Mon, 03/19/2012 - 12:05 pm

Out of the “Big Sky Country” comes the new release from Mad Buffalo, Red and Blue, which will be released February 21 and distributed nationally by Burnside Distribution. Red and Blue follows the band’s critically-acclaimed 2008 CD, Wilderness, which No Depression called  “beautifully fleshed out, with stellar performances;” while Gritz said of the album: “This is a CD that begs to be heard over and over again … In a five star rating system, this one gets six stars. Six stars beside a full harvest moon hanging over a bison filled prairie.  Good stuff.” And Honest Tune summed up its review by stating, “Wilderness is an outright jewel that gets better with every listen … one of the best roots-oriented releases of 2008.”Backing singer/ songwriter/guitarist Randy Riviere on the new album is a stellar cast of Nashville musicians, including legendary guitarist Reggie Young, as well as Jack Holder (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Kevin McKendree (keyboards and vocals), James Pennebaker (guitar, violin, mandolin, banjo), Shane Dwight (vocals), Dave Roe and Craig Young (bass) and Chad Cromwell (drums). The album was produced by Chad Cromwell and Randy Riviere and recorded at Cromwell’s Lamplight Studio in Primm Springs, Tennessee.Just like its predecessor, Red and Blue paints sweeping and incisive song portraits of characters and stories that are universal in their scope and appeal. As on Wilderness, the music on Red and Blue was informed by the many years Randy Riviere spent as a wildlife biologist working to protect our rapidly diminishing landscape values. Riviere’s musical influences range from The Beatles and Lynyrd Skynyrd to The Band and Neil Young.Unlike Wilderness, however, in several songs Red and Blue takes an outsider’s view of the political polarization of our country in the last several years. “The title track of Red and Blue is really about the deteriorating political discourse in our country,” says Randy Riviere. “It used to be that we could have political conversations with folks with different viewpoints and go have a beer with them afterwards and continue to be best friends. Now it's kind of ‘my way or the highway’ and only ‘true believers’ are allowed. And it’s gotten really nasty. One side has its own news shows, the other side has its own news shows – there’s just this big dichotomy now. And I think much of this is a product of contrived efforts, mostly by big-money America, to keep us divided and voting in specific ways.“But if you go out in the country, among the folks, away from all the political babble that runs non-stop over the airwaves, it doesn’t take long to realize that we're all pretty much the same. We all are doing the best we can to live the best we can. This is true whether we live in a red state or a blue state. This is true no matter what church we go to or if we don’t go at all. This is true regardless of how much money we have or which side of town we live in - whether we wear cowboy boots, hiking boots, muck boots, steel-toed boots or sandals. Whether we’re covered with cow shit or have never set foot on a farm. This album is about us, not the politicians and their big money enablers.”Other songs on Red and Blue are influenced by Thoreau’s ideas about the freedom of living simply, which resonated with Riviere and his family, who have vowed to do all they can to live as self sufficiently as possible. On the Riviere farm, you’ll find cows, pigs, chickens, a sizable garden and some horses. Echoing that sentiment, “Be Here Tomorrow’ is “about a young family’s connection to the ground and things that are really important,” says Riviere. “Another new song, ‘Emily,’ is about the subsequent generation that keeps evolving and always seems to be quite different than its predecessor.  In one sense you could think that because the younger generation is standing on our shoulders they should be able to see farther; in another there’s this realization that they wouldn’t set foot on our shoulders if their life depended upon it. And there’s all the political manipulation that’s thrown in their faces.”And it wouldn’t be a Mad Buffalo album if Riviere didn’t vent some of his concerns regarding the fate of our environment and our unwavering economic priorities in this country. “I’ve been concerned about this stuff forever and feel like the chickens have definitely come home to roost in this economy,” says Riviere. “Wall Street shenanigans, banker bonuses, de-regulation, the ridiculous GOP/Corporate America ‘trickle down’ mantra - which has always seemed to me like someone pissing down my back and trying to tell me it’s raining. Those thoughts coalesce on the songs ‘Walk This Life Alone’ and ‘Set the World on Fire.’”A big reader of American history, Riviere chose old Tennessee Mountain Man Joe Walker as the subject matter in ‘Big Joe Walker.’ “I just love writing these kinds of songs,” he admits. “I think Walker's life represented so many things I dreamed about as a kid ... being free to roam the stunning American West, before we got here and screwed it up.”

Mon, 03/19/2012 - 12:24 pm

Del Castillo, which combines elements of Rock, Latin, Blues, Flamenco and World music in their amazing palette of sound, announces a March 13 release date for their new album, Infinitas Rapsodias, a special 2-disc set that also includes a 5-track bonus DVD, all shot in HD. Infinitas Rapsodias will be distributed in North America by Sony/RED and in Europe by their label and distribution partners, The Music Agents GbR (Blue Label) / Soul Food. The band will kick-off the new release with an extensive world-wide tour, beginning with a European series of shows starting on March 3 in Zurich, and ending in Berlin on March 25.Infinitas Rapsodias showcases five brand new Del Castillo songs, as well as newly-created versions of several tunes from previous CDs that have become fan concert favorites and have taken on a whole new life of their own with different arrangements and instrumentation. These include “Brotherhood,” “Vida,” “Porque” and “Perdoname.” Demonstrating their global appeal, the band has even included a new take on their popular song, “Maria,” only this time with a vocal in Italian.The audio CD features the band with such favorite Austin artists as guitarist Monte Montgomery, singers Malford Milligan and Leann Atherton, and violinists/gypsy fiddlers Erik Hokkanen and Phoebe Hunt. It also includes a song featuring producer and pianist Carl Thiel, and closes with the powerful duet, “Amor Venme a Buscar,” performed by acclaimed German opera diva, Anna Maria Kaufmann, and Del Castillo lead singer, Alex Ruiz. Infinitas Rapsodias was recorded at Smilin’ Castle Studio in Kyle, Texas, and produced primarily by Rick and Mark del Castillo.The high-definition DVD includes a behind-the-scenes, up-close-and-personal look at the making of the entire project. It also features a video for the new song, “Canta de Alma,” which was shot by the band while on tour in Europe in 2011 and directed/edited by Mark del Castillo. Other DVD tracks include three studio jam session performance videos of Del Castillo favorite cover songs: the Doobie Brothers classic, “Listen to the Music;” the Louis Armstrong chestnut, “What a Wonderful World” and a slamming guitar-driven rendition of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” with special guest guitarist Monte Montgomery.Austin-based Del Castillo began as a CD project for family in 2000 by award-winning guitarist brothers Rick and Mark del Castillo. They’re joined by exciting and charismatic lead singer Alex Ruiz, plus Albert Besteiro on bass, Mike Zeoli on drums and Jason Murdy on percussion, who make up the band’s dynamic rhythm section. The music these six individuals create has a passion and energy that transcends any language barriers, which has resulted in Del Castillo becoming international touring stars.Rolling Stone called Del Castillo “tumbling brilliance on nylon-string classical guitars” with “eruptions of technique and taste (that) conjure images of Eddie Van Halen fronting early Santana (with an assist from the Gipsy Kings).”Del Castillo has become a symbol of the cross-cultural power of music, with their eclectic blend of Flamenco, Rock, Latin, Blues and World music having made the band into a world-wide favorite of fans all over the globe. Between the release of their first CD, Brothers of the Castle in 2001, and their 2009 self-titled release, Del Castillo, the band received an astonishing 23 awards, including SXSW/Austin Music “Album of the Year” Awards for Vida (2002) and Brotherhood (2006); “Band of the Year” (2003); ASCAP’s “Best Independent Group of the Year” (2005); and Austin Music Pundits “Best Live Act’ (2004).For the past two years, Del Castillo has toured extensively in the US and Europe, both as a headliner and in support of such diverse artists as Styx, Los Lonely Boys, B.B. King, Don Henley, Buddy Guy, Los Lobos, Bela Fleck and Willie Nelson. They’ve performed at three of Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnics and Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival. Other US and international venues they’ve played include the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, Scotland; California WorldFest; Austin City Limits Festival; Strawberry Music Festival; Tropical Heatwave Festival; Vancouver Folk Festival; Wendelstein Festival; Jazzfest Gronau and Bergen Fest (Norway). They’ve also performed on BBC Radio in London and Scotland.Acclaimed film director Robert Rodriguez became a big fan of the band after attending one of their shows in 2002 and has featured their music in such films of his as Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Sin City, Grindhouse and Spy Kids 3-D, even enlisting the group to perform with him at the premieres.  Rodriguez was so impressed with Del Castillo that he wanted to record with them, so together, they formed CHINGON and recorded an amazing electric rendition of the Mexican classic song, “Malaguena Salerosa.” Director Quentin Tarantino loved it so much that he re-did the ending sequence of his Kill Bill Vol. II film to fit the song into his movie.In 2008, the band’s two guitar virtuosos, Rick and Mark del Castillo, were selected by Gibson Global as two of only six guitarists in the world to launch Gibson’s new Les Paul guitar line, “Dark Fire.”Del Castillo recently performed a beautiful, unique song with Carlos Santana, Willie Nelson and Los Lonely Boys on a CD benefitting The Hermes Music Foundation. The song, “Claro Que Se Puede” (“Yes We Can”) is featured on their website, www.delcastillomusic.com.

Mon, 03/19/2012 - 12:48 pm

Australian blues/roots guitar sensation Geoff Achison, whose sound combines elements of blues, funk and jam band music, will hit the American shores with a vengeance for an extensive tour starting in March and extending through June in support of his upcoming CD release, Little Big Men, due for release April 10 on Jupiter 2 Records. Little Big Men, which will be available for sale on Amazon.com, iTunes, CD Baby and at the artist’s website, contains a re-mastered version of 14 tracks originally released to great acclaim in Australia several years ago but had been in limited release in the U.S., augmented by three previously unavailable bonus tracks.

To celebrate the new CD release, Geoff Achison will embark on a series of shows showcasing his many talents as a guitarist and singer, including some solo acoustic dates, full-band shows backed by his Souldiggers group and some special gigs featuring his good friend, the immensely talented Randall Bramblett (Sea Level, Gregg Allman, Steve Winwood). Kicking off the tour will be a special performance on March 17 from 2-6pm at Terra Blues in New York City as part of Hittin’ the Note magazine’s annual party during The Allman Brothers Band Beacon Theater concert series. Along with Randall Bramblett, also joining in the fun for this show will be the dynamic rhythm section of drummer Yonrico Scott (Derek Trucks Band, Royal Southern Brotherhood) and bassist Ted Pecchio (Susan Tedeschi Band). After that, Geoff plays March 23 and 24 at the Suwannee Springfest in Live Oak, Florida, with special guest Randall Bramblett, plus the Yonrico Scott/Ted Pecchio rhythm section.

The great Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna fame said of Achison, “Geoff is one of the finest blues guitarists that I know with a completely individual style.  I have never seen anyone play quite like him.” Kaukonen is such a fan of Achison’s playing that he’s made him a charter guitar instructor at his celebrated Fur Peace Ranch in Ohio. Geoff will be celebrating his 15th year as an instructor at the ranch with the upcoming session in late March.

Since first arriving to tour in the U.S. in the mid 1990s, Geoff Achison has garnered consistently strong reviews. Down Beat magazine lauded his music as, “Catchy, intelligent songwriting. Achison controls an expressive, individual singing voice and he spills out blues guitar phrases that shed further light on various emotional states.” Elmore Magazine said, “Achison seems more like a singer/songwriter’s soul in Jeff Beck’s body.”  And perhaps the celebrated Times of London said it best when it called him, “Possibly one of the most gifted musicians to arrive on the scene ... his playing verges on the miraculous.”p>One of the hallmarks of Geoff Achison’s mix is the incredible array of sounds he’s able to coax from his guitars and amplifiers – without benefit of any special effects. This evolved because of his upbringing in an isolated area of rural Australia. Unaware of how the sounds he was hearing on his limited record collection were produced, he invented some of his own techniques - without the aid of pedals or gadgets. Just watching him wrench a myriad of sounds from his simple set-up can be something of a spectacle. Having taught himself to play, he has developed a blues/funk style all his own that can be delicate one moment and explosive the next. He is also a very forceful vocalist with a gritty, soulful quality to his voice. Inspired by the classic blues and r & b music icons, Geoff’s live set features an infectious mix of gutsy original tunes, improvised jams and dynamic new arrangements of blues and soul classics.

At an early age, Geoff developed a passion for American blues music and taught himself to play on a beat up guitar he discovered under the stairs of the family home. In his early 20s, he became lead guitarist with Melbourne's top blues band; but after five relentless years of touring, he left to pursue his own musical ideas and formed the first incarnation of his own band, The Souldiggers.

“The idea was to have a name that described the music,” recalls Achison, “and I greatly admired the blues philosophy - tapping into one’s soul for honesty and truth. That’s what ‘Souldiggers’ is meant to convey.”

He formed his own Jupiter 2 Records in 1994 and released the first of many recordings of his original blues/funk/soul flavored material. These early recordings were well received by fans and critics alike and encouraged Geoff to take his music to other parts of the world. Geoff started his worldwide explorations in 1995 with his first trip to the USA. He represented the Melbourne Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and won the coveted Albert King Award for his guitar skills. He went on to accept an endorsement deal with the Gibson guitar company's acoustic division. In 1998, Geoff formed a U.S.-based Souldiggers group and while in the States recorded his third album, Gettin' Evil, in Portland, Oregon.

Geoff had moved to London in 1997 to establish a UK following, which led to appearances on BBC radio and the recording of a live album with his British Souldiggers group. The band was featured on a BBC radio special with host Paul Jones in 2007 and Geoff graced the cover of Blues in Britain magazine in July 2009.

In 2007, Geoff relocated to Atlanta, and during his two years in that city his annual tours extended throughout Australia, the UK and USA, playing either his immensely popular solo acoustic shows or hiring the best musicians available to form The Souldiggers as he goes.

He has won numerous awards over the years for writing, performing and recording. In 2007, Geoff & The Souldiggers picked up the Chain Blues Music Award in Australia for “Group Of The Year;” and a Guitar Player Magazine reader’s poll voted Geoff one of their Top Ten Hot New Guitarists” in June 2008. In 2011, the folks at TrueFire.com  put Geoff on the list of the “100+ Most Gifted Guitarists You Should Know.”

In 2009, his two years of living in the American southeast bore fruit by providing Geoff with an extensive network of top-level U.S. musicians.  He released the critically-acclaimed One Ticket, One Ride, which boasted an enviable cast of ace band members for the project, including guitarist Oliver Wood, drummers Yonrico Scott and Tyler Greenwell, bassists Ted Pecchio and Charlie Wooton and sax player Marcus James Henderson. The CD charted on Living Blues and the Blues Chart as well as making several “Best Of 2009” CD lists.

In 2010, Geoff teamed up with Athens, Georgia legend Randall Bramblett and a new “super-group” was born.  They released a live album, Jammin' in the Attic, featuring Geoff and Randall, with Yonrico Scott, Ted Pecchio and Oliver Wood.  Captured live playing a red-hot show at the famous Eddie's Attic, located just outside Atlanta in Decatur, Georgia, the CD was officially released by Hittin' the Note magazine.

Since returning to Australia as his home base, Geoff’s relentless touring has continued with regular visits to the USA, UK and Europe. The tireless travel has kept fans enthused and gleaned several live CD releases from different corners of the world.  He released Live at the Burrinja Cafe, an acoustic tour de force; and for fans of his electric jamming, he produced the smoking Live from Guitars Across the Bay in 2011. 

GEOFF ACHISON TOUR ITINERARY

3/23 - Suwannee Springfest, Live Oak, FL / Suwannee Music Park

Randall Bramblett & Geoff Achison Band (w/Yonrico Scott & Ted Pecchio)

3/24 - Suwannee Springfest, Live Oak, FL / Suwannee Music Park

Randall Bramblett & Geoff Achison Band

3/27 - Moondance Lounge, Suwanee, GA / Solo Acoustic Show - 7:30pm

3/28 - Joni's Artisanal Wine Shop, Saluda, NC - Solo Acoustic Show - 7:30pm

3/31 – Fur Peace Station Concert Hall, Pomeroy, OH 

Randall Bramblett & Geoff Achison Band – 8pm

4/6 - The Crimson Moon, Dahlonega, GA / Solo Acoustic Show - 8pm

4/7 - Eddie's Attic, Decatur, GA / Geoff Achison & The Souldiggers

4/19 - Bamboo Room, Lake Worth, FL / Oliver Wood/Geoff Achison Acoustic Show - 9pm

May and June tour dates will be announced shortly.

Mon, 03/19/2012 - 1:03 pm

Ruf Records announces the signing of Royal Southern Brotherhood, which consists of Cyril Neville (percussion and vocals), Devon Allman (guitar and vocals), Mike Zito (guitar and vocals), Charlie Wooton (bass) and Yonrico Scott (drums), and will release the group’s debut self-titled CD on May 8. The new CD was produced by Grammy-winner Jim Gaines and recorded at Dockside Studio near Lafayette, Louisiana. Ruf Records is distributed in the U.S. by the Allegro Corporation.

Fans can get a preview of the new songs when the band does an early northeastern swing of dates, including a very special “After-Party” late show at B.B. King’s in New York City on March 9, the opening night of The Allman Brothers Band annual concert series at the Beacon Theater.

Royal Southern Brotherhood unites two legendary roots-rock bloodlines along with a rising star guitarist and an in-the-pocket rhythm section for one of the most highly-anticipated albums of the past decade. What started out as a rumor and a few informal local gigs at various New Orleans venues has developed into a full-fledged powerhouse of soulful sound that’s rockin,’ funky and all-together groove-a-licious. Incubated in the heat and humidity of a New Orleans summer in 2010, Cyril, Devon and Mike crossed paths and set in motion the beginnings of what would become Royal Southern Brotherhood, beginning with jams held at a secluded studio in the city’s Garden District. When the musical sparks began to fly and the personal chemistry coalesced, the trio began to explore the real idea of forming a band to bring this new music to life. Their debut show last September at the city’s Rock ‘n’ Bowl tore the roof off the place and launched a horde of YouTube videos that burned across the internet.

Royal Southern Brotherhood has it all: incendiary playing with the twin lead guitars of Allman and Zito, coupled with Neville’s funky percussion work and the rhythm section of Wooton and Scott that literally kicks ass; lead vocals and three-part harmonies that drip with soul and passion; and a boatload of songs that deliver on the promise of what the band brings to the table with its musical chops.

Cyril Neville is a part of the first family of New Orleans roots and funk. Beginning in the 1970s, Neville soared both as a solo performer and as a member in a host of other groups, most notably the iconic band, The Meters. Cyril went on to add his percussion and vocals to such classic Meters albums as Cabbage Alley (1972) and Fire on the Bayou (1975) and joined the group when they were personally invited by Mick Jagger to open the Rolling Stones stadium tour of 1975. Also included in his long resume is work with another legend, The Neville Brothers, as well as with Bob Dylan, Bono, Willie Nelson, Galactic and his own band, Tribe 13.

Although Devon Allman grew up in St. Louis apart from his father, one listen to his smoky vocals demonstrates that apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Coupled with a guitar style that would have made his uncle Duane proud, Devon set out to create his own place in the music world, forming the band Honeytribe in 1999 and touring all over the world. His blues-rock style of guitar work and soulful singing clearly stamped him as an emerging light within the blues-rock realm. He’s had a Top 10 hit in Spain with Javier Vargas, recorded on albums with the legendary Jack Bruce and jammed with musical heavyweights Les Paul and Bill Gibbons. And he’s even been known to show up onstage with that group his daddy still leads after over 40 years, The Allman Brothers Band.

Former St. Louis native Mike Zito has been a rising star in blues for the past several years, both as a performer and a producer. He’s already picked up some hardware within the blues world, having won the Blues Music Award in 2010 as “Song of the Year” for the title track of Pearl River, which he co-wrote with Cyril Neville. Mike’s currently nominated for another BMA, this time as “Rock Blues Album” for his latest CD, Greyhound. With Zito having been a former St. Louis touring circuit contemporary of Devon Allman, the meeting of the two in the RSB was destined as an organic serendipity.

Forming the rock-solid foundation of the band and stirring up the musical gumbo sound of Royal Southern Brotherhood are bassist Charlie Wooton and drummer Yonrico Scott, both with ties to Atlanta (Wooton now lives in New Orleans). Before relocating to the Crescent City, Wooton’s snaky bass lines were a mainstay of the Atlanta club circuit, playing with his own band, as well as Zydefunk and jamming with the Wood Brothers. Yonrico Scott’s drumming was a featured part with his long-time membership in The Derek Trucks Band. He’s also played with a host of others including the Col. Bruce Hampton and Ike Stubblefield aggregations and jammed onstage with Gregg Allman, Bonnie Bramlett and The Allman Brothers Band.

ROYAL SOUTHERN BROTHERHOOD TOUR DATES:

3/7                   Katherine Hepburn PAC                               Old Saybrook, CT                 

3/8                   Infinity Hall                                                    Norfolk, CT

3/9                   B.B. King’s                                                     New York, NY

3/10                 Club Helsinki                                                  Hudson, NY

3/11                 The Bull Run                                                   Shirley, MA

3/13                 Treasure Lake Ski Lodge                               Dubois, PA

3/30                 The Tbois Blues Festival                                Larose, LA

3/31                 Mid City Rock ‘n’ Bowl                                 New Orleans, LA

4/13                 The House of Blues                                         New Orleans, LA

4/14                 Baton Rouge Blues Festival                           Baton Rouge, LA

4/15                 The French Quarter Festival                         New Orleans, LA

4/27                 Mid City Rock ‘n’ Bowl                                 New Orleans, LA

5/4                   The Republic                                                   New Orleans, LA

5/6                   Mid City Rock ‘n’ Bowl                                 New Orleans, LA

5/11 & 5/12     Brick and Mortar                                           San Francisco, CA

5/16                 The Compound Grill                                      Phoenix, AZ

5/17                 Anthology                                                       San Diego, CA

5/19                 Moe’s Alley                                                     Santa Cruz, CA

5/20                 The Powerhouse Pub                                      Folsom, CA

5/27                 Party at the Point                                           Gulfport, MS

6/7                   Whiskey Roadhouse                                       Council Bluffs, IA

6/8                   Olathe Music Series                                        Olathe, KS

6/9                   Sioux City Community Theater                     Sioux City, IA

6/10                 Li’l Memphis Rock ’n’ Blues BBQ                 Memphis, MO

6/12                 Woodlands Tavern                                         Columbus, OH

6/13                 Riverbend Festival                                         Chattanooga, TN

6/14                 Young Avenue Deli                                         Memphis, TN 

6/15                 Third & Lindsley                                            Nashville, TN

6/17                 The Arts Center                                             Carrboro, NC

6/22                 Leura Hill Eastman PAC                               Fryeburg, ME

6/23                 The Flying Monkey PAC                                Plymouth, NH

6/24                 Paulie’s NOLA Jazz Fest                               Worcester, MA

6/29                 Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival                     Champaign, IL                                                                                  

Additional dates forthcoming…

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 1:29 pm

Canada’s legendary songwriter, Ian Tyson, may be 78, but he’s not slowing down. He still runs his working ranch in the foothills of the Rockies south of Calgary; he still performs some 40 shows each year; and now he’s releasing an album of sparkling new songs titled Raven Singer (his first album in four years), coming out internationally on May 29. It’s his 14th for Stony Plain, the Edmonton-based international roots music label.

The new album comes on the heels of the announcement that his 1996 “best-of” compilation, All the Good ’Uns, has earned a gold record in Canada, indicating sales of more than 50,000 copies.

Tyson, always remembered for classic songs such as “Four Strong Winds,” “Navajo Rug,” “Someday Soon” and “Summer Wages,” recorded Raven Singer over a three-year period, as he wrote the new songs.

Tyson’s songs always have the ring of truth, and his travels have provided the background for two of the 10 remarkable songs — “Under African Skies” and “Back to Baja.” The first is partly travelogue and partly a story of “running from the memories” of a broken relationship. The latter has a distinctly southern Californian feel and is a song that Jimmy Buffett would feel at home singing.

Other songs that maintain his reputation as one of Canada’s most distinctive writers include “Blueberry Susan,” which offers a tribute to the first guitarist he ever heard, and some of the players — Red Shea, Monte Dunn and David Rea —whom he worked with and who have passed away since Tyson’s last album. “Charles Goodnight’s Grave” and “Saddle Bronc Girl” are warmly-observed songs of the real West, not the romanticized version shared by weekend cowboys and Nashville “new country” singers. One of the most moving songs on the CD is a new version of “The Circle is Through,” which he originally recorded almost 20 years ago with Nashville singer Suzy Bogguss.

Tyson himself says the record is a collection of songs built around the road back from the much-publicized loss of his voice in 2006. “I think I’ve learned how to make my ‘new voice’ work,” he says, and the new album seems to bear out his assertion. Tyson’s voice is less “grainy” that it was on his last album, Yellowhead to Yellowstone, but it carries an emotional punch that suits the new songs he has written.

The new album’s Dali-esque cover is by Calgary teacher Paul Rasporich; it depicts a raven’s skull. The title of the CD followed a sweat lodge ceremony at the Nakoda First Nation, near Banff Alberta, when Tyson’s name — Ka-ree-a-hiatha (Raven that Sings) — was chosen.

NOTE: Ian Tyson will join singer and songwriter Corb Lund on stage for five shows — July 9, 10, 11, 14 & 15 —at Calgary’s Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts. The concerts will celebrate 100 Years of Calgary Cowboys, and part of the annual Calgary Stampede celebrations. The two artists are close friends who have performed on each others’ albums.

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 10:12 am

David Earl, president of Severn Records, has announced the signing of New Orleans-based blues guitarist/singer Bryan Lee and Baltimore-based soul and blues singer Ursula Ricks to the label. Both artists are recording albums at Severn’s new state-of-the-art studios in Annapolis for release later this year. Severn Records is distributed in the U.S. by City Hall Records.Although raised in a small Wisconsin town near the shores of Lake Michigan, Bryan Lee has been a New Orleans resident since 1982, so much so that he’s been called a “New Orleans Blues Institution;” and is also known as the “Braille Blues Daddy,” dubbed so because he’s been blind since the age of eight. Eric Clapton called Bryan Lee “one of the best bluesmen I have ever heard.” He's played the prestigious New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival over 25 years and his new Severn CD will be his debut for an American label, with previous albums appearing on the Canadian imprint, Justin Time.Bryan Lee’s new album was produced by Kevin Anker, David Earl and Steve Gomes, with Lee backed by the illustrious Severn House Band of Kevin Anker (keyboards), Steve Gomes (bass), Johnny Moeller (guitar) and Robb Stupka (drums). The new disc is a mix of originals and covers of Bobby Womack’s “When Love Begins Friendship Ends,” Howlin Wolf’s “Evil” (with a guest harmonica performance by Kim Wilson) and a beautiful rendition of the George Jackson classic, “Aretha Play One for Me.”“We are thrilled to have Bryan Lee as part of the Severn family of artists,” said David Earl. “He is a consummate professional and has had a long recording career. The process of recording this album has opened new musical doors for Bryan and Severn. We look forward to working with him for a long time.”Growing up, Lee listened to clear channel station WLAC in Nashville and became enamored with the sound of the blues he heard on the radio. By the time he was 15, Lee was playing guitar in a variety of rock and blues-rock bands, and in his late teens he befriended legendary guitar slinger Luther Allison. In 1981, Lee and his band opened for Muddy Waters at Summerfest in Milwaukee, and he got a chance to talk with his hero backstage. After Lee told Muddy how honored he was to be opening for such a legend, Waters told the youngster, “Bryan, stay with this. One day you’re going to be a living legend.” Those words of encouragement have become an inspiration to Bryan Lee throughout his career.Bryan Lee’s recognition in the Crescent City began in 1982 with a long residency at the Old Absinthe House in the French Quarter. One of the formative blues guitarists who caught his act was a young Kenny Wayne Shepherd, whose time sitting in with Lee’s band proved to be a revelatory experience for him. Many years later, Shepherd would return the favor by including Lee in his documentary, 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads.Lee, whose New Orleans studio became a victim of Hurricane Katrina’s wrath, was later nominated for a Blues Music Award for his Katrina Was Her Name CD. For more on Bryan, visit http://www.braillebluesdaddy.com.For Baltimore’s own Ursula Ricks, this Severn Records release will be her debut album. Ursula’s new CD was also produced by the Severn team of Kevin Anker, David Earl and Steve Gomes and features her bluesy, soulful vocals backed by Kevin Anker (keyboards), Steve Gomes (bass), Johnny Moeller (guitar) and Robb Stupka (drums). Kim Wilson is a special guest, adding his harmonica talents on the original track, “Tobacco Road.”Ursula Ricks’ new album includes eight original songs, as well as her unique interpretations of songs by Bobby Rush (”Mary Jane” - a very funky/soul version) and Curtis Mayfield’s “Just a Little Bit of Love.”“Ursula's unique vision and vocal ability made recording her debut album a real pleasure,” said David Earl. “Like any seasoned pro, she knows what she wants to hear. Ursula has flown under the radar for so long. We are excited that the world will finally get an opportunity to experience her incredible music.”Ursula Ricks fell in love with the blues listening to her mom sing in the living room, and she wrote her first song at the age of 16. In her early twenties, she formed an all-female band, began writing original music and playing in local clubs. She was later introduced to and educated further in the art of blues music by the players who came into perform at a local club called the Full Moon Saloon. She called her band “Ursula Ricks Project,” for all the players she has been fortunate to share the stage with. Ursula has opened for Johnny Lang in Baltimore and even played the very first annual Baltimore Blues Festival. She has been playing along the East Coast from New York to Florida for over 20 years and has played with some of the best artists alive.For more information on her, visit www.ursularicks.com. For more information on Severn Records, visit www.severnrecords.com

Wed, 03/28/2012 - 12:55 pm

Severn Records announces a May 15 release date for Damn Good Time, the label debut from seminal American roots music band, The Nighthawks, distributed in the U.S. by City Hall Records. Damn Good Time is the follow-up to The Nighthawks' Last Train to Bluesville, which garnered the band its first-ever Blues Music Award from the Blues Foundation as Acoustic Blues Album of the Year in May 2011.

The Nighthawks are: Mark Wenner - vocals, harmonica; Johnny Castle - vocals, bass; Paul Bell -guitar; and Mark Stutso - drums, vocals. The new CD was recorded at the Severn Studios in Annapolis and produced by The Nighthawks and David Earl.

“This is a totally cool moment to be into my 41st year as a Nighthawk, the last of the originals, as we release our first album with the band as it is today, the band I have been working toward since early 1972,” says Mark Wenner. “Paul Bell and Johnny Castle are deep into a decade with the band. Mark Stutso, after two years of hard road and 500 shows, at last appears on his first album as a Nighthawk. Singing lead on five tunes and involved in the creation of four, he and Johnny are a magnificent groove machine. And the harmonies! I dreamed of them, too, when I began dreaming of a band like this."

Going into their fifth decade, The Nighthawks are blessed to have three strong lead singers, and they take advantage of the unique qualities of the trio of Wenner, Stutso and Castle. The wide array of originals and covers demonstrates The Nighthawks’ great strength as a true American roots music band. They roar through a repertoire of everything from blues and soul to rock and rhythm and blues on Damn Good Time. Bassist Johnny Castle contributes the romping “Bring Your Sister,” and also sings on a version of Jimmy McCracklin’s “Georgia Slop.” The band also taps into the songbooks of good friends and kindred spirits Billy Price and Norman Nardini, and serves up spirited takes on classics from Elvis (“Too Much”), Nat King Cole (“Send for Me”) and Wilbert Harrison (“Let’s Work Together’), as well as a raucous “Smack Dab in the Middle.”

In addition to their stellar catalogue of acclaimed albums released since 1974, The Nighthawks have long enjoyed wonderful touring and recording relationships with some of the best and brightest names in roots and blues music. On their 1978 release, Jacks and Kings, they backed up such blues all-stars as Pinetop Perkins, Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, Calvin Jones and Bob Margolin, and backed up John Hammond on his Hot Tracks album. The Nighthawks have toured with John Hammond, as well as John Lee Hooker, Hubert Sumlin, Elvin Bishop, Tracy Nelson and Eddie Hinton, and have played with such national treasures as Muddy Waters and Carl Perkins. Over the years, several other star artists have become de facto members of the band at various times, including Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes and Bob Margolin.

The Nighthawks continue to be one of the hardest-working bands on the road and have an extensive national and European tour set up to promote Damn Good Time, including showcase club dates and festival shows. The band is booked by Blue Mountain Artists.

THE NIGHTHAWKS ITINERARY

4/27                  Luna Live                                             Lake Charles, LA

4/28                  Hotel Sorella                                         Houston, TX

4/29                  Sunset Station                                       San Antonio, TX

4/30                  Antone’s                                               Austin, TX

5/1                    Mid-City Lanes                                     New Orleans, LA

5/3                    The Bloodhound                                    Auburn, AL

5/4                    Blind Willie’s                                         Atlanta, GA

5/6                    Beale Street Music Festival                    Memphis, TN

5/11                  The Hamilton                                        Washington, DC

6/8                    Fridays on the Square                            Harrisonburg, VA

6/15                  South Park                                            South Park, PA

6/17                  Crossborder Blues, Brews & Que          Wilson, NY

6/22                  Blue South Restaurant                           Roanoke, VA

6/23                  Abingdon Blues Festival             Abingdon, VA

6/28                  Songbird Café & Music Hall                  Beulah, CO

6/29                  Louisville Street Faire                            Louisville, CO

6/30                  Smokin’ Moe’s                                      Winter Park, CO

7/1                    Blues from the Top                                Winter Park, CO

7/3                    Lee Richardson Zoo                              Garden City, KS

7/5                    21st Saloon                                            Omaha, NE

7/6                    Zoo Bar                                                Lincoln, NE

7/7                    Knuckleheads Saloon                             Kansas City, MO

7/13                  Evenings on Main                                  Luray, VA

8/18                  Rollin’ on the River                                Keokuk, IA

9/19-10/7          Europe

10/27-11/3         Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise

Additional dates forthcoming ….

Thu, 03/29/2012 - 10:04 am

Stony Plain Records announces a May 29 release date for the new CD from multi-award-winning blues singer/guitarist Rory Block, I Belong to the Band: a Tribute to Reverend Gary Davis. The new CD is the third in what Rory calls her “mentor” series saluting blues masters she met in person and greatly influenced her as a musician. It follows the release of similar tributes to Son House and Mississippi Fred McDowell, for which her CD, Shake ‘em on Down, earned Blues Music Award nominations in the Acoustic Artist and Acoustic Album categories for Rory at the upcoming event in Memphis on May 10.“I cried during the recording of this CD,” Rory Block says in the album’s liner notes. “While listening to the music, memories of a precious time came swirling back like a wave of warm, fragrant air. I was overwhelmed with powerful emotions. This was a time when people like Reverend Gary Davis could be visited in person - at home - and one could take face-to-face lessons. It was nothing short of a magical time - of discovery, falling in love - and being swept away by the liberating beauty of early American blues and gospel in a well-worn easy chair in Reverend Gary Davis’s living room.”Rory Block first met Reverend Gary Davis in 1964, when at the age of 14 she accompanied fellow country blues enthusiast and guitarist Stefan Grossman for a lesson at the icon’s home in the Bronx, New York. “Stefan supported me utterly in my quest to learn and play country blues at a time when no tablature, DVDs, or other resources existed, save the greatest one of all: sitting down with one of the masters as an apprentice,” Block says. “Stefan tackled the Reverend’s style of playing as much as any human being I know of, and as a teenager, I was witness to many of those incredible lessons.”And Rory Block learned her lessons well. “Today, she is widely regarded as the top female interpreter and authority on traditional country blues worldwide,” according to The Blues Foundation. On I Belong to the Band: a Tribute to Reverend Gary Davis, she immerses herself and the listener in a beautiful swirl of gospel and blues that’s the next best thing to going to church. On the 11 compositions contained therein, she channels the spirit and the passion of her mentor in a collection that includes several of the legend’s best-known songs, such as “Samson & Delilah, “”Death Don’t Have No Mercy” and the title track, as well as other lesser known - but just as powerful and important – songs.The liner notes for I Belong to the Band: a Tribute to Reverend Gary Davis also include an excerpt about Davis from Rory’s autobiography, When a Woman Gets the Blues, including this excerpt about one of her visits: “Holding court was the magnificent Reverend. With his Jumbo in hand, he danced across the strings with a smile so sly that his mocked irritation was like a ritual blessing. On the one hand were the jokes—the flood of wisecracks that always brought a chuckle or a belly laugh—then came the reprimands, and your fingers turned to jelly before the master. He growled, he cajoled, he sang with his throaty, raw voice: gospel tinged with blues, blues coated with gospel, till his wife entered the room, dish towel in hand, to remind him that he was not to digress into the devil’s music. This was Reverend Gary Davis’s house, this was everything that mattered, this was blues to me in 1964.”The new CD was produced by Rory Block and Rob Davis and features her on all vocals and guitars, including her Signature Model OM40 Martin Guitar, as well as a D-28 Merle Travis Prototype Martin Guitar (supplied by Martin Guitars for this recording).

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 11:32 am

All Jams on Deck, the new 96-minute documentary by famed music filmmaker Robert Mugge is now available on DVD for the enjoyment of blues fans everywhere.  Produced by Mugge and his partner Diana Zelman, executive produced by CEO Roger Naber of Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, LLC, and shot/recorded entirely on Naber's October 2010 Blues Cruise to the Mexican Riviera, this Mug-Shot Production is the first film ever to focus on the art form of blues jamming. It also happens to be nominated for Best DVD in the Blues Foundation's 2012 Blues Music Awards competition, with the winner to be announced at the 33rd Blues Music Awards ceremony in Memphis on May 10th.All Jams on Deck was premiered on the October 2010 and January 2011 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruises and is now being made available to blues fans and musicians everywhere.  Aside from a shipping and handling fee of $5.95, DVD copies can be acquired free of charge by ordering from the Blues Cruise website.  In addition, a 12-minute and 36-second trailer for the film can be viewed along with the DVD package design and liner notes at the Mug-Shot Productions website.Featured in All Jams On Deck are dynamic performances by such major blues artists as Tommy Castro, Elvin Bishop, Marcia Ball, Johnny and Edgar Winter, Kim Wilson, Lee Oskar, Commander Cody, Coco Montoya, Lowrider Band, Larry McCray, Rick Estrin, Jimmy Thackery, Sista Monica Parker, John Nemeth, Steve Berlin, Vasti Jackson, Leon Blue, Rev. Billy C. Wirtz, Eden Brent, Mike Schermer and many more.  Also included are discussions of the history, techniques and etiquette of blues jamming featuring the artists themselves, as well as SiriusXM Radio's Bluesville Program Director Bill Wax and blues and jazz historian and producer Bob Porter.Early reviews of the new DVD have been glowing. “Originally available as a souvenir for voyagers on the legendary Blues Cruises, All Jams on Deck is becoming known as a film all blues lovers in general should enjoy.  It's also a primer for blues performers looking for tips from the pros...  Every musician should see this film at least once.  Odds are, you'll want to go on a Blues Cruise yourself to enjoy what hot licks sound like after-hours." - Wesley Britton, Blog Critics and Seattle Post Intelligencer"All Jams on Deck...offers some terrific highlights from the after-hours jams that take place on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruises.  It is actually also a nice primer for performers to learn from the professionals how to run jams...  Quite a lot of fun..."- Gregory Johnson, President, Cascade Blues Association"I have had the pleasure to watch Robert Mugge's All Jams on Deck, a documentation of late night jams on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise...  This is a film that anyone who loves contemporary blues would enjoy...a great documentary."- Bman's Blues ReportMany of the performances in the film were captured during the after-hours "pro jams" that take place nightly on the ship's aft Pool Deck, each of them overseen by a different major artist or band.  Among the songs recorded during those jams are "A Good Fool Is Hard To Find" and "I Feel That Old Feeling Coming On" led by Tommy Castro; "I Woke Up Screaming," led by Marcia Ball; "Last Dirty Deal," led by Coco Montoya, "Kim's Jam" and "Take A Little Walk With Me," led by Kim Wilson; and "Lowrider Jam," led by the Lowrider Band.  Jams captured in other show settings include Elvin Bishop and John Nemeth leading a performance of Bishop's classic "Fooled Around And Fell In Love;" Elvin Bishop sitting in with Johnny and Edgar Winter on "Johnny's Jam;" Vasti Jackson sitting in with Coco Montoya for Jackson's "Hurricane Season;" Vasti Jackson and Laith Al-Saadi demonstrating blues guitar techniques; Kim Wilson and Lee Oskar demonstrating blues harp techniques; Commander Cody and Rev. Billy C. Wirtz demonstrating blues piano techniques; and a stageful of top keyboard players from Leon Blue and Steve Willis to Eden Brent and Kelley Hunt performing ensemble versions of "Honky Tonk Train" and "Boogaloo's Boogie."All Jams on Deck is director Robert Mugge's second blues DVD release of 2012.  The first was Big Shoes: Walking and Talking the Blues, his 90-minute portrait of Ted Drozdowski's blues band, Scissormen, now available from VizzTone as a combination DVD and soundtrack CD.  All Jams on Deck is also the second film produced by Mugge and Diana Zelman with Roger Naber serving as executive producer.  The first film the three made together was Deep Sea Blues, a 118-minute portrait of the January 2007 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise to the Caribbean which is available on DVD from Micro Werks.In the words of the The Hollywood Reporter, "Filmmaker Robert Mugge has...established himself as the cinema's foremost music documentarian."  Over the past three-and-a-half decades, he has made dozens of music-related films and TV series, including such acclaimed documentaries as Gospel According to Al Green, Deep Blues, Pride and Joy:  The Story of Alligator Records, Hellhounds On My Trail:  The Afterlife of Robert Johnson, Last of the Mississippi Jukes, Gather At The River:  A Bluegrass Celebration, Black Wax (with Gil Scott-Heron), Blues Divas (with Morgan Freeman), and The Kingdom of Zydeco (with Beau Jocque and Boozoo Chavis).  In 2005, just after Hurricane Katrina, Mugge collaborated with Diana Zelman on New Orleans Music In Exile for Starz Entertainment Group, and the two have been working together ever since.Mugge currently serves as the Endowed Chair Professor of Telecommunications at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.  Four of his graduate and undergraduate production students (Joseph Vella, Andrew Bissonnette, Derek Cox and Derek Hall) served as primary crew members for the production.  Mugge edited the film in Muncie and supervised post-production at The Dive in Philadelphia.  In addition, Steve Savage served as music mixer in San Francisco and George Hunt created the commemorative painting incorporated into the DVD menus and package designed by Scott Burnett at the LRBC offices in Kansas City.Executive producer Roger Naber is a blues music industry visionary, a former Kansas City club owner, a blues deejay, and a charter cruise pioneer whose first Blues Cruise sailed in 1992.  His January 2012 Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise to the Caribbean was his 25th music cruise, with many yet to come.  In October of 2012, he is launching a new Southeastern Caribbean Blues Cruise departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico with one of his best artist lineups ever.In the words of Robert Mugge, "I made my 1986 film Saxophone Colossus because I wanted to know more about jazz improvisation and so chose to work with Sonny Rollins, the greatest living jazz improviser.  More recently, Roger Naber proposed that Diana and I produce a film about the late-night pro jams that are the highlight of his twice-yearly Blues Cruises, and I saw this as an opportunity to make a film about jamming and improvising among top blues artists.  The result of this collaboration, All Jams on Deck, serves not only as the record Roger wanted of some of his late-night pro jams, but also as the film I envisioned about all aspects of blues jamming.  In the end, everyone is happy, especially blues fans and musicians around the world: the musicians because they now have an effective primer for jamming with their peers; and the fans because we're giving away DVDs of this exciting film for free.  At a time when the music business and the home video business are both coming apart at the seams, we have devised a new business model to get the film out to everyone we know will enjoy it.  And that crazy business model is just to give it away via the Blues Cruise website.  Nothing will make us happier than if every blues fan on the planet goes to www.bluescruise.com and requests a copy of his or her own!"

Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:57 pm

Singer/songwriter Darryl Holter announces an April release date for his latest CD, Crooked Hearts, on 213 Music. Special guests on the new CD include Dave Alvin, Benmont Tench, Gabe Witcher and Willie Murphy.In Crooked Hearts, his third album, Darryl Holter offers up dark tales of love and heartache, betrayal and crime.  Holter is a storyteller and the characters in this album are flawed, but real.  They include star-crossed lovers who run afoul of the law, lonely hearts left behind and unlikely couples brought together by circumstance and torn apart by design. The title track is a first person narrative of fleeting romance and a safe-cracking robbery gone wrong. A picturesque Parisian street provides the backdrop for “Mouffetard Noir,” a story of short-term errors of judgment and long-term regret.  “Take Me Away” is a desperate attempt to escape from the rat-race by plunging into desire and uncertainty, no matter what the cost.  “November Rain” finds two lovers thrown together by chance, but with no chance for a future.  “Midnight in Cologne,” with Holter’s lyrics built upon the seductive melody of track four of Keith Jarrett’s brilliant 1974 album, Concert at Koln, rekindles a bittersweet memory of a beautiful episode buried in an unreachable past.The cover songs continue on similar dark themes, as Holter retrieves some largely forgotten but wonderful songs, rearranging them in ways that give them new vitality. Dave Alvin’s dirge-like “Mary Brown” clearly fits the theme of love and crime.  Holter opens Richard Thompson’s “Walking the Long Miles Home” with the lonely sound of a church bell tolling at three in the morning. Benmont Tench’s “Why Don’t You Quit Leaving Me Alone” is a gently - but creatively - rearranged cry for help against a backdrop of despair.  A Dylan song never recorded by Dylan, “Love Is Just a Four Letter Word,” with its final verse apparently written by Joan Baez, features vocals by Holter’s daughter, Julia Holter, a composer-singer-musician in her own right who recently scored big with two groundbreaking albums, Tragedy and Exstasis.  Holter also covers “I Ain’t Blue,” written by Minnesota-based folk-blues artists John Koerner and Willie Murphy, and originally recorded on Bonnie Raitt’s first album.Holter and his talented Grammy-nominated producer, Kneebody’s Ben Wendel, once again bring some of the best names in the business into the recording studio, including Greg Leisz (K.D. Lang), Benmont Tench (Tom Petty), Tim Young (Beck), Bill Mohler (The Calling), Don Heffington (Bob Dylan) and Matt Rollings (Lyle Lovett). Special guests include Dave Alvin (The Blasters), Gabe Witcher (The Punch Brothers) and West Bank, Minneapolis legend Willie Murphy. And, to keep the listener from falling into negativity due to the dark content of most of the album, Holter tosses in a peppy little original called “Try. Try, Try,” with a catchy, toe-tapping melody that stays with you after the track is finished.With multiple tales of obsession, loneliness, and love gone wrong, Crooked Hearts takes an old musical theme, populates it with a panoply of flawed but real characters, and, ultimately, makes us feel happy that our lives are as good as they are.The LA-based singer-songwriter and Minneapolis native, whose last album, West Bank Gone, won plaudits for his portrayal of the local Minneapolis music scene in the ‘60s and ‘70s, returns to the Twin Cities April 19-21. Holter is also touring the country speaking about the early career of iconic folk singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie, to mark the centennial of Guthrie’s birth in 1912.  In addition to the Guthrie talks, Holter is performing songs from his new album, Crooked Hearts.Holter, who received a fellowship from the Woody Guthrie archives in 2009, focuses on Guthrie’s political and musical evolution, from a Dustbowl populist and hillbilly singer to an urban radical and professional songwriter, in Los Angeles from 1937 to 1941.  His presentation on Guthrie - part lecture and part live and recorded music – will take place at several locations in both Minneapolis/St. Paul and Madison.For more information on Darryl Holter, visit www.darrylholter.com.

Wed, 04/11/2012 - 2:23 pm

Seminal American roots music band The Nighthawks have announced that their founding leader, Mark Wenner, has undergone successful heartbypass surgery and is expected to make a complete recovery. Because of the operation, Mark will stay off the road for approximately six weeks while he recovers, and the band has postponed the affected dates. The Nighthawks are expected to resume touring the end of May or early June.Mark Wenner’s condition was diagnosed on Monday, April 9 when he went in for an angiogram/angioplasty and doctors discovered he needed the bypass operation, which was done the following day. Because they caught it early, the doctors feel very confident that his prognosis for a full recovery is excellent.The Nighthawks debut CD for Severn Records, Damn Good Time, is scheduled for release on May 15, and the band had already scheduled a number of shows around the country to support its release. Damn Good Time is the follow-up to The Nighthawks’ Last Train to Bluesville, which garnered the band its first-ever Blues Music Award from the Blues Foundation as Acoustic Blues Album of the Year in May 2011.Singer/harmonica player Mark Wenner is the founder of The Nighthawks, whose members also include guitarist Paul Bell, bassist Johnny Castle and drummer Mark Stutso. The new CD features a number of originals and cover songs ranging from blues and soul to rock and rhythm and blues.Fans can keep track of Mark Wenner’s recovery by vis.iting the band’s website at or their Facebook page, where they can also send him get-well wishes

Mon, 04/16/2012 - 2:20 pm

Singer Lisa Biales (pronounced “Be-Alice”) has announced the June 5 release of her new CD, Just Like Honey, produced by EG Kight and recorded, mixed, mastered ands co-produced by the legendary Paul Hornsby (The Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels, etc.) at his Muscadine Studio in Macon, Georgia. The CD is being released on her own Big Song Music label and will be available through CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon.com. Lisa is backed on the sessions by a host of stellar musicians, including former Capricorn Records’ mainstays Tommy Talton on guitar and Bill Stewart on drums, as well as heralded fiddle/mandolin player David Blackmon (Jerry Reed, Widespread Panic, Blueground Undergrass). Both EG Kight and Paul Hornsby join in the fun, too: Hornsby plays keyboards throughout, and EG Kight not only lends her perfect harmony vocals on a number of tracks, but also joins Lisa in a beautiful duet of the Delmore Brothers classic, “Blues Stay Away from Me.”“EG Kight’s vision for this project was to put together original songs with some of my early musical influences,” says Lisa Biales about the sessions. “In the studio, we figured out each song in the control room gathered around Paul’s mixing board. When we’d all get into the feeling of the song, someone would say, ‘That’s It!,’ and we’d all rush with excitement into the recording room and cut the tune.”Kight’s “vision” of the album is a perfect match for Lisa Biales’ superb vocals, which - like the title track says - drip “Just Like Honey” over a wide range of rootsy musical influences, including Americana, blues, folk and old-timey music. Just Like Honey features Lisa’s sultry takes on Memphis Minnie’s “Call the Fire Wagon,” Candye Kane/Jack Tempchin’s “Gifted in the Ways of Love” and Ma Rainey’s “Yonder Come the Blues;” plus a powerful version of one of Lisa’s favorite singers – Etta James – on “Damn Your Eyes”, and another personal favorite – Bonnie Raitt – on “Give It Up.”The CD also includes several Lisa Biales and EG Kight originals, as well as a song from Tommy Talton.Lisa’s song, “I Believe,” was featured in the TV show, Girlfriends, on the CW Network; and a previous CD, Closet Hippie, was played extensively on Sirius XM’s “The Coffee House” channel. She also lends her voice and guitar to the soundtrack of Sarah Knight’s new documentary film, Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend, a portrait of Nicole Sherry, head grounds-keeper for the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards (one of only two women in that position in Major League Baseball). Lisa Biales makes her film debut in Academy Award-winning director Francis Ford Coppola’s new film, Twixt. Inspired by the gothic horror of Edgar Allen Poe, Coppola's latest tells the tale of a burnt-out mystery writer (Val Kilmer) who gets mixed up in murder and evil in a California town. Lisa portrays a waitress named Ruth, who appears in a dream of the tortured writer, she lures (Kilmer) into a hotel for a drink while her husband (Don Novello) tinkers with a broken clock. When Lisa picks up the guitar to sing for her guest (the classic, “Big Rock Candy Mountain”), the ghost of a girl (Elle Fanning) appears and gets seduced by Lisa’s voice. The film is being released in the UK first this month.  To view the trailer for Twixt, click here.Ohio-based Lisa Biales has spent a lifetime making music. Her diverse musical influences drive her to continue to evolve as an artist, singer and guitarist. Just Like Honey showcases the gift Lisa has for writing a great song, and making the ones she covers all her own. She sings with a crystal pure voice and writes music about the simple things in life. Lisa grew up in a musical family and began her career as a performing songwriter at an early age. She’s independently released six albums of music under her own Big Song Music label, and is heard on radio stations around the world. Her song “Playing With Angels” went to #1 in Australia and “Where The Buckwheat Blooms” hit #32  on the folk radio charts in the U.S.

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 11:13 am

Catfood Records announces a June 19 release date for Soul Survivor, the new CD from Blues Music Award–winning singer Johnny Rawls, with national distribution by City Hall Records. Soul Survivor is the follow-up to Johnny’s 2011 CD, Memphis Still Got Soul, which has received three nominations for the upcoming Blues Music Awards to be presented in Memphis on May 10. Johnny is nominated for Soul Blues Male Artist and Soul Blues Album, as well as Song of the Year for the title track from that CD. Living Blues magazine called it “an unabashedly roots-rich outing, featuring Rawls’ voice at its meatiest and his guitar work at its most elegant and understated.” A previous album, Ace of Spades, won the BMA in 2010 as Soul Blues Album of the Year.Soul Survivor is Johnny’s strongest album yet. The CD was produced by Johnny Rawls and Bob Trenchard and recorded primarily at Sonic Ranch Studios in Tornillo, Texas; with one song recorded at Soul Tree Recording in Helena, Montana. Most of the musicians on each of the sessions also played on Johnny’s last three albums. Included on the Texas sessions are members of The Rays, a band Rawls discovered in 1999 and subsequently produced for his own Deep South Soul Records. The band includes Richy Puga on drums and percussion, Dan Ferguson on keyboards, Bob Trenchard on bass, Andy Roman on sax, Mike Middleton on trumpet and Robert Claiborne on trombone. They are joined once again by Johnny McGhee, former LA Motown studio musician (Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross) and guitar player for the group, LTD, who has now become the studio guitarist for The Rays. Jessica and Jillian Ivey sing background vocals.Of the 10 songs on Soul Survivor, nine are originals, mostly written by Rawls and Bob Trenchard, with some contributions from other band members, as well as Catfood Records singer, Sandy Carroll, who co-wrote one tune. As always, Johnny pays tribute to his mentor, the late, great O. V. Wright, by including one of the soul music legend’s songs on every Rawls album. In this case it’s the powerful soul blues ballad, “Eight Men, Four Women.”Along with his recent three nods, Johnny Rawls has now received eight BMA nominations for his last four CDs. The previous ones came 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 won the Critics' Choice Southern Soul Album of the Year Award. Red Cadillac also reached #1 on the Living Blues Radio Play Chart, while Ace of Spades hit the #4 spot, remaining in the top 20 for three months.“Johnny Rawls has carved a niche for himself as a master of soul-blues, delivering uptempo songs with solid pop hooks, as well as smooth vocals with just the right touch of grit and Stax-style horns,” said Blues Revue.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 have worked on a number of projects together since then, culminating when he released his first album for the label, No Boundaries, in 2005    As always, Johnny Rawls continues to tour consistently, performing 150 dates a year, both in the U.S. and overseas.For more information, visit www.catfoodrecords.com and www.johnnyrawlsblues.com.

Fri, 05/04/2012 - 4:13 pm

From the intro electric guitar riffs that kick off the opening track of his new CD, Living the Dream, which is due out June 12 on Blues Leaf Records, blues guitarist/singer Albert Castiglia announces that this release is something special. And throughout the rest of this impressive new album from the guitar master and former band leader for the legendary Junior Wells, Albert Castiglia delivers big time on the promising steps he’s taken on his previous CDs.Living the Dream sports an even-dozen tracks dripping with soulful, searing blues, the product of his energetic guitar work - alternatively pensive and reflective, then filled with sparks and fire – melding with a vocal style that pays tribute to the masters, but clearly stamped with Castiglia’s own, inimitable sound. Included are five Albert Castiglia originals, plus a song from long-time cohort Graham Wood Drout (Iko-Iko), along with distinctive covers of tunes from artists such as Freddie King (“Freddie’s Boogie”), Little Richard (“Directly from My Heart to You”), Paul Butterfield (“Lovin Cup”) and Mose Allison (“Parchman Farm”).Living the Dream was produced by Ben Elliott, recorded at Showplace Studios in Dover, New Jersey, and features backing by Albert’s regular band of Bob Amsel on drums and A.J. Kelly on bass. Special guests include John Ginty on keyboards, Sandy Mack on harmonica (who also played on Albert’s last CD), Juke Joint Johnny Rizzo on acoustic slide guitar, with Emedin Rivera once again adding his special Mojo on percussion.Castiglia’s last CD, Keepin On, was released in 2010 and garnered extensive critical acclaim and radio airplay. “He’s up there as one of the finest blues vocalists today,” said Blues Revue. “If you’re looking for a fresh, up and coming guitar hero, get into Albert Castiglia,” Elmore magazine wrote in its review. New Times – Miami called his music “Gritty and irascible -- with authority and authenticity -- he purveys a no-holds barred delivery that melds his throaty vocals with a dazzling display of instrumental virtuosity… this is a seamless set, one that ought to elevate Castiglia to a more prominent position of influence and authority.” And Blues in Britain summed up its glowing review by stating, “Junior Wells would be proud – enough said!”Born in New York and raised in Miami, Albert Castiglia (pronounced “ka-STEEL-ya”), began playing guitar at 12. In 1990, he became a member of The Miami Blues Authority and was later voted “Best Blues Guitarist” by New Times magazine in 1997. Shortly thereafter, he was spotted by legendary blues singer/harmonica player Junior Wells, who asked Castiglia to join his band as a guitarist and singer. With Wells as his mentor, Albert performed at clubs and festivals across America, as well as in Canada and Europe. During that time, he also got the opportunity to play and jam with many other blues stars, including Pinetop Perkins, Ronnie Earl, Billy Boy Arnold, Lurrie Bell, Jerry Portnoy, Eddy Clearwater and Otis Clay. After Junior Wells passed away, Castiglia toured with Atlanta blues singer Sandra Hall.In 2002, Albert launched his solo career with the debut CD, Burn, collaborating with his longtime friend, Graham Wood Drout of south Florida band Iko-Iko. Drout’s visceral, yet literary songs became the perfect vehicle for Castiglia’s soulful vocals, which recall Van Morrison, and stinging guitar playing. In 2006, he released his second album (and first for Blues Leaf Records), A Stone’s Throw, which included two more Drout compositions, “Big Toe,” and the amazing “Ghosts of Mississippi,” which has all the earmarks of becoming a blues classic. Castiglia and Drout also released a live CD together, titled The Bittersweet Sessions, in 2005.His 2008 CD, These are the Days, contained five original Albert Castiglia songs, including the opening track, “Bad Year Blues,” which was nominated for song of the year at the Blues Music Awards, and “Godfather of the Blues,” his tribute to Junior Wells. Once again, Graham Wood Drout contributed another song for Albert, “Celebration.” The cover songs on These are the Days saluted a wide range of styles and artists ranging from Bob Dylan (“Catfish”) and Nappy Brown (“Night Time is the Right Time”), to Fenton Robinson (“Somebody Loan me a Dime”) and Little Willie John (“Need Your Love So Bad”).Albert Castiglia is supporting the release of Living the Dream with extensive touring both in his home state of Florida and throughout the rest of the country. For more information, visit www.albertcastiglia.com and www.bluesleaf.com.UPCOMING ALBERT CASTIGLIA TOUR DATES5/9                    Humphrey’s Bar & Grill                                                Huntsville, AL5/10                  Slippery Noodle Inn                                                       Indianapolis, IN5/11                  Court Street Grill                                                           Pomeroy, OH5/12                  Canal House                                                                 Tuscarawas, OH5/15                  Triad Theater                                                                New York, NY5/18                  The Twisted Tail                                                           Philadelphia, PA5/19                  Cady’s Tavern                                                              Chepachet, RI5/21                  Time Out Pub                                                               Rockland, ME5/24                  The Hungry Tiger                                                          Manchester, CT5/26                  Jonathan’s Landing                                                        Magnolia, DE5/31                  Big Easy Bar & Grill (duo w/Graham Drout)                   Hollywood, FL6/1-6/3              Green Parrot (CD Release Party!)                                 Key West, FL6/8                    Bamboo Room (CD Release Party!)                              Lake Worth, FL6/16                  Bradfordville Blues Club (CD Release Party!)                Tallahassee, FL6/17                  Earl’s Hideaway (CD Release Party!)                            Sebastian, FL6/23                  Downtowner Saloon (CD Release Party!)                      Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Wed, 06/06/2012 - 5:18 pm

Another classic soul-blues voice has been stilled with the announcement today of the passing of Severn Records artist, Lou Pride, who died in his hometown of Chicago last night (June 5) of natural causes while in hospice care. Pride had undergone numerous medical challenges for many years, having suffered several heart attacks and additional circulatory problems. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of the great soul singer Lou Pride,” said Severn Records President David Earl. “Lou lived his life through his music and through the belief that love is always the solution to any worldly problems. It was an honor to know him, call him my friend and to have the opportunity to document his music. We will miss him.”Over the course of many months last year and into early 2012, Lou Pride had been recording a new album for Severn Records, and that CD, Ain’t No More Love in this House, will be released in the fall. Lou Pride’s powerful soul-drenched voice will be heard on a number of new songs, as well as an amazing version of the Simply Red classic, “Holding Back the Years,” which will leave an indelible legacy of the artist’s career.Severn Records released three prior CDs on Lou Pride, including Words of Caution in 2002 and Keep on Believing in 2005, as well as compilation of some of his greatest early singles and unreleased tracks, titled The Memphis/El Paso Sessions (1970-73). That CD included a number of tracks recorded at Willie Mitchell’s famous Royal Recording Studios in Memphis and featured him backed the Hi Records house band of Teenie Hodges (guitar) Charles Hodges (organ), Leroy Hodges (bass) and Howard Grimes (drums), along with the Memphis Horns and Memphis Strings.Although not as widely known as some of his contemporaries, such as Bobby “Blue” Bland, Little Milton and Johnnie Taylor, Lou Pride’s talent and soulfulness were the equal of any of those iconic singers. He was known for his electrifying live shows and a vocal delivery that went from a whisper to a commanding growl.Born George Lou Pride on May 24, 1944 in Chicago, he grew up on the Windy City’s north side and first experienced singing gospel music, attending the Baptist Church pastored by Nat King Cole’s father. Watching a live B.B. King performance converted Pride, however, and he was soon on his way singing soul and blues on the Chitlin' Circuit throughout the South and Midwest. His first acclaimed singles were recorded in the early ‘70s while living in El Paso, Texas, and he soon relocated to New Mexico. He toured early on with such artists as B.B. King, Clarence Carter, Betty Wright, Koko Taylor and Kool and the Gang.After returning home to Chicago, he was introduced to the great Curtis Mayfield, who recorded him for his Curtom Records label. He later recorded for a number of other labels, including several albums for Ichiban in the ‘90s before hooking up with Severn Records at the turn of the 21st century.

Wed, 06/06/2012 - 5:35 pm

Blues-rock singer Cee Cee James announces a July 17 release date for her new album, Blood Red Blues, produced by Grammy-winner Jim Gaines, on July 17. Blood Red Blues will be released on her own imprint, FWG Records, with international distribution by Burnside Distribution.Blood Red Blues is the fourth CD from the St. Louis-based singer, whose powerfully soulful vocals have already created a lasting impression on audiences and critics alike all over the world. Producer/engineer/mixer Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, Luther Allison), who tracked the sessions at his Bessie Blue Studio in West Tennessee, perfectly captures all the exciting elements of Cee Cee’s vocal style on the new album, creating a sound that is both vulnerable and passionate, igniting the songs with a burning, sensual yearning that drives home the dozen all-original songs.Backing Cee Cee on Blood Red Blues are Rob “Slideboy” Andrews on rhythm and slide guitar, Rocky Athas on lead guitar, Chris Leighton on drums, Dan Mohler on bass and Susan Jillian on keyboards, along with vocal backing from Stanley Crouse, Vicki Atkins, Danunielle “Pie” Hill and Kimberlie Helton.After working with James, Jim Gaines called her “one of the greatest blues-rock singers out there today. She’s someone I call an ‘old soul.’ Cee Cee’s songs are wonderful stories of her life experiences, and backed by Rob’s strong Delta roots/blues slide and rhythm guitar playing, they make a great team. Her style reminds me of our classic early female blues and rock singers. She’s very passionate about giving a great performance.”Cee Cee’s blistering vocals tell the truth of the powerful messages in her songs, born and bred from a lifetime of heartache and loss, but delivered with a message of hope, understanding and the healing power of love. The hallmark off her career has been her intense live performances, as anyone who’s seen her can attest. Blood Red Blues distills that energy and transmits it through the recording process into something that is valid and compelling.Cee Cee James was originally based on the West Coast. Her first album, a pop/funk CD, garnered the Los Angeles Independent Artist of the Year Award; and a track off that album was honored as one of the top 10 in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition, before she directed all her talent and energy to the blues. Her second CD, Low Down Where the Snakes Crawl,” was released in 2008 and gained worldwide distribution, as well as critical press and radio attention. By that time, she had re-located to the Pacific Northwest  and in 2009 she won the Klamath Falls, Oregon Blues Challenge & went on to compete in the 2010 IBC finals in Memphis, where esteemed writer/editor Don Wilcock called her” the most exciting and original act at this year’s IBC.” Her last CD, Seriously Raw – Live at Sunbanks,” drew more extensive radio airplay and rave reviews, also bringing Cee Cee the “Best Blues Songwriter Award” and a nomination for “Best Blues Vocalist” from the Washington Blues Society in 2010.Cee Cee James just returned from a tour of Europe that included shows in the recently earthquake-ravaged areas of Italy, and will return to that continent in October with a Scandinavian tour. She’s also been tapped to star in a supporting role in the upcoming film, We Be Kings, which also features such other blues stars as Magic Slim and Grana Louise, and features Slim’s band, The Teardrops.

Thu, 06/14/2012 - 7:56 am

Delbert McClinton, Marcia Ball, Augie Meyers, Shawn Sahm, Terri Hendrix and a cast of Texas music headliners and legendary side men will perform as part of an all-night, all-star tribute to musician, philanthropist and beloved patron of the music scene, Lucky Tomblin, at 7:00PM on Sunday, September, 2nd.  The Tribute, titled “A Labor of Love – A Musical Tribute Honoring Lucky Tomblin,” will be held at the Texas Music Theater, 120 E. San Antonio Street, on the square in downtown San Marcos.  Prior to the main event, a special VIP reception and performance will be held for VIP ticket holders, starting at 6:00PM.VIP tickets include 2 drink tickets (wine or beer) & appetizers during VIP happy hour.  All VIP ticket holders will have their name entered into a drawing for an autographed guitar.  Only VIP ticket holders will be eligible for the drawing.  Doors for VIP Happy Hour will open at 5:45 PM.The mission of CASA of Central Texas is to advocate for abused and neglected children in the court system by recruiting, training and supporting community volunteers.  In 2011, CASA volunteers served more than 300 children in Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties.Tomblin, a San Antonio native, is a bandleader, songwriter, filmmaker and founder of SilverStar Entertainment.  In the 80’s, Tomblin founded the legendary Fire Station Recording and Film Studio in San Marcos, where he recorded among others, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Texas Tornados and Townes Van Zandt. Tomblin was also instrumental in starting the Recording Technology Program at Texas State University in San Marcos.Tomblin first sang in public at the Grand Ole Opry show in San Antonio on the same bill with Roger Miller, Little Jimmy Dickens and Ray Price.  Dynamic Records’ Abe Epstein signed him and his first single, the folk-rock “On My Love,” was a regional hit.He played nightclubs and shared stages with such friends as Jackie King, Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers and the West Side Horns.  It was his old friend Sahm who urged Tomblin to form a band.  This encouragement was the genesis for his first band, Lucky 13, which performed at the Havana Jazz Festival in 2002. The band also recorded and endeared itself to dancehall fans in Central Texas and beyond.The current Lucky Tomblin Band featuring Redd Volkaert, Earl Poole Ball, Bobby Arnold, John X Reed, Sarah Brown and Jon Hahn released its self-titled debut album in 2003, followed by “In a Honky Tonk Mood” and “Red Hot from Blue Rock”.  The band’s latest, “Honky Tonk Merry Go Round,” was produced by Lloyd Maines.Music will begin at 7:00PM.  Serving as emcees will be Dr. Gary Hartman, Director of the Center for Texas Music History at Texas State University, and Dallas Wayne, Host of Outlaw Country and Willie’s Roadhouse shows on SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio.If you cannot attend and would like to make a donation in Lucky’s honor to CASA, please do so by sending a check made payable to CASA of Central Texas, Inc., 1619 E. Common, Ste. 301, New Braunfels, TX 78130, or online at www.casacentex.org and visit the Ways to Donate link.Scheduled Performers:Delbert McClintonMarcia BallAugie MeyersShawn SahmTerri HendrixLloyd MainesFloyd DominoAl GomezDerek O’BrienDenny FreemanBarry “Frosty” SmithJack BarberMark “Kaz” KazanoffPonty BoneSpeedy SparksLouie OrtegaErnie DurawaGray GregsonEmily GimbleNick ConnollyRiley Osborne-The Lucky Tomblin Band featuring Earl Poole Ball, Casper Rawls, Bobby Arnold, John X Reed, Sarah Brown, Mark Hays and many more

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 9:57 am

Ruf Records announces a September 12 release date for blues-rock singer/guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor's new CD, Almost Always Never, which was produced by Mike McCarthy and recorded in Austin, TX. Ruf Records is distributed in the U.S. by the Allegro Corporation.

Almost Always Never is Joanne’s third CD and follows the international buzz for her two prior albums, White Sugar (2009) and Diamonds in the Dirt (2010), for which she was voted “Best British Female Vocalist of the Year” in both 2010 and 2011 at the British Blues Awards. Additionally, her first CD garnered a nomination as “Best New Artist Debut” at the 2010 awards.

Another recent honor came when Joanne was tapped by legendary singer Annie Lennox to accompany her on guitar for her amazing performance as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at Buckingham Palace in London on June 4th.

Joanne Shaw Taylor has been doing fantastic things since she was discovered by the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart as a guitar prodigy while only 16 and asked to join his “supergroup” of the time. With each successive album release, she’s added to her amazing collection of rave reviews from fans, critics and radio DJs around the world. The All Music Guide called her first CD, “A spectacular debut from a major talent.” The Boston Herald said of her, “England’s Taylor has all the tools to become the next big thing in blues…Taylor wields an un-clichéd guitar style and the voice of a goddess – a fragile rasp that recalls Dusty Springfield and is worth the price of admission.”

Now based outside of Houston, Taylor has used her time in the U.S. over the last few years to concentrate on touring throughout this country, while still maintaining a very active presence in Europe, as evidenced by her critically-acclaimed UK tour in late 2011, which she’ll follow-up with a 13-date return trip to the UK in October.

Almost Always Never marks a departure for Joanne from her previous two CDs, which were both produced by Grammy-winner Jim Gaines and recorded at his Tennessee studio. This time, she’s journeyed further southwest and has hooked up with the acclaimed Mike McCarthy, who produced, recorded and mixed the new album in Austin, Texas. McCarthy has garnered accolades for his production work with Spoon, Patti Griffin and the group And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. Backing Taylor on the new CD is a group of stellar musicians, each with their own impressive resumes: David Garza on keyboards/mandolin (Juliana Hatfield, Fiona Apple, Blues Traveler); Billy White on bass and acoustic slide (Heartless Bastards, Craig Finn, Dokken); and J.J. Johnson on drums (John Mayer Trio, Tedeschi/Trucks Band, Doyle Bramhall II).

“Mike McCarthy comes from a very different musical background from me,” says Joanne about the new sessions. “He pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to explore and embrace new territories, while remaining true to who I am. I never thought when I started this journey I would ever get to work with such an amazing array of musicians. I’ve been a fan of J.J., David and Billy for many years and their performances on this album are exceptional.”

The new album’s dozen tracks include 11 originals that showcase Taylor’s continuing emergence as a songwriter of exceptional insight and scope, as well as a scintillating cover of a song from the late, great and underappreciated British singer Frankie Miller (“Jealousy”).

“I’ve loved every album and recording experience I’ve had to date for many different reasons,” reflects Joanne. “I think what sets Almost Always Never apart from my two previous albums is the songwriting process leading up to it. All 12 of them combine into one body of work. It’s the perfect and truest example of who I am as an artist to date.”

