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!
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“…..
Tinsley’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.
When you take a voice that is a graveled mix of Walter Trout and Curtis Salgado and back it with a strong blues band featuring Debbie Davies on guitar, you have a shot at a great album. When you ace it with a tasteful selection of classic tunes and your own compositions, you have album of the year material. Jay Stollman, who hails from the northeastern part of the United States, is my selection for debut Blues Album of 2015 with his first CD, Room for One More.
Lonesome in My Bedroom is a classic grindin’ blues tune by Luther Johnson that showcases Jay’s voice and Debbie’s guitar tone…..sweet stuff. His cover of the Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come is spine tingling and merits consideration for soul blues tune of the year. The original composition, Devil In Disguise, is great rockin’ blues featuring some badass harpin’ by Kevin Totoian. And Jay’s foray into Little Feat musical territory with his original Love Me Or Leave Me is a tasty little number with some nice slide guitar work by Andy Abel. Ride Till I’m Satisfied is a great blues shuffle with nice guitar licks and the tasteful use of the organ that was originally recorded by Walter Trout. Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable listen!
Buy this album! It is great contemporary blues from the first note to the last. I can’t wait to see him live sometime soon when he ventures back to Connecticut.
Have a listen to A Change is Gonna Come ….
I have had a couple of people ask me for album recommendations for B.B. King. From a discography of over 40 studio albums and a dozen or so live recordings, I think these 5 are quality representatives of a lifetime of recording:
- Completely Well (1969) ABC Records
- Live in Cook County Jail (1971) Geffen Records
- Blues on the Bayou (1998) Geffen Records
- Riding with the King (with Eric Clapton) (2000) Reprise Records
- One Kind Favor (2008) Geffen Records
And now for some of the best B.B. King single tunes:
- Three O’ Clock Blues (1991 Remaster)
- The Thrill is Gone (1969)
- When Love Comes to Town (with U2) (1988)
- Why I Sing the Blues (1992)
- Lucille (1968)
I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. And if you have a set of five favorites, just a leave a comment!
When a bluesman passes, we mourn for just a bit and then celebrate their lives with song, the clinking of glasses, and the telling of stories amongst friends.
I first saw B.B. King at the age of sixteen back in 1969. I attended a Johnny Winters concert and BB was the opening act. I had no idea of who he was. Dressed in a white shirt and black tie, he and his band came up on stage to the murmurs of the teenage crowd. “Who is this dude?” Once he started playing, the audience sat in stunned silence as BB began to make love to Lucille. It was an electrifying performance and by the third or fourth song, everyone was on their feet. I will never forget that night; I was introduced to the blues by the King himself!
The traveling bard telling stories and singing songs is one of the oldest art forms known to man. B.B. told the story of the blues in concert a reported 15,000 times in his career. He rose from humble roots in the cotton fields in Mississippi and spread the music of the blues literally across the globe. And his legacy of songs will be sung long after we return to the dust from whence we came. If you have a story about B.B., share the memory with family and friends and us……
Rest in peace Riley King! I count it a blessing to have lived during the era of the King of the Blues, though I wish you could have stayed just a little longer.
The Stone Foxes – Small Fires (2013 Stone Foxes Records)
A one Cigar rating for this CD from a San Francisco blues rock band. With a sound steeped in the distortion blues of the Black Keys and a vocal style reminiscent of the Kinks and the J. Geils band, the Stone Foxes deliver some crankin’ tunes with a good beat and lyrics. I enjoyed Everybody Knows.
John Mayer – Paradise Valley (2013 Columbia Records)
While most of the media seems fascinated by John’s love life, I prefer to focus on his music. Featuring a true talent on the guitar and a special voice, Paradise Valley is a pleasant roots rock/country work with a melancholy tinge and lyrics that blue lovers will enjoy. On Call Me The Breeze, John builds on the Tulsa sound recordings of Eric Clapton and the songwriter, JJ Cale, to produce a great version of his own. I just want John to stop toying with the blues out at the fringe and dive into the deep end….it will happen one day and be well worth the wait. One cigar and the patience of Job rating for this CD.
Marcus Bonfanti – Shake the Walls (2013 Jigsaw Music Ltd.)
A one fine cigar rating for this blues rock recording by a great British singer and guitar player. His deep gritty voice and “seventies throwback” look fit the blues like a well made glove. While he can crank out blues rock with the best of them, I also enjoyed the acoustic cuts on the album. Try Jezebel, Alley Cat, Blind Alley, and The Bittersweet.
