James Cotton Honored With Mississippi Governor’s 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award
James Cotton has been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Mississippi Arts Commission. The blues icon, who was born in Tunica, Mississippi, will be one of five individuals who’ll be presented with the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts at a ceremony at Belhaven University Center for the Arts in Clarion, Mississippi on February 20, 2014. The Governor’s Arts Awards "are presented annually to outstanding writers, artists, performers, craftsmen and educators who have made significant and lasting contributions through their work, as well as to corporations or organizations on the basis of their dedication to arts advancement." Award recipients "do not have to reside in Mississippi, but they must have significant ties to the state through some years of residency." Recipients are chosen by a group of industry peers who select candidates from a pool of nominees put forward by the general public. Cotton now joins an elite list of Mississippi musicians who have also been recipients of the arts award in the past including B.B. King, Little Milton Campbell, and Bo Diddley. For more information about the recipients of the 2014 Governor’s Awards, see here.
Cotton’s latest milestone furthers what has already been an outstanding year for the legendary harpist since the release of his newest CD, Cotton Mouth Man. The CD featured special guests Gregg Allman, Rosebud artist and 2013 GRAMMY-nominee Ruthie Foster, Warren Haynes, Joe Bonamassa, Delbert McClinton, and Keb’ Mo’. The record drew raves from all corners including the Chicago Tribune who declared "Listen to Cotton’s harmonica playing on the album – gritty, gutsy, ferociously uninhibited – and you’re hearing what great blues harp work is all about. No wonder they call him ‘Superharp.’" The CD entered Billboard’s Blues chart in the top five, hit Billboard’s Heatseekers Album chart’s top ten and spent seven consecutive weeks topping the Roots Music Report’s Blues Radio Chart, among other chart successes.
Congratulations to James Cotton for the recognition with the 2014 Governor’s Arts Award. To catch Cotton performing live, see Tour Dates >>
James Cotton On NPR’s World Cafe And House Of Blues Radio, Plus Cotton Mouth Man Tops Roots Music Report’s Blues Radio Chart For 7 Consecutive Weeks
James Cotton will be featured on NPR’s World Cafe on September 5, 2013. This marks Cotton’s second NPR appearance in recent months, having also been featured on their flagship program, Weekend Edition, on May 11, 2013 with current CD collaborator Keb’ Mo’. World Cafe, an institution for music discovery is heard on over 200 stations nationwide and features interviews and performances with celebrated artists across diverse genres. To check local listings for the broadcast featuring James Cotton please see World Cafe broadcast schedule.
Cotton was also recently featured on House of Blues’ radio show, The BluesMobile, hosted by Elwood Blues (a.k.a Dan Akroyd) on June 15-16, 2013. The title track from his new record, Cotton Mouth Man, was chosen as Elwood’s "Blues Breaker" song of the week. Produced by Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi), Cotton Mouth Man features high profile friends and mutual admirers including Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, Rosebud artist and 2013 GRAMMY-nominee Ruthie Foster, Joe Bonamassa, Delbert McClinton and Keb’ Mo’.
Cotton Mouth Man topped Roots Music Report’s Blues Radio Chart for seven consecutive weeks (6/7/13 – 7/25/13) and, as of this writing, it has remained in the chart’s top ten since its release on May 7, 2013. The CD has also topped the Living Blues Radio Chart for the past two months. The new album has continuously garnered rave reviews from major media outlets with features in Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Tribune in addition to a Living Blues Magazine 10-page cover story. The Alternate Root Magazine recently proclaimed about the new release, "Mr. Cotton once again proves that besides being an A list harp man, he is also a force of nature. Cotton Mouth Man features James’ high-compression blues harmonica-playing, weaving throughout his song tales that act as a living history of the Blues."
Wall Street Journal: The Fabric of His Life
“James Cotton, often described as the greatest blues harmonica player alive today, headlines this year’s Chicago Blues Festival, anchoring the final night’s program, “Old School, New Millennium,” in Grant Park Sunday night. His fans should be forgiven, though, if they find it difficult to think of the stage-dominating Young Turk—who helped take electrified blues from neighborhood venues in Memphis, Tenn., and Chicago to rock palaces and arenas around the world—as “old” anything.” Read the rest at the Wall Street Journal »
By Barry Mazor
JAMES COTTON TO APPEAR ON NPR’S WEEKEND EDITION SATURDAY ON MAY 11, 2013
NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday will feature blues harmonica legend James Cotton on Saturday, May 11. Host Scott Simon talks with Cotton about the new CD, Cotton Mouth Man, which was released on May 7. Fellow bluesman Keb Mo (who appears on the CD) joins the conversation to discuss Cotton’s status as a true blues legend, and one of the all-time masters of the instrument.
