Friday, November 30, 2018

Time For The Blues December 1, 2018

Henry and I certainly hope you will join us this Saturday Night (December 1) at ten for what will surely go down in history as another spine tingling episode of Time For The Blues! Will it be another excursion into weirdness? Tune in to find out…

December already? Doesn’t it seem like it was just November? Man, how the time has flown this year. From Henry tackling so many projects related to splitting the company into two separate components – News and Music, to John dealing with a gazillion heavy decisions, like what to fix for lunch – wow, it has been a tough year.

Fortunately, the one constant has been the music. Amazing music. Some of it in live performance, most of it recorded and shared with us by great artists, upstanding publicists, and many friends who turn us on to music that we previously didn’t know. This week, John is doing the programming, so you know there’s going to be some great new songs and maybe a couple of surprises as well.

First up, we get to share some great tracks from our friend Marcia Ball’s most recent album, Shine Bright. It’s available on Alligator (and speaking of Alligator, be sure to pick up a copy of Bruce Iglauer’s new book, Bitten By The Blues: The Alligator Records Story – it’s fantastic!) and should be in every blues lover’s collection.  

The last couple of years we’ve had the opportunity to see Ball play live and to sit and chat with her. We’re honored to celebrate her great music and are gratified by her position as “Texas Musician Of The Year.” She really is one of the best performers around and aside from playing some music from the new album, we’re going to sample one of her songs that doesn’t get as much airplay, but it’s one you are really going to enjoy!

Another Texas lady will get her own set, a rising star from the Connor Ray Music galaxy, Ally Venable!

This latest album, Puppet Show, is only Venable’s second release, but already she is carving out her position as a great blues rocker. Aside from being a great vocalist, she’s wicked on the guitar and not a bad songwriter either. We’re going to showcase some of her newest work that impressed the heck out of us.

The future is definitely bright for this young lady, and the present doesn’t look too shabby either. Stick around and give her a listen and we think you will quickly fall in love with her sound.

Since we’re spending so much time in the Lone Star State, we’re going to drop a few tracks from other Texas performers the Keeshea Pratt Band and the Steve Krase Band. While they each approach the blues in their own way, we think you’re going to enjoy them both and will want to hear more.

Of course we’ve got more new material as well including sides from Suzie Vinnick, the Rockwell Avenue Blues Band, and Peter V Blues Train.

So drop everything and join us this Saturday night at ten! All we need is you and a few hundred of your closest friends. You know how to find us, point your browser to or join us on one of the Idea Stations: 89.1 WCVN, Northern Neck; 90.1 WMVE, Chase City; and the flagships, 93.1 and 107.9 WCVE-Music, Richmond, where it’s always Time For The Blues!


Make plans to join us at the River City Blues Society’s Holiday Party and Open Jam at The Camel on Sunday, December 16 beginning at 4 p.m.. In Layman Terms will be hosting the jam and since this is a fundraising event to help them with their expenses as they represent Richmond’s blues community at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis this January, come join us – bid on silent auction items, and celebrate the RCBS. John will be the host again this year and tickets are $5 for members and $10 for non-members.





Friday, November 23, 2018

Time For The Blues November 24, 2018

Henry and I sure hope you will join us on Time For The Blues this Saturday night (November 24) at 11:00 because we’re going to need a lot of help to work our way through all of these leftovers. That’s right, it’s time once again for our yearly signature show of great tracks we didn’t get around to playing during the year.

And this year, there’s a twist. But what else would you expect from us?

Every year for the Thanksgiving celebration, Mr. Cook and I get together with our families and chow down to some of the most scrumptious food and we tend to overeat and then fall asleep in front of the television set. Henry watching football games, and I checking out the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Gauntlet.

What Mrs. Professor thought she would get...
Except this year, things played out a little differently. Henry got together with his family early and then had to run over to WCVE News to run the afternoon shift and Mrs. Professor decided since I have recently taken over the cooking chores, it was time for me to tackle my first turkey.

Certainly, my love, what can go wrong with that?

I will spare you the slapstick fiasco that followed my every attempt to hollow out a 13-pound turkey, stuff it full of delectable victuals, and somehow cook it in an oven that decided that it was too old to keep working. I am not sure if it is mathematically possible to cook 17 different dishes on a one-burner stove, but in trying, I learned that tornadoes are not the only natural disaster that can tear apart a kitchen.

