Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mitch Hayes' HEROES Shows A Strong Voice

Okay loyal readers, let’s get this juicy tidbit on today’s review out of the way fast: Mitch Hayes’ HEROES is not a blues album – however it is one fine folk Americana album that is a beautiful result of one man’s dreams and ability to persevere through extreme circumstance.  And let’s not forget that a number of brilliant artists like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, John Prine, and Steve Goodman to name a very few, have carved out amazing careers from a similar approach.
Only time will tell if Hayes will stand with those giants, especially with him starting this aspect of his career later than most, but this album, his second, deserves more than to be buried under a slew of releases that are just rehashes of last month’s hits. HEROES is the genuine article – stripped down to the barest essentials of artist, words, voice, and instruments. Some may consider this a throwback, but it is much more than that, it is a brave and honest album.
Hayes wrote all 12 of the songs on the album – every song is from his voice, his experience – and he has surrounded himself with family on it. While Hayes handles the vocals, acoustic guitars, and banjo, his daughter Erin Hayes adds flute and background vocals, and son Jordan contributes background vocals. The family that plays together, right? He’s also joined by Eric Lovell on electric guitars, bass, dobro, mandolin, percussion, lap steel, and background vocals; John Spurrier on drums; Jason Atkins on piano, Rhodes, and organ; Austin Cline on cello; Rick Blackwell on electric and upright bass; Tony Prior on pedal steel guitar; H,L, Ruth IV on banjo; John Culbreath on fiddle; Mike Alicke on electric and acoustic guitars; and Gigi Dover on background vocals.
Look At You starts off the album with an almost modern country feel before Hayes’ vocals take over. He has a raspy approach and his lyrics are strong. It’s a good soft opening to a surprising album. To me, this album just underlines how many talented people are out there – and they all deserve their opportunity to make the world a better place. Okay, I’ll step off my soapbox now.
The Hardest Thing is a bittersweet song beautifully punctuated by the pedal steel guitar which gives it a sentimental longing. This is one of those hard memory songs that we all seem to have lodged in our past experiences.
He follows up with All My Heroes, a song about the various people who inspired him to follow music’s path. Elvis, John Lennon, Jimi, Janis, all blazed that path lighting the way for the future. Erin Hayes’ flute adds a nice touch to the song.
Next up is the up-tempo Hand Of The Devil, with banjo and fiddle – old school country or even bluegrass. I’ve always been attracted to songs that told stories and this is certainly one of those. It’s a good touch. The line “I’m an old man in a young man’s game,” is one that many of us have felt but never articulated. Excellent song and I can see this being covered by a number of artists.
Hayes starts off All Fall Down with simple acoustic guitar and heartfelt lyrics that echo the sentiments of the turbulent ‘60’s. Why not, it’s an era he knows well and all of us who lived through that time were forever shaped by it. When we see now what we saw then, we must speak out.

Home Again is another deceptively simple song. “Home” is one of those archetypical words that just springs so many memories and who better than a poet with a guitar to evoke those memories on our behalf? Some of those memories may be pretty awful, others good, but the lyrics play against the music for a surprisingly strong song.
Helping Hand is a song that for some reason I hear in Pete Seeger’s voice. It’s a great folk song of people helping each other and has the opportunity for lots of sing-alongs from the audience. It’s a great song and a lot of fun.
He segues into Ashes & Dust (Erin’s Song), a beautiful song inspired by his daughter. It’s obvious that she inspired him during his most trying time and he returned the favor by immortalizing his feelings in this song. I love the Celtic undertones that permeate the song. So much of Appalachian music is based on Celtic Reels and I am a huge fan of both.
It’s probably time to discuss the change in Hayes while he was making this album. He finished his first album and was starting this one when he was diagnosed with throat cancer. He underwent treatment and is now (and hopefully always will be) cancer free. However, the treatment affected his voice and for a portion of HEROES he has a beautiful clear voice and other parts feature his gravel tinged voice after treatment. Both are effective as he sings from the heart – but there is a depth in the deeper gravelly voice that is sometimes absent in the earlier songs.
In many respects, this album is a combination of Innocence and Experience if I may steal from William Blake. When you listen to this album, and I hope you will, see the subtle ways Hayes’ songwriting changes – or at least his approach to a song – and I think you will agree with me that he has a place among the best working today.
Hayes takes on a reggae approach with A Peaceful Revolution and while it’s not overpowering it’s a nice feel. It’s a song celebrating revolution so it’s a perfect fit. I didn’t expect the reggae and it’s cool to hear him use the rhythms.
Soft strings start Life Goes On, a look at that journey that life takes. From everything that is open to you and the choices we make that lead us to where we end up. Fascinating song. Wish I heard it when I was 17 and starting to make my own decisions. Of course, I wouldn’t have listened…
A solo banjo opens Something Deep Within, and while not everyone enjoys the banjo, I do. My ears have pricked up and I love the old school country feel the song brings. I know the album is wrapping up and I’ve liked Hayes’ choice of instruments to give the album different emotions. There have been some very bold choices throughout the whole process.
He closes the album with Home Again (Reprise), one last look. I’m usually not a big fan of reprises ending albums, but in this case, it’s a nice touch. Innocence and Experience.
If you’ve stuck around this far, congratulations. Hopefully I’ve enticed you to seek out this lovely independent release and add it to your collection. He’s based out of North Carolina, (Charlotte I believe) a great area for all sorts of music. I don’t know if he travels much, but you can find out at http://mitchhayesmusic.com/ and buy his albums there as well.
I know that I for one, am looking forward to hearing what comes next from this talented performer and hope he does find his way to hit the road and play some festivals. Otherwise, the Professor and Mrs. Professor are hitting the road to Charlotte and when we do, we’re visiting wherever he’s playing. If you get there first, tell him the Professor sent you!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Peach Delivers A Night In Copenhagen

