January 8, 2009
- Dave Riley and Bob Corritore open for Zac Harmon this Friday: The "Mississippi meets Chicago" blues duo of Dave Riley and Bob Corritore will open for blues sensation Zac Harmon this Friday, January 9, 2009 at the Rhythm Room. Bob and Dave perform from 8:30pm to 9:15pm, and Zac hits the stage at 9:30pm. Come check out a memorable night of blues this Friday. The Rhythm Room is located at 1019 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ 85014. Doors open at 8pm, cover charge is $10. Rack Shack Barbeque will be available at these events. This night will be a patio smoking only event; no indoor smoking will be permitted.
- New Photo Page of the 2008 BMAs and the Delta Groove Showcase: We have just posted a number of photos from the 2008 Blues Music Awards and the 3rd Annual Delta Groove Showcase, which happened the day afterwards. It was a wonderful series of events that brought all elements of the blues together. Included are photos of Jimmy McCracklin, Bobby Rush, Koko Taylor, Super Chikan, Sam Lay, Chris James and Patrick Rynn, Duke Robillard, Randy Chortkoff, Phillip Walker, Diunna Greenleaf, Dave Riley, Lurrie Bell, Nappy Brown, Big George Brock, Bob Stroger, Bob Koester, Janiva Magness, Bob and Linda Porter, Tomcat Courtney, Big Pete Pearson, Bettye LaVette, Denise LaSalle, Sharrie Williams, Junior Watson, Johnny Dyer, Magic Slim, Pinetop Perkins, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Bob and Pamela Margolin, and many others. For information on the 2009 BMAs (happening on May 7 at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis), click here. Information on this year's Delta Groove Showcase to be announced soon! To see this new page of stunning photos, click here.
- Broadcasting the Blues CD is Now Available! The CD celebrating the 25th anniversary of Bob Corritore's blues radio show is now available online at the Friends Of Public Radio website. To order, click here. The disc is called Broadcasting The Blues, and it has been released on the Southwest Musical Arts Foundation label. It features highlights of live on the radio performances from 1984 to 2008 by a wide array of artists, including Lowell Fulson (from 1984 performing a solo version of "Sinner's Prayer"), Billy Boy Arnold, Louisiana Red, Dave Riley, Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls (together singing a spiritual), Willie Dixon (giving a spoken plug for the show), Chief Schabuttie Gilliame, Lazy Lester, Tomcat Courtney, Jerry Lawson (of The Persuasions), CeDell Davis, Chris James (who beautifully backed many of these artists on guitar), Margo Reed, Johnny Dyer, Henry Gray, Billy Flynn (doing a great harmonica instrumental), and more. To see the first few reviews for this CD, including new reviews from Poland's Twój Blues, Belgium's Rootstime, Blues Bytes, and Nashville's Music City Blues, click here.
- Dave Riley & Bob Corritore at Cognac Blues Festival Listed in 2008 Best Concerts; Also Recognized in Juke Blues Magazine: A French website by the name of "Mon regard sur la photo" has posted photos of favorite blues concerts of 2008 that includes photos of Dave Riley and Bob Corritore's show at the Cognac Blues Festival. To see this site, click here. Thanks also to the UK's Juke Blues Magazine. The latest issue (#66) features André Hobus' review of the Cognac Blues Festival with glowing compliments of the performance and a photo of Dave and Bob on the opening page right by the editorial credits. To see a YouTube video clip from this show, click here.
- Blind Raccoon Showcase: Bob Corritore will join Chris James and Patrick Rynn at the Blind Raccoon Showcase in Memphis which will take place at Rum Boogie during the IBC weekend. Chris James and Patrick Rynn's CD Stop And Think About It on Earwig Music was recently nominated for a Blues Music Award under the category of best debut artist. To view the poster for this event complete with show details and the full lineup, click here.
- Floyd Jones on YouTube: Please enjoy this video of legendary Chicago bluesman Floyd Jones performing his "Stockyard Blues"; click here to see.
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Saturday, January 10, 2009
I KNEW I shouldn't have used yesterday afternoon's sunny skies to finally chip away the last of that funky ice that fell last Saturday night. Having everything cleared just encourages Mother Nature to try harder. We're currently adding to our record snowfall for this time of year here in Cedar Falls at the rate of about an inch an hour. They don't call it Sparkle City for nothin'! Actually "they" don't call it Sparkle City, but that's another email. We have about 7" more of snowfall now than we did last year at this time. Last year, Sparkletown had the 4th greatest snowfall total OF ALL TIME! It's clear that "Mom" is going for the record this year. Dr. Dave, you picked a hell of a winter to stay in the midwest...
I guess the "good news" about not having a gig this weekend is that we don't have to travel in this weather. Hopefully roadways will be cleared away by Tuesday when Jeff & I are scheduled to drive to Storm Lake to be part of pianoman Tom Gary's Blues Class at Buena Vista University. Part of class that night includes a trio performance with Jeff, Tom, and me in Anderson Auditorium. Showtime is 7pm, it's open to the public, free of charge. Bring your zydeco tie, you can be part of the band and get college credit! (where were these classes when I was in school?)...
