John 'blueshammer' Hammer
Blue Monday Monthly Magazine
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In This Issue
Terry Mullins has our feature interview with British Blues guitar sensation, Joanne Shaw Taylor.
We have six CD reviews for you this week! Eric Steiner reviews a new CD from The Duke Robillard Band. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Sena Ehrhardt. John Mitchell reviews a new CD from Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new CD from The Funky Butt Brass Band. James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews a new CD from Moreland & Arbuckle and Gary Weeks reviews a new CD from Eric Gales. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
From The Editor's Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
Great News! Our friends at GLT Blues Radio 24/7 are going to stream the audio from the 2011 Blues Blast Music Awards at Buddy Guy's Legends LIVE on October 27th! You can listen in for FREE from anywhere on your computer. The broadcast will begin at 6:00pm CST sharp! So you can hear who the fans chose as the winners live as they are announced and some great live music as the nominees perform for the audience at Legends.
If you have never listened to GLT Blues Radio 24/7 be sure to check it out now by CLICKING HERE. Then be sure to bookmark their station and tune in.
We think they have THE best commercial free, all Blues, all the time internet radio station on the planet! So check them out and see what we mean.
Fans in the Bloomington/Normal and Central Illinois area will also be able to hear the show live on their regular FM radio dial at 89.9 FM or 103.5 FM in the Peoria, IL area.
Of course it will not be as good as actually being there! So join us for the award ceremonies to hear Nick Moss Band, Trampled Under Foot, Reverend Raven And The Chain Smokin' Altar Boys, Karen Lovely Band, Eddie Turner, Bob Corritore w/Dave Riley, Rich Del Grosso & Jonn Richardson, Peter Parcek, The Sugar Prophets, Teeny Tucker Band , Reba Russell Band, Gina Sicilia, Matt Hill, Chris O'Leary Band, Vincent Hayes Project, Rob Blaine's Big Otis Blues, Tony Rogers, and maybe a few surprise guests at the greatest Blues club in the world, Chicago's own Buddy Guy's Legends. Tickets to see all these great artists are only $30! Get yours now before they sell out. CLICK HERE.
We also still have a few reserved tables available with our Mini Sponsorship packages that begin as low as $250 for two people and include guaranteed seating right in front of the stage, Blues memorabilia "Goodie Bag", limited edition event poster, limited edition Blues Blast Awards T-shirts and more! Check them out now! CLICK HERE
Good Blues To You!
For those coming to Chicago for the Blues Blast Music Awards at Buddy Guy's Legends on October27, we have negotiated a block of rooms at a discount rate of only $139 at the Essex Inn located just around the corner from Legends.
The Essex has extended the deadline to book this block of discount priced rooms again until September 30, 2011. Rooms are available at this discount rate for stays from Tuesday October 27 through Sunday October 30th.
To book your rooms now CLICK HERE or call 800 621-6909 and ask for the Blues Blast Magazine discount rate.
Tickets for the awards are still available too. To get your tickets now CLICK HERE.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
A youngster over in England gets a guitar for Christmas, discovers American blues music and then decides to make playing those blues all over the world a life’s quest.
It happened in the 1950s when luminaries like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page turned in, turned up and then set the world on fire.
And several years into the new millennium, it’s still happening.
Witness Birmingham, England’s Joanne Shaw Taylor.
When just a couple of licks tossed off her beloved Telecaster hits one’s ears, it’s easy to tell that Taylor is living, breathing proof that the flame of the blues is alive and well and continues to be passed from one generation to the next and country to country – especially from America to England.
Whereas Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and the three Kings – B.B., Albert and Freddie – were the main inspirations for the afore-mentioned Holy Trinity of Clapton, Beck and Page, those three English gentleman played pivotal roles in the way that Joanne Shaw Taylor’s first big six-string influence – Stevie Ray Vaughan – attacked his axe.
And not surprisingly, it was from the rock side of the dial that Taylor entered into the realm of the blues.
“I got into blues guitar playing – my father and brother are guitar players, as well – kind of from the rock side of things. Being from Birmingham, the Black Country, coming from that, the real lynch pin for me was Stevie Ray Vaughan,” she said. “I think since I was more of a classic rock type of fan, and for me, Stevie was easier for me to get into and understand. He was the perfect sort of gateway for me. He wasn’t too far away from what I had been listening to. And from him, I got into his influences and then I started to draw upon that blues influence as well.”