In addition to her continued growth as a major songwriter, the new CD showcases a guitarist of amazing dexterity, passion, skill and creativity. Joanne’s rhythm guitar work lays down a beautiful bed of sound upon which her lead guitar literally soars with soul, pain and joy.

“I’ve made an album where I’m starting to hold my own on the guitar,” states Taylor. “I spent a lot of time leading up to these recordings going back and exploring old influences as well as embracing some new things,. I had the opportunity to write the songs I’ve always wanted to write, with an all-star cast to support and nurture them, but also to push me and this album to places I would not have been capable of reaching without them.”

Joanne Shaw Taylor will support Almost Always Never with a series of pre-release showcase dates in the U.S., before leaving for a UK tour and returning for more American shows in the fall. She’s managed worldwide by Barry Taylor for MCT (mailbox@mctbold.com) and booked in the U.S. by Eric Roberts at Hello Booking (www.hellobooking.com). For more information, visit www.joanneshawtaylor.com and www.rufrecords.de.  

JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR U.S. TOUR DATES

8/11                 Winchester Music Hall                                      Cleveland, OH

8/15                 Dinosaur BBQ                                                 Rochester, NY

8/16                 Dinosaur BBQ                                                 Syracuse, NY

8/17                 The Turning Point                                           Piermont, NY

8/18                 Blues Festival Day – Newport Yachting Center     Newport, RI

8/19                 Chummies                                                      Ellsworth, ME

8/23                 Treasure Lake Ski Lodge                                  DuBois, PA

8/24                 2nd Story Blues Club                                        Fountain Hill, PA

8/25                 Hudson River Park’s Blues BBQ Festival                New York, NY

10/6                 The Blind Tiger                                               Greensboro, NC

Additional dates forthcoming ….

Fri, 08/03/2012 - 10:34 am

Blues, soul and Grammy nominee Mighty Sam McClain announces a September 18 release date for his latest CD, Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey), on his own Mighty Music label, with national distribution by City Hall Records.Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) showcases McClain’s voice in all its magnificent glory on a program of 14 original songs that touch on his influences ranging from blues and soul, to gospel and funk. Backing Sam on the album is a killer band that includes Pat Herlehy – guitar, tenor sax, flute, clavinet, Hammond B-3, strings, percussion and drums; Chad Owen – bass; Rick Page – drums; Joe Deleault – piano, organ, Fender Rhodes; Scott Shetler – tenor sax, baritone sax; Russell Jewell – trombone; Grayson Farmer – trumpet; and Concetta – background vocals. The new album was produced by Gerry Putnam, Pat Herlehy and Mighty Sam McClain and features arrangements by Pat Herlehy, with horn arrangements by Scott Shetler and Herlehy.Sam’s voice ranks with the best in the deep soul-blues pantheon, right up there with the likes of Bobby “Blue” Bland, O.V. Wright, Otis Redding and Solomon Burke, but with his own stamp of originality, and on Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) he delivers on that promise to the ultimate. His songs are based in hardship and troubles, yet mirror his constant vibe of hope, redemption, love and a spirituality that permeates every digital byte on the new CD.Sam explains how the CD’s title came about: “Well, you see, I used to drink way, way, too much, I started drinking at 4 or 5 when my uncle gave me some gin (I got reckless on my tricycle and fell off and skinned my head). As time went on in my life, I got to like it very much. I stopped drinking 18 years ago and after I had stopped, I began to notice that some of my friends stopped coming around. Walking through the house one day I asked my wife, Sandra, ‘Where do you suppose so and so and the others are; they don’t come by anymore?’ It came to me like a light out of darkness – I’m not drinking anymore and I’m sharing with folks how I was helped by my faith to stop. That is how the title came to be called Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey. In my excitement, I may have brought too much Jesus to the party for some folks!”Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) once again broadens Sam’s scope by adding heavy, old school funk to the sound of his expressive road-honed seven-piece band,” writes musician/journalist Ted Drozdowski in the album’s liner notes. “The prayer for peace ‘Can You Feel It?’ rocks without compromise, like vintage James Brown. That song, ‘I Wish You Well’ and ‘Missing You’ span the album’s creative soul. They’re stories of the heart and of the spirit, brought fully to life by Sam’s whisper-to-cry-to-howl dynamic range and his absolute melodic control of his honey and sand voice.“Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) also marks Sam’s 17 years of friendship and collaboration with guitarist Pat Herlehy. Standing shoulder to shoulder on stages across America and Europe, and building songs together from the ground up in the studio, they have forged a marvelously sympathetic musical partnership. Like a great harmony singer, Herlehy uses his six-string to support and illuminate every turn of Sam’s mighty voice.”Described by one writer as “America’s best purveyor of red clay soul-blues,” Mighty Sam McClain comes by his deep roots sound organically. Born on the edge of the Bible Belt in Monroe, Louisiana in 1943, Sam began singing like so many of that place and time – in a gospel group (in Sam’s case with his mother’s). Leaving home at age 13 to escape an abusive stepfather, Sam traveled with local R&B guitarist Little Melvin Underwood on the “Chitlin Circuit,” first as his valet and later as lead vocalist, himself, when he was 15 years old.Throughout an early career that featured many highs and lows, he persevered and wound-up recording in Muscle Shoals, Nashville and New Orleans, working with artists such as the Neville Brothers and guitar great Wayne Bennett, and turning Patsy Cline’s immortal “Sweet Dreams” into a soulful R&B hit in 1966.By the 1990s, Sam had relocated to New England and was involved in the recording of Black Top Records’ Hubert Sumlin’s Blues Party CD, a landmark recording for the legendary guitarist.  He followed up with a number of solo albums that began to spread the word internationally about this great new voice in soul-blues, with a number of releases that eventually earned him his first Blues Music Award nominations (then known as the Handy Awards).In 1996, Sam began to take control of his own career, forming management, publishing and production companies, and later his own record label, Mighty Music, starting in 2003 with One More Bridge to Cross, and followed by Betcha’ Didn’t Know, which was nominated as best “Soul/Blues Album” in 2010.McClain’s work outside the blues and with organizations to help better the world led him to the “Give US Your Poor” project benefitting the homeless, and co-writing the song, “Show Me the Way,” which he performed as a duet with Jon Bon Jovi. Other artists involved in that project included Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Natalie Merchant and actor Danny Glover.During that time, Sam made his film debut in the movie “Time and Charges,” which was written and directed by Academy Award winner (“On Golden Pond”) Ernest Thompson. McClain also sang the film’s title theme and one other song on the soundtrack, as well. And on TV, Sam’s song, “New Man in Town,” was used by 20th Century Fox in the “Ally McBeal” show in 12 episodes of that series, as well as on a subsequent international video release.Later world music collaborations include an album done in Norway with Iranian folk vocalist Mahsa Vadhat, titled Scent of Reunion – Love Duets across Civilizations, which reached #6 on the European World Music charts. Sam returned to Norway again, where he and Mahsa recorded a follow-up album, A Deeper Tone of Longing: Love Duets across Civilizations, released June 22 in Europe and the Middle East and set for U.S. release August 28. Sam also recorded an album with Norwegian guitarist Knut Reiersrud, which was nominated for a Grammy.Mighty Sam McClain will support the release of Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) with a series of international tours. For more information on the artist, visit www.mightysam.com

Wed, 08/08/2012 - 7:49 pm

Multiple Grammy and Blues Music Award nominee John Lee Hooker, Jr. announces a September 18 release date for his exciting new CD, All Hooked Up, on his own Steppin’ Stone Records, with national distribution by INgrooves Fontana. The new CD was produced by renowned writer/producer Larry Batiste, recorded at Pajama Recording Studios in Oakland, California, and features special guests Lucky Peterson on guitar and “The Cleanup Woman” herself, Betty Wright, who duets with John Lee on the sizzling and soulful track, “I Surrender.”The All Hooked Up album package also features a special bonus DVD, rated PG, of an animated film noir video for John Lee’s song, “Dear John.” The video was created by French production studio Callicore, under the dynamic creative team of Laurent Mercier and Xavier Semen.All Hooked Up is John Lee’s fifth album and showcases the amazing versatility of the singer on an even-dozen original songs that demonstrate his roots in the blues, as well as soul, gospel, funk, rock and even a touch of jazz. On the new CD, he’s backed by a tight, in-the-pocket band that kicks with a solid groove and includes a host of Bay Area all-star musicians who totally bring the funk to all the proceedings. And while he is his father’s son, John Lee Hooker, Jr. is definitely his own man with his own sound.Highlights on the new CD are many, starting with the lead-off track, “Tired of Being a Housewife,” a gritty, urban blues about a neglected wife breaking the bonds of her not-so-holy-matrimony and sowing some wild oats of her own; “You Be My Hero, “ John Lee’s salute to all the men and women in the U.S. military featuring some electrifying guitar by the great Lucky Peterson; the funky “Listen to the Music,” complete with a New Orleans second-line beat; the duet with Betty Wright on “I Surrender,” which sounds like something from a Curtis Mayfield session during the classic days of soul; and the title track, an autobiographical song of Hooker’s trials and tribulations growing up the son of an iconic bluesman, presented with an uplifting spirit and based in a solid funky dance groove that goes through the ceiling. On “Hard Times” and “Let Me Be,” he’s in classic blues form, accented by some blistering guitar and harmonica on the former, and shouting horns on the latter; and on “Pay the Rent,” Hooker shows his versatility with a jazzy vocal that recalls Lou Rawls in style and timbre. Born in Detroit, John Lee Hooker, Jr. was weaned on the blues at an early age by his illustrious father: by the time he was eight years old, the youngster was already performing on local radio station WJBK and when in his teens, he was already touring with the boogie master. Exposed to blues great such as Jimmy Reed, and local heroes Washboard Willie, and Boogie Woogie Red, the young Hooker became a regular at such prestigious venues as Detroit’s Fox Theatre and other upscale Motown clubs. At 18, he was recording with his father, most notably on senior’s landmark Live at Soledad Prison album for ABC Records.The young John Lee eventually fell victim to the temptations that his father’s celebrity and financial status afforded him, and what followed were several years of dark and desperate times mired in the street culture which brought with it the drugs and alcohol that soon became his crutch. Following the life-altering event of his father’s death, and with his strong religious beliefs and the help of family and friends, John Lee Hooker, Jr. emerged out of the shadows triumphantly with the release of his debut CD, Blues with a Vengeance, released in 2004 on Kent Records. The newly-awakened artist received the 2004 “Comeback Artist of the Year Award” from the San Francisco Bay Area Blues Society, “Outstanding Blues Album of the Year” from The California Music Awards, a “Best New Artist Debut” nomination from the Blues Foundation and topped it off with a “Best Traditional Blues” Grammy nomination.Cold as Ice came next on Telarc Records in 2006 and in 2007 the first CD on his own label, All Odds Against Me, which garnered another Grammy nomination. In 2010 came the release of his Live in Istanbul, Turkey CD. During that time, he toured all over the world with artists such as Lenny Kravitz, Taj Mahal and ZZ Top and also became the musical “face” of America’s prestigious U.S. Open in CBS-TV. His personal story of physical rejuvenation and spiritual rebirth even landed him an interview on the “700 Club” TV show and on the cover of Healthy Living magazine.John Lee Hooker, Jr. is currently touring extensively in the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world, performing and promoting his music.

Wed, 08/15/2012 - 3:45 pm

An amazing array of all-star musicians join guitarist Lou Pallo in paying tribute to the legendary Les Paul with the September 11 release of a unique CD/DVD titled Thank You Les, produced by Showplace Music Productions in Dover, NJ, and distributed in the U.S. and Canada by the Allegro Corporation. The exciting new release plays as a love letter to the iconic guitar player and recording innovator from these artists who were influenced and inspired by his artistry and innovation. The music covers styles ranging from pop and jazz, to country, rock and blues. The guest artists include guitarists Keith Richards, Billy F Gibbons, Steve Miller (who also penned the package’s liner notes), Jose Feliciano, Slash, Johnny A, Bucky Pizzarelli, Arlen Roth, Nokie Edwards (The Ventures), Frank Vignola, Bob Leive, Tommy Doyle and Jon Paris, as well as singers Eddie Brigati, Jr. (The Young Rascals) Blondie Chaplin (Rolling Stones), Nicki Parrott (Les Paul Trio), Lexie Roth, Melinda Doolittle (finalist on “American Idol” season six) and members of the Les Paul Trio.

The 21 tracks of pure guitar bliss on Thank You Les, including many of Paul’s personal favorites plus others from the great American music songbook, were recorded organically on analog tape by Ben Elliott, Chief Engineer at Showplace Recording Studios.  Thank You Les will be available as an individual CD and DVD, as well as in a combo package including both discs. The DVD documentary is a full-length, fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the making of the album, and is loaded with interviews, rare photos, musical performances and bonus features.

The musical thread that runs throughout the CD and the DVD film documentary is the relationship between Les Paul and his long-time friend and rhythm guitarist, New Jersey-based Lou Pallo, who many credit with helping Les Paul revitalize his career as a live performer after they first met in 1963 and soon after began performing together. It was Pallo who stood on stage with Les for his extended run of weekly performances in New York City starting in 1984, first at Fat Tuesday’s in Greenwich Village for 10 years, and later at the Iridium on Broadway, which became the “hot ticket” destination for not only thousands of music fans, but also for any musician in town who wanted to tip their hat and worship at “The House that Les Paul Built.”

“Les was my guitar idol and I was honored to work beside him and call him my friend for so many years,” says Lou Pallo. “This tribute allows Les’ musicianship and sense of humor to take center stage giving everyone the opportunity to experience the Les Paul we knew well and the music he adored.”

In his loving remembrance of Les Paul in the package’s liner notes, guitar great Steve Miller fondly recalls not only Les Paul the musician, but also the family friend (Les was Miller’s Godfather) who spent part of his honeymoon with Mary Ford visiting at the Miller family’s house in Wisconsin. “Even after becoming one of the most influential musicians and inventors of the 20th century, Les Paul always had time for everyone from Tony Bennett to Johnny Rotten and anyone in between,” writes Miller. “He never judged you by how you looked or what kind of music you played, but by your character and your commitment to music. It’s a tribute to the kind of human being Les was that he was always willing to share his spotlight with any musician brave enough to come forward to say hello.”

“So, this album is a tribute to Les Paul, truly one of the most enjoyable and creative musicians to ever live. He was a modest man who always gave more than anyone I’ve ever known. It’s a heartfelt thank you from just a few of his many friends for his wonderful music, inspiration and friendship.”

Plans are in the works to celebrate Thank You Les with a CD/DVD release show in New York City featuring Lou Pallo and special guests. To view a trailer from the Thank You Les DVD, click here. For more information, visit www.thankyoules.com

Wed, 08/29/2012 - 2:02 pm

Stony Plain Records, Canada’s roots music label, announces an October 9 release date for ….First Came Memphis Minnie, a loving tribute to the pioneering blues woman produced by multiple Grammy-nominee Maria Muldaur, featuring special guests including Rory Block, Ruthie Foster, Bonnie Raitt, Phoebe Snow and Koko Taylor. Other musicians appearing on the new CD are Del Rey, David Bromberg, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Roy Rogers, Steve James and Steve Freund. Stony Plain is distributed in the U.S. by ADA, in Canada by Warner Music and in foreign territories by a variety of well-established distribution companies.….First Came Memphis Minnie includes several previously-released tracks from two of  Maria’s Grammy-nominated albums, as well as new recordings by Rory Block, Ruthie Foster and Bonnie Raitt. Also, classic songs by Koko Taylor and Phoebe Snow are included: Koko’s track comes from her CD, Old School, released in 2007; and Phoebe’s from It Looks Like Snow, released in 1976.Her 40th album is a true labor of love for Maria Muldaur, who considers Memphis Minnie to be not only a trailblazing musical pioneer for all women, but also a personal blues hero. “Way back in1963, when I was ‘In My Girlish Days,’ I had the amazing good fortune and privilege of meeting one of the original ‘classic’ Blues Queens, Victoria Spivey, when she was in her late 70s, living in New York City and running her own record label,” writes Maria in her liner notes. “She took me to her apartment and played old 78s, looking for songs that would be suitable for my young voice. Of all the amazing tunes she played for me, the one that made the deepest impression was an old scratchy 78 of a haunting, soulful tune called ‘Tricks Ain’t Walkin’’ by Memphis Minnie. From that moment to this, Memphis Minnie, and the example she set for me, has remained a profound influence on my life and my music. Here, I have joined with some of my Sisters in Music to pay tribute to the woman that inspired us and paved the way for us all.”The reigning queen of mid-20th century blues, Memphis Minnie was a true musical innovator who pioneered the electrified Chicago-blues-band sound. In her prime, she was a blues singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and guitar–player-par-excellence; a colorful, larger-than-life figure who in 1942 was one of the first blues musician to record with an electric guitar. In a recording career which spanned over 40 years, she released more than 200 songs, many of which she wrote and several of which endure today as blues classics, including “Chauffeur Blues,” “In My Girlish Days,” “What’s the Matter with the Mill? and “When the Levee Breaks.” From the beginning of the Great Depression through the end of World War II - through an endless stream of innovative recordings and consistently compelling live performances – she dominated the primarily male dominion of the Chicago blues scene.“While many female classic blues artists in the ’20s and ’30s (Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Sippie Wallace, Victoria Spivey, etc.) sang accompanied by the likes of Louis Armstrong and other New Orleans-style jazz musicians, with bands that featured horns and piano, Memphis Minnie accompanied herself with a raw rhythmic guitar sound that came to be known as ‘country blues,’” says Muldaur.“At a time when women were ‘kept in their place,’ both personally and professionally, Memphis Minnie was tough, independent, outspoken, and played a mean guitar! But, she was more than just a guitar hero of early country blues. She ably adapted to newer trends and modernized her style, which helped account for her years of popularity. Memphis Minnie was one of the few figures to make the successful transition from the rural, acoustic guitar-dominated blues of the1920s to the urban nightclub styles of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. She was tough, determined, talented, and courageous enough to defy and overcome all the racial, social, economic, and gender barriers that existed in her time, forging the life she envisioned for herself on nothing but her own terms!”Maria Muldaur will kick off the release of ….First Came Memphis Minnie with an extensive tour, including shows in a number of markets she hasn’t visited in some time. She’ll be accompanied by her Red Hot Bluesiana Band, and will perform songs not only from the new CD, but also from her critically-acclaimed and Blues Award-nominated last CD, Steady Love, one of the most accessible, joyful and soul satisfying releases in her ever growing catalog of memorable music.Over the last decade, Maria Muldaur has released a number of lovingly and authentically produced acoustic blues albums paying tribute to the early blues pioneers and legends, and garnering multiple Grammy and Blues Foundation nominations. As on all her albums, Maria’s distinctive, deep and impassioned vocals are here soulfully preachin’ and shoutin’ the blues.For more information, contact www.stonyplainrecords.com and www.mariamuldaur.com-Tour Dates:9/22                              WOW Hall                                           Eugene, OR9/23                              Duff’s Garage                                       Portland, OR    9/26-9/27                      Highway 99 Blues                                 Seattle, WA9/28-9/29                      Upstage Restaurant                               Port Townsend, WA9/30                              Vancouver Fan Club                              Vancouver, BC10/1-10/2                      Hermann’s Jazz Club                             Victoria, BC10/3                              Queen’s Hotel                                       Nanaimo, BC10/4                              Minstrel Café                                        Kelowna, BC10/5-10/6                      The Royal on Baker                              Nelson, BC10/10                            Dakota Bar & Grill                                Minneapolis, MN10/13                            Callahan’s                                             Auburn Hills, MI10/17                            Bridge Street Live                                 Collinsville, CT10/18                            Showplace Live at Patriot Place             Foxboro, MA10/19                            Boulton Ctr. for the Performing Arts      Bay Shore, NY10/20                            Tupelo Music Hall                                 Londonderry, NH10/21                            Chaplin’s Music Cafe                            Spring City, PA10/26                            The Moon                                             Daytona Beach, FL10/27                            Funky Biscuit                                        Boca Raton, FL10/28                            Skipper’s Smokehouse                           Tampa, FL11/1                              Snug Harbor                                         New Orleans, LA11/2                              Dosey Doe                                           The Woodlands, TX11/3                              Dan’s Silverleaf                                                Denton, TX

Thu, 09/27/2012 - 1:12 pm

Keith Richards takes to his official Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with an exclusive “Ask Keith” video clip answering the question “What was it like to work with Lou Pallo?” on the new Les Paul tribute album, Thank You Les.

“He came up with the most perfect song”, said Richards, referring to his collaboration with Pallo on the Les Paul and Bing Crosby 1941 hit, It’s Been a Long, Long Time.  “He’s known as the Man of a Million Chords and he can find a chord for every different note you’re singing, which fascinates me.”

Pallo, who met Les Paul in 1963 and is credited for bringing Paul out of semi-retirement for 30 years of steady Monday night gigs in New York City, recently released the CD/DVD tribute to his friend and mentor with not only Richards and Steve Miller in tow but Slash, José Feliciano, Billy F Gibbons (ZZ Top), Eddie Brigati (The Rascals), Bucky Pizzarelli, Johnny A and other notable artists.  The 21-track luscious analog recording, and documentary featuring insight to working with guitar icon Paul, is hitting the jazz charts while also garnering airplay on Jazz, Blues and Triple A radio stations.

Steve Miller, Les Paul’s Godson, who flew in to New York to perform at the Thank You Les release party, penned the packages liner notes.  “Even after becoming one of the most influential musicians and inventors of the 21st Century, Les Paul always had time for everyone from Tony Bennett to Johnny Rotten to anyone in between.  It’s a tribute to the kind of human being Les was that he was always willing to share his spotlight with any musician that was brave enough to come forward and say hello.”

Wed, 11/07/2012 - 11:33 am

Severn Records artist Mud Morganfield continues to make a big splash “across the pond” in England with the announcement that he’ll appear on BBC Two’s flagship music TV program, “Later with Jools Holland,” airing in the UK on Tuesday November 20 and Friday 23.The invitation to play on the long-running TV show came from the host, himself, acclaimed pianist Jools Holland, who caught Mud's performance at the London Blues Festival in June and offered him the slot after seeing Morganfield play. Holland also joined Mud and his band onstage at the Festival for a fantastic rendition of Mud’s legendary father's signature song, “Got My Mojo Working.”“I am ever so grateful for the blessing,” said Mud Morganfield about being on the TV show.  “Here I find myself again in a great moment of my life. I am thrilled and overwhelmed, to say the least, to appear on the Jools Holland show. This is what an artist lives for: awards, write-ups in magazines, being on stage with great people and having fun in the blues. To add to all these great things, I represent the blues that my farther passed down to me.  I thank Mr. Holland and everyone else who made this happen.”The BBC Two TV appearance is part of Mud Morganfield’s upcoming UK shows this month that will feature him backed by some of England’s top blues talent: West Weston - harp, Ronni Buysack-Boysen - guitar, Ian Jennings - double bass, Mike Hellier - drums and Eric Ranzoni - keyboards. His nine-date UK tour starts on the 22nd November at the Swindon Arts Centre and continues across England until the 1st December.Mud’s UK tour also comes at a time when he’ll be the subject of an upcoming cover feature in the December/January issue of well-respected British magazine, Blues Matters, due out the end of November. He’ll be joined in that cover feature by the son of another blues icon, John Lee Hooker, Jr. The Blues Matters cover story can be previewed here.Morganfield continues to be on a major roll since the March, 2012, release of his new album for Severn Records, Son of the Seventh Son, which recently was one of the big winners at the Fifth Annual Blues Blast Music Awards, getting the nod for “Traditional Blues CD of the Year” and also winning the “Sean Costello Rising Star Award” in recognition of his achievements this year. It’s the latest accolade for the blues singer, who also recently appeared on the cover of Living Blues magazine and was invited onstage to sing with TV actor-cum-bluesman Hugh Laurie (“House”) for his show at Chicago’s Park West nightclub.Son of the Seventh Son is the Severn Records label debut from Larry “Mud” Morganfield, son of the legendary Muddy Waters. Severn Records is distributed nationally by City Hall Records. Recorded in Chicago and produced by Bob Corritore, Son of the Seventh Son features Mud Morganfield’s earthy, soulful vocals backed by a cadre of blues all-stars, including Kenny Smith on drums, Rick Kreher and Billy Flynn on guitar, Barrelhouse Chuck on keyboards, E.G. McDaniel on bass, and Harmonica Hines and Bob Corritore on harp.Chicago-based Mud Morganfield is the eldest son of the blues icon and bears a striking vocal and physical resemblance to his illustrious father. He has toured all over the world spreading the gospel of blues just like his daddy did and continues to support the release of  his new album with tour dates both in the U.S. and internationally, as well.UK TOUR DATESThursday, 22/11/2012, Swindon Arts Centre, Swindon http://www.swindon.gov.uk/artscentreFriday, 23/11/2012, Keighley Blues Club, Keighley http://www.keighleybluesclub.netSaturday, 24/11/2012, Boisdale, London http://www.boisdale.co.ukMonday, 26/11/2012, Norwich Arts Centre, Norfolk http://norwichartscentre.co.ukTuesday, 27/11/2012, The Stables, Milton Keynes http://www.stables.orgWednesday, 28/11/2012, Blues Kitchen, London http://www.theblueskitchen.comThursday, 29/11/2012, The Flowerpot, Derby http://www.rawpromo.co.ukFriday, 30/11/2012, Palladium Club, Devon  http://www.mjpromo.co.ukSaturday, 01/12/2012, John Phillips Hall, University of Wales http://www.bangor.ac.uk

Fri, 11/16/2012 - 7:27 am

Ruf Records announces the signing of guitarist/singer Devon Allman and a February 12, 2013, release date for his debut solo album, Turquoise. Ruf Records is distributed in the U.S. by the Allegro Corporation. Turquoise was produced and mixed by multi-Grammy winner Jim Gaines and recorded at his Bessie Blue Studios in Stantonville, Tennessee, as well as at Ardent Studios in Memphis. Devon Allman (vocals and guitars) is joined on the new CD in a core trio set-up that features his fellow Royal Southern Brotherhood bandmate Yonrico Scott (drums and percussion), as well as Myles Weeks (upright and electric bass). Special guests include Luther Dickinson (guitar), Samantha Fish (vocals), Ron Holloway (sax), Bobby Schneck Jr. (guitar) and Rick Steff (Hammond B3 organ).Devon Allman is currently on tour in Europe as a member of Royal Southern Brotherhood, the Ruf Records band he formed along with Cyril Neville (percussion and vocals), Mike Zito (guitar and vocals), Charlie Wooton (bass) and Yonrico Scott (drums). The group’s debut self-titled CD was released in May and has been in the Top 15 on the Billboard blues chart for six months, also generating extensive radio airplay and rave critical reviews from the press.Turquoise is loaded with very personal, honest and powerful tunes in its 11-track song list. In “Turn Off the World,” one of Devon’s most insightful compositions on the new CD, he asks to go where he can “wash off this rock and roll” so that he can cleanse his soul to start anew and refresh his mind after spending so much time on the road. “Homesick,” carries that sentiment further and was the first song written for Turquoise.“The last 10 years I’ve spent in hotels, airplanes, taxis, truck stops, etc.,” says Allman about the track “This song is dedicated to my family for putting up with my absence.”  He demonstrates his affinity for Latin and African music on the rhythmic “There’s No Time” (co-written by rising star guitarist Tyler Stokes); weaves an insightful autobiographical tale on “When I Left Home” (with guest Luther Dickinson adding some slinky lead and slide guitar); and pares down to the quietest of places on the lovely “Yadira’s Lullaby” (which recalls his late uncle Duane’s acoustic guitar on the classic “Little Martha”). Turquoise represents some of the finest work in Devon Allman’s career thus far, engaging in its scope and thrilling in its execution. This is an album of reflection of Devon’s past life and it’s the stories that only he can tell.“These songs are very special to me,” says Allman. “It’s part ‘dusty road driving music’ and part ‘tropical getaway’ music. These are the stories, feelings and reflections from my last couple of decades of forging my musical path.”The 10 originals on Turquoise include two co-written with RSB brother Mike Zito, plus a blazing version of Tom Petty’s “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” that really rocks, courtesy of some righteous vocals by Devon and special guest Samantha Fish.Currently based in St. Louis, Devon Allman was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he grew up surrounded by a humble life along with his mother. His first love affair with music came at a young age, eventually becoming a spiritual calling that wouldn’t stop. It wasn’t long before he and his guitar joined bands, and in 1999 Devon formed his Southern rock jam band, Honeytribe. While his breakthrough into the music industry may have been blunted by his choice not to use his illustrious surname, it served the purpose of his having to avoid the burden of the barrage of questions about his famous father that even he was unsure of how to answer. It was when Honeytribe began to release CDs and tour nationally that interviews slowly began to trickle out that Devon was the son of one of the biggest names in rock music, Gregg Allman. Over the years, Devon has joined his illustrious dad as a special guest during The Allman Brothers Band’s legendary series of shows at the Beacon Theater in New York City. Today, he embraces who he is and where he’s been, knowing that he has paved his own way on Turquoise.

Fri, 11/16/2012 - 1:12 pm

Singer-guitarist George Kilby Jr, who plays what he calls “rough- cut American music,” announces a February 5, 2013, release date for Six Pack, coming from Top Frog Music, which includes special guests from Railroad Earth, as well as Phil Wiggins (Cephas and Wiggins) and Jono Manson, a member of Blues Traveler’s “extended family.”Born and raised in Alabama, George Kilby has been playing roots-based music for over 30 years, and has been a permanent fixture of a New York City music scene that embraces everything from blues and folk to Americana, bluegrass and jamband styles. A long stint with legendary bluesman Pinetop Perkins’ band gave Kilby a woodshed schooling in the art of performing as well as playing the blues, lessons that he puts to great use on Six Pack.On Six Pack, Kilby eschews the traditional 10-12 song album format; instead creating a collection of six singles, each one exploring a different facet of his influences and manifesting in his contemporary roots sound. He moves gracefully from “jamgrass” to Delta blues, making stops along the way at singer/songwriter, roots-rock and folk music. The five originals on the new CD are paired with a scintillating bluegrass take on Cream’s classic, “Sunshine of Your Love.”Joining him on the journey is his long-time band, The Road Dogs, consisting of Neil Thomas (keyboard, accordion), Eric Halvorson (drums) and Arturo Baguer (bass). Jono Manson contributed guitar, backing vocals and also produced the opening track, “When the People Sang,” Kilby’s ‘60s folk anthem tribute that also features Railroad Earth member, Tim Carbone, on fiddle. “I Love You in Brooklyn,” Kilby’s ballad salute to New York’s colorful borough, showcases writer Neil Thomas’ dazzling accordion and Wurlitzer piano magic. And on “Something I Can’t Find,” which Kilby describes as “bluesy rocker with a trippy side,” he and the other pickers flex their six-string chops with a double-guitar riff that recalls The Allman Brothers Band.“Sunshine of Your Love,” produced by Andy Goessling (also of Railroad Earth), who additionally plays various instruments on the track, is arguably the most revelatory song on Six Pack, with it’s “grassing” treatment of the iconic Cream ‘60s rock tune. Upon hearing the song, Brian Robbins of Jambands.com, described it as a “psychedelic porch stomp, with Goessling’s dobro putting a new spin on the riff created by Clapton’s Gibson SG – a new flavor of raunch. It is an absolute hoot.”“Cro-Magnon Man,” Kilby pens the kind of tongue-in-cheek tune that’s rarely heard on record these days: a folk/pop sly commentary on the environment and our current media craze. The album closes with “You Never See the Hand Throw the Stone,” another insightful song that touches on racism, religious hypocrisy and the financial crisis. It is given a down-home acoustic blues treatment by Kilby on guitar and dynamic harmonica all-star Phil Wiggins of acclaimed blues duo Cephas and Wiggins.George Kilby Jr operates from both a cabin in the Catskill Mountains of New York, as well as an apartment in Brooklyn. He’ll be touring in support of the release of Six Pack with initial shows in December throughout Upstate New York and New York City, as well as a dates forthcoming in January that will take him to venues in Wyoming and other venues out west.

Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:32 pm

Tree O Records announces the signing of Boston-based group Juliet and the Lonesome Romeos, and will nationally release their debut album, No Regrets, on January 15, 2013. No Regrets was produced by Michael Dinallo and Ducky Carlisle, known collectively as “The Tremolo Twins,” whose credits include a Grammy Award, a number one single and various gold and platinum awards.Dynamic singer Juliet Simmons Dinallo, whose powerfully soulful vocals drive the band, demonstrates a flair for roots-infused pop music, while incorporating a definite leaning toward the country side of life. The deeply emotional songs travel down the highways and backroads between heartache and hope. Boston Globe writer Steve Morse described her voice as “fresh and emotionally charged, as though Juliet were a long-lost sister of Lucinda Williams.”The 10 original songs on No Regrets cover a wide spectrum of American music. Juliet co-wrote seven of the tunes with Michael Gray, one with husband/producer Michael Dinallo, and one alone. The opening title track exemplifies the pop/country musical meshing throughout the album.  The song itself tells the story of a person taken advantage of for the last time.  “Wishing Well”, written solely by Juliet, crunches along like Harvest-era Neil Young meets Lucinda until it hits the poppy chorus with oohs and aahs. Curtis Mayfield-inspired rhythm guitar propels the beautiful love song and country-soul ballad “Song For You”.  The rocking and punchy “Narcissus” is the ultimate kiss-off song, delivered with a snarling vocal by Juliet and a ripping guitar solo by Jonas Kahn.  The vocal/guitar duet “Winter Night” is the softest moment on the record with a stark beauty invoking love found in the cold of winter.“Last Kiss” is a roots-rock tribute to a fallen friend.  The sadness in watching a loved one fall to schizophrenia is the subject of “Unkindest Cut”, which is yet again fueled by a powerful vocal by Juliet and soulful guitar by Michael Dinallo.  “Faded Highway” is a Billy Joe Shaver-inspired piece of writing from Michael Dinallo.  The destruction, after-effects and lasting suffering from Katrina in New Orleans are lamented in “September Day”.   The country-soul ballad “Learn To Love Again” provides the ultimate showcase of Juliet’s remarkable vocal talent, and closes the album out on a warm note of hope and happiness.No Regrets is a calling card announcing the arrival of a major new musical talent in Juliet and the Lonesome Romeos, with her rich, powerful, take-no-prisoners voice bursting with soul. From the original and insightful songwriting, to the masterful musicianship and spot on production, No Regrets truly is an album that has something for everyone.Born in North Carolina, Juliet Simmons Dinallo lived in Maine for a short while before moving to Massachusetts. She was exposed to the arts and music from birth with both her parents being English literature scholars.  Her father studied Shakespeare, hence her name and the album’s song titled “Unkindest Cut”, and her mother was a folk music DJ while at college.  With music and literature all around her, it is no wonder Juliet was singing songs by the Beatles as soon as she could walk and talk. During her teens, she played in garage bands with her brother and later studied music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she landed a spot on the world-renowned Berklee Gospel Choir.Immersing herself in the eclectic Boston music scene, Juliet collected the experiences and relationships she encountered, which would help her write the songs on No Regrets. By playing in the local clubs, she also honed her vocal style and performing chops, while meeting the musicians who helped her shape the sound and feel of the new album. Growing up in this fertile musical environment helped Juliet transcend her musical influences (Patty Griffin, the Beatles, Shawn Colvin, Van Morrison, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett, and Emmylou Harris), while maintaining the inspiration they provide, which is an important part of becoming a true artist.For more information, visit www.julietandthelonesomeromeos.com.

Thu, 11/29/2012 - 9:19 am

Renegade Recordings announces a November 20 release date for Falling Slowly, the debut full-length CD from Atlanta-area based power pop quartet Nine Times Blue, which will be distributed nationally by City Hall Records. Co-produced by Bryan Holmes of The Producers, Falling Slowly was mixed and mastered by two-time Grammy-winning producer Don McCollister, who’s worked with such top-selling artists as Sister Hazel, Indigo Girls, Third Day and Shawn Mullins. Nine Times Blue is comprised of Kirk Waldrop (vocals, guitar), Greg King (guitar), Jeff Nelson (bass) and Jason Brewer (drums), and the album features numerous guest appearances, including John Faye (IKE, The Caulfields), David Myhr (The Merrymakers) and Bryan Holmes.The new album’s nine original songs showcase the creative writing style of bandleader Kirk Waldrop, who takes his classic power pop influences (The Smithereens, Squeeze, Gin Blossoms, Jimmy Eat World and Plain White T’s) and embodies them with a modern esthetic that makes them newly relevant. Bryan Holmes, leader of ’80s power pop hit makers The Producers, described the band as having “great songwriting talent with a distinctive, unique voice and yet the songs maintain a familiarity that radio will like. It’s new and fresh, but with a hint of ‘have I heard this song before’?”Nine Times Blue, whose music has been described by one critic as “clean-cut jangly rock,” will kick off the release of Falling Slowly with several Atlanta advance performances, including a 7-8 PM set as part of the “Barktober Fest” at Atlanta’s Sweetwater Brewery on October 27, a benefit for Angels Among Us Pet Rescue; as well as a show with several other area bands on November 9 at the Famous Pub. The band will celebrate its official CD release with a show on December 1st at Smith’s Olde Bar in the downstairs Atlanta Room. (1580 Piedmont Ave. NE), with additional groups to be announced. The band will also support the new CD with tour dates throughout the southeast and east coast from December into the first months of the new year.The name Nine Times Blue comes from a Michael Nesmith song of the same name.  It was recorded by The Monkees, but never released officially until it was re-recorded years later on Mike Nesmith’s First National Band album, Magnetic South.Nine Times Blue singer/guitarist Kirk Waldrop previously fronted the Athens, Georgia-based group, The Features, from 1994 – 1997, which released two singles – “Reasons Why” and “So Much Time” through Democrat Records.The first incarnation of Nine Times Blue was formed in Washington, DC, in 1999 and lasted until the fall of 2004.  A second version formed in 2007 and functioned mainly as an acoustic duo, although a handful of full band performances were played over the next couple of years at festivals and clubs around Atlanta. In July, 2010, Nine Times Blue participated in the “343 For Kids” event benefitting the Children’s Restoration Network, which involved 343 hours of continuous music and set a record as the World’s Longest Concert (by multiple artists) in the Guinness Book of World Records.The current lineup (Jeff Nelson, Greg King, Jason Brewer, Kirk Waldrop) was formed over the last year during the recording of Falling Slowly. “The songs on Falling Slowly are largely not autobiographical, but instead are from the perspective of others that I know or have known,” says Kirk Waldrop. “The majority of my songs are written with music and melody written first. For some reason, the majority of the ideas I have for songs come to me while driving and I sing a melody or lyrics into my phone recorder.  So – when sitting down to write songs, I just go back through all the recorded snippets on my phone and pick one or two to start with.”Waldrop’s primary influences include The Beatles, Squeeze, Crowded House, Elvis Costello, Marshall Crenshaw, Nick Lowe, The Posies, XTC, The Smithereens, Matthew Sweet and Robyn Hitchcock. Falling Slowly features several local Atlanta music friends, including former Nine Times Blue members Eric Leland and Eric Jefferson, Joe Giddings, Jonathan Gale and Jerry Mason.In addition to his work with Nine Times Blue, Kirk Waldrop, along with his partners in Tribute LLC, organized and produced two Paul McCartney tribute compilations that were released in 2001 by Oglio Records, titled Listen to What the Man Said and Coming Up. The CDs, which featured such artists as Robyn Hitchcock, Matthew Sweet, Semisonic and They Might Be Giants, helped raise money for breast cancer research in the memory of Linda McCartney.

Thu, 12/06/2012 - 3:41 pm

San Francisco Bay Area-based singer/songwriters Marty Atkinson and Katy Boyd have joined forces to form Blue Cactus Choir and will release their debut album, Once in a Bluegrass Moon, January 15 on Porgy Records. Beautifully recorded by Thom Jutz (Nanci Griffith) at his studio in Nashville, the new CD was produced by Jutz, Atkinson and Boyd and features 21 original songs that focus on relationships, as well as funny, insightful stories and some rough tales of the road, all accented with luxurious vocal harmonies that recall Crosby, Stills & Nash and Fleetwood Mac. Backing the duo is a cadre of Nashville A-list players including Justin Moses (banjo, mandolin, fiddle) and Mark Fein (bass), both of Ricky Skaggs’ band; as well as Fats Kaplin (steel guitar), Gary Smith (piano), Lynn Williams and Steve Brewster (drums) and Thomm Jutz (guitars, keyboards).On Once in a Blue Moon, Atkinson and Boyd craft a relaxing blend of bluegrass, country and folk sounds that fit like a comfortable pair of boots. The new CD is a ramble through the southwest, where the banjo meets the gut string guitar and the harmonies flow freely. Marty’s love affair with Mexico is evident on songs such as “Blue Moon Over Mexico,” “Southern Bird,” and “Blind Date at Juanito’s;” while he cuts straight to the truth on “I Wish You Were Mine” and “Sweet Love.” Katy puts her distinctive stamp on whimsical songs such as “A Cat Called Ginger and a Dog Called Fred Astaire” and “Love in the Emergency Room,” while offering up tender remembrances on “Going Home,” “Hey Grandpa” and “Dad’s Song.”Bluegrass picker Marty Atkinson’s original band, Cactus Choir, had a convoluted, but passionate affair with several major labels, including a combined 10 years signed to Atlantic Records, EMI and then Curb/Universal. Their debut album on Curb/Universal was a finely woven blend of Marty’s choral harmonies, first-rate songs and superb musicianship, which also spawned a single that cracked the Billboard magazine Hot Country Top 100 for eight weeks. But the changing country music climate at the time resulted in Cactus Choir falling victim to a roster cut.Witty, spicy singer/songwriter Katy Boyd has been compared to Tom Waits, Janis Ian and Townes Van Zandt, weaving poignant stories that are personal in their origins, but universal in their appeal. Her 2011 CD, Paper Hearts, drew rave reviews and strong radio airplay both in the U.S. and in England. A native Californian, Katy Boyd grew up listening to American and Irish folk music, as well as Tchaikovsky. After a few chance meetings with folk music legend Joan Baez, Katy taught herself to play guitar and later won a Northern California songwriting contest. A short courtship with Virgin Records brought her to the UK, and although a deal never happened, she stayed in England for many years.Katy gave up playing music for some time and devoted herself to raising her children, but found the time to continue to make films and work on sailboats, two of her other passions. She went back to playing music full-time in 2004 and landed a small record deal with a British label, which resulted in her debut album, Ain’t No Fairy Tale, produced by Neil Brockbank (Nick Lowe). That album resonated in the top 50 of the Roots Music Report folk chart several times during the summer of 2010.In 2011, Katy was invited to perform at the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, where she met Thomm Jutz, producer and long-time guitar player for Nanci Griffiths. This meeting was the catalyst for her to come to Nashville and record Paper Hearts. That same year, she met up with Marty Atkinson and began the musical relationship that would lead to the formation of Blue Cactus Choir.

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 1:47 pm

Country/Americana singer Chris Leigh announces a February 12 release date for his new CD, Broken Hearted Friends, on Blue River Records. The new CD, produced by Jim “Moose” Brown and recorded at his Moose Lodge Studios in Nashville, showcases Chris Leigh’s exciting mix of honky-tonk country, rockabilly and roots-driven music backed by a host of Music City A-list pickers, including Brown on guitar/keyboards/bass/backing vocals, Troy Lancaster on guitar, Kevin “Swine” Grantt on bass, Scotty Sanders on pedal steel/dobro, Tommy Harden on drums and Curtis Wright on backing vocals. “Moose” Brown is also a Grammy-winning songwriter (“It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”) and multiple ACM keyboard award nominee. The album was mixed by 10 Time Grammy-winner Benny Faccone.“I was very lucky to have worked with such an amazing group of Nashville cats on this album,” exclaims Chris Leigh. “Each of these guys brought their own unique style and talent to my music, which really helped to shape the songs into what we hear. Most of the tunes were done in one take, which is pretty amazing when you consider they had never heard these songs before. The energy in the room was amazing!”Broken Hearted Friends contains 10 all-original songs penned by Chris Leigh that feature his soulful vocals performed in a style influenced by blue-collar, hard-core country. It’s a sound that’s filled with rockin’ honky-tonk anthems and powerful ballads that tug at the heartstrings. The title track is destined to become a live sing-along favorite, as Chris and his rowdy friends blast out the chorus, “Here I am again, with my broken hearted friends,” in the tale of a poor soul whose girl’s “got something against football,” among other negative attributes. Chris Leigh is a bona fide barroom poet and prophet who clearly wears his broken heart on his sleeve in many of these songs.The rest of the tracks on Broken Hearted Friends are chockfull of dazzling country music imagery, whether Chris is telling the story of a wild odyssey in “Ramblin’ Man,” offering up the powerful ballad, “If You Make It to Heaven,” laying down a cool rockabilly groove in “Heartache and Misery,” crafting a Western Swing dancehall two-step in “Who’s That,” spinning the crying-in-your beer lament, “Money” (another future live fan favorite), or closing the album with an homage to Willie Nelson, “Whiskey River.”“I suppose I owe a certain amount of gratitude (in some weird way) to my ex-wife for this album,” reflects Leigh. “Had she not divorced me I probably would not have written these songs. Most of these tunes are based on actual events that took place after our divorce a couple years ago. It was a very tough time for me but it also gave me a chance to reflect on my life and what was truly important to me: my kids and my music."Chris Leigh’s life story reads like a classic country song. One of 10 kids raised by very devout religious parents in a small red brick home in Kentucky, he hitched to California while still in his teens to try to make it in the music business; but after several years of trying he returned home to Kentucky. After additional years of trying, he abandoned his musical aspirations for a while, got a job as a salesman, married and raised a family. After his marriage ended in heartbreak, he picked his guitar back up in 2010 and started writing and singing again. All of those life experiences gave Chris the fuel for the songs that would become Broken Hearted Friends.“Each of these songs - some funny, some sarcastic, some sad and some downright depressing - are all very real and very personal for me,” says Leigh. “They also reflect much of the music that I grew up hearing. It was the music my father listened to that I wanted to bring back to life on this album. The roots of my family run deep in Kentucky. The bluegrass is here, the people are real and it makes me happy when I think back about my dad singing along with the country radio in our old Ford truck or singing an old family folk song to me when we would go squirrel hunting or work on the farm. Sometimes the whole family would sing together when all 10 of us would pile in the station wagon and head to the Smokies. We worked hard but had a lot of great times, even though we were somewhat poor.”

Mon, 01/07/2013 - 4:35 pm

Ruf Records announces a January 8 U.S. release date for Haywire Riot, the new CD from rock quartet Skinny Molly, distributed nationally by the Allegro Corporation. Skinny Molly is led by lead singer/lead guitarist Mike Estes, a former member of the legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd, and also features Jay Johnson on lead guitar and backing vocals, Kurt Pietro on drums and Luke Bradshaw on bass and backing vocals. Haywire Riot was produced by Mike Estes and the band and recorded at Swamper Sound in Sheffield, Alabama, and Omni Sound in Nashville.Skinny Molly recently finished an extensive tour of Europe, where the group has already built a substantial reputation based on hundreds of solid rockin’ live performances, and intends to emulate that success in their home country with the release of the new CD here.“This band was supposed to be for fun; we thought no further ahead than a one-off tour of Europe back in '04, but it ended up being what I always wanted to do musically,” recalls Mike Estes about the band’s founding.  Haywire Riot is the album that Skinny Molly was destined to deliver when Mike first hooked up in 2004 with Kurt and original guitarist Dave Hlubek for that “one-off” tour that never stopped. Soon enough, a debut album – No Good Deed – was pricking ears with its early signs of greatness on cuts like “Straight Shooter” and “Better than I Should.” Now, with the lineup cemented and dedicated to the cause, it’s time for the knockout blow of this new release."It's great to have another guitar player in the studio for once,” says Estes. “The No Good Deed album was mostly me. Jay played his ass off on the new record."Haywire Riot is an album that hijacks the modern rock scene, via the old-school values of stellar songwriting, white-hot chops, lyrics wrenched from the depths and performances that leave it all the studio floor. Step into Skinny Molly’s world and you’ll come face-to-face with the deceptive lover from “Lie to Me;” the girl hiding a gun in her glove box on “Too Bad to Be True;” and the poisonous call of liquor on “Devil in the Bottle,” a song Estes originally recorded in 1994 as a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd on their acoustic Endangered Species CD for Capricorn Records. With music that swings from the wrecking-ball riffs of “If You Don’t Care” to the reflective acoustic vibe of “None of Me No More,” this is maximum rock ‘n’ roll, zero pretension, and when Mike Estes roars: “Hey rock star, just shut up and rock!” on the track of the same name, there’s no doubt the Skinny Molly singer is leading by example."I poured everything I had into Haywire Riot,” exclaims Mike. “From the beginning when the pen hit the paper, until the last note of the finished CD. The songs on this album mean a lot to me personally; the subject matter is either from me or somebody I know...They originated from what's going on in my or a close friend's life. I'm glad I have a lot of life experiences to draw from, because I'm not a great fiction writer." Mike’s connections to the Skynyrd band go deep.  After striking up a friendship with Allen Collins while still a teenager, Mike’s first band, Helen Highwater, was both christened and given guidance by the late legendary guitarist (who once gave him an eight-hour guitar lesson). That bond deepened when the young band opened up Skynyrd’s ’87 Tribute Tour. Clearly, the Southern icons liked what they heard, and after a period as a behind-the-scenes writer in the early’90s, Mike was invited by Gary Rossington to join Skynyrd full-time.Post-Skynyrd, Mike smashed the Billboard chart with his co-written “White Knuckle Ride” single (recorded while still with Skynyrd on the last session he did with them), and released two solo albums leading the band Driving Sideways – a self-titled CD and Brave New South – while remaining a fixture on magazine covers and music channels on the strength of his prolific talent. Back in 1995, he was inducted into the Hollywood Rock Walk of Fame, but with Skinny Molly, you sense he’s only just getting started.With Mike Estes in the lineup, some guitarists might feel the pressure. Not Jay Johnson, the band’s six-string stinger missile and perhaps the only player capable of standing toe-to-toe with his frontman. Jay got his break at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio as a session guitarist for Malaco Records artist Mary Burns, and since then his talent has spread into writing, production and audio engineering. After early duties in Radio Tokyo, Jay joined The Rossington Band from 1986 to 1989 (a period during which he played on the Skynyrd Tribute Tour before more than a million fans and released two major-label LPs); and by 1994, he’d hooked up with Blackfoot’s Jackson Spires and Dave Hlubek in the Southern Rock Allstars. His stint as Blackfoot’s vocalist in 2006 makes him the ultimate backup singer for Skinny Molly, while many past shows alongside Mike – including several acoustic duo tours – mean he’s the perfect wingman.   Kurt Pietro has been Skinny Molly’s drummer from the start and previously was a revered Michigan studio ace and a live powerhouse with early outfit, Crystal. He subsequently studied broadcasting and music at Michigan University, leading to a job at Omni Studios in Nashville, where on a fateful day when a visiting Mike asked if anyone could play a drum overdub, Kurt answered the call and has been there ever since.Skinny Molly’s rhythm section was completed in 2007 when Luke Bradshaw signed on to play bass. Picking up the instrument at age 15, Luke’s talent on both electric and acoustic bass can also be heard alongside American Idol’s Bo Bice, Grand Ole Opry star George Hamilton IV, bluegrass artist Bobby Hicks, and Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys.Skinny Molly will continue to tour world-wide in support of Haywire Riot. For more information, visit www.skinnymollyrocks.com

Mon, 01/07/2013 - 5:24 pm

The Rev Jimmie Bratcher announces a March 5 release date for Secretly Famous, the latest CD from the blues-rock singer/guitarist, coming from Ain’t Skeert Tunes. Produced by multi-Grammy-winner Jim Gaines and recorded at his Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee, Secretly Famous marks the second time the two have collaborated on an album project; Gaines also produced Bratcher’s 2006 release, RED.“Secretly Famous is my seventh album but I really feel like it’s my first,” says Bratcher. “This album is different for me because I went further back into my roots than on any of my other albums, back to a time before I became “The Rev.” Back to the blues-rock root that I learned playing that old guitar.”“That old guitar” Bratcher refers to is a classic white 1964 Gibson SG Jr., which he played on the new CD. And there’s a story behind how he got the guitar and how it set him on the path to become a musician as a youngster growing up in Kansas City.“In the driveway was a 1958 Desoto; in the house were a 12-year-old boy and his dad with a plan,” recalls Bratcher. “‘Will trade 1958 Desoto for electric guitar and amplifier,’ was how the ad read in the Kansas City Star newspaper. One call came and I went home with a beautiful white Gibson SG Jr. and a Gibson amplifier. That’s where it all started and I still have both the guitar and amp to this day.”On that day was not only a musician born, but also a self-confessed “guitar freak,” who plays several different vintage guitars and amps on Secretly Famous. “I never understood the attraction to vintage guitars till one day it hit me,” says Bratcher. “There’s something very special about playing a guitar that has had a lifetime of music played through it. I consider playing guitar as a gift. Throughout my life I’ve received many guitars as gifts. In fact most of the guitars that I own were given to me as gifts.  They are constant reminders to me that music is a gift to us all and it’s my honor to play it for you. Oh yeah, the songs I played the SG on are the solos of “I Can’t Shake That Thing” & “Starting All Over Again."And if you didn’t already know it, Jimmie Bratcher is a bona fide preacher, who regularly spends his time when not performing at clubs and festivals around the world, visiting souls who need a lifeline, including frequent performances for prison inmates all over the country.Backing The Rev Jimmie Bratcher on Secretly Famous  are Craig Kew on bass, known for his work with the group Proto Kaw, which features guitarist Kerry Livgren from the legendary band Kansas; Lester Estelle Jr. on drums, a Nashville-based skin-slammer who is currently touring with Big and Rich and also co-owns Off the Wall Studios on Music Row; and keyboardist Rick Steff,  a mainstay at Jim Gaines’ recording sessions who’s based in Memphis and also plays in the acclaimed band Lucero.Secretly Famous features an even-dozen tracks including 10 originals and two scintillating covers: The Rev’s boogie-in’ take on John D. Loudermilk’s classic “Tobacco Road;” and a beautiful reading of the Association’s ‘60s hit, “Never My Love,” that brings s new depth of feeling and emotion to the song. Another track of note is “Check Your Blues at the Door,” an original blues shuffle destined to become a fan favorite and blues lover’s anthem.“I wrote most of the songs on Secretly Famous and had the honor of co-writing the opening track, ‘Jupiter & Mars,’ with my son Jason,” says Bratcher. “The song was Jason’s idea and once I read the first line – ‘Blinding light, flash of chrome, hot-head blonde in a tricked out Ford’ - I was hooked. There’s also something about my playing on this song that is just wrong enough to be right and the groove drags you into the song so you can’t help but feel it. All the songs I wrote on Secretly Famous are for people like me.  People that hurt, that love, that laugh, people that need to forget about their troubles and enjoy life.”For more information on the artist, visit www.therevjb.com.

Fri, 01/11/2013 - 10:25 am

Ruf Records announces the signing of Nashville-based blues guitarist/singer Bart Walker and will release his label debut CD, Waiting on Daylight, on March 12. The new album was produced and engineered by multi Grammy-winner Jim Gaines and recorded at his Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee. Backing Walker on Waiting on Daylight are all-star Memphis session players Steve Potts (drums), Dave Smith (bass) and Rick Steff (keyboards), along with special guest Dave Cohen on organ.The 11 tracks on Waiting on Daylight feature nine new songs written by Walker and such other Nashville notables as Grammy-winner Gary Nicholson and Pat McLaughlin, plus blazing covers of J. B. Hutto’s “Hip Shake It,” and the Allman Brothers Band classic, “Whippin’ Post,” which closes the album.The timing of the new CD couldn’t have been better for Bart Walker, having won the Gibson Guitarist Award at the 2012 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, and earning glowing reviews for his first album, Who I Am, which he also produced. Coupled with some major buzz after recent appearances on Delbert McClinton’s Sandy Beaches Cruises, blues audiences are primed and ready for a new album of music from the blues guitar blaster."When we started out with this new record," says Walker, "I was constantly thinking about how I was I gonna top the last one. About 20 minutes into the session, Jim showed me how that was gonna happen."A gifted guitar player, Bart Walker has been playing since the age of four and has already logged plenty of road miles as the right-hand man to country-rocker Bo Bice and collaborated in the studio with such heavyweights as Steve Gorman (Black Crowes), Audley Freed (Cry Of Love, Black Crowes) and Robert Kearns (Cry of Love, Lynyrd Skynyrd). He's played with Stevie Ray Vaughan's original back-up band, Double Trouble, and until recently had Double Trouble keyboardist Reese Wynans as a regular member of his own touring outfit.Waiting on Daylight kicks off with the funky blues groove of "It's All Good," featuring a vocal that instantly recalls Louisiana swamp man Tab Benoit. On "Took It Like a Man," Walker’s influences from southern rock icons ZZ Top and the Allman Brothers show their colors. "Those are definitely some of my most favorite artists, along with my all-time favorite guitar player, Stevie Ray Vaughan," explains Walker. "But honestly, I have so many influences from so many genres: Guns 'n' Roses, Zeppelin, Jack White, Doyle Bramhall II, Warren Haynes … the list is 100 miles long."As things progress through rockin' tunes like the Chuck Berry-flavored "Happy," J. B. Hutto's "Hipshake It" or the introspective "Mary and Me," it becomes harder to ignore what is unquestionably one of the album's biggest strengths: a big, fat, gritty, greasy guitar tone massive enough to take hold of your soul. Walker confirms this is no accident. "If it doesn’t have the big fat, beefy tone, then I won’t play to my fullest potential," says the self-professed "tone freak" – who then runs off a list of the roughly dozen different guitars he used to get just the right sound on each particular cut. And he couldn’t have found a better producer to bring his muscular guitar sounds to fruition than producer Gaines, who literally lives and breathes guitar tones, as evidenced by his acclaimed work with such axemasters as the aforementioned Vaughan, Carlos Santana, George Thorogood, Luther Allison and Bart’s Ruf labelmate, Joanne Shaw Taylor.It didn’t take long for the guitarist and his producer to realize they had something special going on in the studio. “I really felt like I had accomplished something when Jim Gaines turned around in his chair and looked at me while we were listening down to some of the tracks and said, ‘Man, we got us a really rockin’ record!,’ "exclaims Walker.With the release of Waiting on Daylight, audiences all over the world will be able to experience that blinding blues flash of creative brilliance.Bart Walker will tour Europe with Ruf’s “Blues Caravan” roadshow starting this month along with Joanne Shaw Taylor and Jimmy Bowskill and then return to the U.S. for dates throughout the spring and summer. He’s managed and booked by Gina Hughes of The Galaxie Agency www.galaxieagency.com. For more information, visit www.thebartwalkerband.com

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 3:59 am

Reference Recordings announces the signing of blues/roots singer-songwriter Doug MacLeod, and a March 12 release date for his label debut album, There’s a Time. Produced by Doug MacLeod and Janice Mancuso and recorded at Skywalker Sound, the “baker’s dozen” tracks on There’s a Time showcase his soulful vocals and trademark guitar sound backed by Denny Croy on bass and Jimi Bott on drums. Acclaimed for their quality audio recordings, Reference will also release the new album on a 200-gram vinyl two-LP set, half-speed mastered and pressed at Quality Record Pressings (QRP), as well as on CD.“Making this album was different than any other one I’ve done in the past,” recalls MacLeod about the sessions. “They put Jimi, Denny and me on this huge soundstage at Skywalker Sound in Marin County and we sat around in a circle where we could see each other. We played live, no overdubs, just three guys playing some music together.“Simply put, Jimi and Denny are two of the finest musicians I have ever had the pleasure to make music with. I’ve been known to change arrangements on the spot: add a bar here, take away a bar there. I go with the feeling of the moment. Both Jimi and Denny have this uncanny ability to follow that - even under what could have been pressure circumstances for other musicians.”A perennial Blues Music Award nominee, MacLeod is currently nominated for “Acoustic Artist of the Year.” Doug is a throwback musician in the great tradition of the traveling bluesman from the genre’s classic era, having apprenticed with some of the best as a sideman with such legends as Big Joe Turner, Pee Wee Crayton, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Big Mama Thornton and George “Harmonica” Smith. During that time, he developed his unique, unorthodox and powerfully rhythmic acoustic guitar style, which he puts to great use on There’s a Time playing on a variety of guitars with such pet names as “Moon” (a National M-1 Tricone), “Little Bit” (a Gibson C-100 FE) and “Owl” (a National Style “O”), plus a National El Trovador 12-String.The other element of Doug’s style is his remarkable ability as a storyteller, another trademark of the classic itinerant blues musician. Listening to the songs on There’s a Time is like attending a master class on storytelling, as MacLeod weaves tales that are visceral, insightful and often humorous (as on the songs, “My In-laws Are Outlaws,” “St Elmo’s Rooms and Pool” and “Dubb’s Talkin’ Religion Blues”).Like the old masters who taught him, MacLeod’s songs are based primarily on his own life and experiences, instilled with the spirit one particular influential bluesman once told him: “Never play a note you don’t believe, and never write or sing about what you don’t know.”“If you’re speaking honestly, then I believe you’re coming from your heart,” MacLeod says. “And if you’re coming from the heart, then I believe your chances of getting to another heart are real good. If you can get to the heart, then you can get to the soul, and I think that’s where songs like to live.”In a career that spans over 30 years, Doug MacLeod has recorded 19 studio albums, several live records, compilations, a blues guitar instructional DVD and a live performance DVD. His songs have been covered by such artists as Albert King, Albert Collins, Joe Louis Walker and Eva Cassidy. Two of his songs were on Grammy-nominated albums by King and Collins.  He’s co-written tunes with Dave Alvin and Coco Montoya, and his songs have been featured in many TV movies, as well as the hit TV series, “In the Heat of the Night.”From 1999 to 2004, Doug hosted “Nothin’ but the Blues,” a very popular weekend blues radio show on Los Angeles’ KLON-KKJZ. He has also been the voice for “The Blues Showcase” on Continental Airlines and contributed his soulful slide guitar playing to the Los Angeles opening of the August Wilson play, “Gem of the Ocean.” For 10 years, he penned “Doug’s Back Porch,” a regular feature column in Blues Revue, in which he shared his humorous and insightful stories with the magazine’s readers. In 1997, he won the Golden Note Award for his Audioquest Music album, You Can’t Take My Blues; and in 2006 Solid Air/Warner Bros. released Doug’s guitar instructional DVD, 101 Blues Guitar Essentials.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 6:08 pm

Severn Records announces a March 19 release date for the special two-CD compilation set, The Blind Owl, a tribute to Alan Wilson, the brilliant musician and founding member of the legendary band, Canned Heat. Distributed nationally by City Hall Records, The Blind Owl is comprised of 20 tracks recorded during Wilson’s tragically short career, and features songs from such Canned Heat album classics as Boogie with Canned Heat, Future Blues, Hallelujah, Living the Blues, Canned Heat Concert (Recorded Live in Europe) and the group’s debut self-titled album, released in 1966 on Liberty Records.The set includes Canned Heat’s Top 10 worldwide hits, “On the Road Again” (inspired by Floyd Jones and adapted by Wilson) and “Going Up the Country” (written by Wilson), which featured his trademark high-pitched lead vocals, influenced by Skip James. Other fan favorites on the two CDs include “Help Me,” “Time Was,” “An Owl Song,” “Shake It and Break It,” “Mean Old World” and several parts from the band’s highly ambitious nine-part psychedelic musical adventure known as “Parthenogenesis.” In addition to Alan Wilson on lead vocals, rhythm and bottleneck guitar and harmonica, The Blind Owl features Canned Heat members Henry Vestine and Harvey Mandel on lead guitar; Larry Taylor and Tony de la Barreda on bass; and Adolfo (“Fito”) de la Parra and Frank Cook on drums and percussion. Dr. John is a special guest on piano for two tracks. The Digipak album package also features extensive and insightful liner notes about the songs from Skip Taylor, Canned Heat’s manager from the beginning, producer and personal friend of Alan Wilson, with cover art by Josh Hunter, illustrator of The 27s Book.Nicknamed “The Blind Owl” by good friend and fellow blues musician John Fahey, Wilson was nearsighted to the point of almost complete blindness. That affliction, along with his innate shyness around people and an introverted personality combined to form a potent combination, that while giving inspiration to many of his songs, also helped create Alan’s personal demons that eventually took his life at age 27. He’s forever linked with the other greats of the “27 Club” who died way-too-young at that age, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain and Robert Johnson.As a member of Canned Heat, Wilson performed at the two most iconic live concerts in rock: the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, which helped launch the whole festival show craze; and Woodstock, the 1969 once-in-a-lifetime event that will forever be considered a defining moment in rock music history. Wilson’s “Going Up the Country” not only became the theme of the movie filmed at Woodstock, but would also become the anthem of the entire “Woodstock Generation,” and still continues to be featured in movies and commercials to this day.Born on the Fourth of July in 1943 in Boston, Alan Wilson got involved in the Cambridge coffeehouse folk-blues circuit while enrolled at Boston University. He also immersed himself in the history of early blues music, becoming an authority on the subject; so much so that in 1964 noted manager/producer/blues historian Dick Waterman recruited Wilson to “re-teach” the legendary Son House how to play his old slide guitar licks and songs he had recorded in the ‘30s and had forgotten. After several weeks of playing together, House invited Alan to play guitar and harmonica with him at the Newport Folk Festival and on The Legendary Son House, Father of Folk Blues record.In 1965, Alan became a founding member of Los Angeles-based Canned Heat. Painfully awkward, Wilson battled anxiety and depression throughout his life, which manifested itself in songs such as “My Mistake,” and “Change My Ways,” both included on The Blind Owl. The set also includes such hallmarks as his performances on “Help Me,” Wilson’s debut as a singer in 1966; “An Owl Song,” the band’s first recording with horns; “Alan’s Intro,” his amazing slide guitar intro to Canned Heat’s “Woodstock Boogie,” recorded live at the festival; “Skat,” a group jam that features Alan “scat” singing; and “Human Condition,” Alan’s final studio recording. Keenly attuned to the environment, he also lamented the carnage of the planet’s resources, documenting those feelings on the track, “Poor Moon.”Wilson was one of the few serious blues scholars of his day and wrote lengthy articles on such artists as Robert Pete Williams and Son House about their significant contributions to the history of the blues. After Canned Heat’s appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival, Downbeat magazine put the band on its cover and proclaimed Wilson “the greatest harmonica player of the 20th Century.” And none other than the king of boogie, himself, John Lee Hooker paid the ultimate compliment to Wilson after the band’s sessions on the double-LP, Hooker ‘n Heat, in 1970: “Alan plays my music better than I knows it myself. You musta been listenin’ to my records all your life.”The Blind Owl Track ListingDisc One1)      On the Road Again2)      Help Me3)      An Owl Song4)      Going Up the Country5)      My Mistake6)      Change My Ways7)      Get Off My Back8)      Time Was9)      Do Not Enter10)  Shake It and Break It11)  Nebulosity / Rollin’ & Tumblin’ / Five OwlsDisc Two1)      Alan’s Intro2)      My Time Ain’t Long3)      Skat4)      London Blues5)      Poor Moon6)      Pulling Hair Blues7)      Mean Old World8)      Human Condition9)      Childhood’s End For more information, visit www.severnrecords.com and www.cannedheatmusic.com.

Fri, 02/01/2013 - 10:38 am

Blue Duchess Records announces the signing of jazz tenor saxophone great Scott Hamilton, and will release his label debut CD, Remembering Billie, on February 26. Produced by Duke Robillard, the 10 all-instrumental tracks on Remembering Billie salute Billie Holiday in a worthy tribute of songs associated with the iconic singer, including several of her most-cherished tunes, such as “Good Morning Heartache,” “Them There Eyes” and “God Bless the Child.” Hamilton’s sax is backed by a trio of Tim Ray on piano, Dave Zinno on acoustic bass and Jim Gwin on drums, with Duke Robillard guesting on two tracks on acoustic archtop guitar. The sessions were recorded at Lakewest Recording in West Greenwich, RI.“I started to make a Billie tribute many years ago with Ruby Braff but it ended up as something else,” Hamilton says. “At any rate, I have always considered the Billie Holiday repertoire as a great subject for an album like this. It's possible to pay tribute without changing your own style for the occasion - a big problem with most ‘project’ albums. It was Duke’s idea to do an album with the guys I play with when I’m back home in New England, which is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I think the band is what makes this record special - the guys play so well together. I can't really do them justice here. Everything they play is so right for the songs.And Duke - I'm glad we were able to talk him into playing on a couple of numbers. He really loves these songs and it’s great to hear him on the acoustic guitar. I wish we could play some gigs with this band.”Whether on ballads or swinging tunes, the magical tenor sax of Scott Hamilton shines through on Remembering Billie with his impressive tones and expressive soul. “Eight of the ten selections here are from that pre-WWII era when Billie’s work contained a lightness, great joy and a sense of fun,” writes Bob Porter in the album’s liner notes. “She made it sound so easy, but then so does Scott Hamilton. But you know it cannot be easy or else all musicians would have that quality and very, very few actually do. This is timeless music played by one of the few masters of our time. Treasure it.”Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Scott Hamilton got an early schooling in jazz from his father’s record collection, and after experimenting with several instruments, dedicated his playing exclusively to the saxophone by the time he was 16. After moving to New York at age 22, he was taken under the wing of legendary trumpeter Roy Eldridge, who helped get him a six-week gig at Michael’s Pub in the city, and in turn, chances to play and learn from such people like Eldridge, Illinois Jacquet, Jo Jones and the great Benny Goodman.  In 1977, he formed his own band and signed to Concord Records, where he recorded over 40 albums with that label, including a lengthy and noteworthy collaboration with singer Rosemary Clooney that resulted in 15 albums over 15 years. Many of those projects involved concept albums around composers such as Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin and Johnny Mercer; some were individual projects or ballads, show tunes and a couple of dedications to singers Bing Crosby and Billie Holiday. On Remembering Billie, Hamilton reprises three of the songs included in the original Holiday tribute he recorded with Clooney.In addition to a repertoire of acclaimed albums released under his own name, Scott Hamilton has made albums with such legends as Woody Herman, Tony Bennett, Gerry Mulligan and Buddy Tate. Over the years, he’s also performed and recorded with such touring bands as the Concord Jazz All Stars, the Concord Super Band and George Wein’s Newport Jazz Festival All Stars. Based in London for a number of years, Scott now travels the globe from his home in Italy, touring regularly all over the world at festivals, jazz club dates and residencies at some of the most prestigious venues in the world.    For more information, visit www.blueduchessrecords.com or www.scotthamiltonsax.com.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 5:39 pm

Stony Plain Records announces an April 9 release date for Independently Blue, the exciting new CD from multi Blues Music Award winner and Grammy nominee Duke Robillard. The dozen tracks contained on Independently Blue showcase the guitarist at the peak of his six-string powers and feature a dynamic tandem throughout with Duke joined by guitarist “Monster” Mike Welch as special guest. Duke’s band includes Bruce Bears on piano/Hammond organ, Brad Hallen on acoustic/electric bass and Mark Teixeira on drums/percussion, augmented by a horn section of Doug Woolverton on trumpet and Bill Novick on clarinet.“Independently Blue is a special album to me because it blends many of my favorite elements of blues, early rock & roll and jazz music,” Robillard says. “First of all, I am happy about all the songs and the feeling we captured on all the tracks. The variety of musical styles is all part of what I am all about and the blues sensibilities within all the tracks - even when nodding to rock and roll, R&B or jazz - shows our strength as a band. The addition of Mike Welch added a blues fire to everything and I am really happy about the instant rapport Mike and I had, and what a great team we made coming up with parts for the songs.”Robillard continues to tap into the wellspring of great songs from longtime friend and former Roomful of Blues band mate Al Basile, who contributes three tunes to the new CD, with one of those songs co-written with Duke. Mike Welch brought in two instrumentals that allow both players to stretch out, have fun and challenge each in ways that make the listener the big winner. “Patrol Wagon Blues,” a song originally recorded in 1929 by Red Allen, demonstrates his wide swath of influences, as backed by the horns of Doug Woolverton and Billy Novick, he takes us all on a swingin’ Dixieland ride down to New Orleans carried by a groove any fan of the Crescent City sound would dig.Duke’s guitar mastery is evident throughout Independently Blue, whether it’s the rollicking grease on “I Wouldn’t-a Done That,” the crunchy rockin’ blues of “Below Zero,” the Chuck Berry-influenced rocker Laurene (named for his wife), the smooth Motown-fueled groove of “You Won’t Ever,” or the ethereal track, “Moongate,” inspired by a visit to a 19th century gilded-age mansion in the Berkshire Mountains with its awesome gardens and rolling hills.The addition of Mike Welch on guitar (nicknamed “Monster” for good reason) brings into the mix another exciting guitar player, and the two feed off each other’s energy and riffs. On “Stapled to the Chicken’s Back,” the two go at it with a fierce – but friendly – bit of “head-cutting” on guitars, trading licks and runs that bring the Albert Collins-styled Texas shuffle to a glorious climax. And on “This Man, This Monster,” Duke and Mike explore an educational journey of blues sounds as beautiful as it is powerful – and done in one take.Duke Robillard continues his extensive touring around the world, and has a lengthy series of European shows coming up in March that includes stops in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium and The Netherlands.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 3:06 pm

Guitarist/singer Dudley Taft announces a May 7 release date for his new CD, Deep Deep Blue, coming from his own American Blues Artist Group Records. On Deep Deep Blue, Taft pulls together his influences – geographical, biographical and musical – and filters them through his blue soul. The result is a genre-busting slab of tunes, blending his Midwestern roots with his love of the blues, the British Invasion and Southern Rock, seasoned with songwriting and musicianship nurtured through 30-plus years as a musician. The new album, the second solo release from Taft, includes eight originals, plus deft takes on a diverse group of covers from Bob Dylan (“Meet Me in the Morning”), Lou Reed (“Sally Can’t Dance”) and Freddie King (“Palace of the King”).Of the original tunes, Taft points out several for discussion. “‘God Forbid’ is an extension of the spaghetti western type of song we did on my last CD. Using the same protagonist who finds himself left for dead on the first album, the song provides a glimpse into the character's history. We kind of figure out what he did to make a certain person want to chase him down. ‘Wishing Well’ is my Americana song; it’s about hope and what you want out of life. It’s got an acoustic Neil Young flavor, a Crazy Horse-type of feel. And ‘Bandit Queen’ is a song I wrote about Pearl Hart. She was a girl who grew up reading Cowboys and Indians comic books around the turn of the century and decided she wanted to be like one of the characters. She left home, fell in love with a gambler and they robbed a stagecoach at a time when nobody was robbing them anymore. They got the money and were trying to hide, but ended up going in a big circle and getting caught close to where they robbed it. No one really knows what happened to her. One legend is that she joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.”Dudley Taft’s slashing style of guitar playing, honed from years of work in a host of rock bands based in cities from Indianapolis and Houston, to Los Angeles and Seattle, has given his blues-fueled repertoire a decidedly edgier tone, which accentuates the tension and energy of the songs.The songwriting and planning for Deep Deep Blue began in 2012, shortly after he moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The new CD was recorded at Seattle's Studio X and London Bridge, with drums by Scott Vogel and Chris Leighton, bass by John Kessler and keyboards by Eric Robert. Overdubs and Taft's guitar tracks were recorded at his home studio in Chapel Hill.“I’m not going to try to be something that I’m not,” Taft says. “I’m not about regurgitating stuff that everybody has done before. The blues legends of old were breaking the rules; they were doing what they wanted. I'm just doing what comes naturally to me.”That musical sensibility was nurtured by influences ranging from Ted Nugent, Kiss and Rush, to Foghat, ZZ Top and The Allman Brothers Band.  In the early 1980s, Taft headed east to Connecticut. While attending prep school, Taft met Trey Anastasio (who would go on to play guitar for Phish) and formed Space Antelope, his first real band.“Then it was out west to San Bernardino,” Taft recalls. He attended college there, but the call of music was too much for the burgeoning fret shredder, however, and he soon found his way into LA where he tried to find a band.“It was all about the image and I had terrible hair,” he remembers. “In the summer of 1990, I heard Mother Love Bone’s EP, Apple, and it resonated heavily with me. It was REAL music. I drove up to Seattle to stay two weeks and ended up moving up there.”For the next 20 years, Taft would become a fixture in the Seattle scene, forming Sweet Water, who toured the U.S. extensively with bands like Monster Magnet, Candlebox and Alice In Chains, and later Second Coming, who snagged a deal with Capitol Records and had a No. 10 hit single with “Vintage Eyes” and a song placed in the Bruce Willis movie, The Sixth Sense.After the demise of Second Coming Taft, dug deep into his soul and uncovered the roots of the blues that had been planted there as a youth.“I decided I wanted to do something different than another rock band,” Taft says, and after preparing to form what was initially going to be a ZZ Top tribute band, Taft discovered the magic of Freddie “The Texas Cannonball” King.“That got me excited about having my own blues band,” Taft says. “I watched videos of Freddie, and the music is a bit looser and there is a lot of cueing going on. All the guys in the band are watching Freddie like a hawk. I wanted a band that understands that communication. And I thought: ‘dude I can play lead guitar all night long!’”Teaming up with some A-list Seattle musicians, Taft recorded his first solo album, Left for Dead, and inked deal with Made In Germany records. A European tour ensued and was followed by Taft's relocation from Seattle to his new home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.“I’m just doing what comes naturally for me,” he says “I don’t have to write the next hit single. My original songs gestate themselves and emerge as they are. I don't try to make them fit any category. And if people like it, that’s good. I just play the guitar, keep my head down and roll with the changes.”For more information, visit www.dudleytaft.com.