February in Copenhagen is usually a very cold place to be. Fortunately, for one night, American blues artist Peach Reasoner rolled into town with the Almost Blues Band and set up in the Café Bartof, a very cool place with a great reputation for good music and good beer. Peach has played here many times before and you can tell throughout the live album she recorded here, A NIGHT IN COPENHAGEN, that she and the band feel right at home. 
From the warm opening of recently named Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan’s beautiful ballad, Tonight I’ll Be Stayin Here With You, with its simple piano and harp lines (both provided by Ken Stange) backing Peach’s gorgeous vocals. It’s a bold choice for someone in a distant city giving herself over to the audience for the night. It announces her intentions and shows that she is very much in command of the evening.
The applause is warm and enthusiastic and you can tell that Peach is home – or at least in a welcoming place that feels very much like home.
She follows up with a piece of slice of barrelhouse with Never Make Your Move Too Soon. Again, Stange’s keys play a significant role in the song, and as he has worked with Peach before, that seems appropriate. Her guitar work (primarily lead) is very assured and sets off the piano very nicely.
Aside from Reasoner and Stange, her band for the album consists of Michael Engman Rønnow on guitar and backing vocals; Helge Solberg of bass and backing vocals’ and Niclas Campagnol on drums.  I’m unsure as to how long this group has worked with Reasoner, but they sound like they have been together for some time. Their harmonies are tight and they obviously have fun playing.
Next up is the Mel London tune, Little By Little, and they give it a good ride. Peach is saucy with her delivery, a little tease and a lot of sass. It’s a fun song. Listen for her to blister the guitar break. She follows up with a rocking version of Love-Itis. It’s a good combination and gives the group an opportunity to let their hair down.
She follows up with a song that she wrote, Tell Me You Love Me. It’s a tender love song – one of the longest songs on the album. Reasoner pours her heart and soul into this track, her vocals echo past pain beautifully. She’s a good songwriter and I would be very interested in finding more that she has written.
I confess that I was not that familiar with her work prior to A Night In Copenhagen, but I have enjoyed this album very much. I’ll be searching her website, http://www.peachmusic.com/live/ looking for more information about her tours and seeing if I can find other albums. She’s a multitalented performer and I look forward to sharing her music with listeners of Time For The Blues.
She gets back to rocking with Come Up And See Me Sometime and the band has really hit their groove. By now she is fearless and the crowd is loving every minute of her show. She and Stange play off of each other nicely and her vocals take on that assertive tone that just makes a blues song smoke.
She takes command with the smoldering Same As I’m Over You. It’s a gorgeous late night smoky room number that a good blues fan will savor. Stange’s keys are delicious and it sounds like Campagnol has switched to brushes for part of the song, giving it that jazzy flavor and in your mind’s eye you can almost see Peach working the crowd while she sings. A great way to start to wind up the album.
Yes, there’s only one more song left, the rocking number, Ain’t Got No Money. While this song could easily open any show and get it off to a rousing start, Peach and company have decided to end with it, sending the audience off on a very high note.
There’s an old adage in show business to always leave your audience wanting more. Peach Reasoner and the Almost Blue Band certainly did that. This fast album (eight songs in 36 minutes) serves to whet our appetite for more. A Night In Copenhagen is one of those beautiful surprises that just about every blues fan will love receiving.

