‘A Rock N Rollin’ Lovefest’ for former KPCC deejay Juke Logan features Dave Alvin, James Harman, Rick Holmstrom, the Delgado Brothers and many other friends
By Bliss Bowen 04/11/2013
When veteran bluesman John “Juke” Logan penned that lyric for his 2005 album “The Truth Will Rock You,” he never expected friends would rally to show him the worth of his own words. But that’s precisely what’s happening. Logan, nearly as renowned for his earthy, giving spirit as for his exuberant harmonica playing, will be celebrated with a marathon “Rock N Rollin’ Lovefest” Sunday by Dave Alvin, James Harman, the Rick Holmstrom Band with Junior Watson, the Delgado Brothers, the Bonedaddys, King Cotton, Mike Eldred Trio, Bill Lynch & Jodi Siegel, Gary Allegretto Band, Joey Harris of the Beat Farmers with Mojo Nixon, Buddy Zapata’s Junkshop Republic and Shawn Mafia & the Ten Cent Thrills. Their reason for gathering: To send Logan a mighty blast of love as he continues battling esophageal cancer.
If you’ve seen TV’s “Roseanne,” you’ve likely heard Logan’s harmonica dancing over the opening credits. In addition to three proper solo albums, a live set with Doug MacLeod and 2010’s “Twist-O-Lettz” collaboration with Rick Holmstrom and Stephen Hodges, Logan’s resume boasts gigs with Albert Collins, Ry Cooder, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Los Lobos, and too many commercials to mention. All that — plus a killer stash of vintage vinyl — informed the encyclopedic knowledge he cheerfully aired while co-hosting KPCC’s “Friday Night Blues Revue” with Ellen Bloom (who’ll co-emcee Sunday).
“Getting people together to put on a party for Juke Logan is probably the easiest gig ever,” observes event organizer Beth Oliver, who became buddies with Logan in the early 1990s while booking shows at the Hollywood Athletic Club. “It’s been easy to do because so many people love him.”
“Before everything else it’s his personality people respond to,” says Alvin, with whom Logan’s played on and off since 1986. “He’s a hustler in the good sense of the word. He’s always pretty positive.”
“I remember one night when Lucinda Williams was [sitting in with us],” recalls Holmstrom, whose trio has frequently backed Logan. “She tried to sing a blues, forgot the words and laid my guitar on the stage while walking off yelling, ‘I SUCK!’ We convinced her to get back up and she sang one of her own songs and just tore it up. Juke was especially fired up that night and Lucinda kept telling him, ‘Settle down, Juke!’ But that’s the thing about Juke; his enthusiasm is impossible to corral. It’s infectious. That’s why I’m not surprised to see him fighting so hard now. He’s all heart.”
I can attest to that personally. Logan was one of the first people I befriended in LA, and he’s remained a significant presence in my life. He schooled me in blues, his gospel of “groove grease,” and the art of living with a generous heart. Mine is just one among dozens of stories that fellow artists have to share.
“If we have any success at all, it’s because of him,” says Delgado Brothers guitarist Joey Delgado, who credits Logan with bringing the band “back from the brink” when he signed them to his label, Mocombo Records, and co-produced their 1999 album “Let’s Get Back.” He then shopped it to John Mayall, who recorded two Delgados songs.
“My brother Steve had never written a lyric before,” Delgado explains. “All of that’s because of Juke. We were his first signed act. I love the contract: a one-page agreement. It was beautiful. Nobody was ever gonna give us a deal like that. He was so passionate about what we did; the more raw, the more real, the more he loved it. That’s Juke.”
Alvin chuckles while marveling at Logan’s “physicality” and a late-’80s studio rehearsal. “We were bombarded with the volume of this band next door … you could barely talk. The rehearsal room had double doors, OK? So Juke’s finally had the last straw, he’s mad as hell, like, ‘I’m gonna go kick some fucking ass over there.’ He grabs the doorknob, turns it — and this may have something to do with it was kind of a rundown facility, but it was still fucking amazing — and Juke pulled the door off the goddamn hinges. We all just stood there and made a mental note: Never mess with Juke. I think even Juke was surprised. … Juke is a survivor. He is a tough guy.
“He’s good at bringing out the best in the people he plays with. When I played with Juke regularly, I’d quit two bands [the Blasters and X] that were pretty successful and I was struggling on my own, trying to find my own voice, and Juke pulled me through a lot of weird situations. His hustler sensibility inspired me and got me through what in hindsight was one of the roughest times in my life.”
At Logan’s request, Sunday’s show will raise funds for esophageal cancer research; all profits will go to the American Institute for Cancer Research. (Both AICR and National Institute for Cancer Research declared April Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month.) Logan will be watching a live stream (viewable at ustream.tv/channel/john-juke-logan-fundraiser) from his home.
“I’m bummed he won’t be there but happy it’ll be streamed to him live so he can feel the love,” says Holmstrom. “I think just knowing that Juke’s watching will send the energy through the roof.”
As usual, Logan claims the last word: “I guarantee, even though [the cancer’s] at a very challenging point now — which is why I won’t be among y’all — I'm still in warrior mode and will send all the bastard cancer cells back to hell from whence they came," he says via email.
“Music and the positive hang that goes with it — i.e., this wang-dang-doodle by my most treasured musical brothers and sisters — is absolutely the most powerful weapon against the cancer, not to mention the donations to the research institute. THANK YOU is not a strong enough word. The most powerful of thank-yous must rest upon Ms. Beth Oliver. Props and shout-outs also to all [donating] their time and effort, and, of course, my musical posse who saw fit to gather and kick almighty musical ass on my behalf. I will never forget this soulful gesture on all of your parts ...
“BIG LOVE to you all... Now let the rockin’ begin.”
Blues Revue for John “Juke” Logan: A Rock N Rollin’ Lovefest and Fundraiser for Esophageal Cancer Research is at 2 p.m. Sunday at Fais Do Do, 5257 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles; $10 suggested donation. For more information, call (323) 931-4636. facebook.com/JohnJukeLogan?ref=nf, mocomborecords.com/juke.html, aicr.org