Chicago, IL – Chris Harper & Dave Katzman are proud to announce the launch of their new Chicago-based blues label SWISSISSIPPI RECORDS on SEPTEMBER 21, 2010 with three new releases: SWISSISSIPPI CHRIS HARPER “Four Aces and a Harp” (also featuring JIMMY BURNS, JOHN PRIMER, WILLIE “BIG EYES” SMITH AND BOB STROGER), ROB BLAINE’s “Big Otis Blues” and PEACHES STATEN “Live At Legends”.
Swississippi Records represents a hybrid name, adventurous concept and intense advocacy for a classic sound. CEO Chris Harper and General Manager Dave Katzman see their company as a bold 21st century venture designed to utilize state-of-the-art technology and business acumen on behalf of the blues, a music whose roots and lyrical vision continues to inspire fans and performers around the world. (CEO Harper performs/records under the moniker “Swississippi” Chris Harper).
SWISSISSIPPI CHRIS HARPER’s “Four Aces And A Harp” “offers us the opportunity to showcase Chris’s amazing technique in a setting with some of the greatest Chicago players,” Katzman explains. Harper’s whirling, propulsive harmonica playing is heavily influenced by Little Walter Jacobs and Big Walter Horton, as well as Sonny Boy Williamson II, but he’s also added plenty of his own touches and flourishes, the mark of any excellent musician. “When you have musicians around like WILLIE “BIG EYES” SMITH (drums), BOB STROGER (bass), and JIMMY BURNS and JOHN PRIMER- (guitars/vocals) then you add the things that Chris can do on harmonica you have something quite special. They brought something fresh and inventive to every number.”
Guitarist ROB BLAINE’s “BIG OTIS BLUES” is a more contemporary release. “Rob is a powerhouse guitarist who also has soul and touch. He can do all the speed runs, fills, distorted lines and all kinds of guitar slinger things that you hear in blues-rock records. In addition, Rob has a vision of modern blues that involves doing original tunes, singing with feeling and getting the audience to understand that the blues doesn’t have to be sad or moody or any of the things people assume that a blues singer and instrumentalist has to invoke.”
Vocalist PEACHES STATEN’s “LIVE AT LEGENDS” offers non-stop powerhouse singing, a first-rate backing band that includes guitarist Mike Wheeler, bassist Larry Williams, keyboardist Brian James and drummer Cleo Cole, and a crackling menu of songs that range from Staten’s spicy originals to songs from the beloved Vernon “Chico” Banks, and such current writers as John Moon Martin and John Barron.
“With Peaches we’ve got someone who I think can be a real star if she’s featured in the right way, aggressively marketed and presented,” Katzman adds. “This live album was the last one done at the old Buddy Guy’s Legends. Peaches is not only a straight-ahead, knock ’em dead singer, but is also a great zydeco washboard player. We’ve got a song on the record (“Gotta Find My Man”) that really spotlights that aspect of her music. She also formerly played and sang in a band doing Brazilian music, and she’ll put some of that in her live shows as well. She’s already got a big following overseas and now we want to make sure she gets the same type of push in America.”
For the label, CEO/harmonica player/bandleader CHRIS HARPER teamed with General Manager/producer/guitar player DAVE KATZMAN. Both men’s love for the art form has fueled their involvement in the new venture. For 20 years, Switzerland native Harper owned & ran the #1 Convention Display company in Switzerland until he sold the business to pursue his passion for playing blues harmonica. Chicago-born Katzman’s lengthy tenure inside the music business has involved everything from artist management to production manager at the original Buddy Guy’s Legends to sideman. The Swississippi label name highlights the connection between Harper’s European background and Katzman’s deep roots and immersion in traditional blues history and activity.
“Yes there are all kinds of good reasons for not starting a record label, but there’s one major one that really influenced us,” Katzman said. “There are a lot of outstanding traditional musicians who aren’t being recorded for whatever reasons. What we’re doing with Swississippi is going out and recording these artists, making sure everything we release is high caliber across the board, and working the album in all forums and sites.”
“We’ll be doing retail, digital, using the Internet, emphasizing tours, building audiences at home and abroad, in short using every possible method to expand the profile of our artists. Creating markets and going and out and grabbing them is something that’s a key aspect of our strategy and something you really must do these days. You can’t sit back and depend on CD sales, you have to go out and generate a demand that will in turn influence those sales.”
“The other thing that will distinguish the Swississippi line I feel will be the type of musicians and artists we sign,” Katzman adds. “We’re looking for people who want to have fun with the music while still celebrating and treasuring the importance of the art form. We’re also looking for artists with their own style, people who can definitely contribute to helping continue the tradition.”
Another area Swississippi Records is focused on concerns sonic quality. “We want to retain the gritty feel and the musical integrity of the old, classic blues records,” said Katzman. Harper serves as executive producer while Katzman is the main producer on each session. “We’ll definitely be taking great care with the sonic quality of every release. I’ve done a lot producing over the years & writing about audio, and we take great pride in how each Swississippi release sounds in terms of how you’re hearing them at home.”
“I’ve been working in the blues since the early ’70s, and I’m happy to say the Swississippi label represents how we want to see blues recordings produced, packaged and presented and how we both want to showcase our artists,” Katzman concludes. “Now we’ve got to get out into the marketplace and make sure our audiences have the chance to hear the releases also be able to see the performers. I’m confident that when they do, Swississippi will be the kind of company that helps attract more people to the blues.”
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PLEASE CONTACT: Karen Leipziger/KL Productions (615)297-4452,