No doubt countless guitar slingers were turned on to the blues by SRV, with many of those budding players later going on to dig into the influences that made Stevie Ray the artist that he was.
Joanne Shaw Taylor was no different.
“I think for everyone, regardless of genre, there has to be that one influence that they draw from,” she said. “Whether it be jazz or whether it be getting into soul or Motown through Stevie Wonder or Michael Jackson, you need that one artist to start you down the path. And for my generation, I think Stevie was the perfect artist to do that. For my father’s generation, that artist was Clapton and The Bluesbreakers. But Stevie was young, had a presence about him and had plenty to offer for those that liked rock-n-roll. And he was a technically-gifted guitar player who had a great voice and played really catchy songs. He was almost like a blues pop star, which made him more approachable for people my age, as opposed to – I mean I’m a huge Son House fan – but I think if I’d have heard that first, I would have had difficulty understanding that, had I not went through Stevie, then back through Hendrix and Buddy Guy and that way first.”
Even though she’s yet to turn 30 years of age and has been playing the blues in front of audiences worldwide for a decade now, Taylor, while certainly confident in her abilities, is by no means cocky.
There’s a still-youthful exuberance that seems to surround her, whether on the stage or in the recording studio.
That being said, she’s not been merely content to just ease her way into conversations regarding the flashiest and most-talented young guitar players in the pantheon of popular music these days, either. Taylor has forced her way to the top of the heap with a pair of discs on Ruf Records, 2009’s White Sugar, along with last year’s Diamonds in the Dirt.
White Sugar even earned Taylor a Blues Music Award (BMA) nomination for Best New Artist Debut.
As would be expected, there’s plenty of guitar – both snarling and sweet – on Taylor’s first two discs.
More than just her natural talent bubbling up to the surface, part of the reason that White Sugar and Diamonds in the Dirt begs for undivided attention is probably due to the presence of Jim Gaines.
The legendary Gaines produced both those discs and as anyone who has ever heard anything his magic fingers have touched can attest to -the cat knows a thing or two about guitar.
After all, Gaines has worked the board at Memphis’ Ardent Studios for SRV, Santana, Albert Collins and Luther Allison, to name just a few.
But according to Taylor, Gaines’ knowledge of his way around a recording console is just a small part of what makes him such an in-demand producer.
“I love working with Jim. First and foremost, he’s a great friend. He’s such a gentleman and just great to be around,” Taylor said. “That makes a big difference for me. It’s just a comfortable situation when he’s in the studio. And as a producer, he has such great ears, especially when it comes to guitar tones and guitar solos. You can really trust him with your songs. He’ll always take you in the right direction for your songs.”
Whether or not Gaines will be a part of CD number three for Taylor is still up in the air at this point in time.
“It’s (the new CD) kind of in the pre-production stages right now,” she said. “We’ve been busy doing fly-outs to play at festivals here and there and when that’s over, I’m traveling to Beaver Island. That’s where my bass player lives. It’s in the middle of Lake Michigan with a population of about 400. And I’m escaping up there to seclude myself and do some writing and then we’ll go into the studio in October.”
Diamonds in the Dirt may have had a bit of a rougher sheen to it than her debut did, so can one assume that her third offering will move even farther in that direction?
“I really don’t know. I try and make each album different, just because I see albums as a snapshot - a recorded memoir if you will – of a two-week period in time,” Taylor said. “I think it will be like the previous two discs in style, but will also be different at the same time.”
Although she’s English born-and-bred, for the past few years, Taylor has lived part of the year in the United States, calling the Motor City of Detroit her home.
“I love it (in Detroit). That’s where my band’s from,” she said. “I’ve made some great friends there and the music scene is fantastic. It’s a city that’s certainly seen some hard times as of late, but the people there are just fantastic.”
Drawing inspiration from groups like Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Taylor made the decision to drop keyboards from her live band three years ago, peeling back the layers to reveal the classic power-trio format.
One reason for that move was so her band can deliver more of an immediate punch straight to the gut of the audience, turning a shotgun-spray of sound into a direct laser beam.
