Wednesday, August 13, 2014



Billboard is premiering a full album stream of Ironing Board Sam’s new album ‘Ironing Board and the Sticks,’ calling the keyboard man “legendary."

Recorded with two young French musicians, the album presents some newly improvised songs along with blues classics. Sam earned a standing ovation at Lincoln Center Out of Doors over the weekend and was the subject of a New Yorker illustration last week.

Sam recently recalled how Jimi Hendrix sat in with him and inspired him to push his showmanship to new heights, saying, “We used to play shows together; you know, he made my show greater than his show. He had a nine piece band playin’ downstairs, and he heard me and my drummer playing upstairs; I was playing the button board, and I had it so I could sit down behind it and play it like a big organ. All the other musicians would come listen to us when the finished their sets, and then one night I noticed the crowd got extra, extra hot. I looked over my left shoulder--on my left they had a jukebox, like an old-time jukebox about six feet tall--and Jimi was on top of the jukebox playing his guitar behind his head. He sort of had to crouch because of the ceiling, but I said oh my, he’s making my show better than his. After I saw that, I knew I had to do something else so I started carrying my button board into the crowd so I could get some attention back on my show! That really started a trend for me, because nobody was carrying their keyboard into the audience then.”

Sam earned his nickname by mounting his keyboard on an ironing board with a strap that allowed him to walk the stage while playing, much as he did at Lincoln Center on Sunday, where fellow Music Maker Relief Foundation artists Dom Flemons, Beverly “Guitar” Watkins, and Albert White joined him on stage.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Music Maker Relief Foundation. Next up is a new book “We are the Music Makers” (out September 15), a 2CD set of the same title (September 30), and a Homecoming festival October 3-4 in Hillsborough, NC.

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