This is the time of year when I tend to think too much. Post holiday depression is always complicated by my birthday (Christ, Bob, aren't ya getting a little OLD to play in a band and be a radio disc jockey for living?) (excuse me, I'm NOT a disc jockey, I'm a radio ANNOUNCER) On Monday, I'll be marking the 30th time I've celebrated my 28th birthday. There's still plenty of time to SEND CAKE! I use my birthday as an excuse to be totally self indulgent on my Saturday night Rock'n'Roll history show (Backtracks) on Iowa Public Radio. I just got finished recording that program. It's scary to think that I've been carting around Sheb Wooley's Purple People Eater on 45 RPM record for nearly FIFTY ONE years! Don't worry, the pops and scratches on some of those records come at absolutely no extra charge. Join me for the records and stories of my life, Saturday night, 7-10p CST. Get the frequency in your area or listen anywhere on the planet via streamed audio at www.iowapublicradio.org...
We were able to add a few more dates to the appearance calendar this week. Please continue to bring up the band's name to your local festival organizers, club owners, and party planners. We have LOTS (too many) of open dates in the coming weeks! The next Blue Band show happens Sat. Jan. 24 at the Ottumwa Elks Club and we're hoping to see all of our Des Moines area friends at a new Porky's location, Porky's Pub and Garage, 5125 NE 14th St., Friday Jan. 30...
Vicki's place has not had anything new that's half off, so walking the mall for exercise has been a little mundane lately. But there is a question that some of the post holiday sales have me asking. One store advertises certain merchandise at 70% off. Now they have a sign in front of the store that says "take another 50% off of sale merchandise". Does this mean take half off of the remaining 30% or does it mean take 120% off? Which gets me started on another rant that there is only 100%. How many times have you heard that an athlete gave 110%? THERE IS ONLY 100%. 100% is EVERYTHING. You can't give more than EVERYTHING. Oh never mind, that was that "thinking too much" thing coming in again. I'm gonna have to go before I think again...
Thank you for another year of encouragement and support. It's too late to stop now. See ya on the Blue Highway, my original zydeco tie was a BIRTHDAY gift from Gary, Kathy, Mark, and Ginger, so I've been rubbin' it for another year now (!), and remember, there's no better way to celebrate birthdays than with birthday CAKE. We love you, Bob Dorr & The Blue Band
Thursday, January 8, 2009
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January 8, 2009
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News, photos, reviews, live Blues links & MUCH MORE in this issue! - Scroll or Page Down!
Hey Blues Fans,
There is a renewed interest in Chess Records. Chess was the holy grail of Blues record labels. They recorded some of the biggest Blues legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddly, Willie Dixon, Jimmy Rodgers, Little Walter and Etta James.
Interest in Chess Records has been spurred on by the recent release of the movie Cadillac Records which loosely portrays the story of Chess Records.
Our good friend Arnie Goodman is a well known music photographer and runs the website Blue Storm Music. Arnie is also a music collector and you can browse his website to buy some great Blues music both new and vintage!
Arnie sent us a great set of photos of some of the great vintage Chess album covers from his collection. They are on his SmugMug site. CLICK HERE to check them out.
While you are there check out some of his other great photo galleries by clicking on the Blues Music link on the top left of the page. Arnie has some great photos of about any big music star you can think of.
Thanks for sharing Arnie!
This week we made it out to the Wednesday Blues series put on by the River City Blues Society in Pekin, IL. Their series this week featured Studebaker John. Quite a show! John played guitar and slide like the devil and had the room in the palm of his hand. Then he switched to the harp blowing like he had 4 lungs. Kenny on drums was really a standout. Their series continues next week with the Scott Holt band.
Blues Reviews and MORE!
Blues Review this week - James Walker reviews a new CD from Stan “the Man” Hedges. This week we welcome a new Blues Blast reviewer, Belinda Foster who reviews a new CD by Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans. Also this week our Blues link of the week returns and and we have a classic video by Eric Clapton and the Who. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Blues Link of the Week
We have often mention the great Blue Monday series of the Illinois Central Blues Club in Springfield Illinois. In fact it is our favorite Monday hangout where this Blues society has been bring in national and regional Blues performers every Monday for the last 23 years!! WOW! (Stay tuned for the 23rd anniversary bash coming later this year)
Famous Monday Blues is a website on the other side of the "pond" in Oxford, England. Philip Guy-Davis has been bringing England's Blues fans a Monday night Blues series since 1984! Their website is about their Blues series. They also have a great Links page that includes links to many of Europe's best Blues websites and many others. (Including IllinoisBlues.com). Be sure to check out their links page!
Tell them the Blues Blast sent ya!
For more Blues links, CLICK HERE to visit the IllinoisBlues.com Links Page
Featured Blues Review 1 of 2
Stan “the Man” Hedges - Two Mule Parade
12 songs; 54:18; Suggested
Style: Delta Blues, Gospel, Americana, Roots music
So much blues; so little time! I’ll be the first to admit that I did not encounter all the great CDs of 2008. I did log in at over 125 album encounters, but when I was handed this album in late December, I discovered I had missed out on a great debut CD by a man who once turned down Buddy Guy himself with an offer to come to Chicago to “put him to work.”
Simply, this CD should deeply move people searching for something different, satisfying and real. The project is an eclectic work of provocative art mixing New Orleans grooves and Kansas City shuffles with “Fat Back” rockers, gritty storytelling, stellar acoustic and electric guitar work, and wonderful additions of harmonica, keyboards, and background vocals.
“Two Mule Parade” is longtime Tennessee Blues Guitar-Slinger Stan “The Man” Hedges’ first solo project. For Hedges, now 51, it’s been a long time coming, but with these 11 original songs and one cover, it’s payday for listeners. Having drawn many accolades over the years for his guitar work, Hedges is shown here to be a complete package, Singer/Songwriter, Storyteller/Guitarist who has paid his dues and developed a captivating style.
