Today's highlighted Madison musician is Jerry Alexander.
Describing himself as "a singer-troubadour, a one-man-band, a storyteller," Jerry Alexander has a nearly 40 year history as a leading blues musician in the Madison area. He's set to be leaving the city shortly, though, so there will not be many chances locally to see his talent with the guitar, harmonica, drums, and vocals.
Here is the how the musician's online self-description:
The blues is at the heart of Jerry's music -- but it would be a mistake to place him inside any one category. The spirit of unique American artists like Thelonious Monk, Hank Williams, and Howlin' Wolf is in the air here; quirky, courageous, irascible. Jerry's defining quality, like theirs, is a refusal to compromise.
He's been playing music for more than four decades, first purchasing a harmonica in 1962 and picking up a guitar four years later. Since moving to Madison shortly thereafter, he reports playing with a broad array of local and national blues artists, including Spectre Incorporated, Phil Buss, Johnny Russo, Paul Black, Chris Vandercook, Mike Dowling, Hip Linkchain, Jimi Schutte, Paul Filipowicz and plenty of his own bands. Alexander has also worked a fair amount with Ben Sidran, performing backing vocals on several recordings and co-writing "Junior Moved," for the 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams.
In 2005, Alexander released his first solo album. Titled Radiator, there are twelve tracks on the release, including a highlighted "reworking" of Chuck Berry's "Memphis." The album won Best Blues Album at the 2006 Madison Area Music Awards, an tribute accompanied by his win for Best Blues Artist as well.
Ten of the tracks from Radiator are available for listening on jerryalexander.com. The site also includes comments by Alexander about the album and photos from previous gigs.
There's only one more chance to see the blues singer play in Madison, at least for a while. Alexander is performing at the Brink Lounge on Thursday, Oct. 2. Opening for Grammy winner Mike Dowling and Randy Sabien, Alexander's set will start at 8 p.m. and the cover is $7. The very next day, he will be leaving town, moving to the Bay Area for a change of scenery. In a message sent to his friends and fans a couple of weeks ago, Alexander wrote:
I have loved my life in Wisconsin playing music and doing the wheelchair work here. The thing is, though, I make it a point every forty years or so to turn it all upside-outside and I'm due.
He concludes by thanking his supporters and encourages them to attend the show. "I'm hoping to return in the Spring for a few gigs," Alexander ends. "Maybe I'll have a new recording by then."
This is the latest featured entry from the Madison Music Project, an online database of Madison-area musicians. Please register or update your current profile on the project for consideration in these highlights.