Monday, November 4, 2019

Brad Heller & The Fustics ~~ The Sentence

It seems like I’m frequently starting off these reviews by admitting my ignorance of the artist I’ve been asked to review. Hope you don’t mind, I certainly don’t, because so many performers of which I was totally ignorant end up becoming new favorites, and more than a few have become good friends and I feel fortunate to be able to watch their growth.

So once again, I come to you with my earphones in my hand to admit I was not familiar with Americana Artist Brad Heller, or the band that backs him, The Fustics. Yes, I said Americana, this CD does not incorporate too much from the blues, but since I’ve never actually committed to covering any one genre, please allow me to blather on.

Heller and company have been honing their chops in Wilmington, North Carolina, a town with I do have a passing familiarity. Relatives live there, my pal David Burgin is just down the road apiece, and during the Golan-Globus years, a number of movies got made there.

It ain’t exactly New York or Los Angeles, but it is a great down that has attracted a number of artists to the area, and frequently I have discovered (at least for myself) a number of performers that have chosen to lead quiet lives while making their music their way. Heller has released four previous albums (details on his website) and after listening to this album, The Sentence, it looks like I’ll be unlimbering my wallet and grabbing the previous four.

What’s my opinion? Money well spent!

Eternal Season kicks off the album with a smooth sound that flows very nicely with Heller’s lyrics. This blend of gentle folk rock is pleasing to the ears and stimulating to the mind. It’s just the first song, so there’s no telling what direction Heller and The Fustics will take going forward, but it’s a nice invitation to come on over, sit a while, and listen to what they have to say.

Thousand Days continues the mellow laid back vibe that the first song created, but with a funky bass line. Heller is delivering some good Americana style music that is great for an intimate setting, if you get a chance to do so, catch him out on tour, he’s currently working the Carolinas and Virginia. One thing for parents and my fellow radio producers, there is some language in the song that won’t be appropriate for younger ears, but it’s your call.

These first two songs are not the kind that will blow the roof off of a concert hall, but if you enjoy a quieter style of evening, these first two songs show a lot of promise. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good raucous night of wild debauchery and heavy blues, but every so often, I want to have a nice evening listening to quiet music and heartfelt lyrics.

The Sentence, the title track is next, and Heller performs this beautiful song with very light accompaniment, making the number sound very much like his folksy roots. That’s not a slight, some of the best music I’ve ever heard is quiet with meaningful lyrics. Quiet songs demand attention, especially in these days of over the top production numbers. Heller’s lyrics are absolutely riveting in this song.

Next up is Gone, and it too has a strong backbeat that sets the mood. It has a longer than average intro and once the vocals start, it’s easy to hear the pain in Heller’s voice and words. The imagery is one of desolation and despair. I love this one. While I doubt I will ever be able to play any of these on Time For The Blues, I’m dropping this album into my personal jukebox, and if I ever get a chance at an Americana/Roots show in addition to TFTB, several of these songs are going in.

Heller follows up with The Runner, with the drums having fun mixing a military style march with the folk/roots approach of the song. Once again, his lyrics are evocative and I look forward to hearing his previous work to see how he’s grown over the years. His voice is pleasant and it’s a terrible shame that music this good rarely finds itself on the airwaves.

There’s a bit of rocking going on with The Greatest Crime. Here he and The Fustics have given their audience to dance along in their seats or just tap a foot and bob their heads in time. Listen to his lyrics, there’s a little more going on in the song than just the surface interpretation. Also, a nice guitar break.

Bound For Nothing is next. This is one that echoes in your headphones. I like the rhythm section’s contribution leading to the other instruments coming in to add their power to the piece, but I also want to hear it done acoustically. Cool song and I’ll be playing this one in my head for the next few weeks.

He follows with Time’s The Enemy, and let me tell you brothers and sisters, there are fewer things truer than that. We all fight time, and unfortunately for us, he’s undefeated. Heller captures his feelings beautifully and puts together a song that rocks. Nice backing vocals and a distinctive guitar break.

Chasing Wolves starts off with a beautiful intro with guitar and vocals. I love the feel of the song so much, it pains me to not have a chance to share it with you. It quickly picks up a strong gospel flavor with keys and a stray tambourine. So far, this is my favorite track on the album. Nice understated harp work.

Continuing the gospel theme, Heller and company move on to Eucharist. More great lyrics come into play with sweet backing. That includes a back up singer who comes in here and there, I’ll have to find out her name, because that little touch greatly improves the presentation.
Comes A Time comes out of the gate with a great percussive shuffle. After ten songs of mostly mellow music, Heller cuts loose with one to get the blood pumping. It’s a very cool song and does its very best to give all the band members a workout.

I love the drums in the closing song, The Garden Tree. The guitar adds its color to the rhythm section and Heller’s words and voice do the rest. More tinges of gospel come from the keys and percussion, it seems to create a spirit – one of hope.

Okay, it’s fair to say that I enjoyed Brad Heller and The Fustics delivery on The Sentence. Sometimes one just has to be in a receptive mood, and I have to tell you, I’ve greatly enjoyed his work at this time.

I grew up on folk music before discovering the blues and I still have a great affinity for it. From time to time, I will probably explore different forms of music. Remember, I don’t claim to be any kind of an expert, I just a guy who loves music and loves writing about it. I loved this album and hope that I’ll be able to catch Heller while he’s on tour. If you would like to check him out, and I hope you do, the best place to start is at his website

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Sunday Take Five ~~ October 6, 2019

Sunday Take Five ~~ October 6, 2019

I’m still trying to catch up with the avalanche of great music that is coming my way via artists and publicists. It’s a wonderful problem to have and while I’m listening to things every day, it cuts into my reviewing time so here’s a look at some titles that might otherwise not receive the attention they deserve.

Doug Duffey And Badd Play The Blues This is a solid release with nine tracks of original music. Three of the tracks stood out for me, The Things We Used To Do, Evil, and Have You Ever, but the remaining numbers are nothing to sneeze at and could very easily receive airplay. I wasn’t familiar with the band, but I recommend you get acquainted with them soon!

Screamin’ John & TD Lind Mr. Little Big Man Screamin’ John, aka John Hawkins and TD Link, aka Tim Arlon, make a powerful team with each playing guitar and Arlon adding vocals and piano. They are backed by Jeff Crane on bass, Paul Culligan on drums, and Joel Pinkerton on harp. Pinkerton does a fantastic job, and I look forward to catching more of their work soon. The CD is a mix of originals with some covers of Magic Sam, Taj Mahal, Jimmy Reed, BB King, and Lead Belly. Definitely worth a listen.

Biscuit Miller And The Mix Chicken Grease Funky, bluesy, and oh so much fun. Miller plays a wicked bass and sings from his soul. He’s joined by Doctor Love on drums and vocals, Bobby B. Wilson on guitar, Alex “Southside” Smith on guitar, and John Ginty on all sorts of keyboards. Marcus Robinson guests with his lap steel guitar on two outstanding tracks, 609 and Chicken Grease. The remaining songs are a lot of fun and should deliver your quotient of funk for the month!

