Get this crazy baby off my head!


Cathy Lemons Blues Band

Cathy Lemons Blues Band - Dark Road - 1999 - Saloon

Cathy Lemons is one of the greatest white, young, blues female vocalists to hit the scene since Janis Joplin. She sings straight from the heart--and she sings with her own voice and style. When she sings a song--it becomes her story--about her life--and that is what the blues is all about! Dark Road offers five originals and 9 covers--blues classics played with spare style and taste. Accompanying her on this debut CD is her long-time partner Johnny Ace on bass, Steve Freund (Sunnyland Slim's guitarists for 10 years), David Maxwell (currently the pianist with James Cotton), Tommy Castro (the up and coming blues star from San Francisco) and Rusty Zinn (Kim Wilson's guitarist and WC Handy Award Winner) with drums played by Kevin Coggins. "Dark Road" is a exellent CD in the way that it blends strong Texas rythmic influences with Chicago-styled lead configurations! Hailed by critics from every major blues publication, Cathy Lemons is on her way to becoming one ! of the most well respected blues vocalists on the scene today! © amazon.com

If you're not aware of Cathy Lemons, then give this great album a listen. We can all rest assured that The Blues is in safe hands with this lady around. Cathy sings deep, soulful songs recorded live at the infamous Saloon, San Francisco, California. The album features brilliant blues guitarist Tommy Castro on a few tracks, as well as David Maxwell, Rusty Zinn, and Steve Freund, the great guitarist who backed Sunnyland Slim for over ten years. Cathy Lemons is another great blues lady who along with Rory Block, Maria Muldaur, and Mare Edstrom is doing immeasurable work in preserving the blues. Buy this album, and promote Cathy Lemons . It is pure class, and HR by A.O.O.F.C. Watch closely for other releases by this lady


"Rollin' And Tumblin'" - Muddy Waters
"Hard Headed Man" - Lemons
"Dirty Man" - Bobby Miller
"Let Me Be Good" - Ace, Lemons
"Worry Worry" - Jules Taub, Plumber Davis
"Sayin' It Plain" - Lemons
"Good Morning Little Schoolboy" - Level, Love
"Dark Road" - Lemons
"Lonesome Whistle Blues" - Moore, Teat, Toombs
"Takin' A Train" - Lemons
"I Need You So Bad" - Maghett
"Just Got To Know" - McCracklin
"Little By Little" - Junior Wells
"You Belong To Me" - Magic Sam


Cathy Lemons - Vocals
Rusty Zinn, Steve Freund, Tommy Castro - Guitars
Johnny Ace - Bass
David Maxwell - Piano
Kevin Coggins - Drums


Cathy Lemons--she got it! Now that's the real blues! Funky! © John Lee Hooker

Lemons squeezes some fine work out of a stellar group of musicians ... but they can’t outshine Lemons soulful, knowing vocals. © Bill Kisliuk from Blues Access from January 2000 Issue

"The more you listen to this self-produced work the more you realize it is a very individualistic emotional approach." © DH from Vintage Guitar January 200 issue, Volume 14, No. 03

'"Dark Road’ .. shows Lemons to be a skillful and expressive singer in a wide variety of styles." © PRA from Living Blues, June 2000 issue, #150
“Dark Road” a burnished, scintillating disc--certainly one of the finest debuts from a contemporary female blues singer this year." © Hal horowitz from Blues Revue, Issue Number 52, November 1999


