“Judy was the first of her generation of blues women, and still one of the best. To this day, her phrasing, tone and above all her originality are unmatched. A very important singer.” – Dave Van Ronk (Vanguard CD reissue of Woman Blue)
“…she had me hooked from Jumpstreet… hearing is for real.” – Dick Waterman
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Dexofon Records, POBox 4104, Bouilder, CO 80306
Love at first sound! A young musician in Boulder, CO, I had been at Tulagi’s in Boulder every night for a week – spent my last dime to see Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks (on their first tour) 5 nights in a row. Why did I go back on Sunday? A “local” band, 60 Million Buffalo, was playing. I had no money to enter, hanging around the door. Every time it opened I heard a voice. “Who IS that? And the guitar, too!” Who could know that within a year I would get a call to audition with her and guitarist Don DeBacker , reforming the band under pressure of an immanent album release on ATCO. And the rest is history…
Judy Roderick had already lived an entire lifetime on the east coast folk scene, in very good company – VanRonk, Odetta, Dylan, Phil Ochs, David Blue, a young John Hammond Jr. Judy shared a flat in the lower east side with Bonnie Dobson (author of Walk Me Out in the Morning Dew) and was the only white woman singing anything like blues at the time, Dick Waterman was just beginning to bring around Son House and John Hurt who he had found languishing in Mississippi obscurity. It was the folk scene, the Weavers and the Four Freshmen. The Chicago and British blues guys were starting to show up. Judy who grew up hanging out in her family’s maid’s quarters, listening to Detroit gospel radio, had already met Mike Bloomfield, David Cassidy, John Deutchendorf (Denver) in 1960 when she started singing at the Attic in Boulder and then Janis Joplin, Boz Skaggs and others in San Francisco where she moved the next year. They were all just beginning – when she got a call to play the 1964 Philly Folk Festival and subsequently signed with Columbia Records, Judy was 22. That first album “Ain’t Nothin but the Blues” made with John Hammond Jr., Milt Hinton, DuParis brothers among others, is now available (download only) from Columbia/Sony Products. Vanguard had the sense (with a little persuasion) to reissue, posthumously, her second album on CD. “Woman Blue” is her most strikingly beautiful album. 60 Million Buffalo’s Nevada Jukebox was remastered and rereleased recently by Collectors Choice.
Years later living in Montana, we went to see the premiere of “Last of the Blue Devils” with a live introduction by its director, Bruce Ricker – a law school student in Kansas City when he filmed Count Basie and the remaining swing jazz scene that was centered around sessions at the Musicians Foundation in Kansas City. Ricker was standing in the lobby as we filed out. We stopped and thanked him…and asked sheepishly if we could go back in for the 2nd screening. Bruce acquiesced, the start of an interesting, if sporadic, friendship. When we visited NYC to play with the Big Sky Mudflaps, he continued with introductions to people like Doc Pomus, and Dr. John, guest singing with Jay McShann. A plot thickened and we found ourselves getting the help of an angel and producing a session with Mac Rebbenack (Dr John), Don DeBacker and a righteous crew in Boulder, then another with DeBacker and the core “Forbears” in NYC. Basically finished in 1984, it was sold off the stand as a cassette. In 2008, 16 years after her death, those sessions (and one more) finally saw the light of day in this CD, “When Im Gone”.