Brody Buster’s One Man Band Damn! I Spilled The Blues Listening to Brody Buster is a lot of fun. Seeing him play live – so many instruments played at a high level – is nothing short of amazing. Buster can do things with a harmonica in a rack while playing guitar and drums, that many harp players can’t do with it in their hands. This album was produced by Kenny Neal and you can hear the upgrade from his previous EP. Buster wrote or co-wrote all ten of the songs and there are several different tracks that will be receiving airplay. It’s on VizzTone, so should be fairly easy to find wherever you buy albums.

Ghost Town Blues Band Shine I’ve had a chance to listen to a few of GTBB’s albums and have found them to be very underrated. The members are strong musicians and they have a great sound. Outstanding tracks for me include Soda Pop, High Again, My Father’s Son, and Evangelie. If you haven’t put this group on your radar, I encourage you to do so. You just might find yourself becoming a fan.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Will Jacobs And Marcos Coll ~~ Takin’ Our Time

I get a lot of music delivered to me at both the radio station (VPM-Music) and at my home. Sometimes when I’m out, artists are kind enough to give me some of their music to share on the radio. I’m grateful when I get any music and really do listen to every single track. If someone has gone to the expense and trouble to record an album, I feel I owe it to them to listen first not to last and if it fits within the show, or needs to be reviewed, I am happy to do so.
But there’s one guy, ONE GUY, who sends me stuff on line knowing that I am computerly challenged. I’m old school. I write a lot on one of the five typewriters scattered around my house (more are in my storage unit in case I need to cannibalize parts) or in longhand, and only sit down to the demon computer when it’s time to post.
Anyway, this ONE GUY tells me he’s got something great for me, a new blues disc from Germany and he wants to send it to me PDQ. VIA EMAIL. I sigh, and say okay, I’ll figure out how to play it.
I couldn’t open some of the information about the two main guys, Will Jacobs and Marcos Coll, whom I admit I knew nothing about, but he swears I’m gonna love it. Fortunately my wife and kids took pity on me and show me how to play the songs from email, so going in blind, here are my first thoughts:
The album starts off with a sweet guitar intro on It Ain’t Safe, followed by well-toned vocals and Coll’s harp. It’s obvious within a few notes that somebody on this record is a ringer. The person singing and playing guitar has been dipped in the river of the blues. He has been anointed by the blues gods that went before him to make the sweetest sounds imaginable. There is an honesty in Jacobs’ approach that tells he is the genuine article, no matter where he lives.
The band follows up with Goin’ To Berlin, a raucous burn of a song that makes my ears pick up. The structure is similar to any number of blues songs, and could easily have been at home singing about Memphis, Detroit, or any other two syllable town. But there’s something about Coll’s harp that elevates the number. Two songs in and I’m all ready start planning a show around the group. Great song!
What You Doin’ starts off with some staccato guitar that is quickly joined by Coll’s harp. Jacobs’ vocals have the ring of truth, as if he has lived through the events of the song. I’m definitely impressed by Coll and will need to do some further research on him and his work. I can’t wait to share both of these artists with my audience.
The first instrumental from the album, C.J.’s Bounce, is next. It’s a very lively number that gives the band a chance to stretch out and show off their playing skills. They play well as a unit, each performer setting up another and I can appreciate it very much as a track, but I would dearly love to see them play this live to see how a stoked crowd reacts to it.
That’s followed by the staccato attack that is Stranded. Boll’s harp wails and Jacobs digs deep to growl the lyrics like a fifties Chicago bluesman. I really like this song a lot and will be adding this to the Time For The Blues as well as my personal playlist. Even though I’ve only heard a few songs, they have impressed the hell out of me and I want to hear a lot more.
There’s a swing to Hey Baby, which shows off Coll some more. It’s funky and easy to dance to and I can see this one being a crowd favorite when performed live. It’s followed by Blues Cozola Boogie, the second instrumental on the album. It swings and struts and gets your feet taping and your body moving. You can’t help but feel good when you listen to this number.
That blistering harp opens One Too Many Times and Jacobs delivers wicked vocals that tell a sad story with humor and verve. This is the last of the studio recordings on the album and it’s a good one. Jacobs and Coll play off each other like they’ve been together for years.
The album ends on a live recording of Goin’ To Berlin. You can feel the energy off the band, and even though there is only a little of the crowd captured, you know there’s no way they weren’t responding to their delivery. Coll takes on a lot of the work with his stellar harp playing and it just makes me want to see them live.
Taking a few minutes in between the songs, I was able to look up some more information about Jacobs and Coll and discovered that Jacobs is indeed a bluesman from the states and kicked around Chicago for quite some time before moving to Germany. While I have some blues friends and colleagues who live in Europe, no one put Jacobs on my radar. Having discovered him, it’s now up to me to find his other music and see what I can share with my audience.
Coll is a Spaniard who has been playing the harmonica for some time and has worked (as has Jacobs) with a whole host of famous musicians as a sideman or an opener. A Hohner endorsee (a pretty high honor in the harmonica world), he has played all over the world and teaches harmonica in Spanish, English, and German. He also fronts his own band, and has several albums of his own.
Guess I’m going to have to ask for my allowance in Euros, because I’m going after every previously released album. These guys are that damn good.
To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time they have teamed up to record, and Takin’ Our Time is worth the wait. It’s not a long album, only nine songs, but it is definitely a case of quality over quantity. It may be tricky to find this one, I don’t know, but it’s worth the search if you like that delicious Chicago sound.
If that’s the sound you crave, let me tell you brothers and sisters, you need this album.
Worst thing for me though, that ONE GUY was right and I'm going to have to learn how to like the computer...

Marcos Coll Website    

Will Jacobs und Marcos Coll ~~ Takin ’Our Time

Ich bekomme viel Musik sowohl beim Radiosender (VPM-Music) als auch bei mir zu Hause zugestellt. Manchmal, wenn ich unterwegs bin, sind Künstler so freundlich, mir einen Teil ihrer Musik zum Teilen im Radio zu geben. Ich bin dankbar, wenn ich Musik bekomme und wirklich jeden einzelnen Track höre. Wenn sich jemand die Mühe gemacht hat, ein Album aufzunehmen, habe ich das Gefühl, dass ich es ihnen schuldig bin, es von Anfang bis Ende anzuhören, und wenn es in die Show passt oder überprüft werden muss, bin ich glücklich, dies zu tun.

Aber es gibt einen Mann, EINEN, der mir Sachen online schickt, weil er weiß, dass ich computergefordert bin. Ich bin alte Schule. Ich schreibe viel auf einer der fünf in meinem Haus verteilten Schreibmaschinen (weitere befinden sich in meiner Speichereinheit, falls ich Teile ausschlachten muss) oder in Langschrift und setze mich nur zum Posten an den Dämonencomputer.

Wie auch immer, dieser EINMALIGE sagt mir, dass er etwas Tolles für mich hat, eine neue Blues-Scheibe aus Deutschland, und er will es mir senden, PDQ. PER EMAIL. Ich seufze und sage okay, ich werde herausfinden, wie ich es spielen soll.

Ich konnte einige Informationen über die beiden Hauptdarsteller Will Jacobs und Marcos Coll nicht öffnen, von denen ich zugegebenermaßen nichts wusste, aber er schwört, dass ich es lieben werde. Zum Glück hatten meine Frau und meine Kinder Mitleid mit mir und zeigten mir, wie man die Songs per E-Mail spielt. 

