Tigner, 74, began working with the Ink Spots in the late '40s, and aside from time he spent working in vaudeville during the '50s, he continued with the group up through 1987. While he now works by day as a kitchen assistant at Indian Creek Elementary School in Clarkston, by night he performs under his own name and in the ensemble Chicken Shack, which has played every Thursday at Fat Matt's Rib Shack for the past seven years.
Tigner had never recorded, however -- until now. Tigner celebrates the release of his debut CD, Route 66, this week.
His Chicken Shack bandmates -- at the time, harmonica player Paul Linden, bassist Matt Sickles and drummer Ron Logsdon -- suggested the recording idea last year. "[They] asked me if I wanted to record, and I said, 'I don't care nothing about recording. I just play 'cause I love to play,'" Tigner recalls, in an interview between sets at Fat Matt's. "They said, 'You're 70-some years old. You should put something down so that if anything happens, you have something to leave behind.' That's how it got started."
To bankroll the CD, Tigner connected with the Music Maker Relief Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps Southern musicians. Route 66 includes such standards as "Take The 'A' Train," "Shake, Rattle and Roll" and "C.C. Rider." Nine tracks feature Linden, Sickles, Logsdon and Chicken Shack founder/guitarist Felix Reyes, now based in Chicago. Three additional tracks feature Doug Jones, guitar; John Weiland, bass; and Steve Hawkins, drums. The CD is available via Music Maker (www.musicmaker.org) or directly from Tigner at his live performances.
Eddie Tigner plays the Northside Tavern, Sat., March 10.