Fortunately, I was able to cobble together a passable meal thanks to two crockpots, a microwave oven, and a lot of take out. Not a dinner that anyone would post pictures of on Instagram, but if they did, I would probably never see it anyway.

At least I can lick my wounds (if not my fingers) and spend the evening listening to some great blues, and you can do the same.

Remember Ghalia & Mama’s Boys’ great album, Let The Demons Out? I hope so, it was one of the best of the year, and we’re going to sample one tune that’s guaranteed to get you shakin’.   

We’ve even got some new stuff, including a track from the trio of Joe Louis Walker, Bruce Katz, and Giles Robson from their hot new Alligator release, Journeys To The Heart Of The Blues. See Legare Robertson, I told you we would work one in before Katz makes his return appearance at Buz & Ned’s Real Barbecue. If you missed his last appearance there, you missed a great show, and the chance to catch this keyboard wizard in an intimate space doesn’t come around often. It’s like having a concert in your living room complete with outstanding barbecue. Buz, can I put my order in now?

Speaking of new and Alligator, Henry has recently discovered the bluesy incarnation of a psychobilly heart known as Lindsay Beaver. Her debut album, Tough As Love, is a stunning performance. Beaver plays drums with the intensity turned up to 11. We’ve played one song so far, but I can guarantee we’ll be playing more soon.

There are also songs from artists we’ve sampled this year including Beth Hart (told ya, Anita), Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys, Janiva Magness, and Ghost Town Blues Band. All of these fine artists had their own features during the year and now each gets a small encore to go along with a late night turkey sandwich with extra cranberry sauce.

The twist comes in when Henry got the cool idea to sample some people from previous years. Another of our signature sets is our look at artists playing the blues who don’t normally play the blues. This year, we’ve got some choice morsels from Jeff Beck (performing a Leiber and Stoller classic no less!), Cyndi Lauper, The Guess Who, and Aerosmith.

You may have noticed that Henry and I finally got some help around here. Oh sure, we thank Shawn, Ian, and Ben every week, but just ask one of those guys to get you a cup of coffee or fetch the mail and they just stare at you. So, we went out and found Wil The Intern. Wil’s a young guy who doesn’t know squat about the blues, so he’s perfect for working with us. We’ve been educating him on all sorts of subjects including classic cartoons, bad movies, and WKRP In Cincinnati.

We’ve also been trying to get him up to speed on some of our more fun projects, like how Henry has been trying to breathe life into the Goldwax Record Label. You remember them, a small soul and rhythm and blues label based out of a drug store in Memphis. Great talent, absolutely no money. We’ve got three cuts from a compilation known as The Goldwax Story. It’s a story worth telling, and it’s helped us decide to look for other small labels to feature.

So, if you know any, be sure to drop us a line so we can investigate them and share it with the entire Time For The Blues Family! We’re expecting a lot of company for this year’s leftovers, and we’ve saved you a seat at the table.

We’ve got everything all laid out and ready to go, all we need is you and a few hundred of your closest friends. You know how to find us, point your browser to or join us on one of the Idea Stations: 89.1 WCVN, Northern Neck; 90.1 WMVE, Chase City; and the flagships, 93.1 and 107.9 WCVE-Music, Richmond, where it’s always Time For The Blues!
Who actually got that first meal I cooked...