Wenn ich blind werde, sind hier meine ersten Gedanken: EL
Das Album beginnt mit einem süßen Gitarren-Intro auf It Ain’t Safe, gefolgt von gut getönten Vocals und Colls Harfe. Es ist innerhalb weniger Noten offensichtlich, dass jemand auf dieser Platte ein Wecker ist. Die Person, die singt und Gitarre spielt, wurde in den Fluss des Blues getaucht. Er wurde von den Blues-Göttern gesalbt, die ihm vorausgingen, um die süßesten Klänge vorstellbar zu machen. In Jacobs 'Herangehensweise liegt eine Ehrlichkeit, die besagt, dass er der echte Artikel ist, egal wo er lebt.

Die Band schließt sich mit Goin ’To Berlin an, einem rauschenden Brand eines Songs, der meine Ohren höher schlagen lässt. Die Struktur ähnelt einer beliebigen Anzahl von Blues-Songs und hätte leicht zu Hause über Memphis, Detroit oder eine andere zweisilbige Stadt singen können. Aber irgendetwas an Colls Harfe erhöht die Zahl. Zwei Songs in und ich bin bereit, eine Show in der Gruppe zu planen. Tolles Lied!

"What You Doin" beginnt mit einer Stakkato-Gitarre, zu der sich schnell Colls Harfe gesellt. Jacobs 'Gesang hat den Ring der Wahrheit, als hätte er die Ereignisse des Songs miterlebt. Ich bin auf jeden Fall beeindruckt von Coll und muss noch etwas über ihn und seine Arbeit herausfinden. Ich kann es kaum erwarten, diese beiden Künstler mit meinem Publikum zu teilen.

Das erste Instrumental aus dem Album, C.J.'s Bounce, ist das nächste. Es ist eine sehr lebhafte Nummer, die der Band die Möglichkeit gibt, sich auszudehnen und ihre spielerischen Fähigkeiten zu demonstrieren. Sie spielen gut als Einheit, jeder Performer stellt einen anderen auf und ich kann es als Track sehr schätzen, aber ich würde sie sehr gerne live spielen sehen, um zu sehen, wie ein begeistertes Publikum darauf reagiert.

Darauf folgt der Stakkato-Angriff, der gestrandet ist. Bolls Harfe heult und Jacobs gräbt tief, um die Texte zu knurren wie ein Chicago Bluesman aus den fünfziger Jahren. Ich mag diesen Song wirklich sehr und werde ihn der Time For The Blues sowie meiner persönlichen Playlist hinzufügen. Obwohl ich nur ein paar Songs gehört habe, haben sie mich beeindruckt und ich möchte noch viel mehr hören.

Es gibt eine Schaukel bei Hey Baby, die Coll noch ein bisschen mehr vorführt. Es ist funky und leicht zu tanzen und ich kann sehen, dass es ein Publikumsliebling ist, wenn es live aufgeführt wird. Es folgt Blues Cozola Boogie, das zweite Instrumental auf dem Album. Es schwingt und strebt und bringt deine Füße zum Kleben und deinen Körper in Bewegung. Sie können nicht anders, als sich wohl zu fühlen, wenn Sie sich diese Nummer anhören.

Diese glühende Harfe eröffnet One Too Many Times und Jacobs liefert böse Vocals, die eine traurige Geschichte mit Humor und Elan erzählen. Dies ist die letzte Studioaufnahme auf dem Album und es ist eine gute. Jacobs und Coll spielen gegeneinander wie seit Jahren.

Das Album endet mit einer Live-Aufnahme von Goin ’To Berlin. Sie können die Energie der Band spüren und auch wenn nur ein kleiner Teil der Menge gefangen ist, wissen Sie, dass sie auf keinen Fall auf ihre Lieferung reagiert haben. Coll übernimmt einen Großteil der Arbeit mit seiner hervorragenden Harfe und ich möchte sie nur live sehen.

Ich nahm mir zwischen den Songs ein paar Minuten Zeit und fand heraus, dass Jacobs tatsächlich ein Bluesmann aus den USA ist und trat einige Zeit in Chicago herum, bevor ich nach Deutschland zog. Während ich ein paar Blues-Freunde und -Kollegen habe, die in Europa leben, hat niemand Jacobs auf mein Radar gesetzt. Nachdem ich ihn entdeckt habe, liegt es nun an mir, seine andere Musik zu finden und zu sehen, was ich mit meinem Publikum teilen kann.

Coll ist ein Spanier, der seit einiger Zeit Mundharmonika spielt und (wie auch Jacobs) mit einer ganzen Reihe berühmter Musiker als Sideman oder Opener zusammengearbeitet hat. Er ist ein Hohner-Endorsee (eine ziemlich hohe Ehre in der Mundharmonika-Welt), hat auf der ganzen Welt gespielt und unterrichtet Mundharmonika in Spanisch.

Will Jacobs y Marcos Coll ~~ Takin 'Nuestro tiempo

Recibo mucha música tanto en la estación de radio (VPM-Music) como en mi casa. A veces, cuando salgo, los artistas tienen la amabilidad de darme algo de su música para compartir en la radio. Estoy agradecido cuando escucho música y realmente escucho cada canción. Si alguien se ha tomado la molestia y la molestia de grabar un álbum, creo que les debo escucharlo primero, no durar y si encaja dentro del programa, o necesita ser revisado, estoy feliz de hacerlo.

Pero hay un tipo, UN INDIVIDUO, que me envía cosas en línea sabiendo que tengo problemas informáticos. Soy de la vieja escuela Escribo mucho en una de las cinco máquinas de escribir esparcidas por mi casa (hay más en mi unidad de almacenamiento en caso de que necesite canibalizar partes) o de forma manual, y solo me siento en la computadora demoníaca cuando es hora de publicar.
De todos modos, este ONE GUY me dice que tiene algo genial para mí, un nuevo disco de blues de Alemania y que quiere enviármelo PDQ. VÍA CORREO ELECTRÓNICO. Suspiro, y digo que bien, descubriré cómo jugarlo.

No pude abrir parte de la información sobre los dos tipos principales, Will Jacobs y Marcos Coll, de quienes admito que no sabía nada, pero él jura que me encantará. Afortunadamente, mi esposa y mis hijos se compadecieron de mí y me mostraron cómo tocar las canciones por correo electrónico, así que, a ciegas, aquí están mis primeros pensamientos: EL

El álbum comienza con una dulce introducción de guitarra en It Ain’t Safe, seguido de voces bien tonificadas y el arpa de Coll. Es obvio en algunas notas que alguien en este disco es un timbre. La persona que canta y toca la guitarra se ha sumergido en el río del blues. Ha sido ungido por los dioses del blues que lo precedieron para hacer los sonidos más dulces imaginables. Hay una honestidad en el enfoque de Jacobs que dice que él es el artículo genuino, sin importar dónde viva.

La banda sigue con Goin ’To Berlin, una estridente grabación de una canción que hace que mis oídos repitan. La estructura es similar a cualquier cantidad de canciones de blues, y fácilmente podría haber estado en casa cantando sobre Memphis, Detroit o cualquier otra ciudad de dos sílabas. Pero hay algo sobre el arpa de Coll que eleva el número. Dos canciones y estoy listo para comenzar a planear un espectáculo alrededor del grupo. ¡Gran canción!