Tue, 03/12/2013 - 2:56 pm

Dynamic roots music singer/songwriter Gina Sicilia announces an April 30 release date for It Wasn’t Real, her new CD on the VizzTone Label Group, which promises to expand her burgeoning career as one of the most creative, exciting and diverse artists in the genre today.Produced by Grammy-winner Glenn Barrett, It Wasn’t Real was recorded at Morningstar Studios in Gina’s hometown of Philadelphia, and features the singer backed by a cadre of local all-star session players who bring a soulful intensity that matches Sicilia’s emotionally-charged vocals.The new album’s nine original songs showcase Gina’s growth as a songwriter who can deal with universal themes of love and fate, but is able to inject a personal deep-felt longing throughout with her commanding vocal style. The lone cover is a scintillating re-working of the great Etta James’ 1961 hit, “Don’t Cry Baby.”“These songs mean a lot to me,” Gina says. “My goal is to write in a way that’s observant and soulful, and to get at the pleasures and the pressures of love, joy, family, responsibility…all the complexities that are part of living. And with Glenn’s help and the support of the great band he put together, I think I’ve made my best album.”Considered a true rising star in the blues world ever since her debut album, Allow Me to Confess, brought her world-wide acclaim in 2007, Gina manages to raise the bar even further with It Wasn’t Real, throwing down a music gauntlet of soul, power, grit and energy for others to follow. Her songs and performances gracefully cross genres on the new album, too, with echoes of soul, rock and even Americana woven throughout the tapestry of sound she’s created on the new disc, bringing Gina’s music to an even wider audience.“Even though I’m mostly known in the blues world, I love and I’ve absorbed all kinds of music — R&B, country, doo-wop, jazz, soul, pop and blues. So when I get inspired to write a song, it’s likely to go anywhere and even combine those styles,” Sicilia explains. Threads of those genres can also be heard in her previous three albums, including 2008’s Hey Sugar and 2011’s Can’t Control Myself, which were all produced by Sicilia’s bandleader and guitarist Dave Gross.“Working with Glenn took me out of the comfort zone Dave and I have together, and that made me a little nervous and forced me to push myself,” Sicilia recalls. “That gave me the edge and the encouragement I needed to explore the entire breadth of my vocal range, which I think people get to hear for the first time on this album.”Gina Sicilia got her first true taste of performing in front of an audience at age 19 during the weekly jams held at Philadelphia blues and jazz club, Warmdaddy’s, beginning in 2005. She’d already acquired her eclectic musical taste from her parents, who played all kinds of music on their home stereo, including pop tunes from her father’s native Italy. But after she ordered a packaged-for-TV compilation album called Solid Gold Soul that featured Bobby Bland, Etta James, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and others, she become hooked on old-school soul, blues and R&B.She had planned a career in journalism despite the encouragement of her musical mentor, Russell Faith, an important local composer and musician who’d written songs for Frank Sinatra. His death in 2004 galvanized Sicilia into action. “I started taking the subway by myself to the jams at Warmdaddy’s,” she says. “From the first time I got the courage to go onstage, the musicians there encouraged me.”It was at the Warmdaddy’s jams that Gina met Dave Gross, and soon thereafter they started dating and performing together. Gross encouraged her to record, and Allow Me to Confess was released just after Sicilia graduated from Temple University and was free to begin touring. The album was soon picked up for distribution by the VizzTone Label Group and Sicilia rapidly signed with a national roots music booking agency.“I see myself as always evolving, reaching for a new place where I want my music to be and a way I want it to sound,” she proclaims. “I don’t know if I’ll find that place, but I’ll never stop searching.”For more, visit www.ginasicilia.com.

Thu, 04/04/2013 - 11:54 am

Blue Hoss Records announces a May 21 release date for Double Dare, the new CD from former Buddy Guy Band monster guitarist Frank Bang & the Secret Stash. As its title implies, Chicago-based Bang's new CD (his fifth release), displays an artist not afraid to take chances, and showcases a wide palette of roots sounds inspired from his blues, rock and country influences – all awash in his scintillating electric guitar and slide work.Double Dare was produced by Umphrey’s McGee and Rod Stewart producer/engineer Manny Sanchez and recorded at the Windy City’s I.V. Lab Studio. Bang’s lead vocals and assortment of guitars are backed by a core band of Bobby Spelbring on drums and Ryan Fitzgerald on bass, augmented with guest musicians on harmonica, guitars, keyboards and sax. The 11 all-original song disc kicks off with the blazing title track, wherein Bang launches a mind-blowing caldron of slide guitar blasting straight into the stratosphere. Other highlights include the riff-based rocker, “Lose Control;” the celebration of life’s simple joys, “This Is What It’s All About;” and “Wonder Woman,” a warm slide guitar powered tune about the inspiration and healing power of love. “I knew I had a song with heart and meaning, and that set the bar for the rest of the songs that I wanted to write,” he explains. Similarly, “All I Need” chronicles the turns of life over a bed of gently grinding six-string and a glide of organ, brought to an emotional arc by Bang’s soaring solo.With six years having passed since the release of his last CD, And They Named It Rock and Roll, Frank Bang has experienced several personal and professional highs and lows, all of which have informed the music on his new album. And he pays that experience forward with the insightful songs on Double Dare. “I felt that I really had to step up my game and write songs that had a deeper meaning, because I realized my music had a deep meaning for a lot of people,” Bang says. “People would, and still do, tell me my music lifted them when they were down, and helped them through hard times. I wanted to live up to that.“There isn’t one thing on this album that isn’t true,” he adds. “There are stories about my family, about my life and experiences, about things that have struck me as funny or interesting. Even the guitar sound goes right back to the buzz I got plugging an electric guitar in for the first time — getting that real pure tone and letting it rip."Born and raised in Chicago, Frank Bang’s musical influences initially revolved around the music he heard at home while growing up. Bang saw his first live music at the lounge where his mother waitressed. His father, a Chicago police officer, was initially disapproving of his son’s interest in playing guitar. But Bang persevered, and at age 16 bought a cheap six-string and amp that he was only allowed to play in the garage.After initial excursions into rock, when Frank turned 21 he made his first visits to Chicago’s blues clubs, where he learned that the genesis of most of the music he was digging at the time came from the blues root. After a false start in college, he quit school and got a job at Chicago’s Hard Rock Café, which led to him transferring to other Hard Rock locales in San Diego and Houston. A chance encounter in San Diego with the great Stevie Ray Vaughan set him on the righteous path back home to Chicago and all its blues wonders.When Bang moved home, he got a one-night-a-week job at Buddy Guy’s club Legends as a doorman. Over the next few years, his involvement in the club grew to even occasionally traveling with Guy and his crew to major concerts. And after the club had closed for the night, Frank and his newfound musical buddy Wayne Baker Brooks, son of blues giant Lonnie Brooks, would drag the amps out on stage after hours and play together, trading licks and trying to learn some of what they’d just heard that night.Besides expanding his guitar vocabulary, Bang - whose real surname is Blinkal - got his professional name during his Legends years. He’d occasionally take time off to road manage for guitarist Larry McCray, who started calling him “Bang” due to the speed at which he accomplished tasks — as in “bang,” job done.Bang began playing during the Monday night Legends jams and soon assembled his own blues-rock group, the Buzz, who became regulars at the club. He also came into his own on slide guitar — which plays a major role in Double Dare — after discovering the daredevil musicianship of Robert Randolph, Aubrey Ghent and the other slide-based players from the Holiness Church sacred steel tradition.Eventually, the man himself - Buddy Guy - took notice and asked Frank to join his band on second guitar.Bang circled the world five times with Guy, headlining clubs and theaters, and opening on major tours in some of the biggest arenas and amphitheaters. Along the way, Bang shared the stage with the Rolling Stones, Santana, Robert Plant, R.E.M., Jimmie Vaughan, Dave Matthews, B.B. King, Clapton and other blues and rock titans. He also performed alongside Guy in many television appearances, including the The Tonight Show and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.   Bang continued to forge ahead on his own, too. In 2004, he cut his debut album, Frank Bang Alive One, followed by the studio set, Frank Bang’s Secret Stash in 2005. In 2006, he made Homegrown Live from Martyr’s. With 2007’s And They Named It Rock And Roll, Bang’s songwriting skills took a significant leap forward, which led to his developing the songs that play out on Double Dare.“I’ve set a high bar of artistic maturity and musical integrity for myself,” he says, “and I hope people hear that in this album.”

Tue, 04/09/2013 - 11:29 am

Singer-songwriter Rian Greene announces a June 4 release date for his new album, Drown the Miller, on Post Oak Records, which showcases his keen eye for a lyric and rootsy Americana take on country music. Produced by Brian Harrison (Shelby Lynne) and recorded primarily at The Rendering Plant in Nashville, Drown the Miller features Rian Greene’s unique blend of Americana music and traditional country sounds backed by a cadre of Nashville all-stars with pedigrees from work with such stars as Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings and Buddy Miller. The recording sessions feature Bryan Owings on drums, Phil Senseny on bass, John Jackson on guitar, Phil Madeira on keyboards, Robby Turner on steel guitar and Tom Littlefield on harmony vocals.Drown the Miller spotlights Rian Greene’s attention to detail and carefully crafted compositions.  For the new CD, Rian brought in 19 demos to producer Brian “Brain” Harrison and drummer Bryan Owings, who helped him narrow it down to the 11 album tracks.“I was living in Knoxville and spoke with a few great musicians, like bassist Phil Senseny, about wanting to make a new record,” he recalls. After a couple of weeks and a trip to Nashville, things came together indeed for Drown the Miller. “I’m very proud of the songs and all the performances from everyone involved,” Rian notes. “Brian’s production worked great in complementing and bringing out the best in the songs. There’s not a whole lot of fat on it—if a song didn’t need a bridge, there wasn’t one; if it didn’t need a third verse, it didn’t get one.” Subsequently, Drown the Miller is a succinct, easy album to listen to, with depth and subtleties that reveal themselves through multiple listens. That is the mark of a good album.With a sound rooted in traditional country music, Drown the Miller correspondingly offers Rian’s uniquely fresh perspective. A mature, well-crafted work, this highly anticipated second album proves that his honest, no-frills lyrics and melodies stand up perfectly alongside the best Americana music of today. Lead single “The Best I’ve Ever Had” recalls some of the finer moments of  Tom Petty and The Jayhawks, while tracks like “Stranger in My Arms” and the title track reveal a poignantly honest talent. On the new album, Rian Greene wisely surrounds himself with some of the more well-respected pros in music. “I didn’t know who the other players would be, but I knew they’d be good. Once John Jackson came in to play guitar, it was a dream come true. If someone would have told me as a 16-year-old concert-goer that the guitarist I saw on stage with Bob Dylan (John Jackson) would play with me someday, I would never have believed it,” Rian adds. “Making a record with such great musicians was an honor, and it made the whole process an absolute pleasure. I can’t wait to do it again.”In the wake of his refreshingly straight-forward debut album—the Dusty Wakeman produced See Things Like You—Nashville singer-songwriter Rian Greene quickly earned the reputation of being a “songwriter’s songwriter.” While the album received world-wide airplay and heavy VH1-Country rotation for the single, “The Shotgun Side,” Rian was really just getting started. As both a solo performer and a member of the award-winning San Diego band The Hideaways, Rian put years of touring experience under his belt, as his live show mixed in solid, original songs with his encyclopedic knowledge of country standards and classics. He has worked with artists ranging from Lucinda Williams and The Flatlanders, to Asleep at the Wheel and The Beat Farmers; and, as a band leader he has played with Gordon Waller of Peter & Gordon, and early Beatles collaborator, Tony Sheridan.For more information, visit www.riangreene.com.

Mon, 04/15/2013 - 2:29 pm

With a distinctive Texas twang of a voice that echoes across the plains of her home state, Emily Herring announces the rival of a new sweetheart of the rodeo with her debut CD release, Your Mistake, coming May 21 on Turquoise Earring Records. It’s a voice born and bred in the honky-tonks, dancehalls and roadhouses of the Lone Star State, bathed in a wash of sweet guitars, dobro and pedal steel, and pushed by a rhythm section that’s just guaranteed to get feet on the dance floor.Singer/guitarist Emily Herring will celebrate her new CD with two area album release shows: May 16 at the Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos; and May 24 at The War Horse in Austin.Your Mistake features an even-dozen original songs that showcase Emily Herring’s wondrous way with words, backed by a sympathetic band that lays in the grooves and just won’t stop until the CD does. Recorded in her one-time base of Portland, Oregon, the new album really took root once Emily returned to her native Texas and set up shop in San Marcos, where she regularly plays as a solo act and with her touring band, Emily Herring and Henpecked. She is equally a player and a lyricist, with influences of traditional country, honky-tonk, western swing and southern blues.In turns dazzling and stark, Your Mistake is a love letter and a warning, with her no-frills lyrics cutting like a knife in one song, and soothing as a cool mountain stream in another, all the while always ringing true. That’s evident from the get-go with the opening track, “Austin (Ain’t Got No) City Limits,” a tip of the hat paean that name-checks a passel of local landmarks in the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Stretching across Texas and the new West, the songs on her album recall the last 50 years of country music in a sound uniquely hers.“I feel like Your Mistake as an album is mostly about my realizing that one of the most important things about who I am is defining myself as a Texan,” Herring says. “I lived in Oregon for nine years, and in the last few years I really missed my home. Songs like ‘Turquoise Earrings,’ ‘Terlingua’ and particularly ‘One Sip of Water’ are deeply about that. But in songs like ‘Your Mistake,’ Wanna Holler’- and ironically ‘One Sip of Water’ - I outline why living in Texas is also hard for me. It's very bittersweet, but when I lay it all out, I'd rather relate to people through music and culture than through politics and mindset. I know that when I walk into a Texas honky-tonk full of folks I've never met I get a lot of looks, but if I've got a guitar case in my hand, by the end of the night I'll make a room full of friends and fans. People here really care about their music, and they want to see a performer who cares about it just as much as they do, and that is basically what I live for.”Born and raised in Texas, Emily has played at festivals, clubs and showcases all around the country. During her time in Portland, she played throughout the northwest before moving back to Texas in 2010 to be closer to the heart of the country music she loves so much.“Herring twangs, plucks and warbles like country singers of yore, gun-slingin’ her guitar with a clear-headed progressive attitude and the ‘don’t mess with me’ swagger of a true outlaw,” wrote The Portland Mercury in a review of one of her local shows. “Emily Herring weaves songs out of a bluesy country fabric that is so much a part of Central Texas. In a sea of sound-alike singer/songwriters, Herring demands to be heard,” said Ink 19 Magazine. And City Beat Cincinnati summed up its review by stating: “Herring is an original voice doing extraordinary things in the simplest term…A big plate of Texas Country with a side of Delta Blues.”

Wed, 04/17/2013 - 10:10 am

Multi-award-winning blues singer/guitarist Rory Block will release the fourth CD in her “Mentor Series” on June 4 with Avalon on Stony Plain Records, a tribute to blues master Mississippi John Hurt. Previous Rory Block salutes have been to Rev. Gary Davis (I Belong to the Band), Mississippi Fred McDowell (Shake ‘em on Down) and Son House (Blues Walkin’ Like a Man).Like the others before it, on Avalon Rory Block pays a loving reverence to another of the blues greats whose influences have made a major impact on her career path and music. Ten of the 11 tracks on the new CD are songs associated with Hurt’s repertoire; while the lone original tune - which leads off the album - “Everybody Loves John,” is Rory’s personal love letter to the iconic bluesman, name-checking a litany of songs that were a major part of his blues canon.“Mississippi John Hurt was a truly unique artist,” says Block, the most celebrated living female acoustic blues artist. “He left a resounding impact on our musical landscape. We think of him as outwardly mellow, sweet, and as one writer described it, singing in a ‘whisper.’ But have you pondered the words? Alongside gospel material, this gentle man sang about sex, murder, mystery, violence and steamy sensuality. It gets ever deeper the more you listen.“Most people finger pick simply, carefully, and with enough volume to be heard and enjoyed. But next to the masters we can find ourselves tinkling away while the train pulls out of the station. Mississippi John Hurt bounced rhythmically from side to side while he was playing – did this bounce add power and jauntiness to the notes, or did his extra strong attack on the strings create the bounce? We can never do polite versions of these songs if we want to capture some of the power that made the originals great and enduring.”Many of Hurt’s best known and beloved songs are on Avalon, including “Candy Man,” “Frankie & Albert,” “Got the Blues Can’t be Satisfied,” “Richland Woman Blues,” “Spike Driver Blues,” “Stagolee,” “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor,” “Pay Day” and the title track, plus other tunes that demonstrate how diverse and significant his contributions were to blues history.“Many worthy artists have covered these songs, but when you examine the source, you understand more fully the level of greatness that was in the original versions – greatness that is also almost impossible to define,” Block states. “But let me try by saying that true character, charisma, drive, and soulfulness are some of the essential ingredients. So how will we manage? With devotion, respect, reverence, and with energy – with extra ‘oomph’ – lest we be weak.”And Rory Block is anything but weak on these tracks, imbuing every ounce of her musical and spiritual strength into each song, muscling inside the core source of every track and working her way out through each verse and chorus as they take their own twists and turns to get to their final denouement.Rory Block’s connection to Mississippi John Hurt goes back five decades. "In December of 1963, I met Mississippi John Hurt at a concert in New York which also featured the great Old Timey musician Doc Boggs,” she recalled in her autobiography, When a Woman Gets the Blues. “We went backstage as we always did. Stefan Grossman was part of the accepted insiders group and we never needed special passes. Hurt's presence was shy and gentle. His face was beautifully weather beaten; he wore a signature hat, and always had a mellow smile. I loved the way he rocked around when he played... it was a bounce that started slow and built up to a strong pace that carried the music. He had his own way of doing this – I never saw anyone else with this exact style of moving and playing. At times when I am performing I feel this energy come over me: the Mississippi John Hurt bounce energy.”“I think it interesting to note that Mississippi John Hurt covered many Appalachian country songs,” adds Block. “This just underscores the exchange of musical styles that was going on in the early 1900s which few people understood. Mississippi John Hurt knew musicians who played Appalachian music (Doc Boggs for example), and many of the Old Timey players knew the blues pickers. At the age of 14, sitting on the porch of an old wood frame house in North Carolina, I heard Clarence Ashley say, ‘I learned this one from an old blues player’ and I heard Mississippi John Hurt talk about the country fiddle players he knew. What we have in the end is a true melting pot which included music from Africa, the British Isles, Flamenco (Hurt referred to open G tuning as ‘Spanish’), folk, jazz, popular contemporary music of the day, and probably even Classical music, to name some of the sources.”Avalon was produced by Rory Block and Rob Davis and recorded/mixed/mastered by Davis at Aurora Productions mobile studios. All of the guitars and vocals on the CD are by Rory Block, who plays her OM40 Signature Model Martin guitars, uses Martin SP3200 medium gauge strings, a Shubb capo, and an SK 14mm deep well socket to great effect.“One of the things I have endeavoured to capture in this tribute series is a return to a more earthy, natural approach,” Block summarizes. “We don't love the old recordings because they are crackle-free, or fancy, or have clever formats. No, some of the songs are one chord throughout. Some have the same simple refrain which repeats again and again after each verse – no solos, just the driving beat and original theme. And almost never fancy endings. I call these abrupt events the ‘Get outa' town’ endings – just plunk, and wham, or the sound of someone getting up and leaving the room before the song is over. This is part of what I love. So instead of sweeping the tracks clean of all noise, sanitizing, bleaching, disinfecting and straining the music, Rob and I feel compelled to let it be real. Every recording is a field recording in my view. The first take is always the best. So, in this effort I remember John Hurt, celebrate his music and times and rejoice at having had the chance to meet him. Nothing will ever be the same as a result, and my life has been made far richer by the experience.”

Mon, 05/13/2013 - 1:13 pm

Shining Stone Records announces the signing of Connecticut-based guitarist Paul Gabriel, and will release his label debut CD, What’s the Chance, on June 18. Produced by Duke Robillard, What’s the Chance features Paul Gabriel backed by a core band of Billy Bileca on bass, Nick Longo on drums and Larry “Buzzy” Fallstrom on keyboards. Special guests on the new album include Duke Robillard on guitars and background vocals; former Butterfield Blues Band alumnus Mark Naftalin on piano; Bruce Bears on keyboards; Steve Pastir on guitar; and the Roomful of Blues Horns consisting of Rich Lataille on alto/tenor sax, Mark Earley on tenor/baritone sax, and Doug Woolverton on trumpet.For decades, Paul Gabriel has been a regional treasure in New England, and his previous forays into recording have brought him accolades from fans, critics and fellow musicians alike. In a career that spans over 40 years, Gabriel appeared on three albums by legendary singer/songwriter Harry Chapin, played slide guitar on Rory Block’s Grammy-nominated album, Mama’s Blues, toured with Michael Bolton and recorded and toured with his several of his own bands.Now, with the release of What’s the Chance, Paul Gabriel truly steps into the spotlight on an album of 13 tracks that not only showcases him as a distinctive, bluesy guitarist, but also a talented songwriter and a master of diverse musical styles. Throughout the new disc, he takes the listener on a trip of blues, R&B and even excursions into jazz, as evidenced by the two instrumentals on the CD, “328 Chauncy Street” and “C.M.C.” On the lone cover, Chris Kenner’s “Something You Got,” Gabriel does the Crescent City proud with a lowdown and swingy take on the New Orleans gem.Gabriel and Robillard have known each other for many years and the two had a great simpatico in the studio, trading guitar solos on several cuts, including the jumpin’ opener, “Old Time Ball,” “Ride, Ride, Ride” and the aforementioned”328 Chauncy Street.” Original Paul Butterfield Blues Band member Mark Naftalin joins in the fun on two tracks, playing piano on “Devil’s Daughter” and the duet spot with Gabriel on “Fine At’tire,” a hipster/rhythm and blues tune that recalls the best of the early ‘50s sound.         “I first saw Duke Robillard perform around 1968 with a new band called Roomful of Blues.” recalls Gabriel. “Our paths crossed many times over the next few years leading to the eighties, and at some point I realized that I needed to absorb what Duke was doing. Eventually we got together (1983), sat down and just played at Duke's house. He encouraged me about the things I did well and helped me correct the things that I was doing wrong, all the time treating me as a peer and always giving me little clues that would help develop my style further. During the ten years with my band, Blue in the Face (1987-1997), I did numerous shows opening for Duke, continuing to learn from him. In 2011, I did a show with him, playing solo and performing some new songs I had written in anticipation of a new release. One of the songs I played was called 'Roomful of Blues.' Duke asked me if I had recorded that yet, and I said I was saving it for the new release. Later that year, I headed to Rhode Island to start recording the new album with Duke producing. Right from the beginning, the magic was happening. The band, engineer Jack Gauthier and Duke all became one, as the chemistry created something very special, and in my opinion, the best album I have ever done.”What’s the Chance was recorded and mixed at Lakewest Recording. “Some very special equipment was used during this recording,” said Gabriel about the sessions, “including a Sony 24-channel tape recorder, real tape delays and a lot of really great guitars and amps. I used a 1954 Gibson ES-5, a 1963 Fender Stratocaster, a 1966 Fender Jazzmaster, a 1965 Fender Super Reverb and a 1965 Fender Twin Reverb. Duke played a variety of Fender guitars, Teles and Strats, Epiphone Casino, a Gibson Midtown, and a 1947 Gibson L-7 archtop.  Billy Bileca used a 1966 Fender Precision bass and a 1947 Kay upright bass.  Mark Naftalin played a real piano and Larry Fallstrom a 1961 Hammond B-3 and Leslie tone cabinet. Nick Longo used a lot of old drums and Bruce Bears played a variety of keyboards by Nord. The horn section used a variety of 50s and 60s era instruments that produce a sound that only they can.”

Mon, 06/17/2013 - 11:30 am

Ruf Records announces a July 9 release date for Bliss Avenue, the new CD from New York-based blues-rock singer Dana Fuchs. The follow-up to her 2011 label debut, Love to Beg in 2011, Bliss Avenue showcases Dana’s magnificent pipes in all their power-edged, soulful glory, laying bare her innermost feelings with provocative and thought-provoking lyrics, backed by an incendiary band led by her long-time wingman and guitarist, Jon Diamond.All of the songs on the new album were co-written by Dana and Jon and continue to explore areas that are very personal to her, yet universal in their appeal and substance. “If there’s one line that sounds thrown away or dialed in, it has to be redone,” says Dana. “Every word needs to express the emotion of the song or no one will get it and that leaves me cold.”The resulting album is a window into the singer’s world view, drawing on everything from the tragic loss of her beloved brother to the loneliness of life on the road. “I’m excited for people, especially those fans who have stuck so close with me, to hear Bliss Avenue,” adds Dana, “because I really purged my soul in a starker, more naked way, both lyrically and musically.“I got so emotional to the point of tears,” she admits, “singing several of these tunes that are so close to home, like ‘So Hard to Move,’ ‘Bliss Avenue,’ ‘Long, Long Game’ and ‘Vagabond Wind.’ I want this album to reach people in a way that’s meant to be inclusive. Not like, ‘Here’s my world and my story,’ but rather, ‘Here’s my story, can you relate...?’”Locking in with Dana and Jon’s self-production, this musical dream team flew across tracks that take in flavors including soul, roots, blues and southern rock. “I realized that you have to hire the best musicians to help you reach your vision,” she notes. “It’s such a collaborative effort.”Dana Fuchs’ musical odyssey began in rural Florida as the youngest of six children raised in a family home that was filled with music. By age 12, she had joined the First Baptist Gospel Choir in a small black church on the outskirts of town; and later when singing in local bands didn’t satisfy her urge to perform, she bravely moved to New York City at the tender age of age of 19 to seek a loftier goal. Scrapping for survival on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and devastated by her older sister’s suicide, she plunged herself into the city’s blues-jam circuit like a freight train.It was at one of these jam nights that Dana first met Jon Diamond: an established NYC axman who had already toured with the chart-topping Joan Osborne. They promptly formed the Dana Fuchs Band and quickly built a buzz in the Big Apple’s blues clubs, more than holding their own on bills featuring such well-established artists as John Popper, James Cotton and Taj Mahal. The musical partnership really took off, however, two years later when Dana and Jon began writing together. Armed with a solid body of original material, they drew packed houses at all the top venues in New York City, while sharing bills with such national acts as Little Feat, Marianne Faithfull and Etta James. That has since morphed into nonstop touring across the globe for the past three years playing featured slots at some of the biggest, most prestigious festivals in the U.S. and Europe, while still playing to sold out crowds back home in spots such as The Highline Ballroom.Word of Dana’s talent spread to off-Broadway, and when she was invited to audition by the producers of the hit Janis Joplin musical Love, Janis, a few bars of “Piece of My Heart,” plus her industrial-strength charisma, confirmed they had their lead. Playing Joplin four nights a week proved an effective shop-window, catching the eye of renowned director, Julie Taymor, and leading to a subsequent turn as “Sadie” in Sony’s highly acclaimed Beatles movie, Across the Universe. With her vocals featured prominently on the platinum-selling soundtrack, this was a project that saw Dana Fuchs Band shows bolstered by a whole new audience, who duly left to spread the word leading to notable guest spots for Dana with Gov’t Mule, Ray Davies and Bob Weir.Dana released her debut CD, Lonely for a Lifetime, in 2003, and her initial Ruf album, Love To Beg, further upped the ante for her emergence as a true artist on the rise. UK’s Blues Matters crowned her “One of the Top Vocalists of 2011; and R2 magazine said that she has “talent simmering towards detonation.”On Bliss Avenue, Dana Fuchs shoots for the stars, runs with fans’ expectations and channels the blues while simultaneously defying them. “While the album’s content may seem dark,” explains Dana, “I’m not in a dark place at all, but rather a very hopeful place for music, spirituality and mankind. It often takes looking into the dark soul to see the light...”For a sneak preview of Bliss Avenue, click on this video promo link: http://youtu.be/-_tG8XhVH3IDana Fuchs will support the release of Bliss Avenue with extensive touring both in the U.S. and overseas. For more information, visit www.danafuchs.com. DANA FUCHS TOUR ITINERARY8/8                         House of Blues                                                                  Chicago, IL8/9                         Shank Hall                                                                           Milwaukee, WI8/10                       Bayfront Blues Festival                                                  Duluth, MN8/11                       Icon Lounge                                                                       Sioux Falls, SD8/13                       Dakota Jazz Club                                                               Minneapolis, MN8/14                       The Zoo Bar                                                                        Lincoln, NE8/15                       Knucklehead’s                                                                  Kansas City, MO8/16                       Country Club Hotel                                                          Lake Ozark, MO8/17                       The Gramophone                                                            St. Louis, MO8/22                       Stage 48                                                                               New York, NY8/24                       Bethesda Blues Club                                                       Bethesda, MD Additional dates forthcoming…

Mon, 06/17/2013 - 12:07 pm

Ruf Records announces a June 11 release date for Gone to Texas, the solo label debut CD from singer/guitarist Mike Zito. Also along for the ride are special guests Delbert McClinton on vocals and harmonica, Sonny Landreth on guitar, Susan Cowsill on vocals and Lewis Stephens (Delbert McClinton, Freddie King) on keyboards. Zito expertly matches them with his core band, The Wheel: Jimmy Carpenter – sax and guitars; Rob Lee – drums; and Scot Sutherland – bass. The result effectively announces one of the most exciting and highly-anticipated new releases of the year.Recorded at Dockside Studios in Maurice, Louisiana, Gone to Texas was produced by the Beaumont, Texas-based Zito and engineered by long-time New Orleans notable David Ferrell, giving the album’s mix a decided Crescent City bent, while embracing Mike’s Texas blues and roots influences. The lead-off title track is an autobiographical tale of redemption and catharsis for Zito, who literally lived the tale, with a bit of an Allman Brothers musical twinge. “Rainbow Bridge,” aided and abetted by some killer Sonny Landreth guitar work and soulful Susan Cowsill vocals, sounds like a long-lost Little Feat song. On “The Road Never Ends,” Zito cranks things into the stratosphere with a sonic blast of electric slide guitar and blistering vocals, accompanied on vocals and harmonica by McClinton.  “Subtraction Blues” deals with a man whose dealings with his woman “just don’t add up,” spiced with a funky Second Line feel. “Take It Easy, “one of the two non-originals on the CD, is Zito’s soothing take on the McClinton-penned ballad. The other cover is Mike’s unique version of Beaumont’s own Blind Willie Johnson’s “Let Your Love Shine on Me,” which closes the album.Make no mistake about it, Gone to Texas IS a very special – and personal - album for Mike Zito.“Texas saved my life. Sounds a bit dramatic, but absolutely true,” says Zito. “Historically, Texas has been the saving grace of many desperate men. In the early 1800s, men who had large debts or committed crimes would run off to Texas to hide from the colonies and their creditors. This was called ‘Gone to Texas.’ New Spain (Mexico at that time, including Mexican Texas) took in all the runaways and vagabonds it could hold. Many of these men found a new life in what would be Texas, returned for their families, paid their debts off, only to fight and die for the freedom of Texas from Spanish rule.“Texas was my last stand as well. I ended up there after running away from all of my problems and mostly myself. I left on the Greyhound bus and got off in Texas, leaving my family behind. My drug addiction is no secret and Texas is where I confronted my problems and made a change that has saved my life. I met a woman who lived in Texas years before and was spiritually drawn to her. She has stood by my side though it all and has given me the love and support I needed to stand on my own two feet. South East Texas has taken me in and given me a new life. This is a much different place than the south side of Saint Louis where I grew up. They all take it for granted around here, but it is a very unique place in the world.”For Zito, the band he put together for the Gone to Texas sessions - The Wheel - is also special to him. “These musicians were hand-picked over the years,” he states. “These are some of my favorite musicians on planet earth; my dream band. We all have one thing in common: make the music feel good! It is no surprise that this most important album to me is being released on Ruf Records. I have wanted to be a Ruf recording artist since 1998. Thomas Ruf and I have tried many times to get together over the years but the Universe wasn't ready for us until now!”Since 2012, Mike Zito has also been a founding member of his OTHER band, Royal Southern Brotherhood, along with Cyril Neville, Devon Allman, Charlie Wooton and Yonrico Scott; and while he continues to record and tour with that band of brothers, he’ll also be doing shows with The Wheel throughout the rest of the year in support of his solo album.Mike Zito has been a rising star in the blues/roots world for the past several years as a performer, songwriter and producer. In 2010, the title-track for his Pearl River album, which he co-wrote with Cyril Neville, won the Blues Music Award as “Song of Year;” and he also produced last year’s BMA winner for “Best New Artist Debut Album” by labelmate Samantha Fish. His last solo CD, Greyhound, was nominated for “Rock Blues Album;” and he’s currently nominated as a member of Royal Southern Brotherhood in the same category for that band’s eponymous debut CD at the upcoming Blues Music Awards in May.  For more information on Mike, visit www.mikezito.com and www.rufrecords.de.MIKE ZITO & THE WHEEL TOUR DATES6/2                    The Westcott Theater                                         Syracuse, NY6/5                    Le Poisson Rouge                                             New York, NY6/6                    Chan’s                                                              Woonsocket, RI6/7                    The Barn – Hillspring Farms                               Addison, NY6/8                    The Elks Club                                                    Franklin, NH6/10                  Time Out Pub                                                    Rockland, ME6/12                  Wilbert’s                                                           Cleveland, OH6/19                  Canal House                                                     Tuscarawas, OH6/21                  Rams Head Onstage                                         Annapolis, MD6/22 & 6/23       Bayou Boogaloo & Cajun Festival                      Norfolk, VA6/25                  3rd & Lindsley                                                    Nashville, TN6/26                  Old Rock House                                                St. Louis, MO6/27                  Cartoon’s                                                          Springfield, MO6/28                  City of Olathe Summer Concert Series                Olathe, KS6/29                  Wabash BBQ                                                    Excelsior Springs, MO6/30                  Blues from the Top                                            Winter Park, CO

Mon, 07/08/2013 - 3:57 pm

Ruf Records announces a July 9 release date for Bliss Avenue, the new CD from New York-based blues-rock singer Dana Fuchs. The follow-up to her 2011 label debut, Love to Beg in 2011, Bliss Avenue showcases Dana’s magnificent pipes in all their power-edged, soulful glory, laying bare her innermost feelings with provocative and thought-provoking lyrics, backed by an incendiary band led by her long-time wingman and guitarist, Jon Diamond.All of the songs on the new album were co-written by Dana and Jon and continue to explore areas that are very personal to her, yet universal in their appeal and substance. “If there’s one line that sounds thrown away or dialed in, it has to be redone,” says Dana. “Every word needs to express the emotion of the song or no one will get it and that leaves me cold.”The resulting album is a window into the singer’s world view, drawing on everything from the tragic loss of her beloved brother to the loneliness of life on the road. “I’m excited for people, especially those fans who have stuck so close with me, to hear Bliss Avenue,” adds Dana, “because I really purged my soul in a starker, more naked way, both lyrically and musically.“I got so emotional to the point of tears,” she admits, “singing several of these tunes that are so close to home, like ‘So Hard to Move,’ ‘Bliss Avenue,’ ‘Long, Long Game’ and ‘Vagabond Wind.’ I want this album to reach people in a way that’s meant to be inclusive. Not like, ‘Here’s my world and my story,’ but rather, ‘Here’s my story, can you relate...?’”Locking in with Dana and Jon’s self-production, this musical dream team flew across tracks that take in flavors including soul, roots, blues and southern rock. “I realized that you have to hire the best musicians to help you reach your vision,” she notes. “It’s such a collaborative effort.”Dana Fuchs’ musical odyssey began in rural Florida as the youngest of six children raised in a family home that was filled with music. By age 12, she had joined the First Baptist Gospel Choir in a small black church on the outskirts of town; and later when singing in local bands didn’t satisfy her urge to perform, she bravely moved to New York City at the tender age of age of 19 to seek a loftier goal. Scrapping for survival on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and devastated by her older sister’s suicide, she plunged herself into the city’s blues-jam circuit like a freight train.It was at one of these jam nights that Dana first met Jon Diamond: an established NYC axman who had already toured with the chart-topping Joan Osborne. They promptly formed the Dana Fuchs Band and quickly built a buzz in the Big Apple’s blues clubs, more than holding their own on bills featuring such well-established artists as John Popper, James Cotton and Taj Mahal.The musical partnership really took off, however, two years later when Dana and Jon began writing together. Armed with a solid body of original material, they drew packed houses at all the top venues in New York City, while sharing bills with such national acts as Little Feat, Marianne Faithfull and Etta James. That has since morphed into nonstop touring across the globe for the past three years playing featured slots at some of the biggest, most prestigious festivals in the U.S. and Europe, while still playing to sold out crowds back home in spots such as The Highline Ballroom.Word of Dana’s talent spread to off-Broadway, and when she was invited to audition by the producers of the hit Janis Joplin musical Love, Janis, a few bars of “Piece of My Heart,” plus her industrial-strength charisma, confirmed they had their lead. Playing Joplin four nights a week proved an effective shop-window, catching the eye of renowned director, Julie Taymor, and leading to a subsequent turn as “Sadie” in Sony’s highly acclaimed Beatles movie, Across the Universe. With her vocals featured prominently on the platinum-selling soundtrack, this was a project that saw Dana Fuchs Band shows bolstered by a whole new audience, who duly left to spread the word leading to notable guest spots for Dana with Gov’t Mule, Ray Davies and Bob Weir.Dana released her debut CD, Lonely for a Lifetime, in 2003, and her initial Ruf album, Love To Beg, further upped the ante for her emergence as a true artist on the rise. UK’s Blues Matters crowned her “One of the Top Vocalists of 2011; and R2 magazine said that she has “talent simmering towards detonation.”On Bliss Avenue, Dana Fuchs shoots for the stars, runs with fans’ expectations and channels the blues while simultaneously defying them. “While the album’s content may seem dark,” explains Dana, “I’m not in a dark place at all, but rather a very hopeful place for music, spirituality and mankind. It often takes looking into the dark soul to see the light...”For a sneak preview of Bliss Avenue, click on this video promo link: http://youtu.be/-_tG8XhVH3IDana Fuchs will support the release of Bliss Avenue with extensive touring both in the U.S. and overseas. For more information, visit www.danafuchs.comDANA FUCHS TOUR ITINERARY8/8                   House of Blues                                              Chicago, IL8/9                   Shank Hall                                                     Milwaukee, WI8/10                 Bayfront Blues Festival                                     Duluth, MN8/11                 Icon Lounge                                                  Sioux Falls, SD8/13                 Dakota Jazz Club                                             Minneapolis, MN8/14                 The Zoo Bar                                                    Lincoln, NE8/15                 Knucklehead’s                                                 Kansas City, MO8/16                 Country Club Hotel                                         Lake Ozark, MO8/17                 The Gramophone                                             St. Louis, MO8/22                 Stage 48                                                           New York, NY8/23                 The Blockley                                                   Philadelphia, PA8/24                 Bethesda Blues Club                                        Bethesda, MD

Tue, 07/16/2013 - 11:53 am

Ruf Records announces a September 10 release date for Magic Honey, the new album (and first solo outing for the label) from Grammy-winning singer/percussionist Cyril Neville. On the new CD, Cyril steps outside his Royal Southern Brotherhood membership to create a dazzling roots musical gumbo that stirs the pot with many flavors. Produced by David Z (Prince, Etta James, Buddy Guy) and recorded at Studio in the Country in Bogalusa, Louisiana, Magic Honey delivers an amazing amalgam of sounds, all tethered to Cyril’s most-soulful of vocals, and backed by an all-star band that includes Cranston Clements – guitar; “Mean” Willie Green – drums; Carl Dufrene – bass; and Norman Caesar – keyboards. And if that’s not enough, joining in on the fun as special guests are two roots music icons - Allen Toussaint and Dr. John – on piano and organ respectively, plus fellow Royal Southern Brotherhood bandmate Mike Zito and Walter Trout on guitars.     Cyril also makes the recording a true family affair with the addition of his wife, Gaynielle, and son, Omari, providing a special dash of spice on backup vocals. There’s also a sprinkle of celebrity stardust, with New Orleans veteran Allen Toussaint handling the keys on the cuckolded shuffle of “Another Man,” Dr. John on organ for “Swamp Funk,” ex-Bluesbreakers axeman Walter Trout boiling up “Running Water” and Mike Zito lending muscular riffing to “Money and Oil” and “Working Man.”“Making this record was a spiritual, musical event,” says Neville about the sessions. “The musicians and I approached it like it was an important gig we were playing. All the tracks are first takes. The atmosphere was just that electric. All the way live! I waited a long time to work with David Z and I feel the wait was well worth it. I love how the record turned out. I was blessed with the best rhythm section for the occasion in ‘Mean’ Willie Green, Cranston Clements, Carl Dufrene and Norman Caesar. And blessed again with the presence of two of my mentors and heroes: Allen Toussaint and Dr. John. I'm extremely proud of this record. It's a tasteful, well-cooked musical gumbo that I think will be pleasing to the musical palates of most music lovers.”As in any great gumbo – musical or otherwise – Cyril Neville blends many ingredients to create a signature sonic dish that draws from a wellspring of blues, soul, funk, rock and world music, adds some heat to the mix and stirs it up to a beautiful boil. The even-dozen tracks on Magic Honey showcase an incredibly talented songwriter bringing his words to life with a mystical, spiritual honesty and simplicity that transcends any musical categories.Cyril might have one foot planted in the traditions of the blues, such as the raw emotion on “Something’s Got a Hold of Me” or the slow-burning “Blues Is the Truth, but the other is striding out and kicking the rulebook aside. There’s the spring-heeled, funk-flavored strut of “Running Water,” the snare-cracking groove of “Invisible” and the stinging title track (“My baby is a queen bee… magic honey dripping from her hive”). Then there’s the amped-up socio-political sideswipe of “Money and Oil” (“Don’t matter how you feel, it’s all sell, sell, sell”) and the album’s most overt rocker, “Working Man” (“Got no time for living, ’cause I’m working all the time…”). By the time you reach the silver-tongued reggae of “Slow Motion” and the irresistible dance floor-filler that is “Swamp Funk,” you’ll be reminded that Cyril is a songwriter who combines a clear artistic vision with a wandering eye.At age 64, Cyril Neville has amassed a creatively varied resume during his four-plus decades in the music industry. Born in late-’40s New Orleans as the youngest of the four siblings who would soon define that city’s R&B sound as The Neville Brothers, Cyril absorbed his parents’ vinyl collection and found his own voice when he turned professional at 19. His first gig was with Art Neville and the Neville Sounds (alongside elder brothers Art and Aaron), and though his subsequent splinter-group Soul Machine never quite achieved the heights it was due, Cyril was on fire, pricking up ears with 1970’s debut solo single, “Gossip,” then arriving in the lineup of Art’s funk outfit, The Meters.By that point, The Meters were already flying with the release of their 1969 smash-hit, “Cissy Strut.” Cyril added his congas and vocals to the mix on such landmark albums as 1972’s Cabbage Alley and 1975’s Fire On The Bayou, and when unabashed über-fan Mick Jagger invited The Meters to open up the Rolling Stones’ U.S. stadium tour of 1974, Art’s suggestion that Cyril take lead vocals was vindicated by a series of roof-raising performances.When The Meters dissolved in 1976, it cleared the path for the bloodline to regroup as The Neville Brothers and start a four-decade hot-streak – from 1976’s Wild Tchoupitoulas, through 1989’s Grammy-winning Yellow Moon, to 2004’s Walkin’ in the Shadows of Life – that continues to this day. When critics refer to the Nevilles as New Orleans’ first family of funk, it’s not hyperbole but a statement of fact.Even with all the success of The Neville Brothers, Cyril remains an artist in constant creative motion, always seeking a new groove and ways to paint musical pictures with his sound. He not only maintains a thrilling solo career that’s given us classics like 1994’s The Fire This Time and 2000’s New Orleans Cookin’, but has also collaborated with icons including Bob Dylan, Bono and Willie Nelson, toured the world with funk act Galactic, led his offshoot band Tribe 13, founded his own record label, Endangered Species, and made TV appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and HBO’s Treme. In 2010, he co-wrote the title-track for Mike Zito’s Pearl River album, which won the Blues Music Award as “Song of Year.” And in 2012, he, along with Devon Allman, Mike Zito, Charlie Wooton and Yonrico Scott formed Royal Southern Brotherhood, a supergroup that promptly took the world by storm and earned a Blues Music Award nomination for their self-titled debut CD on Ruf Records.An artist with an environmental and social conscience, Cyril has also spread good karma, both through the New Orleans Musicians Organized (NOMO) project that helps fledgling bands navigate the  rock industry, and alongside Tab Benoit on the 2005 Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars tour that raised the profile of the Louisiana Gulf Coast’s environmental plight.

Thu, 09/05/2013 - 4:19 pm

Guitarist Sean Chambers, whose new CD, The Rock House Sessions, is set for release on October 15 from Blue Heat Records, has announced his most extensive tour schedule thus far in support of the new album. His latest itinerary includes performances in a number of markets that Sean has not played in a long time, plus many he’s never played before, including all of his upcoming California shows, as well as San Antonio, Fort Worth, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Phoenix, Boulder, Cedar Rapids and New Orleans.The Rock House Sessions is the first album he’s recorded as Sean Chambers rather than The Sean Chambers Band; and producing for the  first-time is legendary keyboard player Reese Wynans (best-known as a member of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s band). It’s also his first album using all studio musicians, as Sean and Reese tapped into a host of all-star local players and songwriters. The album was recorded at the studio of another acclaimed keyboardist – Kevin McKendree (Delbert McClinton Band) – named The Rock House, hence The Rock House Sessions.Besides Sean on lead vocals and lead guitar, the main band includes Reese Wynans on keyboards, Tommy MacDonald on bass and Tom Hambridge on drums. Special guests include  Rob McNelley on guitar, TJ Klay on harmonica, Chaz Trippy on percussion, Etta Britt on backing vocals, Bob Britt on guitar, Steve Herman on trumpet, and Jim Hoke on sax.“We used three of my original songs on The Rock House Sessions,” said Sean Chambers about the new album. We had so many different songs on the table from some really great songwriters, including not only Tom Hambridge, but Gary Nicholson and Rick Vito. I really liked the diversity of all the music that we had to choose from here.“The songs that I wrote are ‘Your Love Is My Disease,’ ‘It Hurts to See You Go’ and ‘Meant to Be’. ‘Your Love Is My Disease’ is a straight-ahead up tempo blues song my band and I had been playing at our shows a couple months before the CD was recorded, and it was always very well received. ‘It Hurts to See You Go’ is a slow minor blues song about a guy who is trying to convince the love of his life ‘not to go.’ ‘Meant to Be’ is really unlike any other song that I have ever written. It was inspired by my soon-to-be wife, Karen, and the song kind of wrote itself. After talking with Karen on the phone early one morning, I had this melody running through my head and some lyric ideas also. I picked up my acoustic guitar and wrote the whole song in about 45 minutes. Reese Wynans helped me fine tune the song in the studio and also added a few lyrics at the end. Not to mention the piano lines that he added really took this song to another level. Although it is not the typical kind of song that one might expect to hear on a blues/rock album, it came from the heart and it is one of my favorites. It's about real stuff!”Sean Chambers Tour Itinerary 09/14/13                              Orlando, FL                                         McWell's09/15/13                              Sebastian, FL                                      Earl's Hideaway10/11/13                              New Port Richey, FL                        Cocktails10/12/13                              St. Petersburg, FL                            Ringside Cafe10/19/13                              Boca Raton, FL                                   The Funky Biscuit10/23/13                              Tuscarawas, OH                                Canal House10/24/13                              Indianapolis, IN                                 The Slippery Noodle Inn10/25/13                              Marion, IL                                            John Brown's Bar10/26/13                              Blue Springs, MO                             Trouser Mouse10/27/13                              Cedar Rapids, IA                               Parlor City11/15/13                              Wichita, KS                                          Soggy Bottom Too11/16/13                              Boulder, CO                                        Boulder Outlook Hotel & Suites11/17/13                              Evergreen, CO                                   Little Bear Saloon11/19/13                              Salt Lake City, UT                              Sun & Moon Cafe11/20/13                              Salt Lake City, UT                              Sun & Moon Cafe11/22/13                              Santa Cruz, CA                                   The Pocket11/23/13                              Arcadia, CA                                         Arcadia Blues Club11/24/13                              San Francisco, CA                             Biscuits & Blues11/26/13                              Phoenix, AZ                                        The Rhythm Room11/28/13                              Austin, TX                                            Saxon Pub11/30/13                              Fort Worth, TX                                  J & J Blues Bar12/03/13                              San Angelo, TX                                  Sealy Flats Blues Inn12/04/13                              San Angelo, TX                                  Sealy Flats Blues Inn12/06/13                              San Antonio, TX                                Sam's Burger Joint Music Hall12/10/13                              New Orleans, LA                              Mid-City Lanes Rock 'N' Bowl12/12/13                              Atlanta, GA                                         Blind Willie's12/13/13                              Marietta, GA                                      Darwin's12/14/13                              Jacksonville Beach, FL                    Mojo Kitchen1/24/14                                Sugarloaf Key, FL                              Mangrove Mama's Restaurant1/25/14                                Sugarloaf Key, FL                              Mangrove Mama's Restaurant Additional dates forthcoming….

Tue, 09/10/2013 - 2:54 pm

Severn Records announces an October 15 release date for My Street, the debut album from Baltimore-based soul and blues singer Ursula Ricks. The album was recorded at Severn’s new state-of-the-art studios in Annapolis, produced by David Earl and Steve Gomes and features horn arrangements by Chicago legend Willie Henderson. Severn Records is distributed in the U.S. by City Hall Records.My Street showcases Ursula’s astounding vocals and fresh approach to songwriting, as evidenced by her funky, gritty performances on the eight original tunes she contributes to the new CD. She’s backed by the label’s studio house band: Kevin Anker (keyboards), Steve Gomes (bass), with special guests Kim Wilson (harmonica) and Johnny Moeller (guitar) of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, plus Sugar Ray and the Bluetones’ guitarist “Monster” Mike Welch. Ricks also adds her deft interpretations of two covers on My Street: the Bobby Rush classic, “Mary Jane,” and Curtis Mayfield’s “Just a Little Bit of Love,” all delivered by the big-voiced singer whose star is clearly on the rise.“Ursula's unique vision and vocal ability made recording her debut album a real pleasure,” said Severn Records President David Earl about the sessions. “Like any seasoned pro, she knows what she wants to hear. Ursula has flown under the radar for so long. We are excited that the world will finally get an opportunity to experience her incredible music.”As a young child, Ursula Ricks sang often. She dreamed of entertaining and was influenced by movies and entertainers she watched with her grandmother. Movies like Severn Brides for Seven Brothers and Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals like Carousel affected her, along with stories her grandmother would tell while she watched and listened.  Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly and Shirley Temple movies also had an impact on Ursula as a young child.  Ursula soon fell in love with the blues listening to her mom sing in the living room, and she wrote her first song at the age of 16. In her early twenties, she formed an all-female band, began writing original music and playing in local clubs. She was later introduced to and educated further in the art of blues music by the players who came to perform at a local Baltimore club called the Full Moon Saloon. She called her band “Ursula Ricks Project,” for all the players she had been fortunate to share the stage with at the time. Ursula has opened for Johnny Lang in Baltimore and played the very first (annual) Baltimore Blues Festival.With no formal training, Ursula has the gift of voice. She has been performing along the East Coast from New York to Florida for over 20 years and has played with some of the best artists in blues and soul.As someone remarked upon hearing her sing, “Once you’ve heard Ursula Ricks, you are forever changed by the sultry voice and the way she makes your heart and soul feel. Ursula's new CD will do nothing less than her voice on stage has always done.  She will move you to tears or move you to dance; either way, you're gonna be moved!”For more information on her, visit www.ursularicks.com. For more information on Severn Records, visit www.severnrecords.com

Sat, 09/14/2013 - 8:06 pm

Growing up Southern - or from anywhere else on the globe for that matter - true fans of rock and roll know all about the history of the Van Zant family of Jacksonville, Florida. Known as the “First family of Southern Rock,” they have thus far produced three landmark groups: Lynyrd Skynyrd, 38 Special and the Johnny Van Zant Band. Now, there is a proud new addition from Southern Rock’s first family, a hot new band called Shanytown, who’ve released their debut album self-titled CD on Garage Door Records.Shanytown is led by “Lil Ronnie” Morris (lead vocals/guitar) and Robbie Morris (drums), both nephews of the late Ronnie Van Zant, as well as Donnie and Johnny Van Zant. Ronnie and Robbie Morris’ musical roots run deep and like their uncles they are the real deal. In fact, Robbie spent 15 years drumming in the Johnny Van Zant Band before stepping out to form his own group with his brother, Ronnie, as well as Kevin Williams (rhythm/lead guitars/vocals), Charles Moody (bass) and Tommy Bluestreetcar (yes, that is his name), who joined the band shortly after the album was recorded (rhythm/lead guitars/vocals).In the last few years, Shanytown has carved its own musical path, known primarily through their explosive live performances and lyrical song-styling. Wherever the band has played, they’ve left audiences with a sense of fulfillment rarely seen or offered by any of today’s entertainers.  Now, the Jacksonville-based Shanytown has successfully captured their powerful live sound in the studio to bring audiences their debut album, Shanytown.Shanytown’s musical influences are so diverse that the sounds created when they come together are truly unique.  As musicians they excel, as writers they push the very boundaries of Southern Rock with astonishing results, as evidenced by the 11 highly-combustible tracks on the band’s new CD.The new CD is a treasure of contemporary Southern Rock propelled by the blistering vocal performance of Ronnie Morris; driven by the rock-solid rhythm section of Robbie Morris and Charles Moody; and fueled by the twin guitar assault of Ronnie and Kevin Williams’ fretwork to produce an original, contemporary sound that could only be created by Shanytown.Already a hit at radio stations around the world, this stunning collection of original Southern Rock is being released worldwide on the American independent label, Garage Door Records. And the Van Zant legacy continues...For more information, visit www.garagedoorrecords.com.

Mon, 02/10/2014 - 1:43 pm

Forty Below Records announces the signing of the legendary “Godfather of British Blues,” John Mayall, and a May 13 release date for his first studio album in five years, A Special Life, distributed by Sony/RED. The new album was recorded in November, 2013, at Entourage Studios in North Hollywood and was produced by Mayall, with co-production, engineering and mixing by Eric Corne. A Special Life also boasts original cover art and design created by John Mayall.The aptly-titled A Special Life serves as further testament to John Mayall’s boundless talent, vitality and ever-dynamic personality. Along with his accomplished band, he goes back to his roots on the new album with an eclectic mix of songs centered in the blues, but with diversions into rock and Americana.Backing Mayall on the new album are Texas guitarist Rocky Athas and a Chicago-based rhythm section of Greg Rzab on bass and Jay Davenport on drums. The current band lineup came together five years ago for his last studio album, Tough, and has developed an amazing chemistry over the years through consistent touring both in the U.S. and around the world. Athas came on the recommendation of Mayall’s former guitarist Buddy Whittington, and quickly asserted himself as a major force in the band. After Rzab came onboard to play bass, he recommended Davenport for the drum spot and the group was complete.Since 2009, the new, leaner four-piece lineup has given John more room to stretch out as an instrumentalist. After being invited to do a guest spot on Walter Trout’s latest album, John met engineer/producer Eric Corne. John was so impressed that he asked Eric to record his new album. Greg, Jay and Rocky flew in for the sessions which took less than a week to record and the end result is one of John's best albums ever, with its deep devotion to blues and roots music. Accordion legend C.J. Chenier makes a powerhouse guest appearance on a couple of tracks, including the opener, “Why Did You Go Last Night,” written and previously recorded by his father, Zydeco icon Clifton Chenier. A Special Life also includes three new songs penned by John and a reworked Mayall classic to go along with covers of Jimmy Rogers (“That’s All Right”), Albert King (“Floodin’ in California”), Sonny Landreth (“Speak of the Devil”), Jimmy McCracklin (“I Just Got to Know”) and Eddie Taylor (“Big Town Playboy”), plus a new song written by Greg Rzab and Rocky Athas.John Mayall and his band are scheduled to start a major two-month tour of Europe in mid-February and will return to the U.S. to begin touring around the country with the album’s release, headlining major concert venues as well as performing at festivals throughout the spring and summer. John Mayall is booked by Monterey International.John Mayall’s place in music history has been assured ever since he put together the first of his bands, known as the Bluesbreakers in 1963. Besides his own work, John also backed blues greats John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker and Sonny Boy Williamson on their first English club tours.When Eric Clapton quit the Yardbirds, John quickly offered him the job as his new guitarist and the band recorded the all-time best-selling classic album, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers featuring Eric Clapton. However, by the time it was entering the charts, Clapton and bassist Jack Bruce had left to form Cream. So began a succession of future stars who would define their roots under John's leadership before leaving to form their own groups. Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood became Fleetwood Mac. Andy Fraser formed Free, and Mick Taylor joined the Rolling Stones.In 1969, with his popularity blossoming in the USA, John caused somewhat of a stir with the release of a drummer-less acoustic live album entitled The Turning Point, from which his song, “Room to Move,” became a rock classic. He received a gold record for this album. Attracted by the West Coast climate and culture, John then made his permanent move from England to Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles and began forming bands with American musicians. Throughout the ‘70s, John became further revered for his many jazz/rock/blues innovations featuring such notable performers as Blue Mitchell, Red Holloway, Larry Taylor and Harvey Mandel.In 1982, John decided to re-form the original Bluesbreakers. Mick Fleetwood was unavailable at the time so John hired drummer Colin Allen to join with John McVie and Mick Taylor for a couple of tours and a video concert film entitled Blues Alive. Featured greats were Albert King, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Etta James. Public reaction convinced Mayall that he should honor his driving blues roots and he quickly selected his choices for a new incarnation of the Bluesbreakers. Officially launched in 1984, it included future stars in their own right, guitarists Coco Montoya and Walter Trout.Throughout the eighties and nineties, John's popularity went from strength to strength with a succession of dynamic albums including the Grammy-nominated Wake Up Call that featured guest artists Buddy Guy, Mavis Staples, Albert Collins and Mick Taylor.In 1993, Texas guitarist Buddy Whittington joined the Bluesbreakers and for the next ten years energized the band with his unique and fiery ideas. Making his recording debut on Mayall's Spinning Coin album, he proved to be more than equal to following in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessors. Padlock on the Blues featured a rare collaboration with his close friend John Lee Hooker. On Along for the Ride, Mayall re-teamed with a number of his former mates, including Peter Green, Mick Taylor, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, as well as ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, Steve Miller, Billy Preston, Steve Cropper, Otis Rush, Gary Moore, Jeff Healey and Jonny Lang. In 2002, Stories debuted on the Billboard blues chart at #1.At a 70th Birthday celebration in aid of UNICEF in Liverpool, a concert was filmed, recorded and released as a DVD and double CD in December 2003. Along with the Bluesbreakers, it featured old friends Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor and Chris Barber. The BBC also aired an hour-long documentary on John's life and career entitled The Godfather of British Blues and to coincide with the release of Road Dogs in 2005, John was awarded an OBE by The Queen's Honours list. In the spring of 2007, John Mayall's 56th album release, In the Palace of the King, was an entire studio album that honored and paid tribute to the music of Mayall's long-time hero of the blues, Freddie King.Over the last ten years, Mayall has additionally released live recordings on his own online label, Private Stash Records (some still available on his website). They include Time Capsule (containing historic 1957-62 live tapes), UK Tour 2K (from a 2000 British tour), Boogie Woogie Man (a selection of solo performances), Cookin' Down Under (a live DVD from Australia), No Days Off (another British live show), Live in London and Historic Live Shows.To download a hi-res color photo of John (photo by Maureen Clark), click here: John MayallFor more information, visit www.johnmayall.com and www.fortybelowrecords.com

Tue, 05/27/2014 - 3:49 pm

Mesa/Bluemoon Recordings announces a June 24 release date for Only Worn One Time, the new CD from California-based singer/songwriter Dulcie Taylor. Only Worn One Time was produced by George Nauful and Tyson Leonard, mixed by Keith Olsen and recorded at the Colorado Room in Atascadero, California.A native South Carolinian and previously based in the Washington, DC, area, Dulcie Taylor returned to California in 2012 and has been living in San Luis Obispo County on the central California coast, creating exciting new music that covers the folk and Americana genres. Kudos for her previous work include The Washington Post, which said, “Taylor is a poet, a romantic. She writes from the heart for the heart;” while Dirty Linen described her as a “gifted writer;” and Barnes & Noble in its review said she “makes a mesmerizing impression.”Mesa/Bluemoon Records has released three previous all-original Dulcie Taylor albums, with every one garnering critical acclaim and substantial radio airplay. The first, Diamond & Glass, hit the Triple A radio chart and also won a WAMMIE (Washington, DC Area Music Award) as “Best Contemporary Folk Recording.” The second, Mirrors and Windows, reached the number 7 spot on the Roots Rock Chart at Roots Music Report, also getting listed in the Best Recordings of the Year by Soundstage. Her last CD, Free of this Sorrow, was released in 2012 and reached Number 1 on Amazon.com as the Top-Rated Americana album. Dulcie was also awarded First Place Best Songwriter at the 2013 New Times Music Awards for her song, “Cigarette Smoke.”As with most of Dulcie’s songs, the 11 tunes on Only Worn One Time (written by her along with George Williams, George Nauful and Tony Recupido) are primarily personal, yet they share a common bond that any listener can understand and appreciate. “The title track of the new CD started out as a song about my sister’s wedding dress,” says Dulcie. “We lost her when she was quite young and I just couldn’t bear to part with her wedding dress. I carried it from house-to-house for several years. Then one day I realized someone else could really use this beautiful dress and wouldn’t that be a lovely thing to do with it. I started writing the song about her and her dress but then I just started writing it from the viewpoint of a man who finds his departed ex-wife’s wedding dress back on a high shelf in a closet. You can imagine how he would feel if she only left that one thing behind.” The recording sessions for Only Worn One Time went incredibly smooth according to Taylor, who asserts so much of that has to do with the production team and the musicians enlisted for the album. “We have such gifted players on these tracks,” Dulcie says. “George Nauful has such a feel for what supports and propels a song, and it’s always something unique. I can hear his playing and know he’s the one holding the guitar. The same with Tony Recupido. He plays jaw-dropping guitar, hand him a flat-pick and backup. Tyson Leonard – not only can he work the board with the best of them, he plays gorgeous violin/fiddle, parts that become a piece of the song as soon as he lays it down. Tim Pierce – he cranks up that Tele and there’s never a guitar noise anywhere that he doesn’t mean for it to be there, fluid, melodic, unmistakable. Tom Lackner on drums - tight, tough, and easy when it needs to be. Randy Tico on bass – the bass becomes a beautiful voice. Scott Breadman – we always call Scott for percussion, he knows what to play and does it with such feeling and finesse.”In discussing some of the new songs she composed for her CD, Taylor has specific reference points that directed her towards each composition.  “The song ‘Like My Momma Loved Me’ – I have friends who are adopted, friends whose mother was adopted (my maternal grandfather was adopted) – and when you hear people’s stories, there is always so much poignancy around the subject of adoption,” she states. “Nowadays, people seek out their birth parents so much more than they did in days past, and folks who gave up babies for adoption seek out those children, so I wrote a song from the viewpoint of the birth mother who finds her daughter. I can only imagine what it must be like to see the grown child when you had given it up when it was a baby – such a strong combination of regret for the lost time, joy for finding the child, and hopes for the future.”“‘On a Rainy Day’ is one of those songs that tumbled down out of nowhere; it wrote itself,” she recalls. “I love it when that happens. I was playing the guitar and just started singing the chorus. I wish I could figure out how that sort of thing happens, but you just have to go with it and be grateful when it does.”For more information, visit www.dulcietaylor.com and www.mesabluemoon.comDulcie Taylor Tour Dates5/25                 Strawberry Festival – Conrad’s Porch Stage              Arroyo Grande, CA6/6                   F. McClintock’s (7-10 PM)                                         Paso Robles, CA6/8                   SeaVenture Resort (3-6 PM)                                      Pismo Beach, CA6/13                 Chateau Lettau (6-8 PM)                                            Paso Robles, CA6/18                 Wine & Song Concert Series                                      South Pasadena, CA6/22                 Summer Solstice Farm Fest (3:30-6:30 PM)               Cambria, CA6/28                 Wild Horse Winery (1-4 PM)                                     Templeton, CA6/30                 Windows on the Water                                               Morro Bay, CA7/6 & 7/7         Otter Rocks Café                                                        Morro Bay, CA7/10                 Barrel Room (CD release party show – 7:30 PM)      Atascadero, CAAdditional dates forthcoming ….

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 1:50 pm

Severn Records announces an August 19 release date of For Pops (A Tribute to Muddy Waters), a very special CD from Mud Morganfield, son of the legendary bluesman, and Kim Wilson, singer/harmonica player of the iconic roots group, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, saluting the classic blues music of Mud’s father in the 100th anniversary year of his birth.The genesis for this recording project was simple, according to Severn president David Earl. “I couldn’t ignore all the requests,” he said. “After we released Mud Morganfield’s Son of the 7th Son album and The Fabulous Thunderbirds’ On the Verge disc, the phone was ringing off the hook and the inbox was flooded with emails. The topic was always the same: ‘You have to get Mud and Kim to do an album together!’ So, after all the prodding, I picked up the phone and asked both Mud and Kim if they would like to do an album together. They resoundingly said, ‘yes!’”In addition to Mud Morganfield’s vocals, which bear an uncanny resemblance to his late father’s sound, and Kim Wilson’s award-winning harmonica work, the duo are backed by an all-star team of players schooled in the Chicago-style of blues playing: Billy Flynn and Rusty Zinn (guitars), Barrelhouse Chuck (piano), Steve Gomes (bass) and Robb Stupka (drums). The album was produced by David Earl and Steve Gomes and recorded at Severn Sound Studios in Annapolis, Maryland.In keeping with the organic nature of classic blues music recordings, the For Pops album tracking took on the feel of a late night jam session. “We began with an old-fashioned ‘house party’ in our studio,” recalled David Earl. “Attendees included friends and family from all over the mid-Atlantic region, who were treated to a wonderful performance by Mud and Kim, along with some barbeque and spirits. The next day, the overall thought was to record the album ‘live’ in the studio and capture the feel we had at the party. All the instruments were recorded together in the same room in order to truly capture the interplay between the musicians. Mud was isolated so we could put the best possible sound to tape. We spent four days recording and actually mixed it at the end of the week with all the musicians present. It was a whirlwind, but at the end of the day, everyone agreed that ‘Pops” would be proud.”Facing the daunting task of which Muddy Waters songs from his vast catalogue to include on For Pops, the mutual decision was made to record some of Muddy’s better-known tunes, but also some lesser-known ones that would demonstrate the vibrant scope of how encompassing was the legend’s blues repertoire. The rest of the players chosen for the sessions were all hand-picked by Mud, Kim and David Earl based not only on their musical chops, but their feel for playing this music within the classic Chicago blues ensemble format.“I would like to thank everyone who has put so much into the making of this album,” said Mud Morganfield during the sessions. “It’s coming up on my Dad’s 100th birthday and that makes me even more proud to be a part of this great release. I thank all blues lovers and fans around the world; the music we make today always comes to you and history.”To stream the album’s lead-off track, “Gone to Main Street,” click here: https://soundcloud.com/jill-kettles/gone-to-main-street-for-pops-mud-morganfield-and-kim-wilsonFor more information, visit www.severnrecords.comFor Pops (A Tribute to Muddy Waters) Track Listing1. Gone to Main Street2. Just to Be With You3. I Don't Know Why4. I Want You to Love Me5. Still a Fool6. My Dog Can't Bark7. She's Got It8. I Love the Life I Live, I Live the Life I Love9. Blow Wind Blow10. Nineteen Years Old11. I Want to Be Loved12. Trouble No More13. I Just Want to Make Love to You14. She Moves Me

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:33 am

Singer-songwriter Emma Hill announces a November 11 release date for Denali, her new CD of all-original songs steeped in the great Americana/folk tradition, all powered by her melodic, crystal clear voice that conjures up the best of what the Alaskan frontier represents.