Chicago blues sung by a critically aclaimed female vocalist , backed by partner/band leader Johnny Ace on bass with guest guitarists Tommy Castro, Rusty Zinn, Steve Freund and brilliant pianist David Maxwell. Cathy Lemons and Johnny Ace's critically acclaimed CD "Dark Road" has won them some hard fought for recognition both as song writers and as soulful and expressive blues talents. BLUES REVUE hailed "Dark Road" as "a burnished, scintillating disc and certainly one of the finest debuts from a contemporary female blues singer this year." VINTAGE GUITAR says this of Lemons' vocal style: "She presents an almost classical quality to her voice. A dangerous approach to a tradition? You bet! But Lemons makes it work. The more you listen to this self-produced effort, the more you realize that it is a very individualistic emotional approach." And LIVING BLUES calls Lemons "a skillful and expressive singer" delivering blues "in a wide range of styles" from "dance-floor soul grooves" to "the occasional ballad." The quality of this CD is strengthened by an all-star line up of blues veterans that back up what Bill Kisliuk of Blues Access calls Lemons' "soulful, knowing vocals." Guest artist TOMMY CASTRO delivers his own firey brand of guitar licks on the Lemons/Ace penned funk "Let Me Be Good" and his wailing and intense solo work on the slow blues "Takin' a Train" (another original) can only be described as electrifying. RUSTY ZINN plays some raw Elmore James-style licks on another Lemons original "Hard Headed Man" and his "nasty tone and wild note bending" guitar work on the Junior Wells classic "Little By Little' leaves the listener wondering if this young "golden boy" might be from another time and generation of players. STEVE FREUND really shines as the master of many styles on this CD. Kisliuk writes that Freund "fills in the edges around the snowmelt slow 'Dirty Man' with restraint and aching beauty." DH of Vintage Guitar says that Freund's "Lockwood-style finesse in tone and articulation work perfectly" with Lemons' "delicate style." He plays with beauty and intensity on the title cut "Dark Road," creating a melancholic undertone, which builds as the song progresses. Freund's 20 years in the blues business has indeed made him an exquisite accompanist. DAVID MAXWELL is the pleasant surprise of this CD. His brilliant, jazz-influenced riffs on the Magic Sam classic "I Need You So Bad" create a richly textured rhythmic flow and his sinuous, Spann-like scales during his solo on the haunting "Worry, Worry" are rendered with magnificent feeling and precision. JOHNNNY ACE, Lemons' partner and session leader, makes contributions with both bass and back up vocals. Ace's style is simple and direct. He has an uncanny ability to follow Lemons in all her subtlety and zone in on just the right bass line to create a sexy, low-down groove. Ace becomes the very pulse, the very heart beat of the music. Nobody can play blues bass better than Johnny Ace. So, as Mark A. Cole says of "Dark Road" in his Big City Blues review, "This is an excellent CD in that it combines Texas-rhythm influences with Chicago lead configurations. Lemons vocal work is top of the line ... Definitely a winner! This CD has more talent and depth than you can imagine!" CATHY LEMONS - Cathy Lemons was raised in Dallas Texas-the home of many a blues great. In her early twenties she saw Anson Funderburg and Darryl Nulisch playing blues at a tiny little match box club called Poor David's Pub in Dallas and she became instantly inspired to sing the songs that to her told about life on the dark end of the street. Soon she was performing regularly in favorite Dallas blues clubs and sharing the stage with such luminaries of the eighties Texas blues scene as Stevie Ray Vaughn, Anson Funderburg, Mark Polluck and Robin Syler. She put together a band with David Watson--Anson Funderburg's X drummer --and later made a fine recording with Anson Funderburg and members of his band. In 1986 Cathy arrived on the Bay Area Blues scene and began working with talented harp player/singer Mark Hummel and guitarist extraordinaire Paris Slim. Cathy attracted the attention of Blues legend and star John Lee Hooker in 1988 and soon became the opening singer for Hooker's touring Coast to Coast Blues machine. In 1987, Lemons met bassist/vocalist Johnny Ace in a little North Beach club famous for its good times and great music-The Saloon. They became instant friends and played together in a band with San Francisco/Columbus, Ohio blues wiz David Workman for several years before they became a romantic and musical team. JOHNNY ACE - Johnny Ace (not to be confused with the late great R&B singer) hails from New York City and is one of the most respected bassist in the blues profession today. He ws awarded by Real Blues magazine "Best Blues bass player for West Coast" for 2000. Ace was given the nickname "Ace" by fellow musicians such as Paul Oscher and John Leslie--in their opinion he was number one. He never wanted to use the name out of respect for the original Johnny Ace, but as he says "somehow the name just stuck." Ace has worked with some of the great legendary figures in blues-Victoria Spivey, Otis Rush, John Lee Hooker, Eddie "Clean- head" Vinson, Lowell Fulson, Charlie Musslewhite and most recently Boz Scaggs. Not only is Johnny Ace an excellent bassist, but he is also a fine vocalist and band leader. He has a unique and charismatic stage presence with a sense of humor to match every inch of his effusive musical talent. The Cathy Lemons Johnny Ace Blues Band performs at San Francisco's premiere blues club Bisquits and Blues every Sunday with Danny Caron, who worked for ten years with the legendary Charles Brown and their long time drummer Rick Sanke. The band has also performed as an opening act for The Tommy Castro Band at Slims in San Francisco, CA and The Mystic Theatre in Petaluma, CA. They recently played The Redwood Coast's "Blues By The Bay" festival in Eureka, California and the Sacramento Heritage Festival. They perform regularly in the best Bay Area night clubs and will be touring the United States by the end of this year. © cdbaby.com