Lo que haces comienza con una guitarra staccato a la que se une rápidamente el arpa de Coll. La voz de Jacobs tiene el sonido de la verdad, como si hubiera vivido los acontecimientos de la canción. Definitivamente estoy impresionado por Coll y tendré que investigar un poco más sobre él y su trabajo. No puedo esperar para compartir estos dos artistas con mi audiencia.

El primer instrumental del álbum, Bounce de C.J., es el siguiente. Es un número muy animado que le da a la banda la oportunidad de estirarse y mostrar sus habilidades para tocar. Juegan bien como una unidad, cada intérprete configura otro y puedo apreciarlo mucho como una pista, pero me encantaría verlos tocar en vivo para ver cómo reacciona una multitud avivada.

Eso es seguido por el ataque staccato que está varado. El arpa de Boll se lamenta y Jacobs profundiza para gruñir la letra como un bluesman de Chicago de los años cincuenta. Realmente me gusta mucho esta canción y la agregaré a Time For The Blues, así como a mi lista de reproducción personal. Aunque solo he escuchado algunas canciones, me han impresionado muchísimo y quiero escuchar mucho más.

Hay un cambio en Hey Baby, que muestra a Coll un poco más. Es funky y fácil bailar y puedo ver que este es un favorito de la multitud cuando se realiza en vivo. Le sigue Blues Cozola Boogie, el segundo instrumental del álbum. Se balancea y apuntala y hace que sus pies se graben y su cuerpo se mueva. No puedes evitar sentirte bien cuando escuchas este número.

Ese arpa abrasadora abre One Too Many Times y Jacobs ofrece voces malvadas que cuentan una historia triste con humor y entusiasmo. Esta es la última de las grabaciones de estudio en el álbum y es buena. Jacobs y Coll se juegan como si hubieran estado juntos durante años.

El álbum termina con una grabación en vivo de Goin ’To Berlin. Puedes sentir la energía de la banda, y aunque solo hay un poco de la multitud capturada, sabes que no hay forma de que no respondieran a su entrega. Coll asume gran parte del trabajo con su arpa estelar y solo me dan ganas de verlos en vivo.

Tomando unos minutos entre las canciones, pude buscar más información sobre Jacobs y Coll y descubrí que Jacobs es un bluesman de los Estados Unidos y pateó Chicago por bastante tiempo antes de mudarse a Alemania. Si bien tengo algunos amigos y colegas de blues que viven en Europa, nadie puso a Jacobs en mi radar. Habiéndolo descubierto, ahora depende de mí encontrar su otra música y ver qué puedo compartir con mi audiencia.

Coll es un español que ha estado tocando la armónica durante algún tiempo y ha trabajado (al igual que Jacobs) con una gran cantidad de músicos famosos como acompañante o abridor. Un endorssee de Hohner (un gran honor en el mundo de la armónica), ha tocado en todo el mundo y enseña armónica en español.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Janiva Magness ~~ Change In The Weather - Janiva Magness Sings John Fogerty

First things first blues fans, Janiva Magness puts her own spin on everything she sings. She’s spent most of her career creating great blues music, but I don’t think that genre can hold her any more. Her last couple of albums have seen her moving away from the confines of blues and more into a different, unique territory. At the last concert I caught her, she referred to this new direction as, “Pure Americana. That is, real musicians playing real music on real instruments, live.”
Have no fear, there’s no way she can leave all of her blues roots behind. She approaches every note with all of her heart and soul and delivers it with verve. For her latest album, Change In The Weather – Janiva Magness Sings John Fogerty on BlueElan Records, she has chosen twelve songs written by one of America’s best songwriters of the 20th Century.
Fogerty was the driving force behind Creedence Clearwater Revival before stepping out on his own and carving out a significant solo career. Many of his best known songs still receive airplay on classic rock stations and every so often you can even catch one of his deep tracks.
Fogerty is another artist that creates his own style of music. CCR played a pivotal part of ‘60’s and ‘70’s music playing a brand a swamp rock that lit up the airwaves. Their raw power and approach blended rock with folk, and yes, some blues, and they put their mark on some exciting sounds.
I still remember the first time I heard songs like Bad Moon Rising, Have You Ever Seen The Rain, and Fortunate Son on the radio. It was a time when music was exciting and often experimental, and Fogerty’s words were powerful and often like a smack in the face against many of the formulaic bubblegum and overly saccharine love songs. Protest songs were no longer the sole domain of the folk crowd. CCR turned in one of the most powerful protest songs, Fortunate Son, that still gives me (and I suspect others) chills when I hear it.
The twelve songs that Magness has chosen for this album are a mix of hits and deep tracks. Magness delivers each number with passion, and despite their familiarity to many listeners of a certain age, they all seem fresh and new. I can’t wait to see Magness in concert when she will take on some of these songs live.
For eleven of the twelve songs Magness was joined by Gary Davenport on bass; Steve Wilson on drums and percussion; Zachary Ross on guitar and dobro; Dave Darling on guitar; and Arlan Oscar on Hammond Organ, piano, and Wurlitzer. Backing vocals were by Bernie Barlow, Magness, Darling, and Ross. For the last song Rusty Young was on dobro and guitar; Jesse Dayton and Darling on guitar; Aubrey Richmond on fiddle; with additional vocals by Young, Darling, Dayton, and Richmond.
Magness and Company start the album with the title track, Change In The Weather. Originally a Grammy Award-winner song from Fogerty’s 1986 album, Eye Of The Zombie. It was also covered by Buddy Guy in the mid-90’s. A song perfectly chosen to show that an artist is at a crossroad, looking to grow, but perhaps reluctant to let go of what was worked in the past. Originally a protest song, Magness turns it into a gorgeous personal statement.
For the next track, Magness teams with Sam Morrow for a powerful duet on Fogerty’s  Lodi. Originally the song was a CCR B-side with Bad Moon Rising, and it went on to receive airplay on a number of album rock stations. This is the first of two duets that Magness performs on the album and she gets down and gritty on the number.
Originally released in 2013, Someday Never Comes is a powerful song whose lyrics are beautiful blues poetry. Magness reaches deep into her soul to pull out this song. Wrote A Song For Everyone wasis best known as the title track from a solo album also in 2013. It was a collection of CCR songs and deep tracks (and a couple of new tunes) that Fogerty recorded with his friends. Miranda Lambert and Tom Morello joined Fogerty on the 2013 release. Magness does a good version of the song, but it’s never been one of my favorites.
Magness then teams up with the great Taj Mahal to drop an outstanding version of Don’t You Wish It Was True. Originally released in 2007 on Revival, Fogerty’s song is a vision of all the good things one could possibly wish for. Magness and Mahal have great chemistry together and this is easily one of my favorite songs on the album. I’m definitely scheduling this one for airplay on Time For The Blues, and I think you’ll be hearing it on other shows as well.
Another favorite song, Have You Ever Seen The Rain, becomes a haunting ballad of loss and sadness. Magness delivers the song and wrings out every bit of emotion that the lyrics demand. It’s gorgeous and ever Fogerty/CCR fan will hear this song in a new way.
Perhaps the best known CCR song after Proud Mary, and the one whom nearly everyone sings the wrong lyrics to, Bad Moon Rising, and Magness is deep into her blues roots for it. Here, she goes deep into the swamp to bring out the darkness of the song (which has been covered by something like 20 musical artists and has been used in about the same number of movies). It’s one that most fans have loved since it was released in 1969 on Green River. It comes with great expectations and Magness delivers a great version here. Look for this one to get some serious airplay.
Originally on 1997’s album Blue Moon Swamp, Blueboy is the only song I can find that features both Fogerty and bass player extraordinaire, Donald “Duck” Dunn. Magness has a lot of fun with the song, and it serves as a nice transition from Bad Moon Rising to the next song, Fortunate Son. Fortunate Son is without a doubt my favorite song in the Fogerty Canon. Originally a CCR song released in 1969, it became one of the greatest protest songs against the Vietnam War. It wasn’t explicit in its condemnation of the war, but it did cover the unfairness of it. For those of us who lived through that time, we constantly heard about this son of a Congressman, or the son of a rich man getting out of going to Vietnam and the rest of the country being drafted to find themselves in combat that they wanted no part of. I approached the song cautiously as it did mean so much to me, but I didn’t have to worry, Magness delivers a knockout performance of the song, and it’s the closest I’ve ever come to hearing Janis Joplin sing it. Her voice is rough and emotional, her screams are piercing and the piano work by Arlan Oscar is superior. It was the first song I had to hit the repeat button on and one I had to share with friends and family. Even though it’s not strictly blues, I guarantee you’re going to hear it on Time For The Blues. Stick around for it.
Okay, since I’m talking about Vietnam, please let me speak to the service men and women who were so badly treated when they returned home. I wish I could apologize for every single member of my generation who took out the anger on the people who deserved our compassion. It was not their fault that they were sent to fight that war, and we should have been able to care for them when they returned broken and destroyed. I lost several friends to that war, and their death still haunts me. So, from me, thank you for your service, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive those who turned their back on you.
Back to the music. Following the power of Fortunate Son, Magness stays with protest, but in a softer style for Déjà Vu (All Over Again). This song was the title track from a 2004 release and takes a look at what was going on in Iraq and how it appears to be similar to what happened in Vietnam.
The gospel tinged A Hundred And Ten In The Shade tells the story of African American slaves who were forced to work in the hot sun all day in the south. Originally from 1997’s Blue Moon Swamp, Magness tells the story with her own power and passion. This is another song that is definitely at the heart of the blues.
Going out with everybody kicking back and having fun, Magness and friends drop a raucous Lookin’ Out My Back Door to end the album. I always loved the joy contained in the song and you just can’t help getting swept up in the fun. It’s a perfect ending to a great album.
It’s no secret that I am a fanboy for Janiva Magness and I have gladly followed her through the past several years of her career even as she explores new musical choices. Maybe especially as she explores new horizons. I know I won’t like every single thing she does, but I do appreciate that she is growing and changing and still goes out on the road performing great music.
Oh, she’s also a great writer. If you haven’t gotten a copy of her book, Weeds Like Us, may I suggest you get a copy pdq. You’ll get a look at her early years, her family, and her music, all written in an honest and straightforward way. I recommend it highly and will be dropping a review of it shortly.
In the meantime, check her outat her website.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records Part 1

