Lonnie Mack Has Passed

Lonnie Mack, July 18, 1941 – April 21, 2016

LonnieMackThe following is a press release from Alligator Records. Here at Blues Biscuits we are crushed at this news. Lonnie is one of my favorite musicians and one of a long list of players I found through Stevie Ray Vaughan. I came to appreciate Lonnie for his breadth of talent and styles. He is in the pantheon of the blues Gods for sure. Rest easy Lonnie, we’re glad you were in the band…

Groundbreaking guitarist and vocalist Lonnie Mack, known as one of rock’s first true guitar heroes, died on April 21, 2016 of natural causes at Centennial Medical Center near his home in Smithville, Tennessee. His early instrumental recordings – among them Wham! and Memphis — influenced many of rock’s greatest players, including Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and especially Stevie Ray Vaughan. He was 74.

Rolling Stone called him “a pioneer in rock guitar soloing.” Guitar World said, “Mack attacked the strings with fast, aggressive single-string phrasing and a seamless rhythm style that significantly raised the guitar virtuoso bar and foreshadowed the arena-sized tones of guitar heroes to come.” The Chicago Tribune wrote, “With the wiggle of a whammy bar and a blinding run of notes up and down the neck of his classic Gibson Flying V, Lonnie Mack launched the modern guitar era.”

Drawing from influences as diverse as rhythm and blues, country, gospel and rockabilly, Mack’s guitar work continues to be revered by generation after generation of musicians. He recorded a number of singles and a total of 11 albums for labels including Fraternity, Elektra, Alligator, Epic and Capitol.

Mack was born Lonnie McIntosh on July 18, 1941 in Harrison, Indiana, twenty miles west of Cincinnati. Growing up in rural Indiana, Mack fell in love with music as a child. From family sing-alongs he developed a deep appreciation of country music, while he absorbed rhythm and blues from the late-night R&B radio stations and gospel from his local church. Starting off with a few chords that he learned from his mother, Lonnie gradually blended all the sounds he heard around him into his own individual style. He named Merle Travis and Robert Ward (of the Ohio Untouchables) as his main guitar influences, and George Jones and Bobby Bland as vocal inspirations.

He began playing professionally in his early teens (he quit school after a fight with his sixth-grade teacher), working clubs and roadhouses around the tri-state border area of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. In 1958, he bought the guitar he would become best known for, a Gibson Flying V, serial number 7, which he equipped with a Bigsby tremolo bar. (After the release of Wham!, the tremolo bar became known worldwide as a “whammy bar”.) In addition to his live gigs, Lonnie began playing sessions for the King and Fraternity labels in Cincinnati. He recorded with blues and R&B greats like Hank Ballard, Freddie King and James Brown.

In 1963, at the end of another artist’s session, Lonnie cut an instrumental version of Chuck Berry’s Memphis. He didn’t even know that Fraternity had issued the single until he heard it on the radio, and within a few weeks Memphis had hit the national Top Five. Lonnie Mack went from being a talented regional roadhouse player to a national star virtually overnight.

Suddenly, he was booked for hundreds of gigs a year, crisscrossing the country in his Cadillac and rushing back to Cincinnati or Nashville to cut new singles. Wham!, Where There’s A Will There’s A Way, Chicken Pickin’ and a dozen other records followed Memphis. None sold as well as his first hit (though Where There’s A Will earned extensive black radio airplay before the DJs found out Lonnie was white), but there was enough reaction to keep him on the road for another five years of grueling one-nighters.

Fraternity Records went bust, but Lonnie kept on gigging, and in 1968 a Rolling Stone article stimulated new interest in his music. He signed with Elektra Records and cut three albums. Elektra also reissued his original Fraternity LP, The Wham Of That Memphis Man!. He began playing all the major rock venues, from Fillmore East to Fillmore West. Lonnie also made a guest appearance on the Doors’ Morrison Hotel album. You can hear Lonnie’s guitar solo on Roadhouse Blues preceded by Jim Morrison’s urgent ‘Do it, Lonnie! Do it!’ He even worked in Elektra’s A&R department. When the label merged with giant Warner Brothers, Lonnie grew disgusted with the new bureaucracy and walked out of his job.

Mack headed back to rural Indiana, playing back-country bars, going fishing and laying low. After six years of relative obscurity, Lonnie signed with Capitol and cut two albums that featured his country influences. He played on the West Coast for a while and even flew to Japan for a “Save The Whales” benefit. Then he headed to New York to team up with an old friend named Ed Labunski. Labunski was a wealthy jingle writer that wrote “This Bud’s For You” who was tired of commercials and wanted to write and play for pleasure. He and Lonnie built a studio in rural Pennsylvania and spent three years organizing and recording a country-rock band called South, which included Buffalo-based keyboardist Stan Szelest, who later played on Lonnie’s Alligator debut. Ed and Lonnie had big plans for their partnership, including producing an album by a then-obscure Texas guitarist named Stevie Ray Vaughan. But the plans evaporated when Labunski died in an auto accident, and the South album was never commercially released. Lonnie next headed for Canada and joined the band of veteran rocker Ronnie Hawkins for a summer. After a brief stay in Florida, he returned to Indiana in 1982, playing clubs in Cincinnati and the surrounding area.

