Big LLou and the BLUESVILLE REVUE
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Big LLou and the BLUESVILLE REVUE

Chicago, Illinois, United States

Chicago, Illinois, United States
Blues Soul

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"Big LLou Johnson "The Voice""

Most readers of these pages will know Big Llou Johnson’s voice as the between-song tour guide of sorts through the streets of Sirius/XM Radio B.B. King’s Bluesville. In addition to a career as voice-over artist extraordinaire, actor, and commercial jingle man, Johnson puts his pipes to use diggin’ into the blues. He’s released his debut disc—They Call Me Big Llou—on his own Goldenvoice label. Coming up on Chicago’s West Side, cutting his teeth in the Baptist church choir, Johnson didn’t lack for exposure to soul power, and it comes through on the album. Johnson projects a vibe time-tested by the sensual lowdown rumble of Barry White, and the suggestive lights-down-low player pose of Teddy Pendergrass, with classic Motown polish. Produced by Johnson and Chicago musician Russ Green (who provides harmonica throughout), the album features an A-list of Chicago blues musicians. Mike Wheeler, who’s played and recorded with everyone from Koko Taylor to Big James and the Chicago Playboys, lends a distinctly West Side twang a la Eddie C. Campbell. - Living Blues Review


"Nice selection of tunes and Llou’s soulful vocals all contribute to an excellent first effort"

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Big Llou Johnson over the past couple of years at the Blues Music Award’s where’s he’s served as a master of ceremonies for what is the highlight of the Blues year. You also know Llou as the voice behind B.B. King’s 10 commandments, and it was in that capacity that Llou helped me get through one of my darkest days when my sister passed away. Big Llou doesn’t know the story, but I want to thank you now, big man, for that. And I promise to share the story with you soon.

Fast forward to this year’s International Blues Challenge. Big Llou posted on Facebook that anyone with a Blues Society card should hit him up for a copy of his new CD, They Call Me Big Llou. I caught up with him on Beale Street and was pleasantly surprised when I threw the disc in for a spin. The big man can sing, and how.

The disc opens up with “They Call Me Big Llou”, an open admission that Llou is not a little man. “They call me Big Llou…cause I weigh 300 pounds…I can stick and I can move…and I can really throw it down!” Big Llou is definitely a gentleman, but make no mistake about his intentions, “I can turn you on…if you let me take you home…treat you like a queen…and never do you wrong!”

We contrast this gentlemanly behavior with our next cut, “Dogg.” Here we find Llou operating without any false pretenses, “You know a player going to play…run a game every day…what more can I say…I’m just your average hound!” Llou’s on the prowl and he’s just following his instincts. If you still have any doubts at all, the next cut, “Git Me Some,” will dispel any such foolish notions. “I don’t want you baby…for the rest of my life…ain’t trying to be your husband…ain’t trying to make you my wife…I ain’t going to stay here baby…I don’t want to spend the night…I’ll be gone by sun up and home…by the morning light…just want to be your plaything…don’t even need to be the one…and if the truth be told…I only want to get me some!” I am absolutely positive that the big man has more than gotten his share of “some.”

Russ Green’s soulful harmonica provides the sweet intro for “Rock Me Baby.” Llou has a sweet baritone voice that reminds me of another Lou --- Mr. Rawls --- and Big Llou’s voice is very seductive as he sings, “Rock me, baby…rock me all night long” in very fine fashion. I hear trumpet in the background as Llou moves onto “Flesh and Blood.” “Come sit beside me…that will do for now…the night has come and left me….just the light that you allow…come speak my name….fill my head with all such foolish dreams…my flesh and blood is no more real to me…than what it seems.” Big Llou is definitely in love and very appreciative of the woman who loves him so.

“Life is for the living…life comes hard for some…the rest of us…we’re flesh and blood…meek and hard on our own.” Both tempo and attitude pick up with our next cut, “Your Sweetness is my Weakness”. “The way you give me your sweet love…any place & time…when you look at me…I get weak in the knees…every time…your sweetness is my weakness!”

Llou’s playful attitude comes back out on “Three Hundred Pounds of Joy.” “Take me baby…as your loving toy…you’re getting 300 pounds of heavenly joy…this is it…this is what you get.” Llou is honest to the pound and he’s very happy to be this woman’s loving toy. “This is it…this is it…look what you get!”

Llou closes his disc with a rendition of “Help Me.” “Help me…I can’t do it all by myself…you gotta help me…I can’t do it all by myself…if you don’t help me baby….I’m going to find somebody else!” Llou is clear on what he needs and if his current woman won’t help him through, he will find someone else that will.

I’ve enjoyed They Call Me Big Llou. The whole disc reflects the playful side of Llou Johnson, front and center, and that isn’t a bad thing. A nice selection of tunes, a great band behind him and Llou’s soulful vocals all contribute to an excellent first effort by Big Llou and I’m looking forward to his next disc as he continues to find his stride in the Blues world. The disc was released on Goldenvoice Audio Records and can be purchased on their website, www.goldenvoiceaudio.com. I strongly suggest that you look the site up and “Get Yourself Some!”

