Saturday, August 26, 2017

Jason Buie ~~ Driftin’ Heart

Lately I’ve been receiving a fair number of albums, but most of them just didn’t excite me enough to write about. Most had one or two good songs on them, but just not enough to sustain the entire album.
Of course it didn’t help that within a seven day period I saw both Buddy Guy and Janiva Magness in concert, and aside from being able to put a check mark beside their names on my Blues Bucket List, it set the bar kind of high when it came to listening to these other artists.
I promise I will go back and reevaluate them soon.
In the meantime, I did receive an album, Driftin’ Heart, from Canadian Jason Buie, with whom I had no familiarity. We’ve been receiving some great artists from our contacts in Canada, so I was eager to dive in and see what Buie was all about.
In case you were wondering, eh, that’s pronounced “a-boot.”
Aside from taking on the vocals and guitars, Buie put together an excellent group of musicians that include John Hunter on drums, George Fenn on bass, and Dave Webb on piano and Hammond B3. Rick Salt and Marisha Devoin added their vocals to House Party.
Buie teamed up with Hunter to write seven of the disc’s thirteen songs. The others were written by Amos Milburn, Sue Foley, Jimmy Rogers, and Jesse May Robinson.
Buie opens the album with a swinging number, Fool From The Start. I’m liking his soulful blues and Webb’s Hammond adds a nice touch. Buie takes a solid lead and so far, the man sounds like this could be the album to break me out of my funk and return me to my normal state.
He follows up with another swinging up-tempo song, House Party. This is Amos Milburn’s tune and he does a good job with his interpretation. We’ve played several versions of this song in the past and Buie’s stacks up against them all. Sweet song, and he’s two for two.
Next up are a couple of tracks written by Buie and Hunter, starting with Government Man. It’s got a good hook but I’m not as crazy about the vocals effect he’s using. I know it’s designed to sound like it’s being filtered and mysterious, but it’s not my cup of tea. Still, the music is strong. Then Buie and the band launch into a quick number, Westcoast Daddy. It’s a raucous rockabilly blues number that gets your blood pumping and toes tapping. I love this one a lot and you better believe it’s going to appear on Time For The Blues shortly.
I truly wish I could find a source for more Canadian material. It’s tricky to find some of these releases in the States, but once I locate a good source, I will be happy to share it with you. Of course, I’ll continue to add links to the artists’ websites.
Canadian blues artist Sue Foley wrote the title track, Driftin’ Heart. Foley is a terrific player and I’m sad to say that I don’t have much of her work in my collection. This is delivered as a country blues song, and Buie croons his way through it nicely. Solid number all the way around.
Next up are several songs written by the Buie-Hunter tandem, starting with the 1950’s inspired Stay The Night. The song closely follows the set-up of several of those middle of the road rock songs that the Girl Groups would often sing. Then Buie unleashes a blistering guitar run and changes the focus. It’s a strong effort and a nice throwback number.
Suits Me To A Tee opens with some strong guitar and Hammond music before Buie adds his gruff vocals to the mix. This is pure blues and he really delivers on the attitude. I really like this number a lot. Hope I can get it into a show soon.
Next up is 12 O’clock Check Out, a song that could (and maybe should) be my theme song. Like many, I’m wired to be up all hours off the night, so getting out of a hotel by their normal check out time doesn’t always work for me. Fortunately, Buie has given voice – and guitar – to our frustrations. Oh yeah, this one is going on a show PDQ.
He keeps rocking with Last Love Affair, the last song Buie and Hunter wrote for the album. It’s a punchy track, a good song to move an audience to get up on its collective feet and dance. I enjoy it a lot, plenty of blues mixed with rock and some cool piano from Webb that gives way to a killer guitar run.
The last couple of songs are covers, beginning with his version of Jimmy Rogers’ You’re Sweet. Buie and company really rock this number and this is a song that should be getting some airplay. I love the way he turns Webb loose on the piano and the song has that gritty Chicago sound.
He closes out with Jesse Mae Robinson’s Cold, Cold Feeling. It too, has that sweet old school sound and Buie does a great job with the lead guitar. This song has that great late night feel to it, with a singer standing behind the microphone and opening up all of his emotions. It’s a brave, bold move, and Buie gives it everything he’s got. It’s an impressive number and makes me want to hear more.
I know Buie has a couple of other albums that he’s released. For someone who was completely off my radar, he is now solidly on it and I can’t wait to get my hands on his previous work. Driftin’ Heart is a beautifully crafted album that mixes his own masterful songs with others that are well-known and they combine to make a blues album that just about everyone will enjoy.
Buie has traveled the world, but I’m not sure when he’s going to be appearing around here. I’m going to check in with his website, http://www.jasonbuieband.com/ to see where our paths might cross.

(En tant que service à nos amis francophones au Canada ou à travers le monde, j'essaierai d'écrire l'interview ci-dessus en français. Confiez-moi quand je dis que je le fais par respect et mon français au niveau collégial était il ya longtemps J'ai demandé à ma petite amie de lycée belge de l'examiner, mais elle est un peu occupée ces jours-ci ...)