Hedges’ intriguing lyrical art is consistently found creating rich characters and providing eye-opening social commentary. It starts in the first track, “Angola Cowboy” with the story of a misunderstood ex-con who is struggling in the outside world. Musically, the blues open strong with “Chicago” Charlie Fink’s harmonica over both piano and drumming by Shannon Wickline.
At 12 seconds in, we hear Hedges’ deep, laidback baritone/bass vocals comparable to JJ Cale, Dr. John, and, on some numbers, Tom Waits. Miranda Louise accents Hedges’ singing with her higher register background vocals. What a great mix!
Hedges’ killer slide guitar work opens “I Can Hear the Delta,” a picturesque longing for that rich musical culture. “A lot has changed, but it’s still the same....I hope the Delta heritage don’t go down in flames/Cause I can still hear the Delta calling my name,” he sings.
The grooving minor-blues “Won’t stand the Light of Day” is a chilling and scathing attack on racism-past and present. Some great chromatic harp from “Chicago” Charlie Fink accents the overall effect of lyrics about the race issue like, “I don’t know where it’s going, but I can see where we been.... [If you are] Denying segregation [in 2008] just take a look around / Who lives next to you...?”
The title track is a weirdly nostalgic acoustic-swamp-jazz narrative like a shot of Tennessee sour mash whiskey – smooth, but with a burn. Literature teachers could easily pop-quiz or final exam their students for interpretation of these poetic and accessible, yet challenging lyrics.
Hedges has a sly sense of humor shown in the Jump Blues “Snappin’ Turtle Blues,” and “Butter Yo’ Biscuits” is Delta Blues-with-a-smile in this resonator slide number.
The closing instrumental “Kentucky Skin Tag Salad” is a grooving head-cutting contest where Stan on guitar and keyboardist Shannon Wickline absolutely tear it up.
Reportedly, every single song on the CD has received "Airplay in Rotation." The album has appealed to listeners, Radio programmers and DJ's around the world. That is a tremendous testimonial. I just added it to my final “best of” list for 2008!
Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Saturday, January 17th, 2009
Visit 9 of Chicago’s famous Blues clubs featuring 12 live blues bands!
For more Info CLICK HERE
Blues Video of the Week
(From the Rock Opera Tommy)
This week we offer a very interesting video. While this is not really a "Blues" video it is still interesting and historically significant. The video is from the 1970's movie version of the rock opera Tommy. It is a song called Eyesight to the Blind and the guitar and vocals are handled by Eric Clapton himself. In this clip Tommy's parents take him to a church where Marilyn Monroe is worshiped in hopes of curing his blindness. The set is lavish and very campy! They don't make this kind of movie anymore! CLICK HERE to check it out.
Check out other great Blues Videos Click HERE
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Blues Music Reviewers wanted
Blues Blast Magazine is looking for reviewers to review new Blues CD's and live music shows. If you have a background and experience with Blues music and like to write we can provide new CD's for you to review. Must be willing to write a minimum of one to three reviews a month. Reviewer keeps the CD's for writing the review. If interested please send a sample of your writing and a short bio of your Blues background to email@example.com
The River City Blues Society presents
Wednesday Blues featuring
Scott Holt Band
January 14, 2009 - 7:00pm
The Dragons Dome
To see Map- CLICK HERE
Admission $3 or free with new Society membership
Featured Blues Review 2 of 2
Brad Vickers & His VESTAPOLITANS - ‘Le Blues Hot’
20 songs; 69 minutes 43 secs; Meritable
Styles: Down Home Blues, Rag-Time, Skiffle, Hokum, jazz-blues with slide guitar, electric and upright bass, fiddle, clarinet, tenor sax and percussion
If you’re looking for something a little different than what you might typically have in your blues collection, ‘Le Blues Hot’ would be a good consideration. It’s a skillful delivery of the many forms of American roots music, all the while giving you an enjoyable education in music ethnocology. Eleven of the 20 tracks are originals.
The line up includes Brad Vickers on guitar and vocals; Margey Peters on electric bass, fiddle, percussion & vocals; Jim Davis on clarinet & tenor sax; Barry Harrison on drums and percussion; and special guest Dave Gross on guitar & upright bass; VD King provides percussion on the final track.
Brad has recorded with some of the best in the industry, like Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin; and sax/clarinet player Jim Davis brings his veteran connections through Hubert, Paul Oscher while drummer Barry is known for his work with Johnny & Shemekia Copeland. The entire list of credits is quite lengthy and impressive, so be sure to study the CD jacket!
Each track of ‘Le Blues Hot’ ties in together as the musicians showcase their personal zones with playful doses of everything from original old-timey blues, swing, jazz, ragtime, skiffle and hokum. Skiffle and Hokum? Here’s a little enlightenment:
Skiffle is a type of folk music with jazz, blues and country influences, usually using homemade instruments like a washboard or kazoo, for example. It’s similar to jug band music, first popular in the U.S. in the early 1900’s in New Orleans and represented here in Tracks #1, #6, and #7 “Freight Car”, “Where Can My Baby Be” and “Hesitation Blues”. Hokum, by the way, is a song type that uses analogies or euphemisms to make sexual innuendos. It goes back to early blues recordings, like Dinah Washington’s Long John Blues…
I’m a little surprised there are so many tracks here, 20, so it could be challenging to find the time to get through them all in one listen. But if you can’t, then just work your way through them over time; your favorites will definitely start to emerge.
My track highlights include #2 “Baby Please Don’t Go” which delivers that familiar Delta blues style with rustic but sufficiently appropriate fiddle work by Margery Peters. The fiddle scratches out the words “Baby Please Don’t Go” with Brad’s guitar answering back. Dave Gross on upright bass contributes his share of the Delta spirit. This is a very nice rendition with just enough hint of slide.