Cathy Lemons grew up in Dallas Texas. By the age of 23 she had already performed with Stevie Ray Vaughan and recorded with Anson Funderburgh. She arrived on the San Francisco blues scene in 1986 and worked with Paris Slim and Mark Hummell, and by 1987, she was touring with the great John Lee Hooker's Coast to Coast Blues Machine as his lead off singer. In 1995, she formed The Cathy Lemons Blues Band with her long time partner Johnny Ace on bass and recorded "Dark Road," earning critical praise. Johnny Ace, Cathy's bassist and band leader, has played with Otis Rush, Victoria Spivey, John Lee Hooker, Lowell Fulson, Roscoe Gordon, Charlie Musselwhite and many more--blues credibility to die for. His biting East Coast humor and charismatic stage presence is a perfect match to the beautiful Cathy Lemons' heartfelt, unpretentious vocal style. As a blues team they regularly perform with many of the finest guitarists in the business--Rusty Zinn, Steve Freund, Anthony! Paul --and in the best blues venues and festivals the blues scene has to offer. They currently play every Sunday night at Biscuits and Blues, San Francisco' s premier blues club, with Rick Sanke on drums and Danny Carron on guitar, who formerly played with the late, great Charles Brown for 10 years. © amazon.com


Cathy Lemons was born August 13, 1958 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. She would move 15 times before the age of 13 before settling in Dallas, TX. Some of her travels took her as a child to exotic places such as Entebbe, Uganda, East Africa and Kingston, Jamaica. In 1971, her mother finally settled down for good in Dallas, Texas. The South and Texas is known for its great blues talent--"it's a place of harsh extremes, a place of sudden change--even in the weather--where people tell it just like it is," says Cathy. "You have to be tough just to survive the Texas heat--110 degrees 6 to 7 months out of the year." Commenting on what the blue scene was like in Texas when she was growing up, she says, "It was a great place for blues . I had a chance to see many fine talents in their early stages of development like Anson Funderburg, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Lou Anne Barton. The blues scene was very small--lots of great gossip--very few secrets. Texas players were more into what I consider to be real blues people--not a mish mash of rock and roll, no top 40 blues bands. No. The musicians I knew back then were studied blues artists. They knew their stuff--Magic Sam, Lowell Fulson, Freddie King, B.B. King, Little Walter, you name it-- and they knew it and loved it. In Dallas and the surrounding towns, there were not many clubs to play --and many of us were just struggling so hard to make a dime. So, Texas musicians tended to really stick together back then. There weren't too many free lance type players. You made a band--and you worked with only that band. I liked it that way. California players fail to see their greatest weakness--which is in my opinion, not enough knowledge of blues roots music and not enough respect for what a band is--when you work together as a whole for the greater good of that whole. If you let ego get in the way, the music somehow dies. Music is about giving." In her early twenties Cathy often sat in and sang with Anson Funderburge and Darryl Nulisch at a tiny, little match box club called Poor David's in Dallas. When she first heard blues played live, she knew that was what she wanted to do. in 1980, there were very few women singing blues in Dallas--very few. So, when Cathy started out , she was playing a man's game all the way. Cathy says, "When I first started singing blues--male musicians said I could never do it--they said I didn't have the voice or feel for it--that I should stick to folk or swing music which was what I had been singing. Somehow I knew that blues was for me, and I didn't listen to them. Blues hit me in my gut. I was drawn to the words and that sexy figure eight sound in the drums--reminds me of a woman's walk--hell blues is made for a woman. When I started out, I went out and bought every record I could find of the greats and I learned those songs. And then I went around and sat in and started getting jobs with bands. I will never forget this one bass player--Daryll Strehli--back in Dallas, who said I couldn't sing no blues. Well--I went to this club he was playing in a couple years after he hadn't seen or heard me sing--and I sat in and stole that show all night long. When it was over, Darryll came up to me and said he was dead wrong--and he apologized--said I sounded great! I shocked him--and it made me feel so good--like I had come full circle." Cathy