Mack began his re-emergence on the national scene in November of 1983. At Stevie Ray Vaughan’s urging, he relocated from southern Indiana to Texas, where he settled in Spicewood. He began jamming with Stevie Ray (who proudly named Wham! as the first single he owned) in local clubs and flying to New York for gigs at the Lone Star and the Ritz. When Alligator Records approached Lonnie to do an album, Vaughan immediately volunteered to help him out. The result was 1985’s Strike Like Lightning, co-produced by Lonnie and Stevie Ray and featuring Stevie’s guitar on several tracks.

Mack’s re-emergence was a major music industry event. Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Ry Cooder and Stevie Ray Vaughan all joined Lonnie on stage during his 1985 tour. The New York Times said, “Although Mr. Mack can play every finger-twisting blues guitar lick, he doesn’t show off; he comes up with sustained melodies and uses fast licks only at an emotional peak. Mr. Mack is also a thoroughly convincing singer.”  Other celebrities — Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, Eddie Van Halen, Dwight Yoakam and actor Matt Dillon — attended shows during the Strike Like Lightning tour. The year was capped off with a stellar performance at New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall with Albert Collins and the late Roy Buchanan. That show was released commercially on DVD as Further On Down The Road.

Mack recorded two more albums for Alligator, 1986’s Second Sight and 1990’s Live! Attack Of the Killer V. In between he signed with Epic Records and released Roadhouses And Dancehalls in 1988. Mack continued to tour into the 2000s. He relocated to Smithville, Tennessee where he continued writing songs but ceased active touring. In 2001 he was inducted into the International Guitar Hall Of Fame and in 2005 into the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame.

He is survived by five children and multitudes of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Check out Lonnie’s extraordinary musicianship with this Spotify playlist:

Moonshine & Mojo Hands – Blues Reality Show Coming In April

World’s First Blues Music Reality Show To Launch in April

Moonshine & Mojo Hands reunites creators of award-winning documentaries M for Mississippi and We Juke Up in Here

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(CLARKSDALE, MS) – The long-awaited premiere of the world’s first blues music reality show will take place this spring. The first episode of Moonshine & Mojo Hands: The Mississippi Blues Series will begin streaming online on Thursday, April 21 with additional episodes to debut each week. The entire 10-episode series will stream exclusively online at www.moonshineandmojohands.com.

The web series was created by Roger Stolle and Jeff Konkel, who previously teamed up on the award-winning blues documentaries M for Mississippi: A Road Trip Through the Birthplace of the Blues and We Juke Up in Here: Mississippi’s Juke Joint Culture at the Crossroads.

For the new project, the duo traveled Mississippi’s back roads in search of juke joints, house parties, barbecue, soul food, folk artists, moonshiners and – of course – the men who keep the uniquely American music form of the blues alive in the land of its birth. The show will feature a wide range of musicians both celebrated and obscure. Featured artists include James “Super Chikan” Johnson, Leo Bud Welch, Jimbo Mathus, Robert “Bilbo” Walker, Mark “Muleman” Massey, Terry “Harmonica” Bean, Lucious Spiller, Louis “Gearshifter” Youngblood and many more.

“There’s no denying that many of the towering figures in traditional blues have passed on in recent years, but there are still incredible blues musicians living and working in Mississippi if you know where to look,” Konkel said. “And we know where to look.”

Each episode of Moonshine & Mojo Hands will take viewers on a wild ride through the Mississippi Delta and Hill Country to meet the region’s most fascinating characters in truly unforgettable settings.

“There’s truly no place else on Earth quite like Mississippi,” Stolle said. “We can’t wait to introduce viewers to all of the great music, food, culture and characters that the state has to offer.”

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The series reunites Stolle and Konkel with Damien Blaylock and Lou Bopp, both of whom figured prominently in the duo’s earlier film projects. Blaylock, who served as cinematographer and editor for both M for Mississippi and We Juke Up in Here, is serving as chief editor for the new series. Bopp is reprising his role behind the camera from We Juke Up in Here.

The web series also features cinematography by Jon Michael Ryan of Tangent Mind, Inc., audio engineering by Fred Early, editing support from Jeff Brierly, graphic design support from Joey Grisham and website support from Anne Willis.

The show was made possible through support from Coahoma County Tourism, The Lofts at the Fime & Dime, Travel for Fans, Yazoo Pass Espresso Bar, Bistro & Bakery and the generous contributions of hundreds of Kickstarter supporters.

Moonshine & Mojo Hands is a joint production of Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art and Broke & Hungry Records.

MoonshineMojoHandsLogo

For more information, contact
Roger Stolle at roger@cathead.biz or
Jeff Konkel at jeff@brokeandhungryrecords.com
Photos by Lou Bopp:
1. Gospel-bluesman Leo “Bud” Welch during filming, near Calhoun City, MS.
2. RL Boyce yard party in Como, MS, with show hosts Roger Stolle (L) and Jeff Konkel (R).

