Milligan Vaughan Project….Some Satisfaction for the Soul!

MPV

It must be pretty cool to have a dad, Jimmie Vaughan, who is a legendary blues man and an uncle, Stevie Ray Vaughan, that helped define the rockin’ blues genre but I can’t imagine the amount of pressure that goes with following in their footsteps and playin a guitar!  Tyrone Vaughan has done just that and acquitted himself well.  Combining forces with a well known and respected Texas blues and soul singer, Malford Milligan, they have produced a fine album called the Milligan Vaughan Project.

The album was recorded in Austin in between tour dates throughout Texas and produced by David Grissom.  It features original tunes written by Milligan, Vaughan, and Grissom and songs penned by Davey Knowles and Gene McDaneils. There is also  one fantastic cover of Buddy Guy’s Leave My Girl Alone.  Tyrone does a fine job of emulating Stevie Ray on the recording and I just know his uncle must be grinnin’ from ear to ear up there with the rest of the giants of the blues.

The music on the album is a creative mix of blues, rock, and soul.  My favorite track is a hot upbeat number entitled Soul Satisfaction. Malford has a voice similar to another favorite artist of mine, Joe Louis Walker, and his gritty delivery works well on the blues rockin song Dangerous Eyes. I also enjoyed Tyrone’s guitar licks amid the social commentary of Compared to What and on the tune Driving You.

Tyrone has an exciting future in front of him and it will be interesting to see how things work out for the Milligan Vaughan Project as time goes on.  But rest assured that Tyrone is not “trading on the family name”; he is very very good and deserves to be listened to….even if his last name was Jones!

 

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Continuing to Innovate….Dennis Johnson finds the Rhythm!

Dennis Johnson

Guitars have been widely available in America since back in 1894 when Sears & Roebuck began to sell them in their catalogs.  For $4 to $26 dollars, you could live on a remote ranch in Wyoming or in a shotgun shack in the Mississippi delta, and Sears would mail you an instrument to while the nights…and the blues away.  Certainly the most famous practitioner of the blues on guitar back in the early days of recorded music was Robert Johnson.  Playing throughout the twenties in the deep American south and finally recording in the mid 1930’s, he was an innovator on the guitar blending rhythm and slide phrases that are still marveled at by the likes of Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy. 

Today, we also have blues innovators on the guitar and one of them is Dennis Johnson from San Francisco. The sounds he produces playing slide are a joy to listen to. And on his third studio album, Rhythmland, he continues to explore new and interesting ways to deliver the blues.  The first cut of the album, Walkin Blues, is his interpretation of a classic blues tune that was first recorded by Son House and then adapted by Robert Johnson. Dennis has the perfect voice for this song and uses a 12 string dobro with a tone that leaps out at you as it begins….it is simply bad ass upbeat contemporary blues based on a song that is almost 90 years old!!!

Accompanied by his band the Mississippi Ramblers that consists of Tim Metz (drums), Jonathan Stoyanoff (bass) and Craig Long (keyboards and backing vocals), Dennis delivers a number of other great songs (all originals) that will make my DJ playlists and be featured on my 24 hour blues stream, Ben Vee Roadhouse Blues.  I particularly enjoyed Valley of Love for the slide work and High Heel Shoes and Fillmore Street are great upbeat dancin’ blues tunes.  The recreation of the sounds of a moving train on an acoustic guitar are just part of delightful song, Southbound Train, that always features some nice keyboard work.  The most interesting cut was Timbale featuring a latin cascara beat and some more innovative slide work that I just know my blues listeners and readers will love.

Blues folks all owe a debt to Sears & Roebuck for the innovation of the “home shopping” catalog way back in the day and our grateful thanks to blues slide guitar innovators like Dennis Johnson for his continuing and entertaining pursuit of the best possible contemporary blues while never losing sight of the debt we owe to the early blues men and women.  Download and listen to this CD……you will enjoy it!

Dennis Johnson & the Mississippi Ramblers – Root Tone Records 2017