Shemekia Copeland Performs At The Tin Pan

How often do you get to sit in the presence of somebody who is that damn good? Shemekia Copeland flew into The Tin Pan in Richmond’s west end with her four-piece band and proceeded to wow the enthusiastic crowd with her signature blend of blues and soul. Despite her diminutive stature, Copeland has a commanding presence and all eyes were riveted on her during her high energy two-hour set.
Opening the show with the title track from her recent Alligator release, Outskirts Of Love, it was immediately evident that Copeland was in great voice and her songs were going to be powerful throughout the night. This was borne out with the next couple of songs, also from Outskirts, Crossbone Beach, which featured some very nice slide work from Ken “Willie” Scandlyn, and The Battle Is Over.
The first of several goosebumps inducing songs, Married To The Blues followed, a smoking, blistering number that made more than one person come to their feet in appreciation. It was at this point that Copeland began talking about her pregnancy (seven months and counting – she joked that the band has threatened to start wearing scrubs to shows as they expected a delivery soon and wanted to be prepared).
She then launched into Somebody Else’s Jesus, a standout song from her 2012 Telarc release 33 1/3. After which she proved that she is a “full service blues singer” by delivering a great version of her father Johnny Copeland’s Devil’s Hand.
With both Jesus and the Devil satisfied, Copeland then unleashed Dirty Water with some great double slide work from Scandlyn and Arthur Neilsen. Neilsen has been working with Copeland for approximately 18 years and he and Scandlyn are a formidable pair trading lead and rhythm throughout the night. They were joined by a rhythm section comprised of Kevin Jenkins on bass and Robin Gould III on drums.
Copeland and her band got many people out of their chairs and on the dance floor with her tribute to Koko Taylor which included extended guitar breaks with Scandlyn and Neilsen trading licks to increasing applause from the audience. She then slowed the tempo down with the spiritual Lord Help The Poor and Needy.
She then wound up the audience with the gospel flavored Big Brand New Religion which led to another standing ovation for her. Winding up with an amazing rendition of Ghetto Child in which she stepped away from the mic and walked the entire audience reaching out to every single person in the room and singing without any amplification other than her amazing voice. She would often punctuate the lyrics with comments to different individuals, especially when she zeroed in on one audience members’ cheesecake.
This lead to a prolonged standing ovation as they ended the night and listened to the cheers before coming back for a rocking version of It’s 2 A.M. (Do You Know Where Your Baby Is?). By this point, the audience was totally in love with Copeland and would have gladly stayed longer just to be with her. Once again the Tin Pan has brought in a major talent to the Richmond area and with their close up and intimate seating, those lucky enough to catch their shows know what a special evening it can be.

Be sure to check out the photo from Jeff Scott Shots that accompanies this review. Scott is an amazing photographer with some great action shots. I have admired his work for some time and am delighted that he agreed to let us publish one of his photos here. Hopefully we’ll be able to feature his work more prominently – and if you like his work, reach out to him. He’s great! Discover for yourself at http://www.jeffscottshots.com/. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Guess Who's Coming To Richmond

Henry and I hope you will join us this Saturday night at 11 as we are taking a look at some great musicians who are coming to town, and a few who were recently here.
You know, it used to seem like Richmond got passed over by a lot of blues acts. Maybe we weren’t considered much of a blues town – but thanks to the work of the River City Blues Society who have tirelessly promoted blues and even helped introduce blues into school curriculums, they have created more of a demand.
Also, clubs like The Tin Pan, The Capital Ale House, The Camel, The Broadberry, The National, and now even Buz and Ned’s Barbecue on Broad Street are giving so many blues acts a chance to play. Sorry if I left anyone off that short list, it was in no way meant to be exhaustive – I just wanted to mention some of the places I’ve been lately to see shows.
This Saturday night we’re checking out Tom Principato who will be coming to the Tin Pan on October 14. I had heard of Principato, but unfortunately did not have any of his music. After trading emails with him about the show, he graciously sent us four of his latest CDs and we are going to feature a cut from each of them just to give you a sample of what this talented singer-songwriter-guitarist is all about.