#3 is “Dogs Don’t Sing”--Brad carries the tune in this traditional song and story with just enough credibility to make you believe he’s really got the blues so bad because, “…I’ve been your dog baby since I’ve been your man.”
#4 is “I Don’t Want To” with Brad and Margery--I don’t what it is about these two folks when Margery brings in the harmony to Brad’s vocals, but it works. I get these visions of an old timey couple participating at a neighborhood hoedown, just for kicks-- unpretentious, keeping it real, making it credible.
My favorite out of all 20 tracks is #10 “Our Real Good Thing”—grab your favorite adult beverage then sit back and listen to the words in this playful cute song. You’ll be able to sing along the first time without even knowing the words because it’s simple yet cleverly written. Brad and Margery, again on vocals, somehow make it work…this one will put a big ole smile on your face!
I enjoyed the band’s personal interpretation of the familiar standard #11 “On the Sunny Side of the Street”. With Track #14 “Hands Off”, Margery’s solo with her unique voice and style just goes to prove you don’t have to be a Whitney, Celine or Mariah to get your point and story across as an entertainer.
Another personal favorite is #16, “Gonna Quit You”. There’s great lyrics by Brad, like ‘haven’t been to college but I sure been to school…I’m wise as a hoot owl, don’t treat me like no mule, I gotta quit ya baby before I be your fool’…Margey harmonizes just enough to add delightful layers to an already catchy song…”you can lead me like a horse and feed me like a hog’ gotta quit ya before I be your dog’.
Track #18 is “Mississippi Shadows”, where the violin themed start reminded me of the Jaws theme but then quickly took me to a Clarksdale Juke Joint with the local musicians and characters we all love there (although, I can say I’ve never heard or seen a clarinet in a Clarksdale juke joint, but it works here).
If it’s a slick high tech studio production and recording you’re looking for, this may not be the CD for you. However, if you’re into the house band sound and styles of bluesy jazz and skiffle root music, then be sure to pick this one up for your collection.
Belinda Foster is a Columnist and Contributing Writer for Greenville SC Magazine “Industry Mag” and former manager of Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues. She currently books blues-rock-jam musicians and is a devoted promoter and support of live blues root music and history. Her column “The Upstate Blues Report can be found on line at www.industrymag.net
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Blues Society News
Please submit a maximum of 175 or words or less in a Text or Word format ONLY.
River City Blues Society- Peoria, IL
The River City Blues Society's Wednesday Blues Series in Central, Illinois are early shows each Wednesday at 7:00pm, featuring the best traveling regional and National Blues musicians. The shows will feature a budget priced cover charge of $3.
For the month of January all shows will be held at the Dragons Dome at 3401 Griffin Ave in Pekin, IL. This location is just 3 blocks from the previous location at the Captains Wheel. The Captains Wheel is closing for remodeling on December 21st and will open under new management in January.
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
Blue Mondays- Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover - Jan 12 - Tombstone Bullet, Jan 19 - Groove Daddies, Jan 26 - Juke Joint Duo / Cedric Burnside and Lightnin Malcolm, Feb 2 - Big Jeff Chapman, Feb 9 - Jim Suhler, Feb 15 - Shawn Kellerman, Feb 23 - Deak Harp
Phoenix Blues Society - Phoenix, AZ
The Blues Blast 2009 will be held on Saturday, February 21st, 2009 at the Mesa Amphitheatre. The 20th anniversary of this Blues festival sponsored by the Phoenix Blues Society will start at 11:00 AM. Headlining the show is Janiva Magness. Other artists appearing at Blues Blast are: Omar & the Howlers, The Juke Joint Duo of Cedric Burnside & Lightnin' Malcolm, The Mikel - Meridith Band, Kathy Mabry, Kevin Casenhiser and a special Phoenix Blues Artist Showcase and Retrospective featuring many of the Valley's finest Blues Musicians. Here's a partial listing of the line-up: George Bowman, Bob Corritore, Terry "TD" Davis, Nancy Delessandro, Jim Dorholt, Brian Fahey, Jim Glass, Chuck Hall, Mario Moreno, Hans Olson, Big Pete Pearson, Jimmy Peyton, Johnny Rapp, Rochelle Raya, Paul Thomas, Scotty Spenner. For more info contact firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the website at http://www.phoenixblues.org/
CLICK HERE to Purchase this CD
Blues Blast Magazine is proud to be a media sponsor of the 25th International Blues Challenge. The silver anniversary of this great Blues competition promises to be one the best ever put on by the Blues Foundation.
In case you are not familiar with this event, it is an international search for the best undiscovered Blues band on the planet. Each year the Blues Foundation's 160 affiliate Blues societies from all over the globe hold "local" or "regional" Blues challenges.
They send the winners to compete in the semifinals in Memphis in February. There are categories for both bands and solo/duet acts.
In 2008, 100 bands and 60 solo/duo acts filled the clubs up and down Beale Street for the semi-finals on Thursday and Friday. This is a Blues show you do not want to miss. It is literally the worlds largest gathering of Blues Bands!
Beale Street is the legendary Blues Mecca in Memphis. Each club on Beale has 6 or 8 acts competing in the semi-finals. By the rules of the competition, each act plays exactly 30 minutes all using the same stage setup for a panel of judges and a packed crowd of Blues fans. They are judged on Blues content, vocal and/or instrumental talent, originality and stage presence by a different panels of judges each night (See scoring criteria HERE).