Based in Anchorage, Emma Hill and her musical partner Bryan Daste (pedal steel, banjo) have been recording and releasing albums together since 2007. Denali is their fifth full-length album to date, all released on her own indie record label, Kuskokwim Records. The new CD was co-produced by Emma and Bryan with Evan Phillips of Easton Stagger Phillips and The Whipsaws, was mastered by Jeff Lipton (Andrew Bird, Josh Ritter) and features many of Alaska’s finest musicians. Acclaimed Americana performer Tim Easton and his fiddle player, Megan Palmer, both make guest appearances on the album.

Hill and Daste, who’ve been compared in the past to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, have steadily built a sustainable career over the last seven years, which includes a heavy touring schedule and lots of house concerts. The game plan for the supporting tour of Denali includes a healthy dose of dates in the lower 48 states during the fall, with clubs and showcase venues, as well as house concerts.

Emma Hill received excellent critical acclaim and radio airplay on her previous albums, including being featured on National Public Radio's “Morning Edition” and reaching #15 on the Euro Americana charts.  “This new release is our strongest effort to date, and we are really ready to push it hard,” says Hill. “We are booking a 60 date fall/winter tour now, and we intend to work our butts off to make this record a success.”

Emma Hill grew up in Alaska, coming from the small village of Sleetmute, and later moved to Palmer to attend high school. In 2006, Hill moved to the thriving music scene in Portland, Oregon, to pursue her musical aspirations and to also continue her education. She met Bryan Daste in 2007 and the duo promptly began a musical collaboration that has continued for seven years, four previous albums and thousands of touring miles.

Hill and Daste bring their intimate lyrics to life with poignant harmonies, aided and abetted by lonesome pedal steel guitar, plus Hill’s honeyed voice and confident delivery. Critics have described their sound as ranging from folksy Americana to catchy alt-country. In a review, The Philadelphia Examiner said she possessed “the kind of voice that one can easily fall in love with.” A German reviewer described her as “a young woman with plenty of creative power;” and another reviewer described her sound as “homey vocals with heart.”

In the fall of 2011, Emma Hill moved back to Alaska and continued to perform throughout the state, as well as expanding her fan base regionally and nationally through constant touring. She stays busy performing as a solo act, as a duo with Daste, and in an expanded band format, depending on the tour needs. The one-on-one intimacy of house concerts is Hill’s specialty, where her signature sound and performances have made Emma an in-demand artist. Denali promises to be a healthy addition to an already impressive body of work.

For more information, visit www.emmahillmusic.com.

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 9:20 am

Forty Below Records announces an October 27 release date for the special gatefold two-LP vinyl set from the legendary “Godfather of British Blues,” John Mayall, of his universally-acclaimed album, A Special Life, distributed by Sony/RED. The new album was recorded last November at Entourage Studios in North Hollywood and was produced by Mayall, with co-production, engineering and mixing by Eric Corne. A Special Life also boasts original cover art and design created by John Mayall.

Reviews of A Special Life have been over-the-top and acknowledge Mayall’s lofty place in blues history. “After over a half-century of playing the blues, John Mayall is a genuine master, and he has certainly led A Special Life,” said Living Blues magazine. “I’d easily put this one among Mayall’s best efforts – and that includes Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton, A Hard Road, and Blues From Laurel Canyon – so run, don’t walk, to your record store come release day for a copy of A Special Life,!” wrote About.com. And UK magazine, Uncut, summed up its review by stating the obvious: “Mayall delivers everything with utter conviction.”

The aptly-titled A Special Life serves as further testament to John Mayall’s boundless talent, vitality and ever-dynamic personality. Along with his accomplished band, he goes back to his roots on the new album with an eclectic mix of songs centered in the blues, but with diversions into rock and Americana.

John Mayall and his band recently completed an extensive tour of North America and Europe, with more dates to follow throughout the fall and winter. On the tour, as on the new album, he’s joined by Texas guitarist Rocky Athas and a Chicago-based rhythm section of Greg Rzab on bass and Jay Davenport on drums. The current band lineup came together five years ago for his last studio album, Tough, and has developed an amazing chemistry over the years through consistent touring both in the U.S. and around the world. Athas came on the recommendation of Mayall’s former guitarist Buddy Whittington, and quickly asserted himself as a major force in the band. After Rzab came onboard to play bass, he recommended Davenport for the drum spot and the group was complete.

Since 2009, the new, leaner four-piece lineup has given John more room to stretch out as an instrumentalist. After being invited to do a guest spot on Walter Trout’s latest album, John met engineer/producer Eric Corne. John was so impressed that he asked Eric to record his new album. Greg, Jay and Rocky flew in for the sessions which took less than a week to record and the end result is one of John's best albums ever, with its deep devotion to blues and roots music. Accordion legend C.J. Chenier makes a powerhouse guest appearance on a couple of tracks, including the opener, “Why Did You Go Last Night,” written and previously recorded by his father, Zydeco icon Clifton Chenier. A Special Life also includes three new songs penned by John and a reworked Mayall classic to go along with covers of Jimmy Rogers (“That’s All Right”), Albert King (“Floodin’ in California”), Sonny Landreth (“Speak of the Devil”), Jimmy McCracklin (“I Just Got to Know”) and Eddie Taylor (“Big Town Playboy”), plus a new song written by Greg Rzab and Rocky Athas.

For more information, visit www.johnmayall.com and www.fortybelowrecords.com

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 7:25 pm

Canadian roots music singer Robin Banks announces a November 25 release date for her self-released CD, Modern Classic, with distribution through CD Baby. Produced by acclaimed guitarist/producer Duke Robillard, who also adds his amazing guitar tones throughout the album, Modern Classic features a dozen all-original songs that showcase not only Robin’s sultry, soulful vocals, but also her strengths as a composer. Along with Robillard, she’s backed by an all-star band: Bruce Bears (keyboards), Mark Teixeira (drums), Brad Hallen (bass) and a horn section that includes Doug James (baritone sax), Doug Woolverton (trumpet) and Mark Early (sax) of the Roomful of Blues Horns. 

Based in Toronto, Robin Banks has already amassed a lengthy career as a touring and recording artist in both her native Canada and all over the world. She’s played extensively in the U.S. as well as Germany, Austria, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, France and Jamaica. The songs on Modern Classic reveal an artist comfortable in a variety of idioms from jazz and pop to blues, soul and R&B. With the sympathetic support of Robillard and company backing her, Robin has crafted an album of scintillating grooves that alternately percolate with heat, and float like a butterfly around the musical notes the band creates in the air around her. She has a voice that’s been compared to such greats as Etta James and Dinah Washington. Rather than just a collection of songs, Modern Classic, with its insightful lyrics, strong melodies and flowing, artful presentation, commands listeners to embrace its entirety, similar to the way albums were recorded (and listened to) in the golden age of music recording from the 1960s and ‘70s.  

The music on Modern Classic covers ground ranging from Memphis and Muscle Shoals-rooted blues and soul, to swing, boogie-woogie, honky-tonk and sweet sounding jazz, compliments of Robin’s amazing pipes. After the recording sessions, Duke Robillard declared, “the songs on her new CD bring together all her talents in a way that shows her as a major force in roots music;” while keyboardist Bruce Bears called her “a hidden gem from Canada who deserves much wider recognition; I’ve never worked with a vocalist who had as much command of musical language and nuance as Robin.”

Robin Banks grew up 50 miles east of Detroit on a tobacco farm and drove a taxi in Toronto in the ‘80s to help support her singing career’s beginnings. In 1992, she put her blues band together near Windsor, Ontario, and was mentored by George “Wild Child” Butler and Alford “Chicago Pete” Harrell, while performing regionally. In 1997, Robin won Canada’s Maple Blues Award for New Artist of the Year, which was followed by performances at some of Canada's most-prominent jazz and blues festivals. That same year saw the release of her debut CD, Permanent Record, which included seven original compositions, and was followed by Robin going to Memphis and competing in the world-famous International Blues Challenge. She was later nominated in 1998, 2010 and 2011 for Female Vocalist of the Year at the Maple Blues Awards.

In 1999, she moved to Texas and stayed for seven years, forming several bands around the Dallas/Fort Worth area with such blues/roots luminaries as drummer Marc Wilson (Anson and the Rockets), bassist Drew Allain (Mike Morgan and the Crawl), guitarists Brian “Hash Brown” Calway and Johnny Moeller (Fabulous Thunderbirds), drummer Danny Cochran (Delbert McClinton), bassist Bill Campbell (LaVern Baker) and tenor sax man Marchel Ivery (Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers), among many others. During this time, Robin formed a very close and special personal friendship with the legendary singer/harmonica player Sam Myers, leader of Anson and the Rockets, who also played on her Honestly CD in 2000, comprised of 13 original songs that she wrote, arranged and produced. A year later, Robin recorded and released a live CD, titled Live after Dark, and toured regionally for the next four years throughout the region, as well as performing at many festivals.

In 2003, she toured Europe for the first time, with stops in Belgium and Holland. And in 2006, she relocated to Jamaica and became a hit there for three years, performing at nightclubs, festivals, resorts and hotels across the island with some of that country’s most-prominent musicians, including members of Bob Marley’s band. Robin returned home to Canada in 2009 and has been based there ever since. She now performs in two bands: one a straight blues group and the other a bit more diverse in its musical spectrum, including elements of jazz, jump blues, soul, R&B and even reggae. She continues to gig around 200 nights a year. 

Her last CD, released in 2010, was an album she co-wrote and produced in Dallas, titled Livin' Life, with pianist/artist Christian Dozzler, and was comprised of 14 original compositions. She also toured behind that CD with visits to Jamaica, Canada, Texas and three tours of Europe, including numerous concert and festival shows. One of the big festivals that she played in Europe behind Livin' Life was Gaildorf, the oldest (and one of the most prized) blues fest in Europe/Germany.

“Since returning to Canada, I have traveled back and forth from Jamaica probably 20 times to perform and remain prolific there,” Robin says. “I keep all my ties in Texas strong and open. In Jamaica, much like Texas and Canada, I am blessed to play with some of the highest level international musicians on the island, including Grammy award winners and the head of the music program at the arts college in Kingston.” 

For more, visit www.facebook.com/missrobinbanks www.reverbnation.com/robinbanks.

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 8:33 am

Forty Below Records announces an April 21 release date for John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 (Never Before Heard Live Performances), a very special archival recording of one the best of the Bluesbreakers band lineups, featuring legendary musicians John Mayall (vocals, keyboards, harmonica), Peter Green (lead guitar), John McVie (bass) and Mick Fleetwood (drums). Distributed by Sony/RED, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 showcases a band that was together for only a scant three months, yet created a lasting legacy, made an immense impact on music and led to the formation of one of the most acclaimed groups of all-time when Green, McVie and Fleetwood left to form Fleetwood Mac.

The genesis of Live in 1967 came about because a staunch fan from Holland, Tom Huissen, was able to sneak a one channel reel-to-reel tape recorder into five London clubs (including the famed Marquee) in early 1967 and capture this exciting glimpse into music history. For nearly 50 years these tapes remained unheard until John Mayall acquired them recently and began restoring them with the technical assistance of Eric Corne of Forty Below Records. “While the source recording was very rough and the final result is certainly not hi-fidelity, it does succeed in allowing us to hear how spectacular these performances are,” says Corne.

“I'd known for a decade or two of the existence of these tapes and in fact Tom Huissen had sent me a CD with 50 second teasers for some of the tracks that he'd secretly recorded at our London shows,” recalls Mayall. “Last year, Tom decided he wanted the world to hear these performances and work soon began on restoring the already fine quality on the old reel-to-reel tapes.”

John Mayall has some fond memories about how this band came about. “Through most of 1966, Peter and John were both regular members of the Bluesbreakers and Aynsley Dunbar was the drummer,” states Mayall. “However, even though Aynsley was a great drummer, it was starting to become apparent that his jazz influenced style of playing was veering away from the blues. As I recall, Peter had been close friends with Mick Fleetwood for some time and he suggested I give him a shot. And so for a short period of only about three months Mick became a Bluesbreaker.”

The band’s repertoire on the tracks of Live in 1967 includes some songs that were originally recorded on The Bluesbreakers first two albums, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers featuring Eric Clapton and A Hard Road (which featured Peter Green), plus the soon-to-be recorded Crusade album, which featured young guitarist Mick Taylor after Peter Green left the band. Other songs on the new CD make their live debuts after having been recorded originally as singles in the UK and would later appear on Mayall’s Looking Back album. In addition, several of the songs on Live in 1967 make their first appearance in any form on a Bluesbreakers album.

Two long-time mainstay influences on John Mayall’s storied career – Freddy King and Otis Rush - are well represented here with live versions of songs long-associated with the two blues giants. “All Your Love,” “Double Trouble,” “So Many Roads” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby” come from the Otis Rush canon of blues classics; and Freddy King’s “The Stumble,” “San-Ho-Zay” and “Someday After Awhile,” are given resounding treatments here by the quartet playing with a sense of energy and urgency.

“Ever since Eric Clapton joined the band, we both had a great interest in the recorded work of Otis Rush and Freddy King and many of their classic songs became part of our live performing catalogue,” Mayall says about the two blues icons. “Their guitar work was always an inspiration for Eric, Peter Green and Mick Taylor in those early years.”

The music on John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 showcases a band that although only together for a short time, was incredibly tight and in-the-pocket while still allowing room for improvisation, none more so than Peter Green, whose guitar work on this CD will stand as some of his best-ever on record. All of Green’s guitar trademarks - the stop time signatures, his incredible sustain and a hair-raising powerful tone – are presented here in all their glory, highlighting a musician who was more than able to assume the mantle as the guitar player following in Eric Clapton’s well-trod footsteps as a member of one of blues music’s all-time aggregations, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 Track Listing

1)      All Your Love

2)      Brand New Start

3)      Double Trouble

4)      Streamline

5)      Have You Ever Loved a Woman

6)      Looking Back

7)      So Many Roads

8)      Hi Heel Sneakers

9)      I Can’t Quit You Baby

10)  The Stumble

11)  Someday After Awhile

12)  San-Ho-Zay

13)  Stormy Monday

For more information, visit www.johnmayall.com and www.fortybelowrecords.com

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 10:43 am

Christian Collin announces a July 10 release date for Spirit of the Blues, the new CD from the Chicago-based singer, guitarist and songwriter devoted to blues and American roots music. Produced by Christian Collin and Grammy Award-winning engineer Brian Leach and recorded at Joyride Studio in Chicago,  Spirit of the Blues pays homage to his blues heroes while leaving a musical mark all his own. On the album’s dozen all-original songs, Christian is backed by his longtime road band featuring Alex Evans on bass and Chris Morrow on drums. He is joined by notable guest musicians Billy Branch and Mathew Skoller on harmonica; and Johnny Iguana on piano and organ.  Rounding out the package is Pete Galanis from Howard and the White Boys on slide guitar, Jen Williams on background vocals and Rodney Brown and his crew playing horns.

“Christian Collin makes the grade with breathtaking precision on his latest album,” writes former Detroit Blues Society president George Seedorff in the CD’s liner notes. “Collin rocks it up with a selection of soul blues from Jackson, Mississippi, tied end-to-end with Memphis style R&B, all wrapped up in hard-as-steel rockin' lead guitar and slide the way it was done in Beaumont, Texas, by the great Johnny Winter some 50 years ago. It's clear that Christian Collin has paid his dues. With a red hot crew of back-up singers, a tightly-tooled band and lots of tasty harp playing, Collin has combined razor sharp guitar licks right out of the west side of Chicago into something new. Serve it up with some tasty ribs and sauce and you are ready for a mighty fine barbeque. All of this is really no coincidence at all---it's the side of the street that rock ‘n’ roll came from in the first place.”

Christian Collin was born in the Detroit area to a musical family. His father sang and played guitar and was an A&R man for Capitol Records, as well as road manager for Bob Seger. At an early age, Christian was immersed in the sounds of Motown, classic rock ‘n’ roll and the many variants of American roots music.  Musicians gathered at the family home and their singing and guitar playing made a lasting impression on Christian as a child. His parents took him to see Little Feat shortly before the passing of Lowell George in 1979 and that concert profoundly influenced Christian, who began playing guitar at age 13. Having honed his musical chops playing bars and roadhouses across the Midwest for the last fifteen years, he is a seasoned bandleader whose dynamic performances leave audiences consistently impressed. 

Collin was previously the front man for Molasses, a blues rock band that performed regionally and recorded two critically acclaimed albums. In 2012, he released his first full-length solo album, American Art, which received substantial radio airplay. Drawing from his nearly two decades of experience playing blues and rock ‘n’ roll, Christian is now primed to take his music to the next level with Spirit of the Blues.

Christian’s strong songwriting, soulful vocals and exceptional musicianship create a musical stew that excites and inspires. His voice has been described by one critic as “city-grit soulful and as honest as the lyrics he sings;” while another raved about his “heartfelt lyrics and a guitar that can testify!” Favoring Fender Strats, Telecasters, and a Gibson Les Paul Junior, Collin’s guitar playing is powerful and passionate, yet melodic and refined. He has a wide-range of musical mentors, and while these influences may be evident in his music, he is obviously his own man and has created a sound infused with originality.

On Spirit of the Blues, highlights abound throughout the disc, including “One and Only,” the high octane funky rock and blues opener that showcases the musical dynamism of the Christian Collin Band; “Player’s Game,” a catchy rockin’ blues shuffle documenting the trivial sexual pursuits of a big city womanizer; “A Woman Like You,” a fun southern blues rocker with honky-tonk piano; and the change-of-pace “Without You,” a slow and sensual R&B ballad that sounds like it was written by Bill Withers.

The title track of the album is a very personal song for Christian, delivered as a slow blues anthem that describes how the blues has inspired him and encourages others to find their own musical inspiration. “Highway Song,” showcases an upbeat blues shuffle featuring the interplay of Christian’s lead guitar and Mathew Skoller’s talented harmonica playing. Shifting gears again, the album moves on to “Dead Man Walking,” a unique and bluesy dirge about a lonely and desperate man. Having a dark, ethereal vibe and hypnotic rhythm, it’s the only song on the album that features Christian’s eerie and atmospheric slide guitar playing. 

Other standout tracks include “The River (Unplugged),” a modern take on old school acoustic blues featuring Billy Branch on harmonica; and the album’s closer, “Forever Friends,” an emotionally charged soul ballad about two lovers going their separate ways, both with heavy hearts. With tasty Jimi Hendrix-meets-Steve Cropper inspired guitar licks, it’s the only song to feature a horn section, and is reminiscent of the classic ‘60s Stax era.         

With the impressive release of Spirit of the Blues, Christian Collin tips his hat to the rich legacy of America’s musical forefathers, while aiming to leave his own mark as a contemporary bluesman. As the liner notes so aptly state, “there’s a rarely achieved sense of authenticity on this album that screams out the best in American Music … with screaming guitar work, killer vocals, catchy hooks and lyrics that stick in your head, this is how blues can really rock when it's done right.”

Tue, 06/09/2015 - 12:19 pm

Stony Plain Records proudly announces the release on July 17 of Father’s Day, the new CD from Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters. Voted by The Blues Foundation as “Blues Guitarist of the Year” in 2014, guitar master Ronnie Earl and his band return with an even stronger package of music, his ninth album for the label. Added to Ronnie Earl’s spellbinding intensity and soulfulness on guitar, the presence of a horn section for the first time in decades on Father’s Day adds another dimension to his sound. Stony Plain also plans to release the album as a vinyl LP later this year.

The 13 tracks on Father’s Day also feature two special guest vocalists throughout: Diane Blue, whose previous work with Earl created a sensation; and Chicago-based Michael Ledbetter, best known as lead singer of the Nick Moss band. Ledbetter is also a distant relative of the iconic Huddie William “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, whose 12-string blues style has influenced generations of blues, folk and rock musicians.

With this added vocal firepower, the new disc utilizes the two singers’ voices to great advantage on 12 tracks, the lone instrumental being Earl’s blues-ifying take of the Bobby Timmons’ jazz classic, “Moanin’.”

As always, the Ronnie Earl songbook dips mightily into several of his musical mentors on Father’s Day, with two songs each from Otis Rush (“It Takes Time” and “Right Place, Wrong Time”) and Magic Sam (“What Have I Done Wrong” and “All Your Love”). Earl’s bright guitar tones and patterns on these tracks perfectly illustrate the “West Side Sound” as exemplified by the two blues legends. He also tips his guitar to the late, great B.B. King on “I Need You So Bad;” drips soul on Van McCoy’s “Giving Up” and Brook Benton’s “I’ll Take Care of You;” and takes a side trip down to New Orleans on Fats Domino’s “Every Night About this Time.” He closes the CD by taking everyone to church on Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey’s gospel classic, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.” On the original songs, Earl adds more soul into one of his early classics, “Follow Your Heart,” and speaks to the power of love and forgiveness in two new tunes: “Higher Love” and “Father's Day.”

Throughout the new CD, Earl’s guitar work is simply stunning, as Living Blues magazine so eloquently stated in an earlier review: “Ronnie Earl is one of the most sensitive, refined and exquisite guitarists on the international blues scene.”

On Father’s Day, he is joined once again by The Broadcasters (Lorne Entress – drums, Dave Limina – keyboards and Jim Mouradian – bass), his band of over 25 years, whose sound perfectly meshes together like a hand-in-glove. Produced by Earl and recorded at Wellspring Sound in Acton, Massachusetts, the album also features guest guitarists Nicholas Tabarias (who also worked on his last CD, Good News), Tim O’Connor and Larry Lusignan; as well as a horn section of Mario Perrett on tenor sax and Scott Shetler on baritone sax.

The Father’s Day packaging includes a photo of Ronnie’s dad reading a newspaper feature about his son and includes this dedication from Earl: “This album is made for my beautiful father, and we came to peace in the end. Don’t ever give up on your family and don’t quit until the miracle happens.”

Any day a new Ronnie Earl album is released is cause for celebration, but on Father’s Day, he and the band truly create a new blues holiday.

Massachusetts-based Ronnie Earl and The Broadcasters are booked exclusively world-wide by The Kurland Agency (http://www.thekurlandagency.com/).

For more information, visit www.ronnieearl.com and www.stonyplainrecords.com

Thu, 07/02/2015 - 4:41 pm

Forty Below Records announces a September 4th release date for Find a Way to Care, the new CD from legendary blues musician John Mayall, distributed by Sony/RED. Forty Below Records will also release a special vinyl LP version of the new album in the fall.

To watch the video trailer premiere of the making of the Find a Way to Care album, click here: http://youtu.be/E-jwpvB4OY0

Produced by John Mayall (who also did the graphic design and artwork for the album) and Forty Below’s Eric Corne, Find a Way to Care was recorded at the House of Blues Studio in Encino, California. In addition to Mayall (vocals, piano, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer, clavinet, guitar and harmonica), featured on the sessions are Rocky Athas (lead and rhythm guitar), Greg Rzab (bass) and Jay Davenport (drums), who collectively are now into their seventh year as John’s band. The group is also augmented by a horn section on several tracks.

About the new album, Eric Corne says, “I really wanted to feature John's keyboard playing on this record. He’s truly one of the most lyrical, economical and underrated keyboardists around. We also wanted to change things up a bit after the success of A Special Life and the addition of a horn section on several tracks was a really fun way to do that. As good as the last album was, I think this one is even better.”

The even-dozen tracks on Find a Way to Care include a scintillating group of new songs and savvy covers of “Mother in Law Blues” (Don Robey),  “The River’s Invitation” (Percy Mayfield), “I Feel So Bad”(Lightnin’ Hopkins), “Long Distance Call” (Muddy Waters), “I Want All My Money Back” (Lee Baker) and Drifting Blues” (Charles Brown).

About his choice of cover songs on the new album, Mayall says, “Every time I make an album, I always feel I owe it to my fans to come up with fresh and varied interpretations of the blues. With this in mind, I chose an assemblage of songs that includes perhaps some slightly lesser-known bluesmen, and that all had either different beats or special instrumental treatments. I also found three songs that would be further enhanced by the addition of horns.”

Added to the mix are original songs that always feature Mayall’s take on the current human condition, as well as universal truths. “As always, I draw from my own experiences and thoughts about things in my life so that from album to album I create on ongoing musical diary of my life,” he explains. “The blues never lets me down!”

Find a Way to Care comes following an especially exciting year-long period of great music from Mayall that included the 2014 release of his first studio album in five years, A Special Life, and the April, 2015, release of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 (Never Before Heard Live Performances). The live album was a critically-lauded archival recording of one of the best of his Bluesbreakers band lineups that featured Mayall, as well as Peter Green (lead guitar), John McVie (bass) and Mick Fleetwood (drums). It showcased a band that was together for only a scant three months, yet created a lasting legacy, made an immense impact on music and led to the formation of one of the most acclaimed groups of all-time when Green, McVie and Fleetwood left to form Fleetwood Mac.

For over 50 years, John Mayall has served as a pioneer of blues music, rightly earning him the title, “The Godfather of British Blues.” In 2013, John signed with producer Eric Corne’s label, Forty Below Records, and has since been experiencing a true artistic and career renaissance.

He continues to perform extensively both in the USA and abroad, and has an ambitious touring schedule in place for the rest of the summer and fall that was booked by Monterey International Artists (www.montereyinternational.net).

Thu, 08/06/2015 - 12:37 pm

Stony Plain Records announces a September 25 release date for The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard, a very special album from the two-time Grammy nominee and multi Blues Music Award winning guitarist that focuses on the music that has informed his over 50-year career as a performing artist, bandleader and producer of seminal American roots music. The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard was recorded primarily at Duke’s own Mood Room studio, with additional work done at Lakewest Recording and some live recording done at the Blackstone River Theater in Cumberland, Rhode Island.

“This project has been about a decade in the making for various reasons I won't go into here,” Duke Robillard says in the liner notes about the sessions for the new CD.  “As many of you know, I am, and always have been, a huge fan of American roots music in its entirety. Blues, ragtime, early jazz, Appalachian music, early country, swing, honky-tonk, folk, R&B, soul, New Orleans music, rock and roll and all kinds of roots music have always moved and inspired me the most. Especially the artists that were there at the beginning of each style. Those artists always seem to be the most honest to my ears.”

Accordingly, Robillard has fashioned an album that salutes many of those influences on the new disc, demonstrating in the process the immense scope and breadth of the talent that has made him one of the most revered and beloved musicians in the world.  

“With this album I honor many of the pioneers of true American music, from close to the beginning of recorded music to the 1940s,” Robillard declares. “This is the time period I love most and find a never-ending river of new music to discover, enjoy and be influenced/inspired by. This recording concentrates on music written and recorded in the ‘20s to the ‘40s, with the exception of some original songs and Robbie Robertson's ‘Evangeline,’ which sounds like it could be from that time period!”

Besides Duke’s lead vocals and multiple stringed instruments performed throughout The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard, the all-star backing cast includes special guest vocalists Maria Muldaur and Sunny Crownover, former Muddy Waters band member Jerry Portnoy on harmonica and the late, Kansas City piano legend Jay McShann. Other players include Mary Flower – acoustic finger style and lap slide guitar and vocal; Marty Ballou and John Packer - acoustic bass; Matt McCabe – piano; Mark Teixeira and Marty Richards – drums; Billy Novick – clarinet; Doug James - baritone sax and harmonica; Dave Babcock - tenor sax; Jon Ross – mandolin; Russell Gusetti – concertina and the Providence Mandolin Orchestra.

Robillard taps into his wellspring of great American music songbook knowledge by covering everything from such blues icons as Big Bill Broonzy, W.C Handy, Sleepy John Estes, Robert Lockwood and Pete Johnson, to country legends Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers and the Delmore Brothers, with a nod to traditional popular music from writers including Stephen Foster. And Duke gets an early jump on the holiday season with the inclusion of “Santa Claus Blues,” featuring the soulful vocals of Maria Muldaur and written by one of America’s best pop music composers, Gus Kahn.    

The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard – Track Listing

1 My Old Kentucky Home 1:25

2 Big Bill Blues 3:35

3 I Miss My Baby in My Arms 3:15

4 Jimmie's Texas Blues 3:08

5 Backyard Paradise 2:39

6 Evangeline featuring Sunny Crownover 3:01

7 Left Handed 3:06

8 I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water 3:25

9 I'm Gonna Buy Me a Dog (To Take the Place of You) 5:15

10 Nashville Blues featuring Mary Flower 3:07

11 St Louis Blues 5:07

12 What Is It That Tastes Like Gravy? 3:04

13 Someday Baby 3:17

14 Let’s Turn Back the Years 2:37

15 Take a Little Walk with Me 7:04

16 Santa Claus Blues featuring Maria Muldaur 2:50

17 Profoundly Blue feat. Jay McShann 3:46

18 Ukulele Swing 0:46

Thu, 08/13/2015 - 8:21 am

Texas-based singer/songwriter Sarah Pierce announces an August 25 release date for her new CD, Barbed Wire, on the Little Bear Records imprint. Produced by Merel Bregante, Barbed Wire was musically influenced by her family’s heritage in the cattle business. The album was recorded at The Cribworks Digital Audio in Liberty Hill, Texas, about 30 miles north of Austin. Sarah plans to perform a number of CD release shows in support of the new album, including one set for October 18 at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas.  

To listen to “Small Town,” a track off the new Barbed Wire CD, click on this link: https://soundcloud.com/sarah-pierce-music/small-town

Joining Sarah Pierce (lead vocals and guitar) and Merel Bregante (drums) on the new album is an all-star cast of musicians, including special guests John McEuen on banjo (a founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), world-class steel guitar player David Pearlman, plus two members of Reckless Kelly - Cody Braun on fiddle and mandolin and his brother, Reckless Kelly lead singer Willy Braun, who sings a beautiful duet with Sarah on a ballad they co-wrote, “I’m Sorry.”

Barbed Wire has been a long time coming,” admits Sarah in discussing the music on the new CD. “I think this is my most-honest writing and surely the closest I have ever come to having that which I imagine become reality. It definitely could be seen as a follow up to my autobiographical Cowboy’s Daughter CD. This one is absolutely ‘all cards on the table.’ That is what I love most about it ... having the courage to not chase anything, just write my songs, tell the truth, and let the chips fall where they may!”

Barbed Wire came to life after Sarah and her husband/producer/drummer Merel Bregante moved to the country. Bregante has a long and storied career as a musician, having recorded and toured for many years as a member of the legendary Loggins & Messina band, plus sessions and touring with a host of others including Chris Hillman, Pure Prairie League and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Sarah Pierce remembers when the inspiration for the title track and the theme for the new album became a reality: “One day, while clearing pasture, I came across an old rusted barbed wire fence. I did some research and found that it was manufactured by hand in 1876. I held it in my hand and thought ... this looks like me.” And then the lyric came to her: “Pounded metal in the shape of a shooting star. Trapped by three rusted wires ... kind of like my heart.” (“Barbed Wire,” ©2014, Lucylite Music – BMI)

The daughter of a cowboy and raised in a family of cattlemen, Sarah Pierce was born in Rockford, Illinois, and raised in rural West Texas. In the 6th grade she was kicked out of the children’s choir because she sang too low. She would later get on her horse and sing to the cattle in the fields, and as Pierce says, “They didn’t seem to mind.”

Sarah's dream of becoming a legitimate singer began to take shape at age 12, singing in her stepfather’s band.  Always studying voice, after receiving her masters degree in medical science she began her musical journey, one that continues today.

Sarah has toured hundreds of thousands of miles - both domestic and foreign - receiving rave reviews at fairs, festivals, conventions, and concert dates from New York City and Los Angeles to British Columbia, with stops in-between in France, Italy, Germany and Scandinavia, and plays countless shows in her home state of Texas as well.

Her willingness to self-promote her music has included a driving tour of 250 NPR/AC/Country radio stations across the country, doing interviews and live on-air performances. In addition, she has been seen in performance on MTV and was heard as the singing voice of Calamity Jane on the Emmy-nominated Time-Life television mini-series, The Wild West.

With the release of her last album, Bring It On, and its first single, “Butterfly Tattoo,” going to #5 in the nation on Independent Country Charts, Sarah once again was able to show that she is a completely viable artist both commercially, and more importantly, creatively. All that has led up to the most-important release of her career, Barbed Wire.

“Her lyrics daze with elegant poetry that carries the listener over wide musical vistas on each soul-bearing turn of her incomparable voice." - Los Angeles Times

“I love Sarah's music ... she touches the heart and soul of every listener and she is a great addition to my national radio show anytime I get her into the mix” - Laney Goodman, Women in Music – WUMB, Boston, Mass.

For more information, visit www.sarahpierce.com.

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 10:25 am

Stony Plain Records announces a September 25 release date for Moon Turn Red, the new CD from multi-award winning Ottawa-based trio, MonkeyJunk.  Comprised of Steve Marriner (vocals, harmonica, keyboards, baritone guitar), Tony D (lead guitar, background vocals) and Matt Sobb (drums, percussion, background vocals), MonkeyJunk plays an energized mix of swamp blues and funky roots rock ‘n’ roll. Moon Turn Red was produced by the band and Ken Friesen, with additional production on one track by Colin Cripps of Blue Rodeo.

To watch a special EPK about the making of Moon Turn Red, click here: https://youtu.be/1AbyBwIuu_k

On their fourth CD for Stony Plain, MonkeyJunk displays their passionate and edgy roots-based music with an unfettered delivery, and Moon Turn Red is certain to further cement the band’s popularity around the globe. “With each record we make, we feel like we’re pushing more boundaries,” says the group’s Steve Marriner. “Moon Turn Red is no different in that regard. I really think some of the songs on this album are some of the best we’ve written. We explored grooves we’ve never hit on before and experimented with some new sounds, while paying particular attention to the melodic passages of the songs,” he adds.

MonkeyJunk truly shines on the new album, with ten scorching tracks varying from straight-up rockers like “Light it Up,” “You,” “Hot Hot Papa,” “Live Another Day,” “Lucky One” and “Travelin’ Light;” the reggae-tinged “Love Attack;” the funky “Show Me Yours;” and soulful, goose bump-inducing love songs, “Learn How to Love” and “Meet Me at Midnight.”

Moon Turn Red also features a guest appearance from legendary Canadian guitarist David Wilcox, who plays guitar and sings on MonkeyJunk’s cover of his classic “Hot Hot Papa.” “It was a real thrill for all of us to work with David Wilcox as he is someone we have been a fan of for many years - one of our musical heroes,” says Matt Sobb. “We listened to his music growing up, have covered his songs in previous bands and still listen to his albums in our van while on tour. He was very generous with his time and talents and it was truly an honor that he was so gracious and genuinely invested in making the track sound great with us.  And it was great to have Colin Cripps onboard to produce that song too - his musical sensibility and keen ears really harnessed the best out of all of us!”

Another coup for the band was having Gordie Johnson (of Big Sugar and Grady fame) lend his talents to the recording. As Marriner states, “He possesses an acute sensibility for melody and groove, a champion of ‘riff-rock’, while his role on our album is more supportive than feature, he brought all sorts of vibe to the session that I believe we effectively captured on tape that day.” Tony D adds, “Gordie and I both come out of the blues. We’ve known each other for over 25 years. It was serendipitous that he happened to be touring in the vicinity of the studio in Almonte, Ontario, and after all these years we finally got a chance to work together!”

Moon Turn Red is not only an outstanding addition to an already impressive body of work and a turning point for MonkeyJunk, it is an example of musical camaraderie and brotherhood; the trio of long-time friends and colleagues just seem to click in a way that is at once natural and otherworldly.  Their passion, conviction and dedication to their music are evident with every lick, every beat and every lyric. MonkeyJunk is a reminder to listeners that musicianship, ability and strong song writing will always triumph.

Thu, 09/10/2015 - 2:13 pm

Severn Records announces an October 16 release date for Raise Your Hands!, the first solo recording from former Blind Boys of Alabama guitarist Sam Butler. Produced by Brian Brinkerhoff (Guitar Shorty, Jazz Soul 7), the even-dozen tracks on Raise Your Hands! showcase the splendid talents of Butler, whose guitar work was a staple of The Blind Boys of Alabama for many years.

Sam Butler’s solo debut puts his own spin on an Americana compilation of bluesy spirituals written by some of the most important and compelling artists and songwriters of the last fifty years of rock and roll (Bruce Springsteen, U2, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, etc.), with some righteous results. Butler’s resume also includes work with Keith Richards, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagan and gospel legend Clarence Fountain, and he can currently be seen in the critically-acclaimed play, The Gospel at Colonus. On Raise Your Hands, Butler is joined by an impressive list of stellar musicians, including Sacred Steel virtuoso Roosevelt Collier, drummer Marco Giovino (Robert Plant, Tom Jones) and bassist Viktor Kraus (Lyle Lovett, Bill Frisell).

“I wanted to make a bluesy and rootsy album of spiritual songs originally performed by traditionally secular artists,” says producer Brian Brinkerhoff about the recording sessions. “Having been familiar with Sam’s roots and gospel work with The Blind Boys of Alabama and Clarence Fountain, I approached him with the idea and we quickly enlisted an A-list team of players to join Sam on this musical adventure. Esteemed Sacred Steel player Roosevelt Collier was an obvious choice to bring his lap steel virtuosity; and when Nashville’s first call rhythm section of drummer Marco Giovino and bassist Viktor Kraus became available, a dynamic three-day musical worship service of sorts took place in Nashville, with the results being Raise Your Hands!” 

You can tell a lot by the company that one keeps.  Following this logic, it’s clear that Sam Butler is an incredibly important and dynamic artist. When legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and his producer Steve Jordan wanted to add some truth to Richard’s 1989 solo album, Talk Is Cheap, they called on Sam to “moan” on a track. Steely Dan main man Donald Fagan was so moved by Sam's soulful stirrings and guitar playing in the much-lauded play, The Gospel at Colonus, he has been a collaborator, friend and fan of Sam’s for more than 20 years. And of course, Sam worked for many years as the guitarist in The Blind Boys of Alabama, a position that he apprenticed for by accompanying his father, influential guitarist Samuel Butler Sr., on the road with The Blind Boys of Mississippi, beginning at the age of four.

Raise Your Hands! is a 12-song celebration that runs the gamut of energy and emotions - from the rollicking up-tempo to the quiet and introspective - and Butler delivers the performances of a lifetime. Raise Your Hands! will certainly make you do just that … and move your body and shout out loud! From Sam Butler’s lips to God’s ears.

For more information, visit www.severnrecords.com.

Raise Your Hands! Track List

 

1.      Heaven’s Wall 3:55 (B. Springsteen)

2.      The Lord 2:41 (B. Gibb, M. Gibb)

3.      Lead Me Father 2:51 (J. Cash) 

4.      Presence of the Lord 4:21 (E. Clapton)

5.      Gospel Train 2:52 (T. Waits)

6.      Magnificent 3:34 (A. Clayton, B. Eno, D. Evans, P. Hewson, D. Lanois, L. Mullen)

7.      Full Force Gale 6:17 (V. Morrison) 

8.      All His Saints 3:50 (M. Smith)

9.      God’s Hotel 3:47 (N. Cave, P. Kelly)

10.  Wherever You Leadeth 4:14 (C. Mayfield) 

11.  Long Black Cadillac 4:30 (R. Halligan) 

12.  Sanctuary 4:23 (E. Gilkyson)

Mon, 09/28/2015 - 8:11 pm

On October 2, Forty Below Records will release a special double-LP vinyl version of the John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 (Never Before Heard Live Performances) album that was originally released earlier this year on CD. The LP version was pressed on 140-gram vinyl and will be released in gatefold form containing large pictures of John and the band members at the time – Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood - on the inside.

The vinyl LP release comes with breaking news that the original CD version of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 just won two awards at the 2015 Blues Blast Awards in Chicago on Friday night, September 25, winning for both “Live Blues Album” and “Historical/Vintage Album” categories. The annual awards show is presented by Blues Blast Magazine.

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 showcases a band that was together for only a scant three months, yet created a lasting legacy, made an immense impact on music and led to the formation of one of the most acclaimed groups of all-time when Green, McVie and Fleetwood left to form Fleetwood Mac. 

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 Vinyl LP Track Listing

1)      All Your Love

2)      Brand New Start

3)      Double Trouble

4)      Streamline

5)      Have You Ever Loved a Woman

6)      Looking Back

7)      So Many Roads

8)      Hi Heel Sneakers

9)      I Can’t Quit You Baby

10)   The Stumble

11)   Someday After Awhile

12)   San-Ho-Zay

13)   Stormy Monday

 

For more information, visit www.johnmayall.com and www.fortybelowrecords.com

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 4:33 pm

The University of Texas at Austin Longhorn Band Director, Scott Hanna, announced today that Grammy-winning blues guitarist Jimmie Vaughan will perform with the Longhorn Band during halftime at the Texas vs. Texas Tech football game at Darrell K Royal  - Texas Memorial Stadium on Thanksgiving Day, November 26.

“We are excited beyond words about this opportunity to perform with Jimmie Vaughan and to show that Austin is the ‘Live Music Capital of the World.’  For our students, this is an incredible opportunity to connect with their Texas musical heritage through a living legend,” exclaimed Hanna.

The performance marks the first time a popular musician has played with the band during a halftime performance.

The Longhorn Band will perform a medley of Vaughan’s hits before Jimmie and his Fender Stratocaster guitar join them on the field to “sit-in with the band.” 

“I’ve been asked to perform with a lot of great bands in my life, but this is definitely the biggest, and probably one of the most exciting,” said Vaughan. “It doesn’t get any more Texas than this.”

Tickets for the UT/Texas Tech game may be purchased at TexasSports.com.

The recognition of one of Austin’s hometown musical heroes caps off an extraordinary year for Vaughan, who was honored by both the Texas House and Senate when he was named the Texas State Musician for 2015.

In addition, Vaughan accepted the honor of induction into the Rock and Roll hall of fame on behalf of his late brother, Stevie Ray Vaughan. During the musical portion of the induction ceremony, Vaughan lead a blistering guitar-slinger’s set and was joined onstage by John Mayer, Doyle Bramhall II, Gary Clark, Jr. and Stevie’s Double Trouble bandmates.

Mon, 01/04/2016 - 5:10 pm

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.

For more information, visit www.catfoodrecords.com and www.johnnyrawlsblues.com.

Thu, 01/07/2016 - 6:52 pm

In one of the most amazing and powerful music stories of the past year, under-recognized classic soul blues singer Wee Willie Walker, who was previously best-remembered for a few 1960s obscure singles for Goldwax and Chess Records, released a new album, If Nothing Ever Changes, which has captured the hearts and minds of blues and soul music fans around the world. That led to his being nominated in three major categories by the Blues Foundation for the upcoming Blues Music Awards, to be held in Memphis on May 5: Album of the Year, Soul Blues Album and Soul Blues Male Artist. Members of the Blues Foundation can vote at www.blues.org, with voting open until the end of February.

To stream the music on the If Nothing Ever Changes album, click on this link: https://soundcloud.com/littlevillagefoundation/sets/wee-willie-walker-nothing-ever-changes

When Blues Music Magazine recently announced their Top 10 Picks for 2015 from six of its editors, four of the six – including Editor-in-Chief Art Tipaldi - featured Wee Willie Walker’s CD on their lists. Additionally, the nationally-syndicated radio show, “Elwood’s Bluesmobile,” has chosen Wee Willie Walker's track, “Hands of Time” as Elwood's Blues Breaker to air the weekend of February 20-21. 

Reviews of If Nothing Ever Changes have been over the top in their praise of his long-overdue talent recognition:

“If enough of the right people hear If Nothing Ever Changes, Wee Willie Walker’s world will change, and he will become the award-winning, highly sought-after soul/blues singer he has deserved to be since the 1960s…….  Not enough good things can be said about this singer’s comeback record.” - Steve Sharp, Living Blues

“West Coast guitarist Kid Andersen and harmonica player Rick Estrin have done fans of quality roots music a public service by rescuing 1960s Goldwax soul singer Wee Willie Walker…” - Frank-John Hadley, DownBeat

“‘60s soul journeyman Wee Willie Walker returns here with a highly charged, diverse set stacked with airplay-worthy tracks……A ‘year’s best’ candidate.” - Duane Verh, Roots Music Report

The catalyst for the recording of If Nothing Ever Changes came when multi-Blues Music Award-winning singer/harmonica player Rick Estrin was introduced to Walker by Willie’s manager, Julia Schroeder, and instantly realized that this was the voice he’d remembered from hearing on some Goldwax and Chess 45s in his collection. And when Estrin heard how strong and vibrant Walker’s vocals still were, the idea was hatched, along with all-star guitarist Kid Andersen, to record a new album on Walker. During the sessions recorded with a host of A-list West Coast musicians, keyboard player Jim Pugh, himself a veteran of scores of major blues and roots recordings (Robert Cray, B.B. King, Etta James) and live dates (Johnnie Taylor, Little Milton), mentioned his idea of creating the Little Village Foundation to record artists such as Walker. As Estrin then states in the album liner notes, “We found our platform for launching this record into the world. All we wanted to do was to make music with Willie, and do what WE could to get him heard in the setting he deserves. Nobody was thinking about getting paid, it was all for the common love of this beautiful and near extinct music.”

Willie Walker was a member of the gospel group the Redemption Harmonizers when he left Memphis and headed to Minneapolis in 1960. With the Twin Cities having been his base of operations since then, Walker proceeded to work with a number of area gospel groups, before subsequent visits back to Memphis in the ‘60s landed him recording dates with Goldwax Records. He cut nine sides for Goldwax, which released some on their imprint and also leased four of them to Chess Records subsidiary, Check Records. Some of his singles included “You Name It, I’ve Had It” and “From Warm, to Cool, to Cold,” which were recognized as gems of soul music, but not widely released and known only to true music aficionados.

Before recording his latest album, Walker had recorded three albums over the past 10 years backed by hot local Twin Cities soul/R&B band The Butanes, which though with limited distribution and publicity, still garnered critical acclaim and kept Walker and the band busy playing local and regional dates.

If Nothing Ever Changes, his Little Village label debut, brings Willie Walker to the forefront with the support of some marquee names of West Coast blues and soul serving as his backing band.  Walker described the resulting recording sessions as a “houseful of love. I didn’t know them, but they all knew me and immediately we were like family,” he recalls. With Estrin producing and Kid at the helm, the artists assembled for the sessions represent some of the strongest talent of today’s West Coast Blues scene:  Jim Pugh – keyboard player and founder of the Little Village Foundation; Rusty Zinn – a guitarist whose resume includes recordings with Kim Wilson and Sly Dunbar; Robert Welsh, guitarist with Elvin Bishop; bassist Randy Bermudes of The Fabulous Thunderbirds and, vocalist Curtis Salgado, whose group The Nighthawks inspired John Belushi to create the Blues Brothers – just to name a few.

Since the release of If Nothing Ever Changes, Walker has performed on shows in the Twin Cities area and Midwest, as well as festival dates such as the prestigious Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, Oregon and an overseas tour in Spain.

Fri, 01/29/2016 - 10:53 am

Forty Below Records has announced a February 26 release date for the vinyl LP version of the latest album from legendary blues artist, John Mayall, Find a Way to Care, which follows its critically-acclaimed CD launch in September, 2015. John Mayall and his band have scheduled a series of U.S. tour dates starting in early March to help kick-off the LP’s debut.    

To watch the video trailer premiere of the making of the Find a Way to Care album, click here: http://youtu.be/E-jwpvB4OY0

Since its release on CD, the reviews of Find a Way to Care have been universally glowing: “Find a Way to Care represents another soulful mile marker on John Mayall’s incredible life journey into the blues” – Living Blues; “The Godfather of British Blues” has been experiencing a true artistic and career renaissance lately and the revival continues with the release of the brilliant new studio album, Find a Way to Care” – Relix Magazine; “A blues traditionalist at heart and a gambler by nature, Find a Way to Care proves that John Mayall still has a few musical tricks up his sleeve.” – Blues Music Magazine.

Produced by John Mayall (who also did the graphic design and artwork for the album) and Forty Below’s Eric Corne, Find a Way to Care was recorded at the House of Blues Studio in Encino, California. In addition to Mayall (vocals, piano, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer, clavinet, guitar and harmonica), featured on the sessions are Rocky Athas (lead and rhythm guitar), Greg Rzab (bass) and Jay Davenport (drums), who collectively are now into their seventh year as John’s band. The group is also augmented by a horn section on several tracks.

About the new album, Eric Corne says, “I really wanted to feature John's keyboard playing on this record. He’s truly one of the most lyrical, economical and underrated keyboardists around. We also wanted to change things up a bit after the success of A Special Life and the addition of a horn section on several tracks was a really fun way to do that. As good as the last album was, I think this one is even better.”

The even-dozen tracks on Find a Way to Care include a scintillating group of new songs and savvy covers of “Mother in Law Blues” (Don Robey),  “The River’s Invitation” (Percy Mayfield), “I Feel So Bad”(Lightnin’ Hopkins), “Long Distance Call” (Muddy Waters), “I Want All My Money Back” (Lee Baker) and Drifting Blues” (Charles Brown).

About his choice of cover songs on the new album, Mayall says, “Every time I make an album, I always feel I owe it to my fans to come up with fresh and varied interpretations of the blues. With this in mind, I chose an assemblage of songs that includes perhaps some slightly lesser-known bluesmen, and that all had either different beats or special instrumental treatments. I also found three songs that would be further enhanced by the addition of horns.”

Added to the mix are original songs that always feature Mayall’s take on the current human condition, as well as universal truths. “As always, I draw from my own experiences and thoughts about things in my life so that from album to album I create on ongoing musical diary of my life,” he explains. “The blues never lets me down!”

Find a Way to Care comes following an especially exciting year-long period of great music from Mayall that included the 2014 release of his first studio album in five years, A Special Life, and the April, 2015, release of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 (Never Before Heard Live Performances). The live album was a critically-lauded archival recording of one of the best of his Bluesbreakers band lineups that featured Mayall, as well as Peter Green (lead guitar), John McVie (bass) and Mick Fleetwood (drums). It showcased a band that was together for only a scant three months, yet created a lasting legacy, made an immense impact on music and led to the formation of one of the most acclaimed groups of all-time when Green, McVie and Fleetwood left to form Fleetwood Mac.

For over 50 years, John Mayall has served as a pioneer of blues music, rightly earning him the title, “The Godfather of British Blues.” In 2013, John signed with producer Eric Corne’s label, Forty Below Records, and the three albums released since continue to raise Mayall’s recognition as a true pioneer and innovator in blues and roots music. He continues to perform extensively both in the USA and abroad, and has an ambitious touring schedule in place for the rest of the summer and fall that was booked by booked by Monterey International Artists (www.montereyinternational.net).

Fri, 01/29/2016 - 11:05 am

Acclaimed Austin-based guitarist Jeff Plankenhorn, who’s worked with a host of high-profile artists including Joe Ely, Ruthie Foster, Bobby Whitlock and Ray Wylie Hubbard, will step into the solo spotlight with his new CD, SoulSlide, due March 18 on Lounge Side Records. Jeff Plankenhorn will celebrate the new album with a series of special performances in and around the upcoming South by Southwest Music Festival set for March in Austin, including an official CD release party show on Saturday, March 19, at 9:00 PM to close out the Lounge Side Records showcase that he’ll also host throughout the day at the Strange Brew, Lounge Side (three-time award winner of the Austin Chronicle poll as best venue).

Produced by Jeff Plankenhorn, Ross Hogarth (Keb' Mo', Ziggy Marley) and Miles Zuniga (Fastball), the even-dozen tracks on SoulSlide include a number of Plankenhorn originals, plus a kickin’ cover of Sam and Dave’s “You Got Me Hummin’ and a never-released Willis Alan Ramsay cut, “Mockingbird Blues.” Additional tunes on the new album were co-written with Grammy-winner Gary Nicholson (“Lose My Mind”), Bret Dennan (“Vagabond Moonlight”) and Zuniga (“Vagabond Moonlight,” “Dirty Floor” and “Born To Win”).

Throughout SoulSlide, Plankenhorn plays a blend of blues, soul and rock on a stand-up lap steel guitar dubbed “The Plank” (which also happens to be Jeff’s nickname), which he designed and is in the process of beginning mass production. To view and hear his guitar in action, go to www.empyrealinstruments.com.

“My dream was to mix Sacred Steel influences like the Campbell Brothers and Robert Randolph with the Dobro stylings of Jerry Douglas and Uncle Josh Graves,” says Plankenhorn about his unique sound. “Plus, I’ve been a singer first all my life and wrote the majority of the tunes on the new CD.” 

Special guests on SoulSlide include Grammy nominee and Blues Music Award-winning singer Ruthie Foster, who duets with Jeff on a song titled “Like Flowers,” a Rolling Stones-style track Jeff co-wrote in the vein of “Tumbling Dice,” based on a quote from author Charles Bukowski. Foster also sings backup on the song, “Dirty Floor.” Original Texas soul man Malford Milligan (Storyville) and Jeff sing a duet on the Sam and Dave classic, “You Got Me Hummin’.” Milligan and Plankenhorn have been playing regularly and writing together since Jeff played all of the late Stephen Bruton’s guitar parts on the tribute album, An Evening with the Songs of Stephen Bruton. Milligan also sings backup on “Lose My Mind.”

Jeff’s band consists of the former rhythm section of late Texas guitar legend Stephen Bruton's old trio: Brannen Temple on drums and Yoggie on bass; plus young guitar/keyboard player Dave Scher. They fill Austin’s Saxon Pub every month or so on Fridays and Saturdays.

Other guest players on SoulSlide include Rami Jaffe (The Wallflowers, Foo Fighters) - Hammond organ, mellotron; Peter Adams - Wurlitzer, clavichord, Hammond organ; Miles Zuniga – electric/acoustic guitar, piano, electric bass, background vocals; Tim Pierce – electric/acoustic guitar; and the remaining members of The Resentments: Scrappy Jud Newcomb – electric/acoustic 12-string guitar, background vocals; Bruce Hughes - electric bass, background vocals; and John Chipman – drums. 

Since emerging as the go-to-guitarist for both recordings and live touring by a host of Texas music stars, Jeff Plankenhorn has won accolades from both players and the media alike.

“What a great piece of work - congratulations! The songs are kick-ass, the recordings are in your face, and the production is immaculate! There is a soulfulness in each song that stirs a flame from the embers of love reclaimed. The stories are universal and in tune. The guitar riffs are wicked but true. This recording is relevant to the times and will be on people's playlists for a long time.” – Joe Ely, upon hearing SoulSlide

“...with a voice like a bearded angel and some of the best guitar playing in the Western Hemisphere, he performs songs of depth and weight that belies his age.” - Jon Dee Graham, Texas songwriting legend

“‘Plank’ is simply one of the best players in a city full of them. ‘Plank’ – if I go first, will you play at my funeral?” – Jody Denberg, Austin radio legend & current on-air talent at KUTX-FM

Thu, 02/18/2016 - 7:54 am

Legendary “Godfather of British Blues” John Mayall’s name was called when The Blues Foundation announced today (2/17) its list of performers, music, literature and individuals who will be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis on May 4. Other performers joining John Mayall in the 2016 Class of Inductees include Elvin Bishop, Eddy Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson and The Memphis Jug Band.

“The induction ceremony will be held Wednesday, May 4, at the Sheraton Memphis Downtown in Memphis, Tennessee, the night before the 37th Blues Music Awards,” said The Blues Foundation in its official press release about the new Hall of Fame inductees. “With living musicians like Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton, and legends like Muddy Waters and Koko Taylor, the Blues Hall of Fame consists of blues music's best and brightest stars. The Blues Hall of Fame induction ceremony will coincide with the one year anniversary of the opening of the Blues Hall of Fame Museum, also located in Memphis, TN at the home of the Blues Foundation. This state of the art facility celebrates the lives and the music of each Hall of Fame individual as well as the history of the music and the literature produced through the blues timeline. These newest inductees will be added to the museum's permanent exhibits and interactive displays in conjunction with their induction this May.

“Elvin Bishop, Eddy Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson, John Mayall and The Memphis Jug Band will each take their places beside performers who have been deemed by a group of blues scholars and industry veterans to be the Best in the Blues. Each of these musicians has carved his place in blues history. Bishop, Clearwater, Johnson, and Mayall each boast careers that have spanned more than a half century, and their talent has not waned as they each continue to produce music and to perform for devoted audiences, yet each are distinguishable by their stage presence and musical talent. The Memphis Jug Band's music crossed the racial divides of the first half of the twentieth century and inspired many musicians to follow in their footsteps.”

In March, John Mayall will begin a lengthy tour in support his latest album, Find a Way to Care, released in September on CD, with a vinyl LP version set to come out on February 26 from Forty Below Records, distributed by Sony/RED. Last April saw the release of  John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 (Never Before Heard Live Performances), a very special archival recording of one the best of his Bluesbreakers band lineups, featuring John Mayall (vocals, keyboards, harmonica), Peter Green (lead guitar), John McVie (bass) and Mick Fleetwood (drums). John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 showcases a band that was together for only a scant three months, yet created a lasting legacy, made an immense impact on music and led to the formation of one of the most acclaimed groups of all-time when Green, McVie and Fleetwood left to form Fleetwood Mac. Mayall is currently hard at work in the studio with his band recording a new album.

For over 50 years, John Mayall has served as a pioneer of blues music, rightly earning him the title, “The Godfather of British Blues.” In 2013, John signed with producer Eric Corne’s label, Forty Below Records, and the three albums released since continue to raise Mayall’s recognition as a true pioneer and innovator in blues and roots music. He continues to perform extensively both in the USA and abroad, and has an ambitious touring schedule in place for the rest of the year that was booked by Monterey International Artists (www.montereyinternational.net).

Tue, 03/01/2016 - 11:19 am

Dave Insley announces an April 29 release date for Just the Way That I Am, the latest album from the Austin-based singer/songwriter issued on his own DIR Records imprint. Backing him on the new CD are the members of his regular band, Dave Insley’s Careless Smokers, along with several special guests including singers Kelly Willis, Elizabeth McQueen and Dale Watson, as well as guitarists Redd Volkaert and Rick Shea.     

Dave Insley will celebrate the new disc with a CD release party at The White Horse in Austin on Saturday, April 23rd (500 N. Comal, Austin, Texas 78702 - doors open at 3 pm). The evening lineup includes: 7:00 pm - dance lessons with Two Left Foots; 8:00-9:30 pm - Jeff Hughes and Chaparral; 10:00 - 11:30 pm - Dave Insley's Careless Smokers; Midnight - 1:30 am – Heybale. Several special guests are expected.

Dave Insley's residency every Saturday at The White Horse from 8:00 - 9:30 pm resumes on April 29th. Dave Insley's Careless Smokers are: Dave Insley (lead vocals, guitar); Danny B. Harvey (electric guitar); Charlie Irwin (bass); Bobby Snell (pedal steel); and Daniel Jones (drums).

“We've been playing that time slot at The White Horse since June of 2013, and expect to continue to do so until the walls crumble,” Insley says. “My almost 3-year-long residency at the White Horse has developed a sizable following and the crowds keep getting bigger and bigger. We are so loved and nourished by it. It is literally the best gig I've ever had, and we have risen to the occasion.”

Dave Insley’s Careless Smokers will also be performing several times during the upcoming SXSW Music Conference in Austin:

3/18 - Atomic Honkytonk Showcase - Key Bar (9:00-10:00 pm)

3/19 - CD Preview Party - The White Horse (9:00-10:00 pm)

3/19 - Third Coast Music Presents NotSXSW - G&S Lounge (11:00 pm)

On Just the Way that I Am, Dave Insley showcases honest, no-frills, hardcore honky-tonk music at its best. This is old-style country crooning, delivered in a vocal style that recalls the great Ernest Tubb. Dave’s new disc showcases his quirky, heartfelt narratives and smoky baritone, and features the musical muscle of some of Austin’s finest players. From the opening lines of “Drinkin’ Wine and Staring at the Phone” through the closer, “Everything Must Go,” it ain’t nothin’ but a hardwood floor party, with Rick Shea, Redd Volkaert and Danny B. Harvey on guitar; Matt Hubbard on piano, harmonica and trombone; and special guest vocalists Kelly Willis, Elizabeth McQueen (Asleep at the Wheel) and Dale Watson.

Just the Way That I Am is Insley’s fourth solo release and his first since West Texas Wine in 2008. His artistic maturity and the clarity of his ideas shine through, carried by the easy cadence and quality performance for which Insley is known. Highlights include the honky-tonk weeper “Win-Win Situation, for Losers,” co-written with Rick Shea and Paul Lacques (I See Hawks in L.A.) and performed as a duet with Kelly Willis; “Arizona Territory 1904,” a re-telling of a Marty Robbins classic; and “We’re All Here Together Because of You,” a tender, upbeat homage to his wife and family. Insley’s modern voice and old-fashioned approach have earned him a singular position in the broad field of Americana music. This is thinking man’s country—intelligent, thought provoking story-songs that grow more satisfying with each listen.

Thu, 03/10/2016 - 2:57 pm

Prompted by the critical and commercial success of the 2015 release of previously unavailable live recordings from newly-elected Blues Hall of Fame inductee John Mayall and his classic 1967 Bluesbreakers band, Forty Below Records has announced a second batch of recordings to be released on May 6. Titled John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers– Live in 1967- Volume Two, the new CD continues the archival blues path blazed in Volume One that captures heralded performances of one of the best of the Bluesbreakers band lineups, featuring iconic musicians John Mayall (vocals, keyboards, harmonica), Peter Green (lead guitar), John McVie (bass) and Mick Fleetwood (drums). Distributed by Sony/RED, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 – Volume Two showcases a legendary group of players who while only together a short three months, created a lasting legacy, made an immense impact on music and led to the formation of one of the most acclaimed groups of all-time when Green, McVie and Fleetwood left to form Fleetwood Mac.

Produced by John Mayall (who also did the cover package photography, artwork and design) and Forty Below’s Eric Corne from one channel reel-to-reel original tapes recorded by Tom Huissen, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers– Live in 1967- Volume Two contains performances recorded in the Spring of 1967 at such well-known London venues as Bromley, The Marquee Club, The Ram Jam Club and Klook’s Kleek. 

“I am so happy that the remaining usable tracks from these London club dates have been released as a follow-up to the well-received Volume One,” says John Mayall about the new album. “Peter Green as before is on fire throughout and this set includes a great instrumental based on his composition, ‘Greeny.’ There are a couple of Otis Rush tracks that were included on the first volume, but they are from different venues and totally different.  I couldn’t possibly let these slide.  Also, there is another version of T-Bone Walker’s 'Stormy Monday’ that is sung by Ronnie Jones, who would frequently sit in at our gigs. John McVie gets in a great bass solo on ‘Chicago Line’ and Mick Fleetwood drives the whole set with his unique and powerful drumming. With these new tracks added to the collection, it pretty much features all the material we had in our repertoire at that time and I’m very glad that you can now enjoy this great piece of rock/blues history.”

Volume Two showcases three John Mayall originals including the opening track, all-time blues classic “Tears in My Eyes;” “Chicago Line;” and “Please Don’t Tell,” a great example of the power blues sound The Bluesbreakers were revered for around the world. These historical performances were captured for all time and largely unheard for almost fifty years until John Mayall recently obtained the tapes and began restoring them with the technical assistance of Eric Corne. Speaking about the tapes, Corne says, “While the source recording was very rough and the final result is certainly not hi-fidelity, it does succeed in allowing us to hear how spectacular these performances are.”

The Bluesbreakers live sets at the time of these performances included songs that had originally appeared on the first two band studio recordings with Eric Clapton and Peter Green, respectively, holding down the guitar chair in the group, as well as some that would soon be recorded for the third LP, Crusade, by which time Green, McVie and Fleetwood had left to start Fleetwood Mac and the new guitar player was a young, then-unknown Mick Taylor, who would later go on to further fame and glory as a member of The Rolling Stones.

Of the new album’s 13 tracks, three are songs that first appeared on Volume One, although these new tracks included here were recorded on different nights and ably demonstrate how improvisational the band could be infusing a different feel and tone from night-to-night. Of particular interest is the inclusion of the version of “Stormy Monday,” which features special guest vocalist Ronnie Jones, a former American serviceman and original member of  the first incarnation of Blues Incorporated, a contemporary band to the Bluesbreakers, which included Alexis Korner, Cyril Davies, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker during its lifetime. Another highlight is the Peter Green instrumental, “Greeny,” which perfectly states the case for why he is still revered as one of the best-ever guitarists. 

 

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers– Live in 1967- Volume Two – Track Listing

 

1     TEARS IN MY EYES                                                    7:31

                Mayall/Warner/Chappell Music Ltd (PRS)

2     YOUR FUNERAL AND MY TRIAL                          5:32

                Williamson/Arc Music (BMI)

3     SO MANY ROADS                                                     8:18

           Marshall/Arc Music (BMI)

4     BYE BYE BIRD                                                              5:02

                Dixon-Williamson/Arc Music-Hoochie Coochie Music (BMI)

5     PLEASE DON’T TELL                                                  4:08

                Mayall/Carlin Music (PRS)

6     SWEET LITTLE ANGEL                                              6:10

                King-Taub/Universal Music (BMI)

7     TALK TO YOUR DAUGHTER                                   3:00

                Lenoir-Atkins/BMG Platinum Songs obo Arc Music (BMI)

8     BAD BOY                                                                      5:08

                Taylor/Conrad Music (BMI)

9     STORMY MONDAY                                                  8:21

                Walker/Gregmark Music-Lord & Walker (BMI)

10   GREENY                                                                        6:36

                Green/Unichappell Music (BMI)

11    RIDIN’ ON THE L&N                                                2:22

                Hampton-Burley/Trio Music (BMI)

12    CHICAGO LINE                                                          4:34

                Mayall/ Carlin Music (PRS)

13   DOUBLE TROUBLE                                                    6:35

            Rush/Conrad Music (BMI)

Mon, 04/04/2016 - 4:08 pm

Connor Ray Music announces the signing of blues-rock guitarist Mark May and the May 20 release date of his new CD, Blues Heaven, with special guests including Greg Martin (Kentucky Headhunters), Hadden Sayers, Eric Demmer (Gatemouth Brown) and Steve Krase.

Blues Heaven is the 6th album for Columbus, Ohio-based Mark May and his band, and its 13 tracks represent a new height in blues power performances and songwriting chops for the celebrated musician. The new album also features backing by The Soul Satyr Horns, who provide extra punch to Mark and the band’s incendiary blues riffs.

“I think Blues Heaven is the most truthful CD that I’ve ever done,” admits Mark May. “While there are songs on the album about the good times that I've had, others express my own personal struggles and tell the story of my life. I really enjoyed working with my band, The Soul Satyr Horns, and some of my good friends who all contributed in a big way to make this album possible."

The album’s opening track, “Boom Boom,” shows a strong Albert Collins influence with its stinging blues guitar licks, and elsewhere Mark May showcases his mastery of a number of other blues styles, ranging from Chicago (“Money” and “Put Down that Poison”) and Gulf Coast sounds (“She’s a Keeper” and “Leaving Houston”) to Southern Rock power movers (“I’m Her Fool” and “Almost Like a Suicide”), reminiscent of his time playing with one of the best-ever practitioners of that genre, Dickey Betts, in 2000/2001. And on the powerful title track, May summons up the guitar ghost of Jimi Hendrix and others for some exquisite playing on a song that explores the life of a bluesman. 

Mark May will support the release of Blues Heaven with a number of Midwestern dates, before hitting the road for numerous festivals over the summer. In the past he’s been a veteran road warrior, with extensive major date touring both in the USA (Telluride Blues and Brews, Mississippi Valley Blues Fest, King Biscuit Festival, Anglesea Blues Festival, etc.) and Canada (Tremblant International Blues Festival), as well some overseas touring in France. He was also the opening band for The Allman Brothers Band’s 1997 Amphitheater Tour.     

Mark May’s interest in playing began with his older brother teaching him the basics of guitar and turning him onto such artists as the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. He also has a lot of country influences, too, with both his mother and uncle being country/bluegrass singers and songwriters. The former Dickey Betts and Great Southern guitarist and vocalist discovered the blues when his aunt lent him a copy of B.B. King’s 1971 classic Live in Cook County Jail album when he was all of 11 years old and it’s been a non-stop run since then.  

Dickey Betts was one of May’s biggest early supporters. “When I heard his first CD, I was blown away,” Betts commented. “Mark is one of the best blues-rock artists to come along in years! With great singing, songwriting and guitar playing, he reminds me of everyone from Albert Collins to Stevie Ray to Carlos Santana. Hell, I even heard a couple of my licks in there!”

For more information, visit www.markmayband.com and www.connorraymusic.com.

 

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 8:05 pm

Stony Plain Records announces a June 3 release date for Jumpin’ & Boppin’, the new CD from Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, who was named “Most Outstanding Musician (Keyboards)” for 2015 by Living Blues magazine.

Produced by the “Blues Boss,” himself, Wayne’s third CD for Stony Plain is firmly rooted in the joyful jump blues style of Louis Jordan and Amos Milburn. Special guests on Jumpin’ & Boppin’ include award-winning guitarist and labelmate Duke Robillard, as well as Russell Jackson, B.B. King’s long-time bassist, who locks-in the rhythm section. The new disc showcases 12 original songs and one cover (“You Don’t Know Me”) that clearly illustrate Wayne’s way with a keyboard, as well as his soulful vocals.  

“I’ve really been looking forward to this record and I’m very excited to share it with you,” exclaims Kenny in the album’s liner notes. “This recording has elements of the great jump blues and boogie-woogie era. You might hear some influences from the era of Louis Jordan, Amos Milburn, Ray Charles, Johnnie Johnson and Fats Domino, just to name a few that are all mixed in like a blues stew.

“This is my second shot at producing my own recording and since then I’ve learned a lot by sitting back, watching and listening to experienced producers on how to produce a record. On this session, I’m glad to have young Charlie Jacobson laying down the basic guitar on the tracks and to have world renowned players like Duke Robillard, Russell Jackson, Joey DiMarco (drums and percussion), Sherman Doucette (harmonica) and Dave Babcock (sax) contributing their talents to this recording as well. This is my tenth blues album and my third recording on Stony Plain Records. I am looking forward to many more recordings on this enduring Canadian label, which celebrates 40 years of music in 2016.”

Noted for his multi-hued collection of zoot suits, the “Blues Boss” will be stylin’ his clothes and bringing his music throughout the summer on extensive tours of Russia, South America and Europe, in addition to playing various North American festivals.

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 3:38 pm

Connor Ray Music announces the signing of 17-year-old blues singer/guitarist Ally Venable and will release her debut CD, No Glass Shoes, on July 22.

“I think No Glass Shoes really shows the musicianship of my band as well as the guest artists that performed on this album,” Ally says about the new disc. “The songs on this CD really mesh well together and correspond differently in their own way. My goal for this album is to really connect with people and to let them know it’s okay to feel a certain way. I really cannot express enough gratitude to everyone that contributed to making this album possible.”

Ally Venable wrote all of the songs on No Glass Shoes, with the exception of the Junior Wells classic, “Messin’ with the Kid,” and the Bonnie Raitt hit, “Love Me Like a Man,” written by Chris Smither. Ally also composed new music to go with the lyrics of the Alberta Hunter chestnut, “Downhearted Blues.”

Houston-based Ally Venable and her band have been racking up critical accolades, including winning the East Texas Music Award last year for Blues Band and Ally for Female Guitarist of the Year. She also placed in the Top 10 of the under 20 years-old category at the 2015 and 2016 Dallas International Guitar Festivals.

As leader of the powerhouse Ally Venable Band, she’s ignited tremendous excitement for her musicianship and live performances on the local Houston music scene, with touring now expanded into the southwest region. Ally Venable started singing at an early age in church and in recent years picked up the guitar and found her true passion.

She was also voted the 2014 and 2015 East Texas Female Guitarist of the Year. Each of Ally’s bandmates excels on their respective instruments, too. Lead guitarist and keyboards player Bobby Wallace is a master at his craft and his years of experience enhance the band. Bassist Zach Terry brings his passion and energetic flair to every show. He also won the 2015 East Texas Bassist of the Year at the Music Awards. Self-taught drummer Elijah Owings brings a steady and dynamic sound to the band. He is the backbone of the Aly Venable Band’s rockin’ blues sound.

