Allen Winkler

Allen often refers to himself as a “Recovering Attorney”.  ”I’ve only been practicing law for forty years” he says, “but I’ve been a photographer all my life.”

A child of the sixties, Allen was born to a Democratic mother and a Republican father in 1954 in Chicago, and was immediately immersed in the events, and the music, of the tumultuous 60s and 70s.  He attributes his love of both photography and the law to his Dad, a prominent Chicago attorney and amateur photographer.

“Dad introduced me to photography at a single-digit age.  He encouraged me to take a photography class in junior high school, and I remember building my first box camera-literally- at the age of about 10.  He had his law practice directly across the street from Chicago City Hall.  I would tag around with him every chance I got, and I saw firsthand the demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic Convention.  The protestors, the hippies and the yippies, the beatings by Chicago police, the riots.  Mayor Daley ordering the police to shoot to kill or maim.  Images I will never get out of my head.”.  Soon after, Allen had his first photography exhibit as part of the Focus On The Arts Program while still a student at HIghland Park High School.  In that exhibit, Allen displayed Powerful imagery capturing the emotions of the day.

“I see pictures everywhere…..a beautiful flower or sunset, sure, but also a leaf on a tree, an old man trudging a night road alone, a squirrel.  It drives my friends and family a little nuts, because I keep stopping to take photographs.”

He particularly loves performance photography.  “My goal is to observe, capture and convey positive imagery, and with performance photography I love to recreate the emotions and experiences of the artist; I want the observer to feel like they were actually at the performance.”

After spending 15 years in New Orleans and 25 years in Atlanta, Allen has returned to Chicago and, along with his creative partner Lynn Orman Weiss, has received accolades for his captures of artists such as Buddy Guy, Bobby Rush, Mary Lane, Larkin Poe and many others.  Allen and Lynn exhibited their photos of Buddy and his family during a gallery showing of “Buddy Guy – A Year in Pictures” for Buddy’s 82nd birthday; Buddy and his family came to view the photos and meet patrons from around the world.  They have now started the new record label “Owl Music & Media/Women Of The Blues Records” and issued Mary Lane’s album ‘Travelin’ Woman’, her first album in over 20 years.  Mary has just been nominated for the Koko Taylor Blues Music Award for best traditional blues.

“Our goal is to capture and preserve the legacies of these great artists, and to promote them.  We celebrate them in print, on record, on-air and through our photography.”

— Allen Winkler

 

LINKS

Allen Winkler on Facebook | Allen Winkler on Instagram 

| owlmusicmedia.com

 

PHOTOS

Beverly Guitar Watson

2017 Park Tavern, Atlanta, GA © Allen Winkler

Beverly “Guitar” Watkins (April 6, 1939 – October 1, 2019) was an American blues guitarist. Sandra Pointer-Jones wrote, “Beverly Watkins is a pyrotechnic guitar maven whose searing, ballistic attacks on the guitar have become allegorical tales within the blues community.” George Varga, reviewing her debut CD, observed that Watkins “sings and plays with enough poise and verve to make musicians half her age or younger consider alternative means of employment.” She was iconic for her performances playing guitar behind her head while on her knees, even well into her 70s.

Beverly was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1939. She began playing music in school, and played bass for a band called Billy West Stone and the Down Beats.Around the year 1959, she was introduced to Piano Red, who had a daily radio show on WAOK, and she subsequently joined Piano Red and the Meter-tones, who played in a number of towns in the Atlanta area, and then Atlanta clubs such as the Magnolia Ballroom and the Casino, before starting to tour throughout the southeast, primarily at colleges. About the time the group renamed itself Piano Red and the Houserockers, they started touring nationally.

Beverly had a long and continuous musical career, and worked with artists including James Brown, B.B. King, and Ray Charles. However, like many roots musicians, she found it difficult to crack the airwaves, and achieved recognition much later in her career, after the advent of the internet made it possible for musicians not backed by major labels to be heard by a wider audience. She was re-discovered by Music Maker Relief Foundation founder Tim Duffy, who started booking her in package shows, and in 1998, with Koko Taylor and Rory Block, was part of the all-star Women of the Blues “Hot Mamas” tour. Her 1999 CD debut, Back in Business, earned a W. C. Handy Award nomination in 2000.