The scores are averaged and the top scoring act from each club advances to the finals that are held at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday. (To see some photos of last years fun CLICK HERE)
Tickets to this historical event are just $75 and include entrance to all the clubs on Beale Street both Thursday and Friday and the finals on Saturday. CLICK HERE to get yours now.
Be sure to get your hotel reservations NOW too as some of the host hotels are already sold out! CLICK HERE for hotel info
Live Blues Calendar
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Performance dates submitted by Musicians, Clubs, Blues Societies and Blues festivals.
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Just received an email from The Bourbones from Minneapolis. They are a pretty good band as you can see they played at the Ground Zero club in Mississippi. They have a Myspace page HERE, where you can listen to the band and check out some of their photographs. You know it is tough times out there playing the blues so why don't you give them some love and check out their website and blog! BTW, when checking out their myspace page listen to the song Bad To Be Me. I haven't heard tone like that on a guitar since the fabled Toneking back in the early 90s. I swear it sounds like a vintage Fender Twin Reverb with a telecaster:-)
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Top 30 Southern Soul, Rhythm & Blues Albums Of 2008Southern Soul Deep Soul Soul Blues Retro-Soul Downhome Blues To be eligible albums must have been released 12/2007 to 12/2008. OR albums released in 2007 that peaked in 2008.
1. Clarence Dobbins "The Uprising" (CDS) LISTEN
Passionately-sung and performed Soul & Blues with real horns, bass, drums, organ, etc. Stax-like Soul Blues movers like "Can't Buy Me", "Blues Uprising" & "Matter Of Time", Soulful ballads like "Don't Give Up On Me", "Call On Me" & "Drown In My Own Tears". 100% real musicians. Dynamic.
2. Al Green "Lay It Down" (Blue Note) LISTEN
To me this is Green's third comeback attempt to R & B... First he was too contemporary and then he was just too retro. Now, you would be right if you said Green is still riding high (or "Hi"?) from that second comeback but the new "Lay It Down" has brilliantly managed to make Green sound like classic Al Green while simultaneously contemporary. It's an obvious labour of love by Green's co-producers ?uestlove and James Poyser. It's organic, it's classic and it's hip. Better yet most of the songs are Grade A, some even deserving a slot on the ultimate Al Green best of ("You've Got The Love I Need", "Stay With Me (By The Sea)", "What More Do You Want From Me"). Al Green is truly back on top (the album even crashed the Billboard Top 200 Albums at #9). It's time to scream for an encore.
3. Omar Cunningham "Time Served" (Soul 1st) LISTENHe's done it again. Actually better than before. A perfect Southern Soul single with "My Life". Like "Check To Check" and "I'll Get By" Cunningham has painted another aural picture sympathetic of the Everyman's life. This midtempo swayer is simply inspiring and all hooks. Brilliant! It will be hard to find a better song in 2008. "A lot of things I had to go without/I still find it hard to talk about". That line gives me chills every time. Like his previous LP's "Served" straddles the line between mainstream R & B and "Party Blues".
4. Earl Gaines "Nothin' But The Blues" (Ecko) LISTEN
"Nothin' But The Blues" manages to appeal to Southern Soul and 12-bar Blues fans alike. It opens with a ripping version of Gaines' signature song "24 Hours A Day". This is followed by the melodic slowie "Let's Call A Truce", containing one of Gaines' best vocals I've heard in years... some Downhome Blues ("Meat And Potatoes Man"). That's pretty much how it goes- a Blues number ("You Better Know Your Hole From Mine", "Cheat On Schedule") followed by a Soulful ballad ("Everything Sweet Reminds me Of You", "If I Could Do It All Over")...There's real horns (arranged by Harrison Calloway) and a live rhythm section (no programs) yet John Ward still makes it sound like an Ecko LP.
5. Leon McMullen "Can I Take You Out Tonight" (Sound Mindz) LISTEN
It took some digging to find but this throaty singer's debut LP ("Just A Few Words") convinced Deep Soul fans Leon McMullen was an artist to watch. He's got one of those raspy Southern Soul voices that remind you of the revered sixties soul scene and we Soul Music nerds can't get enough of that. Good news friends, McMullen returns with another set of Soul Blues grit, UAC (Urban Adult Contemporary) R & B and a bit of Sam Cooke shag...
6. Archie Love "Love Chronicles" (JEA/Loveland) LISTEN
In a word or two if you like J. Blackfoot you'll like raspy-toned Archie Love. Besides the vocal similarities the songs and tracks have the same clean and commercial sheen as Blackfoot's recent output. Love's a triple threat- singer, writer and producer and this is his best yet, establishing beyond a doubt he's a top Soul artist in the this genre. As regards "Love Chronicles" I doubted any track could match his magnificent "Should've Been There For You" (from his previous LP "Sincerely Yours") but this set is more consistent than the previous. The luscious ballads "Love is A Wonderful Thing", "Before A Judge" & "Standing On The Edge" are up there (way up there...okay more, WAY).
7. Stan Mosley "Man Up" (CDS) LISTENThey do make them like they used to when we're talking "true Soul voices". Stan Mosley, he sing not Pretty, but Gritty. Actually he can sing quite lovely too like on the knockout slow numbers "Mr. DJ" (a real summer slow jam for sure) and "Bitter With The Sweet". Hitmaker Floyd Hamberlin Jr. produced and wrote the 10 songs..."Man Up" is one hundred percent "Southern Soul" or "Party Blues". A large percentage of potential hits here.
