ABS (France) magazine 2015

Lonnie Shields – The Blues Soul of Lonnie Shields – JSP5806

Most blues fans discovered Lonnie Shields through his excellent album, “Portrait”, released by Rooster Records – the first disc of Delta Blues music recorded by Jim O’Neal’s studio following its move to Clarksdale in 1987. As a guitarist, singer and song-writer, Lonnie Shields possesses what many current-day musicians can no longer achieve: the ability to perform a blues interwoven with gospel and soul. Having earnt his place performing with the renowned Jelly Roll Kings, he followed in footsteps of Sam Carr from whom, albeit with a lot more talent, he inherited his humility and kindness that shows through in the interview on the DVD. It was Big Jack Johnson who encouraged Shields to “put some soul into his blues”, and BB King’s lyrics that planted in him the desire to compose his own songs. Lonnie Shields collaborated with John Stedman on several occasions in the 1990s, releasing two blues albums with JSP Records in London, tinged with hints of soul: “Tired of Waiting” in 1996 and “Blues is on Fire” in 1997; with Johnny Rawls supervising the production!

Whilst belonging to the “Deep South” tradition of blues, Lonnie Shield’s music nevertheless maintains obvious traces of gospel and soul, which is precisely what makes it so original. This can clearly be seen in this precious DVD which has received numerous awards – firstly, because the DVD represents the only filmed rendition of Lonnie Shields performing in England which we gratefully owe to Blues Archive, recorded in April of 1998 during his performance at the world-famous 100 Club in London, and containing eight live pieces including his new released compositions with JSP Records but equally because the DVD presents an extremely interesting interview, entwined amongst the songs, in which Lonnie Shields discusses his relations with Sam Carr, Frank Frost, and Johnny Rawls, expressing great gratitude towards Jim O’Neal… The DVD also exposes previously unpublished photos from the archives.

Lonnie Shields released his last album in 2012, and performed in his state, Arkansas, at the King Biscuit festival in Helena. Today, he is only 59 years old, but unfortunately makes very few appearances in festivals, and on the rare occasion when he does it is very often close to his home.