Eugene Lounge

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According to blues drummers, there are only so many basic feels within this genre, one of the main ones being the shuffle, or the "shuffle off to Buffalo" as a disgruntled percussionist who had had a…
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According to blues drummers, there are only so many basic feels within this genre, one of the main ones being the shuffle, or the "shuffle off to Buffalo" as a disgruntled percussionist who had had a bit too much shuffling for one night described it. Although not as well-known as some master blues timekeepers such as Fred Below, Odie Payne, or Al Duncan, Chicago drummer Eugene Lounge is an undisputed master of the shuffle feel whose stock in trade is rising all the time due to interesting new reissues that highlight his playing. For example, the Harp and Soul collection on the Fuel 2000 label presents Lounge as part of an incredible band fronted by Louis Myers, best-known as Buddy Guy's rhythm guitarist, but also a killer harmonica player. His recording band also featured Willie Dixon on double bass and the dual guitar power of Syl Johnson and Dave Myers. It was for all purposes the normal backup band for Junior Wells, who had left to work with Chicago blues godfather Muddy Waters. Never mind that one of this group's rare tracks is misspelled as "Just Whaling," when the real preoccupation of Chicago's bluesmen in the mid-'50s would have been wailing, perhaps whoever took care of the liner notes thought this was a live track from a festival in Newfoundland or something. Despite the presence of big names such as Wells and Sonny Boy Williamson, many reviewers have found the time to point out the incredible shuffling of Lounge as a high point of the set. One writer mentioning "the genius drumming" goes on to assert that Lounge "was every bit the equal of Fred Below," which if the discussion was about army generals would be like a comparison with Alexander the Great. The Myers brothers and Below are of course even better known under the collective name of the Aces, considered to be one of the best of the Chicago blues rhythm sections. Lounge is one of the few players from outside this tight circle who can be considered technically to have been a member of the Aces, as well. Among many other pleasant tasks, this led to serving as a backup unit for players such as Wells and the rambunctious guitarist Otis Rush in the mid- to late '50s. When working with Wells, this band also sometimes featured the amazing guitarist Earl Hooker. During this period, a variety of singles was cut for small labels such as Profile, Abco, Chief, and USA. The Lounge tenure in the Aces took place during a re-shuffling in sidemen experienced by the mighty Little Walter band. For several years, this harp man and vocalist had enjoyed a string of hits and one of the most popular bands on the scene, the grooving rhythms supremely benefited by the presence of the Myers brothers and Below, or the classic lineup of the Aces. When the Myers brothers decided to call it quits with Little Walter, drummer Below stayed put for a bit longer. During this interim period, the Myers brothers chose Lounge as one of the only drummers worthy of sitting on what had been Below's drum chair, and that doesn't mean the floor. For a year or two, this lineup worked clubs under the name of the Aces, meaning Lounge was technically a member, the brilliance of his shuffling underscoring the technique in technical. Lounge mostly seems to be a presence on '50s blues recordings, however. Later productions done for Delmark and other labels going for the silver lining in the blues revival cloud feature other drummers such as Below, Payne, or the underrated Bill Warren, leading to speculation that the Lounge must have closed for good, the shuffling stopped, without much information available as to the why. Cyberspace research on the whereabouts of Lounge unfortunately produces only reports on a lounge in Eugene, OR, that has been fined for liquor violations -- not even close, and no shuffle.