If you are half as impressed as we were, you’ll want to make sure to get your tickets now! This guy can blow the roof off the joint and I am really hoping to see him do it.
Another great show coming to town (October 23rd at the Tin Pan) is Tommy Castro and the Painkillers. If you’ve never seen this high energy bluesman, stake out a table pronto and get ready to have a great time. Castro is one of those guys who pours every ounce of his soul into a show and leaves you feeling like you have witnessed a force of nature.
To celebrate his return to Richmond, we’ve put together a few songs from his two most recent Alligator releases, Method To My Madness and The Devil You Know.
Speaking of Alligator, another one of their artists is coming to town (and one of our personal favorites) as Shemekia Copeland will be stopping by The Tin Pan on October 16 in support of her album Outskirts of Love. Copeland was one of the headliners at last year’s Folk Festival and she puts on one helluva show. You don’t want to miss this one!
We’ve also got a song from Tinsley Ellis, another hard working hard driving bluesman who will setting up shop on November 11 for one show only.
And one of the biggest shows of the year is happening on November 23rd at the Altria Theatre when Joe Bonamassa rolls into town. We’ve got one of his songs for you, and you know we’ll be featuring more later.
We can’t forget some of the great shows that have recently played in Richmond, like Popa Chubby, Robert Cray, and our friends the Hard Swimmin’ Fish. We’ll spin a song from each of them just to remind us how much fun we had at their shows.
These are not all the acts coming to town by any means. If you want more information, may I suggest checking out the River City Blues Society’s calendar page at http://www.rivercityblues.org/music.php. And if I can shamelessly promote one of my projects, check out http://midatlanticbluesreview.blogspot.com/ to find out what’s going on throughout the area.
So plan on joining us Saturday night at 11 as we sample some great music and tell a number of bad jokes. We’ll be up late so come as you are and join in the fun on 88.9 WCVE where it’s always Time For The Blues!


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Today In Blues History October 5

Today in Blues History

October 5

Born today in 1933 in Pocahontas, Arkansas is rockabilly, blues, country, and rock and roll Wildman, Billy Lee Riley. The son of a sharecropper, Riley learned to play guitar from black farm workers. After four years in the Army, Riley first recorded in Memphis, in 1955 before being lured to Sun Studios by Sam Phillips. He recorded Trouble Bound for Jack Clement and Slim Wallace. Sam Phillips obtained the rights and released Trouble Bound b/w Rock With Me Baby on September 1, 1956. His first hit was Flyin' Saucers Rock and Roll b/w I Want You Baby, released February 23, 1957, with backing piano by Jerry Lee Lewis, after which he recorded Red Hot b/w Pearly Lee, released September 30, 1957. Red Hot was showing a lot of promise as a big hit record, but Sam Phillips pulled the promotion and switched it to Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis. Riley felt that his own chances of chart success were compromised when Phillips diverted resources to Lewis' career. He had other Sun recordings and they, likewise, did not have a lot of sales as his promotion had stopped. Like other artists such as Sonny Burgess, Hayden Thompson, Ray Harris and Warren Smith, chart success largely eluded him. Considered good looking and with wild stage moves, Riley had a brief solo career with his backing band the Little Green Men. Riley and his Little Green Men were the main Sun studio band. They were Riley, guitarist Roland Janes, drummer J.M. Van Eaton, Marvin Pepper, and Jimmy Wilson, later joined by Martin Willis.

On a personal note, Billy Lee Riley, more than any other man inspired me to play the harmonica and I got the thrill of a lifetime when he invited me to play a couple of songs with him onstage. 

You can read my thoughts about the man on another one of my blogs here: http://mondojohnny.blogspot.com/2009/08/goodnight-billy-lee.html

Roy Book Binder was born in Queens, New York on this date in 1943. Upon graduation from high school, he joined the Navy and undertook a tour of duty in Europe. He bought his first guitar at a military base in Italy. After completing his enlistment, he returned to New York, where he met and became friends with his guitar hero, Dave Van Ronk. Book Binder soon sought out Rev. Gary Davis, who also lived in New York, and became his student and later his chauffeur and tour companion. Much of Book Binder's original material is based on his time on the road with Davis. By the mid- to late 1960s Book Binder was recording for both Kicking Mule and Blue Goose Records. In 1969, he toured England with Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup and Homesick James. After meeting another of his musical influences, the bluesman Pink Anderson, Book Binder released his first album, Travelin' Man, on Adelphi. The album was named after one of the songs he learned from Anderson.

Also born on this date in 1959 in Sumner, Washington is Kelly Joe Phelps. He learned country and folk songs, as well as drums and piano, from his father. He began playing guitar at age twelve. Phelps concentrated on free jazz and took his cues from musicians like Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane. He spent 10 years playing jazz, mostly as a bass player. He refers to his "conversion" to a blues musician when he began listening to acoustic blues masters like Fred McDowell and Robert Pete Williams. Initially gaining notice for his solo lapstyle slide guitar playing, which he played by laying the instrument flat and fretting it with a heavy steel bar, he has incorporated more ensemble work in his later albums. Inspired by the birth of his daughter Rachel in 1990, Phelps began writing songs. He began singing and released his critically praised debut, Lead Me On, in 1995. This album showcased Phelps' craft, and as well as his own songs, he tackled traditional numbers such as Motherless Children and Fare Thee Well.