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Blast Furnace Blues Festival Coming This Weekend

Robert Randolph, Charlie Musselwhite, Coco Montoya & More Headline 2016 Blast Furnace Blues Festival at SteelStacks in Bethlehem

Festival, presented by Highmark Blue Shield, set for March 11-13

CharlieMusselwhiteBlastFurnaceBETHLEHEM, PARobert Randolph & the Family Band, GRAMMY winner Charlie Musselwhite, Johnny Winter’s All Star Band, Coco Montoya and the Royal Southern Brotherhood headline the fifth Blast Furnace Blues Festival presented by Highmark Blue Shield March 11-13, 2016 at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. Three-day festival passes and single-day tickets for the event, which features 18 national and local blues artists are available at www.steelstacks.org and 610-332-3378.

On Sat., March 12, Blast Furnace Blues welcomes dynamic funk and soul group Robert Randolph & the Family Band. Named one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” by Rolling Stone, Robert Randolph and his band first gained national attention with the release of the album Live at the Wetlands in 2002. The group has performed at festivals ranging from Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits, to Gathering of the Vibes and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, while Randolph’s guitar work has resulted in collaborations with icons such as Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana.

Prior to Robert Randolph’s set, guests will enjoy a scorchin’ performance by the Royal Southern Brotherhood featuring Cyril Neville of The Neville Brothers. Also performing is Coco Montoya, a former member of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers who’s been called “the hottest southpaw in the blues” by Guitar One Magazine.

Headlining the festival on Sun., March 13, is the one and only Charlie Musselwhite. A Blues Hall of Famer and a 2013 GRAMMY winner for Get Up!, his collaboration with Ben Harper, Musselwhite has been recording and performing for more than five decades. During his career, the legendary harmonica player has recorded and shared the stage with a who’s who of the music world including blues legends like Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf, as well as Mick Jagger, INXS, Tom Waits and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

Earlier in the day, attendees will also enjoy a special tribute to Johnny Winter as the Johnny Winter All Star Band rocks the ArtsQuest Center. This high-energy ensemble features former Johnny Winter Band members Paul Nelson on guitar and James Montgomery on vocals, performing the music of the late blues-rock guitarist. Among the other artists who will take the stage March 13 is Janiva Magness, the 2009 Blues Foundation B.B. King Entertainer of the Year and 2015 Contemporary Female Artist of the Year.

”Highmark Blue Shield is proud to once again sponsor the Blast Furnace Blues Festival, a wonderful musical event that draws blues-lovers far beyond the Lehigh Valley,” says Susan Hubley, director of community affairs at Highmark. “This year’s lineup of musicians looks as incredible as the setting at SteelStacks. We’re grateful for the opportunity to show our support for this showcase of blues talent.”

The 2016 Blast Furnace Blues Festival kicks off Fri., March 11, with an incredible night of music by some of the region’s top blues acts. Set to take the stage are Friar’s Point, Sarah Ayers Band and the Craig Thatcher Band. The festival will also offer a special blues brunch, with music by the BC Combo, March 13 at 11 a.m.

Looking for the ultimate experience at Blast Furnace Blues? The festival offers three-day VIP Packages, which include admission to the entire festival, as well as a Sunday Blues Brunch ticket, meet & greets with select headliners, commemorative poster, valet parking and more. VIP Packages, which are available in limited quantities, are only $199.

BLAST FURNACE BLUES PRESENTED BY HIGHMARK BLUE SHIELD LINEUP:
March 11
Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling
6:30 p.m. Friar’s Point
8:00 p.m. Sarah Ayers Band
9:45 p.m. Craig Thatcher Band

March 12
Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling
12:30 p.m. Ursula Ricks
1:45 p.m. Darrell Nulisch
3:15 p.m. James Armstrong
5:00 p.m. Coco Montoya
6:45 p.m. Royal Southern Brotherhood
8:30 p.m. Robert Randolph & the Family Band
Fowler Blast Furnace Room Stage
1:00 p.m. Maria Woodford Band
2:30 p.m. Toby Walker
4:15 p.m. Ursula Ricks
6:00 p.m. Darrell Nulisch
7:45 p.m. James Armstrong

March 13
Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling
11:00 a.m. The BC Combo
1:15 p.m. The Revelers
2:30 p.m. Janiva Magness
4:15 p.m. Johnny Winter All Star Band
6:00 p.m. Charlie Musselwhite
Fowler Blast Furnace Room Stage
12:30 p.m. Matt Anderson
2:00 p.m. James Supra
3:45 p.m. Matt Anderson
5:15 p.m. The Revelers

Long John Hunter Playlist

In honor of Long John Hunter, we’ve put together a playlist. Yes, of course we did. We love playlists! If you’re not familiar with Long John Hunter, this is a great way to get familiar with his music. There are some tracks from his early singles on Peacock to his critically acclaimed work for Alligator Records, including a few tracks from the terrific Lone Star Shootout album with his pals Lonnie Brooks and Phillip Walker.long_john_hunter2

Long John Hunter grew up in Arkansas and Texas. As a young man, he was working in Beaumont, TX when B.B. King came to the Raven Club. Hunter took notice of the way women were charmed by Mr. King. Inspired by the lovely ladies, Hunter bought a guitar, started a band, and soon found himself headlining at the Raven Club. However, it was his famous 13 year stint headlining at the Lobby Bar in Juarez that brought him early acclaim. He gigged regularly with Little Joe Washington and both performers were regularly found swinging from the rafters while playing their guitars. Even with this early acclaim, Long John Hunter only got to record a handful of singles until the late 80’s resurgence of interest in Blues. He went on to record half a dozen new albums over the remainder of his career. The CD age also found many of his singles reissued and repackaged as well. Finally the public knew what the folks of Texas already did – Long John Hunter was a living legend.