But there was another reason, as well. One even more basic.
“I really felt like I needed to work on my rhythm playing. That’s one reason I decided on the trio format,” said Taylor. “When you have your rhythm playing out there in a drum-bass-guitar trio, it really gets dissected. It (rhythm guitar) has to support everything with no keyboards in the band. And it’s really made me grow. It’s also made me a better singer and a better front-person, as well.”
While her guitar playing has certainly drawn the lion’s share of attention – and rightfully so - when Taylor’s name is mentioned in blues’ circles, her impressive vocals skills should by no means be brushed aside.
To reinforce that point, Taylor took top honors in the Best Female Vocalist category at last year’s British Blues Awards.
For someone barely into her mid-20s, Taylor’s pipes sound like they’ve been around a lot longer and lived through a heck of a lot more than they really have.
“My vocal influences have been quite diverse, really,” she said. “Females singers – obviously Janis Joplin and Etta James are a couple. And Mahalia Jackson and Bonnie Raitt. And even if I can’t sing it, I do sing along to it in the car, there’s some rock influences, as well. Like Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Black County Communion). What an incredible voice he has.”
With the almighty entertainment dollar at an ever-increasing premium these days, music lovers are having to make some tough choices on how to spend those dollars.
And according to Taylor, she’s right in the same boat with everyone else.
“A musician friend of mine once told me that no matter what state the economy is in, a musician will always have work – they just may be working for a little less money,” she said. “And I think that’s true. People are still going out (to shows), but they’re just going out a little less frequently. And I’m the same. I’m a part of the economy and struggling to earn money like everyone else. So I don’t go out every night, I wait and maybe go and see the big band that’s coming to town that I’ve never seen. And what we’re trying to do, is put on the best shows possible and put out the best albums possible and hopefully people will feel like when we come through their town, there’s no way they’re going to miss the show.”
While many of her contemporizes are just a couple of years into their “day job,” fresh off of college graduation, since being “discovered” by Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) at age 16, Taylor’s life has pretty much been consumed by days in the studios and nights out on the road, playing the blues.
Those seemingly endless nights of traveling on the road started in 2002 when she joined Stewart, along with reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff and sax player extraordinaire Candy Dulfer in the group D.U. P.
But the way Taylor sees it, that lifestyle is a pretty sweet one.
“All you can hope for is just to keep doing what you’re doing. I hope I’m fortunate enough to keep traveling and making albums and making music,” she said. “I’ve got a good support system around me that allows me to do that – from the record company to my family and friends – and as long as that stays in place, this is what I plan on doing. That and just hope for the best.”
And as far as the here-and-now is concerned?
“I’m hoping that around Christmas time, I’m back in Detroit with a big glass of eggnog, enjoying looking back on the previous year,” she said.
Interviewer Terry Mullins is a journalist and former record store owner whose personal taste in music is the sonic equivalent of Attention Deficit Disorder. Works by the Bee Gees, Captain Beefheart, Black Sabbath, Earth, Wind & Fire and Willie Nelson share equal space with Muddy Waters, The Staple Singers and R.L. Burnside in his compact disc collection. He's also been known to spend time hanging out on the street corners of Clarksdale, Mississippi, eating copious amounts of barbecued delicacies while listening to the wonderful sounds of the blues.
The Duke Robillard Band - Low Down and Tore Up
This is the CD I’ve always wished Duke Robillard would make. While I’ve enjoyed many of his prior 17 Stony Plain releases, this strong focus on electric Chicago blues on this 14 song set is cause for a real blues celebration.
We’ve got a great cover of Eddie Taylor’s “Trainfare Home” and the CD honors Tampa Red’s “Let Me Play with Your Poodle” and “Mercy, Mercy Mama” with Gordon “Sax” Beadle on sax, Bruce Bears and Matt McCabe on keyboards, Brad Hallen on bass, and Mark Teixera on drums. Together, they infuse the CD with the post-war Chicago style of J.T. Brown, Eddie Shaw, and Eddie Jones.
Two songs evoke Elmore James and his Broomdusters eloquently: “The 12 Year Old Boy” and “Tool Bag Boogie” instrumental. Each of these nods to Elmore and company take me me back to the first time I heard the LP re-release of “Whose Muddy Shoes,” one of my early blues reference points that holds up to this day.
