Little Howlin' Wolf


James Pobiega, a Polish-derived man from Chicago's South Side, performed heavily in bars and and to a greater extent on the street of his home turf during the late 70s through the mid 80s under the name Little Howlin' Wolf. During that time, self-released more than two dozen 45 singles, and two LPs compiled from some of those singles: The Guardian and The Cool Truth. The LPs show a unique and visionary take on emotive, raw, dissolved blues featuring Wolf on every instrument he could lay his hands on with a wrenching souldfulness and commanding fire-brained intensity to match Albert Ayler. Wolf took his music to its furthest reaches including stabs at Calypso, gypsy songs, Country-Western and children's tunes.

Pobiega, born Aug. 23, 1950, passed away in his sleep at home in Chicago on Sept. 12, 2023. He was 73.

"Wolf is so complex and separating the facts from his brain is real difficult ... 6'9" Polish south side Chicago badassnessed...invented breakdancing...wrote original 'Bad to the Bone'...inspired the 'Deacon Blue' song...drunk and drug addict street musician from 80-90' clean, runs and eats healthy...released 30+ (?) 45's that he sold on the street each with his unique stab at genre; calypso, reggae, blues, vocal chants, which he changed his name and invented the label name on so he wouldn't be easily traceable...Two self-released LP's The Guardian and The Cool Truth, he is the master of mind-blowing lo-fi off-kilter weird jam rooted in down-to-earth soul." -- Ian Nagoski



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Little Howlin' Wolf News:

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    The Guardian Is Here

    April 15, 2016

    After some gnarly vinyl manufacturing delays, very excited to release Little Howlin' Wolf's The Guardian. This 1982 LP brought together a slew of Wolf's self-released 45 singles to create a sorta jigsaw puzzle of style and influence that spans Chicago's fabled Maxwell Street scene to much deeper, outside movements stepped in free association and ethnic traditions. Unlike the scrabbled, overload of Cool Truth (1985 - FV83), The Guardian presents Wolf's most accessible and deeply emotional songs, yet still orbits a universe known only by the likes of Captain Beefheart or Albert Ayler.

    This reissue features replicated LP jackets, with Wolf’s original transcendent liner notes, and labels bearing his Solidarity Solidarnosc Records name; never before seen photos; essay by ethnomusicologist/ Canary Records head Ian Nagoski; and download coupon. 

    Now with both of Wolf's early 80s album back in print, listeners can finally get a full send of his "fractured, contemporary urban folk music," according to Pop Matters. "Borrowing from a host of stylistic traditions, Pobiega creates an unsettling amalgamation, an aural melting pop of sorts, that distills the disparate genres to their basest elements to create something distinctly American."

  • Little Howlin' Wolf Reissues Preview

    June 14, 2015

    A brief journey through the world of Little Howlin' Wolf...

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    Little Howlin' Wolf Makes 'Music of the Twilight'

    June 5, 2015

    “I’m the only one who plays on the streets all year round. I don’t do it for money. Most people ignore me but some people come by and toss a $5 bill and say, they’ve been listening for years and that I should keep it up.

    "I’ve lived an impoverished life. I’m just playing for people to listen. I must have composed 4,000 songs.

    "I am a Polish gypsy, a member of the on-going wolf tribe. I can play music from the Stone Age. I maintain music of the twilight.” -- Little Howlin' Wolf, 1980.

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    Little Howlin' Wolf jams

    November 11, 2013

    Little Howlin' Wolf is back in the Midwest for a spell. He joined up with Tyler Damon in Bloomington for a duo set at The Bishop... And yes, we will be reissuing the Wolf's two LPs -- Cool Truth and The Guardian -- in 2014.