We hope you enjoy the tracks we picked out and be sure to explore more of this talented man’s music.

Thanks again for checking out our playlists. They are a great way to hear new music and revisit some classics, but please keep in mind that artists and/or their estates get very little money from streaming media. If you hear something you like, please buy it and support them.

Long John Hunter Dies At 84

LongJohnHunterAlligator Records has released the following press release regarding Long John Hunter’s death on Monday:

Internationally known Texas guitar legend Long John Hunter, 84, died in his sleep at his home in Phoenix, Arizona on Monday, January 4. His signature Texas blues were fueled by his single-note solos and melodic, drawling vocals. The Los Angeles Times called him “a top notch singer, guitarist and unbridled wildman performer…a raw, feral talent bursting with energy.” During a 60-year career, he recorded seven solo albums and a number of 45s.

Long before Hunter became a world-renowned recording artist, he was already a major draw in the Beaumont/Port Arthur, Texas region, where he cut his first 45. In 1957 he headed to Juarez, Mexico where he led the house band at the rough and tumble Lobby Bar for the next 13 years. There he played for locals, cowboys, soldiers, tourists and touring musicians, including Buddy Holly, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Etta James, Albert Collins and many others. He became a mentor to a young Bobby Fuller (I Fought The Law). Twice James Brown brought his band to witness Hunter in action. The second time Brown surprisingly took the stage during a set break. Unfazed, the audience screamed for Brown and company to move on and clear the way for the return of their hero, Long John Hunter.

Hunter became regionally famous not only for his musicianship, but for his showmanship. One of his favorite tricks was to hold his guitar by the neck in one hand while continuing to play. With his free hand, he’d reach up, grab a rafter above the stage and start to swing, never missing a beat. The Lobby Bar crowd delighted in Long John’s antics, and they inspired the title of his 1997 album, Swingin’ From The Rafters.

John T. Hunter, Jr. was born in Ringgold, Louisiana on July 13, 1931 and grew up in Arkansas and Texas. He had no interest in being a professional musician until, when he was 22, co-workers at the Beaumont, Texas box factory where he worked took him to see B.B. King perform at the Raven Club. Hunter later said he was amazed at the reception King got from the crowd, especially the frenzy of the women in the audience. The next day Hunter went out and bought a guitar. That very week he put a band together and before long developed his own style, mixing swinging blues and razor sharp guitar playing reminiscent of fellow Texans Albert Collins and Gatemouth Brown, with a definite nod towards B.B. King. Less than a year later, Hunter was headlining at the Raven Club, the very same place he first saw B.B.

Hunter’s growing reputation spread to Houston, where Don Robey of Duke Records (home of Gatemouth Brown, Bobby Bland and Junior Parker) released Hunter’s first single, Crazy Baby b/w She Used To Be My Woman, in 1954. The record didn’t win Hunter a national audience, but it did generate enough interest to keep him working full time as a musician. Hunter headed for Houston in 1955 to try and capitalize on his Duke single. He played shows with Little Milton, Johnny Copeland and many others. Two years later, he moved west to El Paso. The very night Hunter arrived, he crossed the border into Juarez, Mexico and found work at the Lobby Bar where he stayed for the next 13 years. “If it didn’t happen at the Lobby Bar,” Long John often said, “it just didn’t happen in life.”

Releasing only a small number of 45s, Hunter didn’t record a full album until 1993’s Ride With Me (Spindletop, reissued by Alligator). He signed with Alligator in 1996. His label debut, Border Town Legend, brought his music and his story to the masses. With his 1997 follow-up Swingin’ From The Rafters, Hunter went from being a locally revered Texas bluesman to being an internationally touring festival headliner. In 1999 he joined his old Beaumont friends Lonnie Brooks and Phillip Walker for the Texas rave-up CD, Lone Star Shootout. The Chicago Tribune said, “Hunter embodies Texas blues in all its varied, roustabout glory like no one on the scene today.”

As his stature grew, so did his tour calendar. He played numerous high-profile concerts including The Chicago Blues Festival, South By Southwest, San Antonio Cultural Festival, Long Beach Blues Festival, as well as multiple tours of the U.S and Europe. Hunter continued to perform and record, releasing independent CDs in 2003 and 2009.

Hunter is survived by his wife Gayle and brother Tom.