Passing on this date in 1993 was Memphis Willie B., who was born William Borum. Borum was born in Shelby County, Tennessee, and was taught to play the guitar by his father, and busked with Jack Kelly's Jug Busters in his teenage years. He quickly moved on to work with the Memphis Jug Band, who played both locally and at the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. He extended his repertoire after being taught to play the harmonica by Noah Lewis. Willie B. developed away from a disciplined jug band style and played at various locations with Robert Johnson, Garfield Akers, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Willie Brown, who periodically travelled up from the Mississippi Delta to play. Willie B. first recorded at the age of 23, in September 1934 in New York City, for Vocalion Records. He soon returned to working in the Memphis area, in the company of Little Son Joe, Will Shade and Joe Hill Louis. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in January 1942 and served in the North African invasion (Operation Torch) in December 1942 and later in Italy. When demobilized he discovered it hard to find work as a musician and eventually took up other employment. He returned to the music industry in the early 1960s and recorded sufficient material for two albums for Bluesville Records in Memphis in 1961. This provided the impetus for a resurgence in his musical career, and he played at various music festivals and in coffeehouses. Often he worked alongside Gus Cannon and Furry Lewis, reliving their mutual early Memphis days.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Today In Blues History October 4

Today in Blues History

October 4

Today’s date in 1970 marks the passing in Los Angeles, CA from a drug overdose, one of the greatest voices of her generation, Janis Joplin. Born Janis Lyn Joplin; her raw, powerful and uninhibited singing style, combined with her turbulent and emotional lifestyle, made her one of the biggest female stars in her lifetime. She died at the age of 27, after releasing three albums. A fourth album, Pearl, was released a little more than three months after her death, reaching number 1 on the charts. Joplin rose to fame in 1967 during an appearance at Monterey Pop Festival, as the lead singer of the then little-known San Francisco psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company. After releasing two albums with the band, she left Big Brother to continue as a solo artist with her own backing groups, first the Kozmic Blues Band and then the Full Tilt Boogie Band. She appeared at the Woodstock festival and the Festival Express train tour. Five singles by Joplin went into the Billboard Top 100, including Me and Bobby McGee, which reached number 1 in March 1971. Her most popular songs include: Piece of My Heart; Cry Baby; Down on Me; Ball 'n' Chain; Summertime; and Mercedes Benz, the final song she recorded. Joplin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. Audiences and critics alike referred to her stage presence as "electric". Rolling Stone ranked Joplin number 46 on its 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and number 28 on its 2008 list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. She remains one of the top-selling musicians in the United States, with Recording Industry Association of America certifications of 15.5 million albums sold in the USA.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Today In Blues History October 3

Today in Blues History

October 3

On today’s date in 1951, Kevin Roosevelt Moore, who would become known as Keb' Mo' was born in South Los Angeles. He is a three-time American Grammy Award-winning blues musician who has been described as "a living link to the seminal Delta blues that travelled up the Mississippi River and across the expanse of America". His post-modern blues style is influenced by many eras and genres, including folk, rock, jazz and pop. The moniker "Keb Mo" was coined by his original drummer, Quentin Dennard, and picked up by his record label as a "street talk" abbreviation of his given name. Keb' Mo' started his musical career playing the steel drums and upright bass in a calypso band. He moved on to play in a variety of blues and backup bands throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He first started recording in the early 1970s with Jefferson Airplane violinist Papa John Creach through an R&B group. Creach hired him when Moore was just twenty-one years old; Moore appeared on four of Creach's albums: Filthy!, Playing My Fiddle for You, I'm the Fiddle Man and Rock Father. Keb Mo's first gold record was received for a song, Git Fiddler, which he co-wrote with Papa John on Jefferson Starship's Red Octopus. The album hit number one on the Billboard 200 in 1975. Keb' Mo' performed at a White House event titled In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues on February 21, 2012. On February 24, 2012, many of the same performers, including Keb' Mo, Gary Clark, Jr., Buddy Guy, Warren Haynes, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, paid tribute to Hubert Sumlin at the "Howlin' For Hubert" memorial concert at the Apollo Theater in New York, NY.