By all accounts the man born Narvel Eatmon was an ambitious and hardworking man. Almost no one knew him by that name, rather everyone knew the flashy serial entrepreneur Cadillac Baby, the proprietor of Cadillac Baby’s Show Lounge located at 47th and Dearborn on the South Side of Chicago.
Cadillac Baby was always hustling. First, he ran a small convenience store like enterprise but decided he wanted to get into the entertainment business and opened a Veteran’s Hall in order to skirt the demands for a tavern license and he was able to operate under the radar for about three years. Along the way he began to attract blues acts hungry for places to work.
He used Little Mack Simmons and his band as the house band backing various headliners, and the word quickly got out that this was a hot spot to catch the blues. Cadillac Baby became a man to know and as reputation grew among the wheels that turn Chicago, he began to dress and act like the important man he had become.
From the club, it was a natural progression for him to start his own label, which he named after his wife, Bertha “Bea” Eatmon, and himself (“Baby” was a childhood nickname growing up in Mississippi, the “Cadillac” came much later). Cadillac Baby had a good eye and ear for music and managed to find artists who were not signed, in between contracts, or just used a different name to launch the label on a shoestring budget.
The first act he attracted, Eddie Boyd, had had a top hit a few years back and his name lent a certain cache to the fledgling group. Little Mack Simmons jumped at the chance to record and he appeared under several different names, Earl Hooker cut one side, and well-known performers like Sunnyland Slim, Hound Dog Taylor, Homesick James, and James Cotton cut sides as well.
It is strongly rumored that Roosevelt Sykes recorded, but unfortunately to date, no actual physical recordings have been discovered and authenticated.
While Blues and R&B were the main focus of Cadillac Baby’s output, he faced financial difficulties getting his records out past Chicago. While there were certain independent record distributors available, they tended to put their efforts into supplying vendors with material that was in demand. Outside of the Windy City, there wasn’t as much demand for little known blues artists.
Several of Cadillac Baby’s acts never achieved fame. Some disappeared forever, and I for one, sincerely hope that more information will surface about acts such as Bobby Saxton who performed Bea & Baby’s Biggest Seller, Trying To Make A Living, before stepping out of the spotlight and disappearing into the night. A young woman named Faith Taylor cut a couple of singles for Bea & Baby with her vocal group The Sweet Teens. She was eleven years old at the time and was out of the business by the time she turned thirteen.
Faith, where did you go?
And who is Singing Sam? We have their music, but their lives are a large blank that needs to be filled in.
There’s no way for me to go through this entire beautiful collection. This Definitive Collection (it says so right on the packaging) is a four-CD set that includes not only the blues and R&B cuts, but also the series of spiritual vanity records that several groups made in order to sell at their concerts, some comedy in the Pigmeat Markham vein, and even two hip hop songs that were the last things Cadillac Baby ever recorded.
If that wasn’t enough there’s a 100-plus page book on heavy paper that details as much of the Bea & Baby Records and Cadillac Baby story as one could hope for. The pictures alone are worth it to a blues collector. Speaking as a blues collector myself, I’ve never even seen an original Bea & Baby 45, so to have all of these songs on CDs means not only can I hear the music, but I can share it with the listeners of Time For The Blues.
This has been a multi-year labor of love for Michael Frank, the founder and president of Earwig Records. Earwig has always been a quality producer, relying on great material instead of a breakneck schedule. Honestly, I only have a few of their works in my collection, but that is going to change very soon. I’ve already earmarked several to pick up on my next buying spree and look forward to sharing those with you as well.
While Frank is obviously a very busy man, he and several associates have gone through years of business records, photos, and tracked down leads for any and all surviving members of the Bea & Baby family. Master tapes were found scattered all across the globe, and when no master tapes were available, the best copies were found and duplicated. Many of the stories that are contained in this package have never seen the light of day and are now here for everyone to discover.
I have a passion for small labels. To me, they represent a great dream, a service to the music more than the money. When you find art that moves you so much that you want to share it with the world and you don’t let things like finance control you, that is the true American Spirit. I am on a quest to find as many of these companies as I can and bring their ambitions to light. Please help me by letting me know who you recommend.
In the meantime, if you haven’t picked up this collection yet, do it now. Don’t wait. I don’t know how many were made of the first pressing, and I would hate for anyone to lose out on this great treasure. And be sure to listen to Time For The Blues for our six-part exploration of Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records The Definitive Collection.
And once again, thank you Michael Frank, Earwig, and all the people who worked so hard on this project. It is greatly appreciated.
Part 2 – A Conversation with Michael Frank is coming soon! Stay tuned…

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sunday TAKE FIVE ~~ September 15, 2019

Artwork by the immortal John Dimes!