Dernièrement, j'ai reçu un bon nombre d'albums, mais la plupart d'entre eux ne m'ont pas réussi à écrire. La plupart avaient une ou deux bonnes chansons sur eux, mais pas assez pour soutenir l'album entier.
Bien sûr, cela n'a pas aidé cela dans une période de sept jours, j'ai vu à la fois Buddy Guy et Janiva Magness en concert, et en plus de pouvoir marquer une marque à côté de leurs noms sur ma liste Blues Bucket, Quand il s'agissait d'écouter ces autres artistes.
Je promets de revenir en arrière et de les réévaluer bientôt.
En attendant, j'ai reçu un album, Driftin’ Heart, du Canadien Jason Buie, avec qui je n'avais aucune familiarité. Nous avons reçu de bons artistes de nos contacts au Canada, alors j'étais désireux de plonger et de voir à quoi était Buie.
Dans le cas où vous vous demandiez, eh, c'est prononcé "a-boot".
En plus de prendre les voix et les guitares, Buie a rassemblé un excellent groupe de musiciens qui incluent John Hunter à la batterie, George Fenn à la basse et Dave Webb au piano et Hammond B3. Rick Salt et Marisha Devoin ont ajouté leur vocabulaire à House Party.
Buie s'est associée à Hunter pour écrire sept des treize chansons du disque. Les autres ont été écrits par Amos Milburn, Sue Foley, Jimmy Rogers et Jesse May Robinson.
Buie ouvre l'album avec un numéro oscillant, Fool From The Start. J'aime son blues et le Hammond de Webb ajoutent une touche agréable. Buie prend une avance solide et jusqu'à présent, l'homme semble que ce pourrait être l'album pour me sortir de mon funk et me rendre dans mon état normal.
Il suit une autre chanson de swinging-tempo, House Party. C'est l'accord d'Amos Milburn et il fait un bon travail avec son interprétation. Nous avons joué plusieurs versions de cette chanson dans le passé et les piles de Buie contre elles. Douce chanson, et il en a deux pour deux.
Ensuite, quelques pistes sont écrites par Buie et Hunter, en commençant par Government Man. Il a un bon crochet mais je ne suis pas aussi fou de l'effet vocal qu'il utilise. Je sais qu'il est conçu pour sonner comme s'il s'agissait d'être filtré et mystérieux, mais ce n'est pas ma tasse de thé. Pourtant, la musique est forte. Alors Buie et le groupe se lancent dans un petit numéro, Westcoast Daddy. C'est un numéro de blues rockabilly raide qui fait tuer votre sang et les orteils. J'aime beaucoup celui-ci et il vaut mieux croire qu'il apparaîtra prochainement dans Time For The Blues.
J'aimerais vraiment trouver une source de plus de matériel canadien. Il est difficile de trouver certaines de ces versions aux États-Unis, mais une fois que je trouve une bonne source, je serai ravi de la partager avec vous. Bien sûr, je vais continuer à ajouter des liens vers les sites Web des artistes.
L'artiste canadienne de blues Sue Foley a écrit la titre titre, Driftin' Heart. Foley est un joueur formidable et je suis triste de dire que je n'ai pas beaucoup de travail dans ma collection. Ceci est livré comme une chanson de blues de pays, et Buie croons son chemin à travers elle bien. Un nombre solide tout autour.
Ensuite, plusieurs morceaux sont écrits par le tandem Buie-Hunter, à commencer par la soirée inspirée des années 1950. La chanson suit de près la mise en scène de plusieurs de ces chansons de rock moyen que les groupes de filles chanteraient souvent. Ensuite, Buie déclenche un jeu de guitare et change l'accent. C'est un effort fort et un bon nombre de rebond.
Suits Me To A Tee s'ouvre avec de la guitare forte et de la musique Hammond avant que Buie n'ajoute ses chants agressifs au mix. C'est un pur blues et il s'occupe vraiment de l'attitude. J'aime beaucoup ce nombre. J'espère que je peux l'avoir bientôt dans un spectacle.
Ensuite, il y a 12 heures Check Out, une chanson qui pourrait (et peut-être) être ma chanson thème. Comme beaucoup, je suis câblé pour être ouvert toutes les heures de la nuit, alors sortir d'un hôtel par leur temps de sortie normal ne fonctionne pas toujours pour moi. Heureusement, Buie a donné la voix - et la guitare - à nos frustrations. Oh ouais, celui-ci se déroule sur un spectacle PDQ.
Il continue à marrer avec Last Love Affair, la dernière chanson que Buie et Hunter ont écrite pour l'album. C'est une piste punchy, une bonne chanson pour déplacer un public pour se lancer sur ses pieds collectifs et danser. Je l'apprécie beaucoup, beaucoup de blues mélangés avec du rock et un piano cool de Webb qui cède la place à une guitare killer.
Les deux dernières chansons sont des couvertures, en commençant par sa version de Jimmy Rogers' You're Sweet. Buie et l'entreprise vraiment rock ce numéro et c'est une chanson qui devrait être de l'airplay. J'adore la façon dont il rend Webb lâche sur le piano et la chanson a ce som très lourd de Chicago.
Il se ferme avec Jesse Mae Robinson's Cold, Cold Feeling. C'est aussi ce bon son de l'ancienne école et Buie fait un excellent travail avec la guitare principale. Cette chanson a cette superbe fin de nuit, avec un chanteur debout derrière le microphone et ouvrant toutes ses émotions. C'est un mouvement courageux et audacieux, et Buie donne tout ce qu'il a obtenu. C'est un nombre impressionnant et me donne envie d'entendre davantage.
Je sais que Buie a quelques autres albums qu'il a sortis. Pour quelqu'un qui a été complètement hors de mon radar, il est maintenant solidement sur elle et je ne peux pas attendre pour mettre ma main sur son travail précédent. Driftin' Heart est un album magnifiquement conçu qui mélange ses propres chansons magistrales avec d'autres qui sont bien connues et se combinent pour créer un album de blues que tout le monde appréciera.
Buie a parcouru le monde, mais je ne sais pas quand il va apparaître ici. Je vais vérifier avec son site Web, http://www.jasonbuieband.com/ pour voir où nos chemins pourraient traverser.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Time For The Blues ~~ August 26, 2017

Henry and I hope you will join us on Time For The Blues this Saturday night, August 26, at 11 as we crank up the fun and bring you some great blues. Lately, we’ve had a few days of cooler temperatures signaling the end of summer is near and we’re rolling like a freight train to the end of the year.