The Ally Venable Band will perform a number of shows in Dallas, Houston and East Texas to support the new CD release.

Ally Venable Band Tour Dates

6/26                 The Ballroom at Warehouse Live                               Houston, TX
7/2                   XLN                                                                            Tyler, TX
7/9                   Mellow Mushroom                                                      Rockwall, TX
7/14                 Rich’s on the Square                                                   Tyler, TX
7/16                 Auntie Skinner’s Riverboat Club                                Jefferson, TX
7/21                 The Forge Bar & Grill                                                 Ben Wheeler, TX
7/23                 Lone Star Ice House                                                   Longview, TX
8/6                   Rock 101 Grill                                                            Frisco, TX
8/13                 The Back Porch Outdoor Stage                                  Kilgore, TX
8/19                 House of Blues                                                           Dallas, TX
8/27                 Dan Electro’s Guitar Bar                                            Houston, TX

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 2:21 pm

Al Basile, whose previous albums have generated multiple Blues Music Award nominations, announces an August 19 release date for his latest CD, Mid-Century Modern, on Sweetspot Records. Produced by Duke Robillard (who also guests on guitar on two tracks), Mid-Century Modern showcases Al Basile’s vocals and cornet on 13 all-original songs, and backed by a stellar band that includes “Monster” Mike Welch – guitar; Bruce Bears – keyboards; Brad Hallen – bass; Mark Teixeira – drums; and a horn section of Doug James – baritone, tenor sax, bass clarinet; Rich Lataille – alto, tenor sax; and Jeff “Doc” Chanonhouse – trumpet.

“I wrote these songs over a 14-day period last summer right after finishing the Knickerbocker All Stars project, where we did a lot of classic R&B and blues material that featured horn solos,” recalls Al Basile, who also did all the horn arrangements on his new disc. “That got me thinking about the repertoire we played in Roomful of Blues in the Seventies and how much fun it was to solo over those grooves. Thought I'd write a bunch of songs that I could stretch out on the horn a little more than I usually do. It was like writing a bunch of stories about old friends. And using my horn as well as my voice to tell them,” he adds.

Al Basile's musical values were developed in the 1950s and ‘60s, and his work shows the influences of blues, jazz, soul and gospel music of that era, as well as that of the generation before his birth. His new CD is built on that American roots music of the middle of the 20th century and features the lyric writing of a great contemporary storyteller who also happens to be an award-winning poet. Mid-Century Modern is built to last, with Al handling the soulful vocals and the lion's share of the solo work on his bluesy, succinct cornet (his five BMA nominations since 2010 are testament to his unique potency on the horn). Those conversant with the last century will notice classic musical influences including Louis Jordan, Buddy Johnson, Richard Berry, Albert King, Lee Dorsey and Slim Harpo – but the message of these songs is Al Basile's alone. They are like no other.

“You don't hear the cornet much in blues these days, but it does go back to Buddy Bolden after all,” says Basile. “Brass players were known to play blues all the time in early days of jazz and blues. My horn sound is another voice to me. I'm a baritone – I don't sing that high. And I play a big bore cornet – I don't play that high, either. It's not always the tenor that gets the aria!”

Al Basile’s talent for writing songs of both poignancy and humor abound throughout the tracks on Mid-Century Modern. Some examples of the former include “Like You or Despise You,” “No Truth to the Rumor,” “Listen to the Elders” and “Lie Under the House with Me.” And Basile’s knack of seeing the humor in certain situations materialize on the opening song, “Keep Your Love, Where’s My Money?,” “Tickle My Mule,” “I’ve Got to Have Meat (with Every Meal” and “Like a Woman, Like a Man.”

About “Like You or Despise You,” Basile states: “Not everyone plays poker but we all have our own version of the face. Some people, of course, are better at hiding their true feelings than others. I’m not sure how often people are given fair warning that they should be wary of a friendly smile, but it’s surprising how few pay attention when told straight out. It’s certainly easier to take people at face value – but oh the bills that arrive later!”

And Basile declares “Tickle My Mule” to be “a metaphor about the Mind/Body dialogue designed to remind us that we may have an excellent idea of how we ought to feel about someone else, but if they lack that je ne sais quoi, we just won’t feel it. I think this lyric puts it more succinctly, and it’s certainly more fun to sing (and imagine).”

Sun, 07/10/2016 - 7:48 pm

Forty Below Records today just released a special 2-LP gatefold vinyl version of the second set of previously unavailable live recordings from newly-elected Blues Hall of Fame inductee John Mayall and his classic 1967 Bluesbreakers band, titled John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers– Live in 1967- Volume Two. The new two-LP set, which follows the May 6 release of the set on CD,  continues the archival blues path blazed in Volume One that captures heralded performances of one of the best of the Bluesbreakers band lineups, featuring iconic musicians John Mayall (vocals, keyboards, harmonica), Peter Green (lead guitar), John McVie (bass) and Mick Fleetwood (drums). (“A welcome second helping” – Rolling Stone; “Essential listening” – Blues Music Magazine; “Raw, uncontested power blues.” – Elmore).

Distributed by Sony/RED, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 – Volume Two showcases a legendary group of players who while only together a short three months, created a lasting legacy, made an immense impact on music and led to the formation of one of the most acclaimed groups of all-time when Green, McVie and Fleetwood left to form Fleetwood Mac. Produced by John Mayall (who also did the cover package photography, artwork and design) and Forty Below’s Eric Corne from one channel reel-to-reel original tapes recorded by Tom Huissen, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers– Live in 1967- Volume Two contains performances recorded in the Spring of 1967 at such well-known London venues as Bromley, The Marquee Club, The Ram Jam Club and Klook’s Kleek. 

“I am so happy that the remaining usable tracks from these London club dates have been released as a follow-up to the well-received Volume One,” says John Mayall about the new album. “Peter Green as before is on fire throughout and this set includes a great instrumental based on his composition, ‘Greeny.’ There are a couple of Otis Rush tracks that were included on the first volume, but they are from different venues and totally different.  I couldn’t possibly let these slide.  Also, there is another version of T-Bone Walker’s 'Stormy Monday’ that is sung by Ronnie Jones, who would frequently sit in at our gigs. John McVie gets in a great bass solo on ‘Chicago Line’ and Mick Fleetwood drives the whole set with his unique and powerful drumming. With these new tracks added to the collection, it pretty much features all the material we had in our repertoire at that time and I’m very glad that you can now enjoy this great piece of rock/blues history.”

Volume Two showcases three John Mayall originals including the opening track, all-time blues classic “Tears in My Eyes;” “Chicago Line;” and “Please Don’t Tell,” a great example of the power blues sound The Bluesbreakers were revered for around the world. These historical performances were captured for all time and largely unheard for almost fifty years until John Mayall recently obtained the tapes and began restoring them with the technical assistance of Eric Corne. Speaking about the tapes, Corne says, “While the source recording was very rough and the final result is certainly not hi-fidelity, it does succeed in allowing us to hear how spectacular these performances are.”

The Bluesbreakers live sets at the time of these performances included songs that had originally appeared on the first two band studio recordings with Eric Clapton and Peter Green, respectively, holding down the guitar chair in the group, as well as some that would soon be recorded for the third LP, Crusade, by which time Green, McVie and Fleetwood had left to start Fleetwood Mac and the new guitar player was a young, then-unknown Mick Taylor, who would later go on to further fame and glory as a member of The Rolling Stones.

Of the new album’s 13 tracks, three are songs that first appeared on Volume One, although these new tracks included here were recorded on different nights and ably demonstrate how improvisational the band could be infusing a different feel and tone from night-to-night. Of particular interest is the inclusion of the version of “Stormy Monday,” which features special guest vocalist Ronnie Jones, a former American serviceman and original member of  the first incarnation of Blues Incorporated, a contemporary band to the Bluesbreakers, which included Alexis Korner, Cyril Davies, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker during its lifetime. Another highlight is the Peter Green instrumental, “Greeny,” which perfectly states the case for why he is still revered as one of the best-ever guitarists. 

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers– Live in 1967- Volume Two – Track Listing

Side A

1     TEARS IN MY EYES                                                    7:31

                Mayall/Warner/Chappell Music Ltd (PRS)

2     YOUR FUNERAL AND MY TRIAL                          5:32

                Williamson/Arc Music (BMI)

3     SO MANY ROADS                                                     8:18

           Marshall/Arc Music (BMI)

Side B

4     BYE BYE BIRD                                                                              5:02

                Dixon-Williamson/Arc Music-Hoochie Coochie Music (BMI)

5     PLEASE DON’T TELL                                  4:08

                Mayall/Carlin Music (PRS)

6     SWEET LITTLE ANGEL                                              6:10

                King-Taub/Universal Music (BMI)

7     TALK TO YOUR DAUGHTER                   3:00

                Lenoir-Atkins/BMG Platinum Songs obo Arc Music (BMI)

Side C

8     BAD BOY                                                                      5:08

                Taylor/Conrad Music (BMI)

9     STORMY MONDAY                                                  8:21

                Walker/Gregmark Music-Lord & Walker (BMI)

10   GREENY                                                                        6:36

                Green/Unichappell Music (BMI)

Side D

11    RIDIN’ ON THE L&N                                                                2:22

                Hampton-Burley/Trio Music (BMI)

12    CHICAGO LINE                                                          4:34

                Mayall/ Carlin Music (PRS)

13   DOUBLE TROUBLE                                                    6:35

            Rush/Conrad Music (BMI)

For more information, visit www.johnmayall.com and www.fortybelowrecords.com

Tue, 07/26/2016 - 12:03 pm

Stony Plain Records announces a September 9 release date for Maxwell Street, the new CD from three-time Blues Music Award winner as “Guitarist of the Year,” Ronnie Earl and his band, the Broadcasters.

Maxwell Street is named in honor of the late blues pianist and previous member of the Broadcasters, David Maxwell, and is also a nod to Chicago’s famed Maxwell Street, where blues musicians gathered to play outside for the Sunday market crowds.

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters are: Ronnie Earl – guitar; Lorne Entress – drums; Dave Limina – piano and Hammond B3 organ; Jim Mouradian – bass; and Diane Blue – vocals. Special guest guitarist on the album is Nicholas Tabarias. Maxwell Street was produced by Ronnie Earl and recorded at Wellspring Studios in Acton, Massachusetts, and Wooly Mammoth Studios in Waltham, Mass. Ronnie formed his band, the Broadcasters, in 1988.

“This album is dedicated to my big brother David Maxwell,” says Ronnie Earl. “We were born on the same day ten years apart. His playing was as deep as the ocean, as high as the sky and as bright as a quasar. When he passed, I felt a huge loss as I still do. David was a Broadcaster and he and I made a few records together. It was always a supreme honor to play with him. He played blues as well as jazz with incredible expression from Otis Spann to Cecil Taylor. He knew and loved it all. He became Otis Spann in the later years. Our pianist David Limina wrote a tune (“Elegy for a Bluesman”) that captures the feeling of the album and we all send our love and respect to David’s family and all of our love and gratitude for David Maxwell.”

Maxwell Street showcases 10 tracks, including six originals, plus exciting covers of songs by Otis Rush (one of Ronnie’s main musical mentors), “Double Trouble;” Gladys Knight (“I’ve Got to Use My) Imagination;” Eddy Arnold, “You Don’t Know Me;” and the blues/soul chestnut, “As the Years Go Passing By,” which closes the album.

Ronnie and the band performed a special set at the recent Chicago Blues Festival in honor of Otis Rush. In his review of that concert, DownBeat writer Jeff Johnson singled out Ronnie for praise: “Perhaps the most heartfelt expression came from the guitar of Ronnie Earl. His playing was a study in economy, yet electrifying enough to make the hairs on your neck stand on end on the seminal Rush tune, “Double Trouble.”

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters are also represented with a track on the new Stony Plain special 3-CD set, 40 Years of Stony Plain, which salutes the label’s four decades of the best in roots, rock, folk, country and blues music. To commemorate Stony Plain’s anniversary, Ronnie Earl recorded this short video about their relationship: https://youtu.be/iK-ysnx7vHU.

“Ronnie Earl is one of the most sensitive, refined and exquisite guitarists on the international blues scene.” - Living Blues.   

Current Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters Tour Dates

Aug. 14                 Mystic Blues Festival                                                      North Stonington, CT

Aug. 19                 White Mountain Boogie ‘n Blues Festival              Thornton, NH

Sept. 18                Pennsylvania Blues Festival                                         Lake Harmony, PA

Additional dates forthcoming ….     

Tue, 08/09/2016 - 4:00 pm

Acclaimed roots musician Johnny Nicholas has announced a September 2 release date for his new CD, Fresh Air, which showcases his multiple talents on various guitars and soulful vocals for an album surely to be one of the best musical revelations of the year.

Watch the Johnny Nicholas video that includes musical excerpts from the Fresh Air album: https://1drv.ms/v/s!AoewFKtAiPczkg_vNpBtUNg71j-f

Fresh Air was produced by Bruce Hughes and recorded at Arlyn Studios in Austin. Featuring an all-star cast that includes Scrappy Jud Newcomb (guitars, mandolin, mandocello), John Chipman (drums, percussion, vocals) and Bruce Hughes (bass, vocals, percussion), plus a guest list that includes Cindy Cashdollar (lap steel and additional guitars), the new CD creates a satisfying statement of true American roots music at its finest and most authentic.

Fresh Air is a collection of stories and melodies that have haunted me for some time,” says Johnny Nicholas. “There are some different styles here but all of this is the blues as I know it—as all American music and rock and roll has sprung from the same source. I don’t understand a whole lot of what is going on in the modern world, but I do know I could use a little ‘fresh air.’ I hope you dig these tunes.”

Containing a baker’s-dozen 13 tracks, Fresh Air covers a wide swath of Johnny’s roots – everything from the Delta blues of the album’s opener, “Moonlight Train,” to the Chicago-style city blues of the Howlin’ Wolf classic, “Back Door Man,” along with sojourns into swampy Cajun styles, Americana and everything in between.  The constant throughout all these songs is Johnny’s high-lonesome blues vocal style, lithe harmonica playing and soulful string work on an assortment of guitars. Other than “Back Door Man” and the Sleepy John Estes chestnut, “”Kid Man Blues,” Johnny Nicholas had a hand in writing all of the other songs on Fresh Air.

“Johnny Nicholas is one of the best bluesmen ever, black or white.” – Stephen Bruton. When it comes to Americana roots music and especially the blues, the late, great Stephen Bruton knew what he was talking about. His description of his long-time friend and musical comrade in arms is succinct and quite a heady compliment, but then, Johnny Nicholas is an amazing talent.

For four decades, Johnny’s consummate musicianship and vocal skills have graced live music scenes across the country and abroad. He has toured, performed and recorded with many true blues and Americana roots music legends, including Mississippi Fred McDowell, Robert Lockwood Jr., Johnny Shines, Big Walter Horton, Roosevelt Sykes, Nathan Abshire, Robert Pete Williams, Eddie Taylor, Hound Dog Taylor, Johnny Young, Houston Stackhouse, and Boogie Woogie Red.

Johnny recorded and toured with Johnny Shines and Snooky Pryor, producing and playing guitar on their W.C. Handy Award-winning album, Back to the Country. He was one of the lead vocalists with Asleep at the Wheel when they won their first of many Grammy Awards. He gave blues guitar icon Ronnie Earl his first gig in the now legendary band, Guitar Johnny and the Rhythm Rockers. He has also performed with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Bonnie Rait, Eric Clapton, Pops and Mavis Staples, Delbert McClinton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Marcia Ball and Jimmie Vaughan, among many others. He can wow a festival crowd of thousands or a small room of devotees.

Born in Rhode Island, Johnny discovered the blues at an early age, grooving to the great R&B that was blasting from the airwaves in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s—Jimmy Reed, Lightnin’ Slim, Lloyd Price, Slim Harpo, Larry Williams, Little Walter, Ray Charles and Howlin’ Wolf were all big blips on this impressionable young man’s radar screen. Like fellow Greek-American Johnny Otis had a generation earlier, this Johnny easily made the leap into the soulful world of the blues. He was high school friends with Duke Robillard and the two of them shared licks and records after school, as well as each leading their own band (Duke’s was called the Variations and Johnny’s was called the Vikings).

In 1966, he hopped the train to New York City to see his idol, Howlin’ Wolf. He ended up hanging with Wolf’s band at the Albert Hotel by day (where Wolf, the Muddy Waters band and Otis Spann were all staying), and at Ungano’s nightclub by night, where the Wolf was holding musical court while on a two week prowl of the Big Apple. This experience cemented his love of the blues while providing inspiration and a gateway to friendships and musical adventures that would help mold a successful career, and still smolder in this talented and restless soul

In 1980, Johnny decided to take time off from touring in order to raise a family. He married Brenda Schlaudt, one of the co-founders of Antone’s night club; and played music at (and helped manage) what became a Texas culinary and music legend: Hill Top Café (housed in a former 1920s-era gas station - “inconveniently located in the middle of nowhere”) near Cherry Spring, not far from Austin. Hill Top’s eclectic menu includes items that reflect his and Brenda’s Greek, Cajun and Texas influences.   

After fathering three sons, Nicholas stepped up his music ventures, highlighted by Back to the Country in 1991.  Since then, he has released several more albums and returned to a more rigorous touring, songwriting and performance schedule.

Johnny Nicholas will support the release of Fresh Air with a series of dates in the Texas area, as well as showcase venues and festival dates around the country.

Fri, 08/19/2016 - 2:03 pm

Severn Records announces an October 7 release date for Seeing Is Believing, the new CD from the acclaimed Sugar Ray & the Bluetones. Seeing Is Believing is the band’s seventh album for Severn Records and follows their highly-successful 2014 CD, Living Tear to Tear, which garnered them seven Blues Music Award nominations, including “Best Band,” plus individual nominations for Sugar Ray as “Traditional Male Blues Artist” and “Instrumentalist – Harmonica,” and a song nomination for “Things Could Be Worse.” At the most-recent Blues Music Awards in May, the group was again nominated for “Band of the Year,” as well as individual nominations for keyboardist Anthony Geraci, guitarist Monster Mike Welch and bassist Michael Mudcat Ward. Anthony Geraci’s album with The Boston Blues-All-Stars, Fifty Shades of Blue, received three additional nominations.

Produced by the band, the dozen tracks on Seeing Is Believing – 11 originals and a scintillating instrumental cover of B.B. King’s “You Know I Love You” – sweep out of the speakers with the power of a gale force wind, blowing with a transcendent groove. The band: Sugar Ray Norcia on lead vocals and harmonica, Monster Mike Welch on guitars, Anthony Geraci on pianos and Hammond organ, Michael Mudcat Ward on bass and Neil Gouvin on drums, never wastes any notes. From the opening Mississippi blues of “Sweet Baby,” that features Norcia's down-and-dirty harmonica and his signature blues growl, and the wink-and-a-nod jazz blues of “Misses Blues,” to the smoky lounge tune, “Not Me,”  Sugar Ray and the Bluetones wring out every emotion, demonstrating  just how blues ought to be played.

“We do this to have fun,” laughs Sugar Ray. “Every time we go into the studio or out on a road trip or onstage, we always say ‘let’s have some fun’.” It’s that spirit of keeping it loose and playing for the fun of it and simply letting the music carry them wherever it will that keeps Sugar Ray & the Bluetones burning up the musical landscape. As the band sings on the song, “Blind Date,” written by Norcia, “if you ain't having fun/you're doing something wrong.” Each player’s ability to step right up and plug right into the groove with his own musical vision for the song creates the overarching unity of the band’s music.

“We’re almost telepathic in the way we work together,” says Sugar Ray about the band’s communication, creating a unity that results in the band’s tightness. No notes ever get left on the floor, and Welch, Ward, Geraci, and Gouvin seem to know just when to come in with a riff or a beat and when not to. Monster Mike “understands me very well musically,” observes Sugar Ray; “so if I want to play a low-down blues, he has the part down and comes right in.” Mudcat knows the right things to do and the right things not to do, “and that last part might be even more important,” chuckles Norcia. It’s so refreshing to work with Anthony and Neil, too, Norcia says, because “they, like all of us, want to play this music right to pay homage to it.” This unity of musical vision and ability, says Norcia, is what “sets us apart.”

That musical oneness also grows out of the Bluetones’ time together. They just celebrated 35 years as a band. Monster Mike Welch is the “youngster” of the band, since he’s only been with the Bluetones for 16 years. Over those years, the band has put out many critically-acclaimed albums and garnered high honors; this past April, Sugar Ray & the Bluetones were inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame. In 2014, Sugar Ray received his third Grammy nomination (“Best Blues Album”) for his playing on Remembering Little Walter.

On Seeing is Believing, as on all their albums and at their shows, Sugar Ray & the Bluetones are having fun—and so will anyone who listens to any song on this new album—but they’re also paying homage to this “beautiful, wonderful genre of music.” This new album itself is a work of beauty and wonder, indeed, both paying tribute to the music of everyone from Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, and Little Walter to Louis Jourdan and Louis Armstrong. The sound is that big and that tight.

Itinerary

Aug 26 - Blues & BBQ Event, Webster, NY
Sept 2 - Blues In Hell Festival, Hell, Norway
Sept 4 - Harvest Time Blues Festival , Monaghan, Ireland
Sept 9 - Thunder Road, Somerville, MA
Sept 10 - The Knickerbocker Cafe, Westerly, RI
Sept 17 - Pennsylvania Blues Festival (Boston Blues All-Stars) Lake Harmony, PA
Sept 24 - Pitman’s Freight Room, Laconia, NH 
Oct 1 - Crossroads Music Series, North Andover, MA
Nov 19 - Blackstone River Theater, Cumberland, RI
Nov 25 - Poland (Sugar Ray and the Bluetones with The Boston Blues All-Stars Featuring Anthony Geraci, Darrell Nulisch and Michelle Willson)
Nov 26 – Holland
Dec 2 - Blue Rooster, Sarasota, FL
Dec 3 - Bradenton Blues Festival, Bradenton, FL
Dec 7 – Englewood’s On Dearborn, Englewood, FL
Dec 8 - Wireless Blues Society Christmas Party, Dothan, AL
Dec 9 - Aces, Suncoast Blues Society Christmas Party, Bradenton, FL
Dec 10 - Eats and Beats, Parkland Amphitheater, Parkland, FL
Dec 16- Chans, Woonsocket, RI

Mon, 08/22/2016 - 8:18 am

Connor Ray Music announces a September 30 release date for Time to Let Go, the new CD from, New Jersey-based blues guitarist Bob Lanza and his band. Produced by Bob Lanza and recorded at Skylab Recording studio in Roosevelt, New Jersey, Time to Let Go is Bob’s fourth album release. Its 11 tracks, a mix of soulful originals and cool covers, showcase Bob’s powerful blues guitar work and sinewy vocals.

“This album comes at a time when I've had a lot of loss in my life,” confesses Lanza. “My mother and brother both passed away while I was recording this CD. It’s a tribute to them, and a suggestion to all of the families that go through difficult times; you gotta let ‘em go and continue life.

“From the sound engineers to the people at Connor Ray and all who helped on this project - these people are what make the world go round. To see how much help I got while doing this CD was just mind-blowing to me.”

Joining Bob on the album are his regular touring band members, plus The Cranberry Lake Horns and several special guests, including Steve Krase on harmonica. 

The circumstances that occurred during the recording of Time to Let Go fueled an extra level of expression of visceral feeling from Lanza, which manifested itself in both his guitar playing and singing. “My guitar is raw, powerful and very emotional on these tracks,” he admits.

Born and raised in the wilds of northern New Jersey, Bob Lanza took advantage of his proximity to New York City to learn from the great Johnny “Clyde” Copeland and Floyd Phillips. Their influences can be heard in the passion embedded in all of Lanza’s music. More recently, Bob Lanza has provided support for Trudy Lynn and James Cotton on their East Coast appearances.

Bob Lanza sums up the music on Time to Let Go with this message: “the blues is alive and it’s coming to get you!!”

Bob Lanza hi-res photo download: http://www.markpuccimedia.com/BobLanzaPhoto.jpg

Website: www.boblanzabluesband.com

Bob Lanza Tour Itinerary

8/27       Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Society Festival-7 PM (w/Trudy Lynn)                Long Branch, NJ
8/28       Village of Finesville – Alba Vineyard – 1 PM                                                          Milford, NJ
9/10       Meadowlands Racetrack – Tri-State Food Truck Mash-Up - 5 PM               E. Rutherford, NJ            
9/16       The Stanhope House – 8 PM – all ages                                                                   Stanhope, NJ
10/1       Roxy & Duke’s Roadhouse – 9 PM – all ages                                                        Dunellen, NJ
10/2       Village of Finesville – Alba Vineyard – 1 PM                                                          Milford, NJ                                           

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 12:10 pm

With a new studio album titled Talk About That in the can for release in early 2017 on Forty Below Records (which includes special guest Joe Walsh on two tracks); and a lengthy US tour through late fall, British blues “Godfather” John Mayall announced today that effective with the upcoming tour dates, his band will perform as a trio. Mayall officially released the following statement today.

TO MY FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS

As many of you will have heard the dramatic news that I will now be performing live shows as a trio, I feel I should explain how it all came about in a chain of events that led to my decision.  Due to severe storm conditions recently, guitarist Rocky Athas was unable to get out of Dallas for my recent festival shows that led to my performing as a trio.  Having never performed anywhere or at any time without a guitar sidekick, I found that I was able to explore new territories in a trio configuration playing organ, keyboards, harmonica and guitar.  Needless to say I was surprised at how different and stimulating the experience was for me as a performer.

Several days after the show I made the decision to explore this new venture. When I told Rocky of my decision, he was very understanding and hopefully his popularity in my band for the past seven years will be increased as he resumes his solo career.  To me it seems fitting that the final guitar position in my band featured one of the nicest and most talented guys I’ve known and the best in his field. We all wish him well.

So now, as Greg Rzab, Jay Davenport and I embark on several weeks of intensive touring all around the States, we hope you all will enjoy the fireworks coming your way as my live show calendar brings us to your expectant ears.

Thank you everyone.

John Mayall  

September, 2016

John Mayall US Tour Dates

9/8                         Tupelo Music Hall                                                             Londonderry NH

9/9                         Payomet Performing Arts Center                             North Truro, MA

9/10                       Infinity Hall                                                                         Hartford, CT

9/13                       Skyline Ballroom                                                               New York, NY

9/14                       Mexicali Live                                                                      Teaneck, NJ

9/15                       Daryl’s House                                                                    Pawling, NY

9/16                       Swyer Theatre – The Egg                                              Albany, NY

9/17                       Niagara Falls Blues Festival                                           Niagara Falls, NY

9/18                       State Theatre                                                                    State College, PA

9/20                       Artsquest Musikfest Café                                            Bethlehem, PA

9/21                       Jergel’s Rhythm                                                                Warrendale, PA

9/22                       The Kent Stage                                                                 Kent, OH

9/23                       Notes at Copious                                                             Columbus, OH

9/24                       Live at Ludlow Garage                                                    Cincinnati, OH

9/25                       Buskirk-Chumley Theatre                                             Bloomington, IN

9/27                       Callahan’s Music Hall                                                      Auburn Hills, MI

9/28                       Holland Park Theater                                                      Holland, MI

9/29                       The Warehouse                                                                Carmel, IN

9/30                       City Winery                                                                         Chicago, IL

10/1                       Shank Hall                                                                           Milwaukee, WI

10/2                       Dakota Jazz Club                                                               Minneapolis, MN

10/4                       The Washington                                                               Burlington, IA

10/5                       Knucklehead’s Saloon                                                    Kansas City, MO

10/7                       King Biscuit Blues Festival                                             Helena, AR

10/8                       Gumbo Festival at Smith Park                                     Jackson, MS

10/9                       City Winery                                                                         Atlanta, GA

10/11                     King Center                                                                        Melbourne, FL

10/12                     Amaturo Theater                                                             Ft. Lauderdale, FL

10/13                     Capitol Theater                                                                 Clearwater, FL

10/14                     Lyric Theatre                                                                      Stuart, FL

10/15                     Ponte Vedra Concert Hall                                             Ponte Vedra, FL

11/3–11/6           Jazz Alley                                                                             Seattle, WA

11/7                       Aladdin Theater                                                                Portland, OR

11/9                       Tower Theatre                                                                  Bend, OR

11/10                     El Rey Theatre                                                                   Albuquerque, NM

11/11                     Rio Theater                                                                         Santa Cruz, CA

11/12-11/13        Yoshi’s                                                                                  Oakland, CA

11/14                     Tower Theatre for Performing Arts                          Fresno, CA

11/15                     Crest Theater                                                                    Sacramento, CA

11/16                     Fremont Theater                                                             San Luis Obispo, CA

11/17                     Canyon Club                                                                       Agoura Hills, CA

11/18                     The Rose                                                                             Pasadena, CA

11/19                     The Coach House                                                             San Juan Capistrano, CA

11/20                     Belly Up Tavern                                                                Solana Beach, CA

 

Additional dates forthcoming ….

Tue, 11/08/2016 - 10:21 am

Iconic musician and Blues Hall of Fame member John Mayall will release his latest CD, Talk about That, on January 27 from Forty Below Records. Joining Mayall (vocals, keyboards, harmonica and guitar) and Greg Rzab (bass), Jay Davenport (drums) and Rocky Athas (guitar) as special guest is legendary guitarist Joe Walsh, who plays on two tracks, “The Devil Must Be Laughing” and “Cards on the Table,” both John Mayall compositions. The songs showcase Walsh’s amazing guitar work and are destined to be two of the many highlights on this new disc. Talk about That will be available for pre-orders at both Amazon.com and iTunes starting December 9.

Watch a special preview video of the making of Talk about That: https://youtu.be/BmN7O-Wl6ow 

Produced by John Mayall (who also designed the album package) and Forty Below Records president Eric Corne (who also engineered and mixed), Talk about That was recorded at House of Blues Studio in Encino, California, and contains 11 tracks: eight originals, plus covers from Memphis soul music songwriter Bettye Crutcher (“It’s Hard Going Up”), blues great Jimmy Rogers (“Goin’ Away Baby”) and rock singer/songwriter Jerry Lynn Williams (“Don’t Deny Me”). The album also showcases a three-piece horn section that adds extra punch on several tracks, including the infectious New Orleans-flavored “Gimme Some of that Gumbo.”

“When I first had the idea for the title track, ‘Talk about That,’ I wanted to write lyrics that were about aspects of life that were running through my head,” says John Mayall. “I also wanted to give the song a modern groove that would convey the fun mood driving the piece.  Greg and Jay laid down a really infectious rhythm for me to feature my keyboard chops and bring the song to life with a really funky feel driving it.”

Throughout his career, John Mayall has always written timely songs that reflect what he sees going on in the world around him, whether it’s war, poverty, social injustice or personal introspection. Such is the case with “The Devil Must Be Laughing,” which deals with the current political and world climate. And that incentive also brought him in touch with Joe Walsh, who contributes some percolating guitar work that melds perfectly with the song’s theme.

“A day before we recorded ‘The Devil Must Be Laughing,’ we got a message through the studio owner that Joe Walsh wanted to come by and possibly play on a track or two as a guest,” recalls Mayall. “Who was I to say no to that idea!  So, Joe turned up at noon on the appointed day and with only a quick listen, plugged in and we did the song in one take.  The second song closely followed, and with a smile and a quick photo, Joe was done and on his way.  What a kick for all of us that day!”

For Joe Walsh, playing on a session with one of his musical heroes also held a special place. “It has been a bucket-list item since 1970 to play with John Mayall,” states Walsh. “John had a run of GREAT British guitarists (one after another) with his ‘Bluesbreakers’ albums, and that’s how many of us in the States became aware of them.  Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor - I studied them all for hours and became a much better guitarist as a result. The albums were legendary stuff and I have wanted to work with John for years and years, wondering what it would be like.

“Finally got the chance - and he was the complete gentleman and fine, fine musician I had always hoped he would be. When you meet a hero who helped shape your career – it’s a wonderful feeling to find they’re even cooler than you always thought they were.”

The recording sessions for Talk about That also represent the last recordings with Mayall’s quartet band lineup, as shortly after they were completed, guitarist Rocky Athas left the band to pursue his solo career. Starting with the recent fall tour dates of the British blues “Godfather,” his band became a trio with Mayall, Rzab and Davenport.

In September, John Mayall issued the following statement:

“By now, many of you will have heard the dramatic news that I will now be performing live shows as a trio. I feel I should explain how it all came about in a chain of events that led to my decision.  Due to severe storm conditions recently, guitarist Rocky Athas was unable to get out of Dallas for my recent festival shows that led to my performing as a trio.  Having never performed anywhere or at any time without a guitar sidekick, I found that I was able to explore new territories in a trio configuration playing organ, keyboards, harmonica and guitar.  Needless to say I was surprised at how different and stimulating the experience was for me as a performer.

“When I told Rocky Athas of my decision, he was very understanding and hopefully his popularity in my band for the past seven years will be increased as he resumes his solo career.  To me it seems fitting that the final guitar position in my band featured one of the nicest and most talented guys I’ve known and the best in his field. We all wish him well.

“So now, as Greg Rzab, Jay Davenport and I embark on several weeks of intensive touring all around the States, we hope you all will enjoy the fireworks coming your way as my live show calendar brings us to your expectant ears.”

The John Mayall trio will continue to tour throughout the fall and into early 2017 in the U.S., followed by a lengthy European tour in February. The American tour includes several days onboard the “Legends Cruise,” leaving Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and sailing from January 19 – 23.

John Mayall US Tour Dates

11/9                       Tower Theatre                                                                  Bend, OR

11/10                     El Rey Theatre                                                                  Chico, CA

11/11                     Rio Theater                                                                         Santa Cruz, CA

11/12-11/13        Yoshi’s                                                                                  Oakland, CA

11/14                     Tower Theatre for Performing Arts                          Fresno, CA

11/15                     Crest Theater                                                                    Sacramento, CA

11/16                     Fremont Theater                                                             San Luis Obispo, CA

11/17                     Canyon Club                                                                       Agoura Hills, CA

11/18                     The Rose                                                                             Pasadena, CA

11/19                     The Coach House                                                             San Juan Cap., CA

11/20                     Belly Up Tavern                                                                Solana Beach, CA

11/23                     Castle Theater @ Maui Arts & Cultural Ctr.           Maui, HI

11/25                     Palace Theaterilo                                                             Hilo, HI

11/26                     Honokaa Peoples Theater                                            Honokaa, HI

11/27                     Blue Note Hawaii                                                             Honolulu, HI

1/19/17 – 1/23/17 – Legends Cruise

Mon, 01/16/2017 - 2:43 pm

Sonic Unyon Records announces a March 10 release date for No Time Like Now, the new CD from award-winning Canadian blues-rock guitarist Steve Strongman. Special guest on the new disc is legendary guitar player and long-time friend Randy Bachman, who joins Strongman on a searing version of the Bachman-Turner Overdrive classic, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.” Strongman is set to perform at the Gibson showcase during the upcoming NAMM 2017 event in Anaheim, California, January 19-22. Preview the new single being released today to iTunes, Google Play and Spotify: https://soundcloud.com/sonicunyonrecords/strongman-no-time-like-now/s-pLedj

With No Time Like Now, one of Canada’s most talented and compelling blues players becomes a juggernaut. Backed by an impressive pack of players (including drummers Dave King and Adam Warner, bassists Rob Szabo (who also produced) and Alec Fraser, keyboardist Jesse O’Brien), the band is pure fire — both athletically limber and wickedly tight. No Time Like Now buzzes with fresh energy — loose, playful and reinvigorated — but it’s thanks to the caliber and chemistry of the players that it lands its punches so consistently.

“I think every artist owes it to themselves to continue to grow and explore new ground, while still holding onto the thing that made them want to play in the first place,” says Steve Strongman about No Time Like Now. “This album does that for me, it's exciting and honest.”

Modern and timeless, Strongman’s No Time Like Now is a slab of reinvigorated 21st century blues. An intoxicating shot of raw electrified blues, the album captures the performer riding a surge of new energy. The album is a shout-out to a lifelong love of the genre in all its shapes and shadings, from rough-hewn electric blues, blue-collar hollers and swampy stompers to soulful groovers and hushed, heartfelt ballads. More than anything, the album reconnects with the primal force and emotional clout of dirty blues. It’s a stunning rocker, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Strongman recalls, “After the success of A Natural Fact and Let Me Prove it To You, I was left thinking, ‘What now?’ I felt like Rob Szabo and I had made fantastic records and I was very proud of them, so when I approached Rob about producing a third recording for me, he would ask me, ‘What kind of record do you want to make?’

“That sentiment kept getting reinforced throughout the writing and recording process, as a great producer does. Rob would make me dig deeper into what I wanted to write about and keep the focus on the songs.  I had several songs that were very strong but didn’t fit our mandate of making a strong guitar-driven record. In the end we had to re-work material so it fit the vision we had for the record.”

Strongman is a versatile talent, and a restless one, who, by constantly pushing himself in new directions, has kept his music vital. His talent is huge and impossible to miss, and it’s matched by his staggering musical ambition — as guitar-slinger, songwriter or vocalist. The same structures and progressions that animate blues and roots music can also choke the air out of it, smothering it in caricature and cliché. But Strongman is a subtle shape-shifter who manages to slip that trap without betraying the music he loves. Throughout, he never sounds an inauthentic note or loses touch with the essence of the blues. In the tradition of The Howlin’ Wolf Album and Muddy Waters’ After the Rain, No Time Like Now offers tribute to blues-rock as a full-blooded, living thing, not a museum piece.

A true master of guitar tones, Strongman is at his best with the beautiful sounds he presents on the new disc. “This record has some nasty guitar tones on it,” he admits. “I feel it’s the theme that shapes the sound of the record: the guitar tones. We recorded all the guitars in a makeshift amp room in my basement. Rather than spending lots of money at a larger studio, we opted to spend that money on renting gear and spend more time on sounds and feel.  Once we had a tone that we liked, we would go and reference it to some old Billy Gibbons ZZ Top tones that I loved, and start tweaking from there. We went with the ‘small amp/big sound’ philosophy, which was us pushing low-wattage tube amps ‘til they shook.”

The album’s chugging title track is an anthem to making the most of the moment, a sentiment that flows through the rest of the album. But that urgency never displaces musical mastery, and No Time Like Now doesn’t disappoint on that count. From the skittering swamp rock of “Money in the Bank” to the rollicking, gospel-tinged “Love, Love, Love”, through the strutting soul of “I’m A Man” (an original tip of the pick to one of his favorites, “Mannish Boy” by Muddy Waters), the swaggering stomp of “Old School” and simmering scrapyard blues of “Good Times” to the nakedly reflective ballad, “The Day They Carry Me Away,” the album finds Strongman and longtime collaborator Rob Szabo delivering the goods in every way.

Steve Strongman’s impressive resume includes stints opening for guitar legends such as Johnny Winter, B.B. King and Buddy Guy. The performer’s breakthrough 2012 release A Natural Fact was hailed as a standout, earning Maple Blues Awards for Recording, Songwriter, and Guitarist Of The Year as well as a 2013 Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy) for Blues Recording Of The Year. In 2014, he was thrice-nominated at the Maple Blues Awards (Guitar Player, Electric Act, and Entertainer of the Year) and in 2015 received a second Juno nod for Blues Album of the Year (for Let Me Prove It To You).

Mon, 01/16/2017 - 2:53 pm

Jim Mouradian, bassist for Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters since 2000, suffered a massive heart attack and passed away following the band’s show on Saturday night, January 14, at The KATE in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

In addition to being a fantastic bassist who toured an recorded with Ronnie Earl for all those years, Jim Mouradian was an internationally known luthier, who crafted basses for a number of legendary bassist, including Chris Squire of Yes.

Ronnie Earl’s management posted the following statement yesterday on Facebook:

“We are devastated to share the passing of our dear brother Jimmy Jim Mouradian of a massive heart attack last night following our show at The KATE. Jim was a man we all loved who exuded compassion, joy, faith, and gratitude for every person he met and every note he played. Please keep his wife Michele and his entire family in your prayers. We will update you when we hear of plans to celebrate his life - Debbie on behalf of all of us in the band.”

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 4:39 pm

Forty Below Records announces a February 17 release date for the vinyl edition of iconic musician and Blues Hall of Fame member John Mayall’s latest album, Talk About That. Originally released on CD January 27, the vinyl version will also include a free download card.

Joining Mayall (vocals, keyboards, harmonica and guitar) and Greg Rzab (bass), Jay Davenport (drums) and Rocky Athas (guitar) as special guest is legendary guitarist Joe Walsh, who plays on two tracks, “The Devil Must Be Laughing” and “Cards on the Table,” both John Mayall compositions.

John Mayall will begin a lengthy European tour in early February. His most-recent American dates included several days onboard the “Legends Cruise,” and featured an exciting special guest appearance from another legend – Todd Rundgren – who jammed on guitar with John and the band on the Otis Rush classic, “All Your Love.”

Talk About That is drawing rave reviews from the press and extensive radio airplay. “…Mayall continues to work tirelessly to spread the blues gospel…the 11 tracks offer a master class in contemporary blues, topped off with a helping of Mayall’s trademark lyrical wit and even a guest appearance by Joe Walsh” -  People.com.

Talk About That ranks with the best. Some may talk about that statement all day, but in the end, it’s true. Everything that defines a great album is here. Mayall wrote some songs that matter, and interspersed three smart covers. His quartet, aided by a trio of brass as needed, smokes every one with remarkable potency.” – Elmore Magazine

Watch a special musicUcansee.com video of the making of Talk about That

Produced by John Mayall (who also designed the album package) and Forty Below Records president Eric Corne (who also engineered and mixed), Talk about That was recorded at House of Blues Studio in Encino, California, and contains 11 tracks: eight originals, plus covers from Memphis soul music songwriter Bettye Crutcher (“It’s Hard Going Up”), blues great Jimmy Rogers (“Goin’ Away Baby”) and rock singer/songwriter Jerry Lynn Williams (“Don’t Deny Me”). The album also showcases a three-piece horn section that adds extra punch on several tracks, including the infectious New Orleans-flavored “Gimme Some of that Gumbo.”

“When I first had the idea for the title track, ‘Talk about That,’ I wanted to write lyrics that were about aspects of life that were running through my head,” John Mayall recalled. “I also wanted to give the song a modern groove that would convey the fun mood driving the piece.  Greg and Jay laid down a really infectious rhythm for me to feature my keyboard chops and bring the song to life with a really funky feel driving it.”

Throughout his career, John Mayall has always written timely songs that reflect what he sees going on in the world around him, whether it’s war, poverty, social injustice or personal introspection. Such is the case with “The Devil Must Be Laughing,” which deals with the current political and world climate. And that incentive also brought him in touch with Joe Walsh, who contributes some percolating guitar work that melds perfectly with the song’s theme.

“A day before we recorded ‘The Devil Must Be Laughing,’ we got a message through the studio owner that Joe Walsh wanted to come by and possibly play on a track or two as a guest,” Mayall said. “Who was I to say no to that idea!  So, Joe turned up at noon on the appointed day and with only a quick listen, plugged in and we did the song in one take.  The second song closely followed, and with a smile and a quick photo, Joe was done and on his way.  What a kick for all of us that day!”

For Joe Walsh, playing on a session with one of his musical heroes held a special place. “It has been a bucket-list item since 1970 to play with John Mayall,” Walsh said. “John had a run of GREAT British guitarists (one after another) with his ‘Bluesbreakers’ albums, and that’s how many of us in the States became aware of them.  Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor - I studied them all for hours and became a much better guitarist as a result. The albums were legendary stuff and I have wanted to work with John for years and years, wondering what it would be like.

“Finally got the chance - and he was the complete gentleman and fine, fine musician I had always hoped he would be. When you meet a hero who helped shape your career – it’s a wonderful feeling to find they’re even cooler than you always thought they were.”

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 4:01 pm

Singer-songwriter Greg Wickham, who along with his brother Fred founded the critically-acclaimed Americana/roots music band Hadacol, announces a March 17 release date for his new CD, If I Left This World, on Thirty Days Records, his first new album in over 15 years. To celebrate, Greg will perform a special CD release show on Saturday, March 25, at The Record Bar in Kansas City.

Listen to an advance track from If I Left This World: Greg Wickham - "Me Oh My"

Produced by Greg Wickham and Kristie Stremel, If I Left This World was recorded at Massive Sound and Stremeltone Studios in Kansas City and showcases a dozen all-original compositions by Greg Wickham that display his innate talent to craft both highly personal, yet universally-appealing songs. The sounds on the new disc are a natural progression and extension beyond what he brought to the original Hadacol music mix. Wickham (vocals, guitars and keyboards), is backed by a cadre of Kansas City all-stars, including his brother Fred on guitars and harmony vocals, as well as former Hadacol bassist Richard Burgess, plus singer Kasey Rausch and guitarist Marco Pascolini.

“It was great to be back in the studio with Rich and Fred,” Wickham recalls about the recording sessions. “I loved playing in Hadacol, and I definitely wanted the Hadacol sound to be a part of the record.  I think that’s definitely the case, particularly with ‘Wake Me Up’ and ‘How Much I’ve Hurt,’ which would’ve fit right in on either of the Hadacol records.  There’s always been a natural combustion that happens when the three of us play together with a good drummer, and I was happy to see the magic is still there.”

Co-producer and friend Kristie Stremel, another veteran of the Kansas City music scene and a recording artist in her own right, helped jump-start the process of getting Greg back in the studio. “Kristie and I share the same musical mentor in the legendary Lou Whitney (of indie critical faves The Skeletons and The Morells), who recorded several of Kristie’s records as well as both Hadacol records. Anyone who knew him would understand this, but ‘Lou-isms’ – words to live and make music by – damn near made Lou a third producer on this record in spite of his passing a couple of years ago.  Kristie and I both were driven to make a great record first, and to worry about what to do with it later, which made recording with her one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had.”

Greg Wickham relates the story of his musical hiatus: “In 2003, Hadacol’s drummer Brian Baker moved from Kansas City to Virginia. At the time, the band had been working non-stop for several years and the grind had taken its toll, so we decided to take a break for a few months before beginning the search for a new drummer. A few months became a few years, and before we knew it, we’d all moved on with our lives and gone in different directions.  My direction was decidedly un-rock and roll – I fell in love, got married and had three kids. I continued to write and play from home – the music never really leaves your blood – but avoided the business end of the music world.

“Ultimately, it was my kids that led me back to the studio. I’d always been a little jealous of my friends Dave and Jimmy Nace because they had old country records of their dad, singer and guitarist Johnny Nace. They could still hear his voice even though he’d passed away years before I met them. When my dad died, I barely had any recordings of his voice (in fact, I included on this album the only clip I have of him singing, which comes from a particularly spirited family sing-along on Thanksgiving night, 1992, of Marty Robbins’ “Big Iron.”).

“I wanted to take it a step farther – my kids would always be able to hear my voice on the Hadacol records, but I wanted to send each of them a more personal message they could carry with them after I’m gone. At the urging of Kristie Stremel, I began gathering songs for a full-length record and headed into the studio with the idea of creating a record that was intensely personal yet universal in scope. And at the time I thought ‘This may be the only record I ever make, so let’s make the record I want.’ This meant making a great sounding record, working with friends and family who happen to be great musicians, appreciating my past, enjoying the present, and thinking about the future.”

As the songwriting and the recording sessions began to conceptualize, Greg was able to start bringing some long-time friends and family into the fold to work with him again. “I was lucky enough to have the enthusiastic support of my Hadacol bandmates (brother Fred and bass player Richard Burgess), as well as a whole slew of Kansas City’s finest musicians. The record evolved into an exploration of mortality and legacy, as well as a recognition that life is short, so you’d also better have as much fun as possible while you’re still able to shake, rattle and roll.”

The sound bite of Lou Whitney that appears on the disc is from some random recordings Kristie Stremel made while working in the studio with him several years ago. Stremel and Wickham wanted Whitney’s voice on the record as a lead-in to “Almost to Springfield,” which is somewhat of a tribute to the town and the fun they had working on the Hadacol records there. “I wrote ‘Almost to Springfield’ before Lou got sick. He loved the song, but we never got back into the studio to make another Hadacol record and record it.  Now, the song feels more like a tribute to him than anything.”

Wickham is also quick to point out the contributions his brother made on the new album. “Fred’s work on ‘Waterfall’ and ‘Wake Me Up’ is the last session he recorded with the ’68 Telecaster he played for 30 years, including pretty much every note he played on the Hadacol records. A few days later, some asshole stole his car with the Tele in the trunk. They found the car, but the Tele was long gone. At least it went out in fine fashion – that’s some damn good playing on both of those tracks.”

Another local Kansas City talent deserving of further recognition is vocalist Kasey Rausch, who sings with Greg on the lead track’s duet. “She’s an outstanding songwriter who enjoys success as a solo artist and sings with Fred and Marco Pascolini in their respective bands,” Greg states. “I heard her sing Patsy Cline’s ‘She’s Got You’ and immediately knew she was the one I wanted to sing ‘If I Left This World’ with me. We were shooting for that vintage country sound, and Kristie and I both agreed that Kasey was the perfect singer for the part. I wrote the song the day Little Jimmy Dickens died. I was listening to his songwriters’ circle version of ‘Life Turned Her That Way’ and wanted to write a timeless country song in that same vein. ‘If I Left This World’ just fell out of me when I picked up the guitar that night.”

Greg also has high praise for Marco Pascolini, whose snaking guitar lines weave their magic throughout the album. “Marco is probably the most well-known and sought-after guitarist in Kansas City. He plays a style unlike anyone else. He’s the guitarist all the other great guitarists watch slack-jawed. He was the founder of Mister Marco’s V7, one of the most interesting avant-garde bands to come out of KC and now plays guitar and pedal steel with Kasey in her bands.”

Tue, 02/14/2017 - 6:51 pm

Like a sunbeam blazing through a wall of stained glass, Steve Strongman’s “Love Love Love” is a gospel-tinged hallelujah at the heart of his forthcoming album No Time Like Now (releasing March 10 via Sonic Unyon Records). Released digitally to coincide with Valentine’s Day, the track is paired with a vital performance video treatment courtesy of Southern Souls, recorded before the altar of the 150-year-old New Vision United Church in Hamilton, Ontario.

“‘Love Love Love’ is a positive song of power,” says Steve Strongman, who co-wrote the track with producer and long-time collaborator Rob Szabo. “It's about taking matters into your own hands, choosing how to feel, and focusing on the positive.

“When I wrote the song and sang it a few times, I had a vision for a huge choir uplifting the song,” he adds. “It feels like a mix between dirty blues from the South and a gospel choir on a sunny Sunday afternoon at church. The Southern Souls version is very honest and captures the passion of the song. It’s all live, and it was a blast to record it in the church.” For the infectious performance, Strongman was joined by bassist Alec Fraser and drummer Sean O’Grady.

Modern and timeless, Strongman’s No Time Like Now is a slab of reinvigorated 21st century blues. An intoxicating shot of raw electrified blues, the album captures the performer riding a surge of new energy. The album is a shout-out to a lifelong love of blues in all its shapes and shadings, from rough-hewn electric blues, blue-collar hollers and swampy stompers to soulful groovers and hushed, heartfelt ballads. More than anything, the album reconnects with the primal force and emotional clout of dirty blues. It’s a stunning rocker, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

With No Time Like Now, one of Canada’s most talented and compelling blues players becomes a juggernaut. Backed by an impressive pack of players (including drummers Dave King and Adam Warner, bassists Rob Szabo and Alec Fraser, keyboardist Jesse O’Brien), the band is pure fire — both athletically limber and wickedly tight. No Time Like Now buzzes with fresh energy — loose, playful and reinvigorated — but it’s thanks to the calibre and chemistry of the players that it lands its punches so consistently.

“I think every artist owes it to themselves to continue to grow and explore new ground, while still holding onto the thing that made them want to play in the first place,” says Strongman. “This record does that for me — it's exciting and honest.”

TOUR DATES

Mar 1 • Toronto, ON • Venue TBA
Mar 3 • Hamilton, ON • Mills Hardware
Mar 4 • Hamilton, ON • Mills Hardware
Mar 6 • Ancaster, ON • Jazz Up the Winter Blues
Mar 8 • Peterborough, ON • Venue TBA 
Mar 9 • Toronto, ON • Rivoli
Mar 24 • Kingston, ON • Venue TBA
Mar 30 • Ottawa, ON • Venue TBA
Mar 31 • Kingston, ON • RCHA Club
Apr 1 • London, ON • Windermere Manor (solo)
Apr 14 • Midland, ON • Midland Cultural Centre
May 4 • Kitchener, ON • Centre in the Square
May 5 • Quebec City, QC • Centre d’Art La Chapelle
May 6 • Trois Rivieres, QC • Venue TBA
May 27 • Durham, ON • Durham West Blues Fest
June 21 • London, ON • Budweiser Gardens (Opening for Buddy Guy)

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 7:00 pm

Stony Plain Records announces a March 31 release date for Migration Blues, the new album from Blues Music Award-winning singer/songwriter Eric Bibb. The new album showcases Eric Bibb’s talents on vocals, guitars, six-string banjo and contrabass guitar, backed by a group that features Michael Jerome Browne (guitars, vocals, banjos, mandolin and triangle) and JJ Milteau (harmonica). Migration Blues was produced by Bibb, Browne and Milteau. Watch a video of the making of Migration Blues here:

Mainly composed of new tunes, the 15 tracks on Migration Blues also include covers of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” An arrangement of the traditional “Mornin’ Train,” closes the opus.

“Whether you’re looking at a former sharecropper, hitchhiking from Clarksdale to Chicago in 1923, or an orphan from Aleppo, in a boat full of refugees in 2016 – it’s migration blues,” Eric says about his timely and insightful new release. “With this album, I want to encourage us all to keep our minds and hearts wide open to the ongoing plight of refugees everywhere. As history shows, we all come from people who, at some time or another, had to move.”

In a career spanning five decades, 37 albums, countless radio and TV shows and international touring, Eric Bibb has become one of the leading bluesmen of his generation. He’s also one of the most respected blues singer and songwriters, whose music is always reverent, keeping one foot in the blues and folk storytelling traditions.

“The joy of making music and sharing it with you is a big part of my life,” Bibb says in the album’s liner notes. “Another big part is travelling and getting to know folks from many places. This exposure to different cultures has led me to think of myself as a citizen of the world, blessed with countless opportunities to recognize my connectedness to people everywhere. Feeling this connection makes it easier to let go of my pre-conceived notions and prejudices toward people and cultures that are outside of my experience.

“The way I see it, prejudice towards our brothers and sisters who are currently called ‘refugees’ is the problem. Fear and ignorance are the problems. Refugees are not ‘problems’ – they are courageous fellow human beings escaping dire circumstances. Fleeing from war and unbearable hardship is something people have been doing all over the world for millennia. It’s nothing new. Every culture has its own migration stories and songs.

“While pondering the current refugee crisis I found myself thinking about the Great Migration, which saw millions of African Americans leaving the brutal segregation and economic misery of the rural South for the industrial cities of the North. Making this connection is what inspired the new songs included here. Peace and love, Eric.”

Migration Blues Track Listing

01 REFUGEE MOAN 3:06

02 DELTA GETAWAY 2:37

03 DIEGO’S BLUES 3:42

04 PRAYIN’ FOR SHORE 4:03

05 MIGRATION BLUES 3:07

06 FOUR YEARS, NO RAIN 2:36

07 WE HAD TO MOVE 3:09

08 MASTERS OF WAR 3:19

09 BROTHERLY LOVE 4:11

10 LA VIE C’EST COMME UN OIGNON 2:38

11 WITH A DOLLA’ IN MY POCKET 3:51

12 THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND 3:16

13 POSTCARD FROM BOOKER 0:51

14 BLACKTOP 3:56

15 MORNIN’ TRAIN 3:36

--

Eric Bibb U.S. Tour Dates

3/1-3/2 African-American Arts Center | Albuquerque, NM

4/21-4/24 Fur Peace Ranch | Pomeroy, OH

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 10:01 am

Forty Below Records is pleased to announce the inclusion of John Mayall. The Godfather of British Blues, in Airplay Direct’s Global Radio Showcase Series, Volume 3.

These showcases represent the “Best of Breed” songs and musical portraits. They are “superior” songs, “previously unreleased” tracks, special deep cuts, and some new cuts as well. The full volume is available here: AirPlayDirect.com/apdgrsvol3.

Robert Weingartz, Chairman - AirPlay Direct says, "This has been a very dedicated effort by all involved to really understand the power of the ‘past, present & future’ of the music industry.  I know this APD ‘Showcase’ has something for everybody to enjoy and appreciate. This collection of music and art was curated and selected by some of the very best in the business… enjoy!”

Throughout his career, John Mayall has always written timely songs that reflect what he sees going on in the world around him, whether it’s war, poverty, social injustice or personal introspection. Such is the case with “The Devil Must Be Laughing,” which deals with the current political and world climate. And that incentive also brought him in touch with Joe Walsh, who contributes some percolating guitar work that melds perfectly with the song’s theme.

For Joe Walsh, playing on a session with one of his musical heroes held a special place. “It has been a bucket-list item since 1970 to play with John Mayall,” Walsh said. “John had a run of GREAT British guitarists (one after another) with his ‘Bluesbreakers’ albums, and that’s how many of us in the States became aware of them.  Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor - I studied them all for hours and became a much better guitarist as a result. The albums were legendary stuff and I have wanted to work with John for years and years, wondering what it would be like.

“Finally got the chance - and he was the complete gentleman and fine, fine musician I had always hoped he would be. When you meet a hero who helped shape your career – it’s a wonderful feeling to find they’re even cooler than you always thought they were.”

“The Devil Must Be Laughing” was produced by John Mayall (who also designed the album package) and Forty Below Records President Eric Corne (who also engineered and mixed).

The submission response to APD’s “Global Radio Showcase” Volume 3 – Blues / R&B / Jazz series was the most fierce, competitive submission process yet; truly amazing! This has been a very exciting set of songs to listen to, work with, and to eventually finalize into this beautiful collection of special tracks.

Featured Artists:   Holmes Brothers, John Mayall, Ira Walker, Trampled Under Foot, Michael Burks, Jerry Douglas, Toronzo Cannon, Eight 0’Five Jive, Bobby Rush, Selwyn Birchwood, The Time Jumpers, Tiny Irvin, Dennis Binder, Albert Bashor, Buckwheat Zydeco, and all of their very special guest artists / musicians.

“We continue to be very excited about the phenomenal success of our APD “Global Radio Showcase” series," said Robert Weingartz, AirPlay Direct / Collective Evolution.  "This creates an entirely new compilation distribution method that allows the artists to not just present a single, but their album or entire catalogue to APD’s Global Radio Members.”  

APD’s 4th "Global Radio Showcase” will be Country / Country Rock.  We will announce Volume 4 submissions soon.

The APD "Global Radio Showcase" series was developed and is managed by AirPlay Direct’s, Collective Evolution.

For more information: contact@fortybelowrecords.com

Mon, 03/20/2017 - 6:22 am

Blues harmonica ace Steve Krase announces an April 21 release date for his latest album on Connor Ray Music, Should’ve Seen It Coming, which includes special guest appearances from label mates Trudy Lynn, Mark May and Bob Lanza. Krase will celebrate with several Houston CD release shows, including Friday, March 24 at The Big Easy Social & Pleasure Club and Saturday, March 25 at Martini’s Blu Café. Steve will also perform at the “Houston Has Hart” show on Sunday, March 26 (4-8 PM), at Rockefeller’s, a benefit for the Blues Foundation’s Hart Fund that provides health services and more for blues musicians nationwide. Several other Houston area blues artists will perform as well, along with special guests and a silent auction.

Steve Krase is well-known as the harmonica player behind Trudy Lynn’s three incredible blues albums on Connor Ray Music. To those in the know, Krase is a powerhouse in his own right as a performer, whose high energy shows are legendary around the Houston scene. Krase has been recognized in multiple categories over the years by the esteemed Houston Press Music Awards in several categories, and most recently -and perhaps most suitably - in 2016 as “Best Player.” Steve was also a semi-finalist at the recent 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

Should’ve Seen It Coming is Krase’s 4th for Connor Ray Music and follows his acclaimed 2014 release, Buckle Up. It includes five original tunes by Steve and his cohorts, including his brother David, bassist and co-producer Rock Romano and the late Jerry Lightfoot, who was an early mentor to Steve. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Krase spent 10 years with Lightfoot’s “Essential Band” providing harmonica on three of Lightfoot’s releases.

“As always I try to make a fun record that people want to turn up loud at a party or crank it on the car radio on a long road trip,” Krase says. “I was honored to be able to include great Connor Ray Music artists Trudy Lynn, Mark May and Bob Lanza on this CD.”

Among the unique covers on Should’ve Seen It Coming are Steve’s takes on music from Willie Dixon “(Crazy for My Baby”), Fats Domino (“Let the Four Winds Blow”), and Clarence “Frogman” Henry (“Troubles, Troubles”).

“The majority of this CD was recorded live over two nights at the Red Shack in Houston,” states Krase. “I was lucky enough to be able to include a couple of my Connor Ray Music label mates on this release, Trudy Lynn, Mark May and Bob Lanza.” \

Steve Krase expands on the song list for Should’ve Seen It Coming: “ ‘Brand New Thang’ is a groovy song written by ‘Dr. Rockit’ Rock Romano that Mark May just owns on guitar! On ‘Crazy for my Baby,’ we loved Charlie Musselwhite’s interpretation and decided to add elements of the Little Walter and Willie Dixon versions to it. For ‘Let the Four Winds Blow’ - I’ve always loved Fats Domino, it was a just matter of deciding which song. ‘The World’s Still in a Tangle’ is a takeoff of the Jimmie Rogers original – the message being turn off the news!!  ‘Shot of Rhythm and Blues’ is a Rock Romano favorite that I was lucky enough to catch Bob Lanza while he was in town to add the killer guitar leads. Wee Willie Waynes’ ‘Travelin’ Mood’ is an oldie but goodie. ‘Troubles Troubles’ is a great tune by Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry that Randy and I just rock out on. ‘Make You Love Me Baby’ was a staple of Jerry Lightfoot’s live performances, ‘Foots’ taught me everything I know about this music and I try to pay tribute when I can, including here, which is also a nod to another inspiration, the late James Cotton.  The Junior Parker version of ‘Way Back Home’ was introduced to me by my dear fiend Trudy Lynn, who sings background vocals on three of the album’s tracks. She wanted me to play something mellow... sorry, Trudy! ’Should’ve Seen It Coming’ and ‘Repo Man’ are another couple of songs from my brother David representing fictional crazy characters. I like to think of ‘Repo Man’ as a blues song for 2017, as ‘Back Door Man’ is no longer the biggest badass on the block! The two bonus tracks included on the disc are explicit versions of the title track and ‘Repo Man’.”

Sun, 03/26/2017 - 2:24 pm

Stony Plain Records announces a May 5 U.S. release date for the vinyl LP edition of Time to Roll, the fifth album by award-winning Canadian blues/rock trio, MonkeyJunk.

Time to Roll is unique in that it incorporates elements of all four of their previous recordings with added maturity in songwriting and instrumentation, cementing MonkeyJunk’s originality and sound as its own. It is also progressive for the band, as they’ve added electric bass on most of the songs. No MonkeyJunk recording to date has included bass, but they felt that it would be a welcome addition to MonkeyJunk’s sound. In another precedent, the band also recorded one acoustic track for the first time on the new album.

Comprised of Steve Marriner on vocals, baritone guitar, bass, harmonica and organ; Tony D on lead guitar; and Matt Sobb on drums, MonkeyJunk is one of the hardest working bands on the scene today, performing at venues and festivals around the world for over eight years. Continually pushing boundaries and blurring genre lines, the Ottawa, Ontario-based trio has added an edge to their music by incorporating swampy blues and rock with thoughtful and intelligent lyrics.

Time to Roll was recorded at Signal Path Studios in Almonte, Ontario, and mixed and mastered in just over two weeks spanning across two months. “The writing and recording process was different on Time to Roll in many aspects,” says Matt Sobb. “All of the past records have been made over periods of six months to a year - starting and stopping many times over those longer time frames. This time, we were only in the studio for about three weeks all-together and that is BY FAR the fastest and shortest time we’ve ever made a record…but it was intentional to do it that way. We wanted to push ourselves to work hard and to work efficiently and focused - to see what we could come up with in a shorter period of time.”

MonkeyJunk has delivered 10 top-notch tracks that are consistent with the quality and passionate delivery they are known for.  Heading back to their blues roots and drawing on inspiration that runs from John Lee Hooker and Lightnin’ Hopkins to J.J. Grey & Mofo and The Meters, Time to Roll showcases deep grooves, fervent vocals and soulful, original material, plus a cover of Albert King’s classic, “The Hunter.” Time to Roll was co-produced by Ken Friesen, who also doubles as a co-songwriter. Kelly Prescott, Tom Wilson and Stony Plain label-mate Paul Reddick also lent their songwriting talents to the recording.

No strangers to awards ceremonies, MonkeyJunk has won a collective 20 Maple Blues Awards, two Canadian Independent Music Awards, a Blues Music Award (USA), and have been nominated twice for a JUNO Award, winning the award for Blues Album of the Year in 2012. Favorites of Elwood Blues (aka Dan Aykroyd), MonkeyJunk has received great support from the syndicated radio program, The BluesMobile.

Time to Roll Track List

Side A

  1. Best Kept Secret  
  2. Time To Roll    
  3. See The Sign    
  4. Blue Lights Go Down    
  5. Pray For Rain

Side B    

  1. The Hunter    
  2. Can't Call You Baby    
  3. Undertaker Blues    
  4. Gone    
  5. Fuzzy Poodle
Mon, 04/17/2017 - 6:58 pm

When guitarist Jay Geils passed away last week at age 71, he left behind a legacy of wonderful music, not only for the blues-rock sounds he created within his namesake. J. Geils Band, but also on several albums he recorded for Stony Plain Records that explored the music of his formative years – jazz and swing – instilled in him by his father.

“Stony Plain was honored to release several swing jazz recordings by Jay Geils including two projects by New Guitar Summit (Jay Geils, Duke Robillard and Gerry Beaudoin),” said Stony Plain Records founder Holger Petersen. “It was a joy to be in the studio with them and to witness Jay's ability to arrange big band songs for three great swing guitar players. Jazz and blues were his first love and he had a deep understanding of their roots. I admired him for turning his back on rock stardom to play the music he loved.”

“I am truly saddened by the loss of Jay Geils,” said Duke Robillard. “He was a wonderful human being; intelligent, talented, charming and a good friend. His in-depth knowledge of blues, jazz, guitars and Italian cars was remarkable and he was always enthusiastic and fun to be around. Jay was a down to earth guy in spite of his rock legend status. He will be missed by his legions of friends and fans.”

The New Guitar Summit albums included the trio’s self-titled first CD, as well as a DVD video release, Live from Stoneham Theatre, both out on the Stony Plain label in 2004. In the New Guitar Summit CD liner notes, writer Ted Drozdowski called it “A swinging hybrid of jazz and blues music using delightful three-part harmony playing that's the signature of this epic guitar trio.”

The three New England-based guitarists first began performing together in 1997, with one of their highlights coming that year when they joined the Woody Herman Orchestra as special guests in front of 5,000 fans at City Hall Plaza in Boston.

In 2008, New Guitar Summit released Shivers, a studio album which was produced by Jay Geils. Joining  as special guest on Shivers was legendary Canadian rocker Randy Bachman (Guess Who, Bachman Turner Overdrive), who added his sparkling guitar work and laid-back vocals on two Mose Allison classic songs, “Your Mind Is On Vacation” and “Everybody’s Crying Mercy.” In addition to the Mose Allison tunes, the band covered such classics as “Flying Home,” “Honey Suckle Rose,” “Broadway” and the title track, written by Charlie Christian and Lionel Hampton. The band also added a jumping arrangement on the early rock ‘n’ roll/R&B chestnut, “Little Bitty Pretty One,” plus four original songs.

In addition to the New Guitar Summit recordings, Geils also released the solo album, Jay Geils Plays Jazz, in 2005 for Stony Plain.

Sat, 04/22/2017 - 12:21 pm

Singer-songwriter and blues/roots traveler Markus James’ 2015 CD, Head for the Hills, garnered international critical acclaim, and now a song from that album, “On a Mississippi Porch,” is in the soundtrack of the new Oprah Winfrey film, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which premieres on HBO tonight, Saturday, April 22, at 8:00 PM Eastern Time.

The song features Markus James playing a hand-made gourd banjo, accompanied by legendary Mississippi Hill Country drummer Calvin Jackson, on hambone percussion.

“It’s an honor for this music to be part of this powerful film,” says Markus James. “I had made the gourd banjo and been playing it at a few shows, and had it with me on that trip. I played at Memphis’ Beale Street Music Festival that year (2013), with Kinney Kimbrough on drums, and the next day I reached Calvin Jackson, down in Luxahoma, Mississippi, and asked if he was up for some recording.  I told him about the gourd banjo, and we started talking about recording some acoustic music on his family’s porch.  So, I went down there, we sat on the porch and I started playing that tune I had going on the banjo. Calvin started hamboning, some birds were singing, and I hit ‘record.’ When I picked up the cigar box guitar, he got some buckets from around back and played some rhythms that reminded me of the African drummers I’ve played with.

“Calvin was a one-of-a-kind musician, one of the greatest North Mississippi Hill Country drummers, and I’ll always be grateful to Sherman Cooper for putting us together, and for letting us record in his potato barn out on Old Panola Highway.  We cut some great tracks out there, mics hanging from rafters, the whole thing.

“Calvin passed away in 2015. But for me, he’s very much alive on these recordings, and I’m thrilled that that moment on the porch is now a part of this film.”

Markus James recorded five previous critically-acclaimed albums with traditional musicians in Mali, West Africa, and while touring was invited to perform at the University of Mississippi.  He subsequently began collaborating over a period of years with several old-school drummers in North Mississippi's Hill Country. Recorded in a barn, on a porch, and an open-air carport, Markus' 2015 album, Head For The Hills, featured drummers including Calvin Jackson and Kinney Kimbrough, received rave reviews ("Head For The Hills" is undoubtedly one of the finest releases of recent years, both within the genre and beyond" - BLUES MATTERS (UK), and led to featured performances on “Elwood's House of Blues Radio Hour,” Montreal International Jazz Festival, and Telluride Blues Festival, among others.  Live, Markus performs with Marlon Green, who was the last drummer to tour and record with the legendary John Lee Hooker. In the fall of 2015, Markus and Marlon opened a tour of theaters in Europe for guitar icon Joe Satriani, who said, “You went out there every night and killed it!”

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 9:49 am

Seminal San Francisco Bay Area blues band, Delta Wires, announces a June 30 release date for their new CD, Born in Oakland, on Mudslide Records. The album, recorded and mixed at Brickwall Sound in Concord, California, showcases 10 originals and unique covers of a wide assortment of blues styles.

Delta Wires will celebrate the release of Born in Oakland with two special “Album Debut” performances on Friday, June 30, at San Francisco’s Biscuits & Blues (voted America’s #1 blues club by the Blues Foundation), with shows at 7:30 pm and 10:00 pm. For more info, visit http://www.biscuitsandblues.com/. On June 23, Delta Wires will also play the kick-off to the Fountain Blues Festival at San Pedro Square Market Place in downtown San Jose at 7:00 pm.

Delta Wires is a powerful harmonica and horns seven-piece band dedicated to modern blues, while paying tribute to the blues origins of the Mississippi Delta. Their name was derived from the image of a band with modern, electric instrumentation, playing a style of music born in the Mississippi Delta. What began as a college project and anthology of blues music from the Mississippi Delta to the South Side of Chicago, inevitably evolved into a band which has become known for its originality, versatility and crisp, tight, exciting, sound. Delta Wires is comprised of Ernie Pinata (harmonica, lead vocals), Tom Gerrits (bass, background vocals), Richard Healy (guitar), Tony Huszar (drums, congas, tambourine), Gerry Jonutz (tenor, alto, baritone saxes), David Bowman (trombone) and John Christensen (trumpet).

A living history of the San Francisco West Coast blues, Delta Wires was truly born in Oakland over 30 years ago. The band started as band leader Ernie Pinata's college project demonstrating the evolution of the blues from the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta, to Chicago and ultimately, to the West Coast. The small band Ernie put together to play examples of this evolution grew into the high-powered seven-piece band that now calls itself Delta Wires. The band started by playing clubs in Oakland such as Esther's Orbit Room and The Continental Club. Around this same time, legendary bluesman Lowell Fulson sat-in with Delta Wires at the New Orleans House in Berkeley and Ernie Pinata sat-in with the Freddie King Band at Mandrake’s in Berkeley. These were followed by a performance with Buddy Guy and Junior Wells at Keystone Berkeley. The Delta Wires then began to open shows for these blues greats, and continued to grow as musicians and as a band.