This date in 1954 also marks the birth of Stephen "Stevie" Ray Vaughan in Dallas, TX. In spite of a short-lived mainstream career spanning seven years, he is widely considered one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of music, and one of the most important figures in the revival of blues in the 1980s. AllMusic describes him as "a rocking powerhouse of a guitarist who gave blues a burst of momentum in the '80s, with influence still felt long after his tragic death." Vaughan began playing guitar at the age of seven, inspired by his older brother Jimmie. In 1971 he dropped out of high school, and moved to Austin the following year. He played gigs with numerous bands, earning a spot in Marc Benno's band, the Nightcrawlers, and later with Denny Freeman in the Cobras, with whom he continued to work through late 1977. He then formed his own group, Triple Threat Revue, before renaming the band Double Trouble after hiring drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon. He gained fame after his performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1982, and in 1983 his debut studio album, Texas Flood, charted at number 38. The ten-song album was a commercially successful release that sold over half a million copies. After achieving sobriety in late 1986, he headlined concert tours with Jeff Beck in 1989 and Joe Cocker in 1990 before his death in a helicopter crash on August 27, 1990, at the age of 35.

In 1956, Deborah Coleman  was born in Portsmouth, Virginia and raised in a music-loving military family that lived in San Diego, San Francisco, Bremerton, Washington, and the Chicago area. With her father playing piano, two brothers on guitar, and a sister who plays guitar and keyboards, Deborah felt natural with an instrument in her hands, picking up guitar at age 8. She has played at the top music venues such as North Atlantic Blues Festival (2007), Waterfront Blues Festival (2002), the Monterey Jazz Festival (2001), Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival (2000), Sarasota Blues Festival (1999), the San Francisco Blues Festival (1999) and the Fountain Blues Festival (1998). Coleman's Blind Pig debut, I Can't Lose (1997), was an album of ballads and blues stories, and guitar playing and singing. Her version of Billie Holiday's Fine and Mellow got a lot of airplay on college and public radio stations around the U.S. Soul Be It (2002) included the opener Brick, My Heart Bleeds Blue, Don't Lie to Me, and a jump blues track, I Believe. These were followed by What About Love? (2004) and Stop the Game (2007).

The date also marks the passing of two well-known figures in the blues community. The first, in 1969, is Nehemiah Curtis "Skip" James in Philadelphia, PA. James was an American Delta blues singer, guitarist, pianist and songwriter whose guitar playing is noted for its dark, minor-key sound, played in an open D-minor tuning with an intricate fingerpicking technique. James first recorded for Paramount Records in 1931, but these recordings sold poorly, having been released during the Great Depression, and he drifted into obscurity. After a long absence from the public eye, James was "rediscovered" in 1964 by three blues enthusiasts, helping further the blues and folk music revival of the 1950s and early 1960s. During this period, James appeared at folk and blues festivals, gave concerts around the country and recorded several albums for various record labels. His songs have influenced generations of musicians, having been adapted or covered by Kansas Joe McCoy, Robert Johnson, Alan Wilson, Cream, Deep Purple, Chris Thomas King, Alvin Youngblood Hart, the Derek Trucks Band, Beck, Big Sugar, Eric Clapton, John Martyn, Lucinda Williams and Rory Block. He has been hailed as "one of the seminal figures of the blues."

