 solo works), John Primer is the real deal – both a builder and standard-bearer of the Chicago blues form.
Born into a family of Mississippi sharecroppers, John made the trek to Chicago at 18 like so many others of his generation, first playing for tips on Maxwell Street before rising through the ranks to join and eventually lead the house band at world famous Theresa’s Lounge. For 7 years 7 nights a week, he honed his skills alongside originators like Sammy Lawhorn, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and James Cotton. And then Willie Dixon tapped John to lead his band on a world tour – as did Muddy Waters and Magic Slim. So by the time he went solo with his own band in 1995, John was already a star on the scene.
His new album, “Hard Times,” feels as much a rallying cry for the preservation of Chicago blues as it is a statement about our post-pandemic world. Watch the video for the title song and you’ll see John walking the streets past the now-closed Checkerboard, Theresa’s, and Lee’s Unleaded before settling in at the recently shuttered B.L.U.E.S. Club to play for an empty house. Gotta keep it live to keep it alive. But like any great blues music, the mood lifts and soars on the album as well – with hot tunes like “You Got What I Want,” “I Won’t Sweat It” and “Whiskey.” And then there’s the soulful turn of “Tough Times,” a resolute number co-written and sung by his daughter Aliya. Across 13 original songs and backed by his stellar Real Deal Band, the result is a warm and uplifting ride, a great soundtrack for road trips and long summer nights. And with it comes John’s simple reminder: “You can’t paint the blues without the Primer!”
Listen to John Primer - Hard Times
Listen to John Primer - You Got What I Want