says of her first blues band: "When I was 23 I tried out for a band called "Killer and the Show Cats"--it was a band filled with psychiatrists! I sang "Stormy Monday" and they loved it and hired me on the spot! They needed to replace their woman singer--Bobby who was more Holiday Inn than blues. Apparently she thought she was a stripper and a singer and was doing wild things during her performances! I guess the guys had had enough! Hilarious! I remember the drummer was a shrink and so was one of the lead guitar players. I still remember him doing the Chuck Berry duck walk--it was probably the worst duck walk ever done in history! His face would turn all white and he would stick his neck out and wiggle it back and forth. He looked like a sick duck all right--walking to the doctah! CALL THE DOCTAH! The bass player was Rene Martinez, a great guy who always encouraged me to sing. He used to say "Cathy you have a natural born talent." Rene also worked on Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitars and knew him quite. It was Rene and Pat, a commercial artist and the other lead guitarist in my band, that introduced me to Anson Funderburg and then Stevie Ray Vaughan. Rene Martinez played on the recording I made with Anson Funderburg a few years later. "Killer and the Show Cats" had a gig every Saturday night in Dallas, and I remember coming off that stage sweating from head to toe. I also remember Pat sometimes throwing me over his shoulder to get me out of the club and into a car. I used to wear these really, really, high heels and when I would drink too much, I would start to stagger. Those were wild days and I was young--what can I say--I was having a ball! I used to get all dressed up in glitter, satin and low cut velvet blouses. and just party it up. Sometimes we would go to El Taxco in this run down Spanish neighborhood in East Dallas and meet Anson and his boys there after gigs. We'd sit at one giant table and watch the Mexican gangsters roll in--all this at 4:00 in the morning! What a great time we all had!" By this time Cathy was now performing regularly in favorite Dallas blues clubs and sharing the stage with such luminaries of the '80's Texas blues scene as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Anson Funderburg, Mark Polluck , Robin Syler, and others. In 1983, She put together a band with David Watson, Anson Funderburge's x drummer and Doyle Bramhall's nephew (Doyle Bramhall was Stevie Ray Vaughan's mentor). Cathy with David's encouragement made a fine studio recording with Anson Funderburge on guitar (8 cuts), Robin Syler on guitar on 1 cut, Freddy Faro on drums, Doug Smith on piano and Rene Martinez on bass. There were 9 songs on that recording. Cathy was 24 years old and she sounded great! Cathy has a rebellious streak, and back then often explored the dark side of life-- ran with what could be termed a dangerous crowd--and eventually had to leave Texas--yes--with "sirens blazing." She struggled with a serious drug addiction off and on for many years--something that eventually led to what became insight and maturity. "When you are addicted to the serious stuff--you see things--the addiction takes you to places people don't usually go--and you learn about life in a very real way. A snap judgment on a person can mean life or death--one false step, and you can end up dead. I learned about human nature--and I learned not to judge a person's moral choices. We all just do the best we can in this life and deal out the hand we're dealt. In 1986 Cathy arrived on the Bay Area Blues scene and began working with harp player/singer Mark Hummell and blues guitarist extraordinaire Paris Slim. She even had a chance to open up and later hang out with for Paul Butterfield in 1987--a real interesting experience. During those years Cathy attracted the attention of Blues legend and star John Lee Hooker and soon became the opening singer for Hooker's touring Coast to Coast Blues Machine, performing along side some of the best blues men in the business: John Hammond, Elvin Bishop, Pine Tops Perkins, and of course John Lee Hooker, himself. Hooker was trying to get Cathy a record deal with Virgin Records at that time. She was working on songs that Hooker's friend and organ player Deacon Jones wrote. However, no real quality demo was ever made, and Virgin didn't bite the bait. "I over dubbed over Buddy Miles singing Deacon's songs, and all them songs were in the damn wrong key. Hooker was cheap---what can I say!" Cathy also says of John Lee Hooker: "I learned so much from him. When we were on the road I took care of him. He could not read or write, so I would help him order his food, read signs