Born in Oakland, their seventh album, demonstrates a further maturation of the group’s West Coast blues style, influenced by the ups and downs of city life - and of life, itself. It’s a sound that is truly original and un-typical of what fans might expect from a “blues band.” Both high-energy and moody, with intricate horn arrangements and harmonies, Delta Wires is justifiably proud of what it has accomplished, which includes being voted best band by the East Bay Express and Oakland Magazine, and being inducted into the California Blues Hall of Fame.

They have performed at the San Francisco Blues Festival, Russian River Blues Festival and Monterey Bay Blues Festival, among others, and were 2008 International Blues Challenge finalists in Memphis, Tennessee. Delta Wires has toured or played with many noted artists, including Van Morrison, John Lee Hooker and Buddy Guy. In 2017, they were invited to perform at the prestigious Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy.

Additional Delta Wires Shows

Saturday, July 1, 2017 
Armando’s - 8:00pm - 10:00pm, 707 Marina Vista - Martinez, CA

July 7 - 16, 2017
Umbria Jazz Festival - Perugia, Italy

Friday, August 4, 2017
Oakland Museum of California - Friday Nights @ OMCA - 7:00pm - 9:00pm – Oakland, CA

Friday, August 12, 2017 
Point Richmond Music Series - 5:30pm - 6:30pm - Richmond, CA

Sunday, August 20, 2017
Chouinard Vineyards Music Series - 4:30pm - 8:30pm - Under the trees - Castro Valley, CA

Wednesday, Aug 23, 2017 
Capitola Twilight Concerts - 6:00pm - 8:00pm - Esplanade Park, Capitola, CA

Saturday, Sept 9

“Album Release Party” – The Uptown Nightclub - 8:30pm - Oakland, CA 94612

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 11:38 am

Blues/rock group Tucci announces a July 14 national release date for their new CD, Olivia, on Hideaway Records. Tucci band members are Steve “Doc” Tucci – guitars and vocals; Michael Tucci – drums; Shawn Murphy – sax and vocals; and Harry DeBusk – bass and vocals. Blues great Larry McCray lends his guitar and vocal talents throughout the album, and Olivia also includes perhaps the last recorded appearance from former Allman Brothers Band, Gregg Allman Band and Great Southern guitarist Dan Toler, who died shortly after his track was recorded.

The Tucci band will celebrate the release of the new Olivia CD with a special performance at Bert's Black Widow Harley Davidson, 2224 El Jobean Road, in Port Charlotte, Florida, at Noon on Sunday, July 16.

The Tucci band continues on the path set by its previous incarnation, The Toler-Tucci Band, which featured Dan Toler and recorded the acclaimed CD, Doc’s Hideaway, in 2012. Dan Toler was a longtime friend and mentor to the band, and his spirit informs the music on the new disc. Toler passed away in early 2013 after a long battle with ALS.

Steve Tucci reflected on the impact that Dan Toler had on the band and its music. “Several years ago over a sushi lunch, Dan Toler asked if I had any interest in forming a band with him that would be strongly based on friendship. He believed that good friends would be positive influences on each other and hence, quality and creative music would result. We subsequently formed The Toler Tucci Band and recorded what was to be Dan’s last CD. All the music was original and greatly influenced by Dan. He was a true master of his craft. His witting criticism of our lesser performances were taken as constructive not, destructive. It certainly allowed us all to grow as musicians, but, more importantly we grew into a tight-knit family. Dan was able to play every instrument in our band and would at times play the part he thought best on each instrument. He was like a symphony composer and knew in his mind what notes were important to produce the desired sound. We would call some of his abstract, but highly musical ideas, ‘Toler Notes.’ He created a unique, very identifiable emotion in each and every composition. Dan was a close friend, mentor and brother to each of us in Tucci. His spirit and influence lives on in our current playing and every once in a while we can hear the ‘Toler Magic.’ One of the hardest tasks I had to do was deliver Dan’s eulogy and maintain my composure. He is dearly missed but, has left us memories and a foundation we can build on for the rest of our lives.”

The all-original 11 songs on Olivia showcase the band’s high energy blues/Southern rock sound, with flourishes of funk, R&B and jazz. Special guest Larry McCray stamps his strong guitar work and vocals on eight songs; and Dan Toler’s distinctive guitar stands out on the track, “Play by the Rules.” Additional friends appearing on the new CD include Donnie Richards (Hammond B-3 organ), Ira Stanley (slide guitar) Dan Ryan (keyboards), Al Owen (vocals) and Bob Dielman (guitar).

Steve Tucci talked about how Larry McCray became involved in the recording of the new CD. “After Dan’s passing, the band was in a vast void. Our friend and great bluesman Larry McCray offered to come down to Florida and collaborate with us on the Olivia CD. Larry’s influence, vocals and guitar playing was the prescription the band needed to heal and get on with our mission to create and perform good music.  He truly was able to help fill the void and create the CD. Larry fit perfectly into the goal of Tucci being a band of friends and brothers seeking a good time through good music. I am most grateful to Larry for his assistance on this project. Larry has an open invitation to play with Tucci in any show.”

Produced by Steve Tucci and Bud Snyder, Olivia was recorded and at mixed at the Spirit Ranch Recording Studio in Sarasota. Steve “Doc” Tucci is the band’s main composer. His work on guitar and vocals is widely respected and merges rock and soul, vintage and modern, yin and yang; Shawn Murphy is the sax player and also possesses a soulful voice; Harry DeBusk and Mike Tucci, bass and percussion respectively, hold everything together with their funky, sometimes syncopated, but always musical groove.

The Sarasota-based Tucci band has been a mainstay of the Florida festival and club circuit over the years, developing a solid fan base. The Tucci and Toler-Tucci CDs can be downloaded or purchased at various stores or on-line through Amazon.com and iTunes.

Steve Tucci summed up the band’s direction thusly, “I believe a quote from Dan Toler is appropriate: ‘It is the duty of the dedicated musician to educate the listeners as to what high quality music is. This task should not be the role of the music business industry, which is more financially oriented as opposed to creatively oriented’.”

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 7:12 am

San Francisco Bay Area-based slide guitar master Dennis Johnson announces a September 15 release date for Rhythmland, his latest CD on the Root Tone Records label. Johnson plans to release his first single off the new disc, “Timbale” to iTunes on August 1, and will celebrate the new album with a special CD release party show on September 15 at the Guild Theater in Sacramento. Listen to “Timbale” here.

Rhythmland was produced by Dennis Johnson and Craig Long and recorded at Paradise Studios in Sacramento. On the CD, Dennis Johnson (guitar, vocals) is backed by his band, dubbed The Mississippi Ramblers: Tim Metz – drums; Jonathan Stoyanoff – bass; and Craig Long - keyboards, background vocals. Johnson also wrote nine of the album’s ten songs and spins a unique take on the classic, “Walkin’ Blues.”

Rhythmland explores Americana, roots, blues, Latin, rock and folk rhythms with standout improvisational sections. “I wanted to make a diverse album with great rhythms, lyrics and improvisation,” says Dennis. “The rhythms on the record really pull the listener in. That’s one reason we called the record Rhythmland.”

Inspiring lyrics and vocals are spotlighted on songs like “Faith” and “That Way No More.” Adds Dennis: “I am really happy with the lyrics on this record. The lyrics are based on life experiences and delve into important guiding principles to help you get through the ups and downs of life. These are lessons I have lived. The songs on the album tell some great stories.”

Rhythmland also features several innovative slide guitar techniques. “I came up with techniques like halftime rhythmic slides and artificial harmonic slides that you hear on the Latin cascara song, ‘Timbale,’” he explains. “I have learned to think rhythm first, and it takes slide guitar to a whole new level. It’s not about how many notes you play, but what you do with the notes you choose. I want to support the rhythms of the song.”

In the studio, Johnson worked with co-producer Craig Long to find unique guitar tones that fit with the songs and other instruments. “There are some great guitar tones on the record,” he proclaims. The 12-string dobro just sings on the band's version of “Walkin’ Blues;” Dennis' 1961 Martin New Yorker demonstrates a beautiful acoustic resonance on the jazz-flavored “My Love Is Here for You” and just rips on the barrelhouse “High Heel Shoes.”

“He well deserves the name of master slide guitarist.” – RootsTime Magazine

San Francisco native Dennis Johnson is one of the hardest working musicians with a deep passion for preserving and innovating roots music. He is one of roots music's best kept secrets.

Johnson realized at a young age that music was his calling. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, he heard the music of Chuck Berry and it struck a chord with him. As a teenager, he taught himself the guitar and discovered his passion for slide guitar. He discovered the music of Robert Johnson, (Bay Area favorites) Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo and was hooked. Dennis recalled “seeing Roy play the first time really blew me away; he’s a huge influence on my music.”

The iconic Robert Johnson's approach to guitar was the blueprint for Dennis’ evolution as a guitarist. “Robert‘s guitar playing sounded like two guitars,” Dennis explains. “It’s a blend of rhythm and slide phrases that sound like two guitarists are playing when it’s really one. I approach guitar in much the same way.”

The road to becoming a professional musician was paved when Dennis met Delta blues legend David “Honeyboy” Edwards. “I was at a personal crossroads in deciding whether to be a musician. Honeyboy told me, ‘If you like to play the blues, play the blues!’ The eloquence of that statement was in its simplicity. When I shook Honeyboy's hand I felt an energy there. This was a profound moment in my life. It was fate.”

Honeyboy's advice turned out to be a risk that paid off. In 2010, Dennis Johnson released his first album, Slide Show, to critical acclaim. Slide Show rose to the Top 50 blues CDs worldwide and No. 21 on the California Roots Radio Charts.

In Slide Avenue, Johnson pushed the boundaries of slide guitar with amazing instrumental conversations between slide guitar and saxophone, fiddle, piano, B3 organ, Wurlitzer and more. The album seamlessly blended swing, blues, New Orleans, rock, roots and folk music. The radio charts, reviews and audience response proved the results were stellar. Slide Avenue rose to the top of the Roots Music Report radio charts.

“Rhythmland happened because I spent a lot of time exploring rhythms. Once the grooves were found, the lyrics came easily. I was fortunate to collaborate with two accomplished musicians, drummer Tim Metz and bassist Jonathan Stoyanoff, on arranging some of the tunes.  The result is an album I feel is our best material to date.”

Dennis Johnson Tour Dates

7/22                 Sierra Valley Farms Food, Blues & Views Concert Series     Beckwourth, CA

8/22                 Burlingame on the Avenue Festival – 1 PM                           Burlingame, CA

9/9-9/10           Coors Light Crawfish Festival                                                Woodland, CA

9/15                 Guild Theater - Rhythmland CD Release Party                     Sacramento, CA

10/7                 Emerald of Siam                                                                     Richland, WA

10/10               McMenamin’s White Eagle                                                    Portland, OR

10/11               McMenamin’s Old Church                                                     Wilsonville, OR

10/20               Live from the Divide                                                              Billings, MT

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 11:54 am

“All I want to do is play music,” says singer/guitarist, Casey James. “Stripping it back to just me making a record of music that I love was a huge stepping stone in my life.” Released June 9, Strip It Down, his new album produced by Grammy-winner Tom Hambridge and featuring a guest duet with the legendary Delbert McClinton, does just that.

It’s titled Strip It Down because it’s exactly what Casey James did – shed off the layers of stylized artistic clothing that he’d been given in those other public ventures to find the real artist underneath, a guy with a convincing, smokey vocal quality and a burning, lyrical skill with a guitar.

Recorded at Sound Stage Studio and The Switchyard in Nashville, Strip It Down is a glorious return to the blues and roots music Casey James grew up on in his native Texas, and was a major influence in both his singing and guitar playing. “This music has been a lifetime in the making for me,” Casey says. “If you listen close enough, you can hear my heartbeat; the thing that keeps me alive. It’s all here. This album has been a healing process for me. To truly share my heart and passion with the world in an honest way is the best feeling I’ve ever felt.”

It’s not often that the blues gets summarized with a happy platitude, but when Casey James inserted the phrase, “Every sunrise on another day is another chance to smile,” into the song “Hard Times, Heartaches & Scars” on his new album, it was a hard-won truth. James is familiar to many as a finalist on season 9 of “American Idol,” and familiar to still more as a country artist who notched a Top 15 single with “Crying on a Suitcase.”

But in Strip It Down, James comes into his own by following a simple plan: being himself. Instead of following the expectations of TV producers or the game plan of a well-oiled record company, James collected 13 songs he’d written or co-written (plus a soulful take on Little Willie’s John’s “Need Your Love So Bad”), holed up in a Nashville studio with a trim, crackerjack band and hammered out the bulk of the album in a scant four days.

“There are no tricks here; no auto-tune, no grid, no Midi adjustments,” he proclaims proudly.

The music Casey loves is the blues. Between his shrewd playing and exuberant singing, the influences of guitar players Tab Benoit, Doyle Bramhall II and Freddie King are highly apparent in Strip It Down, which folds-in a variety of styles, all connected directly to that blues base. Casey announces his roots entry with the dramatic blues/rock of the opening track, “All I Need.” Then, Grammy-winner Delbert McClinton joins him on a raucous bit of Texas roadhouse swagger titled “Bulletproof.” From there, the album courses through the light country swing of “Stupid Crazy” (joined by Bonnie Bishop on vocals), the spacious old-school R&B of “Different Kind of Love,” and the gutbucket closer “Fight You for the Blues.”

Growing up in Cool, Texas, a dusty town 45 miles west of Fort Worth, his destiny was laid out for James at the age of 13, when he got his first guitar. It became a constant companion, a channel for his emotions, as the six strings lay easy in his hands.

“I got pretty proficient fairly quickly, but mostly because I couldn’t put it down,” James remembers. “I don’t ever remember a time where practice felt like practice.”

It was that natural. James formed a band and hit the Texas club circuit, a collection of venues just big enough that it can keep a musician going for years. The band was in such high demand that one year he played a staggering 364 days. Clearly, he was talented – and more than ready to work. He mixed a few originals in with cover songs, played a mean guitar and sang with conviction. But he was persuaded by a family member that a run on “American Idol” might put him on better financial ground.

“I was at the best place in my life,” he recalls. “I was gigging every day. But I was struggling to try and make enough money to make a real record. Had I not done ‘Idol,’ I probably would be still struggling, so I consider it a blessing.”

It also became a bit confusing. The contract required him to stop playing clubs from the time he auditioned until the season concluded roughly nine months later. The schedule frequently involved 20-hour work days secluded from the world he knew, and he bent a lot of directions stylistically to fit into the show’s format. The work paid off – he placed third that season (2010) and landed the record deal. It was a country contract, not entirely in alignment with his influences, but it overlapped enough that he took the deal.

The next four years were a whirlwind, as James threw himself into promotion, meeting radio programmers, writing with some of Nashville’s best composers and opening for the likes of Taylor Swift, Alan Jackson and Sugarland. He experienced surreal stardom, but that came with music that merely hinted at the real Casey James. When he got off the ride, he found himself in a different place than he’d started.

“You go from zero to hero overnight, and so people see you differently,” James says. “So the person I was died. That person no longer existed.”

If it was going to be possible to resurrect that person, he knew only one way to do it. So he wrote. He launched into that phase with no real plan, just a passion for self-expression.

“It started as, ‘Man, I just need to write. I need to be able to do this for my own sake,’” he says. “I needed to just write music for me, for the sake of writing something that I enjoy singing and playing.”

The soulful “Supernatural,” the breezy ballad “Stupid Crazy” and the honking “I Got to Go” all came early in the process. He wrote them on his own, and he realized the time he’d invested in Music City had brought him to another level in his craft. James subsequently booked a series of writing appointments with some of Nashville’s finest, including one with Brice Long and Terry McBride, co-writers of James’ first single, “Let’s Don’t Call It a Night.” At the end of their session, they recommended he do some writing with another friend who had a strong affinity for the blues, somebody named “Tom.”

James got an appointment with him, and was astounded to discover that “Tom” was Tom Hambridge, a drummer, songwriter, and producer whose work he’d long admired. Hambridge had a hand in albums by Buddy Guy, Foghat, Keb’ Mo,’ and Susan Tedeschi, and his grounding in the blues and roots music was spot-on for where James was headed.

In their first co-writing session, James and Hambridge penned a bristling acknowledgement of sufficiency, “All I Need.” Two weeks later, they reconvened and authored “Killin’ Myself,” a snarling rocker that loosely encapsulates the roughest emotions from James’ experience with the music business.

The two were so in sync that before that second writing appointment was over, Hambridge was already plotting out how best to produce James’ album. And he did. Hambridge enlisted guitarists Pat Buchanan and Rob McNelley to back James up on guitar, bass player Tommy McDonald, and keyboard player Kevin McKendree, and they captured Strip It All Down mostly live in the studio, James singing and playing with the band and nailing most of the songs in three takes or less.

James funded it all through a one-month Kickstarter campaign, asking his fans to invest in the next step on his musical journey. They came through in a big way, delivering more than double his original goal. It served as a reminder that even when his path had taken down difficult roads, he’d made a strong connection with an audience that understood his creative ambitions.

Strip It Down sounds distinctly different from the work he did in his previous recording deal. And it’s much more forceful than the artist America first saw on “Idol.” As foggy as those periods in his life became, they were important steps in Casey James defining himself – recognizing the music that brought him joy and accepting the talents that make him able to deliver it.

“I always thought of myself as a guitar player that can sing, but I realize now that that’s not the case – I feel as confident and comfortable with my vocals these days as I do with my playing,” he says. “My perception of who I am has changed.”

Strip It Down threatens to change America’s perception of him, too. The blues is all about struggle, and James endured a major one as he lost a piece of himself in the spotlight. The album helped him renew his original intentions – in essence, to find himself again. And he delivers it with a passion and experience that are required to play the blues with authority.

“For the longest time, I always played with my eyes closed because music is so personal to me that I felt like I was naked – I'm putting all of everything that I am in every note,” James reflects. “I don’t close my eyes so much anymore because I’ve become more comfortable with being naked, so to speak, in front of people. I became OK with opening my eyes and engaging with people and really experiencing that moment with them.”

It’s why Strip It Down is such an apt title. All the outer layers had to come off for James to rediscover what he has to offer; to rekindle his reason for being - and to use it as a means of connecting.

“If you were to give me two options – one to have a shot at being famous, but it might mean I never play music again, or the other, to play every single night at bars, I would immediately choose option B,” he says. “Because I want to play music.”

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 2:33 pm

Severn Records announces an October 6 release date for The Last Shade of Blue Before Black, the new album from the legendary Original Blues Brothers Band, featuring guitarist Steve Cropper and sax player “Blue Lou” Marini, with special guests Eddie Floyd, Joe Louis Walker, Paul Shaffer, Dr. John, Matt “Guitar” Murphy and Joe Morton.

“Had anyone told me in 1978 that in 2017 I would still be traveling around the world and playing with the Blues Brothers’ Band, I would have said they were out of their minds,” says “Blue Lou” Marini. “But, amazingly here we are with a new CD and still playing all over the world. This album is a true labor of love and I’m so proud of the organic way it came about. We really wanted to honor our history and to include some of our favorite musicians that we’ve worked with and loved over the years.  We have the legends, Eddie Floyd and Dr. John, plus our original band leader, Paul Shaffer and the great bluesman Joe Louis Walker.

“We also have Tom ‘Bones’ Malone playing and arranging, and cameos from Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy and Joe Morton, a star from our second movie. We are also thrilled to have former members David Spinozza on guitar, Birch Johnson on trombone, and my steady sub, Baron Raymonde on alto sax.”

The Last Shade of Blue Before Black was produced by Lou Marini, Steve Cropper and The Original Blues Brothers Band and recorded at IWII Studios in Hoboken, NJ, by Jay Messina.

“We wanted to present some new original material and do some tunes that hearkened to our past,” declares Marini. “This is a live CD, with everyone recording at once, mostly first or second takes and live vocals and solos. The only overdubs were some baritone sax parts and a few minor fixes. We were blessed with a fantastic studio that suited us so well, IIWII in Hoboken, New Jersey, and the world’s greatest engineer and friend to all, Jay Messina.

Essentially begun as a one-time musical skit that debuted on NBC-TV’s Saturday Night Live” in 1978 and fronted by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as Jake and Elwood Blues, the band became an overnight sensation, spawning numerous TV appearances, hit albums, two blockbuster movies and global touring.  

“I think the power and joy of this great band that has been playing together for so many years is evident,” states Marini. “We love each other and love making music together. Everyone played their asses off on this CD and none more so than our wonderful bassist, Eric Udel. Eric died tragically in September from a fall here in NYC. He was a great musician and a sunny, funny man whom we all loved. We dedicate this album to him as well as our other fallen and still greatly missed brothers, Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn” and Alan ‘Mr. Fabulous’ Rubin.

“I’ve often said that the OBBB is the world’s greatest part-time job because of you, our fans. We’ve gotten to see the world and enjoy it in your company. We’ve eaten and drank with you, especially the latter, and you have treated us like kings. Enjoy this music and for God’s sake, PLAY IT LOUD!”

The Original Blues Brothers Band are: Steve “The Colonel” Cropper - guitar; John “Smokin’ John” Tropea – guitar; Eric “The Red” Udel – bass; Lee “Funkytime” Finkelstein – drums; Leon “The Lion” Pendarvis – organ; Rusty “Cloudmeister” Cloud - clavinet, Wurlitzer, piano and organ; Steve “Catfish” Howard – trumpet; Larry “Trombonious” Farrell – trombone; Lou “Blue Lou” Marini – saxophones; Bobby “Sweet Soul” Harden – vocals; Tommy “Pipes” McDonnell - vocals and harmonica; and Rob “The Honeydripper” Paparozzi - vocals and harmonica.

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 6:41 am

Catfood Records announces a September 15 release date for Waiting for the Train, the new CD from Blues Music Award-winning singer Johnny Rawls. Produced by multi-Grammy-winning producer Jim Gaines, Waiting for the Train was recorded at the Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas, with additional recording at Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee. On the new disc, Rawls is backed by his long-standing recording unit, The Rays: Johnny McGhee – guitar; Bob Trenchard – bass; Richy Puga – drums; Dan Ferguson – keyboards; Andy Roman – alto/tenor sax; Mike Middleton – trumpet; Nick Flood – baritone/tenor sax; Joel Chavarria – trombone; with Jon Olazabal – percussion; and backing vocals by Janelle Thompson and Shakara Weston.

Waiting for the Train features six originals (five co-written by Rawls and one by labelmate James Armstrong and Bob Trenchard), with Johnny adding his own distinctive vocal stamp on songs previously recorded by Wilson Pickett (“I’m in Love”), Bob Dylan (“I Shall Be Released”), Tyrone Davis (“Turning Point”) and Syl Johnson (“We Did It”).

Some background on the players on Waiting for the Train: Jon Olazabal, the percussionist, is a member of popular Southern California band The Dirty Heads, who’ve hit it big headlining festivals and touring coast-to-coast. Background singers Janelle Thompson and Shakara Weston are members of the Neo Soul group S4TG. Johnny McGhee was an L.A. - Motown session player before joining LTD.  Richy Puga, Dan Ferguson, Andy Roman and Bob Trenchard have been together since the group Kay Kay and Rays started 20 years ago. Johnny Rawls is traveling to Europe three times in 2017 and still playing 150 dates a year. His last CD, Tiger in a Cage, reached #1 on the Living Blues Radio Chart and remained at #1 for 14 weeks on the Roots Music Soul Blues Chart. It also made the Downbeat Magazine Critic's Best of the Year Poll list, just as his two previous albums did.

About Johnny Rawls

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.

Rawls garnered previous Blues Music Award 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 six 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.

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.”

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 10:35 am

Sweetspot Records announces a September 15 release date for Quiet Money, the new CD from multiple Blues Music Award nominee Al Basile. Quiet Money was produced by Duke Robillard, recorded by Jack Gauthier at Lakewest Recording Studio in West Greenwich, Rhode Island, and features a baker’s-dozen 13 songs, all penned by Al Basile.

It’s been 44 years since Al Basile joined Rhode Island’s legendary jump blues band Roomful of Blues as its first trumpet player, and while his last few solo releases have moved closer musically to the styles Roomful played in: jump blues, urban and Texas blues, swing, and classic R&B, Quiet Money draws directly from that template. Its songs were inspired musically by Buddy Johnson, Lowell Fulson, Jimmy McCracklin, Saunders King, Charlie Rich, and even the Coasters and the Pilgrim Travelers, but as always Al marries the music to his own personal storytelling lyrics, creating songs that are musically familiar to original Roomful fans, but range in theme from the current state of blues in the music business (“Blues Got Blues”) to classic double-entendre blues (“Put Some Salt on It”) to several songs on taking stock near the end of life (“Not Today,” “Who’s Gonna Close My Eyes?”), and in the title song, wondering why money seems to leave the many and hang out with the few (a song influenced by the hipster ‘50s vibe of the Coasters’ classic, “Shopping for Clothes”).

Having his old Roomful boss, perennial producer, and guitar wizard Duke Robillard on board, along with original Roomful alums Rich Lataille and Doug James in the horn section, ensures that the sonic fingerprints will match up for older fans of that band. The rhythm section from the current Duke Robillard Band: Mark Teixeira on drums; Brad Hallen on bass (with the addition of Bruce Bears on piano and Jeff “Doc” Chanonhouse on trumpet) has provided the underpinning for most of Al’s albums over the last ten years, and they continue to nail every style Al asks them to.

“After a few recent songs based on classic R&B models like Louis Jordan, I went into full nostalgia mode for my old Roomful of Blues days when I wrote this group of new songs,” Basile says about the sessions. “We used to listen to all the flavors of ‘40s and ‘50s R&B, and every kind of blues and jazz, especially from swing to bop, in that band, and our set lists reflected that. I decided to write in that spirit musically, but with my modern lyrical bent as usual, and here’s the result. Of course having Duke, Doug, and Rich along didn’t hurt!”

Al’s unusual combination of singer/songwriter/cornetist continues to come to the fore. In 2016, he was nominated for the 6th time as best horn player by the Blues Foundation, and his 2016 album, Mid-Century Modern, was nominated as best contemporary blues album. His even-more-rare combination of musician and prize-winning poet was underscored by the recent publication of his second poetry book, Tonesmith, by Antrim House.

Al's reviews consistently comment on his strengths as a writer. He uses his lyrics to tell stories with universal appeal, bringing to the task his poet's skills but keeping the words strong, simple, and evocative. There is often a teaching or sharing-of-lessons-learned element in his lyrics. His ease and strength as a singer continues to grow with each release, and his cornet playing is rich, nuanced, and succinct, informed by jazz but instantly communicative as an alternate voice. His songs are all lyrically and melodically deep, and the characters and situations are like compressed theater.

Al is often referred to as the “Bard of the Blues” – he's a rare combination of formal poet and singer/songwriter. He's a model for his generation in showing how to have sequential careers, remain independent, and produce work that is both accessible and thought-provoking. His music sounds good – you can put it on while making dinner – but if you have time for a careful listen – the deeper you look, the more you'll find.

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 7:50 pm

Guitarist Peter Ward announces an October 20 release date for his new CD, Blues on My Shoulders, on Gandy Dancer Records. Besides Ward on guitar and vocals, special guests on the new disc include multiple Blues Music Award-winning guitar legend Ronnie Earl, Sax Gordon Beadle on sax and the members of Sugar Ray and the Bluetones: Sugar Ray Norcia (vocals and harmonica), “Monster” Mike Welch (guitar), Anthony Geraci (piano), Michael “Mudcat” Ward (Peter’s brother – bass) and Neil Gouvin (drums).

“It pleases me to present Blues on My Shoulders, my first solo project,” Peter Ward says about the new album. “I wrote the words and music to 12 of the 13 songs. I grew up wearing out the vinyl records trying to understand how Robert Jr. Lockwood, Tiny Grimes, Louis Meyers and Jimmy Rogers made songs sound so good. It's what I wanted to do. I was lucky to sit in often with my friend (and former roommate) Ronnie Earl and play alongside many of my musical heroes. A highlight was touring with the Legendary Blues Band: Joe Willie ‘Pinetop’ Perkins, Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith, Calvin ‘Fuzz’ Jones and Jerry Portnoy, who had brilliantly backed Muddy Waters for years. The way they played blues was everything I believed in, then and now. Willie Smith was an inventive drummer — and a wily character. I pay tribute to him in the song, ‘Drummin' Willie.’ The track ‘Which Hazel’ is my homage to Chuck Berry. Sugar Ray Norcia honored me by singing the heck out of ‘Collaborate,’ a tribute to Lockwood and Lonnie Johnson. I appreciate that Ronnie Earl and Sax Gordon Beadle accepted my invitation to perform on two songs: ‘A Little More’ and ‘It's On Me.’ ‘Southpaw’ is my ode to lesser-known left-handed swing guitarist Dickie Thompson, who worked with organist and front man Wild Bill Davis. My instrumental, ‘Shiprock,’ reminds me of a hallowed part of Navajo country I visited with my wife Mai Cramer, who died of breast cancer in 2002 and previously hosted a popular blues program every weekend for 24 years on WGBH-FM. She was an avid supporter of the blues and its purveyors. I think she would have liked Blues on My Shoulders. I hope you do.”

As a teenager growing up in Lewiston, Maine, Peter and his brother Michael (“Mudcat”) listened intently to blues records and went to see Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Taj Mahal and Hubert Sumlin whenever they performed in the area. Peter played blues with Mudcat and did gigs also with his younger brother Jeff, who died in 1991. “Jeff was too young to drink, but club owners would let him in so he could play bass with New York City drummer Ola Dixon and me,” Ward recalls.

Ward later moved to Boston and played in various bands, frequently sitting in with Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, who then featured his brother and Ronnie Earl, and backed blues artists such as Jimmy Rogers, Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson and Lowell Fulson.

“In the Big Apple, I was thrilled when Otis Rush told me I played chords like an ‘old man,’ Ward remembers. “In 1978, each week I drove across I-90 to Rochester, N.Y. to play blues for three nights with guitarist-vocalist Joe Beard. Beloved there, Joe had once been a neighbor of Son House. In the 1980s, I loved everything about touring with the Legendary Blues Band — the traveling and camaraderie, but especially the way we played blues in an unhurried, improvisational way. We recorded a CD for Rounder Records that featured Duke Robillard, whose brilliant guitar I had first heard at a high school dance.

“I married Mai Cramer, who spun records for Boston station WGBH-FM every weekend from 1978 until 2002, when she died of breast cancer. Her fans and I stage a fundraiser in her honor each spring for charity at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Mass. Headliners have included Jody Williams, Luther ‘Guitar Junior’ Johnson, Lurrie Bell, Ron Levy and Eddie Taylor, Jr. In 2010, I produced Goodbye Liza Jane: Hello Western Swing, a CD of western swing (a cousin to the blues) with Herb Remington, an original member of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. In recent years I've begun writing songs, as I culled the many snippets of melodies and phrases stuck in my mind. It's fun to turn thoughts into songs and then sing them while people dance. It's been a blast, and it's not over.”

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 6:22 pm

Legendary singer/harmonica master Kim Wilson has gone back to the basics and old school Chicago blues for his exciting new CD, Blues and Boogie, Vol. 1, coming October 20 from Severn Records. Blues and Boogie, Vol. 1 was produced by Kim Wilson, with most tracks  recorded and mixed by Nathan James at Sacred Cat Studios, Oceanside, California; except tracks 4 and 15 recorded by Big Jon at Big Tone Recording Studios, Hayward, California.

“I want to tell all of the real blues fans out there what a labor of love this project has been,” Wilson writes in the album’s liner notes. “I’ve been recording many, many tracks for a couple of years now and time has just flown by! A couple of the greatest musicians that ever lived, Richard Innes and Barrelhouse Chuck, have passed away during the process of making this CD. One of their dreams was to see this stuff come out.

“So here it is, the first of many to come. This kind of music is very easy and pleasurable for me to perform. I like to surround myself with musicians who like to ‘fly by the seat of their pants.’ People like Richard and Barrel, Billy Flynn, Big Jon Atkinson, Marty Dodson, Nathan James, Larry Taylor, Malachi Johnson and all of the other fantastic blues musicians who are on this CD. I desired to record songs that I have always wanted to do. However, I have to put my own twist on everything.”

The track list includes several Kim Wilson originals that fit like a hand-in-glove along with the deep blues songbook he delved into for the new disc, including tunes by Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Rogers, Magic Sam and Jimmy Reed.

A founding member of the legendary Fabulous Thunderbirds and a multiple Blues Music Award winner as a solo artist, Wilson salutes many of his Chicago blues roots influences – in particular his harmonica mentors such as Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson and especially James Cotton – on Blues and Boogie, Vol. 1. It’s music that is both timely and timeless.

“I’m dedicating this CD to my big brother, James Cotton,” Wilson says. “He has always been a great inspiration and a dear friend. When I was a kid, having a great time with all of the masters of this music, I never dreamt I would be living in a world without them. Every time I open my mouth to sing or pick up my instrument to play I am doing it for them! There are hundreds of tracks in the can and still recording, and I really believe that this period of time is the beginning of my legacy. I could never have done it without my family of masters who invented this music and the musicians who are on this CD. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it!”

Sun, 09/10/2017 - 7:07 pm

Catfood Records announces an October 20 release date for Blues Been Good to Me, the new CD from James Armstrong, which he produced with Blues Music Award-winner Johnny Rawls. This is his third album for Catfood, following Blues at the Border (2011) and Guitar Angels (2014).

Recorded primarily at Sawhorse Studios in St. Louis, as well as at associate producer Jim Gaines’ Bessie Blue Studio in Tennessee, Blues Been Good to Me showcases the vocals and guitar of James Armstrong, backed by a hand-picked group of musicians who have played with him on numerous live shows, which made for a very comfortable fit. The band includes Matt Murdick - keyboards, vocals (who has worked with Buddy Guy, John Primer, Little Melton, and Johnny Johnson); Johnny McGhee - rhythm guitar (one of the founding members of LTD and has worked/recorded with Marvin Gaye, Natalie Cole and, George Duke); Andrew Blaze Thomas – drums (who has worked with Billy Branch, Bernard Allison, Anna Popovic and Ronnie Baker Brooks); and Darryl Wright – bass (who has worked with Mavis Staples).

“Whenever I'm working on a new CD, I always like to be extremely prepared,” says James Armstrong about the recording process. “On this project, it didn't turn out that way, which seems like a blessing in hindsight. I was extremely busy when I was writing songs and arranging music for this project. Four months prior to going into record, I played over 70 shows. I had a European Tour in March and did 19 shows in 25 days in different cities, came home for two weeks and worked in the States and then flew to Spain for two weeks playing 12 shows back-to-back in different cities in 14 days.

“When we got into the studio in St. Louis, everyone knew how stressed I was because I didn't feel prepared. Prior to the session, I had sent demos for everyone to hear. Two songs I had to finish writing at the session, ‘Second Time Around’ and ‘Old Man in the Morning,’ but I told myself that I was just going to see what happens. I had asked Johnny Rawls to produce the CD with me, who is a master and a veteran at recording.

“Working with the legendary Jim Gaines as associate producer was a special treat. I recorded all of my guitar and vocals at his studio in Tennessee. Jim really helped me get over some of my fears and limitations from my injury in 1995 which resulted in permanent nerve damage to my left hand. I was able to do things on the guitar I have not been able to do since my injury.”

The 10 tracks on the new disc include a number of originals, as well as exciting covers of songs from Robert Palmer (“Addicted to Love”), and Marvin  Gaye  (“How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You”).

Armstrong explains the genesis of the two cover songs: “Growing up in California as a teenager I wanted to be Jimi Hendrix. I listened and played a lot of rock 'n' roll. Darryl Wright (bass player on the CD) came to me with this song idea to put in to my live show. After doing it for a while, I realized I wanted to record it. I always enjoy changing certain song formats like rock, country, etc. into my style of the blues.

“I've always loved Marvin Gaye's and James Taylor's versions of ‘How Sweet It Is,’ so I decided to speed it up with a swing-shuffle feel. With my country music background, I wanted to add a little country guitar lick in there. Also, I've never heard the song done before with slide guitar.”

Armstrong also reprises a new version of “Sleeping with a Stranger, a song he originally recorded as the title track of his first album for HighTone Records. “I wrote and recorded ‘Sleeping with a Stranger’ for HighTone Records in 1995, and it was the first song I ever had any major success with. I stopped playing it in my live shows for the last ten years but I'm always getting requests to do it. I decided to re-record it. In the early ‘90s I was in a relationship that I was not happy with. One morning, I woke up and there was a poem that she wrote called ‘Sleeping with a Stranger’ on her pillow. I changed a few words, added music and the next thing I knew I had a song.”

James Armstrong will continue touring throughout the summer and fall in support of the new album, and summarizes his feelings about it thusly: “I'm extremely happy with the results of the recording. Blues Been Good to Me is the most exciting recording I've done in years.”

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 7:11 pm

Stony Plain Records announces a September 15 release date for You Should Have Known, a digital single from legendary Canadian western singer-songwriter Ian Tyson. The song unapologetically celebrates the hard living, hard drinking, hard loving cowboy life.

Written by Nashville's Pat McLaughlin and featuring veteran session-man Charlie McCoy, the song yodels, slides and two-steps through the country music foothills, peaking with the raw emotions of a lifestyle that's increasingly rare.

Ian Tyson performed the song ahead of release as part of the Country Music Week in Saskatoon, Canada, at TCU Place on Friday Sept 8 hosted by CCMA. Ian celebrates his 84th birthday on September 25.

Full release credits:
Greg Morrow - Drums
Shad Cobb - Fiddle
Russ Pahl - Steel and Guitars
Dennis Crouch - Bass
Charlie McCoy - Vibes and B-3 
Engineer - Matt Andrews
Mixed by Allen Parker
Produced by Pat McLaughlin
Written by Pat McLaughlin (Corn Country Music, BMI; International Dog)

"You Should Have Known" will be available for download and streaming from all digital outlets worldwide September 15, alongside Ian Tyson's complete back catalogue on Stony Plain Records.

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 3:09 pm

Stony Plain Records announces a November 17 release date for acclaimed guitarist Kevin Breit’s new CD, Johnny Goldtooth and The Chevy Casanovas. The new disc was written and produced by Kevin Breit. Kevin Breit is a master guitarist who has recorded with the likes of Norah Jones, Taj Mahal, Rosanne Cash, k.d. lang, Cassandra Wilson and Hugh Laurie. With unmatched artistic vision, Kevin has created the joyful and whimsical Johnny Goldtooth and The Chevy Casanovas as a guitar-driven musical journey through genius. Joining Breit on this all instrumental album are Vincent Henry (Amy Winehouse, Tom Waits), Michael Ward Bergeman (Yo Yo Ma), Davide DiRenzo (Cassandra Wilson) and Gary Diggins (R Murray Schaffer). Known for his inimitable guitar playing, exquisite lyrics and eccentric performances, Breit is a humble Canadian musical treasure. With multiple awards, including a Maple Blues Award, National Jazz Award and two JUNO awards (Canada’s Grammy) for his own recordings, as well as for his work on albums that have a collective 10 Grammy Awards, Breit’s unparalleled creativity is infinite.

Breit’s playing throughout the album is adventuresome, daring, highly creative, and brings to mind similar guitar innovators such as Mickey Baker. Experience “Chevy Casanova,” a track from the new CD, here: http://bit.ly/ChevyCasanova-Listen

Johnny Goldtooth and The Chevy Casanovas began with a photo on the wall in the basement studio (just a corner of the basement) in the house Kevin Breit shares with his wife, three kids, two dogs and a cat. In it, a matador decked out in the finery of his profession, all swagger and danger. Beside it another photo, this one from a Halloween in the ‘70s—Breit’s father, a towering, complicated, larger than life, heart-breaking man, dressed up as a matador, cloudy looking and cradling a bass guitar. Superimpose these two pictures, and you might get an idea of who Johnny Goldtooth is.

In fact, that beginning is not the beginning. The real birth of Johnny Goldtooth was at a session Kevin Breit did for a recording artist of note. The gig was to replace the lush and silky guitar parts of a famous rock star with something at the other end of the spectrum. In the steps it took from the recording console to his guitar station, Breit had come up with the whole approach: a thinner sound, twangy, a little uncouth, a little boneheaded  ... riffs that anybody could play but would love because they were great. “Imagine it played by a guy with a gold tooth,” he said to the producer and artist.

They went with the silky famous guy but Johnny Goldtooth stayed born.

And if Johnny Goldtooth seems familiar, it is because all of us know someone with a little Johnny Goldtooth in him – outlandish, eccentric, raw and wild. Breit has always written in character, and while these songs have no lyrics, he has brought the same attention of voice to all the rambling and enigmatic sounds captured in Johnny Goldtooth and The Chevy Casanovas.

DIY recording has become the de-facto method of making records in these perilous days in the music industry. Along with his experiences of working in many of the world’s finest studios, Breit has collected some incredible gear ... mics, preamps, guitars, amps ... all brought to bear on JG and TCC.  He wanted to ensure all the sounds left from the same terminal. This was accomplished by recording 90% of the thing in his basement space and playing 90% of the instruments, himself.

If the recording stands apart from most offerings these days, it is because of the sheer joy with which Kevin Breit plays over his arrangements. Unlikely as it is in these times, it is a recording that forces a smile from the lips of listeners. In the same way that there seems to be connective tissue between his hip and whatever guitar he has strapped on, there is connective tissue in the rest of The Chevy Casanovas that make them a great band.

Breit began the recording on January 1, 2017. By January 11, ten songs had been written with Breit improvising on guitar over Optigan loops and adding bass clarinet, upright bass, vibraphone, melodica and organ. Much of the work was done at night or just the other side of midnight, so the guitar (gnarly and growling throughout the record) was often barely perceptible coming out of his '61 Vibrolux or through a rare Demeter head into his Saxon cabinet. After a break to finish a mandolin recording called Foolhardy, he added one more song (all Breit's recordings have 11 songs) and Davide Direnzo on drums, Russ Boswell on bass (Track 3), Vincent Henry on sax and flute (Track 1), Michael Ward Bergman on accordion (Track 3), and Gary Diggins on trumpet (Tracks 1,5,7,10,11).

Sat, 10/07/2017 - 1:00 pm

Stony Plain Records proudly announces the November 17 release of the latest CD from multi Blues Music Award-winning guitarist Ronnie Earl and his band, the Broadcasters, The Luckiest Man. Ronnie Earl calls the album, “A traditional blues album of remembrance, love, and unwavering resolve to live with faith and gratitude.” The new disc was recorded at Woolly Mammoth Studios, Waltham, Mass.; Keep the Edge Studio, Quincy, Mass.; and in Groton, Mass.

Listen to a sample of The Luckiest Man here: http://bit.ly/WatchLuckiestMan

On The Luckiest Man, Ronnie and the Broadcasters, both current as well as some of the earliest members, contribute to the new album, which follows the sudden loss of Jim Mouradian, the band’s beloved bass player following a show in January. Mouradian was also a respected guitar luthier, family man and a gentleman. This musical journey through loss and healing can be felt in the hauntingly beautiful “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” and in Ronnie’s tender tribute to his brother on “Jim’s Song.” Life moves ever onward in the pulse and beat of “Heartbreak,” and faith takes hold in “Never Gonna Break My Faith.” For the song, “Long Lost Conversation,” Ronnie is reunited with some of the earliest Broadcasters and current members of Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, who were on his first albums in 1983, all of whom contributed to this truly being a family band project: Sugar Ray Norcia – vocals, harp; Anthony Geraci – piano; Mike Welch – guitar; Neil Gouvin – drums; Michael "Mudcat" Ward – double bass & Fender bass.

The title of the album, The Luckiest Man, is a phrase and response spoken by Jim Mouradian who always lived with gratitude in his heart and who never wasted a moment of his life: “I’m the luckiest man you know — and I don’t even know who you know.”

Besides the original songs on The Luckiest Man, Ronnie Earl puts his own, indelible stamp on interpretations of “Ain’t That Loving You,” “So Many Roads” and “You Don’t Know What Love Is.”

In addition to Ronnie Earl on guitar, the Broadcasters include Dave Limina – piano and Hammond B3; Diane Blue – vocals; Forrest Padgett – drums; and Paul Kochanski – bass. Guest musicians on the new disc also include Nicholas Tabarias – guitar; Mark Earley – baritone sax;

Mario Perrett – tenor sax; and Peter Ward – guitar.

They say that you can’t keep a good man down and that inner resolve is both heard and felt within each song on The Luckiest Man, Ronnie Earl’s twenty-fifth album and his eleventh on Stony Plain Records. Since 1983, Ronnie Earl has released a series of traditional blues albums, often interlaced with jazz, gospel and soul offerings; however he has always returned home to his “mother music” which is traditional blues. Ronnie Earl continues to be one of the most emotive blues guitarists today, whose musical voicings deal with loss and healing, gratitude and love, compassion and passion. Indeed, it is those emotional touchstones within his music, which is so beautifully reflected in the swirl of colors expressed in artist Tom Noll’s painting of Ronnie on the cover.

The Luckiest Man confirms Ronnie Earl's status as one of the most soulful blues/soul/jazz guitarists working today. He is a three-time Blues Music Award winner as “Guitar Player of the Year,” a DownBeat magazine winner for “Blues Album of the Year,” an Associate Professor of Guitar at Berklee College of Music and has taught at the National Guitar summer workshop in Connecticut.

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 10:30 am

Acclaimed guitarist Peter Parcek announces an October 27 release date for Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, his first album in seven years, on Lightnin’ Records. The new disc was produced by Marco Giovino (Robert Plant, Buddy Miller, Tom Jones), who also played drums and percussion on the sessions. Special guests on Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven include North Mississippi Allstars guitarist Luther Dickinson, legendary Muscle Shoals keyboardist Spooner Oldham and long-time Willie Nelson harmonica wiz Mickey Raphael.

“Marco Giovino had uniquely powerful musical concepts and presence, plus tremendous rhythmic and arranging ideas,” Parcek said about the recording sessions. “His innovative sound and feel profoundly imbue and impacted the album.

“In addition to being an inspiring producer, player and arranger, Marco assembled a phenomenal band for the recording sessions in Nashville: Luther Dickinson, Mickey Raphael, Dennis Crouch (T-Bone Burnett, Diana Krall) Dominic John Davis (Jack White) and many more luminaries. We even made a trip to Fame Studios in Alabama to record with the great Spooner Oldham.”

In particular, Luther Dickinson added his special guitar mojo magic on four tracks, the perfect complement to Parcek’s incendiary guitar work. “Luther is a tremendous artist and guitarist in his own right; he’s musical royalty,” Parcek adds. “He’s very inspiring to play with - at once gracious, generous and musically badass. We tore it up and had a ball!”

Peter Parcek's lightning-strike guitar playing has been electrifying audiences in America and abroad for years. Now, he’s back with a new album brimming with compelling original blues and select covers. The CD opens with his powerful, ominous take on Peter Green’s “World Keep on Turning,” which Parcek embellishes with a Hendrixian “Voodoo Child” guitar sound. Peter also makes the Don Nix-penned title track his own, with a moody, atmospheric delivery, quite different than the standard reading of the Albert King original. And on the album’s closer, “Aunt Caroline Dyer Blues,” he demonstrates the breadth of his understanding of the blues/roots idiom with a transformational version of Jennie Mae Clayton (The Memphis Jug Band) 1920s song.

Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven also features three instrumentals where Parcek’s brilliance as a guitar player really shines, especially on “Pat Hare,” named for the 1950s blues sideman of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and James Cotton, whose distorted power-driven guitar work was an influence on generations of guitarists.

Parcek was nominated by the Blues Foundation for The Mathematics of Love, his previous full length release in 2010.   The CD earned him a much-deserved Blues Music Award nomination for “Best New Artist Debut”. Parcek is also the 2013 New England Music Awards “Blues Artist of the Year” and the Blues Audience Magazine 2012 “Guitarist of the Year,” in addition to multiple nominations by the Boston Music Awards.

His earlier credits also include touring and recording with legendary keyboardist Pinetop Perkins (Peter appears on Mr. Perkins’ On Top) and as a sideman with great bluesman like Hubert Sumlin.

Parcek’s live shows and recordings are powered by his daring, incendiary, and soulful electric guitar, and a singing style that, like his original songs, fuses the vitality of today with echoes of the Delta, mountains and prairies where the greatest American music was born.

The heart of Peter’s playing, singing and writing is rooted in the blues, both ancient and modern.

He possesses an unparalleled ability to blend influences that embrace roots, folk, country, rockabilly, surf, jazz and gypsy music into his own distinctly original hybrid. And overall, his fluid, expressive playing simply leaves jaws dropped to the ground. (“You're as bad as Eric Clapton,” Buddy Guy once told him. “And I know Eric Clapton.”).

Parcek's musical story, however, began on the stages of 1960s London, where his early bands were contemporaries of The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and groups featuring Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Peter Green.

The young guitarist watched and learned well, finding a path that's led him through an evolution all his own. It’s taken him through smoky dives where he’s played for a dozen patrons and onto huge stages where he's played for 100,000. Over the years Parcek's opened for a smorgasbord of prestigious artists, including The Grateful Dead, Sheryl Crow, Susan Tedeschi, The Holmes Brothers, Koko Taylor, Robben Ford, Son Seals, Johnny Copeland, Charlie Musselwhite, Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, Roomful of Blues and many more.

Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven Track Listing

1. World Keep On Turning (PA Green)

2.  See That My Grave Is Kept Clean (Blind Lemon Jefferson)

3.  Pat Hare (Peter Parcek)

4.  Ashes to Ashes (Peter Parcek)

5.  Every Drop of Rain (Peter Parcek)

6.  Shiver (Peter Parcek)

7.  Things Fall Apart (Peter Parcek)

8.  Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven (Don Nix)

9. Mississippi Suitcase (Peter Parcek)

10. Aunt Caroline Dyer Blues (Jennie Mae Clayton)

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 11:11 am

Heralded Austin-based blues/roots musician and songwriter Johnny Nicholas will reissue his long out-of-print 1977 album, Too Many Bad Habits, along with a special bonus disc of previously unreleased performances, on October 20 via his The People’s Label imprint. The two-disc set has been completely remastered and includes the liner notes from the original Blind Pig LP release in 1977. A new set of liner notes written by acclaimed author/music critic Ed Ward will also accompany the CDs and vinyl. Featured artists on the original sessions included blues legends Big Walter Horton on harmonica and vocals, Johnny Shines on guitar and vocals and Boogie Woogie Red on piano and vocals, as well as Ray Benson and other luminaries of the original Asleep at the Wheel lineup.

Johnny Nicholas will celebrate the reissue of Too Many Bad Habits with a special CD release show at Antone’s in Austin on Thursday, December 7.

“This album was initially released on the fledgling Blind Pig label in 1977 and was cut from their catalogue in 1978 shortly after I joined Asleep at the Wheel and stopped touring under my own name,” remembers Johnny Nicholas. “I requested the original masters back from the label numerous times over the years and finally got possession of all multi track tapes, masters, art work and photos in January of 2016. After we successfully transferred all of the old tapes, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a bunch of stellar performances which had never been released—Walter and Johnny and Red were my friends and mentors and hearing this stuff was such a thrill. I hope people enjoy listening to these historical slices of the real blues, played by the masters, as much as we have enjoyed re-discovering, listening to and remastering them.”

The 14 songs on the original album release, plus the 12 performances on the bonus disc, were recorded in Austin, Texas, as well as two other studios in Michigan. “There were three recording sessions that I recall, although so much of that period of my life was a blur,” says Nicholas. “I was constantly ramblin’ between Chicago, Ann Arbor, Texas and Louisiana during those days, with several stints hitch hiking and hopping freight trains back and forth to the west coast to gig with Commander Cody and Asleep at the Wheel before they moved to Austin. One session took place in Texas after their move to the Lone Star State and the other two were recorded in the Detroit area.

“The Austin sessions were recorded in 1975 by Austin radio and music legend Joe Gracey and included Asleep at the Wheel members Ray Benson, Lucky Oceans, Bill Mabry, Link Davis Jr and Tony Garnier (Bob Dylan’s bass player and bandleader for the last twenty five years). All of these cats, like their idol Bob Wills, dug the blues.

“The Ann Arbor sessions were mostly recorded on four track tapes (small and large reel) as I recall, at Blind Pig co-founder Jerry Delguidice’s house outside Ann Arbor. Most of the unreleased performances were recorded there. The eight track tapes were recorded in Farmington Michigan. We would line up gigs at the Blind Pig club in Ann Arbor, record during the day and perform at night.”

Born in Rhode Island, Johnny went to high school with Duke Robillard. After the band that he and Duke fronted called Black Cat split up, he moved  to Ann Arbor in 1970 and became a major player in that college town’s burgeoning blues and roots scene, which had started with the three-day 1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival, the first blues festival of its kind in the U.S. Two of the top live music venues in Ann Arbor, the Blind Pig and Mr. Flood’s Party, began hosting more blues performers to meet the demand, keeping the groove going between the annual festivals.

When Nicholas arrived from the east coast for the 1970 Blues Festival, he brought some of the best blues players out of retirement and brought them together night after night in local clubs, free outdoor concerts, and at the Ann Arbor Blues Festivals. While he performed with dozens of well-known artists in those venues, among the most frequent and popular with local blues lovers were the legendary Big Walter Horton, Johnny Shines, and Boogie Woogie Red.  He performed with all of these artists and many more, as well as his own band “The Boogie Brothers,” at the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festivals of 1972 and 1974.

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 7:06 am

Backtrack Blues Band announces a January, 26, 2018, release date for the group’s new live CD/DVD, Make My Home in Florida, on Harpo Records, distributed by Select-o-Hits. Watch an advance video clip of the new album’s title track.

There was a packed house at the historic Palladium Theater in St Petersburg, Florida, on January 6, 2017, when the Backtrack Blues Band arrived for the show. Excitement was in the air, as the hometown audience knew the performance was being filmed and recorded for the band’s new live album.

There’s no doubt the group felt the enthusiasm, as Backtrack Blues Band delivered a strong mix of both blues classics and original songs. Borrowing from T-Bone Walker, B.B. King, Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson, while also adding several original songs including the title song, “Make My Home in Florida,” this was a magical night of blues music!

Backtrack founder/lead singer/harmonica ace Sonny Charles described the evening: “We knew that the show was being filmed and recorded, but the band never discussed it much. Our goal was to relax and have fun playing to a sold out room. We are all such good friends, and we genuinely appreciate what each guy brings to our sound, so it was actually easy for us to just go out there and let it roll.”

The relaxed, fun vibes are captured perfectly on Make My Home in Florida, and it’s hard not to have a good time when this album is cranking.

Backtrack is no stranger to large audiences, having played major blues festivals in America and Canada , and opened for the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Johnny Winter, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and others during its 37-year history. But given the extensive preparations for a five camera high-definition film project and state-of-the-art recording, this night was bound to be special.

The band’s style of blues is built upon a blend of Sonny Charles’ amplified harmonica and Kid Royal’s Texas-style lead guitar. Both men add convincing vocals, and the rhythm section of former Amazing Rhythm Aces bassist Jeff “Stick” Davis and drummer Joe Bencomo, plus guitar player Little Johnny, drives this blues machine in high gear with an infectious groove. The result is a tight, honest night of blues music, played straight from-the-heart, with no gimmicks or studio enhancements. It’s the kind of performance that evolves from many years of playing together, in a band that truly loves working as a team.

Backtrack Blues Band was formed in the tropics and the group values its Florida and Caribbean roots. The band was an early leader on the Florida blues scene in the 1980s, as one of the first authentic blues acts in Tampa Bay. The Make My Home in Florida release marks the group’s sixth album and reflects decades of musical experience from deep down south.

The band also travels to the Caribbean for shows, and Sonny keeps a home on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The album’s song, “Shoot My Rooster, “was derived from his island experiences. As Sonny explained, “On St John, we have lots of wild animals that roam the island and keep us entertained: donkeys, goats, iguanas and chickens are everywhere. At my place, a feral rooster hung out, and crowed loudly every morning. A friend said I should shoot the rooster. I never did pull the trigger, but it did inspire me to write a new tune.”

On Make My Home in Florida, the Backtrack Blues Band brings its unique blend of Chicago blues and Texas-inspired guitar to full measure, resulting in one of the most exciting live blues albums in quite a while. While they may seek out the sunshine and warm waters of Florida and beyond, on this live CD/DVD, the Backtrack Blues Band delivers stone-cold blues music at its very best.

As writer/author Bill Dahl summarizes in the package’s liner notes, “Whether they’re cooking up a dynamic original or reviving a hallowed classic, the Backtrack Blues Band has a sound all its own. This exciting in-concert collection is the next best thing to experiencing them in the flesh!

Make My Home in Florida Track Listing

1)      Checkin’ on My Baby

2)      Woke Up This Morning

3)      Make My Home in Florida

4)      T-Bone Shuffle

5)      Nobody But You

6)      Your Funeral and My Trial

7)      Heavy Built Woman

8)      Shoot My Rooster

9)      Tell Your Daddy

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 4:09 pm

The Tampa Bay Blues Festival returns to Vinoy Waterfront Park in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, on Friday, Saturday, & Sunday, April 6, 7, & 8.  This internationally renowned, three day music festival has been staged for the past 24 years on the sunny shores of Tampa Bay and features spectacular waterfront views, a tropical atmosphere, and the finest in blues music.  The event draws visitors from throughout the United States and Europe and is regarded as one of the best blues festivals in the world.  In 2011, the Festival won the prestigious Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive” award for best U.S. blues festival.  The 2018 artist line-up is as follows:

Friday, April 6, 2018

8:30 p.m.       ROBERT CRAY

6:30 p.m.       BETH HART

4:30 p.m.       JOHN NEMETH

2:30 p.m.       Chris Beard

12:30 p.m.     Jonn ‘Del Toro” Richardson

Saturday, April 7, 2018

8:30 p.m.        BUDDY GUY

6:30 p.m.        RONNIE EARL

4:30 p.m.        JANIVA MAGNESS

2:30 p.m.        Eric Gales

12:30 p.m.       Quinn Sullivan

Sunday, April 8, 2018

8:30 p.m.        DELBERT McCLINTON

6:30 p.m.        SUGARAY RAYFORD

4:30 p.m.        MISSISSIPPI HEAT

2:30 p.m.        Band of Friends feat. Davy Knowles

1:00 p.m.        Tad Robinson

Gates open approximately 30 minutes before the first artist each day.  Music until 10:00 p.m. each evening.

The festival will feature a large concert stage and state of the art P.A. system.  Multiple food vendors will be providing Florida foods, seafood, Cuban foods, and a variety of festival treats.  Beer, wine, and mixed drinks are also sold on site, together with sodas and other beverages. Patrons may not bring outside food or drink to the event.  Blankets and lawn chairs are encouraged, and re-entry to the park is allowed with a hand stamp.

Proceeds from the Tampa Bay Blues Festival will benefit our charity partner, PARC.  PARC has been our primary charity for the past 24 years, and its work is critical to the welfare of the Tampa Bay community.  In addition, the Tampa Bay Blues Festival is proud to participate in the Blues in the Schools program which teaches students about the blues and its place in American history.

General Admission Ticket Prices:

Friday:  $50

Saturday:  $50

Sunday:  $40

All Three Days:  $115

Tickets available online at www.tampabaybluesfest.com

Tickets will be available at the gate on the day of show (cash only).

Three Day Blues Club VIP packages (includes festival admission; access to the VIP Tent with food presentations at 2:00 and 6:00 p.m.; FRONT OF STAGE SEATING (chairs provided); complimentary Sunday champagne party; free food, beer, wine & soda; may be ordered online (www.tampabaybluesfest.com) for $475 for all three days.

Single day (Friday, Saturday, & Sunday) VIP passes may be ordered for $250, $250, and $200, respectively, and include festival admission, access to the VIP Tent, front of stage seating (chairs provided), and free food, beer, wine & soda.

Free Shuttle service on First Street North from city parking garages (South Core and Baywalk).  Please publicize this shuttle service, which will help us facilitate parking for the Blues Festival.

Official “Kick Off” Party/After Shows. The Palladium Theater will host the Official “Kick Off Party” on Thursday, April 5, 2018, with John Németh. Tickets available at www.tampabaybluesfest.com or www.mypalladium.org.  After Shows at Ringside Cafe and The Ale & Witch featuring festival artists on Friday and Saturday nights.

The Tampa Bay Blues Festival has earned a strong reputation for hosting one of the most scenic and best blues music festivals in the world.  We look forward to seeing you in Florida this spring for three great days of blues by the bay!

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 12:43 pm

Acclaimed Americana/folk duo Mare Wakefield & Nomad announce a January 26, 2018, release date for their new CD, Time to Fly, on the Maresie Music imprint. The two will celebrate the new CD with a special show at The Country in Nashville on Wednesday, January 17 at 9 pm (www.thecountrynashville.com). They’ll also be performing songs from the new disc at several private showcases during the upcoming Folk Alliance Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, in February.

At the same time, it’s been announced that one of their original songs is going to be featured over the opening credits of a Lifetime TV movie, “A Very Merry Toy Store,” premiering November 26 at 8 pm Eastern (7 pm Central). It’s a holiday song called “Candles & Carols” that is not on the new album.

Recorded in their Nashville studio, Time to Fly showcases the 2016 and 2015 Kerrville NewFolk Songwriting Competition finalists backed by a host of Music City’s finest musicians: guitarist Will Kimbrough, drummer Wes Little, bassist Brian Allen; and other special guests including Greg Foresman on electric guitar, Eamon McLoughin on fiddle, Bobby Holland on  backing vocals and Mike Waldron on guitar.

The music of Mare Wakefield (pronounced “Mary”) & Nomad has been described as: “Musically sophisticated, weaving elements of jazz and bluegrass into her compositions” - San Francisco Bay Guardian; “Lovely vocals and even lovelier songs. Mare Wakefield and Nomad are a little bit old country, a lot contemporary folk a la Dar Williams or Patty Griffin.” - New York Times; and “Cozy brilliance...The merger of Maria McKee, Natalie Merchant, Shawn Colvin and Dolly Parton.” -Louisville Eccentric Observer.

Listen to, “Breathe,” the song that Mare Wakefield says “got us into the Kerrville Folk Festival the first time, and into the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in New York: www.marewakefield.com

“The song has elements of grief and recovery, and lessons gleaned from failed relationships. It’s one of the more auto-biographical songs on the record, and yet when we play it live, it’s also one of the songs that audiences respond to the most.”

“We are so lucky to count these musicians among our friends, and to be able to assemble this group all together, same place same time, to come up with parts and make a cohesive sounding record,” declares Nomad Ovunc. “They really understand Mare as a writer and they get what we’re trying to do with each song. Everyone played really well -- from the drum sound to the guitar tones to the chord changes and the melodies. And Mare’s vocal delivery, everything sounds so good. All the musicians bonded and played together like a band. We created something together as a team. And I’m so grateful we were able to record in our own home studio, too. We were so RELAXED while making this record - and I got to play my own piano!!  It was a beautiful experience being in a full band, tracking everything live. We had the luxury of time; we could go as slow as we needed to in order to get each song where it needed to be.”

While all the songs on Time to Fly are originals, with perspectives and experiences delving from Mare Wakefield’s own life and background, they are universal in their appeal because of her innate songwriting talent that makes them instantly accessible.

“We picked “Time to Fly” as the title track because of the message in its title, and how it can mean so many different things,” says Mare. “To me, the story of the lyric is about letting go of someone who’s died. But I had an audience member tell me the song was perfect for her and her teenage daughter who was about to go off to college – a different meaning of ‘time to fly’. I even got a note from someone who works at a rehabilitation center for birds of prey, who thought the song captured perfectly the emotion of caring for a wild bird, and then releasing it.  So many different possible interpretations of the lyric! We knew we wanted to keep this track just us, so that the listener could be drawn in by the quiet intimacy."

Another track that has a lot of personal appeal to Mare and Nomad is the opener, “Real Big Love.” Says Mare: “I love how this track moves.  The drum groove and the super fun accordion solo always make me smile. We debated making this the title track of the whole record – since so much of our music and our act is really inseparable from our relationship and the love we feel for each other.”

“Bernice & Bernadette” is a song with a deep family background for Mare. “This might be my favorite track on the entire record,” she explains. “My grandmother Bernadette had a close friend named Bernice. The two women were friends since childhood and stayed close even after my grandmother married and started her family. Bernice never married, and in her will she left everything to my grandmother’s children. I had heard many ‘Bernice and Bernadette’ adventure stories growing up, but it wasn’t until just a few years before my grandmother died that I got a deeper glimpse into that relationship. ‘We loved each other,’ my grandmother said to me one afternoon. ‘I know what people used to say about us. And, I suppose, they were right.’ After my grandmother died, I inherited her writing desk and found letters she had saved from Bernice. These letters, expressing a lifetime of love, really guided my hand in writing the lyric for this song.”

“Daddy was a seeker,” says Mare Wakefield about her upbringing. “Eventually he became a Salvationist minister. Mama was some kind of gypsy, loving nothing more than a long, clear stretch of open highway.”

Mare was born with wanderlust embedded in her DNA, and lived in eight different places by the time she was 10 years old. “It was a roller-coaster way to grow up, but my brother and I learned to fit in fast,” she says. “We had our rural Wisconsin accents down in two weeks flat. And eighteen months later we were drawling like native Texans.”

For Turkish-born, German-raised Nomad Ovunc, the journey was equally varied. His musical education began at the exclusive Istanbul State Conservatory and continued when he was awarded a scholarship to Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. Nomad has a gift for musical arrangements and carries a full arsenal of classical, pop and jazz chops at his piano-playing fingertips. In addition to working with Mare, the versatile pianist and composer has designed sound for film and TV, and has had pieces performed by symphony orchestras and in Boston’s legendary Fenway Park.

Versatility and love for travel is evident in Mare and Nomad’s music. Listeners roam through Arizona deserts, Oklahoma oil fields and South Dakota plains, with side-trips to ancient Babylon and the streets of Amsterdam. The journeys go inward too, exploring hope and heartbreak, and the occasional whiskey-soaked barroom brawl. Story and song are woven seamlessly together by Mare’s intimate delivery and Nomad’s exquisite melodic arrangement. The pair has also been honored by the International Songwriting Competition and the Great American Song Contest. They continue their journey by touring fearlessly, leaving strains of folk tunes and sweet piano melodies echoing down the highway.

Fri, 11/24/2017 - 2:09 pm

Acoustic trio Raven and Red announce a February 2, 2018, release date for their new CD, We Rise Up, on Line Crossing Records. Originally from Georgia and Pennsylvania and now based in Nashville, Raven and Red is comprised of Brittany Lynn Jones - lead and harmony vocals, 5-string violin, tenor guitar, mandolin and banjolin; and brothers Mitchell Lane - lead & harmony vocals, 6 and 12-string guitars; and Cole King - harmony vocals, mandolin. Special guests on We Rise Up are Paul Leech on electric, upright bass and cello; and Justin Collins on drums and percussion.

Raven and Red will celebrate the release of the new CD with a series of special shows, including Saturday, February 10, 2018, for Eddie Owen Presents at the Red Clay Music Foundry in Duluth, Georgia (just outside of Atlanta). Music starts at 8 pm. (http://eddieowenpresents.com/). The trio will also perform several shows at the upcoming Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, February 14-18.

Listen to “Living and Loving You” here: http://ravenandred.com/living-and-loving-you

“This is the first song we finished writing together and it describes the feeling of coming to a crossroads in your life and having to make difficult decisions when you don’t feel ready,” says Mitchell Lane. “Do you make a commitment to a loved one and create a life with him or her, or do you pursue your dreams--even if it means having to leave that person behind and risk it all?”

Raven and Red combines elements from all of their different musical influences into their songwriting and the songs featured on We Rise Up. “We find it difficult to really narrow down our style into one particular genre,” observes Mitchell. “We have so many influences, from John Denver and Jim Croce to Tim O’Brien to classic rock and back to Bach. We are still learning from each other every day and developing our signature sound. This album is one milestone in our musical journey.”

“So many of our musical influences seemed to flow into these songs naturally,” explains Brittany. “We listen to so many different genres, and I think that can be heard within our music. Each song adds its own distinct sound and emotion to this album.” Although We Rise Up blends Americana, folk, classic country, bluegrass, Celtic and bits of classic rock and pop, Raven and Red has created a sound of their own. “We love songs that tell true stories. Many of the songs on this album are inspired by true stories, but even the fictional stories reveal human truths that are familiar to everyone,” adds Brittany.

This is the trio’s first album of original music. “When we began writing, we had no idea how our music was going to progress and develop over time,” admits Mitchell. “At the end of 2014, we moved to Nashville and slowly began writing these songs between 2015 and 2017 amidst a busy touring schedule. The writing process came together quicker than we thought it would, and we discovered that we really enjoy writing and the feeling of completing songs.”

Mitchell’s lead vocals are exceptionally clear and strong, and with Cole’s harmony as an anchor, Brittany’s rich, mellow voice is the perfect complement to the pure singing heard throughout the album.

Raven and Red began as a duo with Brittany and Mitchell. Cole King, Mitchell’s youngest brother and currently an11th grade student at Woodward Academy in Atlanta, soon joined the two on mandolin and helped to fill out the group’s three-part harmonies. Cole was only 13 years old when he began performing with the band. “I was so excited to be a part of Raven and Red,” enthuses Cole.  “Brittany and Mitchell were very influential for me musically, and I was ready for anything.”

“As a group, we are very focused on our vocals,” says Brittany.” We enjoy arranging harmonies and writing melodies that capture the lyrics in our songs.” “Cole’s voice creates a smooth blend, accentuating the harmonies, and his learning to play violin in school translated seamlessly to the mandolin,” adds Mitchell.

After already having many musical accomplishments individually, Brittany Jones and Mitchell Lane met while attending the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.  Not limited to one style of music, they discovered their shared interest in many different genres alongside classical music and have been collaborating musically since they first met. “Just like in classical music, there is an important historical component to folk music and we were immediately drawn to it,” Mitchell recalls. “After graduating college in 2013, forming Raven and Red was our natural calling as performing musicians.”

On the CD, Brittany uses the fiddle and tenor guitar to weave in and out of the musical phrases, smoothly connecting the songs’ transitions together. Her fiddle playing gives each song what it needs by varying between bold, innovative solo lines and sensitive, lyrical melodies. “The fiddle is an important part of our sound, and it really sets the tone for the band. I think the mandolin helps to add that folk element people want to hear, and nothing sounds quite like it,” Cole states.

We Rise Up represents a collage of musical ideas and memories that the trio shares from traveling and performing together. “After writing the title track, ‘We Rise Up,’ we realized that many of the songs share common themes, including love, heartbreak, admiration, and self-reflection. ‘We Rise Up’ completed the album as the final song. We wanted it to have a positive message that anyone could relate to about overcoming obstacles and struggles and persevering--something everyone has to go through in their lives. We also wanted it to sound catchy and fun at the same time with lots of harmonies and instrumental solos throughout the song,” Mitchell states. “Another theme in the lyrics of this song is ‘the road we all must travel,’ which describes how every person shares the experience of ups and downs while going through life bound to time. Time is always moving forward, and we are moving with it. We hope that our songs will reach fellow music-lovers and those interested in exploring the human condition,” Brittany says.

In the four short years of performing full-time, Raven and Red has opened shows for Grammy Award-nominees Connie Smith and Dailey & Vincent, multi award-winning bluegrass groups Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out and The Claire Lynch Band, and Irish pop/Celtic rock band, Screaming Orphans. The group has joined the lineup for the 2018 Dailey & Vincent LandFest in the Mountains, held at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee, GA.

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 6:21 pm

Stony Plain Records announces the signing of acclaimed Canadian roots guitarist/singer Sue Foley, and will release her label debut CD, The Ice Queen, on March 2, 2018.

Produced by Mike Flanigin, who also plays organ on the new disc, The Ice Queen was recorded at Firestation Studios in San Marcos, Texas. Joining Sue Foley as special guests is a trio of legendary Texas guitarslingers – Jimmie Vaughan, Z.Z.Top’s Billy F Gibbons and Charlie Sexton - as well as a host of other Lone Star State all-stars, including Chris “Whipper” Layton (formerly of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble) and George Rains (drums), Derek O’Brien (guitar), Chris Maresh and Billy Horton (bass) and The Texas Horns: John Mills, Al Gomez, Jimmy Shortell, Randy Zimmerman and Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff.

“I’m extremely excited to be working with Holger Petersen and Stony Plain Records,” Sue Foley says about the new CD. “Holger is one of the most knowledgeable ‘real music’ people in the business. Stony Plain is known to put out great music and I know The Ice Queen has found her home.”