One band that never cools off is our buds, The Nighthawks. They’ve been rocking for many years and have become one of the few things out of Washington DC that you can trust. I’ve been following them longer than any other blues band and every time they drop a new album, I’m the first in line to get a copy.

When we got a copy of their latest effort, All You Got To Do, from our friends at EllerSoul Records, I pounced on it and now we get to share it with you. These guys really deliver the blues, and if I may, “All You Got To Do” is listen in and I think you’re going to agree!

Just because I can, I’m also going to drop in a song from an earlier release, Damn Good Time, and that’s a title that’s very prophetic as I think you will have a “Damn Good Time!”

Another feature focuses on Scott Ellison, a very underrated performer that we discovered when he dropped Elevator Man a couple of years back. We’re going to play one selection from that fine album and a few more from his latest release, Good Morning Midnight.

As Time For The Blues airs at 11 on Saturday nights and runs for an hour, we often say “Good Morning” to Midnight, so that’s a title that really appealed to me. Of course, after I sampled the disc, I couldn’t wait to bring it to the show.

Then there’s some new artists that impressed us, including the Scottie Miller Band, from their impressive album, Stay Above Water. From their very cool album, Last Nights at the Leopard Lounge, comes Michele D'Amour and the Love Dealers.

I still can’t say their name without breaking into an outrageous French accent, sort of a cross between Pepe Lepew and that taunting guard in Monty Python And The Holy Grail. However you say their name, you’ll be saying it a lot after you hear their sound.

Also up is the amazing bass player Joseph Veloz, who has dropped his debut album, Offerings. We’ve got a great song from him with Lucky Peterson on the vocals.

A band that’s in transition, Andy T Band, which was formally called the Andy T Nick Nixon Band, is moving from one lead singer to another on their album, Double Strike. It’s a smooth transition as Nixon is retiring from the business and Alabama Mike is taking over without missing a beat.

If you like your blues with a rocking edge, might I suggest Dani Wilde, from across the pond. You know Henry loves his Brit Blues, so as a special treat for him, I’ve included a side from Wilde’s Live At Brighton Road, which is available now from VizzTone.

Last, but certainly not least, is a new group out of Texas, the Milligan-Vaughan Project, which features a young man, Tyrone Vaughan, who is the latest member of the musical Vaughan family. Tyrone is the son of Jimmie and the nephew of Stevie Ray, and he’s one helluva guitar player. Maybe it’s in the genes, maybe it’s that he has to try harder to live up to their reputation. Whatever it is, this man has it.
So, do what you have to do to join us at 11. Sleep late, take a nap, grab that caffeine, just be sure to join us. We’re going to have a great time and we sure would love for you to come along for the ride. You know where we’re going to be, point your browser to http://ideastations.org/radio or join us on one of the Idea Stations: 89.1 WCVN, Northern Neck; 90.1 WMVE, Chase City; and the flagship, 88.9 WCVE-FM, Richmond, where it’s always Time For The Blues!













                                                             

                                                                               


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Buddy Guy Brings The Blues To Charlottesville