8. Sang'n Clarence "If You Like It, I Love It" (Brittney) LISTEN
Writer/Producer/Superstar Mel Waiters has started up his relatively obscure Brittney Records imprint with this superb 9 song disc on Sang'N Clarence. Just like Mel's own discs the production is clearer and crisper than most of what you'll hear from the chitlin' circuit and he wasn't stingy about giving out very strong songs either.... there isn't a dud in the bunch.
9. El Willie "Situations" (MVP) LISTENThe E-to-the-L-to-the Willie has a gift for melody, expert vocal phrasing and clever lyrics. "Situations" is where it all comes together...While he is mostly known for his uber-mellow slow jams El does add a dancer or two to his repertoire... I fell in love with "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo, Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Dee", a coasting finger snapper with a memorable refrain...our hero adds a little Hip Hop flavor to the hilarious "Dope Or Dogfood" (with lyrics from Bishop James E. Bryant). Here El' reproves a foolish youngin' who's trippin' and wasting his life. Funkay! I've also grown to dig El's baritone voice... I'd consider him a top notch singer. El's cool as all get out.
10. The Rhythm All-Stars "s/t" (Jomar/Silk) LISTEN
The amazing vocals of one-time Arista Recording artist/Gerald LeVert-produced Geoff McBride are the highlight of this fine set of Southern Soul originals and covers. The Memphis-inspired movers "Stuck" & "She's Powerful" and the aching ballad "I'll Work For You" have all received extensive airplay throughout the South and in the UK. (Footnote: The now hard-to-find set was repackaged and self-released as "Takin' Off" later in the year and McBride is no longer with the group)
11. Will Easley "Sweet Sexy Soul" (CDS) LISTEN
Holy moly! what a singer! Where had this guy been? Hands down best debut of the year for sure. The club joint "Loop The Loop" is getting a lot of action but it's the slow jams that steal the show. Easley is magic on "Wantcha Back", "Your Love is Amazing" and "If I Let You Got". Most of this disc is ripe for mainstream Urban AC stations but without payola who knows if it'll get the chance.
12. Sheba Potts-Wright "I'm A Bluesman's Daughter" (Ecko) LISTEN
To those in the know the title of Sheba's new disc ("I'm A Bluesman's Daughter") is a reference to Memphis blues man (and himself a former Ecko artist) Dr. Feelgood Potts, father to the Southern Soul chanteuse Sheba. Now, Sheba may be blues pedigree but she's better known for her sassy and sexy shuffle-bumpers like "I Need A Cowboy To Ride My Pony", "Cruise Control" and "I Can Hear Your Macaroni"...Track 3 is a splendid ballad called "Why Am I Still Lonely", featuring a superb arrangement of synth strings, organ, electric piano and bass guitar. This ranks up there with Denise LaSalle's output for the label. ...The quality holds up throughout (the "party blues dancer" "Where's The Party At?", & rote "Mississippi Man" are cookie-cutter songs for the label)...This may be her best collection in her still new career.
13.Nellie 'Tiger' Travis "I'm A Woman" (CDS) LISTEN Ms. Travis is...the Gladys Knight of Southern Soul. Of course in her hometown of Chicago she's mostly known as a 12-bar Blues belter who plays sings several days a week. But in the chittlin' circuit she's becoming a huge favorite... like the hilarious ditty "Slap Yo' Weave Off" and the booming, anthem "I'm A Woman" which is the best song about female empowerment I've heard in years... two knockout ballads. "Don't Talk To Me" is a n emotional tornado sung by a scorned woman and "Running On Empty" a devastating number about a dying marriage. Travis is a powerhouse on the microphone.Also included is a terrific duet ballad with soulman Stan Mosley ("Who Knows You")
Ms. Travis is...the Gladys Knight of Southern Soul. Of course in her hometown of Chicago she's mostly known as a 12-bar Blues belter who plays sings several days a week. But in the chittlin' circuit she's becoming a huge favorite... like the hilarious ditty "Slap Yo' Weave Off" and the booming, anthem "I'm A Woman" which is the best song about female empowerment I've heard in years... two knockout ballads. "Don't Talk To Me" is a n emotional tornado sung by a scorned woman and "Running On Empty" a devastating number about a dying marriage. Travis is a powerhouse on the microphone.Also included is a terrific duet ballad with soulman Stan Mosley ("Who Knows You")
14. Willie Hill "I'm A Man On A Mission" (Ifgam) LISTEN
The phrase "long awaited new album" is an overused cliché that actually fits the new Willie Hill quite rightly. See, it was all the way back in 2005 when the first single off this LP was released. That track, "Man On A Mission", was a moderate Southern Soul hit that portended a good Theodis Ealey-like batch of tunes...the truly long-awaited new CD by Willie Hill has dropped...and it lives up to the promise. It leads off with the above-mentioned title track, includes the terrific "Friendly Reunion" and a slew of good 'uns. Mr Theodis Ealey has produced and presented an album on Hill not unlike his own output: Keyboard-driven, upbeat bumpers and Blues- not too polished but with a bouncy bottom.
15. The Soul Children "Still Standing" (JEA) LISTEN
You could just as easily called this the new J. Blackfoot album because the throaty one sings lead on nearly all the tracks, often joined by Queen Ann Hines, Norman Wets , Cassandra Graham and a cameo by Toni Green. Both Blackfoot and West were part of the original Stax Records line up. Hines and Graham are standing in the roles of Anita Lewis and Shelbra Bennet. The foursome logged 11 charting singles on Billboard's R & B charts from 1968 to 1978, most notably "Hearsay" and "I'll Be The Other Woman", which both crossed over to the pop charts as well (at #44 and #36 respectively). Blackfoot (born John Colbert) hasn't lost any of his powerful rasp and fairly tears it up on the yearning ballads "Long Ride Home" and "Love You For Life" (featuring the dynamite Toni Green) and "More Than A Woman"...This is a solid "Modern/Retro" whatever you-wanna-call-it Soul album.