While there’s Chicago blues aplenty on Low Down and Tore Up, I also appreciate the way the band captures the timeless “Blues After Hours” from Pee Wee Crayton. Producer and blues historian Dick Shurman contributes some encyclopedic liner notes about a set of tunes, in Duke’s words, that “were truly beautiful inspired abandon and real lowdown blues.”
Low Down and Tore Up is a collection of inspired interpretations of some well known, and not so-well known blues songs that show another side of the incredibly talented Duke Robillard.
Reviewer Eric Steiner is President of the Washington Blues Society in Seattle, Washington. The Society was the recipient of the 2009 Keeping the Blues Alive Award in the blues organization category. Please visit www.wablues.org for more information on the Washington Blues Society.
Sena Ehrhardt - Leave the Light On
10 songs; 40:04 minutes
Styles: Blues Rock, Modern Electric Blues
Blues fans and students are rejoicing: it's back-to-school time! Okay, maybe the students aren't, but this is the point in the year when they AND genre enthusiasts can benefit from education. Want some evidence? Check out the sultry songstress Sena Ehrhardt, a “freshman” to the national blues scene. Sena proves that the most passionate musicians can perform just as well on their debut release as veterans can on some of their latest albums. “Leave the Light On” is one of those rare first CDs that leave listeners speechless, wondering why on Earth they haven't heard of the artist before. Each one of its 10 original compositions is delivered with the intensity of a varsity game. As for “low marks”? There are none!
Sena Ehrhardt, her father Ed - lead guitar and co-writer, and the band all hail from the Minneapolis-area. The folks behind Blind Pig Records are excited by their latest discovery with a fresh and dynamic young voice. They feel she is poised to go nationwide based on witnessing convincing showcases of Sena’s commanding stage presence and gritty, soulful vocals capturing audiences at both clubs and festivals in the upper Midwest.
Sena kicks things off with “My Bad,” a satirical anthem to which almost anyone can relate. “I tried being something you would approve of. I tried living your life, not mine,” she protests to a lover she's leaving. “My bad for ever thinking I could do it your way—my bad!” This song reveals the raw quintessence of Sena's style: She minces no words, and however she feels, she sings! Her vocals are crisp and potent without being shrill. Daddy Ed gives his first demonstration of his formidable guitar skills with a song-long catchy hook and mid song solo.
The title track has a splash of funk and Ed’s jazzy guitar mixed in with the blues, along with one of this year's best lyrical lines: “They say you don't know what you've got until it's gone. I say you don't know what you've got until you get it....”
Shout “tick-tock!” as track 3, the jump-swinging “On the Clock,” begins its wry refrain, and discover why “Lovers Can't Be Friends”.
“Same Team” is a catchy call for unity and remembering the Golden Rule. Sung by anyone else, it might come off as sanctimonious, but Sena infuses this song with hard-bitten vocals and bell ringing guitar courtesy of her father, Ed. She regrets “we've lost our way, and we don't have each other's backs”.
Listeners will dig “Hear Me” with its Boogie-beat as the most danceable tune on “Leave the Light On,” and the forcefully declarative song “Fool Out of Me” as having the most pointed chorus.
Overall, this album earns a solid “A” in this reviewer's evaluation. That's not just an “A for effort,” either! Sena Ehrhardt, her father Ed on guitar, bassist Steve Hansen and drummer Tim Hasler come out of Minneapolis, but hopefully they'll soon “make the grade” nationwide!
Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 31-year-old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.
Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne – An Old Rock On A Roll
13 tracks; 53.51 minutes
I imagine that everyone has a ‘dream team’ of musicians that we would like to see in action and, for me, this CD achieves that. Master guitarist Duke Robillard is on board as a player and in the producer’s chair - I have no idea how Duke manages to contribute to so many wonderful records and still find time to tour as well! Duke has assembled a great set of musicians for this CD including a quartet of horn players: Doug James on baritone sax, Doug Woolverton on trumpet and Carl Querforth on trombone are all present or former members of Roomful Of Blues and they are joined on tenor by Sax Gordon Beadle. Duke’s regular rhythm section of drummer Mark Teixeira and bassist Brad Halle appear and there is also some tasty organ accompaniment that is not credited in the sleeve notes – possibly either Bruce Bears or Bruce Katz, both of whom are regular contributors to Duke’s records. That leaves the star of this show to handle all the piano playing and vocals.
Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne has been around for some years, gaining a reputation as a strong pianist, singer and composer. He was born in the USA but has made British Columbia in Canada his home since the 1980s. After a gap of some years since his last recording this is his debut on Stony Plain. All the material on the CD is original and there is a great deal to enjoy throughout. Kenny has a clear and pleasing voice and writes some interesting songs. The CD opens in rocking style with “Searching For My Baby”, Kenny’s piano right up front in the mix. Duke’s economical guitar is a joy on this track and he also takes a well-deserved solo. The horns come to the fore on track two “Fantasy Meets Reality”, another stomper with a nice lyrical touch in the line “If you don’t know me, how do you know how I feel? So take the time to listen to my ordeal.”
After two rockers we get some real blues on “Heaven, Send Me An Angel”, one of those stories that starts out in a bar with the author feeling sorry for himself and not getting much of a positive response from his fellow customers. More wonderful piano and guitar interplay to enjoy here. “Devil Woman” finds Kenny in a tricky situation – “Didn’t you read that contract that you and I agreed?” – with a woman who won’t let him go. The title track follows, a catchy tune with a wild tenor solo at its heart.
“Don’t Pretend” is a blues ballad with some excellent piano playing and relaxed accompaniment from Duke and the rhythm section. “Run Little Joe” takes us down to New Orleans, the piano and drums laying down the rhythm and the horns filling out the chorus. “Howlin’” is a mid-paced love song in which Duke’s guitar is a classic example of how to accompany a song without overpowering. “Wild Turkey 101 Proof” is an amusing song about drinking (or over-drinking in fact!) – “If you think that you are Superman and ignore this thought-out plan you’ll wake up drunk in your sack with that whisky bird on your back.” More great rolling piano here.
“Bring Back The Love” is a ballad with the horns in full flow supporting Kenny’s tender vocal of lost love. “Way Overdue” swings like crazy from start to finish, with Duke’s superb guitar playing and Kenny’s sparkling piano solo. The CD closes with two exciting pieces. “Rocking Boogie Party” does exactly what the title suggests, a short but sweet blast of boogie and rock and roll whilst “Give Thanks” closes the disc with a fast paced instrumental driven along by the rocking drums, percolating organ, Kenny’s pounding piano and Duke’s fast picking on the outro.
I really enjoyed this CD and can recommend it without reservation to anyone who enjoys well-crafted songs and great musicianship.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music and is currently planning his trip to the Blues Blast Awards in October.
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Triangle Blues Society - Raleigh, NC
Triangle Blues Society is proud to announce that the 2011 TBS Blues Challenge will be held on Saturday, October 1, 2011 in downtown Raleigh, NC at Volume 11 Tavern 658 Maywood Ave. Raleigh, NC. This is a qualifying event for the Blues Foundation's International Blues Challenge (IBC)) in Memphis, TN. Winners in the band and solo/duo categories will be eligible to compete in the IBC (Feb. 1-4, 2012). The TBS Blues Challenge is a professionally judged competition open to North Carolina blues acts. For more information and tio download an application, visit our website at www.triangleblues.com
Blues Society of Western PA - Pittsburgh, PA
On October 22 at the Clarion Hotel, 401 Holiday Drive, Pittsburgh, PA The Blues Society of Western PA presents Blues Goes Pink- Divas Return Show from 1 pm – 9 pm. $12 to public, $10 to all blues members from any society. All proceeds to benefit Adagio Health to provide breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings for underinsured women in Western PA. For more information visit Blues Society of Western PA at www.bswpa.org or call 724-378-8926
The Windy City Blues Society - Chicago, IL
The Windy City Blues Society is proud to announce the 2011 Chicago Blues Challenge (CBC). The CBC is a series of musical competitions that will determine which blues band will represent Chicago and The Windy City Blues Society at the Blues Foundation’s 2012 International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, Tennessee. Once again we will be holding three distinct competitions: Band Competition, Solo/Duo Competition, and the Youth Showcase. Proceeds from the CBC events will be used to underwrite the expenses incurred by the musicians that win the final round of competition and move on to Beale Street in Memphis, TN.
