Albert Cummings…The Badass Master Craftsman of the Rockin Blues

If you are working man or woman in Germany, Japan. Great Britain, the United States, Canada, or anywhere else in the world, Albert Cummings is a kindred spirit.   He is a master carpenter and home builder as well as being, according to the late great B.B. King, one of the world’s best blues guitarist. I got so see him this past Friday (February 17, 2017) at Stage One in Fairfield, Connecticut.  It is a small cozy venue without a bad seat in the house and it was a perfect setting for his style and music.

Albert comes across as an everyday person.  Dressed in an untucked maroon long sleeve shirt and jeans and wearing a grey baseball cat, Albert is your average working guy…..until he strikes a chord on his guitar and begins to belt out tunes with his distinctive voice.  He started playing the electric blues guitar while he was in college…drawn to it by the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan. And in 2003, he put out his first solo album, From the Heart, with no less than SRV’s group, Double Trouble, as his studio band and producers.  In 2006, he recorded, Workin’ Man Blues, on the album Working Man.  It is a remake of song written by Merle Haggard that fit’s Albert persona and will forever be the way that I think of him.

 

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On stage, Albert smiles and grins a lot.  It is obvious that he loves playing the blues.  And once he got started, it was rapid fire rockin blues for two hours.  Backed by a tight bass guitarist and drummer, he covered songs for his latest release, Someone Like You, on Blind Pig Records (a powerhouse blues label… http://www.blindpigrecords.com/ ) as well as favorites like Cry Me A River, Hoochie Coochie, and The Blues Make Me Feel So Good from his previous albums.

Afterwards he mingled with the crowd and I got him to sign my Albert Cummings baseball cap. He was as friendly in person as on stage. We chatted about the blues and he wished me the best as a blues dj and blogger and his thank you for me playing his tunes on my stream was just so damn genuine.

Over the next two months, Albert will be playing venues all over the northeastern United States, the mid west, and the South.  Check out his tour dates at http://albertcummings.com/tour-dates/ and if he comes your way, go spend an evening listening to the rockin blues of the Workin’ Man Albert Cummings.

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Full Steam Through the Night with Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado

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The first great blues rock album of 2017, Change My Game, is by Copenhagen based Thorbjorn Risager and the Black Tornado. A true mesh of blues, rock, and soul, the album resonates with a contemporary sound.  Thorbjorn was a distinctive voice meant for steamy nights at the club or home. Musically, the album makes tasteful use of horns, keyboards, and backup vocals to compliment the outstanding guitar and percussion work.

I have noted previously over the last year that a number of music artists have revived the true rhythm and blues and soul sound of the sixties and seventies on their releases. These genres are important categories of the blues and deserve the attention and respect they are getting from contemporary artists.  Beth Hart, Melissa Etheridge, along with perennials Curtis Salgado and Janiva Magness come to mind and Thorbjorn fits nicely into this group of stellar performers.  The title cut is vintage funk…upbeat and snappy. Long Gone is a slow lyrical masterpiece filled with late night images of sorrow and pain. And I Used To Love You is a beautiful song with some awesome blues guitar riffs and a nice beat.

thorbjorn-1On a number of cuts on the album, Thorbjorn continues to expand on the blues for contemporary audiences.  Train is just badass contemporary upbeat rockin’ blues…ridin full steam through the night. Holler and Moan builds on the delta roots of the electric blues and makes tasteful use of blues chant and horns as well as the banjo to highlight the growling vocals of Thorbjorn…a very cool tune.  Maybe It’s Alright is a perfect synergy of the blues, soul, and rock that should drive people to the dance floor at juke joints worldwide.

Without a doubt, Thorbjorn Risager and the Black Tornado, are world class talents.  This is the tenth record release for the group and with the power and drive of blues giants Ruf Records behind them, they should get a lot of airplay on blues stations and streams (like mine) across the globe.  They will be touring in Denmark, Germany, and Sweden to support the new album over the next several months. As the airplay builds for the record, I expect the tour to expand through the rest of Europe during the summer.  I know it is very expensive for an eight member European band to travel and play in the United States, but I do hope they will make one foray to the northeastern United States and Canada. I know enough about the current blues and blues rock music scene to say with full confidence that audiences in New York City, Hartford, Boston, Montreal, and Toronto will love their music!! I just hope I get to see them soon…..or can find a cheap flight to Copenhagen!

Beth Hart – Fire on the Floor … You’re Gonna Need a Hose!

Since the October release in Europe of Fire on the Floor by Beth Hart, I’ve been waiting to watch the new album stream onto my computer here in the United States. I finally have it and all I can say is WOW!  It is another soul baring and intense foray by Beth! An exhilarating tour de force that runs from soulful to upbeat blues to excruciatingly personal and beautiful ballads, Beth just continues to amaze.  She paints real life scenes in her songwriting, frames them with powerful strong rhythms, and then delivers the final product with a voice that belts out reality.  At times fiery and very often vulnerable, the album is a masterpiece!

beth-hart-fire-on-the-floorOn the title cut, Beth delivers another instant classic with lyrics that will cut waning lovers to the core; it is the radio/streaming hit of the album. And you may well need a fire hose to cool off after listening!

The tune, Good Day to Cry, just stunned me. It is as if Beth and Janis Joplin sat down and wrote a song together.  It is what Janis would have written and sung at this stage of her career had she lived…I just know it.

 

For fans like me of William Gibson and the novel Neuromancer (that forecast the internet back in 1983 and introduced the “cyber punk” cult), the tune Fatman could be a future movie soundtrack cut.  It is a witty biting look into the dysfunctional personality of a drug user and a great upbeat tune.

The song, Coca Cola, brought a laugh and a big smile to my face. For those of you that know me personally or listen to my DJ sets, you know that a cigar and a Coca-Cola can are never far from my hands when I play my tunes. And I would be more than happy to share an ice cold one with Beth any time!

Stylistically, the album takes you several different places. I can see Beth performing Baby Shot Me Down with Dr. John at the Jazz Fest in New Orleans; another song with strong lyric visuals and excellent keyboard work by Beth. Let’s Get Together is a vintage 60’s Motown soul that is a strong suit for Beth’s voice.  Jazz Man hails back to Billie Holiday and the film noire movies that I love so much.  Love is a Lie and Love Gangster are sassy and sultry tunes that harken back to her Bang Bang Boom Boom album. Picture in a Frame and No Place like Home are just great Beth ballads.. vignettes of her soul.

This album is a great listen and a testament to the songwriting, musical talent, and powerful voice of Beth Hart.  I can’t wait to see her perform these songs live….SOON!