16. Gregg A. Smith "Triple Play Swing" (G Man) LISTEN
Radio personality Gregg A. Smith, like one Frank-O Johnson, I've always found as perfectly strong singers/artists that could hang tough with all the other records they spin while a DJ...the third of the trilogy is here with the plaintively-titled "Who's Romeo & Jez". All three follow a similar pattern: Smith narrates the story in his deep, sexy tone atop a a bubbling musical backdrop punctuated by the sweetly-sung refrain. Having the full trilogy here is mist welcome but it isn't even the highlight of the album overall. The one-two "live" punch of "Angel" and "Stand By Me" are perhaps the best ten-plus minutes of his career. Smith can sang fo' sho. "Angel" will please fans of the great one Bobby 'Blue' Bland. Speaking of Bland the slow burning blues cuts "Trouble" and "One Day At A Time" can give the legend a run for his money these days. Bottom line: Gregg A. Smith deserves his propers and here's to hoping this album finds a audience.
17. Bobby Wayne "Soul Station" (Bonedog) LISTENI've been looking forward to the new Bobby Wayne ever since I first listened to his ridiculously good last disc "Hit That Thang!". That masterpiece would be hard to duplicate in terms of song, sound and soul and while "Soul Station" isn't a duplicate, it's simply splendid and an essential purchase for fans of real Soul Blues by a great excess. Even with a street date of January 1 2008 it will endure as one of the best of the year. That locomotive bass, smacking drums, blaring horns and Bobby's unassuming voice on the title track (and opener) instantly brought a smile to my face. Stax Records lives...To sum up "Soul Station" for you in two words: TUNE IN.
18. Wendell B "Time To Relax...Time, Love & Relationships" (Smoothway Ent.) LISTENThe hyperbolic intro and too many interludes may stymie some of the joy here but Wendell B is an incredible singer. Yes they call him the "new Luther Vandross" and so on but all hype aside truth is you can't help but be captured by the man's Soul. The drop dead fantastic first single "She Didn't Have Ta Hurt Ya Boy Like That" has been out for a few months making this an eagerly anticipated release. I really can't prattle on enough about how great this track is. Perhaps that's why he put it out way before the album was ready. It just couldn't wait? In fact his holiday outing "Save A Little Room For Me" dropped inbetween. Whatever it may be this track alone is worth full price.
19. Kenne' Wayne "You're The Best" (Goodtime) LISTEN
The "Licka Sticka" is back with a mainstream-leaning collection of slick Soul/R & B. Already the title track is climbing the Adult Urban Contemporary airplay charts, sounding like 80s era Lenny Williams... three of these written by the super talented Mr Sam (aka 'Mr Sam) and Ezra 'EZ Rock' Williams. The pair are credited with seven cuts while Ves Garrett provided four. Garrett wrote the bumps "Is There A Party In Here", "Get Cha Some" & "One For The DJ", as well as silky slow jam "No Love In The Club". Grade A material...The hands down winner though is Fallie/EZ Rock's "Georgia Pine" where Wayne unleashes one of his best and most assured vocals to date.
20. Rue Davis "Return Of A Legend" (Boomtown) LISTEN
The boastful title is true, albeit in a limited sense. Davis has never scraped the national charts nor sold enough records to catch the attention of the I.R.S. but in the so-called chitlin' circuit he is indeed legendary. Perhaps he's mostly known for his uncanny ability to sing like Johnnie Taylor, ZZ Hill, Al Green and other legends. A reality highlighted on his out of print Avanti CD "Sings With Friends" ...This time Davis gives the producer chores to someone else, one Carl Marshall...vintage modern Soul. Like putting on your favorite tube socks on a cold day it just warms you up. "I'm Giving Up The Streets" is another midtempo roller with Davis settle down and "staying home with my baby". This is followed by the knockout slowie "I Promise". Pure Johnnie Taylor supreme (sorry Rue we know you are your own man)... He's never really gone away but this still feels like a triumphant return.
21. Lee "Shot" Williams "Shot From The Soul" (CDS) LISTEN
"Shot From The Soul" starts off with four winners in a row. The Sam Cooke rhythm of "Country Woman" hit my ears like a welcome mat. Shot says "Now I got a woman/Her name is Sally Mae Brown/She lives just outside the city/In a little old country town". He proceeds to explain why he loves them country woman. They treat you so sweet, cook you up something nice on the stove and they'll "love you to the rooster crows!". Next is the anthem "It's Friday (Time To Get Paid)". It's one of those instant classic weekend songs that you can't help but get down with..."Shot From The Soul" is classic Lee Shot Soul (and Blues).
22. Marvin Sease "Who's Got The Power" (Malaco) LISTEN
With each new Marvin Sease disc you know what you're getting: Funky workouts with Sease's philosophy on the birds and the bees ("The Power Of Coochie"), old school Soul balladry ("I'm Coming Home", "Denying Our Love") and midpaced Memphis movers ("She's My Woman", "I Can't Let You Go"). The only question then becomes how good is the material. Well these thirteen Sease originals will satisfy any fan of the genre. There may not be a new stone classic or a hit as catchy as, say "Sit Down On It", but there's plenty of greatness. The 60s-styled "Denying Our Love" is as close to Otis Redding as you're gonna get nowadays. As I've said before Sease may be known for his sex shtick but he's a master of Deep Soul slowies.