Dorothy – Dorothy EP – (2014 Claray Records)
An Acid Cigar and shot of tequila rating for this badass debut EP! Featuring the riveting raw vocals of Dorothy Martin, this blues rockin’ foursome out of Los Angeles just cranks it out. I loved Gun in My Hand, After Midnight, Wicked Ones, and Bang, Bang, Bang. Gotta check it out!!
I was fortunate to catch Nick Moss & his band recently doing a gig outside of Houston. Obviously tired from twenty six hours on the road direct from Chicago, he got on stage and just let it rip with tunes from his new album “Time Ain’t Free”. He shed the highway weariness in a hurry and his face lit up as the band launched into a Chicago funk instrumental, “(Big Mike’s) Sweet Potato Pie” to start the show. Nick is a big man and he bear hugged his guitar and just torched the frets as his tight band laid down an energetic groove. It was an impressive start to an entertaining evening.
“Time Ain’t Free” is the tenth album for Nick on his own label, Blue Bella Records, and seems destined to land him even more blues artist and music nominations (he already has 16!) It also marks a return to his Chicago roots via Macon Georgia! Nick’s last two albums were blues rock oriented and a marked departure from the Chicago blues style and sound that brought him notice on his first two albums in 1999 (First Offense) and 2001 (Got a New Plan). On the new album, we get a delicious mix of Chicago blues, urban funk, and that Southern sound that emanated from Macon in the seventies. It is a magical stew of the modern blues cooked Nick Moss style.
“Was I Ever Heard” is a southern blues rockin’ tune about life on the road and the night after night grind that all bands endure trying to make an impression and light a spark of enduring remembrance in sometimes fickle audiences. All I can say is that the guitar solos on this cut are for the ages and in league with the best of Dickey Betts, Duane Allman, and Warren Haynes. The cover of the Son House song, “Death Letter Blues”, is in the same vein as is the title cut, “Time Ain’t Free” and “No Reason”….sweet southern rockin’ blues.
The album also has a number of cuts featuring the remarkable voice of band member and Chicago native Mike Ledbetter. He has a soul inspired sound combined with a magnetic personality and a pair of movin’ hips that had the ladies in attendance smiling and swaying. (In fact, that is my only nitpick of the album after seeing the live performance, the CD just doesn’t do justice to the power of Mike’s vocals.) I particularly enjoyed the tune, “Fare the Well”, that showcased the clarity of his voice set to a Chicago urban funky blues beat.
The Nick Moss Band is doing a slew of concert dates in the United States through late June. In August 2014, he will head to Germany for shows in Bremen, Forst, and Hamburg. Check your local concert listings and make a date with the Nick Moss band. The time you spend listening to them live won’t be free but well worth the price of admission.
It all starts for me in the 1950’s with the emergence of the electric guitar and two gifted artists: Muddy Waters and B.B. King. They were at the head of an entourage of talented players and singers who electrified and expanded the delta blues and exposed a generation of teenagers growing up in the late fifties and sixties to a sound that they embraced, massaged, and have passed onto an exciting new generation of blues artists.
Most, but not all, of the electric blues artists from the 1950’s that I love were based in Chicago, a rough house city where there were opportunities not available In the segregated southern United States. Many arrived by train and settled on the south side of the city, Muddy Waters among them. Sleeping on the couch of relatives, working during the day, and playing the blues at night and on weekends, he electrified audiences with his voice and his sensual style. By the end of the decade of the fifties, he, along with Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter, reigned over Chicago and he was traveling to Europe to wow audiences on the continent. The gigs in Europe featuring songs written by his one time bass guitarist, Willie Dixon, would eventually fire the imagination of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Mick Jagger, among others, and the British Blues would be born.
While Muddy headed north, a young man from Mississippi stayed closer to home and made a name for himself and his guitar in Memphis, Tennessee. As a singer and DJ in Memphis in the late 1940’s, he picked up the nickname, the Beale Street Blues Boy, which was later shortened to B.B. Within years, he was to be acknowledged as the King of Blues, the one and only B.B. King. With his guitar, Lucille, he has become the living embodiment of the blues. His distinctive voice and guitar playing style brought droves of new fans to the blues and he has continually strived to share his stage with promising talent. Among them was an 11 year old boy who is my favorite modern blues guitarist and singer, Joe Bonamassa.
On this blog, I hope to expose readers to my favorite blues artists and to review blues music. I also have a 24 hour blues stream where you can listen to selections from my collection of 40,000 or so blues tunes. ( http://www.s1.nexuscast.com:8043 ). I am partial to what I term, the rockin’ blues, a style of blues that I was exposed to as a young man by Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. But I love all electric blues….the rhythm….the lyrics….the passion. It is a life long love affair.