Funeral information is pending.
www.ALLIGATOR.com

Fall New Releases For Your Christmas List

It’s the holiday season again and that mean gift giving. This fall there has been a treasure trove of Blues new releases and you’re sure to find something for all the Blues lovers on your shopping list and maybe even something for yourself.  Guitar fans will find Mike Zito, Walter Trout, Todd Wolfe, Tommy McCoy, Popa Chubby, Gary Clark Jr., Dave Weld, Jay Willie, Leslie West, Tommy Castro, and Arlen Roth‘s Slide Guitar Summit. Legends like Robert Cray and John Mayall have new releases. Harp fans can dig into new releases from Chris O’Leary, Harmonica Shah, Charlie Musselwhite, and an expansive collection from Ruf called Blues Harp Women. If a blues fan on your list has been very good this year you might consider getting them the omnibus 14 disc Paul Butterfield complete albums box set. You’ve been good this year right? Get yourself one too.

There’s a mess o’ blues this year so grab an eggnog, dig in deep and check out these hot new items from the last few months. Check your list twice, there’s a lot you don’t want to miss!

Andy Santana

Andy Santana & The West Coast Playboys Watch Your Step!

Anthony Geraci

Anthony Geraci & The Boston Blues All-Stars Fifty Shades Of Blue

Arlen Roth

Arlen Roth Slide Guitar Summit

Joe Bonamassa

Joe Bonamassa Live At Radio City Music Hall

Walter Trout

Walter Trout Battle Scars

Leslie West

Leslie West Soundcheck

Tommy Castro

Tommy Castro Method To My Madness

Kim Simmonds & Savoy Brown

Kim Simmonds & Savoy Brown The Devil To Pay

John Mayall

John Mayall Find A Way To Care

Mike Zito & The Wheel

Mike Zito & The Wheel Keep Coming Back

Paul Butterfield

Paul Butterfield Complete Albums: 1965-1980 14 Disc Box set

Shemekia Copeland

Shemekia Copeland Outskirts Of Love

Danielle Nicole

Danielle Nicole Wolf Den

Duke Robillard

Duke Robillard The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard

Joe Louis Walker

Joe Louis Walker Everybody Wants A Piece

Guy Davis

Guy Davis Kokomo Kidd

MonkeyJunk

MonkeyJunk Moon Turn Red

Various Artists

Various Artists Blues Harp Women

Jonn Del Toro Richardson

Jonn Del Toro Richardson Tengo Blues

Steve Howell & The Mighty Men

Steve Howell & The Mighty Men Friend Like Me

The  Jimmys

The Jimmys Hot Dish

Colin Linden

Colin Linden Rich In Love

King Louie & LaRhonda Steele

King Louie & LaRhonda Steele King Louie & LaRhonda Steele

Lara Price

Lara Price I Mean Business

Eric Bibb and JJ Milteau

Eric Bibb and JJ Milteau Lead Belly’s Gold

Kevin Selfe

Kevin Selfe Buy My Soul Back

Thorbjorn  Risager & The Black Tornado

Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado Songs From the Road

The Claudettes

The Claudettes No Hotel

Dave Weld And The Imperial Flames

Dave Weld And The Imperial Flames Slip Into A Dream

Mitch Woods

Mitch Woods Jammin’ On the High Cs

Chris O'Leary

Chris O’Leary Gonna Die Tryin’

The Robert Cray Band

The Robert Cray Band 4 Nights of 40 Years Live

Gary Clark Jr.

Gary Clark Jr. The Story of Sonny Boy Slim

Laurence Jones

Laurence Jones What’s It Gonna Be

Harmonica Shah

Harmonica Shah If You Live To Get Old, You Will Understand

Dudley Taft

Dudley Taft Skin and Bones

Jay Willie

Jay Willie Johnny’s Juke Joint

Charlie Musselwhite

Charlie Musselwhite I Ain’t Lyin’

Dave & Phil Alvin

Dave & Phil Alvin Lost Time

Popa Chubby

Popa Chubby Big, Bad And Beautiful – Live

Nikki Hill

Nikki Hill Heavy Hearts Hard Fists

Loren Connors

Loren Connors Live In New York

Les Copeland

Les Copeland To Be In Your Company

Todd Wolfe Band

Todd Wolfe Band Long Road Back

Andy Cohen

Andy Cohen Road Be Kind

The JC Smith Band

The JC Smith Band Love Mechani

Andy Poxon

Andy Poxon Must Be Crazy!

Tommy McCoy

Tommy McCoy 25 Year Retrospective

Al Basile

Al Basile B’s Expression

These Blues Go To Eleven

NigelTufnelElevenIt’s the eleventh day of the eleventh month and that means today must be one louder! Spinal Tap may have been a bottom-feeding metal myth but their dedication to loudness still rings in the ears of musicians in every genre of music. Heavy Metal and Blues have always has a special relationship. Pioneering hard rockers like Blue Cheer, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and others all had their feet planted deep in the fertile soil of the Mississippi Delta. Black Sabbath is widely regarded as the first Heavy Metal band and they grew out of a blues band called Earth. The Metal Gods Judas Priest also came together from blues bands. These musicians came from poverty stricken Birmingham in the UK and wallowed in misery much like the people of the American south. They mixed the blues with the clanging sounds they heard all around them in the local factories, sang about dark subjects, and gave birth to what is arguably the most popular and prolific genre of music in the world.