The Chicago Blues Challenge will be held on Sundays in September and October culminating in the Finals in November. Venues will be announced shortly. Applications for performers that wish to participate in the Chicago Blues Challenge can be found on the Windy City Blues Society Website - www.windycityblues.org.
Band Application Deadlines - For September dates applications must be postmarked by September 19th For October & November dates only, applications must be postmarked by October 3rd. Solo/Duo & Youth Showcase Application Deadlines - Applications must be postmarked by September 30. The Chicago Blues Challenge Finals will be held Sunday, November 13. For more information about the Windy City Blues Society and the Chicago Blues Challenge please visit www.windycityblues.org or visit our Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter Sites.
The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society - Champaign, IL
The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society will be holding its Blues Band Challenge on Saturday, October 22, 2011. This event will take place at Memphis on Main, 55 E. Main St., in downtown Champaign. Our winner will be heading down to Memphis, Tennessee to compete in The International Blues Challenge in January. For more information about this exciting event, please visit our website at www.prairiecrossroadsblues.org.
Colorado Blues Society - Boulder, CO
The Colorado Blues Society we will hold our Youth Showcase auditions at the Dickens Opera House in Longmont, CO on Oct 23 . Last year our S/D winners, Big Jim Adam and John Stilwagen made the Finals in Memphis while our Band entry, the Lionel Young Band, WON the Band Finals in Memphis. The CBS' entry was the Solo Duo Memphis winner in 2008, and winning BSPCD in 2010, so you can be sure there will be plenty of talent at all of these great events! www.coblues.com
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
The Illinois Central Blues Club presents "Blue Monday" every Monday night for the last 25 years - BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $3 cover. Oct. 3 – Blues Deacons, Oct. 10 – Too Slim & The Taildraggers, Oct. 17 – Southside Jonny & Kicked to the Curb, Oct 24 – Bruce Katz, Oct. 31 – Studebaker John and the Hawks. icbluesclub.org
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
2011 Friends of the Blues shows - October 11, Too Slim & the Taildraggers, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, Friday, October 28, The Reba Russell Band, 8 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club,November 10, Ivas John Band, 7 pm, Venue TBA, December 1, Dave Herrero, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club. For more info see: http://www.wazfest.com/JW.html
West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, WV
The West Virginia Blues Society will be holding it's 5th. Annual Appalachian Blues Competition Oct. 22, 2011. The Blues Society will be sending two acts to Memphis, Tn. for the International Blues Challenge, Band Div. and Solo/Duo Div. If, you think your Act is ready to take the next step, then, this IS the competition to enter ! For Application and Rules contact Competition Director Jack Rice at, firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-389-1439.
Competition will be held at: The Sound Factory 812 Kanawha Blvd E, Charleston, WV 25301-2807 · 1 (304) 342-8001 Stay tuned for more info at, www.wvbluessociety.org
Cascade Blues Association - Portland, Oregon
The Cascade Blues Association, in celebration of their 25th anniversary, have released a compilation CD titled Puddletown Blues, Vol.1 that features selections from a dozen blues artists from the state of Oregon, or with ties to the state.
Most of the tracks are from live performances and only one has previously been released before. Artists included in this collection are Billy D & The Hoodoos, Boogie Bone, Duffy Bishop, Fiona Boyes, Hawkeye Herman, Kevin Selfe & The Tornadoes, Lisa Mann & Her Really Good Band, Paul deLay, Robbie Laws, The Strange Tones, Terry Robb, Ty Curtis Band and Woodbrain. This CD can be purchased on-line at www.cascadeblues.org.
The Funky Butt Brass Band - You Can Trust The Funky Butt Brass Band
Six guys from St. Louis, Missouri offer their spin on the New Orleans brass band tradition and achieve mixed results. Half covers and half band originals run the gamut from funk, blues traditional New Orleans jazz and pop with a St. Louis vibe creeping in and out. The band consists of four horns, guitar and percussion. The guitar takes on a rhythm role, often buried in the mix, with no discernable solos evident. The horn chops and percussion are right on the money.