Over the years there have been many good performers who played the blues. But even among those artists, there are a handful of true giants who have elevated the genre to greater heights. Buddy Guy is one such giant, and in an electrifying performance in Charlottesville’s historic Paramount Theatre, Guy used the healing power of music to soothe a community that was recently rocked by violence.
The audience was already on its feet when Guy casually strolled out onto the stage in a white shirt with black polka dots, loose pants, and the kind of sneakers your grandfather might wear. Even at the tender young age of 81, Guy moved around the stage with grace and style, and damn, can that man still play a guitar. Over the next couple of hours, Guy gave a clinic, not only on how to handle a six-string, but how to connect with an audience that was starved for a great show.
He opened his set with his classic, Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues, and to say the audience was enthusiastic would be a vast understatement. Throughout the evening, Guy was more than generous sharing his spotlight with members of his band, especially keyboardist Marty Sammon and guitarist Ric Hall. Each would take extended solos during the jams. Also with Guy, he would often switch from song to song or throw something in seemingly on the fly, only to come back and comment on it, often with some salty language tossed in.
After that great opening, he moved into some blues “they don’t play on the radio anymore,” Five Long Years. As a radio producer, I must take slight umbrage, but only slight, as some of us are playing those blues, but we’re a dying breed. If you have a local blues show in your area, be sure to support it! Sermon over…
He added a snippet of My Momma Done Told Me to Five Long Years before moving into Willie Dixon’s classic, I Just Want To Make Love To You, featuring the audience as his sing along partner for the chorus. After that was a blistering version of Hoochie Coochie Man where the audience tried to sing with him, but had a hard time getting it right. Guy laughed and took command of the situation.
From there he delivered Close To You and a smoking version of Fever. Up to this point there was one member of the audience who was undoubtedly more enthusiastic than the rest – perhaps fueled by some liquid courage – and after he chose a quiet moment in the song to yell out “I love you Buddy,” Guy actually brought the song to a close and remarked, “Every time someone says, ‘I love you man,’ I wish the whole world would say, ‘I love you too.’”
The audience, no doubt still feeling the effects of the recent riot that took place nearby, erupted into spontaneous cheers and applause. There was a memorial of flowers less than a block away from the theatre, and no one escaped the feeling of dread that had hung over the area.
Guy then gave us a little lesson of how he learned to play by listening to the radio. He played a little of John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom and a little of BB King’s Sweet 16. The overly enthusiastic audience member kept up his running commentary until Guy asked him to be quiet so everyone could enjoy the show. (That’s not his actual quote, but this is a family blog…)
Guy then played Slipping In, by slipping into the audience and walking through the crowd. Of course, everyone was one their feet hoping to get near the legend himself. He took his time on the stroll,
jamming and playing with a few members of the audience as he made his way back to the stage. Still in a playful mood, he continued to play with his guitar utilizing a drumstick and a tea towel.
After working the audience into yet another frenzy, he playfully asked, “Do they have a curfew here? ‘Cause I feel like playing longer…” He then proceeded to go into what he referred to as a “G Minor Slow Jam” and a hot version of Drowning On Dry Land and a great version of the title track from his latest album I Was Born To Play Guitar.
At that point, he brought back out his producer, Tom Hambridge, who had also played drums for opening performer Quinn Sullivan, who also came back out. Guy told the story of his mother teaching him that beauty was only “skin deep” and how later that story was turned into a great song. Hambridge added vocals and percussion while Sullivan added his own amazing guitar.
Guy heaped plenty of praise on Sullivan, who had really opened up the audience with a great performance – more on that in a minute – and gave the 18-year old a chance to shine with some over the top playing. Guy showed off his abilities by dropping in some Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles to show what he used to play while he was learning the ropes.
He closed out the show with versions of Strange Brew and Chicago, before exiting the stage and having the band jam for a while.
Quinn Sullivan opened the show with 6-7 songs, tearing into Ain’t No Stopping Us, before moving into a slow jam, almost progressive blues number. Sorry, I didn’t catch the title of it. From there he played Cyclone, the title track from an earlier album before playing Midnight Highway, the title track from his latest album.
If you haven’t heard Midnight Highway yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. Or, better still, get a copy and play it. I love the album, and the title song is a beautiful number that takes Sullivan’s music in a new and exciting direction.
He closed with two more songs, She Gets Me and Let It Rain. The audience was almost as excited by his performance as they were with Guy’s. The two are great friends and they combined to create an unforgettable evening of spirited blues.
Guy is a giant of the blues. There’s no denying the force behind him and it quickly becomes obvious why he is the favorite guitarist of so many elite players. Catch him if you can, it’s an experience you may never forget.

(All photos taken by Mrs. Professor and used by permission. Or threat, hard to tell sometimes...) 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Janiva Magness Holds The Audience In The Palm Of Her Hands ~~ Tin Pan Review

Etta James once sang two words that can send a thrill up your spine, “At last.” Last night was one of those “at last” moments for me as multi-time Blues Music Award-winning artist Janiva Magness rolled into Richmond at the Tin Pan, and for approximately 90 minutes held the audience spellbound with her performance.
I have been a fan of her work for several years and have often played her music on the radio show I co-host with Henry Cook, Time For The Blues. In fact, it was Cook who introduced me to Magness’ music when he brought one of her earlier CDs in to share with our audience.
Since that time nine years ago, we have featured every one of her releases and always have requests from listeners for more. Last night, a lot of those listeners, and many other fans who have traveled a good distance to share the evening were in attendance and hung on every note.
Up first was the Janiva Magness Band, the four men who back her up throughout the evening. These artists include Vince Foster Jr. (aka “Hawk” for his ability to catch everything that’s going on) on drums, Gary Davenport on bass, and Zach Zunis and Brophy Dale on guitars. They ripped through a couple of instrumentals to start the evening, and damn, they are solid and the crowd was already enjoying their performance.
After they warmed up the crowd, they brought it to a boiling point by introducing the one and only Janiva herself, who made her way through the enthusiastic crowd, taking the stage in a red fringed jacket over a black dress and launching into the evening’s performance.
She opened with the funky blues number, The Devil Is An Angel Too, and established a groove that she could come back to throughout the night. After that, she paused for a moment before segueing into the slow, powerful song, I Won’t Bleed.
One thing you quickly realize about Magness, many of her songs have a deep spiritual connection with her. Sometimes you can tell a singer who sings a great song, but doesn’t put her soul into it, but with Magness, you don’t get that feeling because she brings her soul out and puts it into every single phrase.
Stopping the song just before the final line, she asks the audience if they would like her to finish, or tell them the story behind it. Overwhelmingly we call for the story and are not disappointed as she reveals some of the pain that has been a part of her life.
Magness uses that pain as a way to connect with her audience. Her pain is our pain, and even when we experience different circumstances, her ability to put that into a song touches us and we grow closer as a result.
Then she finished the song. By the way, it was only her second song in the night and already dancers were up having a good time. Trust me when I say this is rare for many Richmond audiences.
From there she launched into Walking In The Sun and her beautiful low throaty voice was working its way into all of our hearts.
The stories came more rapidly after that. While fanning herself with a Chinese fan (yes the stage gets mighty hot) she talks a little about her last full album, Love Wins Again, for which she was nominated for a Grammy Award, and how that title – that song – is needed now more than ever.  Whatever your politics, that’s a sentiment we all need right now.
After that came a song she dedicated to her husband, the man many of us have nicknamed “Lucky,” When You Hold Me. It’s a beautiful number and its slow smoldering passion could ignite many fires.
Another story, this time about fear and how it affects her. The song, Doorway, was written by her producer Dave Darling, and for the first time in the evening the crowd was so moved that they couldn’t respond immediately after the song ended. It took a few seconds for the feeling to ebb some before we could burst into a giant round of applause. It’s a powerful song and one that is sure to touch you with its message.
Shifting gears to her latest release, Blue Again, a six-song EP, she got back to the music like she performed when she first started out, and the music that inspired her when she was younger.
First up for this portion of the show was Bo Diddley’s I Can Tell. As you would expect from a Bo Diddley number, it was a solid rocker and heavy on the rhythm. After that was Buck, a song recorded by Nina Simone, but written by her husband. When you listen to the lyrics which are all about what a great man she has, it’s pretty evident that it was written by a man talking about himself.
Then she moved into a great Etta James/Harvey Fuqua number, If I Can’t Have You. Originally a B-side and a duet, Magness turned it into a show stopping solo and then moved into one of my favorite Al Kooper songs, I Love You More Than You Will Ever Know. It’s a gorgeous number and was one of many that gave her band a great chance to shine. The song has been covered by a number of artists, but few have ever done it as well as Magness did live.
She followed up with Long As I Can See The Light, and even though the staff was quietly handing out the checks for the evening, our eyes were riveted to the stage. She told one more story about running away as a child and while sitting on the curb in front of her house, wondering who would come for her.
Sometimes questions like that take a long time for an answer to appear. And one day, while sitting in her living room with a group of friends, those answers began to reveal themselves to her and the song, Who Will Come For Me emerged. It was a beautiful moment and she moved to her final song of the night, I Can’t Let You Go.
I don’t know if I can completely answer the question of who will come for her, but I know a couple of hundred people who will come to see her the next time she is anywhere near the area. And if Janiva Magness couldn’t let us go, we’ll return the favor and never let her go.
All in all, it was a great night by an amazing performer in an intimate venue that puts everyone close to the stage. After the show, she took her time with every single person who wanted to stop and chat – and most of us wanted to do that.
Don’t miss Janiva Magness if she comes anywhere near you. Find out by dropping by her website, https://janivamagness.com/, and be sure to tell her The Professor sent you.

