Click to hear: Live samples of Jumpin' Gene's music


Jumpin' Gene's song Tow Truck Man appears on the recent Willie Buck CD on Delmark Records released in November, 2012.

We had several favorites, too. The catchy riff of Tow Truck Man gives way to sly, double-entendre-filled lyrics that promise all the women a real good time!

Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society


The disc includes three more visits to the [Muddy] Waters songbook, but also serves up a couple of fun originals, most notably Tow Truck Man, written by Gene Halton,

in which Buck delivers amazingly like his master. Marty Gunther, Bluesblast Magazine




            Named after a Little Walter tune, Off The Wall Blues Band is one of the hottest bands to storm out of the Midwest blues scene. They are a tight five-piece band with a forceful Chicago sound that ranges from traditional to contemporary and beyond. Featuring harpist Jumpin' Gene Halton, this Chicago and South Bend based group delivers with exuberance and passion. They have done a number of gigs with Chicago's well-known vocalist, The Tail Dragger, and with former Chess recording artist, Bobby Stone. They have opened for Huey Lewis and the News, Son Seals, and Koko Taylor.

            Off the Wall Blues Band's first CD, On the Money, was released in June, 1996 to positive reviews.  At the Fourth Annual Ribs and Blues Festival featuring Son Seals, The Chicago Rhythm and Blues Kings, and three other bands, The South Bend Tribune noted favorably, "Off the Wall Blues Band was a worthy contender to the night's blues throne."

          il Blues Magazine from Milan, Italy noted: "An unusual and right-on melting pot, in my opinion, are these five characters who give muscle, brain and blood to the Off the Wall Blues Band...This is a jolt of life and originality in the boring discographic panorama of the past few months."

          As Living Blues Magazine said, "Off the Wall Blues Band plays in an old fashioned '50s Chicago style that you don't often hear from revival bands these days."


 Gene at midw


                              Jumpin' Gene Halton
has toured with Pinetop Perkins and Dave Myers, performed with Hubert Sumlin, S.P.Leary, Sam Lay, Lurie Bell, Jimmy Johnson, and Jim Schwall, and opened for Bobby Bland and Son Seals. He performed in the 1993 Zurich Jazz Festival with the Oliver Morgan Rhythm and Blues Band of New Orleans, returned to Europe in 1997 with fellow band member Lorenzo Thompson, on a tour with The Next Generation Blues Band starting in Prague... 


"Halton's harmonica creaks and vibrates all over [the cd] in smoky, warm tones."--Asbury Park Press, New Jersey 



at gig

at mob

Here's Gene performing with Pinetop Perkins in 1994

Former Muddy Waters drummer S.P. Leary once noted Gene's "great sense of rhythm. "

A photo of Jumpin' Gene appears in the 1996 Chicago Blues Calender in the month of February.

Gene performing with another former Muddy Waters drummer, Willie "Big Eye" Smith, with Nick Moss, and Little Frank: Big Eye.

Here is Gene's live instrumental: Get Wet  (c) E. Halton, June 24, 2000.
    With Bill Nicks' Jazz Trio, August 13, 2000, outdoors on the river in downtown South Bend: Black Orpheus.

Performing in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

in Krakow, Poland

in Montreal

And Caravan with Doug Rice, 2006.


where Jumpin' Gene's name comes from.

If you can read the fine print, you can click to way back when Gene once played drums in a Dixieland Band



Sat. April 25, 2009 at The Midway Tavern


Chicago's Legendary Sam Lay 
with Rockin' Johnny

and Jumpin' Gene's Off the Wall Blues Band

photo Sam Lay

       Sam Lay drummed on the classic early Howlin' Wolf recordings on Chess records, and later with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. That band backed Bob Dylan at his controversial electric performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and on his album Highway 61 Revisited, also showing the range of Sam's career. He was widely featured in the seven part series on the blues produced by academy award winner Martin Scorsese. Sam will not only be singing and doing some drumming at this show, but also showing his abilities on the guitar: maybe even some Johnny Cash!

The show also featured the return of Rockin' Johnny to active gigging after six years. He's been tearin' up Chicago, and now is primed to peel the paint off The Midway Tavern walls. 


Sat. May 3, 2008 at The Midway Tavern


Chicago's legendary Tail Dragger.

