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.

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!

Ana Popovic’s Stiletto Blues

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My lovely wife Annette and I got to see one of the world’s greatest blues and rock guitarists on Friday night……Ana Popovic!  Nestled in the intimate 225 seat confines of the Fairfield Stage One Theatre, we enjoyed a two hour performance of songs from her last several albums as well as tunes by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix!

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Method to the Madness yields hit for Tommy Castro

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Tommy’s latest album Method to My Madness deserves serious consideration for blues album of the year. A Californian with the soul of a deep southern R&B bluesman, he has paid his dues over the course of 14 albums and thousands of live performances. Along with his band, the Painkillers, he has produced 12 songs that span the expanse of the blues from soul to great blues rockers.

The title cut is a soul infused slice of Tommy’s upbeat style. With the tune On Common Ground, Tommy observes that “we have to band together or all fall down”; a healthy bit of advice for our fractious society. Shine A Light and All about the Cash feature some bad ass guitar licks and Bad Luck is an awesome blues shuffle. On Ride, Tommy channels a bit of Jack Kerouac and Jim Morrison to create a distinctive song.  And Tommy shines in my favorite blues genre, the grinding blues, with Lose Lose.; his voice suits the deep sensual blues.

Twelve songs….twelve great tunes. Check out his tour schedule. If he gets close, make sure to go share in the madness.

If you have an mp3 player….check out “Ride“…..

 

 

 

In From the Cold with Tinsley Ellis

tinsley_ellis_tough_love_square_400x400Tinsley’s latest album Tough Love has been nominated by the prestigious Blues Foundation for 2016 Rock Blues album of the Year and has already won the same award from Blues Blast Magazine. It is a deserving honor for the Atlanta based blues rocker.  Over the course of eleven albums and almost 20 years, Tinsley has wowed listeners and audiences with an intense brand of blues rock. For his latest album, he turns down the dial just a tad and has produced a classic.

When I first bought and listened to the album in February of 2015, I was blown away by one song in particular, In From the Cold.  It is the last of the ten songs on the recording and he definitely saved the best for last. It is a perfect blending of his voice and guitar playing style featuring heart felt lyrics and soaring guitar licks.  It is far and away my pick for Blues Song of the year and will become a blues rock classic.

 

 

Smokin’ Cigars and Ponderin’ Blues (Feb 23, 2015)

Sittin’ in my easy chair, smokin’ a cigar, and ponderin’ blues reviews:

  • Rory BlockHard Luck Child – Stony Plain Recording 2014
    • No Cigar – While acoustically brilliant, the album, which covers Skip James, didn’t do much for me.
  • Eric BibJericho Road – Stony Plain Recording 2013
    • One Fine Cigar – Death Row Blues is a great tune on a solid album.
  • Edin BrentJigsaw Heart – Yellow Dog Records 2014
    • One Fine Cigar and a Sniffer of Brandy – She is “Bonnie Raitt on a piano”. Nuff said!
  • John MooneySon and Moon – Fatback Records 2014
    • One Fine Cigar – Covering Son House tunes, John does some fine acoustic pickin’ playing the delta blues.
  • Elvin BishopCan’t Even Do Wrong Right – Alligator Records 2014
    • One Cigar – The title cut is vintage “Red Dog” blues and nominated for song of the year by the Blues Foundation.
  • John NemethMemphis Grease – Blue Corn Music 2014
    • One Fine Cigar – Bad Luck is My Name has been nominated for song of the year. Contains several nice soul blues and harp tunes.
  • Jarekus SingletonRefuse to Lose – Alligator Records 2014
    • One Fine Cuban Cigar with some friends – It’s the Chicago blues Baby! Great album by an up and coming young artist! High Minded was my favorite.
  • The Mannish BoysWrapped Up and Ready – Delta Groove Music 2014
    • One Fine Cuban Cigar with some friends – Layin’ down the Chicago blues with vigor and finesse. Loved Blues for Michael Bloomfield, a great jammin’ grinding blues tune!