Sue Foley is the only female member of the famed “Jungle Show,” featuring Billy Gibbons, Jimmie Vaughan, Mike Flanigin and Chris Layton, which became one of the hottest tickets in Austin in 2016. Soon after playing two sold out shows at Austin City Limits Live 3TEN Club in December, Foley entered the studio with her Texan pals and began laying down tracks for the new album. She will return to Austin for more of “The Jungle Shows” on December 26 and 27 at Antone's.

Recorded throughout 2017, The Ice Queen represents Foley’s full circle journey – her return to the roots of her career in Austin with producer Mike Flanigin. The album was recorded with her long-time friends and collaborators Vaughan, Gibbons, Layton, Sexton and others, as well as members of the Tedeschi Trucks and Gary Clark Jr. bands.

“When I was a teenager I idolized Jimmie Vaughan and Billy F Gibbons,” Foley says. “They're both legends now so this feels like an historical event (at least it does for me). And I grew up sitting at the feet of players like George ‘Big Beat’ Rains, Derek O'Brien and The Texas Horns. I spent many nights watching Charlie Sexton and the Arc Angels with Chris Layton. I learned and grew more musically in my years in Austin than at any point in my life. The fact that all these mega talented musicians have graced my album is beyond anything I hoped for. I am still pinching myself.”

A flood of inspiration and themes can be found on each of the tracks – ranging from lost love, anguish, and struggle to release, forgiveness and rebirth.  Mostly recorded live in the studio, Foley’s emotional vocal delivery, conviction, accessible yet inspired lyrics and intrepid guitar playing are all laid out, bare and raw for the songs to reveal.

Opening with the radio friendly, funky, swamp-meets Bo Diddley beat of “Come to Me,” The Ice Queen also features the upbeat and rollicking tracks “Run,” “The Lucky Ones” (a duet with Jimmie Vaughan) and “Gaslight.” There are several bluesy and soulful tracks, including “81,” “The Ice Queen,” (with its menacing John Lee Hooker vibe in tone and substance), “Fool's Gold” (featuring Billy F Gibbons on vocals and harmonica), “If I Have Forsaken You” (with the horns sounding echoes of the great Bobby “Blue” Bland), and a cheeky, guitar-heavy cover of Bessie Smith’s “Send Me To The ‘Lectric Chair.” Foley also provides some more mellow and unexpected songs on The Ice Queen with the jazzy “Death of a Dream,” the flamenco-blues hybrid “The Dance” (which showcases her acoustic guitar work) and a beautiful cover of the Carter Family’s “Cannonball Blues.”

Sue Foley is a multi-award-winning musician and one of the finest blues and roots artists working today. She is a veritable triple-threat of musical talent as a guitarist, songwriter and vocalist. As with many blues women of the past, Foley has a long history of defying convention, and being a positive role model for aspiring, young female musicians.

She has been working professionally since the age of 16, and by the age of 21, Foley had relocated to Austin, Texas, and began recording for Antone’s, the esteemed blues label and historic nightclub that helped launch the career of Stevie Ray Vaughan and many others. In the two decades that have followed, Sue Foley has been busy touring and recording steadily, all while toting her signature pink paisley Fender Telecaster. In 2001, she won the prestigious Juno Award (Canadian equivalent of the Grammy) and also holds the record for the most Maple Blues Awards in Canada and has earned three Trophees de Blues de France. She has also garnered several nominations at the Blues Music Awards from The Blues Foundation.

The Ice Queen represents Sue Foley’s indefatigable commitment to her craft, and her transparency with the journey that birthed her, further proving that you can’t keep a good blueswoman down, particularly when she is The Ice Queen.

Sat, 01/06/2018 - 1:31 pm

Roots-based singer/songwriter Patrick Coman announces a February 23 release date for his new CD, Tree of Life, on his For the Sake of the Song label imprint. Produced by acclaimed guitarist Peter Parcek and drummer Marco Giovino (Robert Plant, Buddy Miller), who both also play on the new disc, Tree of Life was recorded at Dagotown Recorders in Holden, Mass., and features 11 original songs penned by Coman, plus a cool cover of Leon Russell’s “Magic Mirror.”

Watch a live video in the studio during the recording of the title track, “Tree of Life:”

In addition to Patrick Coman on vocals and rhythm guitar, plus Peter Parcek on lead guitar and Marco Giovino on drums, percussion and organ, the talented group of players assembled for the recording sessions included Joe Klompus (Letters to Cleo) - upright and electric bass; Neal Pawley - tuba, trombone, lap steel, baritone guitar, guitar and electric mandolin; “Beehive Queen” Christine Ohlman - vocals (who lends her unmistakable grit to the spirited duet, “Don’t Reach”); Kylie Harris and Abbie Barrett - background vocals; and Tom West  (Peter Wolf, Susan Tedeschi) – keys, organ and accordion.

A long-time Boston musician and radio personality before recently locating to Charlottesville, Virginia, Coman was very familiar with both Peter Parcek and Marco Giovino. “Getting to play with Peter over the past few years has been like going to school,” states Coman. “From him I’ve learned so much about playing the blues, but perhaps more importantly I’ve learned what it means to be a working musician and a bandleader and to create music with power, substance and integrity.

“Even though a lot of the songs are pretty heavy, we had so much fun during the recording process. Marco has this great studio out in rural Massachusetts that feels like a little clubhouse or what you’d imagine The Band had in mind with Big Pink. It was a place where we felt comfortable letting our imaginations run wild and really creating a sonic landscape for each song. No idea was too crazy for us to try and I think that type of freedom gave us the ambition to strive for something great.”

Nearly all of the material on the new CD was written in the months leading up to and directly following the birth of Coman’s first child. With a new baby in the house, songs were pieced together late at night or early in the morning in that mystical twilight period where dreams and reality blur. This cosmic bridge is reflected in the album’s title and sequence, where haunting opener “Heartbeat” beckons the listener into this eerie dreamlike landscape, before galloping across a fun house mirror version of Americana that reflects back in ways that seem both familiar and strange. It’s clear that Patrick Coman’s Tree of Life has many musical branches.

“The ‘Tree of Life’ comes up in most religions around the world, often as a bridge between heaven and earth or between life and death,” says Coman. “In the last few months before my daughter was born I began to think about her time in the womb in the same way and how this symbol echoed my own transition between my previous life and the one I knew I would step into on the day she was born.”

Coman’s musical foundation was formed at an early age from his upbringing in Oklahoma. “Like many Oklahomans, I grew up revering Woody Guthrie and his affinity for the working class,” he recalls. “Today it is eerie to see how his Dust Bowl-era themes are just as relevant as ever. Although my sound is different, I like to think that Woody would appreciate songs like ‘Trouble #2’ and ‘The Judge.’ He was the master of boiling down an injustice to the point where anyone could understand it and while it doesn’t get mentioned as much, his combination of folk, blues, and hillbilly music paved the way for those of us who work in the cracks between genres.”

In an era where volume dictates attention, Patrick Coman pulls his audience in with a quiet, unshakable confidence. It’s a confidence built from a decade behind the scenes with some of the generation’s best songwriters as a booking agent, sound engineer, and DJ/producer for premier Americana station WUMB-FM in Boston, before stepping into the spotlight with his debut full- length album, Tree of Life.

Turning his back on a career in the music business to spend his time as a stay-at-home father by day and full-time musician by night has paid dividends for Coman as a writer and performer. Over the past year he’s opened for a crop of revered Americana artists like Del McCoury, Robbie Fulks, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, Joan Osborne and John Fullbright, while veteran musicians like Parcek and Giovino have taken him under their wing.

Coman’s own vocals bear the laidback blues-inflected style of fellow Tulsa, Oklahoma,  natives JJ Cale and Leon Russell, while the protagonists in “The Judge” and “Trouble #2” bring to mind  Woody Guthrie. The album also stirs in touches of Lou Reed’s street walkin’ strut, the swampy groove of Little Feat, and darkly humorous rockabilly rave ups that swing like demented versions of Sun Studio classics.

“Being a songwriter means grappling with your inner demons in an incredibly public way,” Coman summarizes. “That’s something that I have always been afraid of and so I’ve often avoided writing about myself. One amazing thing about being a parent is that it forces you to be honest with yourself. Digging into my fears and doubts in songs like ‘Keep My Soul,’ ‘Tree of Life’ or even ‘Heartbeat’ was painful at the time, but now when I perform them it feels so cathartic to share those emotions with other people and I’m always amazed because those tend to be the favorite songs when people come up after the show.”

Patrick Coman Tour Dates

2/16 – Me & Thee Coffeehouse (Marblehead, MA) *Tribute to John Prine

2/17 – The Burren (Somerville, MA) 

2/23 – Tellus360 (Lancaster, PA)

2/24 & 25 – Purple Fiddle (Thomas, WV)

3/2 – The Southgate House Revival (Newport, KY – Cincinnati area)

3/14 – Awendaw Green (Awendaw, SC – near Charleston, SC)

3/17 – WDVX’s Blue Plate Special (live radio show in Knoxville, TN)

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:09 am

Blues Hall of Famer/“Godfather of British Blues” John Mayall will release an album of live recordings titled Three for the Road on February 23 via the Forty Below Records label. Produced by John Mayall and Forty Below Records president Eric Corne, the new album was recorded live in Dresden and Stuttgart, Germany, in March of 2017. The nine tracks on Three for the Road include fan and personal song favorites played by his trio: John Mayall (vocals, keyboard, and harmonica), Greg Rzab (bass) and Jay Davenport (drums).

“I hope the fans will enjoy the fireworks that the three of us came up with during a subsequent tour of Europe last year,” Mayall says. “We opted for recording in East Germany purely as a convenience and availability of a recording company. They specialize in live recordings and I must say they captured the energy that took place onstage. The songs come from my extensive library of material composed by some of my favorite blues players. Naturally, my playing is featured quite a lot more than usual in this format, and I hope listeners will enjoy the performances that capture a new chapter in my live shows.”

John Mayall has been utilizing the current trio format for over a year. Long-time followers of the legendary British blues master know to expect the unexpected from Mayall, who always likes to keep his sound fresh, both in terms of musical ideas and in the band members he’s utilized throughout his 50-plus year career.

“I’ve been using the trio format for our live shows for a year already,” he states, “and the reason for that came about quite accidentally when my guitarist Rocky Athas wasn’t able to make a festival gig due to airline cancellations. Since then, I found that the interplay and dynamics have created a more personal upfront sound in my live performances. I can’t speak too highly of bass player Greg Rzab and drummer Jay Davenport, who have been my bandmates for the last ten years or more. Their Chicago roots are to the fore every time we get onstage together.”

Three for the Road comes one year after the release of his last studio CD, Talk about That, which saw Mayall’s then-four piece band joined by a special guest, legendary guitarist Joe Walsh, who played on two tracks, “The Devil Must Be Laughing” and “Cards on the Table,” both John Mayall compositions. Talk about That garnered tremendous reviews from the fans and media alike, while also generating extensive radio airplay. It came after John Mayall’s induction into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2016.

For over 50 years, John Mayall has served as a pioneer of blues music, rightly earning him the title, “The Godfather of British Blues.” In 2013, John signed with producer Eric Corne’s label, Forty Below Records, and the four studio albums – along with two landmark Bluesbreakers live 1967 recordings - released since continue to raise Mayall’s recognition as a true pioneer and innovator in blues and roots music. He continues to perform extensively both in the USA and abroad, and has an ambitious touring schedule in place for the rest of the year that was booked by Monterey International Artists (www.montereyinternational.net).

As for what’s next on John Mayall’s horizon, he’s giving fans an early head-up as what’s to come in the future.  “As for recording, I shall still be exploring the talents of guitar players who will be pretty well-known to all lovers of rock and roll. They will be strongly featured on the next studio album. I have already got songs lined up for our sessions in the studio at the end of this month. So look out for the prominent interplay and surprises that will be coming your way later this year. Thanks for all your support as usual. I couldn’t do it without you!”

JOHN MAYALL – THREE FOR THE ROAD – TRACK LISTING

1     INTRODUCTION

2    BIG TOWN PLAYBOY (Eddie Taylor)

3    I FEEL SO BAD (Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins)

4    THE SUM OF SOMETHING (Curtis Salgado)

5    STREAMLINE (John Mayall)

6    TEARS CAME ROLLIN’ DOWN (Henry J. Townsend)

7    RIDIN’ ON THE L & N (Lionel Hampton/Dan Burley)

8    DON’T DENY ME (Jerry Lynn Williams)

9   LONELY FEELINGS (John Mayall)

10  CONGO SQUARE (Sonny Landreth/Dave Raonson/Mel Melton)

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 4:15 pm

Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Chip Taylor (aka James Wesley Voight) is not one to rest on his laurels. The prolific award-winning songwriter has announced a March 2 release date for his latest album of compositions about the human condition, Fix Your Words, on Train Wreck Records. The personal - yet universal - appeal of Taylor’s songs is reinforced by the nostalgic family cover photo on the new CD, which pictures (left to right) Chip Taylor, plus brothers Barry and Jon Voight and their mother, Barbara.

2017 was a momentous year for Chip Taylor, which saw his song “F**k All The Perfect People,” a track off the 2012 album of the same title, become a viral internet smash generating over one million plays on Spotify and introducing Chip’s music to an entire new generation of listeners.

Chip Taylor has been writing and performing for nearly 60 years. Perhaps the New York Times said it best: “If you only know him as the as the guy who wrote ‘Wild Thing’ and ‘Angel of the Morning’ — you don’t know him! Chip Taylor is making some of the most distinctive acoustic music around today.” With the release of Fix Your Words, he continues to create timeless, thought-provoking music.

The 11 all-original songs on Fix Your Words feature two distinct sides. The amazing title track leads side A through the quiet, reflective batch of prayerful thoughts. Side B, subtitled “When I Was a Kid,” is an inspired meditation on the power of memory and sadness and features some of the most emotional and affecting songs of Taylor’s lifetime of songwriting.

As with Taylor’s The Little Prayers Trilogy (Mojo called it “a masterpiece;” while Uncut said it was “the crowning glory of a storied career” and placed it on its Best of 2015 list), the new album was co-produced by keyboardist Goran Grini. It also features Chip’s longtime compadre, master guitarist John Platania (Van Morrison), as well as drummer Tony Leone and bassist Tony Mercadante.

About Chip Taylor

Creating distinctive music that is also enduring and influential has been Chip Taylor’s métier over the course of what is closing in on five decades as “one of America’s finest songwriters as well as a masterful singer and performer,” says Rolling Stone. His two best-known songs are only some of the many pop, rock, country and R&B chart hits he wrote in the 1960s (Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Willie Nelson, Dusty Springfield and Frank Sinatra all recorded his songs).  Taylor was one of the pioneers of the pivotal country-rock movement as a recording artist in the 1970s. His 1973 album, Last Chance, remains a beloved cult classic, and has just been packaged as a reissue, titled Last Chance: The Warner Bros Years, a 3-CD set that also includes his 1974 album, Some of Us, and 1975 LP, This Side of the Big River, plus a DVD of Taylor and his band recorded live at Austin’s Armadillo World Headquarters in 1973. After refusing to play by the Nashville establishment rules, Taylor gave up music for full-time professional gambling in 1980.
 


Since returning to music in 1996, he has enjoyed elder statesman stature within the Americana, contemporary folk and singer-songwriter scenes as an artist in his own right, as well as in collaboration on albums and in performance with Carrie Rodriguez, John Prine, Kendel Carson and John Platania.  In a remarkable and prolific run, Taylor has released nearly an album a year since his return, each rising high on the Americana chart.  As England’s The Guardian notes, “Chip Taylor, like Johnny Cash, is well worth rediscovering by a new generation.”


Wed, 01/31/2018 - 4:04 pm

Severn Records announces a March 9 release date for They Call Me Mud, the new CD from singer Mud Morganfield, son of the legendary blues icon, Muddy Waters. Produced by Mud Morganfield and Rick Kreher (who also plays guitar on the CD), They Call Me Mud was recorded at Joyride Studios in in Mud’s Chicago hometown. Mud penned 10 of the album’s 12 songs, with two others coming from his illustrious father’s catalog, “Howling Wolf” and “Can’t Get No Grinding.”

A stellar cast of Chicago area musicians adds some authentic, downhome blues touches to the recording, including Billy Flynn on guitar, Studebaker John on harmonica and backing vocals, Sumito Ariyo Ariyoshi on piano, E.G. McDaniel on bass and Melvin “Pookie Stix” Carlisle on drums.  Special guests include Billy Branch on harmonica, Mike Wheeler on guitar and Mud’s daughter Lashunda Williams, who joins her dad on a loving duet, ‘Who Loves You,’ where Mud gets to stretch out on some of his R&B grooves. There’s also a horn section featured on several tunes, and Mud, himself, plays bass on three tracks.

“I think it’s the some of the best work I’ve ever done yet,” Mud Morganfield proclaims about the new disc. “I feel that with the variety of material I have on here, people will get a chance to hear the other sides of my music: everything from soul and R&B to jazz and, of course, blues. I got to play bass on three songs, too, and I’m so proud to a have my youngest daughter, Lashunda, sing with me on this album. She’s a natural, too, and regularly sings gospel at home.”

In the album’s liner notes, co-producer Rick Kreher recalls how he found out about Mud and finally got a chance to meet and become friends with the big man. “About a dozen years ago or so, I heard that a son of Muddy Waters was popping up at clubs on the Westside of Chicago and sitting in for a couple of tunes. A few weeks later, a Chicago blues club was having their annual musicians Christmas luncheon and there was this guy who certainly looked like Muddy. As soon as I introduced myself and he began to talk, I knew without a doubt that this was Muddy’s son. No one could have that deep baritone voice and as soon as he gave that little ‘chuckle’ that Muddy always did, I was convinced. Since that first meeting, we have become great friends and have worked together on many musical endeavors. Mud Morganfield has grown into a superstar on the blues circuit. Certainly, there will be comparisons to his dad, but that can be expected and rightly so. Mud comes as close to the Muddy experience as one can get. He will always pay tribute to his dad with the Chicago blues ensemble sound that Muddy created. But, Mud was also brought up musically in the ‘70s and ‘80s when soul, Motown and R&B ruled the world. Mud played bass and performed with bands playing the hits of that era. This, along with his blues pedigree, has influenced Mud’s own songwriting skills, which are constantly evolving.”

They Call Me Mud is Morganfield’s third album for Severn Records. Son of the Seventh Son (2012) was the first recording that brought Mud into the blues limelight. Mud wrote most of the songs on that album, which was nominated for numerous blues awards and received rave reviews around the world. His last album, For Pops (2014), a tribute to his dad that featured harmonica great Kim Wilson, was showcased on National Public Radio and garnered a Blues Music Award nomination for Traditional Album of the Year.

Rick Kreher describes the music on the new disc as “a blues buffet, with something for everyone. We have a new signature song, ‘They Call Me Mud,’ a hard hitting funky blues with Mud growling it on home. Some rockin’ blues with Studebaker John on harp and Mike Wheeler on guitar going toe-to-toe on ‘“Who’s Fooling Who?’ We have a couple of Chicago blues stompers, ‘Walkin’ Cane’ and ‘Rough Around the Edge;’ a great minor blues, ‘48 Days,’ with Billy Flynn channeling the great Jimmy Johnson on guitar; a Stax groove on ‘Oh Yeah;’ and Mike Wheeler again getting funky on ‘24 Hours.’

“Then, to honor his dad once again we have Muddy’s slide guitar blues, ‘Howlin’ Wolf,’ and the roaring shuffle, ‘Can’t Get No Grindin’,’ where everyone takes a solo turn. And finally, a jazzy instrumental, ‘Mud’s Groove,’ featuring the great Billy Branch on harp. This was the kind of song that blues bands would play before the star of the show would appear to get them into the groove. This song is a perfect finale to a CD that showcases Mud’s take on the blues.”

Sat, 02/10/2018 - 1:07 pm

After living in San Francisco for several years, Americana singer/songwriter Logan Magness has moved back to his Memphis hometown and will release his debut album, Memphis on My Mind, out March 23 on Wolf River Records, distributed through CEN/The Orchard, a division of Sony Music.

Logan Magness created a special video during the recording process, which can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/uIsyW8AVUsg.

Memphis on My Mind was recorded at Prairie Sun Studios (Tom Waits, The Mountain Goats), in Cotati, California, before his move back to Memphis, utilizing a number of celebrated Bay Area musicians to back his vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica work. Tracked predominantly live and rich with analog tones, the album recalls the warmth and fidelity of garage rock records of yore. “Everything was tracked in five days,” he declares. “I couldn’t afford downtime in the studio anyway. I knew I wanted things to have a live feel, so it was just dialing in the tones and trying to capture the performance. It was a no-frills approach, the last thing I wanted to do was lose sight of the songs.” he adds. The album speaks kindly to those fans of Jason Isbell, Josh Ritter, Ryan Adams and Jeff Tweedy.

Logan Magness was raised in Memphis, Tennessee, a town steeped in musical heritage, and home to some of the most famous recording studios in the world, but it wasn’t until moving to San Francisco after college that Magness became serious about songwriting. A self-taught singer and guitarist with a smooth, shut-up-and-listen tenor, Magness found comfort in the solitude of his tiny studio apartment, “It just happened, like I was struck by something and became obsessed with songs,” he recalls. “I couldn’t stop writing and I fell in love with the craft, how personal it could be. I haven’t listened to music the same since. It’s a blessing and a curse.”

Memphis on My Mind is an introspective look back at his five years spent living in San Francisco, falling both in and out of love with the people and city around him. “The perspective matured as I did, and I think that comes through on the second half of the record,” he says. “The first tracks are self-critical; I was finding out what was important to me and as a result consciously uprooting things that weren’t intended. The narrative unravels and then sort of stitches itself back together by the end. That wasn’t intentional, it was just me; so yeah, it’s personal.”

Memphis on My Mind is inspired songwriting, brooding and intimate yet upbeat, not a word wasted. In Logan Magness, listeners will find a unique and poignant narrative voice beaming with potential. “Lately I find myself constantly breaking down mental barriers,” he states. “Lyrics come to mind and I’ll have this natural inclination to reject them because they may come off too mean or personal. I’ve been able to step back and consciously say to myself, ‘no, that’s exactly what you meant to say.’ It’s a continuous learning process and honestly so rewarding. Being humble in your growth, feeling like you’ve said what you wanted to say and then having that connect with someone else, there’s no better feeling.”

The title track and fitting end of Memphis on My Mind finds Magness coming to terms, taking a step back and realizing a chapter closing. His relocation back to Memphis at the end of 2017 opens the next. “My priorities changed and with that so did my needs,” he summarizes. “I came to the realization that I wouldn’t be happy in life doing anything but music. San Francisco taught me to be myself and I love it for that, but it was time to come home.”

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 7:56 am

Award winning blues-rock guitarist Ally Venable will release her new CD, Puppet Show, on April 13 from Connor Ray Music. The Ally Venable Band consists of Ally - guitar and vocals; Elijah Owings – drums; and Bobby Wallace – bass. Special Guests on Puppet Show, which was produced by Rock Romano, Steve Krase (who also plays harmonica on the sessions) and Ally Venable, include guitarists Gary Hoey and Lance Lopez, as well as  keyboardist Eric Steckel.

Puppet Show, Ally’s second album for Connor Ray Music, was recorded at Red Shack Studio in Houston, and features eight original tunes written and composed by Venable, along with two blues classics that compliment her rockin’ blues sound.

“I had an amazing time writing and creating Puppet Show for the people with my closest musician friends,” says Ally Venable. “I look forward to putting this album out for all the blues-rock lovers and I hope they enjoy it as much as I loved making it for them.”

Puppet Show is all about songs that connect. It radiates a sense of soul through the songwriting and guitar playing, as well as the vocals that are laid out throughout the album. The disc opens up with a haunting riff for the song “Devil’s Son,” which features Gary Hoey on lead guitar along with Ally Venable on guitar and vocals. Together, they stir a powerful tune that will stay on repeat. The next track, “Bridges to Burn” strikes an unforgettable melody within the song, with guest artist Lance Lopez and Ally playing in harmony together to resonate a powerful statement with their guitar playing. “Sleeping Through the Storm” is another number that portrays the message of conquering one’s struggles and persevering through the storm that approaches us in our lives. With compelling lyrics and strong blues rock guitar playing, Puppet Show represents the future of the blues.

“I had a blast guesting on the song, ‘Devil’s Son,’” says acclaimed rock guitarist Gary Hoey. “Ally has a maturity as a song writer beyond her years and her guitar playing and singing are the real deal. ‘Devils Son’ is a bad-ass song with a haunting riff; I had a blast playing my Highway 61 Dobro guitar on it. Bravo Ally!”

Adds Lance Lopez, who’s been a mentor to the 19-year-old Venable, “Ally has been working very hard to become the young Guitar Slingin’ Senorita she is. It’s been such a pleasure to share my knowledge with her and watch her grow!”

A powerhouse singer and guitar player, Ally Venable has ignited excitement on the Texas blues scene. She began singing at an early age in church and then in recent years picked up the guitar and found her true passion. A protégé of Lance Lopez, with her songwriting and onstage performances, this teen musician packs a punch. Ally was the 2014 and 2015 East Texas Female Guitarist of the Year. The Ally Venable Band also won 2015, 2016, and 2017 honors as East Texas Blues Band of the year.

Ally Venable Band TOUR Dates

*Pre-Release Shows:

March 9 - poor David’s Pub- Dallas, TX

March 16 - The Oasis – Midlothian, TX

March 17 - The Texas Musician’s Musuem. irving, TX

March 30 - Big beats, Dallas, Tx

March 31 - Green oaks Tavern, humble, TX

April 7 - BackPorch – kilgore, TX

 

*CD Release Shows:

April 13 - DArwin’s Burgers & Blues- Atlanta, GA

April 14 - thirsty Turtle – Millbrook, AL

April 20 - Keys Lounge – Fort Worth, TX

April 21 - Six springs Tavern – RichardSon, TX

April 27 - Germanfest – Muenster, TX

May 6 - Dallas international Guitar Show- Dallas, TX

May 12 - Porchfest – Kilgore, TX

May 26 - Mudbug madness - Shreveport, la

June 16 - Apline Country blues Festival, Apline, AZ

June 23 - Backporch – Kilgore, TX

July 7 - Tall city blues Fest –Midland, Tx.

JULY 21 – TOP OF THE ROCKIES RALLY – PAONIA, CO

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 1:04 pm

Singer-songwriter Mike Aiken announces a June 8 release date for his new CD, Wayward Troubadour, on Northwind Records. In addition to his vocals and stellar guitar work, the band that Aiken put together for Wayward Troubadour included friends David Roe on bass (Jerry Reed, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash), Kenny Vaughan on electric and acoustic guitars (Marty Stuart), and guest writers/ vocalists Henry Paul (Outlaws, Blackhawk, Henry Paul Band) and Chris P James (Burrito Brothers). Other musicians on the sessions are Aiken’s wife, Amy - vocals, rubboard, African gourd, congas, tambourine and assorted noisemakers; Tom Hurst – drums; Michael Webb -  Hammond B3 organ; Ben Probus – fiddle; Skip DeRupa - guiro, jaw harp; Randall Thomas - background vocals; and Tim Buppert - guest vocals.

Aiken’s conceptualized project is the anticipated follow-up to his Grammy-nominated Captains & Cowboys (produced by Dan Baird of the Georgia Satellites). The Western Swing-tinged lead-off track, “Everything Changed,’ sets the tone for what is to follow on the 11-song sonic journey Aiken has created, abound with plenty of tales of hope and despair, trouble and charm.

“I had a very clear sound in my head for this album; one I’ve always wanted to capture, and I was not going to settle for less,” Aiken says. “At this point in my career, I don’t have time for folks who don’t believe in the music 110%. These were the folks I wanted to write, record and perform with.”

Of the eight original songs on Wayward Troubadour, six are co-writes. “Two Lane Highway” was penned with Henry Paul, who also lent his talents to mandolin and vocals on this timeless, sweet track. “Nashville Skyline,” written with Chris P James, covers the troubadour’s view of Nashville as seen from any highway leading into town. Mike included two very different songs he wrote with Paul Jefferson, the cookin’, Bob Wills-esque, “Everything Changed,” and the tense song about not being judgmental, “Hard Working Working Girl.” Longtime friend and co-writer, Tim Buppert and Mike created the more tongue-in-cheek offerings with “Hangover Helper” and the Gypsy Jazz-flavored, “A Little Lazy In Your Life.” The three covers were chosen for their content and the songwriters, rather than audience familiarity: “Real Mean Dog” (Robbin Thompson, Gregg Wetzel) for Robbin, longtime friend, fellow sailor and beloved songwriter/performer; “Dead Man Runs Before He Walks” (Mark Collie, Shawn Camp) for an interesting twist on a somber story; and Penelope (Christopher Hynes) for its reminder that the grass is not always greener elsewhere. The self-penned songs “Travelin’ Bone” and “Chesapeake” give an autobiographical peek into Mike Aiken.

“Chesapeake,” the album’s closing track, is a re-recorded version of a song Mike wrote a number of years ago that was picked in 2011 by Sports Illustrated for their list of “All-Time Top 40 Sports Songs.” They had this to say about it back then: “There are hundreds of sailing shanties, Christopher Cross's ‘Sailing’ and Jimmy Buffett's ‘Take It Back’ (the best and perhaps only America's Cup rooting song). But nobody sings about the nautical life better than Aiken. He spends much of the year aboard a 42-foot cutter near Chesapeake, Va., and this simple ode to being on the water explains the appeal.” 

Advance reviews of Wayward Troubadour are over-the-top. “Love the album; it's his best yet! Mike Aiken's gift is writing songs about the endless highway. Wayward Troubadour is his most bluesy and rootsiest to date, with his first-rate band and spot-on harmonies with his wife, Amy. Ideal music for a road trip!” - Paul Shugrue, host, “Out of the Box” – NPR Station WHRO-FM, Norfolk, Virginia

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 11:52 am

Gretchen and the Pickpockets announce an April 25 release date for their new full-length album, Falling Rising, on their Pickpocket Records imprint. The new disc, which showcases 10 all-original songs, was recorded in Boston at Dimension Sounds Studio, with engineering by Dan Cardinal (Darlingside, Ballroom Thieves), mixing by Nick Nagurka (Vulfpeck) and mastering by Grammy-nominated Emily Lazar (Foo Fighters).

Gretchen and the Pickpockets is a six-piece soul/jazz/rock band featuring heavy horn lines and improvisation that started with siblings Gretchen and Mike Klempa. Besides Gretchen on vocals and Mike on bass, the rest of the band consists of Ryan O’Connell on trumpet and guitar; Tom O’Connell on drums and percussion; Richie Smith on guitar; and Diego Tunjano on saxophone. Named after a hometown road with a history for larceny, the group has become known for their unique blend of genres and their energetic live shows.

“Working with Dan Cardinal at Dimension Sounds Studios was truly a dream,” says lead singer Gretchen Klempa about the recording sessions. “Being able to take ideas for sounds and textures we’ve had in our heads and give them life through recording is an incredibly difficult yet rewarding endeavor,” adds her brother Mike. “We decided as a group to track as much of the music as we could live, together, and in full takes so that the listener can hear the communication emotion, and exchange of ideas that happens between us. So much of our music is based on jazz — we love incorporating improvisation and flexibility of interpretation. We even recorded some upright bass on this album on songs like ‘Back and Forth’ and ‘Devil’s Due’ for a warm, booming, and intimate feel.”

Watch a video about the making of Falling Rising here:

Based out of Boston, Gretchen and the Pickpockets have been active in the New England area since 2013, and recognitions include multiple Iguana Music Fund grants from Club Passim, Best in State: New Hampshire 2015 from the New England Music Awards and Best Rock Band 2015 from the Seacoast NH Spotlight Awards. They have supported bands such as Houndmouth, Marco Benevento, Haley Jane & The Primates, Kat Wright and Will Dailey.

“We won a grant to help fund this album, from the iconic Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts,” states Gretchen, “furthering our gratitude that the Boston community is behind this project.”

“We also had the awesome opportunity to track some live horns as well,” recalls Ryan O’Connell. “We are very thankful to Converse (the shoe brand), who let us track our horn section for free at their Rubber Tracks Studio in Boston.”

Past Gretchen & the Pickpockets live shows thus far have included dates in New York City, Chicago, Milwaukee, Raleigh, Nashville, Asheville, Durham, Portland, Maine, and Portsmouth New Hampshire. The band will tour in support of Falling Rising with shows planned for New York City and Western New York in late April; and a July tour that includes Nashville, Raleigh, Washington, DC, Philadelphia and several other markets.

“This album was a really unique experience for us in a number of ways,” adds Richie Smith, “and I think for the first time the title of the album finally fits the story behind it. ‘Falling Rising’ is actually the name of a song we used to play and recorded for the album, but didn’t make the cut. We spent such a long time discussing that tune and trying to figure out where it could go, but in the end we decided to leave it off. And from there, Falling and Rising seemed to become more and more pertinent.”

“Over the two-year process of releasing this album, we always felt like we took a step forwards and a step back,” says Mike Klempa. “Some collaborations we hoped for didn’t come through; some that we always dreamed of ended up happening.  However, I think the most subversive example of “falling and rising” was actually our session at Converse Rubber Tracks. The day we went in to the studio was the day right after the 2016 presidential election. It was a day that began with such excitement, but was met with such caution and tension. The air was thick with unease. And yet, as soon as we got our headphones on, the click track came in, and I raised my hands to conduct the horn section, we put all our thoughts and fears aside and just made something happen. And from that fear came something that we were really proud of; it ended up being such a beautiful experience. I don’t think the horns would have sounded as good under any other circumstances. We gave all we had in that studio that day. It was all we could do, and I think that is what’s really behind this album and our experiences here. Things happen. Life pushes onward forever. We fall. We rise.”

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 12:52 pm

Black Hen Music announces a June 15 release date for multiple Juno-award-winning musician/producer Steve Dawson’s new instrumental acoustic album, Lucky Hand. The new recording showcases Dawson’s brilliant fingerstyle work on a variety of instruments, accompanied by special guests Jesse Zubot on violin, harmonica legend Charlie McCoy and mandolinist John Reischman, as well as the presence of a string quartet on a number of tracks. The album will be available on both CD and vinyl LP formats.

Lucky Hand is Steve Dawson’s 8th album and his first record of instrumental music since Rattlesnake Cage in 2014. The scope of his musical voice broadens to take on a cinematic quality, as he sketches aural paintings and creates tapestries of sound with his guitar. Recorded live off the floor, with up to 12 microphones in various positions throughout the large studio space to capture the guitar and orchestration, Lucky Hand represents the perfect intersection of the primitive and the modern that has fascinated Dawson for so long.

“I wanted to re-explore the acoustic fingerstyle and slide guitar pieces that I’d started with my Rattlesnake Cage album in 2014,” says Dawson, “but this time I thought it would be fun to augment that with something special; so I hooked up with my old musical partner Jesse Zubot, who created some string arrangements around the music that were meant to augment them and push the pieces along, rather than just be passive accompaniment.”

Lucky Hand represents a high point of more than two decades of musical searching for Steve Dawson.  Comprised of ten instrumental tracks of solo, duo and full-bodied string quartet works, Dawson has never released music as sweeping, dynamic and visually suggestive as this. Enlisting Jesse Zubot in the project to create complementary and adventurous arrangements for his guitar excursions, these completely realized compositions – with Zubot’s orchestration adding color to the sepia tinged melodies - represent Dawson’s finest recordings yet. 2018 marks 20 years since the debut of Zubot and Dawson, and their collaborations never cease to inspire.

“I’m interested in guitar music as a way to express song-form rather than guitar pyrotechnics,” Dawson proclaims. “I don’t really relate to modern fingerstyle music that much, although players from the 1920s up through the 1970s are what originally and still inspire me. But I still wanted to do something modern and different, which is where the duo ideas with John Reischman and Charlie McCoy, as well as the more intense string arrangement concepts all came from.

“We recorded this album in Vancouver, with all of us playing together live, using vintage mics in a big room. It was me facing the quartet, which was in a semi-circle in front of me. I’ve never done anything like that before. We just played the pieces until we got it. The challenge was to get a good performance from me while the strings were getting through their intricate parts. Everyone was sweating a little!”

All of Dawson’s records feature a wide array of stringed instruments, and Lucky Hand is no exception. His artistry on the six and twelve string guitars shimmers throughout, while the track “Bugscuffle” showcases his unique tuning and voice on the Weissenborn lap guitar. “Bentonia Blues” features a thrilling duet between Dawson’s National Steel Guitar and roots legend Charlie McCoy’s harmonica. Gorgeous interplay abounds as his guitar converses with John Reischman’s mandolin on “Little Harpeth.”  At times it’s hard to tell where Dawson’s guitar begins and Reischman’s mandolin ends. A truly masterful performance, it’s just one of the many breathless, transcendent moments to be heard on Lucky Hand.

With song titles like “Lonesome Ace” and “Lucky Hand,” a person could be forgiven for thinking that Dawson attributes his creativity to chance and caprice. In truth, each of these songs is named for the inspiration of places he’s encountered around his Nashville hometown. Music like this has nothing to do with good fortune, unless you’re talking about his listeners. For them, Lucky Hand is a royal flush of a record.

Fri, 04/27/2018 - 10:44 am

World-class harmonica player Steve Krase expands his blues music into new territory on his fourth CD, Just Waitin’, coming June 15 on Connor Ray Music. Produced by Rock Romano (who also played bass and sang backing vocals), Just Waitin’ features Steve Krase (vocals and harmonica), backed by a solid cast of additional notables, including David Carter (guitars and backing vocals); Tamara Williams (drums, percussion and backing vocals); James Gilmer (percussion); Brian Jack (accordion); Mike Vee (rubboard); and Kenan Ozdemir (lead guitar).

Steve Krase will celebrate the new album with a special CD pre-release show at Houston’s famed Big Easy Club on Friday, May 18th (5731 Kirby Dr., Houston), where he’ll be joined by several special guests including the legendary singer Trudy Lynn, plus James Gilmer on percussion and Brian Jack on accordion. “I’m so pleased to be showcasing our new CD at one of the finest Blues Clubs in the world, Houston's Big Easy,” says Krase. “This is a new band, a new sound, and I'm excited to roll it out.”

Just Waitin’ spends much time within the blues world, with songs from Howlin’ Wolf and Big Walter Price, among others; but also traverses beyond that into roots and Americana styles, with a song on the new disc from Hank Williams (“Settin’ the Woods on Fire”) and even a Zydeco –flavored take on the theme from the “Beverly Hillbillies” TV show (“The Ballad of Jed Clampett”).

In the liner notes for Just Waitin’, Krase sends a big shout out to all the musicians, production personnel and fans for their work and support. “Thanks to all the great musicians that I am lucky enough to have in my corner,” he says, “especially to my band: David Carter, Tamara Williams and most notably to Rock Romano, who pulled triple duty as bassist, producer and sound engineer on this recording, in addition to penning three of the songs. Special thanks also to Trudy Lynn, who continues to amaze me with her talent and from whom I continue to learn. Very special thanks to the clubs that continue to support live music and KPFT Houston radio for all of their support  Finally, I want to thank all of the people that contributed money to assist the Houston Blues musicians in need after Hurricane Harvey.”

Said producer/bassist Rock Romano about the recording sessions: “Steve really delivered on this CD; great song selections delivered with dynamic heart-felt vocals along with his unique and powerful harmonica style.” And special guest James Gilmer, longtime percussionist for Lyle Lovett, added, “I love this project! It’s like Magic Dick and Peter Wolf meet Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter!”

Just Waitin’ Track Listing

1)  Settin' the Woods on Fire  

2)  I Don't Mind     

3)  Just Waitin' on My Brand New Baby

4)  Irene Irene   

5)  The Ballad of Jed Clampett  

6)  All in the Mood  

7)  Dirty Dirty  

8)  Blame It All On Love 

9)  Nobody Loves Me 

10) My Baby Walked Off

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 4:18 pm

Mark Wenner, founder and leader of beloved roots band The Nighthawks, announces a June 15 date for the self-titled debut CD of Mark Wenner’s Blues Warriors on EllerSoul Records. Joining Wenner (vocals, harmonica) in the band are fellow Nighthawks mate Mark Stutso (drums, vocals), as well as Clarence “The Bluesman” Turner (guitar, vocals), Zach Sweeney (guitar) and Steve Wolf (upright bass).

Produced by Wenner and recorded earlier this year, Mark Wenner’s Blues Warriors showcases the tight-knit band’s foray into many facets of the blues, embracing influences from Chicago, New Orleans and Mississippi. The disc’s 12 tracks include two instrumentals, where the band gets to strut its collective stuff on the Paul Williams chestnut, “The Hucklebuck,” as well as the original, “Just Like Jimmy,” an homage to the legendary Jimmy Reed. Just like most of the Nighthawks albums of recent vintage, Wenner tosses in another salute to Elvis Presley with a blues-ified version of his classic, “Teddy Bear.”

“This band is actually a blues band,” says Wenner, addressing comparisons to the ‘Hawks. “The Nighthawks are a blues and roots-rock band. This band, with upright bass, is more authentic, old school and swinging. It’s closer to the Cash Box Kings than J. Geils; a whole different animal.”

The Blues Warriors have been active for several years and playing shows in and around the Washington, DC, area. They’re set to play two DC-area festivals in June: Takoma Park Jazz Fest and Silver Spring Blues Fest. The band will also open for The Nighthawks at the Ramshead on May 13 and will play for the Baltimore Blues Society picnic on Labor Day weekend.

Wenner explains how the band’s personnel and recording came about. “About 20 years ago, The Nighthawks played a concert in The Netherlands to kick off a pub-crawl style festival, and I saw a listing for Clarence "The Bluesman" Turner FROM WASHINGTON, DC! I thought I was on top of the DC blues scene, yet I didn't know this young man, so I made a point of catching his set. Clarence knew all the guitar tricks and put on a hell of a show. What really impressed me was how DEEP his blues were. I waited to meet him, and he turned out to be a nice guy and a real gentleman. Although he came up playing bass in the Go Go scene, he had grown up in a house full of blues, both recorded and live. He went on he became quite visible in the thriving Washington blues world and a favorite of the DC Blues Society. He was the obvious choice for a collaborator in a traditional blues band.

“One of the primary factors in such a band had to be upright bass, as opposed to the electric. Steve Wolf, who subbed in the Nighthawks for several tours in the ‘80s, had become a world- class upright player with experience in jazz as well time with the Washington wonder of many styles, Danny Gatton.

“Nighthawks drummer Mark Stutso was also recruited to form a swinging, shuffling rhythm section. To match Clarence, we looked at the young guns playing blues guitar. Zach Sweeney, who I had played with when he was too young to come to the blues jams without his parents, had returned to the area after some serious road experience with Wayne Hancock, was back  and playing blues, rockabilly and honky tonk all over town. We got him.

“Squeezing gigs in between Nighthawks tours and everyone's busy schedules, we developed a swinging old school sound that demanded to be recorded. We found a sympathetic ear at Ambient Studio in Laurel, MD with Ray Tilkins, and had a lot of fun making this disc. I think the joy shows through in the tracks.”

The songs (with comments from Mark Wenner):

1) “Diamonds at Your Feet”- Clarence comes out swinging on a not-overly-covered Muddy Waters tune that features Little Walter-style chromatic harp.

2) “Teddy Bear” - Although the concept was pretty pure blues, I just couldn't help taking an unlikely piece from one of my favorite blues singers and giving it the Warriors' feel.

3) “Rock a While” - Not a well-known Joe Turner piece, Clarence says his parents played this one over and over in their house.

4) “Checkin' Up on My Baby” - Sonny Boy or Jr. Wells? We opted for Junior's version, bringing us into the early ‘60s when Buddy Guy was using James Brown grooves in the Chicago Blues guitar sound.

5) “Just to Be with You” - Clarence gets low down with more Muddy.

6) “King Bee” - Slim Harpo's tune was one of the first blues melodies I learned in the ‘60s and one of the first blues albums I bought. I got to play with Slim and Lightnin' Slim in New York shortly before they both passed.

7) “It’s My Own Fault” - Although Mark Stutso has sung this song in many bands, including Jimmy Thackery's, Tab Benoit's and Jason Ricci's, this is the first studio capture of his magnificent take on the B.B. King classic.

8) “Hello Josephine” - This version of Fats Domino's tune is based on the Terry Garland arrangement I played on. Chuck Berry meets Fats. I'm using the 12-hole Sonny Boy style big Marine Band. Blues Police Beware: There is a little Hillbilly in harmony. 

9) “Trust My Baby” - Unrehearsed one take of a harmonica show-off Sonny Boy Williamson piece.

10) “The Hucklebuck” Zach and Steve get to a chance to really strut their stuff. 

11) “Just Like Jimmy” - An “original” one take, on the spot, creation in honor of my first harmonica hero, Jimmy Reed.

12) “Dust My Broom” - Clarence's favorite “get hot” tune, less guitar and more harmonica driven than the usual and it just plain rocks.

Tue, 05/08/2018 - 7:46 am

Universal rave reviews and international airplay are piling up in support of pedal steel guitar ace Joe Goldmark’s new CD Blue Steel, his most exciting album to date, with a mix of Americana, blues and roots music worthy of the album’s title. Joining Goldmark and a cadre of Bay Area musical notables for the recording sessions at Red Rooster Studio in Berkeley were ex-Hoodoo Rhythm Devils lead singer Glenn Walters, plus chanteuse Dallis Craft, who share the album’s seven vocal performances, plus long-time Goldmark compadre, Jim Campilongo, who guests on electric guitar.

“Few artists can take on multiple genres within an album and expect solid results. Joe Goldmark is one of those few.  The blues tunes will extend airplay for Goldmark beyond the country and Americana fare for which he is so highly respected.  Goldmark has recorded seven pedal steel CDs including the critically acclaimed Steelin’ The Beatles, another example of his adventurous spirit. Whether you’re a fan of pedal steel or not, the musicianship and vocal takes on this mix of songs make for a breezy, relaxing listen.” – Jim Hynes, Glide Magazine

“It boasts a number of his crafty instrumental originals (picks are 'Night Flight', a sparkling 'Ginger Ale' and a particularly adventurous take on Bob Marley's 'Natty Dread') sprinkled alongside a diversified mix of honky-tonk country, blues and roots music worthy of the album's title. He also managed to enlist a preeminent crew of Bay Area musicians including Big Beat drummer Paul Revelli, marvelously instinctual guitarist Garth Webber and ace keyboardist Henry Salvia as well as expressive vocalist Glenn Walters (ex-Hoodoo Rhythm Devils) and tuneful chanteuse Dallis Craft--who share the set's seven vocal numbers. Picks among these encompass saxophone-emboldened versions of both Jimmy McCracklin's dancer 'The Wobble' and B.B. King's vintage 'Beautician Blues' on Walter's part with Craft soulfully shining on a reworking of Dallas Frazier's philosophical 'True Love Travels On a Gravel Road" and a Roy Orbison-informed 'A Love So Beautiful'.” – Gary von Tersch, Blues and Rhythm (UK)

“Blues radio will be delighted with the inclusion of Rufus Thomas’ “All Night Worker”; Jimmy McCracklin’s “The Wobble” and B. B. King’s “Beautician Blues”. These are beautifully sung by Glenn Walters’ former lead singer from The Hoodoo Rhythm Devils. In order to give equal time to Goldmark’s country side the fabulous Dallis Craft sings on Lefty Frizzell’s “Look What Thoughts Will Do”; on Dallas Frazier’s “True Love Travels On a Gravel Road”; on Graham Parker’s “Howlin Wind” and on Jeff Lynne’s “A Love So Beautiful.” Goldmark combines honky-tonk and blues in a most delightful way.” – Richard Ludmerer, Making a Scene

“…a blaze of blues, roots, country, soul and a hefty pinch of R & B to conjure up the multi-talent and former member of the Twangbangers (alongside Bill Kirchen, Dallas Wayne and Redd Volkaert) a unique Americana mix that always puts pedal steel in the foreground… a fascinating bridge between the mentioned, different music styles, paired with the highest steeler skills. Giant compliment! – Max Achatz, Country Jukebox (Germany)

Blue Steel showcases a number of original songs, plus a diverse mix of cover tunes ranging from Jimmy McCracklin, Graham Parker, B.B. King and Jeff Lynne, to Lefty Frizzell, Rufus Thomas and Dallas Frazier. Best known for his honky-tonk country and Americana sounds, Goldmark has combined an extra component this go-round with the addition of blues/roots songs like “All Night Worker,” “The Wobble” and “Beautician Blues,” that are destined for strong play on blues radio stations.

Joe Goldmark has seven pedal steel guitar CDs under his belt, including the popular Seducing the 60s and critically-acclaimed Steelin’ the Beatles, which demonstrate his unique vision for the steel guitar. He’s recorded three seminal albums as a member of the storied “Jim Campilongo and the 10 Gallon Cats.” He toured and recorded with “The Twangbangers,” and all-star band that featured Redd Volkaert, Bill Kirchen and Dallas Wayne. He has also toured with Jim Lauderdale and Peter Rowan, and played in the legendary “Texas Chainsaw Band.”

Growing up in Tucson, Arizona, he played cello from the age of nine, but also took up guitar and played in garage bands. He moved to San Francisco in high school and started playing bass in soul bands during the late ‘60s. Joe became enamored with the San Francisco Sound and saw many of the greats, including Hendrix, Cream, Doors, Big Brother, etc. It was while watching Jerry Garcia play with the New Riders of the Purple Sage, who were opening for The Grateful Dead, that Joe got bitten by the pedal steel bug. He soon dropped out of college to play the steel guitar full time, which he pretty much did for the next fifteen years. After getting married and having a son in the mid-1980s, Joe was fortunate to get a day job, going into the pizza business. Ten years later, he came full circle by becoming a partner at Amoeba Music, and getting totally immersed in the music business; however, he never stopped performing on the pedal steel. 

Joe brings the pedal steel guitar into new musical territory playing high-energy reinterpretations of rock and soul music, as well as writing and performing his own instrumentals. He also has recorded with other artists, including the True Stories album with David Byrne, Restless Rambling Heart with Laurie Lewis, Amazing California Health & Happiness Road Show with the Mermen, and nine albums with “The Usual Suspects,” a project that included legends Mike Bloomfield, Taj Mahal, Peter Rowan, Norton Buffalo and Maria Muldaur.

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 6:57 am

Multi Blues Music Award nominee Al Basile brings his original songs and stories to life on the new CD, Me & the Originator, releasing June 15 on Sweetspot Records. Produced by Duke Robillard, who also adds his guitar talents on the new disc, Me & the Originator showcases Al’s abilities as a storyteller in poems and songs, and as a vocalist and cornet player, backed by an additional group of New England-based all-star musicians, including Mark Texeira (drums), Brad Hallen (bass), Bruce Bears (keyboards), Doug James (tenor and baritone sax) and Jeff “Doc” Chanonhouse (trumpet).

Al Basile, who is also a prize-winning poet, will celebrate the release of the new CD by performing Me & the Originator as a one-man show at the West Chester Poetry Conference, West Chester, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, June 9, from 3:30-4:45 pm.

“For the 20th anniversary of my Sweetspot label, I wanted to do something different,” Basile says about the new project. “Inspired by the running narrative between the songs on Louis Armstrong: My Musical Biography, I decided to tell a story about an imaginary musician who found lyrics, set music to them, but never admitted he didn't write the words after he got famous. It's a story about blues songs – how they came to be, and who can claim them as theirs, that speaks to the history of the music as we've inherited it. The story is told by the narration and the songs working together.

“Many people know me as a musician, and many others as a poet. I wanted to create a project that required both of my creative hats at once. I don't know how often people have told a story using poems and songs which work together this way, but it's something that I'm especially equipped to do. It fits in the category of a blues album, but it's something different, something more.”

Basile’s last album, Quiet Money (2017), continued to build on his legacy as the “bard of the blues,” combining superb blues and roots music within the framework of intelligent and insightful lyrics, garnering him yet another Blues Music Award nomination for his horn playing. He also received a 2016 Best Contemporary Blues Album nomination for Mid-Century Modern.

“I had told the story of this character in poetic form in my first book A Lit House,” Basile offers. “Those interested in what happened eventually to him can find out by reading ‘Leaving Trunk’ in that book. I decided to write a dozen new songs, and have the character comment in poems about how the songs came to be written, and how they related to his own life. I planned to read the poems in the voice of the character, and have Duke Robillard play solo guitar lead-ins for each one (he came up with spectacular introductions, as you'll hear).

“The circumstances under which the disc was recorded were unusual. I had written the songs and the poems which tell the story very early on for me – it was all written by May of 2017. I spent the summer recording demos and making arrangements, and was finished by September. We were scheduled to record in January. I fell ill in October, and was very limited in what I could do physically going into the winter – but I'd finished the work early so I was lucky. I made being able to run the session, sing and play the goal of my recovery, and was able to hold up my end when the time came. Of course Duke and the guys helped me out tremendously.”

Arranged in a lavish multi-panel CD booklet that includes all the lyrics to the songs, as well as the stories behind them, Me & the Originator is an exciting and nourishing reading/listening experience.

“Because I'd finished the writing so early, I decided to try a different approach to recording,” Basile adds about the studio work. “Usually we track the songs in an order that makes sense for the way the day is unfolding rather than in any particular order. The sequence is determined later in the project, when we're done with the mixes. This time, I gave the guys advance notice of the narration (even though they wouldn't be playing on those tracks) so they would understand the story and how the songs fit in. I'd already decided the sequence while writing the narrative and the songs – planning grooves and keys to lead the listener through the story of the narrator's life. Then we actually recorded the songs in sequence – that way the guys could attend to details knowing exactly what the listener would have heard in the preceding song, and what the next one would be like. This involved the players on a new level, and I think it shows in the flow of the album – there's a natural inevitability that leads you through the story.”

For more information, visit www.albasile.com.

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 4:56 pm

Heralded Austin-based blues/roots musician and songwriter Johnny Nicholas returns to Michigan to celebrate the deluxe vinyl LP reissue of his long out-of-print 1977 album, Too Many Bad Habits – including a special bonus album of previously unreleased performances – on July 1, 2018, at The Ark in Ann Arbor. Performing with Nicholas will be bassist Tony Garnier and drummer Tino Gross, both featured on the original album, and Scrappy Jud Newcomb on guitar/mandolin.

To watch a special video with Johnny talking about the new vinyl LP package, click here.

Garnier was Johnny’s roommate in Asleep at the Wheel and is best known as Bob Dylan’s bass player since 1989 – Dylan’s longest-running sideman.  Gross is the well-known front man for the Howling Diablos, a heavy influence on the Detroit music scene and early mentor to Kid Rock. Newcomb is renowned as one of the top guitar/mandolin players in the country and one of the most frequently demanded studio/live musicians in Austin.

For tickets and more information on the July 1 performance at The Ark, visit here.

Johnny Nicholas & Friends will continue the celebration on July 2 with a performance at 20 Front Street, Lake Orion.  For tickets and more information, visit here.

Too Many Bad Habits was recently nominated for a Blues Blast Magazine award in the “Historical and Vintage Recording” category. Fan voting begins July 1 until August 31 here. The 2018 Blues Blast Awards ceremonies will be held on September 29th, at Tebala Event Center in Rockford, Illinois.

In the late 1960’s, the college town of Ann Arbor Michigan found itself at the epicenter of a resurgence in Blues music. At the heart of the Ann Arbor Blues revival was guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Johnny Nicholas. Arriving from the East coast for the 1970 Blues Festival, he brought some of the best Blues players out of retirement and brought them together night after night in local clubs and concerts. While he performed with dozens of well-known artists in those venues, among the most frequent and popular with local Blues lovers were the legendary Big Walter Horton, Johnny Shines, and Boogie Woogie Red.

“This album was initially released on the fledgling Blind Pig label in 1977,” Nicholas recalls, “but the recording sessions included a bunch of stellar performances which had never been released. Walter and Johnny and Red were my friends and mentors, and hearing this stuff was such a thrill. I hope people enjoy listening to these historical slices of the real blues, played by the masters, as much as we have enjoyed re-discovering, listening to and remastering them. I’m really excited to return to Ann Arbor, where it all started, and am looking forward to seeing many of our old friends at The Arkto celebrate the release of this great music.”

The two-album set, Too Many Bad Habits, is a window into an important era in American music history, when Ann Arbor was one of the hottest and most influential music scenes in the country.

The package is available as a previously-released 2-disk CD, as well as the new deluxe double vinyl album, which includes a 60-page scrapbook filled with photos, posters and memorabilia.

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 3:40 pm

Shining Stone Records announces the signing of multi-Blues Music Award nominee Anthony Geraci, and will release the keyboardist’s new CD, Why Did You Have to Go, on September 21. Geraci has assembled an impressive cast of musicians to perform with him on the new disc, including guitar legend Ronnie Earl, as well as many Blues Music Award nominees/winners, such as Sugar Ray Norcia, Monster Mike Welch, Michael Mudcat Ward and Neil Gouvin (all fellow members with Geraci in Sugar Ray and the Bluetones). Other guests include singers Sugaray Rayford, Michelle “Evil Gal” Willson, Willie J. Laws, Dennis Brennan and Brian Templeton; guitarists Kid Ramos and Troy Gonyea; bassist Willie J. Campbell; drummers Jimi Bott and Marty Richards; and a mighty horn section of “Sax” Gordon Beadle and Doug Woolverton. The CD package also features extensive liner notes by respected journalist and editor of Blues Music Magazine, Art Tipaldi.

“As a songwriter and arranger, I chose each musician for their individual talents that I knew would sound awesome on the songs they were singing and playing on,” Geraci says about the album sessions. “The recording process can always be a daunting experience. Being surrounded by musicians that are your friends is a very special feeling. I played music with many of these musicians for almost 40 years, others more recently. As the ‘producer,’ it was my job to get the material to everyone, coordinate the studio(s), and make sure everyone could make the dates - not an easy task especially with these many in-demand musicians! I wrote some of the songs while in Clarksdale, Mississippi – ‘Why Did You Have to Go’ and ‘Baptized in the River Yazoo.’ Most of the other songs were written at my home in Marshfield, Massachusetts, from notes I make while I’m on the road. If you keep your eyes and ears open you never know what ideas might happen. I try and tell a story with each song...a short narrative that people can relate to.”

The all-original 13 songs on Why Did You Have to Go cover a wide range of Geraci’s styles and influences, touching on several types of blues, R&B and even an excursion into jazz on the album’s closer, “A Minor, Affair,” which sounds like a combination of the textures explored by the Butterfield Blues Band on the groundbreaking “East-West” and something from Blue Note Records.

“‘A Minor, Affair’ showcases my love for classic jazz recordings,” Geraci states. “I always like to have a little fun with song titles (Remember ‘Fifty Shades of Blues’?) This song is written in - you guessed it - A minor - and the ‘Affair” could be construed either dealing with my music, such as having an affair with jazz while being known as a blues artist; or taken in the literal context within today’s society. Willie J. Campbell (bass) told me ‘it was the scariest song I’ve ever recorded!’ I like pulling great musicians out of their comfort zone and have them live on the edge while creating meaningful music.”

For almost 40-years pianist, Hammond organist and composer Anthony Geraci has played behind some of the most influential blues musicians of the 20th century. He is an original member of Sugar Ray and the Bluetones and Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters. He has been recognized for his contributions on numerous albums by nominations from both the Blues Foundation/Blues Music Awards in Memphis, TN and the Grammy Awards. Anthony has been nominated the last three years for the prestigious Pinetop Perkins Piano Award (2016/2017/2018) by the Blues Foundation. 

Additionally, he’s received BMA nominations for Album, Traditional Album and Song of the Year for the title track of his previous CD, Fifty Shades of Blues (2016.) At last count, he was a part of 40 BMAs nominations as a member of the acclaimed Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, including Album/Traditional Album of the Year nominations for Living Tear To Tear, the CD for which he wrote the title track. This year, he’s already received nominations from both Living Blues: Outstanding Musician-Keyboard; and Downbeat Magazine Readers Poll: Blues Artist or Group.

“Wherever my music takes me globally I’m inspired by the people, the history, the food, the smell and the sounds of the surroundings,” he says. “It is all reflected in my songwriting.

“My biggest joy is being accepted by people that I respect musically. I’ve had the privilege to record with Big Walter Horton, Big Jack Johnson, Odetta, Snooky Pryor, and more modern artists such as Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl, Debbie Davies, Sugaray Rayford, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, The Proven Ones, Welch/Ledbetter. I have a Masters Degree in music, but the real experiences playing with these and many more musicians worldwide have earned me a PhD in Bluesology!”

Anthony Geraci will support the new album’s release with a string of summer tour dates, many featuring his well-named tour band, The Boston Blues All-Stars, which includes Dennis Brennan - vocals/harmonica/guitar; Troy Gonyea - guitar/vocals; Michael Mudcat Ward - bass/vocals; and Jeff Armstrong - drums/vocals.

Anthony Geraci Tour Dates

8/17-19: White Mountain Boogie Festival. Solo and with Tas Cru, and the Cash Box Kings. whitemountainboogie.com

8/24-26: Edmonton Blues Festival-solo and with Pianorama. bluesinternationalltd.com

9/ 9: Music in the Barn-Kingfield, ME mountainvillageinn.com 

9/14: 9 Wallis-Beverly, MA 9wallis.com

9/15: Liberty Park Blues Festival- Woburn, MA (w/HipNotics) bluesforveterans.org  

9/23: Players Tavern w/Michelle Rockwell, Rockland, MA

10/6: Pitman's Freight Room-Laconia, NH pitmansfreightroom.com

10/7: Narragansett Cafe-Jamestown, RI narragansettcafe.com

10/14: Special Sunday Show at the Bull Run Restaurant-Shirley, MA tickets.bullrunrestaurant.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=848

11/2: Chan's-Woonsocket, RI chanseggrollsandjazz.com

11/3: Nelson's Candies-Wilton, NH nelsonscandieswilton.com

11/14-18: Lucerne Blues Festival-Lucerne, Switzerland. The Boston Blues All-Stars featuring Michelle "Evil Gal" Willson/Brian Templeton/Troy Gonyea/Greg Piccolo/Michael Mudcat Ward/Per Hanson.

Wed, 09/19/2018 - 7:41 pm

Stony Plain Records announces an October 26 release date for Grammy-nominated roots music troubadour Eric Bibb’s new 2-CD set, Global Griot (“GREE-O”), distributed in the USA by ADA and in Canada on Warner Music. Recorded in Sweden, Canada and several other studios around the world in late 2017, Global Griot features special guest appearances by World Music star Habib Koité, with whom Eric recorded the acclaimed Brothers in Bamako album in 2012, as well as acclaimed West African musician Solo Cissokho, a master of the kora, the 22-stringed harp creating cascades of notes and beautifully-addictive grooves. Eric’s long-time friend and music compadre Harrison Kennedy is also a special guest, singing on “Brazos River Blues,” “Black, Brown & White,” “Listen for the Spirit” and “Spirit Day.”

Watch a video about the making of Global Griot here: Global Griot EPK

“‘Global Griot’ - two words that describe many of my friends and myself, as well,” says Eric Bibb about his new album. “Connecting to the West African tradition of storytelling and oral history through music, this album features brothers and sisters from around the globe - serving the listener a tasty gumbo, spiced with hope for these challenging times.”

On Global Griot, the masterful Eric Bibb adapts the West African historian and oral storyteller tradition with his own background of blues, folk and world music for a scintillating blend of sound that is absolutely mesmerizing. Bibb also pulls no punches with his songs that tackle our current state of affairs in the world, with socio/political commentary on everything from our desire for conspicuous consumption (“We Don’t Care,” the album’s first single out today) to the present occupant of the White House (“What's He Gonna Say Today”).

Watch the “We Don’t Care” lyric video

About Eric Bibb:

Eric Bibb was born into a musical family and raised in New York City. His father was noted folk singer Leon Bibb, and his uncle was John Lewis, the world-famous jazz pianist and composer of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Legendary actor/singer/activist Paul Robeson was Eric’s godfather, and some of the musical friends who could be seen and heard around the Bibb household in those days included Pete Seeger, Odetta and Bob Dylan.    

Eric got his first guitar at age seven and by 13 had entered New York City’s famed High School of Music and Art, studying several instruments, as well as vocals. When he was 16, his father asked him to play guitar in the house band for his local TV talent show.

In 1970, Eric left New York City’s Columbia University for Paris, meeting legendary guitarist Mickey Baker, and began to focus on blues guitar. He later moved to Sweden and travelled extensively throughout Europe, writing and performing his own songs in festivals and clubs all around the continent.

Over the course of many album releases in the intervening years, Eric Bibb has been nominated for multiple Blues Music Awards in several categories. He received a Grammy nomination for his 2017 album, Migration Blues, in addition to one for the Shakin’ a Tailfeather children’s album (which also featured Taj Mahal). Some of his other noted albums included A Family Affair, which teamed him up with his father for a series of duets and solo tunes; and Friends, which included special guests Taj Mahal, Odetta, Charlie Musselwhite and Guy Davis.

Eric first met Habib Koité 15 years ago, when both were invited to play on the album Mali to Memphis(Putumayo). They struck a chord, exchanged a few notes, then a few songs. A connection was established, friendship followed. Both recognized that blues has its roots in Africa. The dialogue continued and a follow-up meeting launched the project that would become Brothers in Bamako in 2012. Both men draw on the organic material of tradition and the world realities that demand their comment, to release a sung vision, a musical cry of hope.

Eric Bibb – Global Griot – Track Listing

Act One:

Gathering of the Tribes - featuring Solo Cissokho

Wherza Money At

Human River

What's He Gonna Say Today

Brazos River Blues

We Don't Care – featuring Habib Koité

Black, Brown & White

Listen for the Spirit

Hoist up the Banner

Mami Wata / Sebastian's Tune - featuring Habib Koité

Send Me Your Jesus

A Room For You

Remember Family

Act Two:

Race & Equality

Grateful

All Because

Spirit Day - featuring Solo Cissokho

Let God

Last Night I had the Strangest Dream

Picture a New World (instrumental)

New Friends - featuring Linda Tillery

Mole in the Ground

Michael, Row da Boat Ashore

Needed Time

“We Don’t Care” Purchase Links: http://smarturl.it/sqgnxd

Sat, 10/20/2018 - 10:17 am

The late Tom Petty would have celebrated his 68th birthday, tomorrow, October 20, and to pay tribute to the legendary rocker, who passed away a year ago on October 2, his long-time friend and former record label radio promo man, Jon Scott, has published his new book, Tom Petty and Me: My Rock ‘n’ Roll Adventures with Tom Petty

With a foreword by John Mellencamp, Scott’s book traces his history with Tom Petty, first during Jon’s years as a well-respected radio DJ in Memphis, and later when Scott, as a radio promo man, was one of the main forces in helping to get Petty’s music heard on radio stations around the country.

Petty, himself, acknowledged this as such from the stage of the Hollywood Bowl on September 25, 2017, at what would become his last concert ever: “There’s one particular friend I want to dedicate this next song to. This is for Jon Scott. And six weeks before we were going to be dropped from ABC Records, he went to the radio stations…and got that sucker played and, on the charts, and we’re forever grateful to him.”

Tom Petty is one of the greatest front men in the history of American rock ‘n’ roll, yet Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers might never have achieved the fame they did without the passion and commitment of a few people in the music industry that worked behind the scenes.

In Tom Petty and Me, author and promo man Jon Scott shares the series of coincidences and serendipity that brought him and Tom Petty together, altering both of their careers. This is the story of incredible talent realizing a seemingly once-impossible dream by overcoming obstacles through the passion and commitment of one man who created a movement on Tom's behalf. In the process, the course of rock ‘n’ roll history was forever changed.

“It doesn’t matter how good your record is, you gotta have somebody behind it, a believer who is ready to work before the glory of it all kicks in. When it mattered most Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had Jon Scott. For that, we all should be grateful.” - Warren Zane, author of Petty The Biography

“We would not be listening to Tom Petty on the radio if not for you (Jon Scott), back in 1977.” - Mark Felsot, producer of Tom Petty Radio, Sirius XM

Jon Scott was raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and like many young Memphis kids growing up in the ’50s, he was exposed to all types of music, including gospel, blues, and rock ’n’ roll. Jon had music running through his veins.

When Jon was young, his mom would request songs and smile when the local country DJ would dedicate a song to her on the radio. That was when Jon knew what he wanted to do—make his mother smile, because she meant the world to him. Jon told his mother that he would someday be a DJ. He began practicing to fulfill that dream with a tape recorder his father bought at Sears & Roebuck. At the age of sixteen, Jon heard the Rolling Stones on the radio. He immediately went out and bought a Rolling Stones album and heard “Under Assistant West Coast Promo Man.” Jon thought that sounded like a pretty good job too.

His father’s dream, however, was for Jon to go to Memphis State University and get a business degree. Jon went for two years and dropped out to pursue the radio career that he longed for at a famous Memphis DJ school, Keegan’s School of Broadcasting. His father was not pleased and told Jon that he’d have to pay for the radio school tuition himself, so Jon found a job at a local movie theater, where he had the good fortune of meeting Elvis one night.

Jon’s dream finally came true when he graduated from Keegan’s and was hired by a small-town radio station in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. A year later, a premonition told Jon to go back home to Memphis. He knew that there would be a job waiting for him.

Within two weeks, Jon was hired by WMC-FM100, a station that had been playing soft music, and whose general manager was ready to turn it into a rock 'n' roll station. On February 7, 1967, FM100 started playing rock ‘n’ roll that had never been heard before on Memphis Top 40 stations. It would become a part of the progressive radio movement, and Jon developed a huge nighttime audience, as he was free to play whatever music he wanted. FM100 played a part in breaking a large number of bands, such as ZZ Top, David Bowie, Pure Prairie League, the Doobie Brothers, Henry Gross, Billy Joel and Elton John. Jon worked at FM100 from 1967 to 1973.

Another dream came true for Jon in 1973 when he went to work for MCA Records, first as a local promo man in the mid-South and then as a regional promo man in Atlanta. Soon after, he was offered his dream job at MCA as head of national album promotion, and he moved to Los Angeles in 1974. At MCA, he worked and traveled with bands and artists like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Elton John, the Who, Olivia Newton-John, Keith Moon, Roger Daltrey and Golden Earring.

Jon was offered a job at ABC Records, again as national head of album promotion, in 1977. This was when many serendipitous, cosmic coincidences would take place, especially with a relatively unknown band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Fate stepped in, and Jon has been credited with breaking the career of Tom Petty. He worked with Tom and the band for more than forty years.

The story put forth in this book is true, and it details the trials and tribulations of being a promo man and the exhilarating feeling of being a part of rock ’n’ roll history.

Tom Petty and Me can be ordered at www.tompettyandme.com

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 5:24 pm

Stony Plain Records announces a February 8 release date for Amour, a new CD teaming the roots music guitar talents of Colin Linden and Luther Dickinson. The CD was produced by Colin Linden, recorded at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, and features a backing band dubbed “The Tennessee Valentines:” Dominic Davis – bass; Bryan Owings – drums; Fats Kaplin – violin and accordion; and Kevin McKendree – keyboards.

Linden and Dickinson recruited a host of Nashville talent as guest vocalists on the new disc, including the legendary Billy Swan, who sings lead on “Lover Please” (a song he wrote, which   was recorded and became a classic hit for Clyde McPhatter); as well as songbirds Rachael Davis and Ruby Amanfu; plus two of Linden’s “Nashville” TV series buddies - Sam Palladio (“Crazy Arms”) and Jonathan Jackson (“I Forgot to Remember to Forget”).

Hear “Don’t Let Go” from the album:  Don’t Let Go Pak Shot Video

“These are songs of sentimental, romantic love,” says Colin Linden about the music on the new disc. “They come from country (“Crazy Arms”), blues (“Honest I Do”), rock ‘n’ roll (“Lover Please”), rhythm and blues (“What Am I Living For”) and folk music (“Careless Love”). I think that is a pretty good read on what Americana really is. ‘Careless Love’ is the ‘id’ of the record—a traditional song of love, longing and regret. I view the entire album as a soundtrack for romance and romantics everywhere, bound together by melody and atmosphere.”

Amour is the first collaboration between Colin Linden (Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, ABC-TV show “Nashville)” and Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars, Black Crowes) and consists of classic love songs from the Americana world. Both Linden and Dickinson are true veterans of roots music, having played with and produced some of the biggest names in the business, while displaying the mantle of countless awards and accolades to reflect that.

“Most of these songs I have known my whole life, and they reached me in the same way,” says Colin Linden about the album’s origin. “I mentioned the idea of recording them as a collection to my friend Luther Dickinson, who said it was a good idea—and that it would be cool to work on it together. Luther is not only a master musician, but also an artist with a great vision and a soulful, wonderful human being.”