 (All photos by Anita Schlank. Used by permission.)


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sonny Landreth~ Recorded Live In Lafayette

I probably shouldn’t admit this at the top of a review, but catching Sonny Landreth live has been on my bucket list for a few years. He was recently playing at one of my favorite clubs, one that’s only a short ways from my house, and I waited too long, the venue sold out, and I was SOL.
Serves me right. I’m the guy who always says to support live music and I waited too long and missed out on a chance to see one of my favorites in an intimate club atmosphere. Better believe I won’t make that mistake again.
It just goes to show you that Landreth is extremely popular, and there is good reason for it – he’s a helluva player and he puts on a great show. For his latest Provogue album, released on the Mascot Label Group, Recorded Live In Lafayette, he shows two approaches to his music, dedicating the first disc to acoustic cuts and the second disc to electric ones.
This is a technique I’ve always enjoyed seeing artists employ. I remember catching a Grateful Dead performance and the audience going crazy over it. Recently British artist Dani Wilde did something similar, and Landreth pulled out all the stops for his own take on the idea.
Landreth kept his musicians lean by taking on the guitar and vocals himself and using David Ranson on bass and backing vocals and Brian Brignac on drums, percussion, and backing vocals. Special guest musicians include Steve Conn on keyboards, accordion, background vocals, and even the lead vocals on The One And Only Truth, and Sam Broussard on guitars and backing vocals.
Acoustic Set – Disc One
Some appreciative crowd noise kicks off the album before Landreth and Company slide into the opening song, Blues Attack. Plenty of bounce and Conn’s accordion make the song lively and fun. It’s early, but the first song is solid, so I’m looking forward to rest of the 2-disc set.
Next up is the slow intense number, Hell At Home. It takes a short while to bring in all the instruments, but that merely serves to add a little power to the lyrics. Landreth’s slide guitar is in rare form and it’s recorded crisply so you hear every lick like you’re right up on stage.
He follows up with Broonzy’s classic song, Key To The Highway. Just about every blues player worth his or her salt has done a version of it, and it has stood the test of time. Landreth does a great version of the song and his guitar is sweet while the growl in his lyric delivery adds a different take to the song. Yeah, he’s damn good.
He picks things up with the next track, Creole Angel. Landreth’s Louisiana upbringing shows on the selection of this song. It’s a lively, lovely number and Conn’s accordion adds just the right flavor. I love the style and actually have a pretty fair collection of zydeco and this one is going right onto my personal playlist.
The seven-and-a-half minute A World Away follows. It’s a beautifully languid number that I greatly enjoyed listening to, but due to its length, may never be able to work into a show. That’s my problem, when you get your copy of the album, just enjoy this one and don’t worry about trying to shoehorn it into an hour-long program.
Next up is The High Side, a sweet quiet number with some beautiful lyrics and good playing. It’s blues with some country on the side and you can’t go wrong with it. He follows up with Bound By The Blues, and delivers a great number of how we are connected through the blues. For many of us, the blues is not just the music we love, it’s the thread that holds us all together. How many friends have you made though meeting people at shows or festivals and end up making lifelong friends? Yeah, we’re all bound by the blues.
Landreth closes out the acoustic set with The U.S.S. Zydecoldsmobile. What a great title. The song is lively and a lot of fun. Don’t look for serious comments about national events, just crank it up loud and dance a hole in the floor!
Electric Set – Disc Two
The second set starts off with Back To Bayou Teche, and immediately the electricity is flowing, both on stage and in the audience. The Cajun music is flowing and Landreth is performing a few more guitar tricks, but it’s just getting started, I think he’s going to have more up his sleeve.
True Blue is next and it’s slower and more deliberate. He has fun with the guitar intro taking almost a full minute before bringing in the vocals. There is power in his voice as well as his guitar and this song is heavy on the emotion. Really like this one a lot.
Once again, he kicks things into gear on The Milky Way Home. He loses himself in the guitar and delivers an amazing run. The song is an instrumental that’s not just a jam to show off his band, he takes the guitar and turns it into a star performer. It’s a true tour de force and very impressive. Listen for the applause at the end of the song. Next up is Brave New Girl. It’s another instrumental that showcases Landreth at his best. It’s a pretty brave performer that drops almost ten minutes of instrumental work in the middle of a concert, but Landreth didn’t make it to the top by being shy about playing.
Without even pausing, they go right into Überesso. Did I say he dropped ten minutes of instrumental work? When you add this song, it’s more like 14-minutes and they are exciting and the three songs together are still shorter than some guitar wizards break in the middle of one song. I like instrumentals and these rock, so I’m not complaining in the least.
Next up is Soul Salvation, a good soulful number that’s a strong number. Yes, it has vocals, and Landreth is in good voice for this one. Some of the gravel is gone but his guitar playing is still solid and Conn’s accordion is a welcome addition.
Robert Johnson’s Walkin’ Blues gets an update. Somewhere the blues purists are running for cover, but each generation finds its own approach to the classics. Landreth’s guitar plays some sweet riffs and he does a credible job on the vocals. It’s one of the great classic blues songs and Landreth delivers a solid interpretation.
Steve Conn wrote and sings the closing song on the album, The One And Only Truth. It’s a pretty gutsy move for Landreth to have someone else close the set, usually a performer would put a guest song on earlier in the set, but since Conn has been playing so well on the album, it’s nice that he gets to close the show. That wild zydeco accordion is so much fun and this is a great way to end the album.
Sonny Landreth is one of the best slide players around and he’s a helluva performer. After listening to Recorded Live In Lafayette, I’m kicking myself even harder for missing the show. I guess I’ll just have to keep checking his website, http://www.sonnylandreth.com/ , to find out when I’ll get another chance. In the meantime, be sure to pick up this 2-disc gem of an album. I’m going to go hit the repeat button and start all over again…



