Blues men Lil’ Jimmy Reed and Ben Levin are kindred spirits at similar and disparate ends of their career spectrum, as some would say, with 23-year-old Levin in the sunrise of his and 84 year old Reed in the sunset. Yet, they discovered a synergy working together on material they both hold dear as “down home blues.”
Their new ten song set, Back To Baton Rouge, pays homage to the region where Reed (born Leon Atkins in Hardwood, Louisiana ) grew up and earned his moniker, Lil’ Jimmy Reed, as a teenager playing guitar and harmonica on the Chitlin’ Circuit.
When two-time Blues Music Award nominee and budding music historian Ben Levin first contacted Lil’ Jimmy Reed it was soon clear to Levin that producing the capstone album of this treasured icon, who epitomizes the Louisiana style, was an important contribution to recorded blues history.
Lil’ Jimmy Reed’s powerful harmonica playing, stinging guitar, and commanding vocals are showcased in a mixture of covers and original songs written by Ben Levin, his father Aron Levin, and Lil’ Jimmy.
Premiering exclusively on ABS is the video for the autobiographical lead single “They Call Me Lil’ Jimmy.”
Levin is a rising star in the Blues world from Cincinnati, who has modeled his piano playing after the authentic sound of his heroes such as Professor Longhair, Pinetop Perkins, Otis Spann, and Ray Charles since he began playing professionally at 15.
Lil’ Jimmy Reed has performed in more than 40 countries around the world. The Back To Baton Rouge album and tour should take him to even more amazing destinations. He is the last of the original Louisiana bluesmen. Born Leon Atkins in Hardwood, Louisiana in 1938, and growing up across from a Chitlin’ Circuit club, he was exposed to the music of the early blues masters at a young age and cut his teeth on the Baton Rouge music scene soon after his father bought him his first guitar at age 16. He earned his Lil’ Jimmy Reed moniker after being called to fill in for the iconic Jimmy Reed one night, as he knew his repertoire. And the rest is history.
In addition to being a triple threat on vocals, guitar and harmonica, he is also a veteran, having served 20 years in the U.S. military. Since returning to civilian life, his career has blossomed. Lil’ Jimmy has shared the stage with B. B. King and Bobby “ Blue” Bland, and headlined festivals across Europe, in the UK, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Israel and Russia.