Midnight Steppers

Various Artists
FORMAT: Audio CD - 3 Disc
Release date: 17 Jun 2013


“Heaps and heaps of solid boogie-woogie and blues...so much of it is just a kick in the pants away from rock n roll” Now Dig This

"The 34 pianists are termed heroes – and it’s easy to hear why" Record Collector

"Essentially, the first great blues pianists compiled for your pleasure" Vintage Rock

"Great sound quality and lovingly put together...you can buy with confidence" Blues & Rhythm

"This set hands you 88 keys to the kingdom of the blues" Mojo


CAT No: FVTD167UPC TEXT: 5055311001678

Full details

70 Masterpieces By 34 Blues Piano Heroes

 Midnight Steppers celebrates the post war blues pianists and explores how their sound had its origins in the 30s and 40s, when boogie woogie piano and the Chicago-centric small combo “Bluebird Beat” held sway. Compiled by blues and early jazz authority Mike Rowe, Midnight Steppers presents 70 masterpieces by 34 pianists, including legendary names like Otis Spann, Memphis Slim, Big Maceo, Sunnyland Slim and Albert Ammons, as well as the unsung heroes of the keyboards. The 3CD set complements our recent blues guitar and harmonica bestsellers, Screaming And Crying and Just Wailing, which have enjoyed significant success crossing over to the rock market

The roots of piano blues can probably be traced back to the late 19th Century, as a crude offshoot of ragtime. Midnight Steppers picks up the story in the 30s, by which time the elements of boogie woogie were in place. The 30s and 40s saw a boom in the popularity of boogie woogie (Disc 2), spearhead by the trio of Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis. The phenomenon crossed over to the big bands and popular singers, before ultimately falling victim to this very commercialisation, but not before great sides had been cut by the likes of Jimmy Yancey, Montana Taylor and Cripple Clarence Lofton. Simultaneously the post-Depression years saw a proliferation of urban blues, with piano blues very much to the fore, and much of it emerging on Victor’s Bluebird label, thanks to producer Lester Melrose cornering the Chicago blues market. Exponents of what was retrospectively dubbed “Bluebird Beat” (Disc 1) include Memphis Slim, Roosevelt Sykes, Big Maceo, Walter Davis, Champion Jack Dupree and Little Brother Montgomery.

Some of the players continued to record post-WWII (Disc 3), but had to compete with emerging names like Eddie Boyd, who adopted a more upbeat, raucous sound. Sunnyland Slim and Otis Spann recorded in their own right, but were often employed in (and better known for) a supporting role in combos, led by the likes of Robert Lockwood Jr and Muddy Waters. Henry Gray can be heard in this role on tracks by Howlin’ Wolf and Morris Pejoe. The combos came to be dominated by other instruments, especially the electric guitar, but great piano blues could still be heard, courtesy of Amos Milburn, Piano Red and Little Willie Littlefield. Part of the beauty of this selection is the inclusion of lesser-known names like Big Chief Ellis, Thunder Smith, Dr Hepcat, Lonnie Lyons and Leroy Ervin.

Compiler Mike Rowe founded the pioneering 60s label Post-War Blues, edited Blues Unlimited magazine, and is author of Chicago Breakdown (reissued as Chicago Blues: The City & The Music).



  1. Beer Drinking Woman (Memphis Slim)
  2. Junker Blues (Champion Jack Dupree)
  3. Midnight Steppers (Big Bill Broonzy feat. Josh Altheimer)
  4. Let Me Hang My Stocking in Your Christmas Tree (Roosevelt Sykes)
  5. Sugar Bowl Blues (Curtis Jones)
  6. Worried Life Blues (Big Maceo)
  7. You Got to Help Me Some (Memphis Slim)
  8. 44 Blues (Roosevelt Sykes)
  9. New Mistake in Life (Roosevelt Sykes)
  10. Can't You Read? (Big Maceo)
  11. New Come Back Baby (Walter Davis)
  12. I See My Great Mistake (Memphis Slim)
  13. I'm the Woogie Man (Bob White)
  14. Frisco Blues (Walter Davis)
  15. Tin Pan Alley (Curtis Jones)
  16. Chicago Breakdown (Big Maceo)
  17. Grinder Man Blues (Memphis Slim)
  18. This Tavern Boogie (Roosevelt Sykes)
  19. Won't Be a Fool No More (Big Maceo)
  20. Drunk Again (Champion Jack Dupree)
  21. Vicksburg Blues (Little Brother Montgomery)
  22. Tears Come Rolling Down (Walter Davis)
  23. Blues N’ Boogie (Roosevelt Sykes)


  1. Honky Tonk Train Blues (Meade Lux Lewis)
  2. Boogie Woogie Prayer (Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis)
  3. Boogie Woogie Stomp (Albert Ammons)
  4. B and O Blues (Pete Johnson)
  5. Pine Top's Boogie Woogie (Cripple Clarence Lofton)
  6. State Street Special (Jimmy Yancey)
  7. Boogie Woogie Blues (Albert Ammons)
  8. Climbin' and Screamin' (Pete Johnson)
  9. Indiana Avenue Stomp (Montana Taylor)
  10. Pine Creek (Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons)
  11. I Don't Know (Cripple Clarence Lofton)
  12. Albert's Special Boogie (Albert Ammons)
  13. Blues on the Down Beat (Pete Johnson)
  14. Rising Tide Blues (Meade Lux Lewis)
  15. At the Window (Jimmy Yancey)
  16. In De Mornin' (Cripple Clarence Lofton)
  17. Kaycee Feeling (Pete Johnson)
  18. Five O'Clocks (Montana Taylor)
  19. Had a Dream (Cripple Clarence Lofton)
  20. Yancey Stomp (Jimmy Yancey)
  21. Jimmy's Rocks (Jimmy Yancey)
  22. Roses of Picardy (Albert Ammons)
  23. Lady Be Good (Albert Ammons)


  1. Dices! Dices! (Big Chief Ellis)
  2. Little Mama Boogie (Thunder Smith)
  3. Miss Minnie Lee Blues (Jimmy McCracklin)
  4. Five Long Years (Eddie Boyd)
  5. Chicken Shack Boogie (Amos Milburn)
  6. Big Town Play Boy (Little Johnny Jones)
  7. The Mojo (J B Lenoir feat. Sunnyland Slim)
  8. Tired of Crying Over You (Morris Pejoe feat. Henry Gray)
  9. I Have a Little Girl (Howlin' Wolf feat. Henry Gray)
  10. Time Will Tell (Cecil Gant)
  11. Roll, Tumble and Slip (Sunnyland Slim)
  12. Hattie Green (Dr Hepcat)
  13. Monday Woman (Willie Mabon)
  14. Red's Boogie (Piano Red)
  15. I Had to Let Her Go (Eddie Boyd feat. James Clark)
  16. Young Fashioned Ways (Muddy Waters feat. Otis Spann)
  17. Down in the Groovy (Lonnie Lyons)
  18. Down in the Groovy (Lonnie Lyons)
  19. Blue, Black and Evil (Leroy Ervin)
  20. Little Willie’s Boogie (Little Willie Littlefield)
  21. Bicycle Boogie (Bob Gaddy)
  22. Hepcat's Boogie (Dr Hepcat)
  23. Sampson Street Boogie (Willie Johnson)
  24. Dust My Broom (Robert Lockwood feat. Sunnyland Slim)
  25. Otis in the Dark (Otis Spann)