Cotton Mouth Man premiered on April 29 on the USA Today website with a full album stream. Rolling Stone said, “James Cotton is a world-class harmonica-playing bluesman. Cotton Mouth Man is an upbeat, warm blues album boasting fine musicianship and Cotton’s undeniable spirit.”
Cotton is featured on the cover of the current issue of Living Blues magazine. The 10-page cover story, written by blues scholar David Whiteis, takes an in-depth look at Cotton’s entire career, including his learning directly from Sonny Boy Williamson, recording for Sun Records (before Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash), working with Howlin’ Wolf, touring with Muddy Waters, leading his own band, and the absolute joy he had recording the new CD.
Cotton Mouth Man was recorded in Nashville and produced by Grammy-winning producer/ songwriter/ drummer Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Joe Louis Walker, Susan Tedeschi). The album is a trip through sounds and scenes from Cotton’s long and storied career. Helping Cotton tell his stories and showcase his music are guests Gregg Allman, Joe Bonamassa, Ruthie Foster, Warren Haynes, Delbert McClinton and Keb Mo. Other vocals are handled by Darrell Nulisch, who has been singing in Cotton’s road band for many years.
The other members of Cotton’s road band — Jerry Porter, Noel Neal, and Tom Holland — are also on board for some songs. Forming the core of the backing band on the CD are Hambridge (drums), Rob McNelley (guitar), Chuck Leavell (keyboards) and Glenn Worf (bass). Tommy MacDonald and Colin Linden each add guitar to one track. Cotton, who after a bout with throat cancer turned the vocal duties over to others, was inspired by the sessions to return to the microphone, singing his own Bonnie Blue (the name of the plantation where he was born), and making Cotton Mouth Man the most personal, celebratory and just plain fun recording of his seven-decade career.
APRIL 2013: USA Today Streaming James Cotton’s New Star Studded CD, Cotton Mouth Man
Cotton Mouth Man follows Cotton’s 2009 Grammy-nominated album, Giant, of which USA Today proclaimed, "Since 1966 James Cotton has been carrying the Chicago sound to the world. On Giant, he pours 75 years of living into that harmonica and out comes devastating and powerful blasts of notes undiminished by age." On Cotton Mouth Man, the thirteen tracks continue to cover subjects taken from Cotton’s storied history and almost 70 year career in music. The CD contains seven songs co-written by Cotton with Grammy-winning producer Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Joe Louis Walker, Susan Tedeschi) and features guest appearances from renowned Blues, Rock, and Roots musicians including Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, Rosebud artist and 2013 GRAMMY-nominee Ruthie Foster, Joe Bonamassa, Delbert McClinton, and Keb Mo.
As Cotton garners wide spread attention for his forthcoming CD, including the 10 page cover story feature in Living Blues Magazine‘s April issue, Cotton continues to tour extensively both nationally and internationally with his band.
APRIL 2013: James Cotton Living Blues Magazine Cover Story
Harmonica legend and Rosebud’s most recent signing, James Cotton, is featured on the cover of the April issue of Living Blues Magazine. The in-depth cover story and interview takes a thorough look at Cotton’s life. Starting from his humble beginnings as the ninth child of a rural Mississippi sharecropper family, the article recounts Cotton’s legendary meeting with Sonny Boy Williamson (II) at the age of nine. This meeting, where the young Cotton performed the theme song to Williamson’s radio show note-for-note, led to Williamson’s mentorship of Cotton for the next six years. The feature also highlights Cotton’s days playing the Memphis Blues scene, recording at Sun Records with Howlin’ Wolf as well as under his own name, plus his twelve year tenure on the road with the late Muddy Waters, a Rosebud artist until his passing. Cotton said of Muddy, "I love Muddy… I loved every minute of it. If I had to do it all over again, I’d be glad to do it… I watched him for 12 years and noticed everything he did." The article then covers Cotton starting his own Blues band in Chicago, where he secured their first gig with help from Paul Butterfield and Rosebud artist, Elvin Bishop. Touring constantly and performing with acts such as Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, Santana, and Steve Miller throughout the next several decades Cotton became, as Rolling Stone proclaimed, "among the greats of all time."