Sundays are kind of quiet around the old juke joint and I am kind of a lazy guy. Here’s a quick take on some recent arrivals that I want to tell you about, but can’t sit behind the computer long enough to deliver one of my long-winded missives. Enjoy these, and let me know if you like this new format, and tell your friends to drop by for a visit. A fellow can get kind of lonely on a Sunday…
Charlie Wooton Project ~~ Blue Basso featuring Vocals By Arséne Delay
Wooton, the former bassist for the Royal Southern Brotherhood, is a man of many talents. He’s a world class musician who has put together a tight album of blues flavored jazz that I absolutely love. He’s backed by some like-minded musicians including Daniel Groover on guitar, Jermal Watson on drums, and Keiko Komaki on keys. Some special guests are Sonny Landreth on two tracks, Anders Osborne on one and Damon Fowler on one. Arséne Delay handles the vocals. These are mostly originals with a couple of covers including one from the Rolling Stones, Miss You. Blues lovers might gravitate towards Tell Me A Story and Front Porch, but if you enjoy jazzy blues this entire album is great!
Alex Lopez ~~ Yours Truly, Me
Lopez has been doing some good work for a number of years, but Your Truly, Me is the first CD of his that I’ve been able to snag. From what I can tell this is a good place to start as Lopez wrote ten of the twelve songs on the disc, co-wrote one other, and the last is a good cover of ZZ Top’s Tush. Five of the songs here have been reimagined from previous releases, but I can’t really judge one against the other at this time. In the meantime, he not only rocks out, but also lays down some thoughtful and moving ballads. It’s a little uneven at times, but I think there’s plenty of good work to encourage me to keep him on my radar to see what comes next.
Cheyenne James ~~ Burn It Up
This is one I regretfully missed when it hit my desk in June. I say regretfully because James has a powerhouse voice that hooked me from the opening track, Grits Ain’t Groceries. Taking on a classic right out of the gate takes nerve, and James seems to have that – and then some. Backed by some serious Texas musicians, including Rock Romano and Steve Krase on guitar and harp respectively, James delivers ten solid numbers that run the gamut from a beautiful cover of Van Morrison’s Steal My Heart Away to flat out blues rock on her original, I Didn’t Know. Definitely a talent to watch!
Nancy Wright ~~ Alive & Blue
Saxophonist and vocalist Wright and The Rhythm and Roots Band have put together a kick-ass album recorded live at San Francisco’s The Saloon. I’m always intrigued by live albums – capturing that elusive feeling of anything goes can be intimidating to the artists and audience as well. No such worries with this collection of twelve songs, featuring a good mix of originals and covers. There are five instrumentals on the album that showcase Wright’s sweet sax and gives us the flavor of the R&B, especially Tony Lufrano’s keys, and Karl Sevareid’s bass. It’s jazzy, and for pure music lovers, a delight. If you like your music quick tempoed and anthem like, you might be disappointed. If you like to luxuriate into the sound, pick this one up asap!
Arsen Shomakhov ~~ Rain City Blues
A delightful introduction to a Canadian Artist, Shomakhov, who recorded this CD in Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studio. Shomakhov handles the guitars and vocals while Andersen takes on the upright and electric bass as well as keys and background vocals. Alexander Pettersen and June Core split the drumming duties and Aki Kumar adds his stellar harp to one song. All original compositions, Rain City Blues features three instrumentals and several songs worthy of airplay. A good investment, and a good artist to watch!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Time For The Blues ~~ September 14, 2019

Henry Cook and I certainly hope you will join us on Time For The Blues this Saturday night, September 14th at 10:00, as we unleash yet another untamed episode and deliver it right to your ears!
Seriously, this is going to be a fun evening as we are delighted to present sets from a couple of our personal favorites – Billy Branch and The Sons of Blues paying tribute to the late great Little Walter, and Albert Castiglia releasing his unquestionable Masterpiece.
There is absolutely no way to dispute the importance Marion Walter Jacobs plays in the history of the blues. Born on May 1, most likely in 1930, he is credited with changing the way the harmonica was used in recording and live on stage. The flamboyant performer not only played on most of  Muddy Waters’ best work of the 1950’s, he also led his own band and his innovative style quickly became the standard by which all other harp players were judged.
Little Walter was the first – and so far, only – person to have a harmonica instrumental make it to the top of the charts, and during his career he accumulated three more harp instrumentals in the top ten. For much of his career, he released singles that featured him singing on one side, and playing an instrumental on the flip side.
His influence on the next several generations of harp players cannot be measured and he has been the focus of several tribute albums over the years as he passed away at a young age in 1967.
One of today’s best proponents of Jacobs’ harp style is Billy Branch, and he has recently released an album on Alligator titled Roots and Branches: The Story of Little Walter. We’ve got three tracks from this album, including one written by Little Walter himself (he was a prolific songwriter). Just to give you a little perspective, we’re also going to play on side from a different album so you can hear Branch team up with another great harp player, Sugar Ray Norcia.
Another feature will focus on our pal, Albert Castigila. To say that Castiglia has gone through a few upheavals in his life the past year or so would be a major understatement. In a nutshell, not only discover that he had a previously unknown daughter making him a father, but said daughter was grown and has a bambino of her own, making him a grandfather as well!
Castiglia was over the moon, and his wife and family fully support him in establishing this relationship, and his approach to life has undergone a real change. The work he produced as a result of this happening formed the basis for his recent album, Masterpiece. He left his long time label, Ruf, and signed on with Mike Zito and Guy Hall’s new company, Gulf Coast Records.
We’ve got three sides from this new CD, but probably won’t have enough time to add any more to the show. That is, if we want to get to the rest of the goodies we have in store for you.
What goodies might they be, you asked yourself out loud. Well, the kind of chewy morals that you can sink your teeth into, but not have to worry about dislodging a filling. Such ooey gooey goodness that Willy Wonka himself will be jealous.
I’m going to introduce you to Twist Turner and his friends. Don’t worry, I had to learn about him myself, and I’m glad I did. See, Turner is an excellent drummer who has worked with many of the big names in the blues world. Normally based out of Chicago, Turner came down with a case of wanderlust and spent time in New Orleans and his native Seattle, before taking up an extended stay in the Oakland/San Francisco region.
While there, he made friends and played with a number of people. He recorded several of them – different vocalists singing his songs – before returning to Chicago. He recorded more of his friends doing the same and then had the brilliant idea to put a bunch of these together on one album.
That’s how Battle of the Bands: Chicago vs Oakland on Delta Roots was born. Each city has great talent and distinct sound. We’re going to sample some and let you make the decision who wins for yourself.
One word of caution, some of the tracks on the album have some recording issues, something like low volumes and occasional distortions. We’ve tried to work a little magic on our end to make it all come together, but there are certain limits even Henry can’t overcome.
But we’ve still got more for you! Our New Release feature presents new work from the Kerry Kearney Band, Ben Levin, and Jeff Dale!   
If you’re a regular listener, we know you’re going to do whatever you need to do to join us at 10:00. If you’re new to Time For The Blues, drop by and find out what everybody is talking about. 
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 here, or join us on one of these great VPN Stations: 89.1 WCVN, Northern Neck; 90.1 WMVE, Chase City; and the flagships, 93.1 and 107.3 VPM-Music, Richmond, where it’s always Time For The Blues!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Jimmy Carpenter ~~ Soul Doctor

