"Alabama Bluesman"

September 2006
Text: Leon Atkins, Ray Bodenstein and Fritz Svacina



The Alabama Blues Project has done it again! 
We are proud to introduce to you, yet another, overlooked Alabama Bluesman by the name of Leon Atkins
- aka - LIL' JIMMY REED



Born in the late 1930's, to the parents of Morris and Velma Atkins, Leon Atkins (aka- LiL Jimmy Reed), is a native of Hardwood Louisiana, a small town outside of the City Baton Rouge. He who now resides in Enterprise, AL, with his wife of 35 years (Imogene). Leon is the eldest of five siblings, one sister, and four brothers.  Being the eldest child, Leon learned first hand the struggles and the discrimination of growing up poor and black in the deep South. At an early age, to escape the depressions which many of the blacks experienced in the poverty stricken South, Leon adopted a love for music. He favored the guitar and the harmonica immediately, and often dreamed of some day becoming a famous guitar player and travel far beyond the hatred of Southern Louisiana.  For Leon growing up across the street of a nightclub fascinated him, hearing the sounds of the guitars, pianos, and the jukebox music echoing throughout the night was to him a pure joy.  When he saw the local Men playing music he would often imitate them on his childlike imaginary guitar.  But soon that would change. When he was just six years old, one of the older Men who had taken notice of Leon's love for music surprised him by making him his very first guitar out of a small cigar box.  Leon loved it and that sparked the beginning of a life long relationship of a Man and his guitar.


Photocopyright by Michael Swanger



Little Jimmy Reed

As Leon grew into his teenage years, he spent most of his after school days working in the local saw mill and the town shoe shop after school. Growing tired of fixing shoes, Leon let it be known to his father that he wanted to play music.  One Monday after his father returned home from a good days work with gifts for the family, Leon patiently waited his turn and was speechless, when his Dad handed him a brand new guitar.  By that Saturday evening, Leon was playing the guitar as if he had taken music lessons for years.  Leon played music by ear without any teachings or lessons ever taken.  Soon he entertained the locals around town and realized there must be a better way to help provide for his family and himself.

In the year 1957, Leon turned 18 and went to Barber College in Little Rock Ark.  He continued to pursue his musical talent as he quickly advanced with simple jobs such as playing in the local juke joints and blues alleys.  In these lumber walls and saw dust covered floors, Leon became a favorite of the locals, and others who heard him play.  One night in an upper scale blues club, Leon was able to get that one lucky break.  A well known blues artist by the name of "Jimmy Reed" was scheduled to perform. Leon knew Jimmy Reed's music really well, from childhood listening to jukebox music from the nearby nightclub.  Leon had always wanted to see the real Jimmy Reed and finally he'd gotten the chance to do just that.  Be it unknown to Leon, this night would change his life forever.  As Leon recalls, Mr. Reed had obviously gotten drunk, and Leon was asked to take his place.  "They snuck him out back, and came and got me" Leon recalls clearly.  Mr. Reed was just too drunk to play".  The crowd couldn't tell the difference and the show was a hit.  Leon gave a show stopping performance.  And thus he was born "LIL' JIMMY REED".



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Now as Lil Jimmy Reed, it afforded him the opportunity to venture outside of his hometown, which made a tremendous impact for becoming a renowned blues entertainer.  Leon also realized that he would need something more stable and therefore decided to join the military and fulfill a 20 year career in the Army.  Upon retiring from his military duties he then was free to follow through with his childhood dream of being a full time Blues Entertainer. Lil Jimmy Reed has done opening acts and performed with well known artists such as, (USA) - Bobby Blue Bland, Ike Turner, Little Milton, Marvin Sease, Shirley Murdock, Clarence Carter, Rafel Neal and Family, Lyn White, Tabby Thomas, The Love Doctor, Billy Soul Bonds, Willie Clayton; (UK) - Otis Grand (2006); (Iceland) -  Andrea og Bluesman; (Denmark)-  Troels Jenson to HpLange; (Sweden) - Sven Zetterberg Bluesband, Harry Banks Buzzers, Paul & The Blue Delivery (Finland) - Pepe Ahqvist and many more would be a much appreciated reality. 
His accomplishments have been recording his own 45 record, and CD's.  Leon also continues to enjoy playing, and performing for various shows, Blues and Jazz concerts, schools, parties, weddings, promotional events, and many more.  Leon has also entertained many in the political arena including Gov. Don Seigelman or Alabama.  He has also made appearances on the Ann Varmun Morning Show - Dothan, AL.  In 1995, the Alabama Blue Society presented Leon with the Alabama Blue Treasure Award. The Alabama Blues Project is dedicated to helping provide a support for the lesser known bluesmen and women living and performing regularly in Alabama.  Leon has also played for many of the festivals around the South including the New Orleans Jazz and heritage Festivals, The Tampa Florida Blues Ship and many small and local clubs in Europe and Korea.
Lil Jimmy Reed continues to play as states "it just get better with time!!".