Monday, November 5, 2018

Eric McFadden ~~ Pain By Numbers

It’s time to get more comfortable with the 21st Century. How’s that for an oblique lede? What I mean by that is that I have to get more comfortable with receiving great music electronically. See, I love to get the albums I review as easy-to-hold honest-to-goodness CDs or records that I can put in (or on) a machine and play them.
There’s just something even more ethereal when I open an email from a trusted source, and the entire album is available to me for a couple of clicks. It’s a world that still confuses me. It’s not that I hate computers, but I certainly don’t trust this brave new world. Thank you Aldous Huxley.
It may be difficult to admit and understand, but I’m a blogger/reviewer that still does most of his work on one of five typewriters scattered around my house. Or on one of the many notepads that are in every single room in my house. If I get up to go to the kitchen, I never wonder what it is I wanted because it’s written on a sticky note that’s still in my hand.
But I guess I need to learn to embrace the new, even if it’s just to keep my kids from laughing at the old man.
All this stems from me receiving a copy of Eric McFadden’s brilliant album, Pain By Numbers, from a very reliable source. One of the people who keep me in quality music in any form, and I just had to get over my reluctance to sample it.
About two or three notes in I was over that reluctance, just by the sheer power of the performance of McFadden, who is signed to Tab Benoit’s Whiskey Bayou label. His playing is definitely his own style, but you can hear the same kind of power that Benoit brings to the table.
McFadden starts off the album with the very atmospheric and dark While You Were Gone. The guitar is fuzzy, underlying the pure emotion of the vocals and the rhythm section plays in a powerful, no nonsense way. It’s raw, exciting, and promises a lot for this album.
He follows up with Love Come Rescue Me, a song with a much lighter approach. Here, he’s filled with hope and the keys and chorus make the song soar. It’s striking in its contrast with the previous number and immediately highlights McFadden’s versatility.
The next track, Long Gone, has a dark patina as McFadden opens up his emotions. I like this song a lot and it has the feel of the swamp riding along the edges. Very cool, with a couple of surprise guitar licks on the break. It’s a unique quality and seems perfectly at home with his style.
The Girl Has Changed comes out of the gate rocking and tells the story of an old friend who has definitely moved in a different direction. It’s open as to what has been the catalyst for the change – could be drugs, fame, or any number of things. Strong lyrics and a solid approach. The guitar break truly soars and if you like your blues with a rock approach, this one is for you!
The next song opens with a light sound, but don’t be fooled. Skeleton Key quickly moves into a hard rocking, hard driving number that pushes forward with a great deal of power. Then, just when you think it’s hit the end, more soft noises followed by low growled vocals under a strong guitar run. Cool song…
McFadden then strips down the sound for I Never Listened Too Good. This is a solid Delta-style number that is powerful with just the barest essentials. It’s raw, truthful and the kind of song that makes you sit up and listen harder because it is so close to the heart of the blues. My favorite so far and one I would love to share on Time For The Blues.
He follows up with another emotional track, So Hard To Leave, that gets back to his electric sound. Putting these two songs together creates a strong connection and McFadden racks up another song that will tear at your soul.
You would expect a title like If I Die Today to be a morbid maudlin heart-tugger. What you get is a solid rocker that drives hard and takes no prisoners. This is another of the best songs on the album, but with its different lyrics really could not have been unleashed any earlier. Love this one!
He slows the tempo down for the follow up song, Fool Your Heart. The lyrics are kind of pop – a different approach from the previous few songs, but pleasant in their own way. McFadden is not a one-trick pony. We’ve all heard those artists who start off in one style on an album and all the songs sound the same. Eric McFadden is not one of those artists. Sure, there is an artistic consistency, but he approaches almost every song with a new look. He’s given us hard rock, soft ballads, and even with this song, he drives us with a powerful guitar. While I probably wouldn’t play this number on Time For The Blues, it is going on my walk around playlist and should stay there a long time.
He winner of the strangest title on the album award goes to The Jesus Gonna See You Naked. It’s a gospel flavored rocker that delivers on several fronts. The lyrics are strong and the pulsing guitar drives the song. Can’t ignore the harmonizing voices. For those who believe, we know that when we stand before the Almighty, everything is known and we can’t hide any of our thoughts or sins. Unusual song, but very moving.
The last couple of songs on the album are up next, starting with Don't You Want To Live. McFadden uses the fuzz and distortion that he used on the opening track, and his lyrics here are rushed and delivered with little pause, they spill out of his mouth all at once and take on a chanting style. More power, and definitely a walk on the dark side. Shakespeare may have said, “To Be Or Not To Be,” but then again, Shakespeare never had access to a soaring electric guitar to punctuate his thoughts…
The album ends on Cactus Juice, a little flamenco style opening slides into a beautiful jazz combo feel that would be at home on just about any intimate bandstand. McFadden has great feel and tone in his fingers and the drums add a steady rhythm. It’s a lovely instrumental that is most assuredly going onto my private playlist. What a nice surprise to close out a great album.
I gladly admit that I was not award of Eric McFadden prior to receiving this album, but after listening to it, I will never be able to say that again. I am thrilled by his musicianship and he has assembled a group of great players to help him achieve a remarkable sound. I highly recommend Pain By Numbers, and you can find out much more about him at his website:

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to try to figure out how to download these songs so I can share them with you.