Saturday, August 5, 2017

Willie May ~~ Blue Decade

It was a nondescript package that arrived with a bunch of others that had some big names on the return address. Well-known performers and big name labels looked back at me and they took the focus off the white wrapped package. When I opened it a little while later, I saw there were two CDs in it, and one had a giant Tiki Head on the cover with the words, “Ukulele Music.”
Now, I like ukulele music a lot. I’ve given various instruments to family members that want to learn how to play, and have a couple hanging around the house that I don’t play nearly as much as I would like.
But I wasn’t sure I was ready to write about it.
I’ve run into Willie May a few times before, and always enjoyed his music. However, I must confess that the two CDs he sent my way got shuffled into the large pile on my desk and may have been forgotten for even longer.
Except for three words on Blue Decade, which was the second CD – Featuring James Cotton. These words were written on a piece of blue tape, probably by hand, and those three words made me want to hear the album more than anything. It turns out Cotton is only one song, Off Her Rocker, but that’s enough to make me want to listen to the whole thing.
A quick glance at the line up tells me that May wrote all ten songs on the album, always a plus in my book. Let’s see what he can do.
The album kicks off hard with I Won’t Miss You. There’s a complete horn section, some funky bass and organ. May has got some serious blue soul chops on this song. The lyrics are clever and his singing partner, Barbara St. Clair, is pure sass and brass. If you like that Chicago style, this is definitely for you!
Next up is the jazzy Let It Rain. May’s vocals are strong and once again the organ riffs are sweet. Mike Silver plays some great harp on the number. It’s a gutsy number of numbing loneliness. The song sets a great mood and keeps it up for the entire five minutes of the song.
May follows with Love Treats Me So Unkind, a rocking blues number that gives the rhythm section a hard workout. Three songs in, all of them have been strong efforts and show three different approaches to the music. I am so regretting not listening more closely to his other albums, but that is a regret I hope to erase in the coming week. He’s good. He’s damn good.
The jazz funk of Speak Your Mind rolls through the speakers on the talents of Ken Parker’s saxophone. May’s vocals cut through the music, but Parker takes us on a rollercoaster of sound. I love good funk and don’t find that many artists who incorporate it into their music, so it’s good to hear May doing it on this album.
There’s some wild zydeco on the next number, Tell Me Amigo, thanks to someone playing great accordion. I wish I could give you the artist’s name, but I don’t see it in the credits. I enjoy the song very much – who doesn’t enjoy a trip to Cajun Country now and again? Some of the best dancing music around. I’m definitely adding this one to my playlist and when it comes on while I’m driving, I’m cutting the volume way up!
The next song, Hoedown, starts out with some sly blues. I would have thought with a title like that, the song might be more countrified, but May throws us a curve with some very cool funky blues with some great harp work from Kevin Espinosa.
James Cotton lends his harp to the next number, Off Her Rocker. It’s a slow burn of a blues tune and Cotton is in fine form. May sings with plenty of growling intensity and the bass line keeps everything in check. This is a great song, and I will be adding it to an episode of Time For The Blues shortly. I haven’t talked much about May’s great guitar work, but damn, he stacks up well against just about anyone.
Silver is back on harp for the rocking and rollicking Hey Buddy. This is a great song for a live show – plenty of knock down energy, great licks and trade-offs, and the kind of song that just makes you want to get out on the dance floor and move whatever you’ve got.
He slows things down for Let’s Play House, but ratchets up the intensity. St. Clair is back lending her lovely voice to the song. May is a good singer, but she gives him something more to play against and their duets have been delightful.
May closes out the album with Friend Of The Friendless. It’s a song where the bass hits you right in the gut. The song is pure blues and it slams you from the first note to the last. Silver’s harp screams at just the right moments and fans of rocking blues are going to want to hit the repeat button a few more times.
I know that Willie May did not release Blue Decade this year. I can’t find a copyright on the album, and even one of my favorite musical resources (allmusic.com) doesn’t have years listed for his releases. I will reach out to the artist and see what I can find out.
But you shouldn’t worry about such things. All it has to be is good and available to purchase. Check him out at Ihttp://www.williemaymusic.com/index.htm for more information and the chance to pick up his albums.