Jimmy Carpenter is best known to me as a great sideman, lending his solid saxophone to albums from the likes of Tab Benoit, Mike Zito, Jimmy Thackery, Eric Lindell, and Maria Muldaur. I didn’t have any of his solo releases in my collection, but thankfully that drought has stopped as Gulf Coast Records, the label Mike Zito and Guy Hale recently started.
Zito and Hale have been busy signing some great talent and now they’ve released Carpenter’s fourth solo work, Soul Doctor. Carpenter rises to the occasion, delivering a solid record that delivers blues, rhythm and blues, soul, and rock and roll to the listener. Carpenter’s sax is ever present, along with his guitar and vocals and he’s joined by a strong lineup that includes Cameron Tyler on drums, percussion, and backing vocals; Jason Langley on bass; Trevor Johnson on guitar; Chris Tofield on guitar and backing vocals; Red Young on Hammond B3, piano, and Wurlitzer piano; Al Ek on harp and backing vocals and Carrie Stowers and Queen Aries on backing vocals.
Joining Carpenter to create a powerful horn section is The Bender Brass: Doug Woolverton on trumpet and Mark Earley on baritone sax. Mike Zito and Nick Schnebelen each add their guitar wizardry to one song. Carpenter also displays his songwriting chops, writing or co-writing seven of the ten songs on the album.
The album gets funky right off the bat with the title track, Soul Doctor, utilizing Nick Schnebelen’s blistering guitar. The song is fun and completely danceable. This is a good way to open up what promises to be an impressive album. Carpenter’s sax is spot on and helps me remember exactly why I love the instrument so much.
Carpenter slows things down a little with When I Met You. It has a sweet Sam Cooke groove to it, the kind of song that makes you want to hold that someone special just a little closer.
Next up is Wild Streak, a fun rocker in the sense of Carpenter and company capture the joy of early rock. It swings and has that feeling of innocence that is often lacking in lyrics at times. When Carpenter breaks out his sax, it lifts the song even higher. You can’t help but feel better while listening to this song.
Mike Zito lends his guitar to Love It So Much. When Zito’s guitar mixes with this bright horn section, the song jumps to life. This should make Chicago blues lovers happy. This one will definitely be getting some airplay. The presence of the Bender Brass truly elevates the song!
Carpenter follows up with a slow burning blues number, Need Your Love So Bad. It’s a great love song that would be at home in any era. Can’t wait to see him do this one live!
Carpenter gets back to the funk for Wanna Be Right. The lyrics are pure blues, but the music moves it into different territory. This reminds me of a lot of the best blue-eyed soul that I listened to while growing up. As I mentioned earlier, Carpenter is one of those musicians you can’t just pigeonhole into one genre. Just kick back and enjoy the ride.
The first of two instrumentals, One Mint Julep, is a solid rocking number that really lets Carpenter’s sax shine. It’s good to get at least one instrumental in with a band that’s this hot. This is the kind of jam I expect to catch at a live show.
Next up is Wrong Turn, that has a funky twang and it sounds like the singer is delivering his vocals through a distorted mic, like a harp mic. However, the lead guitar smokes and makes up for all that.
The second instrumental, LoFi Roulette, cements the group’s talent. Carpenter’s sax soars over all the instruments like a bird of prey. It swoops and climbs and just when you think it’s moved on; it shoots out of the sun to catch us off guard. Really cool song.
Carpenter closes the album with Yeah Man, another sweet old school soul tune. I knew Carpenter’s playing from a couple of albums where he worked as a sideman, but this is the first time, I’ve had the chance to hear one of his solo efforts. I’ll be hunting down the previous three PDQ.
Gulf Coast Records has shown that they have invested in solid performers that deliver great music. With Zito and Hale at the helm, I doubt very much that it’s beginner’s luck. If you’re looking for some great music that might be just outside your comfort zone, I haven’t heard anything bad on the label yet.
Jimmy Carpenter has shown that he’s a quadruple threat (guitar, sax, vocals, and songwriting) and I, for one, am glad to see him getting a chance to strut his stuff in the spotlight!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Conversin' With The Blues ~~ Dr. Schlank Brings the Blues Therapy