23. David Brinston "Party Time" (Ecko) LISTEN
Brinston's previous Ecko release ("Here I Go Again") went pretty much ignored upon it's release but it was quite good. Perhaps superior to this new one. Things start off strong with the bumpin', if lyrically-lame "I Just Love Woman", the current single "Sometimes You Win Some", "Crazy 'Bout You Baby" and "Hard Working Woman"... put a live band behind Brinston on this album and it's pure Memphis Soul.
24. Ms. Jody "I Never Take A Day Off" (Ecko) LISTENTo me Ms. Jody is Peggy Scott-Adams-lite. She has a similar tone and style just softer. That's not meant as a knock against "Jody" who has struck gold with the Southern soul steadies. Her last Ecko album has barely started to fade before we are treated to another one and it's slightly better than it's predecessor... The Chitlin' themes are all here. The clever "Energizer Bunny" is a cousin to Shirley Brown's "I Got To Sleep With One Eye Open" in that her man is a nympho. A simple Soul swayer with an especially solid vocal from the female Jody. Her man just "goes on and on and on and on." Can't imagine too many women complaining about that!
25. Pookie Lane "Southern Woman" (Allison) LISTENLike the recent debut by Bigg Joe we have Jerome "Pookie" Lane making his introduction with a familiar synth-pushed Southern Soul hit (the title track) but turning out to be a superb boudoir balladeer rather than your cookie cutter party singer. Commencing at track 2 (the gorgeous "Love The Way We Used To"), the Pookie man croons like there's no tomorrow and he's got one night left with a beautiful woman! Smooth silk pajama slow jams like "Knockin'", "Moments", "Come Into My Bedroom", "Work It Out" and "Pretty Brown Girl" will make the ladies swoon. Cool Rhythm & Jazz flourishes on "On And On" keep things from getting monotonous. The sentimental closer "The Tribute" remembers Johnnie Taylor, Tyrone Davis, Little Milton and all the greats who've shed their mortal coil. Nearly eight minutes of soulful testifying. Pookie Lane is for all of us who love the human singing voice first and foremost in music.
26. Willie Clayton "Soul & Blues" (Malaco) LISTEN
Second new Clayton CD of the year offers up more of his bluesy-tined Soul, true to the unimaginative title. On the Geirge Jackson-penned "I Feel A Cheatin' Coming On" he sings "Aretha's lost all respect for me and Millie J want no drama at all. Latty won't help me straighten it out and Bobby Womack won't return my call". Willie can't blame them cause he's weak and when he sees a "sexy little thing I feel a cheating coming on". Yeah, nothing new here. But Willie's fans won't mind one bit. That classic voice gets some good production from Vick Allen, Mike Snoddy, Donell "Showcase" Taylor and hisself.
27. David G "Southern Soul With A Twist" (Laryan) LISTENDavid G(eorge) has a meaty Soul voice with a little Johnnie Taylor and Otis Clay tones and that's enough to recommend this CD. Actually, it contains a mid-to-high end Southern Soul programming to go along with it. The title track is a dancer reminiscent of JT while "D.G. Shuffle" captures some of that Sir Charles Jones style (G also covers Jones' smash "is There Anybody Lonely"). Both are "party Blues" cuts on par with whatever's out there. The bumpers "Private Party", "Ooh Yeah" and "Number One Lady" are good choices for radio. The latter is pure Mel Waiters if you ask me...Bottom line this is as good as any Sir Charles, Wilson Meadows or T.K. Soul disc you own.
28. Al Lindsey "So In Love" (Pulsating Music) LISTEN Back in 2005 husky-voiced Al Lindsey appeared out of nowhere with a fresh (and refreshing sound) for the Southern Soul genre with "Caught"... convinced Lindsey to focus more on that sultry balladry and "So In Love" does just that. The tracks are mostly original but the centerpiece of the record is his dynamite cover of Leroy Hutson's "So In Love". Great arrangement. Lindsey sings it like he's been doing it since childhood (actually he has). Another slow jammy, Lindsey's own "Call Me", ain't no punk either. A gentle creeper, synth strings and a sexy vocal to boot. Hey when you're singin' a song about a "Nubian queen wearin' those painted on jeans" you know you're gonna sing it with feelin'! Deserves to be a hit. Would fit on mainstream R & B radio too. On the dancefloor tip comes "Let's Take A Chance" and "Pop It Shake Work It", featuring producer Simeo's knack for bass bottomed bumpers.
29. Reggie P "Your Love Is A Bad Habit" (Rude Boy) LISTEN
"Your Love Is A Bad Habit" may only have seven actual songs (plus 1 remix and a glorified intro, "Witness") but most deliver, staring with the buoyant "I've Got That Feeling"; a serious nod to Sir Charles Jones and a surefire hit. Better though is the bluesy title cut, an emotional ballad with an impassioned vocal...The cat can sing a soulful ballad too evidenced by the Lenny Williams-like slowies "No More Tears" and "Unforgettable Dreams".
30. Mose Stovall "Groove U" (Soul 1st) LISTEN
Plenty of Southern Soul jams on here superior to the single "Groove U Baby" (especially good news for those who do like the song). The midpaced bumps "Been There Done That" and "Blue" followed by the funky "Don't Stop The Music" cut the mustard for me. "Don't Stop" has some slapping drums, a killer bassline and Stovall singing with a vocodor. Can someone say "club joint"?