--- Kyle Deibler - Blues Bytes


"“They Call Me Big Llou” by Big Llou Johnson is Silky, Sultry Blues"

They call him Big Llou, the well-known voice of the “Ten Commandments of the Blues” on B.B. King’s Bluesville, because he weights 300 pounds — and he wants the world to know it. Sporting an instantly recognizable, famously baritone voice and, for those that have seen him in person, a powerful build and an endlessly stylistic appeal, Big Llou has recently released his first solo album, They Call me Big Llou. The album grooves along funk, traditional Chicago blues, and some slow, slutry numbers as Llou graces the wax with his smooth-as-silk vocals.

The tracks are a diverse musical showcase with consistent themes of love, sex, and blues. The album starts off with “They Call Me Big Llou”, a Chicago blues styled staple, prominently featuring Llou’s trademark voice as he woos a woman. “Dogg” features a more funk-driven, soul style, while “Flesh and Blood” is a sultry slow jam about a burning love. As sexy as the tracks are on the album, it’s no surprise that Llou expertly covers Barry White’s “Your Sweetness is my Weakness,” complete with inviting backup vocals.

The eight-track album clocks in fairly short but sweet, and with two covers, the all-too-fitting ”Three Hundred Pounds of Heavenly Joy” and “Rock Me Baby”, listeners may be left waiting anxiously for new material from the old-school-cool renaissance bluesman. Ultimately, They Call me Big Llou is a great collection of memorable tracks. Big Llou’s vocals are mesmerizing — a fact re-enforced by his many, many appearances on film & radio as a voice actor — and his voice is no less powerful in song. Creating the sound behind the man, the band is composed of top notch talent. Russ Green, playing support on harmonica, shines in all of the right ways. Charles Pryor takes up the trumpet to strong effect, often creating the smooth Jazz that gives slower tracks the extra edge. Mike Wheeler on guitar gives the album that Chicago Blues backbone, while Ronny Hicks, who takes up the keyboard, provides great fills and solos. Dejuan Auston keeps a strong beat on drums, and Armirris Palmore & Keith Stewart make up the essential background vocals. - American Blues Scene


"Hypnotic and makes women want to melt."

You can hear his deep bass voice on XM Sirius Satellite Radio as he announces for the B.B. King Bluesville radio network. And now you can hear that same outstanding personality as he expresses the blues on his debut CD, They Call Me Big LLou . Big Llou Johnson is a man’s man with a vocal presence that is commanding without being harsh. And yet his voice resonates over you, soothing and velvety; it’s the kind of voice that’s hypnotic and makes women want to melt.



Big Llou, a native of Chicago who hails from the West Side, put together a select group of songs that features not only some wonderful blues standards such as “Help Me” and “Rock Me Baby, but includes some funk, R&B, and a touch of contemporary jazz, along with an original written by Johnson, “They Call Me Big Llou”. And Big Llou can’t help himself. He’s just out-and-out sexy and he knows it, thus his decision to put his vocal skills to use on this debut CD. With a degree in Broadcast Communications from Chicago’s Columbia College and experience as a live event personality, along with film and theater acting, it was natural for him to add quips throughout, with a chuckle here and there. It takes the CD to a whole different level, making him endearing, approachable, fun and yes, so sexy.



Russ Green, the producer of Johnson’s self-titled CD, is also a very talented harp player as evidenced on the cuts he performs on. He plays behind Big Llou, not over him, with some tasty fills and solos. Green’s musical history is impressive; he’s toured Europe, performing at prominent blues fests in England, Scotland, Chicago and San Francisco, earning positive reviews and gaining attention. With his producer hat on, Green picked the band members to play on this project featuring accomplished Chicago musicians. There’s Mike Wheeler on guitar (who also plays with Big James & The Chicago Playboys and with Peaches Staten) who is a headliner in his own right. Bassist Ricky Nelson is a versatile musician who also played drums for Koko Taylor and Big Time Sarah, along with bass for the late guitarist Chico Banks and more. Ronnie Hicks is on keys; he backs numerous blues artists such as Cicero Blake, Nellie “Tiger” Travis, Artie White and the list goes on. Dejuan Austin is on drums and also plays with Ronnie Hicks in Masheen Company. Charles Pryor on trumpet is a musician of choice, evidenced by his many appearances on festivals and club stages. - Chicago Blues Guide


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Big LLou grew up on the west side of Chicago and was influenced greatly by the blues greats of Chess Records. He cut his musical chops by singing in the local Baptist as well as performing in a popular local cover band during the 70's. His return to gospel music saw him tour the US and Europe in a successful stage play "A Piece of My Soul". His love for the blues saw him record his first cd which was called "Silky Sultry Blues" - American Blues Scene, Hypnotic and makes women want to melt. "Chicago Blues Guide". He is a sought after emcee, hosting some of the biggest events in blues including, The Blues Music Awards in Memphis, The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise as well as festivals across the US. He has also appeared in films such as Barbershop, Let's Go to Prison and currently has a deal with Disney. Big LLou is like having Howlin Wolf, Barry White and Willie Dixon all rolled into one expressive fireball performance.