It was at the Cascade Lounge that Coleman caught the ear of Robert Jr. Lockwood who had heard about this harp player and had come to hear him play. Lockwood called Coleman over and, on the spot, offered him a position in his band. A flattered Coleman said he had about 1 year to work before reaching retirement and he would contact Lockwood then. Wallace Coleman did retire, marking 31 years with Cleveland’s Hough Bakeries. And soon thereafter, as promised, he called Robert Jr. Lockwood.
It was an honor to have been chosen by Lockwood as his first and only harmonica player. His bandleader was an architect of American Blues; a guitar master closely watched and studied by any genre’s guitar slingers. Performers like B. B. King, Gatemouth Brown, and Ronnie Earl beat a path to Lockwood’s door every time they toured in Cleveland. Eric Clapton invited Lockwood to perform at his Crossroads Guitar Festival.
After a few years, Lockwood recognized that fans wanted to hear more from Wallace Coleman and Lockwood encouraged him to form his own band. In 1997, Coleman graduated to the post of full-time band leader. Shortly before leaving Lockwood’s band, Coleman recorded with Lockwood on his Grammy-nominated CD “I Got to Find Me a Woman.”
The Wallace Coleman Band was formed with Coleman standing firmly on the professional music foundation formed and nurtured during his 10 years as a Lockwood Side Man. And now Coleman could tap into the rich reserves of his beloved Traditional Folk and Chicago Electric Blues. Like Lockwood, Coleman has taken his band to perform at major Festivals and venues around the United States and beyond, touring in England, Belgium, Switzerland, France – and beginning in 2015, he has been invited to perform and record in Brazil, Spain and Holland – backed by the fine Blues artists in those countries.
On his own Ella Mae Music Label, Coleman has produced 5 CDs to critical acclaim: “Stretch My Money,” “Live at Joe’s,” “The Bad Weather Blues,” “Blues in the Wind” (Remembering Robert Jr. Lockwood), and “Live from Sao Paulo to Severance.”
In 2019, Wallace Coleman continues to perform around the United States and overseas with a Spring tour in the Netherlands. He is widely regarded as a postwar Chicago Blues premier torchbearer, recognized for his soulful, rich-toned and innovative harmonica sound.