I’m going to review that Ukulele Music CD next week. Let’s see if he plays the blues Hawaiian style!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Chris “Bad News” Barnes ~~ Hokum Blues

Let’s get the definition portion of the review out of the way first. “Hokum” is a style of music that grew out of Southern Minstrel Shows and were novelty songs that relied heavily on double entendres to entertain and titillate audiences. It became a staple of vaudeville and chitlin’ circuit routines and was a big part of early blues and country music.
Hokum is still with us. Many of us remember songs like, My Ding-A-Ling, Big 10-Inch Record, and Tube Snake Boogie. It’s not only the province of musicians, a number of comedians have tried their hand at it, and while it’s not called hokum as much now, it’s still there and often appears on shows like Saturday Night Live.
Which is perfect for Chris “Bad News” Barnes, a talented musician and satirist who has written for comedy shows like Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld, and The Carol Burnett Show. The name of the album is Hokum Blues, and it is available on VizzTone Records. Some of his bandmates have played on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, Late Show With David Letterman, and one more played on SNL.
They all have had regular musical stints as well, performing with the likes of Jimmy Rogers, Levon Helm, James Brown, Chaka Khan, Billy Joel, Elton John, Bette Midler, Whitney Houston, and Aretha Franklin.
You know, a bunch of people we’ve never heard of before…
Besides Barnes on the vocals; the band includes Steve Guyger on harmonica; Jimmy Vivino on guitar; Will Lee on bass; Shawn Pelton on drums; and Bette Sussman on piano.
All of the songs on the album are covers of Tampa Red, Georgia Tom, and Big Bill Broonzy otherwise known as The Hokum Boys.
The album starts off with a great reproduction of that old-school sound on It Hurts Me Too. Guyger’s harp adds a little flavor to Lee’s bass and Vivino’s guitar. Somebody looking for a heavily electrified lead guitar solo might be disappointed, but I’m having a great time already.
Next up is the swinging number Let Me Play With Your Poodle that relies heavily on bass and piano. It’s one that’s been covered by several artists and Barnes does a great job playing with the lyrics without going over the top. It’s a wink and not a leer.
What follows is a song that added a nod to recreational pharmaceuticals, I’m Gonna Get High. It’s a quick number that sounds about as innocuous as a dinner at a Shakey’s pizza, but it’s a lot of fun.
The next number, It’s Tight Like That, as a great Bo Diddley beat driving the song. The song tosses in a few well-known phrases and plays with some barnyard metaphors. Four songs in, and they’ve all been fun.
There’s a real New Orleans feel to I Had To Give Up Gym. The horn section has a lot of fun with the song and I know a lot of people who can identify with it! He follows with a slower number, Things About Coming My Way, that seems a bit more serious than the previous songs.
There’s a little ragtime flavor to You Can’t Get Enough Of That Stuff. It’s a great song about those little pick-me-ups that seem to always be available if you know where to look. Great job on the bass!
The title track, Hokum Blues, follows. It’s a snazzy swinging tune with some great harp and tight shuffle beat. Musically, some of these songs may sound simple, but the instruments intersect as tightly as a good jazz combo. Some who may not be as familiar with the style just might find themselves learning more about it.
Another slow song, Somebody Been Using That Thing No. 2, follows. It’s the longest song on the album at just over five-and-a-half minutes, and the lyrics are a little darker but still has that wink. Cool song.
Next up is a swinging version of Keep Your Mind On It. There’s some good guitar work and the percussion gives it kind of a mambo fell. Definitely one you want to get up and move to. Would love to see this one done live…
For the next song, Let Me Pat That Thing, I quickly pictured Cab Calloway performing the song. It’s one where the double entendre is more like a single entendre, but it’s still a cool number.
For the next song, Caught Him Doing It, the band plays like it needs to catch a train in five minutes. It’s fast-paced, but not rushed and the lyrics are funny.
You can’t go wrong with a song about a great bar, so Gin Mill Blues delivers a bouncy punchy number that showcases Sussman’s piano. I really like this song a lot and I’ll be slipping it into an upcoming episode of Time For The Blues. 
The album closes out with the holiday themed Christmas & New Year’s Blues. I know this one will be trotted out on several holiday shows, most likely including my own, and it just might become a staple.
Chris “Bad News” Barnes has several careers going including blues musician, comedian, and actor. And from everything I can tell, he seems to do them all very well. Makes me quite jealous. I probably won’t get much of a chance to write up his other two careers, but I can tell you that he has great skill as a blues man.
Hokum Blues is a cool choice for someone to release. So many artists play it safe, but Barnes has taken a different path. However, hokum has such an important part of popular music and I am delighted to see that someone with real talent has done a great job of recreating it.

Check out Barnes at his website, http://www.chrisbarnesnyc.com/blues-man/, and follow all of his careers.  