in the airport, hotels, stuff like that. He was very proud. Once I offered to teach him how to read, but he would have no part of that! John was very sharp,and he knew the value of a dollar--and man, could he count that money! He also believed in people. I remember he was the one who got Elvin Bishop with the Rosebud agency. He knew he was having a hard time, and he wanted to help get him back on track. A lot of times, I felt bad for John, though. Now that he is gone, I still feel bad. People were always trying to get something from him. He would let them hustle him--just out of love for the person. He'd look for the good not the bad. But I think it wears you down. John at heart was a sweet and kind person. He was always encouraging to me. He said "Cathy--you a rrr rolling stone." And lord, back in those days I sure was, staying in hotel rooms in the Tenderloin or at his home in Redwood City, struggling with my demons. The last time I spoke with John, I said, "Aren't you proud of me John? I come through allright and I'm still singing!" He said, :"I am proud of you--you come a la la long way, Cathy." And he meant it. To me he was one of the greatest blues singers that ever lived, and it was a great honor to have known him, may he rest in peace." Cathy Lemons eventually wanted to headline her own band. She knew she would have to take the harder road, so she pulled out of the Coast to Coast Blues Machine with John Lee Hooker and went back to live in San Francisco. She met with some hard times there but evenually met up with a very brilliant San Francisco based guitarist, Dave Workman who was originally a Columbus, Ohio blues star. Cathy says of Dave, "Oh he loved blues! He was very versatile and had played with many a blues great including Koko Taylor and Lonnie Mack. I played with him off and on for almost seven years and we really had a good sound. We made a couple of demos that I recently listened too, and they were really quite good." During the Lemons/Workman band years Cathy started to get her life together. She went back to school to study first at City College in 1990 and then San Francisco State University where she graduated magna cum laude in 1995 with a BA in English Literature. Her father, a retired English professor wanted her to try teaching at the university level, but Cathy just couldn't give up the music: "I loved the academic world and learning, but when I hadto make a career decision, I could not give up my music. That was around the time I started seeing Johnny Ace, my partner. Although I knew John since 1987, I always loved John as a person. We always had a wonderful connection. After I graduated from college, we teamed up in 1995 and started playing together regularly." Since 1995 Cathy Lemons with her fabulous bass playing partner Johnny Ace, have worked with some of the finest musicians on the scene: Paris Slim, Steve Freund, David Maxwell, Danny Carron (guitarist for Charles Brown), Rusty Zinn, Ron Thompson, Anthony Paule, Johnny Talbot (guitarist for Bobbie 'Blue' Bland) ... the list goes on. Cathy Lemons and Johnny Ace recorded their first album, "Dark Road" on The Saloon Recordings label in late 1999. The CD received fabulous reviews from every major blues magazine in the United States. They are working on new, original, blues-based songs now for a second CD. Currently, they perform at all of San Francisco's premiere blues clubs: Biscuits & Blues, Lou's, and The Saloon, plus some of the out of town blues spots such as Mojo's Lounge, JJ's San Jose, and others. Pierre Le Corre is their lead guitarist along with Artie "Stixs" Chavez on drums. The Cathy Lemons Johnny Ace Blues Band has performed at Slims in San Francisco and the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma. For festivals, they have performed at the Redwood Coast's "Blues By The Bay" in Eureka, California, The Sacramento Heritage Festival, the Metro Fountain Blues Festival in San Jose, the Stockton Blues Festival, the Rumsey Blues Festival, and most recently the Mission Veijo Jazz Fest, among many others. You will no doubt be hearing more from this sultry, soulful singer and her partner, JohnnyAce, a consumate show man in his own right. They are a great team, so be on the look out for their next CD! © www.lemonace.com/cathy.htm


A.O.O.F.C said...


p/w if needed is aoofc

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the chance to listen to Cathy Lemons Blues Band. I have never heard of her before but will certainly keep an eye open for more of her music



A.O.O.F.C said...

Thanks, Rhod. It's great to receive your comments. Cathy is a very talented lady. I hope more albums appear from her. TTU soon