Most Hard Rock and Heavy Metal musicians left straight blues behind. Many, like Aerosmith and Whitesnake embraced the Blues idioms and deep currents of blues run underneath their blustery Rock. A band like Vader might make you question my whole premise but if you follow the influences back through time you find the Blues. in honor of 11/11 I have put together a playlist of 11 Hard Rock and Heavy Metal acts showing their Blues influence. These go to Eleven.

SpinalTaptheseGoToEleven

1. AC/DC – “Whole Lotta Rosie” They have always been a lot like Chuck Berry with a Marshall stack but here they modify a classic Chicago Blues call and response riff and rev it up to 11.

2. Motorhead – “Hoochie Coochie Man” Lemmy was born before Rock & Roll. He has shown his blues influence a number of times in Motorhead but this live track from 1983 captures a blistering performance from temporary hire Brian Robertson of Thin Lizzy fame.

3. Cinderella – “Long Cold Winter” Lumped in with the hair band pretty boys by the record labels, Cinderella was the one of the most blues influenced Hard Rock bands of the era. From whiskey soaked vocals and slide guitars to minor key Blues, they stood out out from the party pack nothin’ but a good time pop metal pabulum.

4. Aerosmith – “Reefer Head Woman” Aersosmith was shoulders-deep in turmoil when they recorded this track for a largely forgotten (by the band at least) album. They played through their pain in this classic ramshackle performance.

5. Whitesnake – “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City” MTV Zep-clone hair band Whitesnake bears almost no resemblance to the band which rose from the ashes of Deep Purple. They started life as a terrific, hard working Bluesy rock band with Mick Moody and Bernie Marsden dueling with blues licks night after night.

6. Yngwie J. Malmsteen – “Red House” Yngwie is famously a fan of Ritchie Blackmore but he loves Hendrix too and has covered a few of Jimi’s classics. Here he rips it up live and even reins in his usual over the top tendencies (a little).

7.  Ted Nugent – “I Am A Predator” This tune comes from Intensities In Ten Cities (one of my favorite album titles ever). Our loin clothed madman flexed his Blues muscles often throughout his career but this one is from way back when he wasn’t too serious about much other than rampaging guitars and lovely groupies. Everybody sing along, ok?

8. Megadeth – “I Ain’t Superstitious” Thrash Metal titans take on Willie Dixon. The winner? You decide. I still think Howlin’ Wolf is the victor.

9. W.A.S.P. – “Promised Land” Yeah, Chuck Berry isn’t really Blues but he recorded for Chess and pretty much just played fast Blues songs. W.A.S.P. was no stranger to fast blues either, since one of their big hits – “Blind In Texas” – is basically a 12-bar in in overdrive. Here, Blackie Lawless channels Chuck Berry through Elvis in a fun romp from sea to shining sea.

10. Deep Purple – “Lazy” Deep Purple is known for its Classical influenced Hard Rock and extended jams but the Blues flowed through every incarnation of the band. Here the famous Mark II lineup brings Baroque Blues to the fore in a style that mixes Bach with Freddie King and the result has Tchaikovsky spreading the news.

11. Judas Priest – “The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)” The Metal Gods take on Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green classic. We close with this since it has one of the most influential Heavy Metal bands of all time tipping the hat to a sadly almost forgotten era of Fleetwood Mac’s history – an era of Blues. The takeaway here is how much it sounds like a Priest original. Was Peter Green the original Metal God?

In Memory Of Duane Allman 1946-1971

Those who know me, know my love of the Allman Brothers Band. Duane Allman was the creator of the band that bore his name and its leader for the first few years of its existence. Duane was a road dog, playing in bands since his teens mostly with his younger brother Gregg at his side. The two had a few false starts with The Allman Joys and Hour Glass but it wasn’t until Duane threw in the towel on the California music business promise of stardom and hi-tailed it back home that he found the recognition he deserved.

DuaneAllmanWilsonPickettDuane played on numerous recording sessions when he returned, often with top Atlantic Records artists at Muscle Shoals. It was actually Duane’s idea for Wilson Pickett to record “Hey Jude” and it was Wilson who gave Duane the nickname Sky Man which eventually morphed into Skydog. Today is the anniversary of the day we lost Skydog and I thought I’d share a playlist in tribute to this fallen musical master who died way too soon. You’ll find familiar songs on the playlist but I’ve chosen recordings that are mostly off the beaten path of the legendary At Fillmore East and the Brothers’ first few studio albums. I’ve also included some of my favorite session work Duane performed including Herbie Mann’s “Push Push,” the aforementioned “Hey Jude,” and for all the “Clapton Is God” nuts out there, “Layla” whose wicked riff and soaring slide guitars both came from Duane Allman. This week is the one-year anniversary of the last concert played by his band. They kept his spirit and music alive for over 40 years and if we keep going back and exploring his creations we too can keep it alive. Sail on, Skydog, sail on.

