Nola Blue Records Signs Lil' Jimmy Reed

'Back to Baton Rouge' slated for worldwide release on May 19, 2023
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Photo by Angie Lipscomb Photography
Photo by Angie Lipscomb Photography
LANCASTER, Pa. - Jan. 10, 2023 - PRLog -- Nola Blue Records is proud to announce the signing of Leon Atkins, a.k.a. Lil' Jimmy Reed.  Born in Hardwood, Louisiana in 1938, and growing up across from a Chitlin' Circuit club, Atkins was exposed to the music of the early blues masters at a young age. He 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, and the rest is history. In addition to being a triple threat on vocals, guitar and harmonica, he is also a military veteran, who served our country for 20 years. As the last of the early Baton Rouge bluesmen, Lil' Jimmy Reed embodies the down-home Louisiana blues tradition.

When 2020 Blues Music Award nominee and budding music historian Ben Levin (age 23) first reached out to Atkins (age 84), neither could have predicted that seeds were planted that would one day emerge as the historic album now on the verge of worldwide release. The two bluesmen, at very different times in their lives and careers, soon learned that their musical synergy was effortless both onstage and in the studio.  After the success of Lil' Jimmy's guest appearances on Levin's most recent album, Take Your Time, it became eminently clear to Levin that producing the capstone album of Atkins' career was both a lifetime gift to his treasured friend and also an important contribution to the annals of recorded blues history. A love letter to Atkins' hometown, the title track sets the tone for this career retrospective, a combination of exciting new originals and buried musical treasures from the now-distant past.

"I'm gonna leave it all behind,
Go back home one more time,
Goin' back to the blues,
Back to my hometown, Baton Rouge."
( 2023 L. Atkins, B. Levin, A. Levin {BMI})

"Having the opportunity to witness the magical energy of Ben Levin and Lil' Jimmy Reed onstage, I was immediately captivated and reminded of the transcendent power of the blues to cross what some consider barriers of race and generation to genuinely connect the two by their shared humanity," says Sallie Bengtson, Nola Blue Records President. "There were actually three generations on the stage that night: Ben, his father Aron Levin (guitarist) and Lil' Jimmy Reed. The mutual admiration and respect among them was palpable, and a beautiful experience. This exciting album project both supports an astonishing young musician and scholar of the blues in his career progression as a producer as well as capturing and preserving the legacy of down-home blues from one of the early forebears. That's a home run in my book!"

"Wow, I am so happy to be a part of Nola Blue with so many great artists," says Atkins. "It's an honor to play with Ben Levin and his father. Love these guys,"

The feeling is clearly mutual. "It is a thrill and an honor for me to work with a legend like Lil' Jimmy. He plays the blues in the old school way that I love, and we always have a great time working together. He is a powerful guitar and harmonica player and has an easy going voice that reels the listener in. Lil' Jimmy is also a wonderful guy, and it feels like family working with him and my father," says Levin.

Lil' Jimmy Reed begins a UK tour with Bob Hall and his partner Hillary Blythe on January 13, 2023 that includes shows at the Great British Rock and Blues Festival, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and more. A summer album release tour with Ben Levin and his band, including several festivals, is planned.

Follow @liljimmyreed on Facebook for all news and updates.

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Tags:Blues Music, Blues History, Baton Rouge, Louisiana blues
Industry:Music, Arts, Entertainment
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