Discography

LIL JIMMY REED
School´s Out
Label: Atho Publishing Co - ©1995 Leon Atkins (Lil´Jimmy Reed) -
Label No. VR 30006 - VÖ-Datum: 1995

Musiker: Vocals, Guitar & Harmonica - Little Jimmy Redd / Guitar - Mike Lawley /
Bass - Don Jones / Piano & Hammond B3 - Ray Reach / Drums - Chuck Tilley

Titel:
01. Big Boss Man (Luther Dixon) 3:41
02. Alabama´s The Place To Be (Little Jimmy Reed) 3:04
03. I´m a Fool For You, Baby (Little Jimmy Reed) 3:16
04. School Is Out (Little Jimmy Reed) 3:51
05. My Little Dog (Little Jimmy Reed) 3:51
06. Mumblin´Word (Little Jimmy Reed) 2:48
07. I Had A Dream (Little Jimmy Reed) 4:05
08. I´ve Got Love On My Mind (Little Jimmy Reed) 4:05
09. Help Me ToSpend This Dough (Little Jimmy Reed) 2:57
10. Honest I Do (Jimmy Reed) 4:01

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info@bluebridge-network.com
fon Europe +49.40.640.89201
fax Europe +49.40-640.89200
fon Canada +1.604.882.6908
fax Canada +1.604.882.6928
BLUE GATE media
www.bluegate-media.com
ray@bluegate-media.com
fon +49-40-640 89 201
fax +49-40-640 89 200
Concept Entertainment Ltd.
www.conceptentertainment.net
mario@conceptentertainment.net
fon +1.604.882.6908
fax +1.604.882.6928


Tourdates 2006                        Stand 29.08.06

Lil´Jimmy Reed (CAN) & Band - Chicago-Blues

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20.10. Paris (F), Quay Du Blues
21.10. Paris (F), Quay Du Blues
26.10. Toussieu (F), James’ Cafe (solo)
27.10. Paris (F), Quay Du Blues
28.10. Paris (F), Quay Du Blues


LIL JIMMY REED,
Photocopyright by Michael Swanger






all Photos ctsy. Leon Atkins

LITTLE JIMMY REED PRESS RELEASE

.....Lil’ Jimmy Reed (aka Leon Atkins) will hit the City of Discovery with his own style of old school downtown blues, which he has honed since the age of 16.
.....It is testament to the festival that we have been able to secure the legend that is Otis Grand for a second year running and an artist such as Lil’ Jimmy Reed who has played at the home of jazz - the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and has appeared as an opening act for Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Lynn White and many others. - Dundee Blues Bonanza

.....
Leon Atkins (aka Lil Jimmy Reed) is a one-man band from Enterprise, Alabama who hits home with old school downhome blues. His moniker comes from an experience in the early '60s when (allegedly) THE Jimmy Reed came to town but was characteristically too lubed to perform. Mr. A took his place and no one noticed the masquerade. Lil Jimmy Reed...great, honest blues. First time in Charleston!
- BLUES BASH Newsletter

.....
Congrats also to Alabama’s very own Lil' Jimmy Reed who was named Blues Harmonica Player of the Year by the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame. Reed, AKA Leon Atkins, is a self-taught guitarist and harmonica player who has been entertaining since he was just sixteen years old. He recalls his dad bought him a guitar on a Monday and he was playing it by Saturday. Lil' Jimmy Reed got his break when the real Jimmy Reed was too inebriated to perform one night. Jimmy Reed was snuck out the back door and Lil' Jimmy Reed was put on stage. Since then Lil' Jimmy Reed continues to make an impact in the blues and entertain audiences nationwide. Little Jimmy Reed makes his home in Enterprise, Alabama, where also works in his barber shop. - Alabama Blues Project
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