Jim PughIn his career Jim Pugh has performed with Johnny Taylor, Little Milton and Otis Rush, recorded with Etta James, Van Morrison, Robert Cray and B.B. King and has produced over a dozen CDs, including Robert Cray, Tommy Castro and The Gospel Hummingbirds. A member of the Robert Cray Band for over 20 years, his songs have been performed by his former boss as well as Tower Of Power and Guitar Shorty. Pugh has played on over 20 Grammy-nominated recordings, five of them winners.
"Some call it 'soul jaz'’ or 'BBQ blues'," says Pugh of the music he started playing at Dottie Ivory’s Stardust Lounge in San Francisco in 1973. Former fan dancer, Dottie Ivory was a great singer who’s rendition of Dinah Washington’s "What A Difference A Day Makes" was the highlight of her nightly set.
He was just 19 years old and new in town and the Stardust Lounge — a corner bar with a tiny bandstand and even smaller dance floor — could be a rough place. "Some nights Dottie would sing with a pool cue in her hand," Pugh recalls. "That kind of place."
But Jimmy McCracklin and Charles Brown would come in and the youngster got to play behind Joe Louis Walker and Fillmore Slim and Mel Brown. House organist Louis Madison (former Famous Flame) helped Pugh along. "I’d watch him play and get him to show me stuff, and when he had a gig somewhere else I’d take his place for the night. After awhile, they’d let me play the whole week," he says.
He’s come a long way from Dottie’s, writing songs like "The One in the Middle," which was named song of the year by LIVING BLUES MAGAZINE, performing on David Letterman, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brian and working with Etta James, Chris Isaak and Robert Cray. Leaving the Robert Cray Band, Pugh continues to write, play and rack up accolades.
Recently he’s founded the non-profit LITTLE VILLAGE FOUNDATION to record and promote deserving but underappreciated talents.
From The Waterfront Blues Festival
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Blue Bot BDR101
Alex Baum, bass
Gaylord Birch, drums
Bowen Brown, drums
Steve Evans, bass
Steve Lucky, piano
Anthony Paule, guitar, vocals
Jim Pugh, organ, piano
Paul Revelli, drums