It also marks the passing of Victoria Regina Spivey in New York. Spivey, who is also sometimes known as Queen Victoria, was an American blues singer and songwriter. During a recording career that spanned 40 years, from 1926 to the mid-1960s, she worked with Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Clarence Williams, Luis Russell, Lonnie Johnson, and Bob Dylan. She also performed in vaudeville and clubs, sometimes with her sister Addie "Sweet Peas" (or "Sweet Pease") Spivey (1910–1943), also known as the Za Zu Girl. Among her compositions are Black Snake Blues, Dope Head Blues, and Organ Grinder Blues. In 1962 she co-founded Spivey Records. Spivey's first professional experience was in a family string band led by her father in Houston. After he died, the seven-year-old Victoria played on her own at local parties. In 1918, she was hired to accompany films at the Lincoln Theater in Dallas. As a teenager, she worked in local bars, nightclubs, and buffet flats, mostly alone, but occasionally with singer-guitarists, including Blind Lemon Jefferson. In 1926 she moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where she was signed by Okeh Records. She recorded numerous sides for Okeh in New York City until 1929, when she switched to the Victor label. Between 1931 and 1937, more recordings followed for Vocalion Records and Decca Records, and, working out of New York, she maintained an active performance schedule. Her recorded accompanists included King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Lonnie Johnson, and Red Allen. The Depression did not put an end to Spivey's musical career. She found a new outlet for her talent in 1929, when the film director King Vidor cast her to play Missy Rose in his first sound film, Hallelujah!. Through the 1930s and 1940s Spivey continued to work in musical films and stage shows, including the hit musical Hellzapoppin, often with her husband, the vaudeville dancer Billy Adams. In 1951 Spivey retired from show business to play the pipe organ and lead a church choir, but she returned to secular music in 1961, when she was reunited with an old singing partner, Lonnie Johnson, to appear on four tracks on his Prestige Bluesville album Idle Hours. The folk music revival of the 1960s gave her further opportunities to make a comeback. She recorded again for Prestige Bluesville, sharing an album, Songs We Taught Your Mother, with fellow veterans Alberta Hunter and Lucille Hegamin, and began making personal appearances at festivals and clubs, including the 1963 European tour of the American Folk Blues Festival. In 1961 Spivey and the jazz and blues historian Len Kunstadt launched Spivey Records, a low-budget label dedicated to blues, jazz, and related music, prolifically recording established artists, including Sippie Wallace, Lucille Hegamin, Otis Rush, Otis Spann, Willie Dixon, Roosevelt Sykes, Big Joe Turner, Buddy Tate, and Hannah Sylvester, and also newer artists, including Luther Johnson, Brenda Bell, Washboard Doc, Bill Dicey, Robert Ross, Sugar Blue, Paul Oscher, Danny Russo, and Larry Johnson.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Today In Blues History October 2

Today in Blues History

October 2

Today is the birthday in 1951 in Santa Monica, CA of Coco Montoya, who was born Henry Montoya. Montoya's career began in the mid-1970s when Albert Collins asked him to join his band as drummer. Collins took Montoya under his wing and taught him his "icy hot" guitar style. The two remained friends even after Montoya left Collins' band. In the early 1980s John Mayall heard Montoya playing guitar in a Los Angeles bar. Soon after Mayall asked Montoya to join the newly reformed Bluesbreakers. He remained a member of the band for 10 years. In 1995 he appeared with the Cate Brothers for the resumption of their recording career on their release, Radioland. Since that same year, Montoya has recorded several solo albums. In 2002, he featured on the Bo Diddley tribute album Hey Bo Diddley – A Tribute!, performing the song Pills. Montoya is left-handed but plays a left handed guitar with a right handed neck. (Strings upside down).

Coco Montoya SLOW BLUES For John Mayall LIVE Tremblant Blues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jwwiTewxAc

It is also the birthday in 1962 in Colchester, Essex, England of James Hunter the R&B musician and soul singer. Hunter's career began with a band called "Howlin' Wilf and the Vee-Jays," who released their first album in 1986 entitled Cry Wilf. Later he released three more with his own band. He spent much of the 1990s playing small clubs in London, such as the Weavers Pub in Islington (North London), and the 100 Club on Oxford Street in London. Hunter's soulful style drew the attention of Van Morrison, who appeared on Hunter's first album released on Ace, Believe What I Say, in 1996. (Morrison sang backing vocals on Turn On Your Love Light and Ain't Nothing You Can Do.) Hunter's relationship with Morrison led to a tour with the latter in the early nineties; he sang backing vocals on Morrison's 1994 live album, A Night in San Francisco, and his 1995 studio recording Days Like This. Hunter's first solo release in the United States, his 2006 breakthrough album People Gonna Talk, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album at the 49th Grammy Awards ceremony. He parted ways with Rounder Records in 2008 and issued the album The Hard Way via Hear Music/Concord.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ray Fuller and the Bluesrockers Ride The Long Black Train

