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LITTLEAXE-1

 

[ Little ]

Axe. 

“Midnight Dreams”
Skip McDonald
Hard Grind
2002
((( song )))

Real World Records

Always American As it has been since 1985, English royalty has always recognized the musical talent of Skip McDonald and all his Sugar Hill, Tack>>Head, and Living Colour mates. In 2006, after signing with Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records, Little Axe  went to England to do their first Real World recording session at the studio on Gabriel’s estate in the country outside of London. Coincidentally, Real World Records was celebrating its 20th Anniversary, and Gabriel asked Skip, if he and Little Axe would play the party.

Past, Present, and Future — When Tack>>Head came to an abrupt end in 1991, just after the release of its second album, Strange Things, Skip returned, as Little Axe, to his deepest roots, and produced a series of the 1990’s most authentic Blues records.

Still with his Original Sugar Hill Rhythm Section mates, Skip’s Little Axe records, although deeply rooted, featured drummer Keith Leblanc, bassist Doug Wimbish, who brought their distinct ambient and electronic sound to the recordings.

“Sugar Hill Medley”
Original Sugar Hill Rhythm Section
1980
((( hip-hop anthem)))


Rock creationists can debate long and hard about which records heralded the advent of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s; recorded hip-hop began with a stark and solitary statement: “Rapper’s Delight.”

Released in 1979, the 12″ single “Rapper’s Delight” launched Hip-Hop as a multi-billion-dollar phenomenon. The opportunistic 15-minute track also revived the career of its producer, Sylvia Robinson, a street-wise R&B veteran whose success left the true pioneers of Rap fuming, almost as much as hollywood’s depiction in the 1984 movie, Beat Street.

Skip McDonald’s musical life started in Dayton, Ohio. Singing in the choir, and playing guitar with his father …

yZ.

Skip McDonald — Deeply Rooted in the Blues, but always untethered, and free to fly. Skip McDonald came out of the church in Dayton, Ohio, moved to New York City, and became one of Hip Hop’s most important founding fathers.
As the guitarist in the Original Sugar Hill Rhythm Section (with Doug Wimbish and Keith LeBlanc), Skip was behind Hip-Hop’s earliest anthems.

“Rapper’s Delight”
“White Lines”
“The Message”

50s Singing doo-wop with friends on the corner.
60s A young man (musician) trying to make it in New York City. (Harold Sargent)
70s Hartford, Connecticut (Jackie McLean), Englewood, New Jersey (Joe and Sylvia Robinson), Wood Brass & Steel (Doug Wimbish/Keith Leblanc)

1979Hip Hop Happens

Iranian Hostage Crisis (11/4/79)

Jimmy Carter, (Muslim) Students of Another Colour

Skip and his Sugar Hill bandmates, Doug Wimbish and Keith LeBlanc, were the writers, players, and producers of much of Hip-Hop’s earliest anthems.

1980s — Sugarhill Records, ON-U Sound Records, Fats Comet (w/Gary Clail, Mark Stewart)

1989 — TACK>>HEAD “Break Out The Bubbly” An English-American collaboration, wildly popular in London’s underground. (Friendly As A Hand Grenade and Strange Things [1990] w/Bernard Fowler)

1990s — LITTLE AXE (Homecoming) Back to the Blues (and America) Okeh Records/Alligator Records

2000s — TACK>>HEAD (The Resurrection) 

TODAY — Again in London’s underground, often alone, but still taking The Blues into the future.

English Appreciation As it has been since 1985, English Musical Royalty has always recognized the virtuosity of Skip McDonald and his Sugar Hill, Tack>>Head, and Living Colour mates. In 2006, after signing with Peter Gabriel‘s Real World Records, Little Axe went to England to do the first session for what would become Stone Cold Ohio, Skip’s first record for Gabriel and Real World Records.

The studio was in the countryside, just out of London, part of Gabriel’s 100-acre estate. just outside of London. Coincidentally, Skip and the band were scheduled on the weekend Real World Records was throwing a party to celebrate its 20th Anniversary.

Taking advantage of the good timing, Gabriel asked Skip if he would consider playing the party. Skip was honored, and happily accepted the invitation.

So impressed was Gabriel’s friend Robert Plant, at the time just another appreciative fan, he asked if he and Peter might join the band onstage. Both did, and with Skip and the band, played a near hour-long encore, featuring a number of Led Zeppelin and Genesis tunes, and bringing the day’s festivities to a climactic end.

After, Plant asked Skip if he and the band would open the West Coast America Tour he had scheduled later that summer (2006).

LITTLE AXE DISCOGRAPHY

1950s When Skip McDonald was a boy in Dayton, Ohio, his father played guitar in the neighborhood Baptist church. As long as he can remember, Skip was always interested in his father’s music, and it wasn’t long before his father bought him a guitar, and began teaching him to play gospel music, and sing in the church choir.

Skip continued to play gospel into his teens, but he also developed an interest in Jazz, Blues, and Doo-Wop, playing in bands with his high school mates.

1964 Skip and his ban, The Entertainers (including Harold Sargent) was making itself know in and around Dayton, Ohio.

Now, two years out of high school and their confidence growing, Skip and Harold decided to move, and take their chances in New York City.

Uptown (Harlem) clubs. After show jams. Chi-lites, Spinners, Motown. Joe Robinson, mobster about town. Black and Jew (Morris Levy) partners in music “business” crime.

1968 Ohio Players (Friends from Back Home)

Enjoying life in the city, but finding it difficult to earn a living, Skip and The Entertainers moved to Hartford, Connecticut … Half way between New York City and Boston, where they could find work, and where they could afford rent.

McDonald formed the group Wood Brass & Steel in 1973 with bass guitarist Doug Wimbish and drummer Harold Sargent.

The group recorded two albums before their 1979 breakup.

Sugar Hill Records

The Message

Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five.

Melle Mel, not Grandmaster Flash

After leaving Sugarhill, McDonald, Wimbish, and drummer Keith LeBlanc began working with

Adrian Sherwood, and eventually formed the trio into the industrial/dub group Tackhead, initially fronted by Gary Clail and later Bernard Fowler. McDonald would also collaborate with Sherwood on other projects, including albums by African Head Charge and Mark Stewart.

In the 1990s, McDonald assumed the moniker “Little Axe” and began moving from hip hop to a form of blues that drew from an array of musical influences, including dub, R&B, gospel, and jazz. He has been working steadily as a studio musician, recording both his own blues albums, continuing to appear as a guest act on other artists’ albums as well. His most recent albums have been released on Real World Records. Alan Glen is often featured on harmonica on these albums.

In 2009 he collaborated with Mauritanian musician Daby Touré to produce a record titled Call My Name.

As of 2016, he still tours and gigs regularly, has a loyal following and is in regular demand for session work as a guitarist.

discography
Never Turn Back (1993, Spin)
The Wolf that House Built (1994, Okeh/Wired)
Slow Fuse (1996, Wired)
Hard Grind (2002, On-U Sound)
Champagne & Grits (2004, Real World/Virgin)
Stone Cold Ohio (2006, Real World/Virgin)
Bought for a Dollar, Sold for a Dime (2010, Real World)
If You Want Loyalty Buy a Dog (2011, On-U Sound)
Wanted – Live 1996 (2012, Little Axe Recordings)
Return (2013, Echo Beach)
One Man – One Night (2016, 12:10 Records)
London Blues (2017, Echo Beach)

Bought for a Dollar, Sold for a Dime
If You Want Loyalty Buy a Dog
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