I've known Dr. Anita Schlank for a few years. If you've ever been to a blues show anywhere in the vicinity of Richmond, Virginia, you've probably seen her on the front row taking great pictures and video. Some of the best pictures on this blog have been taken by her. She's now the main author behind an outstanding new book, Blues Therapy, that describes what several blues artists experience on a daily basis. 
Despite her busy work and concert schedule, Dr. Schlank was kind enough to take some time out and join me in the studios of VPM-Music for a discussion about the book and the blues. 
John Porter::  Welcome to another edition of Conversin’ with the Blues.  I am delighted to have today’s guest because you know, a lot of people in the blues have great nicknames -- they call themselves doctor this or doctor that, or even somebody who calls himself the Professor.  Well, for the first time I have an actual doctor here -- Dr. Anita Schlank.  She is a psychologist.  That makes her a Ph.D. doctor—she can’t give you any meds, but she has written an amazing book called Blues Therapy.  Dr. Schlank, thank you very much for coming in today.
Anita Schlank, Ph.D.:  Thanks for having me.
Porter:  Let’s talk a little bit about Blues Therapy.  I can describe a bit about it, but I’d like you to describe in more depth.  You have held conversations with a number of blues artists talking about the mental struggles that each one faced, some similar some dissimilar, and the way that they have used music to transcend whatever mental ills they have.  Is that a correct assumption?
Schlank:  That’s correct.  There are three sections to the book.  I wrote the first section from a psychologist’s perspective, trying to dispel myths about mental illness and explain a little bit about different mental illnesses and about the therapeutic effects of music on the brain.  The second section is written by Tab Benoit, who discusses those issues from the perspective of a musician.  The longest section is just what you mentioned—it contains interviews with blues musicians who suffer from mental illness, talking about that experience and talking about the beneficial effects of music in their life.
Porter:  Can you illustrate some of the different terms because a layman might not necessarily know the splitting hairs between this condition and that condition.  Starting with, what is schizophrenia?
Schlank:  Schizophrenia is a disorder in which people lose touch with reality. They might experience hallucinations, such as seeing things that aren’t there or hearing voices that aren’t there.  Or, they might become delusional, believing things to be true, such as becoming very overly suspicious, thinking people are out to hurt them.
Porter:  What about bipolar disorder?
Schlank:  With bipolar disorder people experience extreme shifts in mood from being very depressed to feeling what we call manic, which is having excessive energy, decreased need for sleep, maybe having some grandiose ideas.  Some even have some psychotic experiences when they are manic.
Porter:  Major Depressive Disorder—that seems to pop up quite a bit in the book.
Schlank:  Someone with Major Depressive Disorder can experience sleep disturbance, tearfulness, and they can have suicidal thoughts.  It’s more than just feeling sad about a situation.  It can come on even when people have things going well in their life.
Porter:  Suicidal thoughts?  I think everyone has some from time to time, but this seems to be more pervasive.  At what point should someone start to become worried about someone who voices such a thought?
Schlank:  It never hurts to ask people about those thoughts.  I know people might worry that it will put the idea in their head, but it really doesn’t hurt to ask about that.  If the person isn’t really suicidal, they will tell you, and it can be very helpful to talk about the thoughts.  Is it just a fleeting thought, or is it a preoccupation?  Are they thinking a lot about it, and how they will do it, and how to not hurt family and friends by doing it.  That’s when it can be very concerning.
Porter:  Now you are a professional.  Can someone without this type of training actually do somebody some good who is having those thoughts?
Schlank:  Absolutely.  I think it’s helpful for people to know that you understand and that you’re not shocked by that idea and it’s ok to talk about these things.  That’s part of what we are doing with the book.  We’re showing that more people can talk about this.  It’s not something we have to keep secret.
Porter:  That’s a great segue then into the reason you wrote this book and the people who volunteered their innermost thoughts.  I need to give each of them a standing ovation for doing that because it’s very frank.  What was your initial reason for writing the book?
Schlank: The main reason was to try to lessen the stigma associated with mental illness and to try to get people to talk about it more.  Maybe more people will seek help when they need it.  I was really affected by the suicides of some famous people, and I was wishing that maybe they had felt freer to talk about it.  I also definitely wanted to raise money for the HART fund.  That was a secondary purpose for writing it.
Porter:  What is the HART Fund?
Schlank:  The HART fund is part of the Blues Foundation that pays for medical, dental, and burial expenses, including mental health expenses which blues musicians often can’t afford to pay.  And many of them don’t have health insurance so the HART fund can be very helpful.
Porter:  I imagine if you have been making your living most of your life going club to club playing your heart out for an audience, there is probably not a good pension plan attached to that. 
Schlank:  No, there is not.
Porter:  So it’s good that someone is looking out for that.  I know that Doc Pomas at one time started a program for paying back songwriters who had been ignored for years, and he actually got a lot of money for a lot of musicians.  Big Joe Turner once asked him, “Why am I getting a check from someone called the Blues Brothers?”   So, I certainly appreciate that.  Now the HART Fund is on the Blues Foundation website, right?
Schlank:  Yes, it stands for Handy Artist Relief Trust.
Porter:  That’s very cool.  Who were some of the actual people interviewed for the book?
Schlank:  Well, Mike Zito wrote the foreword, and as I mentioned Tab Benoit was my co-author.  And then for the interviews we had Monster Mike Welch, Annika Chambers, Beth Hart, Eric Gales, Mark Earley, Amanda Fish, Janiva Magness, Anders Osborne, Phil Pemberton, Billy Price, Billy Wirtz, Dawn Tyler Watson, Ronnie Earl, and Nick Moss.
Porter:  Wow!  That is an all-star lineup and each person was able to talk about the struggles that they had.  I know Janiva has done so on her own blog and she actually brings it up from time to time at her concerts.  She and I have talked some about that.  How did you get the other people to open up, like Phil Pemberton and “Monster” Mike?
Schlank:  You know Monster Mike had actually been open with his struggles with depression on Facebook, so I knew that he had that already.  I originally started out with only about six people in mind.  But the more that I talked to my friends it seemed like people would say they wanted to be involved.  For example, I was talking about it to Nick Moss and he said, “well, I have panic disorder, I’ll give you an interview.”  And that kept happening.  So for many of them it happened that way
Porter:  I know when I grew up people did not discuss, not even amongst their family, issues like this and l and I think it really messed people up over the years.  I am glad to see people coming forward with these stories.  Let me ask you, what did you learn from this experience?  You are a professional, you are a doctor and doing this on a daily basis, but not this side.  You don’t usually work with creative people. What did you learn?
Schlank:  One thing I learned was just how prevalent it is.  You know, having so many people that I didn’t know had disorders say, “let me give you an interview”. That was something.  I also learned that people working in the entertainment field are six times more likely than others to experience suicidal thoughts.  That’s very concerning given that they are less likely to have pension plans and health insurance that cover treatment.  I also learned that listening to music can help people with Alzheimer’s Disease decrease their anxiety and that people who listen to music before and during surgery need fewer sedatives.  Some of that was very interesting to me.
Porter:  Do you have thoughts about why that might be?
Schlank:  Well, listening to music does cause chemical reactions in the brain, such as less cortisol (the stress hormone) and increased dopamine, which is sometimes thought of as the “feel good” neurotransmitter.  It also increases endorphins, which are sometimes called the body’s natural opiates.
Porter:  Is it only the blues that has this effect or could it be jazz or country or polka?
Schlank:  it’s definitely not just blues.  The research on it is for any kind of music.  But many people find the blues to be a very emotional genre. And I think there might be a bit more of a cathartic effect with the blues.  You know, listening to the sad tones and listening to the lyrics.  Some people think that listening to a good blues singer is a little bit like listening to a therapist, where they work out problems through the lyrics and when you hear their experience you have that feeling that they have been there too and you are not alone.
Porter:  Non-blues fans seem to have a misconception that the blues is all about the horrible things.  They don’t realize it is the music you play when you have those horrible things going on, to get out of them.  There is a small but dedicated group of people who are great blues aficionados.  If you had to put together a playlist for non-blues fans, who are artists that they might want to listen to so that they would be able to get some of that experience?  I know I’m putting you on the spot with this one, but I think you can come up with a few names.
Schlank:  Well, of course, there is Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Howlin’ Wolf, for some of the older ones, and for more current artists I would, of course, recommend listening to any of the artists that contributed to this book.
Porter:  You can always check out the Time For The Blues’ playlist and you’ll find a wide variety of those.  We always like to play a bit of uplifting blues.  You’ve gotten some attention from various places, which I am delighted to see, because you published the book yourself so it’s not like it is making someone else richer, it all goes right into the HART Fund.  What are the plans for a possible sequel?
Schlank:  I have certainly been thinking about a sequel. I have also been thinking about the possibility of a documentary.  You know, some people say they don’t read.
Porter:  I think we have elected some of those people.
Schlank:  (laughs)  Well some people just don’t like to read, so maybe a documentary would broaden the reach of the message.
Porter:  Wow that would be fantastic.  You’re actually thinking of going into somebody’s therapy session?
Schlank:  No, I really wasn’t thinking that.  I was just thinking about filming some of the interviews and going over some of the research.
Porter:  I would love to see that.  Hey, before I forget, how can people get a copy of your book?  I mean, from reading this, I’m sure they’re going to want to buy five or six copies.
Schlank:  They can go to
Porter:  How much does it cost?
Schlank:  Twenty dollars. And all that goes to the HART Fund.  That’s why I went with self-publishing to make sure that we could give everything to the HART Fund.
Porter:  So, every nickel goes to help somebody in the blues world.  Someone whose music you have loved.  Well, Anita, I’ve have had a wonderful time talking with you.  Anything else you would like to leave us with?
Schlank:  No, just thank you for the opportunity to talk about this project.  I appreciate it.
Porter:  Dr. Anita Schlank has been sitting in with us tonight.  The name of the book is Blues Therapy. is where you can pick up your copy.  I highly recommend it.  I have two copies.  I have one and I gave one to my psychiatrist. Yes, I am in therapy and I’m proud of it.  And thank you, Anita, for helping me get there.