He listened to and learned from, and gigged with, the great Howlin' Wolf, who also gave him the name of Tail Dragger. The Tail Dragger's sense of phrasing, of call and response, of freely leaving space, and of the ritual hypnotic that is the source of music's entrancement, all deliver one to that zone wherein real music happens. As he once put it: "I just sing the low down blues and sometimes it's like I'm in a trance...Something hits me and I'm overpowered. "  See newspaper article: Good Timin' Grooves
The Tail Dragger, drummer Rob Lorenz at left,    --photo by Vicky Darnell
Tail Dragger au festival d'Utrecht 1997 (photo Jocelyn Richez)


JUNE 4, 2005, kind of cabaret, CLICK:

 SOUL FOOD NIGHT at The Midway w/ The Where Art Thou Boys


 Feb. 4 Midway w/ Bobby Stone and Robert Stroger!


And recorded 9/7/04, New Buffalo, MI

Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White

--Here is the band live in front of 5000 people, from the 1998 Kalamazoo Blues Festival, with Bill "Sticks" Nicks on drums and Lorenzo Thompson, vocals:
Ain't Superstitious
  Click here to see more on  Billy Sticks Nicks 


 New CD to be released

and from

Harbor Country Blues Festival
in Three Oaks Michigan

party for Chicago International Art Expo
click it!   Chicago Art Expo Party

 Click it!   Chicago Blues Extravaganza   at the Midway Tavern

twas Friday the 13th of July and the blues were at the Morris Center for the Performing Arts in South Bend
...and it was...

The band featured some of the area's top players, including Bobby Stone, vocals and guitar,
Bill "Sticks" Nicks on drums, Little Frank Krakowski on guitar, and Jesse Lee on bass

Dig this snippet from the concert: click on Lovelight
Bobby Stone, photo by Jumpin' Gene

and Don't miss this shot!
And  more photos,  July 13, 2001 at the Morris Civic
 Bobby Stone and Jumpin' Gene
(compliments of Julie LaFollette)

from a gig at The Big Easy, click Jambalaya
featuring zydeco accordian player Guy Lawrence!

--A photo from outdoor gig at LaSalle Park, June 16, 2001:

L to R: Jumpin' Gene, "Bay-Bay" Samuel, Larry Brown, Bobby Stone (in front), Bill "Sticks" Nicks, J.D.


Click it!   Chicago Blues Extravaganza   at the Midway Tavern




Some of the guitarists the band has worked with include:
Rockin' Johnny Burgin
Kevin Shannahan, who's been touring with Jimmy Burns
and doing a number of gigs with Tail Draggerr
Mike Dotson, a seasoned Chicagoan, (when not performing with Magic Slim and the Teardrops.)
Eddie Taylor Jr., son of blues legend Eddie Taylor.

Bass player John Baker is also an experienced... bluesman, having toured...
                        photo by Vicky Darnell
                                           ...extensively and recorded with Eddie Burks. He has also toured with another Chicago legend, former Howlin' Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin, performed in Chicago with Homesick James, Big Smokey Smothers, and Merle Perkins, and jammed with Buddy Guy and Jr. Wells, Taj Mahal, and John Hammond. Earlier Baker played gospel with Sonny Thompson, who is also known as a producer at both King and Chess records. John claims that he's never been to prison, except as a visitor.

Drummer Rob Lawrence, pictured here at Off the Wall "Chicago Extravaganza" gig  at the Midway Tavern with Eddie Taylor Jr. and Liz Mandville-Greeson, has performed with a wide array of Chicago musicians. He can be heard on Taildragger's most recent recording on Delmark, American People.
           photo by Vicky Darnell

Off the Wall Blues Band is booking and performing throughout the Midwest and touring beyond
Look out for them!                                Booking: (574) 631-7140

click here to see the annual Off the Wall Blues Band Fan club rally !

Click here to hear the band in a live performance--
--with former singer Lorenzo Thompson:  I Got to Leave You
Or another: 24 Hours

Click here to see a photo of Little Walter's grave.

  And click to see Sonny Boy Williamson's (Rice Miller) grave

And click again to see Little Walter and Muddy Waters
There's nothing like an old EV mike, made in Buchanan, MI!

(Ex-) Coach Bobby Knight says always reserve your seat in advance!