The catchy “Do That Thang” gets things going, while showing the cleverness they adopted from The Dirty Dozen Brass Band ala group vocals and an infectious groove. The jive-talkin’ rap of “St. Louis Breakdown” sounds a bit too contrived to my ears. The tribute to Oliver Sain would have fared better as an instrumental. The breathtaking solos jumping in-and-out rescue the tune. “South Broadway Stumble” sounds exactly like a wobbly, drunken stroll down the boulevard, with trumpet, sax and trombone “wah-wah-ing” manically to-and-fro.
The two cover choices that sound like eminent disaster on paper actually turn out to be two of the highlights herein. Charlie Daniels’ chestnut is turned into “The Devil Went Down To Nola”, with the trumpet taking on the fiddle part and it works just like a finely tuned clock. “Holy slock Batman! Disco-era Bee Gees?” “Just a bat minute Robin, little ditty kicks hiney”. Taken as a sprightly instrumental ‘Stayin’ Alive” never lets up as it blows the dust out of your speakers.
“Back Pocket” is another tight turn instrumental with guitar and organ supplying the funk quotient this time through. I think it is an unwritten law that somewhere in the course of their career any self-respecting brass band is obligated to do “St. James Infirmary”. Their version begins as the usual dirge then after the introductory vocal morphs into a Latin beat replete with congas. “Everybody Mambo!”. Patented Cab Calloway “hi-dee-hi’s” are used to nice effect.
Without question these guys know their way around a horn. Serviceable singing and talk-singing tend to drag at times, but the horn-interplay more than makes up for any short-comings. The infectious grooves are enough to recommend this effort. “Make mine a double and easy on the vocals”.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.
For those of you who are planning to come to Chicago for the Blues Blast Music Awards at Buddy Guy's Legends in October, we have some good news. We have negotiated a block of 50 rooms at a discount rate of only $139. Our official hotel for the awards is the Essex Inn located just around the corner from Legends. This block is available until September 30th, 2011.
It is a nice hotel within walking distance. Hurry though because there are only 50 rooms guaranteed at this rate. Get your reservation before they are gone.
To book your rooms now CLICK HERE or call 800 621-6909 and ask for the Blues Blast Magazine discount rate.
Moreland & Arbuckle - Just A Dream
12 songs; 48:21 minutes; Splendid
Styles: Roots Rock, North Mississippi Hills Drone Blues hybrid, “Sludge Rock”
HELP WANTED: Need band to go on tour and open shows for Buddy Guy, George Thorogood, ZZ Top, Robert Cray, Los Lonely Boys, and more. Expect to log 82,000 road miles over nine months.
Requirements: 1. Band must be serious, sober, and professional. For example: does lead singer take care of his vocal cords by warming them up before the show and dressing them down after the show?
2. Prior to the headline act, band must play music to invigorate the audience in a power set with only thirty to forty-five minutes to showcase what they do. Showmanship and ability to deliver to crowds of 15,000 a must!
3. Band must play energetic music the crowd is not expecting, therefore, no straight ahead Chicago Blues, Swing, or Jazz. Music must be unique enough and fresh enough yet still traditional enough, injecting something new into something that’s very old at the intersection of Blues and Rock.
HIRED - in 2010: Moreland and Arbuckle, as they met every criterion above. Their massive support-touring began after the release of their Telarc Records debut, “Flood.” Now, they are back on Telarc with their most ambitious outing, “Just A Dream.”
On their fifth CD, The duo from Kansas continue their decade-long style capturing the emotional spirit of the early 20th century Delta blues and the raw, electrified energy of post-World War II urban blues and refining it all into a hard-driving and stomping garage-rock grouping of guitar, vocals, harp and drums. When it comes to liking or not liking their music, I have found no fence sitters who can take it or leave it. For most folks I have encountered, it is a Love-Hate relationship; some love to hate it, and others would hate to not be loving it.
The band’s recent successes have allowed time for new layers of studio sophistication to the new CD. They have put extra effort and hours in at the studio crafting with more care and attention to details, especially when recording the vocals.
