Look Out! It's The Bees Knees
Release Date: August 2021

Tom Burnevik - Vocals, Tenor Sax
Bill Black - Bass
Mike Croy - Drums
Mark Perry - Piano
Dean Magraw - Guitar
Tony Moen - Trumpet
Mike Abresch - Baritone Sax
Pete Masters - Trombone
Rick O'Dell - Alto Sax

Strollin' With Bones
  • Written by T-Bone Walker & Eddie Davis Jr.
  • It's Obdacious
  • Written by Buddy Johnson
  • Bring It Home to Me
  • Written by Buddy Johnson
  • Crazy 'Bout a Saxophone
  • Written by Buddy Johnson
  • Switchin' in the Kitchen
  • Written by Rudolph Moore
  • Hide and Seek
  • Written by Ethel Byrd and Paul Winley
  • Fruit Boots
  • Written by Herb Gordy
  • Quiet Whiskey
  • Written by Bob Schell, Fred Weismantel, Henry Glover, and Wynonie Harris
  • I Feel So Good
  • Written by Big Bill Broonzy
  • Night Train
  • Written by Jimmy Forrest
  • I'm Just Your Fool - Corn Bread
  • I'm Just Your Fool Written by Buddy Johnson
  • Corn Bread Written by Hal Singer and Teddy Reig
  • See Saw
  • Written by Don Covay and Steve Cropper
  • Mellow Saxophone
  • Written by Bumps Blackwell, John Marascalco, and Roy Montrell
  • If It Ain't One Thing (It's Another)
  • Written by Joe Hinton
  • Everything I Do Is Wrong
  • Written by Joe Josea & BB King
  • Bloodshot Eyes
  • Written by Hank Penny, Ruth Hall, and Wynonie Harris
  • I've Got the Last Laugh Now
  • Written by Roy Brown
  • Kansas City
  • Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
  • Well, Alright, Okay, You Win
  • Written by Mayme Watts and Sid Wyche
  • Since I Found You
  • Written by Maxine Brown and Ed Townsend
  • Wynonie's Blues
  • Written by Wynonie Harris
  • Before Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, and Chuck Berry were playing lead guitar on rock and roll hits of the 1950s and 1960s, the screaming honking sound of the tenor saxophone was considered essential for any good rock and roll tune. Only it wasn't called rock and roll until Alan Freed, a radio disc jockey from Cleveland began playing R&B recordings on his radio show in the early 1950s. He is credited with coining the term, ostensibly to avoid the stigma attached to R&B and so called race music. Up until that time, rock and roll was a euphemism for sexual intercourse, as evidenced by the song "Sixty Minute Man" which was released in 1951 by Billy Ward and his Dominoes. The white audiences of Alan Freed's radio show were unfamiliar with the slang. Soon rock and roll was the term for a new form of dance music - swing music with a modern name. The lyrics to "Sixty Minute Man" were cleaned up and re-released as "Dancin' Dan" in 1956 by the Cadets. But the music itself pre-dates Alan Freed by decades. Big Joe Turner who had a number one hit with "Shake, Rattle and Roll" in 1954 said they were playing that kind of music way back in the 1930s.

    In the 1940s, as African Americans migrated north to work in the factories of big northern cities, they had money to spend, but they were not interested in their parent's blues. They wanted something with a strong beat that they could dance to. As the big bands began to breakup, some musicians formed smaller combo groups to play bebop jazz while others formed dance bands playing swing jazz with a solid back beat. Today we refer to it as Jump Blues - pre-rock and roll that features horns with the tenor sax as the lead instrument.

    Jump Blues began dominating the race charts in the late 1940s and early 1950s through artists such as Louis Jordan, Big Joe Turner, Roy Brown, Roy Milton, Wynonie Harris, Amos Millburn, and Joe Liggins. The musicians who provided the honking screaming saxophone leads on their recordings included Illinois Jacquet, Red Prysock, Wild Bill Moore, Arnett Cobb, Little Willie Jackson, Sam Taylor, Big Jay McNeely, Eddie Chamblee, Fats Noel, Hal Singer, Earl Bostic, Jack McVea, and Bullmoose Jackson.

    If none of these names ring a bell, it is because their music was not allowed on white radio stations until white rock and roll artists like Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis cleaned up the lyrics and re-packaged it as rock and roll. Even black rock and roll stars like Little Richard and Chuck Berry were merely copying tunes from the Jump Blues era that pre-dates them by a decade. Chuck Berry's famous guitar intro to Johnny B. Goode in 1958 is a copy of Carl Hogan's riff on the song "Ain't That Just Like A Woman," which was recorded by Louis Jordan in 1946.

    When I joined the Bees Knees in 1979, I had never heard of this style of music. I assumed people like Elvis Presley and Bill Haley invented rock and roll, not knowing they were merely copying black artists from the previous decade. There was no internet back then. We found these obscure old records at garage sales that were on the verge of being thrown in the trash. The Bees Knees resurrected Jump Blues for the Twin Cities music scene and helped to fuel the swing revival movement that soon followed. We attempted to sound as close as we could to those original records from the 1940s and early 1950s, with Tom Burnevik playing lead on his honking screaming saxophone.

    This collection of tunes was originally recorded live at the St. Croix Boom Co. in Stillwater Minnesota on January 23rd and 24th of 1981 for the album "Bar Wars," produced by Steve Raitt for Twin Town Sound. The album features the Lamont Cranston Band, the Doug Maynard Band, Willie & The Bees, and the Bees Knees, with only two cuts from the Bees Knees making it on to the album. The rest of the recordings were never released to the public, until I acquired the tapes and remastered them in 2021 for this website. So Look Out!, because after 40 years, the Bees Knees are back!

    Brad Imsdahl
    Producer - Catbox Studios

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