Living Blues notes that Cotton is still dishing out "his legendary multi-octave harmonic prowess (to say nothing of his hurricane-like wind power) with undiminished force" on his new album, Cotton Mouth Man. Set for release on May 7, 2013, the new album features an impressive lineup of guest collaborators including Gregg Allman, Joe Bonamassa, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, Delbert McClinton, and Rosebud artist, 2013 Grammy-nominated Ruthie Foster. Cotton will be touring worldwide in support of Cotton Mouth Man.
MARCH 2013: James Cotton’s New Album, Cotton Mouth Man, Out May 7, 2013
James Cotton will release Cotton Mouth Man on May 7, 2013 via Alligator Records. Produced by GRAMMY-winning Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Joe Louis Walker, Susan Tedeschi), Cotton Mouth Man features seven new tracks co-written by Cotton and Hambridge. These new tracks were inspired by Cotton’s colorful and sometimes perilous life and his memories of the Mississippi Delta, Memphis, Chicago, Sun Records, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Muddy Waters (a Rosebud artist until his passing). Cotton Mouth Man features guest appearances from a number of Blues, Rock, and Roots greats including Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, Rosebud artist and 2013 GRAMMY-nominee Ruthie Foster, Joe Bonamassa, Delbert McClinton, and Keb Mo. The core backing band on the new album is composed of Hambridge (drums), Rob McNelley (guitar), Chuck Leavell (keyboards), Glenn Worf (bass), as well as Tommy MacDonald and Colin Linden each adding guitar to one track.
Cotton, who after a bout with throat cancer turned his vocal duties over to others, was inspired during Cotton Mouth Man’s sessions to return to the microphone. About his new album and vocal revival he stated, "I feel so happy about the music in this album. The Blues is all about feeling – – if I don’t feel it, I can’t play it. My hope is that everyone who listens, feels it. I know I sure did!" As of this writing, James has just returned from a series of dates in Japan to begin an extensive worldwide tour in support of Cotton Mouth Man.
FEBRUARY 2013: GRAMMY Award Winning Blues Legend, James Cotton Joins The Rosebud Agency
The Rosebud Agency proudly welcomes GRAMMY Award winning Blues legend and harmonica master, James Cotton, for exclusive worldwide booking representation. Cotton has recorded almost thirty solo albums throughout his career. His long list of awards and accolades includes being inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, a GRAMMY win, four GRAMMY nominations, seven Blues Music Awards, and the addition of one of his own harmonicas to the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent collection. Cotton has performed and collaborated with Blues giants including Sonny Boy Williamson (who he learned harmonica from as a small boy), Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Freddie King and Muddy Waters (a Rosebud artist until his passing). In fact, he stayed by Muddy’s side for over a decade and became the leader of his backing band during that time. Cotton has also shared the stage with rock greats including Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, Santana, Steve Miller and many others.
Cotton grew up on a cotton plantation and, as a very small boy, he received a fifteen-cent harmonica for Christmas and mastered it almost immediately. He began listening to Sonny Boy Williamson’s King Biscuit Time and learned to imitate the older bluesman note for note. In 1944, after both of Cotton’s parents had passed away, his uncle took the nine-year-old to meet Williamson. Cotton’s talent amazed Williamson, who took the youngster under his wing. He spent many nights traveling with Williamson to juke joints all over the area; often playing for tips outside, he sometimes drew crowds to rival Williamson’s. When Williamson left for Milwaukee in 1950, Cotton, then fifteen, took over his band. Over the course of the next fifteen years Cotton joined Howlin’ Wolf’s band and toured with him all over the South, cut a record for Sun Records which included the classic "Cotton Crop Blues", and joined Muddy Waters’ band. By 1966, Cotton was ready to head out on his own and since has become, as stated by the Chicago Tribune, "a key link on the chain of great Blues harmonica players…".