Day Old Biscuits! The Long Lost CD Reviews

It’s been a while since I had the time to post reviews and I apologize for that. Blues Biscuits is a labor of love but it’s a one man operation and sometimes this one man is spread a little too thin. Circumstances conspired to keep me from writing much but I never stopped listening. I get a tremendous amount of new Blues to go through and review. I appreciate the work it takes, especially in this modern music industry, to get a CD together and actually make and distribute it. I like to give the music more than one listen before forming an opinion. Some of my favorite albums took time to grow on me and I often find those to be the most enjoyable. Based on that experience I feel I should give the artists and their music time to sink in and see if my first impressions were accurate. I want to give them a fair shake.

Since my summer was a bit of a wash out and early fall has been hectic, I have quite a stock pile of CDs to go through. I had a few in mind to review and others I picked mostly because of the covers. I’ve said many times that covers are important. Don’t short change your music, your passion, your life’s work, with a lousy album cover. Anyway, I’ve changed up the format of the reviews a little bit to streamline them so I can cover as much ground as possible and still give these artists the attention they deserve.

VictorWainwrightBoomTownVictor Wainwright & The WildRoots
Boom Town
Blind Pig Records
Release Date May 26, 2015

Victor Wainwright & The WildRoots have served up one of the best of 2015 with Boom Town. If your brain can’t have fun on Boom Town, the drugs will never help. During “Two Lane Blacktop Revisited” Victor shouts “let’s put this thing on two wheels!” and you know that turn is coming way too fast and it’s gonna be wild. Boom Town is train robbery music. It is Old West saloon blues and the soundtrack to the James Gang’s bank heist highlights reel. Yes, it’s criminal. This may well be the devil’s music. By the time you get to “Wildroot Rumble” you’re cheering them on as you boogie around the house, banging on the air pianner and looking for your six-guns. The rumble is exactly what it says. The band engages in all-in, no holds barred shootout at the Boom Town Corral, delivering a non-stop high energy jam that slaps your damned mouth as it hangs slack-jawed at glory of the album you just experienced. It is bodacious. Saddle up and ride off into the sunset, this thing is over.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Two Lane Blacktop Revisited, Saturday Night Sunday Morning, Wildroot Rumble, Boom Town, If It Ain’t Got Soul – Part 1

EdenBrentJigsawHeartEden Brent
Jigsaw Heart
Yellow Dog Records
Release Date May 6, 2014

When I first saw and heard Eden Brent I was stunned that such a powerful and dynamic sound was being generated by the small frame person behind the keyboard. I had no idea she had been nicknamed “Little Boogaloo” by her mentor Boogaloo Ames, but damn if it isn’t perfect. She is a revered writer and has earned eleven Blues Music Award nominations since 2009. Her voice has power and her playing runs from sullen to bombastic in a turn of a chorus. It’s wonderful. Yet somehow I missed her latest album Jigsaw Heart when it came out last year and I now lament the time I’ve spent without it. While there are examples of rollicking boogie wherein Brent showcases her finger-pumping chops, much of Jigsaw Heart straddles the fence between Country and Blues. There is a twang in the songs and palpable pain. Eden delivers the words with all the emotion they imply and we couldn’t ask more from her. There is unreleased tension in many of these songs. I don’t know if it’s by design or happenstance but I suspect she did it on purpose. Sometimes the song goes right up to the line, refusing to play that one last chord that will thrust away the pain. Instead the songs soak in the heartbreak, absorb it, and turn it on itself. This is melancholy blues at its sultry best.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Jigsaw Heart, Tendin’ To A Broken Heart, Better This Way, Everybody Already Knows, Locomotive

NathanielRateliffNightSweatsNathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Stax
Release Date August 21, 2015

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats were big in Memphis in 1950, Chicago in ‘55, Detroit in ‘65, Philly for the Bicentennial, and New Orleans since France held the deed. This is music that exists outside time. 2075 will be a great year to hear this album. I haven’t been this excited by a record in years. I feel it in my bones and it makes me want to dance. I never want to dance. Rateliff is a folkie singer/songwriter/guitarist who fell in with a bunch of musicians who seem to unconsciously know exactly what to play. They are in the pocket, deep in a groove, and making you move. The tones are vintage, the beats are irresistible, and the lyrics will sear your heart with pain as you tap your foot, shake your hips, and cry out “Somebody get me a god damned drink!” Their music is not necessarily Blues but it shares more with Howlin’ Wolf and Little Milton than most of the Blues you heard at every festival this year. They play Soul and R&B as it was when Aretha Franklin was young. Nathaniel Rateliff’s voice tingles the spine and the brilliant arrangements highlight strength upon strength making the complex seem simple and memorable. They are best known for the Gospel infused hit “S.O.B.” but it’s not the best song on the album. I can’t even pick a best – I love everything about this album. It will be difficult to follow up this modern masterpiece and if they never do I just don’t care. I’ll still have this sweaty, greasy, bristling, bulging, and beautiful album, and I’ll listen to it until the day I die.

STANDOUT TRACKS: all of Side One, most of Side Two.