Ray Fuller and the Bluesrockers Take A Great Ride on a Long Black Train

I am definitely late to jump on this fast moving train, but now that I’m here, I’m riding it to the end of the line. Originally from Ohio, Fuller formed his first band in 1974 and quickly became the go-to opening group for every major blues group that came to the area.
Since that time, he’s honed his chops as a Saturday headliner at Buddy Guy’s Legends, and the 2014 album he cut there (Live At Buddy Guy’s Legends) stayed on the Roots Music Reports charts for 16 months. Fuller and his group the Bluesrockers, which is comprised of Fuller on guitar and vocals; Myke Rock on bass; Darrell Jumper on drums; and Doc Malone on harp; have followed up that major release with one that could stay on the charts even longer.
Long Black Train is a pulse pounding hard driving blues album that is a pleasure from the first note to the last. All 14 songs are written by Fuller and there’s not a weak one in the bunch. I could play a different song for the next three and half months on Time For The Blues and never worry that we were playing a bad tune. I’ve already planned out representatives for the next half dozen shows and can’t wait to share them with you.
Rock and Jumper anchor the rhythm section and give Fuller and Malone ample opportunity to take leads that soar. It sounds great on the album, and I can only imagine how tight everything must fit when they are playing live. This is stripped down blues with very few frills. It doesn’t sound like the band has overdubbed anything – this is it, a kick ass quartet who can drive with the best of them.
While they can tear up just about any song with manic energy (Burn Me Up, Devil’s Den, Hip Shakin’ Mama, and more) they can also mellow down and give us a power ballad (Voodoo Mama, Cold Day In Hell, and more) and they have more than a dose of swamp driving their music.
Long Black Train is a very strong album and among the best I have heard this year. Fuller and Company are one of those band that once you find them, you will want to get all of their work and play them frequently.
As you may well imagine, Ray Fuller and the Bluesrockers are in great demand. Not only do they play regularly at Buddy Guy’s Legends, they appear in major festivals and other clubs. They are currently off to Europe bringing their brand of high energy blues to the continent.
Be sure to check out their website http://www.rayfuller.com/ in order to catch up with their tour dates, albums, and other information. And check back often, you won’t want to miss any opportunity to catch ‘em when they play near you.

Today In Blues History October 1

Today in Blues History

October 1

Born today in 1893 in Jacksonville, FL was Wesley Shellie Wilson, often credited as Kid Wilson. His stagecraft and performances with his wife and musical partner, Coot Grant, were popular with African-American audiences in the 1910s, 1920s and early 1930s. His stage names included Kid Wilson, Jenkins, Socks, and Sox (or Socks) Wilson. His musical excursions included participation in the duo of Pigmeat Pete and Catjuice Charlie. His recordings include the songs Blue Monday on Sugar Hill and Rasslin' till the Wagon Comes. He played the piano and organ, and Coot Grant played the guitar and sang and danced. The duo was variously billed as Grant and Wilson, Kid and Coot, and Hunter and Jenkins, as they went on to appear and later record with Fletcher Henderson, Mezz Mezzrow, Sidney Bechet, and Louis Armstrong. Their variety was such that they performed separately and together in vaudeville, musical comedies, revues and traveling shows. They also appeared in the 1933 film The Emperor Jones, starring Paul Robeson. Wilson and Grant wrote more than 400 songs during their career, including Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer) and Take Me for a Buggy Ride (both of which were made famous by Bessie Smith's recordings of them) and Find Me at the Greasy Spoon (If You Miss Me Here) and Prince of Wails for Fletcher Henderson. Their own renditions included such diverse titles as Come on Coot, Do That Thing, Dem Socks Dat My Pappy Wore, and the unreleased Throat Cutting Blues. Grant and Wilson's act, once seen as a rival of Butterbeans and Susie, began to lose favor with the public by the middle of the 1930s.

Also born on this date in Leona, TX in 1933 was Albert Gene Drewery would become known as Albert Collins. He was noted for his powerful playing and his use of altered tunings and a capo. His long association with the Fender Telecaster led to the title "The Master of the Telecaster." Collins started to play regularly in Houston, notably at Shady's Playhouse, where James "Widemouth" Brown (brother of Gatemouth Brown) and other well-known Houston blues musicians would meet for "Blue Monday" jams. By the mid-1950s he had established his reputation as a local guitarist of note and had started to appear regularly at a Fifth Ward club, Walter's Lounge, with the group Big Tiny and the Thunderbirds. The saxophonist and music teacher Henry Hayes heard about Collins from Joe "Guitar" Hughes. After seeing him perform live, Hayes encouraged Collins to record a single for Kangaroo Records, a label he had started with his friend M. L. Young. Collins recorded his debut single, The Freeze, backed with Collins Shuffle, for Kangaroo at Gold Star Studios, in Houston, in the spring of 1958, with Hayes on saxophone. Texas blues bands of this period incorporated a horn section, and Collins later credited Hayes with teaching him how to arrange for horns. In 1964 he recorded Frosty at Gulf Coast Recording Studio, in Beaumont, Texas, for Hall Records, owned by Bill Hall, who had signed Collins on the recommendation of Cowboy Jack Clement, a songwriter and producer who had engineered sessions for Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash at Sun Records. His debut album, The Cool Sounds of Albert Collins, released in 1965 on the TCF label, consisted of previously released instrumentals, including Thaw Out and Don't Lose Your Cool.