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Juke In The Back with Matt 'The Cat' Baldassari | 10PM Sunday - November Programs

Juke In  The Back
Billboard Magazine, 1956

1940s & ’50s Rhythm & Blues

At the end of the Second World War, economics forced the big bands to trim their once great size and thus, the Jump Blues combo was born. Between 1946-1954, rhythm and blues laid the tracks for what was to become Rock n’ Roll. So how come, 70 years later, this vibrant and influential music is still so unknown to so many?

Matt “The Cat” Baldassari is going to change that with Juke In The Back. These were the records that you couldn’t hear on the jukebox in the front of the establishment. To hear all this great 1950s rhythm & blues, you had to go to the “Juke In The Back.

11/05 LaVern Baker, Part 1 - 1949-54
Take a look at how one of R&B's greatest voices, LaVern Baker, got her start in this two-part feature. Part one digs on Baker's first recordings from 1949-1954. She began her recording career with Eddie "Sugarman" Penigar Orch in 1949, then recorded a few sides as Little Miss Sharecropper on National Records. She then started singing with Maurice King and His Wolverines and finally with Todd Rhodes on King Records. After leaving Rhodes' band, Baker was determined to become a solo artist and signed up with Atlantic Records, just in time for the Rock n' Roll Explosion of the mid-1950s. None of these early records made the national charts, but you can really hear LaVern Baker evolve as an artist as the music moved closer and closer from Rhythm & Blues to Rock n' Roll. Don't miss the story of LaVern Baker, one of the greatest female vocalists of the 1950s.

11/12 LaVern Baker, Part 2 - 1954-56
It's part two of a two-part feature on the early career of LaVern Baker. In part two, we'll dig on Baker's prime recording years of 1954-56. She had 4 charting records in '55, beginning with the crossover smash, "Tweedlee Dee," which stayed popular for over a year, hitting #4 R&B and crossing over to #14 Pop. In 1956, she scored 5 charters, ending the year with the release of the #1 classic, "Jim Dandy." She also headlined the Apollo and was featured in the Alan Freed film, "Rock! Rock! Rock!" starring Tuesday Weld. LaVern Baker's career began in Rhythm & Blues, but she ended up becoming one of Rock n' Roll's first female superstars. Matt The Cat spins all of her records from the end of 1954 to the end of 1956, her most popular period.

11/19 Chuck Willis, Part 1 - 1951-54
This is part 1 of a 2-part special on the great and much underrated Chuck Willis. Most cats n' chicks know Chuck's 1957 smash "C. C. Rider," but many are unfamiliar with the great records Chuck cut in the early 1950s. That's a shame, because Willis was a rare talent in that he could sell a ballad as well if not better than his jump sides. He was also a fantastic songwriter, writing hits for Ruth Brown and The Clovers, just to name a few. Matt The Cat introduces you to the Okeh and Columbia sides of one of the greatest.

11/26 Chuck Willis, Part 2 - 1954-58
It’s 2-part special on the great Chuck Willis. This week, in part 2, we focus on Chuck's amazing crossover success in the late 1950s with huge pop hits like "C. C. Rider," "Betty And Dupree," "What Am I Livin' For" and "Hang Up My Rock n' Roll Shoes." Willis' career ended with him on top after his tragic death in 1958 at the age of 30. Chuck Willis is one of the many underrated 1950s R&B performers. Pop audiences only remember him for a handful of tunes, yet he was extremely popular on the R&B-side of the 1950s.