Catfood Records announces a February 19 release date for Tiger In a Cage, the new CD from Blues Music Award-winning singer/guitarist Johnny Rawls. Produced by multi-Grammy-winning producer Jim Gaines, Tiger In a Cage was recorded at the Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas. It features backing by The Rays: Johnny McGhee – guitar; Bob Trenchard – bass; Richy Puga – drums; Dan Ferguson – keyboards and accordion; Andy Roman – alto/tenor sax; Mike Middleton – trumpet; Robert Claiborne – trombone; Nick Flood – baritone sax; Jon Olazabal – percussion; with vocal backing by The Iveys. Joining as special guest is Eden Brent, who duets with Rawls on the sexy, soulful tune, “Southern Honey.”
Johnny Rawls was recently nominated once again by the Blues Foundation in the “Soul Blues Male Artist” category for the upcoming Blues Music Awards to be held in Memphis in May.
The even-dozen tracks on Tiger In a Cage include nine original songs, plus Johnny’s scintillating takes on Sam Cooke’s “Having a Party,” Jackie Wilson’s “Your Love Is Lifting Me (Higher and Higher),” and The Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden.” Rawls also does a funky re-working of “Red Cadillac,” a Rawls composition that first appeared as the title track on the album of the same name released in 2009 and has since become a fan-favorite at Johnny’s live shows. While known for his irresistible “old school” soul party tunes, which are well-represented on his new CD, the album’s title song is a serious track about a 19 year-old black man being sent to prison; a life thrown away, being over before it has begun. (Note: there are three times as many people in prison in the U.S. today as there were when the failed “War on Drugs” was begun.)
Johnny Rawls’ last album for Catfood Records, Soul Brothers, released in 2014, teamed him up with Blues Hall of Fame singer Otis Clay for what became one of the musical highlights of the year and generated both critical acclaim and strong radio airplay. Soul Brothers was also one of the two highest-rated blues albums on the Downbeat magazine “Best of the Year” list. His 2013 release, Remembering O.V., showcased Rawls in a moving tribute to his late friend and mentor, O.V. Wright, which also featured singer Otis Clay as a special guest on three tracks of the album, and included nine songs associated with Wright and an original cut, “Blaze of Glory,” that closed the album in rousing fashion.
Johnny’s 2012 CD, Soul Survivor, garnered him two more Blues Music Award nominations and followed Memphis Still Got Soul (2011), which received three. He’s been nominated numerous times in both the Soul Blues Male Artist and Soul Blues Album categories by The Blues Foundation, and his Ace of Spades CD won the BMA in 2010 as “Soul Blues Album of the Year. In 2014, he was voted Living Blues magazine’s “Male Blues Artist of the Year” and three of his albums have won the Living Blues “Critics' Choice Southern Soul Album of the Year.”
Born in the southern Mississippi town of Columbia, and raised in Purvis and Gulfport, Johnny Rawls - while still in high school - was already backing such stars as Z.Z. Hill, Little Johnny Taylor, Joe Tex and The Sweet Inspirations when they toured in his area. In his early 20s, Rawls was hired by the legendary deep soul singer, O.V. Wright, as his band director. After Wright died in 1979, Rawls kept the band together and toured for several years with Little Johnny Taylor and others.
By 1985, Johnny Rawls was touring as a solo artist and had made his first solo recording. In 1994, he recorded the widely acclaimed album, Down to Earth, with L.C. Luckett on the Rooster Blues label. After a second Rooster Blues album with Luckett, Rawls recorded a number of albums for JSP before starting his own label. Rawls first met Catfood Records president Bob Trenchard in 1997 and the two have worked on a number of projects together since then, culminating when he released his first album for the label, No Boundaries, in 2005
He’s also garnered previous nominations for his albums Heart and Soul in 2007; and Red Cadillac in 2009. Both Red Cadillac and Ace of Spades were nominated for Album of the Year by Living Blues and his last five albums have all charted top ten on blues charts with Red Cadillac reaching #1 on the Living Blues Radio Play Chart. Ace of Spades hit the #4 spot, remaining in the top 20 for three months. Rawls continues to tour consistently, performing 150 dates a year, both in the U.S. and overseas.