“Colin and I are fellow guitar-slinging, peace-loving, freedom-fighting romantics who jump at any and every opportunity to play guitars together,” adds Luther Dickinson. “Our only problem is not erupting into joyous laughter as the music unfolds. In the spirit of brotherly love and old-school ancient sonic explorations, Colin and I both plugged into a shared guitar amp that you can hear in the middle. Our individual amps are spread out, and though you can hear the different guitars popping thru here and there, it's hard to tell who is playing what, and that only adds to Colin and my Amour fest.”

“As time and fate would have it, all of the mighty folks who joined us were also moved by these songs,” explains Linden. Blessed by one of our heroes—and the composer of one of these songs—Billy Swan, we felt like we were on the right road in doing this album. It was a band of angels we were joined by; Luther suggested we call it ‘The Tennessee Valentines,’ based on the beautiful song and these glorious spirits. But the real story is the love story in the songs.”

Amour is Linden’s second album for the label since Stony Plain re-signed the nine-time Juno Award-winning singer/guitarist in 2015 and released his acclaimed Rich in Love CD that same year. Stony Plain was also the home of Colin’s first studio album, The Immortals, in 1986.

Colin Linden continues to be a very much in-demand musician, having played on Gregg Allman’s 2011 Grammy-nominated Low Country Blues, as well as Grammy-winner Rhiannon Giddens’ album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, and Diana Krall’s Glad Rag Doll. He’s also produced 125 albums, was the musical director on the hit TV show, “Nashville” and toured as guitarist for Bob Dylan, Bruce Cockburn, Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant and, among many others.

In addition, he was the featured guitar player on the PBS-TV special saluting gospel music, “In Performance at the White House,” backing such stars as Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Lyle Lovett and Shirley Caesar. In recent years, he’s also played on the soundtracks for a number of feature films, including Inside Llewyn Davis, The Hunger Games, R.I.P.D. and the acclaimed documentary, A Place at the Table, and in 2015 he was the music director for the special tribute to legendary Sun Records founder Sam Phillips at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

A genuine renaissance man of roots music, Colin is also a member of the highly successful trio, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, who released the highly acclaimed album, Kings & Queens, in 2011, which teamed the band up with such guests as Emmylou Harris, Rosanne Cash, Lucinda Williams, Cassandra Wilson, Patti Scialfa and Holly Cole. That disc was followed by the Kings and Kings album in 2016.

Fri, 02/01/2019 - 2:45 pm

Niche Records announces a February 22 release date for Occupied, the new album from Dayton-based soul-blues singer/guitarist Eric Jerardi, that teams him up with legendary producer David Z (Prince, Fine Young Cannibals, Johnny Lang, Etta James) and the iconic Muscle Shoals rhythm section to create a musical tour-de-force delivering heartfelt performances with the added soul of the Muscle Shoals horns.

 Eric Jerardi and his band will celebrate the release of Occupied with a special party and show on February 20 at the Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton, Ohio (doors open at 6 pm, show starts at 7 pm; https://www.yellowcabtavern.com/).

Besides Eric Jerardi on vocals and guitar, the sessions recorded at Nutthouse Recording Studio in Sheffield, Alabama, feature David Hood (bass); Clayton Ivey (electric piano/organ); Milton Sledge (drums); Kelvin Holly (rhythm guitar); Charles Rose (trombone); Steve Herman (trumpet); Doug Moffet (saxophone); and Marie Lewey and Cindy Walker (backing vocals). Jerardi’s trademark soulful vocals and bluesy guitar sounds literally drip throughout the new album, showcasing all original songs, with the exception of “Don’t Take It Personally,” written by Jerry Lynn Williams (who wrote “Givin’ It Up for Your Love”) and Jeff Healey.

“I’ve put in a lot of hard work over the years, and this record is a reflection of my dedication to my craft,” Eric Jerardi says. “Thanks to my team and everyone at Muscle Shoals for making my best record yet.”

With a solid reputation as an exceptional guitar player, executive producer Allen Farst (Niche) and producer/engineer David Z were instrumental in encouraging Eric as a gifted songwriter - and more importantly - as a vocalist, and the results are undeniable. Occupied has officially put all others on notice that Eric Jerardi has come into his own.

Eric Jerardi began his musical career by winning a battle of the bands contest in 1989 at Ohio University. Two years later, Jerardi won another contest at OU, which secured a spot on MTV as the Midwest's “Best Unsigned College Band.” Over the years, he has shared stages with Little Feat, Robin Trower, and Jim Belushi at the House of Blues in Chicago and LA; played with Eric Johnson on Cape Cod; jammed with Keith Urban, Wynonna, and Kenny Chesney in Nashville; and headlined B.B. King’s in Memphis, Nashville, LA, and New York City. He has played countless blues festivals, major concerts and a myriad of other shows around the country for more than 25 years.

Wed, 02/27/2019 - 3:36 pm

British Columbia’s husky-voiced award-winning bluesman Harpdog Brown is set to release his anticipated new album, For Love & Money, on April 26th.  Produced by JUNO Award winner Steve Dawson, the triple Maple Blues Award winner takes Chicago blues down to New Orleans for a unique and vibrant sound, tinted with shades of Louis Jordan, Sonny Boy Williamson, Louis Armstrong, and the greats of Chess and Sun Records.

Recorded at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, For Love & Money is a striking showcase of Brown’s talent and versatility as a singer and harmonica player throughout the 13 tracks. A mix of originals and well-crafted covers, Brown takes the listener on an aural road trip through his interpretations of the historical sounds of classic American blues and jazz, with a vintage sound, new classics, modern material and a killer new band.

Watch Elmore Magazine’s “For Love and Money” video premiere here:

http://www.elmoremagazine.com/2019/02/music-news/harpdog-brown-sets-sail-for-love-money

When asked about Harpdog’s new material, producer Steve Dawson remarked, “This is totally unique material. Where he’s drawing from is this era of ‘40s and ‘50s jump blues mixed with some Chicago meets NOLA and the harp stuff is reminiscent of ‘50s Sonny Boy-era blues…you can’t really put your finger on it. And then the horn aspect of it is totally unique. I can’t really think of another band to compare that to. For Love & Money is less guitar driven than Brown’s previous releases, and is heavier on piano and horns, keeping with the NOLA vibe.”

A larger than life character, Harpdog Brown (his legal name) recently discovered that he has familial New Orleans roots and, feels deeply connected to the New Orleans blues sound and the historical importance of the music. He has been dubbed a “Blues Evangelist” - taking his messages and songs to audiences across North America and beyond for nearly four decades. “I speak the blues like it's the truth, and it is,” he was recently quoted. “I do feel like I'm a servant of the people. A missionary if you will. Music can heal people if they pay attention to the messages in these songs.”

Joining Brown on the album is a varied cast of some of the finest musicians on the circuit today. The new direction of the band is an inspiring one with a new, younger generation of musicians joining in on the journey with William Joseph Abbott on the clarinet and alto sax and Skye Lambourne on trombone.  The seasoned musicians on the album include Dave Webb on piano & Hammond B3, Robert (Bob) Vail Grant on drums, Jerry Cook on baritone and tenor sax, Jeremy Holmes on bass, and special guest Steve Dawson on guitars.

As Harpdog states, “This is one damn fine album, depicting where I am in my life and musical career. The title, For Love & Money, sums it all up well. After all, that’s what it’s all about. And in that order. We should all know that money is useless without love.”

For Love & Money U.S. Tour Dates

April 26 - Conway, WA – Conway Muse - Official US Release Party

May 13 - Upper Lake, CA - Tallman Hotel

May 15 - Redwood City, CA - Club Fox

May 17 - Sacramento, CA - Torch Club

May 21 - Temecula, CA - Old Town Blues Club

May 31 - Tucson, AZ - Monterey Court

June 5 - Grass Valley, CA - Wild Eye Pub

June 9 - Hood River, OR - The Griffin House

June 21 - Snohomish WA - Collectors Choice

July 6 - Seattle, WA - The Triple Door

 Additional dates forthcoming ….

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 6:21 pm

Stony Plain Records announces a May 17 release date for Ear Worms, the new album from two-time Grammy nominee and multi-Blues Music Award winning guitarist Duke Robillard, which will be available in both CD and vinyl formats.

 Here’s a link to pre-order the album, which also includes a special advance listen to “Don’t Bother to Steal Her Love:” http://smarturl.it/earworms

“Ear Worms was conceived as an album of songs that I heard and was attracted to growing up,” says Duke Robillard about the new disc’s genesis. “They are not of one particular genre or style, but rather songs I heard in my pre-teens to my later teens, with the exception of a few songs which I threw into the mix to round out the overall album vibe; sounds that stuck in my head, in many cases before I knew what the blues was. I guess you could call them ‘ear worms.’ It can be a song you can’t get out of your head because you love it so much, or it can also be a mundane piece of drivel that haunts you like a bad dream. Hopefully, if these songs become ear worms for you, they will be good ones!”

Produced by Robillard and recorded at Lakewest Recording and Duke’s Mood Room, Ear Worms features Duke (guitars, vocal) and his long-time band: Bruce Bears (piano, Hammond organ); Brad Hallen (acoustic and electric bass); and Mark Teixeira (drums). Both Bears and Teixeira also sing lead vocal on one track each. Joining them on the sessions, besides some stellar additional musicians are several special guest vocalists: Chris Cote, Sunny Crownover, Mark Cutler, Julie Grant, Dave Howard and Klem Klimek.

 The track listing for Ear Worms features a Duke-penned original, the rollicking “Don’t Bother Trying to Steal Her Love,” that kicks off the album in grand style, followed by a dozen songs –  some well-known, others not so much - including “Living with the Animals,” “I Am a Lonesome Hobo,” “Sweet Nothin’s,” “Dear Dad,” “Yellow Moon,” and “Yes We Can.” The repertoire demonstrates the breadth of Robillard’s skill and knowledge of so many styles of music.    

Duke Robillard tells a particularly interesting story about one of the tracks on the new album. “‘Everyday I Have to Cry Some’ is a song written by Arthur Alexander that was additionally recorded by Steve Alaimo and Dusty Springfield,” he says. “There was another great young pop singer creating hits in England in the ‘60s named Julie Grant who also recorded it. She had many wonderful and successful records at a very young age. It so happens that for quite a few years Julie worked as a booking agent for one of the nearby casinos in Connecticut. One day we were talking, and she revealed that she was a British pop singer, so I googled her and was blown away by what a great singer she was, with a long list of hit records! So, this wonderful British lady that I had known for several years was a star and a fabulous vocalist! ‘Everyday I Have to Cry Some’ was a song I always loved and Julie’s version of it is my favorite. I took a chance and asked her if she would record it for this album. We recorded a few takes and spent the rest of the afternoon sipping wine and listening to stories of her teenage years in London: double dates with Paul McCartney and Jane Asher; stories about the Rolling Stones opening a tour for her; and so many other memories. I had wanted to put Julie and Sunny Crownover together for this and it worked out wonderfully. It was a ball to make the guitar arrangement for this song. We really worked at capturing the ‘60s vibe of Julie’s record while making it ours at the same time. I do hope everyone enjoys the ‘60s ‘wall of sound’ vibe here.”

Duke Robillard: Ear Worms

Robillard cites several reasons for the inclusion of certain songs on the new album. “First of all, a large part of my musical make-up is from the production side,” he volunteers. “Since I was as young as 10 years old, the sounds on recordings always captured my imagination. ‘Why did they fade out at the time they did? How did they get that sound? Why does the reverb come up as the song fades out?’ Production was a mystical thing to me. Even though I had no idea what producers and engineers did, my ear was tuned in to a recording’s sound and the way the music and sound made me feel.

“When I was a young boy at the age of 10 to 12, my brother’s collection of the latest rock and roll singles of Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, etc. were my strongest influence, along with Hank Williams. “We are talking about the late ‘50s/early‘60s, and AM radio was still the way you heard music on the airwaves. I find it amazing what was played on the air in those days. I remember hearing Slim Harpo’s ‘Scratch My Back’ on AM radio in Rhode Island. I can still recall where I was, who I was with, and how that sound just went through me like a bolt of lightning! I am a believer that all music that you hear affects you in some way, so by about 1970 I started steering away from pop/rock music for a long period, preferring not to be influenced by anything but the blues and jazz from the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s. That part of my life created the purist part of me.”

Peppered in with all the vocal-track songs are several instrumentals, showcasing Duke’s unique takes on “Careless Love,” “Soldier of Love,” “Rawhide” and “You Belong to Me,” with “Rawhide” having a special affection from Robillard. “‘Rawhide’ is my tribute to one of my heroes, Mr. Link Wray! Just pure unadulterated Rock and Roll here friends; nothing more, nothing less. I played this song in many early bands and even in Roomful of Blues on a few occasions. It never fails to rock!”

 Since starting his musical career in 1967 by founding and fronting Roomful of Blues, Duke Robillard has been at the forefront of Blues, Swing and classic R&B/Jump blues for over 40 years, earning him his legendary status while influencing and inspiring countless legions of musicians and fans worldwide. Leading his own group, Duke has toured non-stop for the past 30-some years, recording more than 30 critically acclaimed CDs under his own name. He has toured as a guitarist with Tom Waits and the Fabulous Thunderbirds and recorded with the likes of Bob Dylan, Ruth Brown, Jay McShann, Pinetop Perkins, Kim Wilson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Rosco Gordon, Maria Muldaur and many more.

Sun, 03/31/2019 - 2:50 pm

Alabama roots singer/guitarist Adam Holt announces a May 31st release date for his new CD, Kind of Blues, on Zenith Records, a 10-song showcase of his incredibly soulful vocals and blistering blues/southern rock guitar work. Nine tunes are originals, with a dreamy version of Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady, Lay” closing out the disc.

Produced by Holt, Kind of Blues features Adam on vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, piano and organ, backed by a solid band of Owen Finley – bass; Greg Deluca – drums; Donnie Sundal - organ, piano; Lee Yankie - slide guitar; Mark Welborn - pedal steel; and Pierre Robinson – bass. The album was recorded at Studio ’78, Holt’s analog commercial studio in Alabama, using his Ampex MM1100 16 track 2-inch machine for tracking. The band all played together to get the basic tracks and he overdubbed some guitar solos and all the backing vocals. The tracks were mixed at Dockside Studio in Lafayette, Louisiana, and mastered by Kevin Nix at LNix Mastering.

Adam Holt will celebrate the release of Kind of Blues with a special show May 31st at Callaghan’s Irish Social Club in Mobile, Alabama. Showtime is at 7pm. https://www.callaghansirishsocialclub.com/

“The title, Kind of Blues, is a reflection of the styles within the sound of the album,” Holt states. “It has a blend of blues, country, Americana, and rock and roll, tied together by contemporary blues licks. The name is also a nod to Kind of Blue, the album made famous by Miles Davis, which I know very well. Trumpet was the first instrument I played, beginning in middle school, all the way through college. I listened to Kind of Blue many nights while I worked on my analog recording gear, compressors, preamps and my tape machines, which I used to make this record.”

Muddy Waters once said, “The blues had a baby, and they named the baby rock n’ roll.” Well if Muddy Waters and Tom Petty had a baby, they’d name the baby Adam Holt. And with an array of guitars, an old Ampex tape machine, and an unassuming group of musicians out of Mobile in his toolset, Adam Holt’s latest studio album is a gutsy amalgamation of his deeply-sown roots in the blues, classic country, and rock n’ roll of decades ago.

“With every song on the album, I wanted to speak from the heart,” he confesses. “Be it my own experience or the experiences of those that I love. Above all, it was most important to me to capture the meaning of the vintage sound, using analog gear and a workflow that reflects the hey-day of the recording industry: a time when music was alive and truly meant something.”

No stranger to the spotlight, Adam has toured the Southeast from Houston to Tallahassee to Chattanooga, playing everywhere from music festivals to dive bars, and sharing the stage with such southern rock icons as Lynyrd Skynyrd and Drivin’ n Cryin,’ as well as blues legends Bob Margolin, Willie Big Eyes Smith and Hubert Sumlin. This multi-instrumentalist even lends his piano chops in an up-tempo dueling piano bar or an intimate lounge venue, pouring his heart out.

“‘Mr. Morning Drive,’ is the first track on the album and was co-written with my wife, singer-songwriter Jillian Holt,” he says. “The song is about the amazing life of her grandfather, Jack Bell, who was a radio DJ for over 50 years and retired at the golden age of 90. You hear his actual voice, recorded on a vintage microphone, at the beginning and end of the song. His voiceover sets the tone for the album by introducing the song with his famous radio slate.”

Adam Holt -photo by Irwin Funes

Adam Holt’s forte is in being direct with what he has to say, both lyrically and in how he responds on the guitar. As a songwriter, Holt addresses the stereotypes of women in modern society; and in the bluesy, “The Bourgeoisie,” he takes a stab at corporate America and those who revel in the vanity of the spoils. His songs stand on their own with just an old acoustic guitar, but lend well and lay the foundation for his big, southern, velvety voice and his honest interpretation of what an electric guitar can truly sound like. It’s American music at the core, and Alabama blues and rock at the fringes.

“I like to think that ‘I’m Still Holdin’ On’ is the song that sounds the most like country music on the record. I wrote it about those who can’t seem to let go of certain parts of their past; those who struggle to move on with their life after a break-up or divorce. I approached it from the perspective of someone who believes deeply in their heart that the love of their life will someday come back to them, if they just keep holding on.

“Having been born and raised in the South, I’ve experienced some ghosts in my day. I’m not talkin’ about the Holy Ghost or the kind that rattle chains in the middle of the night. I’m talkin’ about the ghost of Jim Crow. So I wrote ‘The Story Must Go On’ about the events of the Civil Rights era as a reminder that although we’ve moved forward as a society since the sixties, there is still more work to do. With every victory for civil rights, another page is turned and the story must go on; the fight must continue.”

In 2010, Adam Holt released the well-received album, The Sunday Troubadour, following that   with an EP featuring two tracks recorded at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis. Holt lived up to the legacy of such a unique location with his versions of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor” and Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 7:07 pm

Legendary blues band Downchild are celebrating 50 years of the blues – and taking the party across North America. Announced U.S. dates thus far include June 21 at Rochester International Jazz Festival (with special guest Dan Aykroyd); and August 17 at Chenango Blues Festival in Norwich, New York. Additional US tour date announcements are forthcoming.

Watch the trailer for the Downchild film documentary, Flip, Flop and Fly, here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUyGjjHvK4ljwxnyhSifkQw/featured

Hot on the heels of their JUNO-nominated (Canada’s Grammy) 2017 album, Something I've Done, Downchild have announced a special 50th Anniversary Tour, bringing their iconic sound and timeless hits to theatres and festivals in Canada and the U.S.

Kicking off with a special show at the tavern in Toronto where it all began, the year-long tour takes the Canadian blues icons throughout North America, and features a special appearance by Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd for a main stage, headline performance at the Rochester International Jazz Festival on June 21. Tickets for shows are now on sale in most markets at www.downchild.com

It's hard to believe it's been half a century since bandleader, songwriter, guitarist and harmonica player Donnie “Mr. Downchild” Walsh and his brother, the late Richard "Hock" Walsh, formed The Legendary Downchild Blues Band in Toronto in June, 1969.

From humble beginnings, Downchild performed their first gig at Grossman's Tavern in Toronto. Fittingly, the band will return to the infamous juke joint for a rare, intimate club performance to kick off their year-long 50th Anniversary Tour, with a sold-out show on June 19.

Named after a Sonny Boy Williamson II song, Downchild's story begins when Donnie Walsh was a mere teenager and got his first taste of blues at a sweet 16 birthday party for his girlfriend. “I was absolutely amazed by the music and, like most people who heard blues, started looking for more,” says Donnie, who soon discovered artists like Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker and B.B. King.

Inspired by those classic sounds, Downchild launched an unstoppable career that has included 18 albums, countless awards and sold-out shows around the globe. The band's 1971 debut, Bootleg, one of the first independent albums in Canada, was recorded in a makeshift studio in a parking garage at Rochdale College. Soon after, they scored their first smash hit with a jumping version of Big Joe Turner’s classic “Flip Flop & Fly.”

"I was pretty lucky to get a hit record just a few years after starting the band,” remembers Donnie. “As I like to say, if you have a hit record, the rest is geography. You just get in the van and go, and that's what we did. For the longest time, we played 250 to 300 dates a year."

Downchild came to international prominence as the inspiration for “Saturday Night Live” television stars Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi’s hit film, The Blues Brothers. In fact, two Downchild songs, “Shotgun Blues” and “(I Got Everything I Need) Almost” were even covered on The Blues Brothers’ 1978 multi-platinum album, Briefcase Full of Blues.

The current lineup of Downchild features some of the most well-respected musicians in Canada, who have performed together for over 25 years: lead singer and harmonica player Chuck Jackson; Pat Carey on tenor sax; Mike Fitzpatrick on drums; Gary Kendall on bass; and former American super-group rocker, Michael Fonfara (of Rhinoceros/Lou Reed fame) on keyboards.

50TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR DATES

06/19              Grossman's Tavern (SOLD OUT)                       Toronto, ON

06/21              Rochester International Jazz Festival             Rochester, NY*

07/20              Porquis Rock N Blues Festival                            Porquis Junction, ON

08/17              Chenango Blues Festival                                      Norwich, NY

08/29              Charles W. Stockey Centre                                 Parry Sound, ON

09/28              Regent Theatre                                                       Oshawa, ON

10/18              McPherson Playhouse                                         Victoria, BC

10/19              Sid Williams Theatre                                              Courtenay, BC

10/20              The Port Theatre                                                    Nanaimo, BC

10/22              Tidemark Theatre                                                   Campbell River, BC

10/24              Kelowna Community Theatre                           Kelowna, BC

10/25              Charles Bailey Theatre                                          Trail, BC

10/26              Key City Theatre                                                     Cranbrook, BC

10/30              Memorial Centre Theatre                                   Red Deer, AB

11/01              Festival Place                                                            Sherwood Park, AB

11/05              Vic Juba Theatre                                                     Lloydminster, AB

11/08              Bella Concert Hall                                                    Calgary, AB

11/09              Esplanade Theatre                                                 Medicine Hat, AB**

11/12              Lyric Theatre                                                             Swift Current, SK

11/16              E.A. Rawlinson Centre                                          Prince Albert, SK

11/21              FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre              St. Catharines, ON

11/22              Showplace Performance Centre                      Peterborough, ON

11/23              Orillia Opera House                                                Orillia, ON

03/27/20        River Run Centre                                                    Guelph, ON

04/23/20        Capitol Theatre                                                       Moncton, NB

05/07/20        Richmond Hill Performing Arts Centre          Richmond Hill, ON

 * Featuring Dan Aykroyd

** Featuring Colin James

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 5:57 pm

The year was 1969. Richard Nixon was in the White House. Neil Armstrong was on the Moon. And revolution was in the air. In that backdrop, 500,000 young people gathered on a mid-August weekend in upstate New York for the promise of three days of peace and music. What they experienced at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was something far greater.

Celebrating “the greatest peaceful event in history,” Woodstock 50th Anniversary: Back to Yasgur’s Farm (Krause Publications) offers a dazzling and compelling front-row seat to the most important concert in rock history, an implausible happening filled with trials and triumphs that defined a generation.

Author and Woodstock attendee Mike Greenblatt brilliantly captures the power of music’s greatest performers such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Santana and the Who, while sharing stories both personal and audacious from the crowd of a half million strong who embraced not only the music but each other.

The book features a Foreword by Country Joe McDonald, whose rousing solo acoustic version of “The Fish Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag” was one of the most memorable performances at Woodstock. Readers will enjoy interviews with such rock icons as Graham Nash, Carlos Santana, Joe Cocker, Richie Havens, Country Joe McDonald, Edgar Winter, members of Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sly & The Family Stone, Canned Heat, Sha Na Na, co-host Chip Monck, fans and countless others. In addition, all 32 performances at the festival are showcased.

Equal parts circus and surreal, Woodstock 50th Anniversary: Back to Yasgur’s Farm tells a transcendent tale of a musical and mythical moment in time.

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 7:06 pm

Stony Plain Records is proud to announce the release of acclaimed guitarist and performer Kevin Breit’s Stella Bella Strada, his second solo album for the label, to be available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and all digital retailers on May 31. Retail CD sales commence June 7.

Produced, engineered, mixed, and mastered by Kevin, himself, Stella Bella Strada marks his fourth release on Canada’s leading folk/roots label, Stony Plain Records (he also recorded two albums with fellow guitar whiz, Harry Manx). “Kevin Breit is one of the most creative and imaginative musician I've ever worked with,” says Holger Petersen, founder and president of the label. “What he brings is far beyond incredible guitar playing. He is a master arranger, composer and soulful visionary, whose tones and phrasing color his music with sophisticated, timeless concepts and good humor. To my ears, Kevin's music includes blues-based slide guitar playing with a heavy dose of Frank Zappa's compositional influence. But Kevin is his own man - there's no one like him!”

Breit has also worked as a touring guitarist and session musician with many greats, including Cassandra Wilson, Norah Jones, k.d.lang, Michael Kaeshammer, Celine Dion, Marc Jordan, Molly Johnson, Holly Cole, Rosanne Cash, Serena Ryder and the Rankins.

Breit has been honored with several awards, including a Maple Blues Award, Gemini Award, National Jazz Award, Canadian Folk Music Award and two Juno Awards for his own recordings; and he has performed on other recordings that have earned a total of 10 Grammy Awards.

His last solo album, Johnny Goldtooth and The Chevy Casanovas, was nominated for instrumental album of the year at the 2019 Juno Awards.

“Stella Bella Strada loosely translates to ‘beautiful star of the road’ and is aptly named for a new guitar built by master luthier and grand friend, Joseph Yanuziello,” says Kevin on the album title. “Did I want a one-of-a-kind instrument that could offer a fiery tone and is capable of fitting in many genres? Yes. Did I want an instrument that was lightweight and didn’t require a chiropractor after every show? Yes. Did I want Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren peeking out from under the Mojo pickup grills? Yes. Did I want it to light up when it was in high gear? Yes. Did I want my initials on the tone and volume controls? Why not? So, this is where the road trip starts.”

Breit’s riveting album isn’t just a one-person project, even though he’s always at the helm. The release is enhanced by his staple of band members and special guests. “Andy McNeill, a longtime friend, supplied me with some all-time groovy Chamberlin and Optigan drum loops, which, in themselves, ooze so much character and vibe,” he says. “My fellow travelers would include the quartet I have been a member of for the better part of a quarter century, the Sisters Euclid - Ian DeSouza, Mark Lalama and Gary Taylor. Riding shotgun is drummer, Davide DiRenzo, another longtime friend. My brother Gary was also a big part of the ride, sitting behind the Wurlitzer and AceTone organ to provide that Las Vegas strip feel. The horn section consisted of the ever-fantastic, Rebecca Hennessy, Perry White, Tom Richards and Vincent Henry. William Lamoureux, a young Quebec-born violinist, weaves throughout the recording with much taste and musicality. There are two busloads of my musical friends playing and singing on Stella Bella Strada and it brought me great joy to have them all aboard.”

Breit adds, “On this recording, I wore several hats: producer, engineer, mixing and mastering. What I know of these things is somewhat laughable, but I loved every crazy second of it. I hope when you listen to Stella Bella Strada, at the very least, you will hear me smiling.”

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 12:40 pm

Catfood Records announces a July 19 release date for award-winning blues singer-guitarist Zac Harmon’s label debut CD, Mississippi Bar BQ. Produced by Grammy-winner Jim Gaines (Santana, Steve Ray Vaughan, and Journey) and recorded at Sonic Ranch in, Tornillo, Texas, Mississippi Bar BQ showcases 10 original songs, plus a killer cover of Dylan’s classic “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Backing Zac’s guitar and vocals on most of the tracks are The Rays: Bob Trenchard – bass; Richy Puga – drums; Johnny McGhee – guitar; Dan Ferguson – keyboards; Mike Middleton – trumpet; Andy Roman - alto sax; Nick Flood - tenor and baritone sax; and Drake Dominigue - trombone and tuba. Several other tracks feature Zac Harmon and his regular touring band.

Mississippi Bar BQ is the most progressive effort from Zac to date. “For the first time in my career, I have had the opportunity to just be the best artist I can be at the guidance of a master producer” says Harmon. “On this new CD, I got a chance to work with The Rays, which is a group of studio musicians headed up by Bob Trenchard. The Rays are incredible, and they bring the best out of every song. I also got a chance to collaborate in the writing with Bob Trenchard (Johnny Rawls, Otis Clay) and John Hahn (Shemekia Copeland). These great writers proved their worth on every song. My favorite is the title song, ‘Mississippi Bar BQ,’ which was the brainchild of Bob Trenchard. One of my other favorites is ‘A Dollar Out of 15 Cents,’ which I wrote with John Hahn. This CD is top shelf.”

“So Cold” is another track that bears watching and has great potential as a single; and the title track, “ Mississippi Bar BQ,” is being promoted as a single to the Southern Soul market.. 

Zac Harmon is an award-winning guitarist, singer, and songwriter whose distinctive style continues the lineage of American Blues Music. Blues Revue called Harmon “a masterful musician and performer of the blues;” while blues journalist Don Wilcock lauded his “Bobby Blue Bland uptown sophistication with a touch of Freddie King guitar.” And JazzReview said, “With his big blues sound from Mississippi, Harmon can go toe-to-toe with some of the best blues men in the business. Please don’t be shy, go ahead and mention Harmon’s name in the same sentence with Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Albert King and Bobby Rush—just to name a few.”  

Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Zac Harmon is a true embodiment of the music that emanated from the city’s historic Farish Street district, home of blues legend Elmore James. Given that Zac was exposed to a lot of music in his home, neighborhood, and local culture, it’s not surprising that he turned out a blues musician. His mom played piano, and his dad, the city’s first state registered black pharmacist, played harmonica and tended to the needs of artists such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner, Albert King, and Little Milton.

His next door neighbor was a music instructor who would host friends such as Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and Harry Belafonte in her home. Another neighbor, Bill Farris, a blues scholar who worked with noted folklorist Alan Lomax and founded the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, recorded a number of Delta blues artists in his home, including Skip James.

Zac started his professional career at age 16, playing guitar with Sam Myers, a friend of his father’s. Two years later he was playing with Dorothy Moore, Z.Z. Hill and other well-known blues artists who were passing through on regional tours.  

 In the early eighties, at age 21, he moved to Los Angeles to take a real shot at the music business. He worked as a studio musician at first and eventually established a very successful career as a songwriter and producer. Zac worked on major films, television shows and well-known national commercials, even being hired at one point by Michael Jackson as a staff writer for his publishing company, ATV Music. Harmon wrote songs for the likes of Troop, Karyn White, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Freddie Jackson, The Whispers and The O’Jays, among others. He also produced songs for reggae band Black Uhuru’s Mystical Truth album, which received a Grammy nomination in 1994.

 After composing and performing some blues songs for a movie score, Harmon felt compelled to pursue his longtime dream of returning to his roots and recording his first blues project. The result in 2003 was Live at Babe & Ricky's Inn, an electrifying testimony to Mississippi blues, which showcased the sound at its best and introduced Harmon as a true torchbearer for the “next generation of the Blues.”  In 2004, Harmon and his band, the Mid South Blues Revue, sponsored by the Southern California Blues Society, traveled to Memphis and won the Blues Foundation’s prestigious International Blues Challenge title of “Best Unsigned Band."

His next release, in 2005, was The Blues According to Zacariah, which garnered major national airplay, including XM, Sirius and the American Blues Network.  XM listeners voted Harmon “Best New Blues Artist” in the inaugural XM Nation Awards in 2005.  In 2006, Harmon won the coveted Blues Music Award for “Best New Artist Debut” for The Blues According to Zacariah.  Later that year, he was featured in Blues Revue magazine as one of the 10 artists that “represent the future of the blues,” calling him a “latter-day Eric Clapton or Robert Cray with shades of Luther Allison and BB King.”

Zac Harmon entertained U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait in 2008 as one the stars of Bluzapalooza and while headlining “The Pizza & Pyramid Tour” of Sicily, Italy and Cairo, Egypt in late 2009, Zac and company made history with a rare performance on the site of the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx, making the ensemble only the second roots act to do so; Louis Armstrong being the first.

In 2008, he released Shot in the Kill Zone in Europe, which was recorded live at the Lionel Hampton Room in Paris.  He then signed with the Northern Blues label for his third and much-anticipated U.S. album, From the Root, which was released April, 2009.  Living Blues said, “It takes a truly gifted artist to go in as many directions over the course of a single CD as Harmon does here and still retain a sense of coherence. For that alone, this is a pretty remarkable outing—but the real treat is the quality of the music itself, from beginning to end.”

Also in 2009, Zac was honored for his career achievements in his beloved hometown at the Jackson Music Awards, and weeks later in Memphis, the Jus’ Blues Music Foundation bestowed the “Little Milton” Guitar Award for “Outstanding Guitar Player” upon him.  That same year Harmon branched out into acting, with a major role in the independent feature film, Black and Blue, released in 2010.

Zac was a featured performer for the 2010 “Mississippi Celebrates its “Grammy Legacy” celebration, hosted by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, where he was presented with a Peavey Award, which honors the state's Grammy winners and nominees as well as individuals who have played a significant role in developing and furthering Mississippi's musical heritage.

Harmon released his next album, Music Is Medicine, in 2012. Blues Bytes called it an “album of his exciting brand of blues, which mixes elements of soul, funk, gospel and R&B effortlessly, and this latest disc ranks as his best so far.”

Since then he’s been on a roll, becoming one of the blues' strongest live performers, thrilling fans everywhere from Memphis to Mumbai.  His live performances combine elements of everything that influenced him: soul-blues, gospel, reggae, and modern blues-rock.

BluesWax said of a festival appearance, “Harmon’s stage show is like a Blues symphony where he segues from one song to the next without a moment’s hesitation, building a head of steam that is orgasmic. Mixing classic boogie gliders with originals, he builds a West Side guitar sound that’s almost as sweet and simultaneously rough as classic Magic Sam into a showcase presentation that takes a lot of pages from Buddy Guy as far as dynamics. His hour on stage went by in an instant.”

In another live review, Jazz Now said, “His show affirmed all the hoopla that surrounds those dubbed as the hottest new act… Soulful vocals, breathtaking showmanship… His flashy guitar style belies the solid sound that he radiated on every tune, admirably backed by a fantastic band.”

In 2016, Harmon released Right Man Right Now a CD that addressed issues straight from the headlines, presented in a fresh original style built on the best blues tradition. Right Man Right Now also featured some incredibly talented guest musicians, including Bobby Rush, Lucky Peterson, Anson Funderburgh and Mike Finnegan. 

Today Zac Harmon continues to tour both nationally and internationally as an ambassador of this great American classical music art form called the Blues.

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 11:52 am

True North Records announces a September 20 world-wide release date for Crowing Ignites, the new all-instrumental CD from legendary Canadian (now based in San Francisco) singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn.

Listen to / share “Blind Willie” from Crowing Ignites and pre-order here: https://smarturl.it/crowing-ignites

Crowing Ignites was produced, recorded and mixed by Colin Linden, and recorded at the Firehouse in San Francisco. It showcases 11 all-original compositions by Cockburn, who plays acoustic guitar throughout, backed by a stellar cast of sympathetic musicians. Cockburn will support the new disc’s release with a summer/fall tour schedule throughout the United States and Canada.

In 2005, Bruce Cockburn released Speechless, a collection of instrumental tracks that shone the spotlight on the singer-songwriter’s exceptional acoustic guitar playing. The album earned Cockburn a Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Instrumentalist and underscored his stature as one of the world’s premier pickers.

Already, The New York Times had credited Cockburn with having “the hardest-working right thumb in show business,” adding that he “materializes chords and modal filigrees while his thumb provides the music’s pulse and its foundation—at once a deep Celtic drone and the throb of a vigilant conscience.” Acoustic Guitar magazine was similarly laudatory in citing Cockburn’s guitar prowess, placing him in the prestigious company of legends like Andrés Segovia, Bill Frisell, Django Reinhardt and Mississippi John Hurt.

Now, with the intriguingly titled Crowing Ignites, Cockburn has released another dazzling instrumental album that will further cement his reputation as both an exceptional composer and a picker with few peers. Unlike Speechless, which included mostly previously recorded tracks, the latest album—Cockburn’s 34th—features 11 brand new compositions. Although there’s not a single word spoken or sung, it’s as eloquent and expressive as any of the Canadian Hall of Famer’s lyric-laden albums. As his long-time producer, Colin Linden, puts it, “It’s amazing how much Bruce can say without saying anything.”

Bruce Cockburn: Crowing Ignites

The album’s title is a literal translation of the Latin motto, “Accendit Cantu,” featured on the Cockburn family crest. Although a little puzzling, Cockburn liked the feeling it conveyed: “Energetic, blunt, Scottish as can be.” The album’s other nod to Cockburn’s Scottish heritage is heard on “Pibroch: The Wind in the Valley,” in which his guitar’s droning bass strings and melodic grace notes sound eerily like a Highland bagpipe. “I’ve always loved pibroch, or classic bagpipe music,” says Cockburn. “It seems to be in my blood. Makes me want to sip whiskey out of a sea shell on some rocky headland!”

While Cockburn reconnecting with his Gaelic roots is one of Crowing Ignites’ more surprising elements, there’s plenty else that will delight followers of his adventurous pursuits. Says Linden, who’s been a fan of Cockburn’s for 49 years, has produced 10 of his albums and played on the two before that: “Bruce is always trying new things, and I continue to be fascinated by where he goes musically.”

The album is rich in styles from folk and blues to jazz, all genres Cockburn has previously explored. But there are also deepening excursions into what might be called free-form world music. The hypnotic, kalimba-laden “Seven Daggers” and the trance-inducing “Bells of Gethsemane,” full of Tibetan cymbals, chimes and singing bowls, are highly atmospheric dreamscapes that showcase Cockburn’s world of wonders—and his improvisational gifts on both 12-string and baritone guitars. Each track was wholly created in the makeshift studio he and Linden put together in a converted fire station in Cockburn’s San Francisco neighborhood.

Singing bowls, Cockburn explains, are an endless source of fascination to him, dating back to a trip he took to Kathmandu, as seen in the documentary Return to Nepal. There, Cockburn stumbled on a man selling the small inverted bells sometimes used in Buddhist religious practices and became instantly captivated by their vibrational power. “I had no particular attraction to them as meditation tools or anything,” says Cockburn. “I just thought they had a beautiful sound. After buying half a dozen in Kathmandu and more since, he now has a sizeable collection.

Two tracks on Crowing Ignites had their origins elsewhere. “The Groan,” a bluesy piece with guitar, mandolin and some collective handclapping from a group that includes Cockburn’s seven-year-old daughter, Iona, was something Cockburn composed for a Les Stroud documentary about the aftermath of a school shooting and the healing power of nature. And Cockburn wrote the jazz-tinged “Mt. Lefroy Waltz” for the Group of Seven Guitar Project on an instrument inspired by artist Lauren Harris and custom-made by luthier Linda Manzer. It was originally recorded, with cornet player Ron Miles, bassist Roberto Occhipinti and drummer Gary Craig, for Cockburn’s 2017 album Bone on Bone, but not released until now.

Cockburn doesn’t set out with any particular agenda when composing an instrumental. “It’s more about coming up with an interesting piece,” he says. “Who knows what triggers it—the mood of the day or a dream from the night before. Often the pieces are the result of sitting practicing or fooling around on the guitar. When I find something I like, I work it into a full piece.”

“Bardo Rush,” with its urgent, driving rhythm, came after one such dream, while the contemplative “Easter” and the mournful “April in Memphis” were composed on Easter Sunday and Martin Luther Day respectively. “Blind Willie,” named for one of Cockburn’s blues heroes, Blind Willie Johnson, features a fiery guitar and dobro exchange with Linden (Cockburn has previously recorded Johnson’s “Soul of a Man” on Nothing But a Burning Light). And the idea for the sprightly “Sweetness and Light,” featuring some of Cockburn’s best fingerpicking, developed quickly and its title, he says, became immediately obvious.

Meanwhile, “Angels in the Half Light” is steeped in dark and light colors and conveys ominous shades as well as feelings of hopefulness, seemingly touching on both spiritual and political concerns—hallmarks of Cockburn from day one. “It’s hard for me to imagine what people’s response is going to be to these pieces,” he says. “It’s different from songs with lyrics, where you hope listeners will understand, intellectually and emotionally, what you’re trying to convey. With instrumental stuff, that specificity isn’t there and the meaning is up for grabs. But I’m glad if people find a message in the music.”

More than 40 years since he embarked on his singer-songwriter career, Cockburn continues pushing himself to create—and winning accolades in the process. Most recently, the Order of Canada recipient earned a 2018 Juno Award for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, for

Bone on Bone, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from SOCAN, the Peoples’ Voice Award from Folk Alliance International and was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2017. Cockburn, who released his memoir, Rumours of Glory, and its similarly titled companion box set the same year, shows no sign of stopping. As his producer-friend Linden says: “Like the great blues players he admires, Bruce just gets better with age.”

Bruce Cockburn US Tour Dates

SEPT  7                                     Sisters, OR                              Sisters Folk Festival

SEPT  20                                   Nashville, TN                         City Winery

SEPT  21                                   Ferdinand, IN                         Ferdinand Folk Fest

SEPT  23                                   Nelsonville, OH                      Stuart Opera House

SEPT  24                                   Goshen, IN                             John S Umble Center

SEPT  25                                   Grand Rapids, MI                   Covenant Arts Center

SEPT  27                                   Chicago, IL                             Old Town School

SEPT  28                                   Chicago, IL                             Old Town School

SEPT  29                                   Minneapolis, MN                    Cedar Cultural Center

SEPT  30                                   Fargo, ND                               Fargo Theatre

OCT   24                                   Brooklyn, NY                         Murmur Theatre

OCT   25                                   Albany, NY                            The Egg

OCT   26                                   Collingswood, NJ                   Scottish Rite Theatre

OCT   27                                   Washington, DC                     The Birchmere

NOV  10                                   Seattle, WA                             Neptune Theatre

NOV  11                                   Missoula, MT                          Wilma Theatre

NOV  12                                   Boise, ID                                Vac Theatre

NOV  14                                   Salt Lake City, UT                  State Room

NOV  15                                   Grand Junction, CO                Avalon Theatre

NOV  16                                   Durango, CO                          Henry Strater Theatre

NOV  17                                   Boulder, CO                           Boulder Theatre

NOV  19                                   Phoenix, AZ                           MIM

NOV   20                                  Los Angeles, CA                     McCabe’s Guitar Shop

NOV   21                                  Berkeley, CA                          Freight & Salvage

NOV   22                                  Berkeley, CA                          Freight & Salvage

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 4:17 pm

Acclaimed New England-based guitarist/singer Paul Gabriel announces an August 2 release date for his latest CD, Man of Many Blues, coming from Smoke Ring Records. Produced by Duke Robillard (who also guests on the new CD), Man of Many Blues was recorded at Lake West Studio in West Greenwich, Rhode Island, by Jack Gauthier, and also includes perennial Blues Music Award nominee Sugar Ray Norcia (of Sugar Ray & the Bluetones) as a special guest.

“This is one of the most special recordings I have ever done,” Gabriel says about the new album. “It’s being dedicated to my dear friend, Georgia Louis, the great 1960s Gospel and Blues singer; and it’s also special in that this is my sophomore recording with Duke Robillard producing.”

Man of Many Blues contains 13 all-original songs featuring Gabriel backed by an all-star cast of musicians, including Duke Robillard (acoustic archtop guitar, electric guitar); Scott Spray (a veteran of both Edgar and Johnny Winter bands), long-time Gabriel friend and band member Frank Davis and Paul Opalach (bass); Mark Teixeira (drums); Sugar Ray Norcia (harmonica); Bruce Bears (piano and Hammond organ; Lonnie Gasperini (Hammond organ); Howard Eldridge (vocals); Christine Ohlman (backing vocals); Mark Earley (tenor and baritone sax); and Doug James (baritone sax).

“One of the most interesting things for me while recording this record,” Gabriel remembers, “was using a very special Les Paul Guitar and Fender Super Reverb Amp exclusively that delivers a very inspiring tone, (in my opinion) somewhat reminiscent of the late Michael Bloomfield, my favorite guitarist.”

Both Bruce Bears and Mark Texeira are long-time members of the Duke Robillard Band. “Many other special musical guests appear on the album,  as well,” adds Gabriel, “ including vocalist Howard Eldridge, an alumni of Matt 'Guitar' Murphy and The Blues Brothers Band; Mark Earley from Roomful of Blues; and Doug James from Roomful and The Jimmie Vaughan Band. Sugar Ray Norcia supplied magnificent harmonica, and the Beehive Queen, herself, Christine Ohlman delivered soulful backing vocals.

Working with Duke Robillard and engineer Jack Gauthier is always a pleasure and a tough combination to beat. It was a constantly inspiring work environment through the entire process. I am thrilled with the outcome and consider it a great honor to have worked with everyone involved on this album.”

About Paul Gabriel

Paul Gabriel is a Blues Music Award-nominated guitarist, singer and songwriter. In March, 2018, Gabriel was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Connecticut Blues Society for excellence in guitar playing, singing and songwriting; and in July of that year, he was also inducted into the Connecticut Blues Hall of Fame as a Master Blues Artist.

Over the years, he has shared the stage with B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Muddy Waters Band, Mick Taylor, James Cotton, Robert Cray, Jaimoe, Gatemouth Brown, Buckwheat Zydeco, Matt Murphy, Johnny Winter, Delbert McClinton, Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl, Toy Caldwell, Roomful Of Blues, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Band, Lonnie Mack, Sugar Ray and The Bluetones, Mark Naftalin, Arthur Neilson, Shemekia Copeland, Bonnie Bramlett, Susan Tedeschi, Christine Ohlman, Sue Foley, Debbie Davies, Candye Kane, Tommy Castro, Joe Bonamassa, James Montgomery, Gov't Mule, Orleans, Tower Of Power, Rick Derringer, Issac Hayes and many more.

He appeared on three Harry Chapin albums, played slide guitar on Rory Block’s Grammy- nominated album, Mama’s Blues, and toured with Michael Bolotin (Bolton). His last release, Paul Gabriel - What’s The Chance, was produced by Duke Robillard for Shining Stone Records and was nominated for a Blues Music Award in 2014. It charted on The Roots Music Report (for 22 week)s, plus the Living Blues, Blues Debut and Cashbox charts, reaching #8 nationally.

While almost always performing with a blues band under his own name, Gabriel has also been a member of several other groups that have made an impact; most notably Blue In The Face, The Mojomatics and HooDoo Band.

“I am very grateful for the nominations and awards that I have been presented with, as it shows that my efforts for being a messenger of the Blues over the last 50 years have been well-received and appreciated,” Gabriel says.

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 5:56 pm

To say that Canadian musician Leeroy Stagger’s life journey has followed a strange path would be a bit of an understatement. 17 years as a singer-songwriter and 10 years sober, with two kids, a home in Lethbridge, Alberta, and a world-class recording studio to go with it, he’s far removed from the hard-living twenty-something who started on this musical path.

On September 13th, Leeroy Stagger invites us to be a part of his journey with the release of his new album and book, Strange Path, through True North Records. And today marks the release of the video for the glam-rock blissed out first single, “Strange Attractor.” Directed by Brock Davis Mitchell, the video draws inspiration from films like The Favorite and Marie Antoinette, and weaves an experimental narrative with shocking bursts of color. Watch video here

The name Strange Path applies as much to Leeroy’s unexpected route from the British Columbia punk scene to southern-Alberta singer songwriter as it does to the album’s own evolution. Following from 2017’s Love Versus, itself a creative re-emergence after a years-long fog of anxiety and depression, Strange Path is the end result of a triple-album’s worth of scrapped demos, and a spirit-reviving retreat inwards. It’s also Stagger’s most ambitious and philosophical creation yet, a veritable self-help book pulled from a lifetime of struggling towards the light and brimming with the hard-won joy at the heart of his recent renaissance. It’s an album full of sharp hooks and sharper insight, and the first single “Strange Attractor”’ rides that line right to the end. 

“Nothing is permanent when you really stop and think,” says Leeroy. “The home we live in, the car we drive, the children we raise, the art we make and the skin that we’re in. It’s not forever, it’s barely real, and that’s ok to me because I’ve been shown the truth of it all. In seeing that it’s not that big of a deal, this has shown me how beautiful it all is. It’s precious, impermanent and beautiful. “Strange Attractor”’ is about the unseen nature of impermanence and the sacredness of the life we live.”

In making Strange Path, Leeroy surrounded himself with some of the best players in the business, including drummer Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Elliot Smith, Los Lobos), longtime collaborator Tyson Maiko, Paul Rigby (Neko Case, Garth Hudson, Jakob Dylan), Ryland Moranz and Michael Ayotte. The album was mixed by five time Grammy winner Ryan Freeland (Ray LaMontagne, Bonnie Raitt, Rodney Crowell) and Brad Barr of The Barr Brothers shared producer’s chair with Leeroy on four of the eleven tracks. 

When it comes out on September 13th, Strange Path will be the 2nd album that Leeroy Stagger has released in 2019. Released on May 17th, Me and the Mountain is a companion piece to Strange Path, an Americana-influenced counterpart to Strange Path’s contemporary sound. Written during a 3-week singer-songwriter residency at the Banff Centre, Me and the Mountain is the album that Leeroy chose not to abandon. 

Leeroy Stagger and his musicians will tour to support Strange Path throughout North America and Internationally; see below for the full tour schedule. Strange Path will be available on Spotify, Apple Music/iTunes and other digital retailers and streaming services on September 13th. For more information, please visit: leeroystagger.com

LEEROY STAGGER | UPCOMING TOUR DATES

July 12 - Calgary, AB - King Eddy (Stampede Show)

July 19 - Fort MacLeod, AB - South Country Fair

Aug 3-5 - Canmore, AB - Canmore Folk Festival

Aug 29 - Mount Stewart, PEI - Trailside Cafe

Aug 30 - Halifax, NS - Halifax Urban Folk Festival

Aug 31 - Montreal, QC - Petit Campus

Sept 1 - Wentworth-Nord, QC - Rickks Room

Sept 5 - Marlboro, NY - The Falcon

Sept 6 - New York, NY - TBC

Sept 7 - Rhinebeck, NY - House Concert

Sept 9 - Woodstock, NY - TBC

Sept 10 - Syracuse, NY - House Concert

Sept 11 - Burnstown, ON - Neat Coffee Shop

Sept 12 - Toronto, ON - The Horseshoe

Sept 13 - Ottawa, ON - The Rainbow

Sept 14 - Lethbridge, AB - Lethbridge College

Oct 11 - Santa Monica, CA - McCabe’s

Oct 12 - Los Angeles, CA - TBC

Oct 15 - San Francisco, CA - Hotel Utah

Oct 16 - Sacramento, CA - Feist Wines

Oct 17 - Portland, OR - White Eagle Saloon

Oct 18 - Vancouver, BC - The Fox Theatre

Oct 19 - Victoria, BC - TBC

Oct 21 - Parksville, BC - Bayside Resort

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 2:27 pm

Severn Records announces a September 13 release date for Real Street, the latest soul-blues album from eight-time Blues Music Award-nominated singer/harmonica player Tad Robinson. Produced by Robinson and recorded by Scott Bomar at Electraphonic Recording, the new disc showcases his soul-drenched vocals and harmonica work backed by the legendary Hi Rhythm Section of Charles Hodges – Hammond organ; Leroy Hodges – bass; and Howard Grimes – drums. They are augmented by Joe Restivo – guitar; Kevin Anker – Wurlitzer electric piano; Marc Franklin – trumpet; Kirk Smothers – sax; and Devin B. Thompson – background vocals.

Tad Robinson will celebrate the new disc with special album release party shows in his Indianapolis hometown, starting on Friday, October 4, at the Jazz Kitchen (5377 North College Ave., Indianapolis), with sets at 7:30pm and 9:30pm. And on Friday, October 18, he’ll perform a special lunchtime show (12:15 - 1:15pm) at the Indianapolis Artsgarden, (110 West Washington, Indianapolis). Additional shows are listed at the end of this press release, including a European tour.

For the recording of Real Street, Robinson traveled to the birthplace of Southern soul, Memphis, Tennessee, and the results are ten glorious tracks of blues-infused and passionate soul music. Throughout six originals and four reimagined covers, Robinson’s singing has never been so focused and fluent in the language of the blues and his subtle harmonica playing adds just the right spice to the mix.

“The Hi-Rhythm Section guys - Howard Grimes, Charles Hodges and Leroy Hodges - brought such wisdom, grace and solidarity to my session,” Tad Robinson says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better vibe in terms of how we all approached playing together. I’m forever grateful.”

Robinson’s vocals and harmonica weave seamlessly into the grooves set down by the band, evoking the days of such soul giants as O.V. Wright and Syl Johnson, both of whom enjoyed some of their best-remembered recordings working with the Hi Rhythm Section. His ability to “soul-ify” such pop songs as “You Got It” and “Make It With You” recall the skill that Al Green exemplified during his glory years in taking a pop standard (such as “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”) and crafting it into a soul classic. 

From the ebullient shuffle, opener, “Changes,” to the poignant immediacy of George Jackson’s ballad, “Search Your Heart,” each song is a showpiece with the Memphis groove-makers’ interlocking parts evoking a timeless Southern soul-blues landscape made new again. 

Robinson croons the wry, self-deprecating account of the departure of his bored lover in “Full Grown Woman,” gets gritty and gospel-soulful on the wistful and radio-friendly, “Love In The Neighborhood” and riffs and weaves his way through his joyful reworking of Roy Orbison’s, “You Got It.” 

The Memphis veterans lay down a beautiful understated backing for Robinson’s story-telling on Real Street, plucking just the right riff, chord change and color out of the Memphis air, bearing witness to their rarified status as architects of the Southern soul sound. 

Real Street is an earthy, straight-from-the-gut-to-the-heart collection that fans of soul and blues music will cherish.

Additional Tad Robinson Tour Dates

Thursday, September 19- Slippery Noodle Inn 372 South Meridian Street Indianapolis, IN - 8:30pm-12:30am

Saturday, Oct 19 - Delphi Opera House 109 South Washington, Delphi, IN - 7:30pm- 10:00pm

European Tour

Thursday, October 31 - Nefertiti (Sweden)

Saturday, November 2 - Blues Heaven Festival (Denmark)

Sunday, November 3 - Gospel Heaven Festival (Denmark)

Tuesday, November 5 – Malmitalo - Helsinki, Finland

Wednesday, November 6 – Lietohalli - Lieto, Finland

Thursday, November 7 - Down Home Kivi - Tampere, Finland

Friday, November 8 – Poselli - Vaasa, Finland

Saturday, November 9 – Puttutupa - Helsinki, Finland

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 12:43 pm

Texas guitarist Sparky Parker announces a September 13 date for the self-release of his new CD, In the Dark, featuring 10 blistering blues-rock tracks that ably demonstrate why he is becoming one of the most talked-about performers in his Houston hometown. Watch the video trailer for the new album here: https://show.co/KiZajD7

Sparky Parker will celebrate the new disc with a special CD release party show on Friday, September 13, at Houston’s Big Easy Social and Pleasure Club, starting at 9:30pm.

Produced by Sparky Parker and recorded, mixed and mastered by Rock Romano at The Redshack Recording Studio in Houston, In the Dark showcases the Sparky Parker Band: Sparky Parker - guitars, vocals; Phillip Lock - bass, backing vocals; and Kevin Berry – drums, with additional keyboards/organ by William Gorman. The CD consists of seven original tunes, plus scintillating covers of songs by The Rolling Stones (“Dead Flowers”), Slim Harpo (“Shake Your Hips’) and Bobby “Blue” Bland, (“I Wouldn't Treat a Dog (The Way You Treated Me).”

The album’s original songs are packed with exciting flourishes and surprises. The wah-wah guitar rhythm on the title track, “In the Dark,” paired with hi-hat 16th notes, is a flashback to checkerboard dance floors and spinning disco balls. “This Old Thing” pumps a hard-driving back-beat on the verse that contrasts nicely to the smooth vocal harmonies on the chorus. In the Dark offers a variety of styles, keeping the listener on their toes,  whether it be the up-beat, southern twang and charm of “8 Days in the Doghouse,” or the slow ballad “Games,” reminiscent of the things that Guitar Slim used to do, or a wave of 60's surf guitar on the up-tempo instrumental, “Escape to Quintana.”

Eric “Sparky” Parker wears his Texas blues-rock guitarslinger credentials on his sleeve, possessing the grit, drive and talent needed to stand tall in the eternally-competitive Texas music scene. His guitar influences range from Stevie Ray Vaughan to seminal classic blues players such as Magic Sam and Albert King. Long-time Houston fans knew him as a young blues guitar prodigy, but Parker has grown far beyond that kind of simple label. He is now a triple threat who writes quality songs, sings with a feeling and plays with ferocity. With the release of In the Dark, those close to Parker feel that this album will break him to a larger, national audience.

Parker began playing professionally straight out of high school, cutting his teeth as a frontman with the rock band Bayou Monster and playing guitar in the blues band Mojofromopolis. He also joined the Houston rock band Funky Mustard, who he still plays with to this day. Parker went on to log road miles with Blues Music Award-winning artists Diunna Greenleaf and Vanessa Collier, playing important shows around the USA and Europe, including The Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, The Blues Music Awards show and The Chicago Blues Festival, among dozens of other major music festivals.

He launched the Sparky Parker Band in 2012, a high-energy outfit whose debut album, Live in Houston, was captured live in the band’s hometown at Dan Electro's Guitar Bar. The trio format lets Parker dig deeply into his influences, which include Jimi Hendrix, The Allman Brothers Band, Texas and Chicago Blues, Classic Soul, R&B, and Classic Rock. The band is amped up to take the seven originals and three covers from the new record to the people and knows what it has to offer is tested and true.

Reviewers have compared Parker to Gary Clark Jr, Doyle Bramhall II, and Jonny Lang, but he creates intensely original music that never falls into the shadows of imitation. A shy and reserved person offstage, music has always been the best way for him to forge connections with other people. It’s how he tells his story and speaks his mind. That story will get a vital new chapter added onto it with the release of In the Dark, and the crowds on his live tour dates will finish the tale. Anyone interested in where the blues is heading in the modern era should discover Sparky Parker today.

For more info, visit www.sparkyparker.com.

Additional Sparky Parker Band Tour Dates

10/12                     Katie’s Bar – 9:00pm                                                                       Bacliff, TX

10/19                     Green Oaks Tavern – 9pm                                                           Humble, TX

10/26                     Lone Star Blues & Heritage Festival                                          Grapeland, TX

11/1                       Home Sweet Farm – 8:30pm                                                       Brenham, TX

11/23                     The Heights Theater (opening for Coco Montoya)            Houston, TX

Wed, 09/04/2019 - 7:41 pm

Texas-based Zack Walther Band announces an October 25 release date for their new album of Americana and roots music, titled The Westerner, releasing October 25, and distributed by TuneCore.

The band will perform a number of Texas dates in support of the new disc, including a very special CD release show that will be announced on September 12 at Zack Walther’s “All-Star Tribute to George Strait” concert, also featuring members of the Ace in the Hole Band, at the Historic Brauntex Theater in New Braunfels, which is already sold out.

Zack Walther Band has also performed a number of dates with the great Rodney Crowell, who has said of Zack: “Whether it’s on record or a live performance, you can always count on Zack Walther to make use of one hell of a high powered voice.”

Equally at home performing country, blues, R&B and rock, Zack titled the new disc The Westerner because he set out to create an album that is different than anything he and his band has ever released before.  It embodies his journey from the Texas music scene to the main stream landscape.  Americana, Blues, or country, where ever The Westerner lands, it will transcend though many genres because it combines all of Zack's musical influences and all he’s learned performing in the Texas music scene for the past 15 years. 

The album’s concept builds upon ideas explored in Walther’s earlier Americana recordings, constructing a sonic landscape akin to the American Frontier of the late 1800s – a place of untamed territories where life was free, wild, unrestrained and at times rowdy.  The album explores personal pride, betrayal, loss and redemption with Walther’s experimentation and lyrical hooks playing the hero.  It takes listeners on a journey to the outskirts of traditional rhythm and blues and evokes the bold and eccentric yet accessible qualities of a Quinten Tarantino film. The Westerner is a barn-burning review, which walks the line between authenticity and disarming self-awareness.

“The Westerner is different and it’s something that personifies my taking a risk and stepping out of my comfort zone to create a record that will, I hope, stand the test of time,” says Zack about the new disc. ”I want someone to listen to The Westerner 30 years from now and think it’s a great record, and that is what every artist wants.”

Zack has been working on this album for the past year and a half, and he adds, “This is the record I’ve been working towards my entire musical life.”

Zack’s musical influences, and those heard on The Westerner cover a wide-range from Elvis Presley to the Beatles to Bruce Springsteen, but just like those iconic artists, Zack says, “Everyone’s musical roots go back to R&B and the blues – even those artists from the so-called British Invasion in the 1960s – we all can trace our music back to the Mississippi Delta.”

Of the 10 songs on The Westerner, seven are all new and the remaining three had been previously released on an EP. “Those three songs are personal favorites of mine, and I wanted to share them again in new form on this record,” he says.

One of the older songs, “Bailey’s Light,” was a ghost story in its original form. Zack and his bandmates performed it a Capella in what Zack describes as “like an oral history,” but then he re-created it into a song. “That gave ‘Bailey’s Light’ a whole new life and it went from a chain gang chant to an upbeat song,” he says. “That new arrangement called for us to re-record it.” 

Although Zack led the creative effort for The Westerner, Zack credits Matthew Biggs, his drummer, and Mike Atkins, who plays piano, organ, and keys in addition to singing, for helping him make sure The Westerner got done. “What helped immensely is that Matt has a studio so we could record at our own pace without a deadline or a meter running. We could go into the studio a couple of times a week and work at our own pace.” Well-known Austin-area guitarist David Grissom (Joe Ely, John Mellencamp) also played on four tracks.

Typically, people write an entire album before they start recording,” he explains, “but The Westerner was not done that way. We recorded it in parts – for example, we have two songs with a horn section which we brought in when we were ready for it.  Some of the songs were written, and some songs had music but no lyrics. Another song, ‘Casualty,’ is one we perform at our live shows all the time and we knew our long-time fans would be expecting to find that on this CD”

When asked for his favorite song on The Westerner, Zack says it’s one called “What Kind of Man.” He says, “My mentor Rodney Crowell heard me sing about eight years ago, and he told me then that I have a great voice but I should go home and listen to blues singers and R&B singers and learn from them. In short, he told me to figure out who I am.”

“What Kind of Man” came out of a dream Zack had one night, and he woke up and wrote the song in 30 minutes. “I was influenced by Otis Redding’s song, ‘These Arms of Mine,’ and ‘What Kind of Man’ has a power that people identify with the blues when I perform it,” Zack says.

In fact, Zack says the overall theme of The Westerner is soul. He says, “I have never sung like this on an album, and I reached out to places in my soul that I didn’t think I could get to and I captured it. I have to say that singing with soul and with heart – and with meaning – is something I hadn’t done before.” He adds, “Some of that comes from my musical influencers, but some comes with things that happened in my life – personal tragedy – and dealing with that pain. That pain has given me a lot more to sing about and to sing for.” 

According to Zack, The Westerner is “the record my fans always wanted me to make.” It is a big change from Zack’s last record, and that is on purpose. He says, “I wanted this path to be different – I needed to go in a different direction and this record goes so beyond where I’ve been.” He believes The Westerner presents the best vocal performance of his career and he hopes it shows that his voice is as good as his fans think it is – and will attract people who are not yet fans. He says, “My hope is that The Westerner is a record my fans can be proud of.”

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 7:54 pm

Award-winning Canadian soul-bluesman Matt Andersen has been added as a special guest on the summer tour of superstars Steve Miller and Marty Stuart. This is in addition to Andersen’s continuing solo dates as part of his international itinerary spanning across the US, UK, Europe and Canada, in support of his latest album release, Halfway Home by Morning (on True North Records). The 13-song album (recorded in Nashville, TN) deftly captures the Canadian-native’s long-signature and internationally-celebrated sound: sweat-soaked soul meets incendiary rhythm and blues, with full doses of heartsick folk and Americana grit mixed in for good measure. 

Halfway Home by Morning featured a slew of pre-released singles, including “Free Man” and “Quarter on the Ground,” which have garnered 120,000+ streams on Spotify alone and numerous radio adds for “Free Man." The most recent singles included “Something to Lose,” (featuring Grammy Award-winning recording artist, Amy Helm) and “Better than You Want.”

“When it came time to select songs for the new album I knew I wanted this song and that I wanted to sing it with Amy,” Andersen says of “Something to Lose.” “Amy and I have been trying for a long time for the opportunity to write together. We ended being on a tour together and found ourselves with a day off and sat down to tackle a tune. It ended up being the last song we recorded for the album and it was definitely one of the highlights of my time in the studio. I’ll sing with Amy any time I can. She’s the real thing and always brings her own genuine and infectious joy into the room and into any song,” Andersen continues. 

To accompany “Something to Lose,” Andersen has released a studio video with Amy Helm -

“For the video, we had an easy and relaxed day at the Henhouse Studio in Nashville with my producer, Steve Dawson, and the band,” Andersen says of the video. “I could have sung this song all day. I really like the stripped-down vibe we had on these takes. Being able to sit across from and just sing into the open air with no headphones or monitors was as real as it gets. I love that we caught that moment,” Andersen says.

With over 18 million views on YouTube and nearly two decades into his storied career, Andersen’s room-shaking, heart-quaking voice has won him countless awards, including two European Blues Awards, seven Maple Blues Awards, and an International Blues Challenge.

With a staggering voice that is at intervals vulnerable and mighty, Andersen sings of love, loss, longing for home, and finding out about “the nails that hung (his) heroes to their crosses.” The songs are honest; they reflect the musings of a blue-collar kid trying to make sense of the wider world as he rolls through another town in an endless stretch of nightly gigs. His dedication to the road earned him the unique CIMA Road Gold certification.

Andersen is a singer of Herculean talent, a songwriter who isn’t afraid of introspection, and a guitarist with “the confidence of a fighter in his prime.” All of those facets of his artistry are on full display in his newest offering Halfway Home by Morning.

MATT ANDERSEN US 2019 TOUR

November 8    Sessions Music Hall                           Eugene, OR
November 9    Star Theater                                        Portland, OR
November 10  The Triple Door                                  Seattle, WA
November 13  Harlow's                                              Sacramento, CA
November 14  Freight & Salvage                               Berkeley,CA
November 15  Harold Miossi Hall                             San Luis Obispo, CA
November 16  The Pico Union Project                      Los Angeles, CA
November 17  California Center for the Arts             Escondido, CA
November 19  Club Congress                                     Tucson, AZ
November 20  Scottsdale CTR for the Perf.Arts            Scottsdale, AZ
November 21  KiMo Theatre                                     Albuquerque, NM
November 22  Taos Center for the Arts                     Taos, NM
November 23  Fox Theatre                                         Boulder, CO

Tue, 11/19/2019 - 6:36 pm

Natalie MacMaster has drawn a line on time, putting bow to fiddle once again for this, her first solo album release in eight years. Sketches was released on November 1st, 2019 through Linus Entertainment.

With over 300,000 albums sold, Canada’s most-endeared and revered fiddler has received countless nominations and award wins — including but not limited to a GRAMMY Award win and nomination, a JUNO Award win and seven nominations, 19 East Coast Music Association awards, and five Canadian Country Music Association’s “Fiddler of the Year” nods — as well as three honorary doctorates, an induction into the Casino Nova Scotia Hall of Fame, and a member of the Order of Canada.

But for Sketches, the Celtic music superstar is drawing on a different set of numbers for inspiration.

“It is a moment during my 47th year of life, my 37th year of fiddling, my 16th year of marriage, and my 13th year of parenting,” MacMaster says of the forthcoming release, and in reference to her seven children and husband and fellow fiddler Donnell Leahy. “It’ll be a moment of joyous appreciation inspired by years of parenting, marriage, friendships, music, and life.”

This is a professional life that includes performances with Béla Fleck, Faith Hill, Carlos Santana, The Chieftains, Sharon, Lois & Bram, Buddy MacMaster and Jesse Cook, as well as award-winning collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma, and a blended line with award-winning collaborations with Donnell and their children. And speaking on the family-front, she’s distantly related to fiddler Ashley MacIsaac and rocker Jack White and spends much of her time collaborating with Donnell as well as putting her teaching degree to use homeschooling their children.

Sketches is a return to a solo sound, and the result is a fiery, must-hear collection of traditional tunes and medleys mixed with new compositions. The album teems with retrospect and legacy as MacMaster reflects on her extraordinary journey in both life and career.

“I have something to say through my fiddle,” she says.

Hear what it is; Sketches is available now. 

Natalie MacMaster USA Tour Dates

November 29, 2019 Opera House, Waterville, ME ^   

November 30, 2019 Newton Theatre, Newton, NJ ^  

December 1, 2019  Paramount Theater - Rutland, VT ^

December 3, 2019 Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Burlington, VT ^   

December 4, 2019 Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, Amherst, MA ^

December 5, 2019 Quick Center, Fairfield, CT ^

December 6, 2019 Grunin Center For the Arts, Toms River, NJ ^

December 8, 2019 Hylton Performing Arts Center/Merchant Hall, Manassas, VA ^   

December 10, 2019 Weis Center For The Performing Arts, Lewisburg, PA, ^

December 11, 2019  Majestic at the Jennifer and David LeVan Performing Arts Center, Gettysburg, PA^

December 12, 2019 Clair Performance Hall, Winter Visual & Performing Arts Center, Millersville, PA^

December 13, 2019 The Cabot, Beverly, MA ^

December 14, 2019 Staller Center For The Arts, Stonybrook, NY ^   

December 15, 2019 Sellersville Theater, Sellersville, PA ^

December 17, 2019 Macky Auditorium Concert Hall, Boulder, CO ^

December 18, 2019 UCCS Ent Center For The Arts, Colorado Springs, CO ^   

December 20, 2019 Lensic Performing Arts Center, Sante Fe, NM ^

^ Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy’s A Celtic Family Christmas

Thu, 01/23/2020 - 4:06 pm

GRAMMY Award-winning musician David Clayton-Thomas has announced the release of his latest album, Say Somethin’ — set for release March 20, 2020 via Linus Records.

Featuring singles “Never Again,” Clayton-Thomas’ powerful battle cry calling attention to the gun violence plaguing the U.S.; and “The System,” his insistent calls for action within the youth justice system, Say Somethin’ is a 10-track statement in the form of potent music and inspirational songwriting from the legendary artist. In addition, the album confronts many timely issues across today’s social spectrum, including climate change, immigration, and politics.

David Clayton-Thomas collaborated on Say Somethin with Canadian musicians Lou Pomanti, Eric St Laurent, Davide Direnzo, and George Koller.

David Clayton-Thomas began his amazing journey as a homeless street kid and developed into one of the most recognizable voices in music, to date selling over 40 million records. In 1996 he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and in 2007 his jazz/rock composition “Spinning Wheel” was enshrined in the Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame. In 2010 David received his star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

His 1968 debut album with Blood Sweat & Tears sold 10 million copies worldwide. The self-titled record topped the Billboard album chart for seven weeks, and charted for a staggering 109 weeks. It won an unprecedented five Grammy awards, including Album of the Year and Best Performance by a Male Vocalist. It featured three hit singles, “You Made Me So Very Happy,” “And When I Die” and “Spinning Wheel,” as well as an irresistible rendition of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” that became a signature song for David. A 1969 summary in the Los Angeles Times proclaimed that “Blood Sweat & Tears just may be the most important pop music group of the decade.”

In his 1974 autobiography, Clive: Inside the Record Business, Clive Davis, then president of Columbia Records, described his initial impression of hearing David Clayton-Thomas at New York’s Café Au Go Go: “He was staggering… a powerfully built singer who exuded an enormous earthy confidence. He jumped right out at you. I went with a small group of people, and we were electrified. He seemed so genuine, so in command of the lyric… a perfect combination of fire and emotion to go with the band’s somewhat cerebral appeal. I knew he would be a strong, strong figure.”

BS&T headlined at major venues around the world… Royal Albert Hall, The Metropolitan Opera, The Hollywood Bowl, Madison Square Garden and Caesar’s Palace, as well as the Newport Jazz Festival and Woodstock. It was the first contemporary band to break through the Iron Curtain with its historic 1970 tour of Eastern Europe.

Say Somethin’ Track Listing

Burwash

The System

Dear Mr. Obama

King Midas

This Town

Never Again

The Circus

The P