Beverly died after a heart attack on October 1, 2019 at the age of 80.

 

Carlise Guy

Buddy Guy’s Legends, Chicago, Illinois 2018 © Allen Winkler

Carlise Guy is the daughter of seven-time Grammy Award-winning blues legend Buddy Guy. She is also the lead vocalist of the NuBlu Band, which blends blues, soul and R&B into their powerhouse performances that pay homage to their Chicago roots. Unbeknownst to many, she also has a passion for the legal field. Aside from her dad, Whitney Houston and Chaka Khan are her biggest influences. She auditioned for her now best friends Mark Maddox and Dan Henley many years ago to sing in their band and they played around Chicago; she then returned to church and started singing in the choir. Her dad would call her up on stage with him to sing a song or two when she would come out to see his performances once she was old enough. She told him she would open for him one day with her own band, called up Dan and Mark, who were already the NuBlu Band, and here they are!  Her favorite quote:  “Forget all your troubles, come and have a good time and live in the moment!”

 

Mary Lane

Glenwood Avenue Arts Festival, Chicago, Illinois 2019 © Allen Winkler

Born in Clarendon, Arkansas, Mary sang for spare change on street corners there as a
child before commencing her career in earnest as an eager teenager in Marvell, Ark. with slide
guitar great Robert Nighthawk. “He didn’t even call me up,” she remembers. “It sounded so
good, I just went on up there and grabbed the mic and started singing. And everybody started
hollering and going on.” She also worked with one-man band Joe Hill Louis (known as the Be-
Bop Boy), and sat in with Howlin’ Wolf at the White Swan, her uncle’s club in Brinkley, Ark.
“That’s where I met all the guys at,” says Mary. “Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Parker, James Cotton.”

In 1957, Lane relocated to the Chicagoland area, initially settling 40 miles north in
Waukegan and initiating a longstanding personal relationship with guitarist Morris Pejoe, who
recorded for Checker, Vee-Jay, and other local labels. They moved to Chicago in 1961, and while
singing with Pejoe’s band as Little Mary, she cut her debut single circa 1964 for Fred Young’s
Friendly Five label. “You Don’t Want My Loving No More” incorporated a piece of Freddy King’s
hit instrumental “Hide Away” into its backing. “They were so in a hurry to get a tune out,” says
Lane. “We just went on and did that tune. But it didn’t do nothing.”

Although success on record proved elusive, Mary shared South and West Side stages
with an array of Chicago immortals—Elmore James, Magic Sam, Junior Wells, and the mighty Wolf, by then a West Side staple. “I was somebody that he would call up to do things with him
on his show,” remembers Mary. “I was with Morris then, and Morris didn’t like that because he
never would call Morris up. He would always call me up and not Morris.”
Mary released her first full-length CD, Appointment with the Blues, two decades ago on
the short-lived Noir label with Johnny B. Moore on lead guitar, pianist Detroit Junior, and her
husband, Jeffery Labon on bass (Labon has successfully recovered from a recent stroke to play
once again with Mary’s No Static Blues Band). Three of her daughters with Pejoe are singers
themselves, including Lynne Lane.

Thanks to Travelin’ Woman her 2nd solo release in 20 years since her debut on Women of the Blues Records/Owl Music and Media and the new documentary, “I Can Only Be Mary Lane” everything’s happening at once for Mary Lane. “I’ve been out here, but I really haven’t got the break that I think I deserve,” says Lane, who continues to play local clubs on a weekly basis. “But I haven’t given up yet. I may give out, but I ain’t gonna give up!” 2019 Mary was nominated for a Blues Blast Music Award and she received the Sunshine Sonny Payne Award for Blues Excellence presented at the King Biscuit Blues Festival. Mary has been featured in stories in Living Blues Magazine, Blues Blast Magazine and cover story in Big City Rhythm & Blues Magazine. Mary Lane is currently nominated for a Blues Music Award for Best Traditional Blues Female the Koko Taylor Award.

 

Vanessa Collier

Blues Music Awards, Memphis, Tennessee 2018 © Allen Winkler