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Flying Cars, Bad Movies, Weird TV, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, and Oh, Yeah, Occasionally The Blues – My Eleven Years With Henry Cook

What can I tell ya? Anytime I go out somewhere and someone recognizes my voice, the first question is generally, “What’s Henry Cook really like…” Seems everyone wants to pull back the curtain on this notoriously elusive semi-celebrity.
Henry is a strange duck, and he would be the first to admit it. For one thing, he can pull quotes from obscure movies, television shows, and records like most people remember their PIN number. He’s so attentive to details that it borders on the obsessive. Nah, that’s not right – he is obsessive. He’s meticulous and gets a little upset sometimes when others are not nearly as attentive and meticulous as he is.
But he is not without humor. Good God, we would never be able to co-exist if we didn’t have that bond. People sometimes ask why I am always laughing and the simple truth is, Henry is incredibly funny. I spent 15 years as a stand-up comedian and don’t laugh at everything, but some of the weirdness that comes out of Henry’s mouth is hysterical. We’ve done a couple of shows where we reverse our roles and Henry plays the straight man, and those shows are never as good as when we just go with the flow and see where his warped mind takes us.
Which brings me to his obsession with the flying cars. He really wants one. He was having a string of bad luck with his last car; it seemed like every week there was something new wrong with it. He went through tires, engine parts, brakes, and finally part of the floorboards before he got rid of it and got a new used car.
That’s another thing about Mr. Cook, he’s extremely loyal. If you are at least trying to perform at his standard, he will work with you, and once you are his friend, unless you do something drastic, you are his friend for life. Trust me, I know… If he couldn’t get rid of his car until it was falling apart like the Bluesmobile at the end of the first Blues Brothers, imagine what he will do for the people in his life.
Anyway, he was frustrated over the automobile situation and happened to remark that it was the 21st Century and we were promised flying cars by all the Science Fiction movies, and most of all, The Jetsons.
Kind of hard to argue with logic like that. If you can’t trust Hannah Barbera, who can you trust?
That lead to Henry doing research and coming up with an article about an engineer who had built a prototype of a flying car, and bang, we had a premise for a show.
Since that time, he’s collected every article he can find about people trying to create one of these cars and he keeps them in a folder so he can go back and re-read them and dream of flying around the city in his brand new airmobile. One day I expect to come to the station and find him tethered to four drones while trying to achieve liftoff. I hope I didn’t give him any ideas…
That’s how we create things at Time For The Blues. One of us, usually Henry, will see something on television or hear something on the radio that triggers a visceral response. Like recently he had an encounter with one of those self-check-out lanes at the supermarket and that sent him off on a three-day laugh fest. He even recorded the voice getting ticked at him and yeah, that got turned into a show as well.
Don’t even get me started about our idea for Celebrity GPSes. The world may not be ready for that…
And what does that have to do with this week’s show, you ask? Well, it’s the 11th Anniversary of Time For The Blues and we’re feeling a little nostalgic.
I know, I can’t believe it either. When we started out doing this program, no one, ourselves included, thought we would last longer than six weeks. Surely by then we would run out of material and implode. Fortunately for us, we found ways of supplementing our miniscule collection of CDs and album – I bought a few things and inherited a couple of hundred CDs, Henry found some electronic services, and slowly but surely, publicists and artists found us and began sending us new material and it’s snowballed from there.
Now, it’s rare for any time to go by before we’re seeing a new pile of CDs land on my desk for us to consider. Almost every day is like Christmas, or my birthday, with presents to open. You can see some of these great CDs behind me along with a couple of toys that decorate the shelves in my portion of the office I share with two other people.
Henry has an office all his own, but then he needs one with all the computers and equipment that he needs access to on a daily basis. Since he’s the guy who works his tucces off to keep the station on the air…
What are we playing this weekend? Glad you asked. We’re looking back (of course) at some of our favorite highlights from when we got started and where we’ve visited. We’ll have some of our favorites, like the time we interviewed Charlie Musselwhite and he was gracious enough to cut a promo for us. Henry’s got some cool crossovers – artists and groups who don’t normally play the blues, playing the blues.
And we’ve found a great way to visit the great James Brown, so make sure you’ve got your funky dancing shoes on!
So, do what you have to do to join us at 11. Sleep late, take a nap, grab that caffeine, just be sure to join us. So, do what you have to do to join us at 11. Sleep late, take a nap, grab that caffeine, just be sure to join us. This is going to be a very special episode!
We’re going to have a great time and we sure would love for you to come along for the ride. You know where we’re going to be, point your browser to http://ideastations.org/radio or join us on one of the Idea Stations: 89.1 WCVN, Northern Neck; 90.1 WMVE, Chase City; and the flagship, 88.9 WCVE-FM, Richmond, where it’s always Time For The Blues!
**Hey, if you are looking for some great shows to see this summer, may I recommend some of the following:
Thursday, August 10
Bobby "BlackHat" Walters      Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 6:00 PM Richmond Jazz Festival
Saturday, August 12
Tajmo (Taj Mahal and Keb Mo)       Maymont, 5:30 PM Richmond Jazz Festival
Sunday, August 13
Robert Cray        Maymont, 5:15 PM Richmond Jazz Festival
Friday, August 18
Janiva Magness   Tin Pan, 8:00 PM (doors 6:00), $30-35
Friday, September 8
Selwyn Birchwood        Capital Ale House Downtown, 8:30 PM
September 23
Robert Randolph And The Family Band with Big Mama Shakes at The Broadberry $25-$28
Saturday, October 21
ZZ Top       Altria Theater, 8:00 PM

Our Live Music Correspondent, Anita Schlank, is always finding the great shows to see. For these, and so many other great shows coming to town, take a look at the River City Blues Society’s Calendar page at http://www.rivercityblues.org/.