“Just A Dream” is a twelve song set showcasing Moreland’s powerful, double-picking guitar work (two tracks were recorded on his cigar-box guitar consisting of three guitar strings and one bass string). Equally featured are Arbuckle’s emotionally charged vocals and bend-till-you-find-that-lost-note harp. Drummer Brad Horner powers a rock-solid backbeat on drums and percussion, plus he adds background vocals. Aaron Moreland also adds baritone guitar, bass guitar, drums, and background vocals. Guesting on some songs on keyboards is Chris Wiser. The final track, “White Lightnin,'” was written by Booker T & MGs’ Steve Cropper, who adds a tasty guitar solo mid song.
Across the set, expect songs that charge ahead with magnum force, overdriven hard and distorted guitar riffs that thunder like a stomping jack-boot, and driving performances of Arbuckle’s amplified harmonica. Mostly original songs, one cover is Tom Waits’ “Heartattack and Vine,” a longtime concert favorite. They give it plenty of the M&A treatment while enhancing Waits’ tale of seedy characters even further. Personally, I found “So Low” and Cropper’s “White Lighnin’” most accessible.
Love’em or hate’em, nothing succeeds like success, and, of that, the boys have plenty.
This CD won’t change any already biased minds, but it might win some new converts, and it will certainly thrill the fans they currently have for its time-invested quality.
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL.
Eric Gales –Transformation
12 tracks: 67.56
Don’t let the title of his latest cd fool you. It may be titled Transformation but it’s more or less a continuation of the hard blues rock that guitarist/vocalist Eric Gales lays down with no quarter.
Though the sledgehammer effect may be become wearisome, it’s not a problem for fans or newcomers who want to revel in Eric’ panache of hot licks worthy of being taught on an instructional DVD.
As he has done with past albums, Eric always likes to burst out of the starting gate and opening track “Railroaded” maintains an ominous edge with Gales pouring out torrential licks nasty as a hailstorm.
Surprisingly Gales could experiment with astonishing results. “Double Dippin” is a welcome detour into Clarence Gatemouth Brown territory with its fast swing and shuffle cadences.
The rest of the music is business as usual. Since teaming up with Mike Varney on Blues Bureau International a few years ago has been a plus for Eric. Varney has co-produced Gales’ albums and co-written the songs. Due to Varney’s input, Gales has been kept busy.
Being Afro-American and a southpaw player, Gales has always had to endure the inevitable comparisons to Jimi Hendrix. But this is unfair. Even Hendrix took a breath now and then to indulge his fancy with ballads like “Little Wing” and “Angel.” Make no mistake about it. Eric rarely strays into ballad territory preferring to rely on a hard driving rhythm section that erupts like a volcano under Gales’ explosive licks.
Some of the tunes may bear funk and soul influences, but Gales chooses to mine the muscular blues rock that defined power trios The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream.
Gales was born in 1974. Oddly enough these songs would have been perfect for that time period and competing with other classic FM singles of the day. Transformation is the next best thing to having sandwiched between Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath vinyl. Especially the Sabbath vinyl as the title track has a nasty riff that even the Princes of Darkness themselves couldn’t come up with.
Gales could play a slow blues with the best of them and perhaps someday he just might record a total blues disc, 12-bar shuffles and all. It takes the ninth track “Sometimes Wrong Feels Right” to finally slow things down after the continuous onslaught of heavy riffs that Eric dishes out. And he holds nothing back with soloing paying homage to heroes B.B. King, Stevie Ray and Jimi Hendrix. If you’re going to steal, you might as well take from the best.
What you have to give Eric credit for is the presentation of his music. There is nothing flimsy or wimpy about it. He can dabble in quirky time signatures as evidenced in “Sea of Bad Blood” with cutting-edge guitar wizardry and a short nifty bass solo from Steve Evans.
Since abolishing his personal demons that have hounded him for years with stints in jail and drug abuse issues, Gales seems intent to reclaiming his place in the blues-rock pantheon where he is just as worthy as anyone else to have a seat. With many contenders vying for the top position, Gales shows no fear of cutting a path with his fiery brand of licks with amps dialed to 11 and an axe just fixing to go. Whereas other blues-rock guitarists want to gain a foothold by releasing stagnant filler suitable for FM radio, Gales wisely ignores that marketing ploy to lay down his style of hard rock with hints of blues flourishes. It’s too heavy for some. But it’s embraced by those who love a psychic adrenaline shot
Reviewer Gary Weeks is a contributing writer. He resides in Marietta, GA.
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