PAUL OSCHER "ALONE WITH THE BLUES"
Paul Oscher, award-winning blues singer, songwriter, recording artist, and multi-instrumentalist, (harmonica, guitar, piano, melodica, and bass harp), first came to national attention as Muddy Waters’ harmonica player, 1967-1972 following in the footsteps of Little Walter, Junior Wells, James Cotton, and Big Walter Horton. Paul Oscher was the first white musician in the world to become a full-time member of a black blues band of this stature.
Born in Brooklyn New York, Paul started playing the blues at the age of twelve when his uncle gave him a marine band harmonica and was taught the rudiments of blues harmonica by Jimmy Johnson, a southern medicine show harp player. By the time Paul was fifteen he had hooked up with guitarist/singer Little Jimmy Mae and was playing professionally in soul revues at black clubs like the Baby Grand, The 521 Cub, Seville Lounge and the Nitecap.
In the mid-l960s, Paul met Muddy Waters back stage at the Apollo Theatre and in 1967, when Muddy came to New York without a harp player, Paul sat in with the band. He played two numbers: "Baby Please Don’t Go" and "Blow Winds Blow." Muddy hired him on the spot. Working alongside blues greats like Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Sammy Lawhorn, Pee Wee Madison and S.P. Leary, Paul learned the deep Blues phrasing and timing characteristic of his music today. Paul lived on the Southside of Chicago in Muddy Waters’ house along with Otis Spann. Spann taught Paul the piano. Paul learned the guitar by looking over the shoulders of Muddy and Sammy Lawhorn.
While in Muddy’s band, Oscher toured the US and abroad and played all kinds of venues from the rough and tumble juke joints of the chitlin’ circuit to the major concert stages of the world and during that time backed up major blues artists such as John Lee Hooker, Earl Hooker, Son House, Fred McDowell, Lightning Hopkins, T. Bone Walker, Albert King, Magic Sam and Big Mama Thornton. Paul recorded a number of records with Muddy Waters for the legendary Chess Records label in Chicago. These recordings and live performances would influence an entire generation of young players. Oscher remained in Muddy’s band till the end of 1971 when he left to form his own band using the name Brooklyn Slim.
In 1976, Oscher toured Europe with Louisiana Red and continued playing with his own band in the New York area as well as backing up Big Joe Turner, Doc Pomus, Victoria Spivey, Big Walter Horton and Johnny Copeland.
In the 80s, Oscher quit music—he’d gotten tired of the life and the disappointments—and got a day job. But he couldn’t stay away from the blues for long and in 1992 hooked up with piano players Dave Maxwell and Bob Gaddy and his old drummer Candy MacDonald and started playing again. His career took off and he made several recordings for Mojo Productions and Lollipop Records under the name Brooklyn Slim.
In 1994, Paul toured in the US with Jimmy Rogers and the Muddy Waters Tribute Band, and in 1995 he recorded The Deep Blues of Paul Oscher for Blues Planet records which led to a second CD with Viceroy Records, Knockin’ on the Devils’ Door and a W.C. Handy Award Nomination.
As Muddy Waters’ harp player, Paul Oscher inspired a whole generation of blues players including Rick Estrin, Jerry Portnoy, Paul Delay, and William Clark. Paul Oscher is the real deal—he learned his blues from the Masters. He plays only the real, unadulterated, down-in-the-alley, gutbucket blues. He is not a retro player; he just plays the blues the way he learned them… lowdown and lonesome and has been doing so for the last forty years.
Paul Oscher "Alone with the Blues" starts at 8PM. Cover is $8 at the door.