LaraPriceIMeanBusinessLara Price
I Mean Business
Vizztone
Release Date November 13, 2015

Lara Price was born and sadly, abandoned in Vietnam in 1975 but was rescued by Operation Baby Lift. She discovered music at the age of six and took piano lessons from Howard Jones. She eventually began to sing and has been perfecting her craft ever since, becoming a fixture of the San Francisco Bay music scene. Lara has been picked up by Vizztone and her new album I Mean Business is out soon. The new album has a classic 70s vibe with punchy horns, surging guitars, and simmering keyboards pulsating behind the sultry songstress. Lara has many musical irons in the fire, performing Folk music, Pop/Rock, Blues and more, keeping her schedule full and her chops sharp. She brings lessons of those other genres and bands to bear on her new album and it shows in the exemplary songwriting and arrangements. She brought in guests Jim Pugh, Chris Cain, and Mighty Mike Schermer to round out her usual group of cohorts. Lara Price co-wrote several of the songs on I Mean Business, and together with producer Kid Anderson, captured a modern take on classic Soul and R&B. This isn’t Beyonce’s Rhythm & Blues and we’re all better for it.

STANDOUT TRACKS: I Get It When I Want It, Undone, I Mean Business

CrookedEyeTommyButterfliesSnakes Crooked Eye Tommy
Butterflies & Snakes
Independent Release
Release Date August 1, 2015

Crooked Eye Tommy are the brainchild of Tommy and Paddy Marsh and arrived on the scene in 2013. Their debut album Butterflies & Snakes comes on like swampy North Florida Skynyrd Style Blues. It’s played by Southern California guys and it all makes perfect sense. There are slinky slide guitars, arpeggio riffs, spot-on vocal harmonies, and Latinesque grooves that mix perfectly. Crooked Eye Tommy is another example of a band that isn’t necessarily Blues but gets categorized under the rapidly expanding Blues Big Top. It’s okay. We welcome them in, point them to the stage and say show us what ya got. They got it. And Butterflies & Snakes proves it. Crooked Eye Tommy pull together a variety of influences and make music that will make you shake your hips slowly through a sultry summer night. The guitars simmer, Jimmy Calire’s sax is seductively soothing, and the vocals keep you in the moment. There’s a unifying thread holding all the disparate influences together and it seems to be that it is Crooked Eye Tommy are skilled musicians who care about making quality music that isn’t stale, repetitive, or cliché. Their first CD, Butterflies & Snakes, is a terrific introduction to a band ready to break out of Southern California and bring their brand of Blues and Roots music to the masses.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Come On In, I Stole The Blues, Mad And Disgusted, Over And Over

BobMaloneMojoDeluxeBob Malone
Mojo Deluxe
Delta Moon Records
Released on August 21, 2015

Keyboard maestro Bob Malone has issued a new album called Mojo Deluxe. From the cover to the music, this record is witty, tough and retro. There are real instruments, boys and girls, and plenty of Mojo. Bob’s keyboard chops are in fine form but this is not just an occasion show off. The songs are potent, memorable and well-crafted. It makes me wonder if Mr. Malone’s time playing in John Fogerty’s band has influenced his songwriting. You can’t play three minute masterworks every night without having them seep into your psyche. Whatever the source of the Mojo, Malone has made a fun record with a somehow timeless feel. From strong vocals, gritty guitars, and swirling keyboards there is something for all Blues fans on Mojo Deluxe. Stan Behrens plays the Hell out of the harmonica on Mojo Deluxe and is a highlight of every song he’s on. Kudos must be given for listing the keyboards used in the liner notes. He played an old upright piano, a Wurlitzer, and more. These instruments make all the difference in the music and it’s great to know what he used on a particular tune. Malone is definitely not a synthesizer guy and I thank him from the bottom of my heart.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Certain Distance, Looking For The Blues, Rage & Cigarettes, Don’t Threaten Me (With A Good Time), Chinese Algebra

ChristianCollinSpiritOfTheBluesChristian Collin
Spirit Of The Blues
Independent release
Release Date July 10, 2015

Big, fat, fiery, and funky. That’s the Spirit Of The Blues as presented by Christian Collin, Chicago based blueslinger who recently released his latest disc. When I see guys in hats wielding Strats I immediately suspect them of being SRV cloning disasters. Based on Collin’s music on Spirit Of The Blues I can safely say he just likes hats. And Strats. But the tunes are all over the Blues map. He does touch down at D/FW once in a while but he lands at O’Hare too and takes a few wild rides down Highway 41. Like Stevie Ray, Christian gives credit to his influences and name checks a few like Lightnin’ Hopkins here and there. He knows where he comes from and instead of copying, he integrates and makes something fresh with old ingredients. His singing inflection calls to mind Johnny Winter, but his voice reminds me of Johnny Van Zant from Lynyrd Skynyrd. Yes, Johnny. And that’s fine with me. If Skynyrd made records like Spirit Of The Blues they wouldn’t be out flogging their past every summer. Collin however is up and coming and we need to keep an eye on him. He crafts solos skillfully and with purpose and his songs are adeptly arranged. He lets them breathe.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Blues For You, Dead Man Walking, Only You, Old 109

KenTuckerLookMyWayKen Tucker
Look My Way
Music Access Inc.
Release Date June 2, 2015

As I mentioned above, I picked a few CDs from the stack based on their covers. I don’t even know where this CD came from and I can’t find the info sheet that comes with most arrivals. I never heard of Ken Tucker and still know almost nothing about him. I think Ken Tucker’s cover subliminally reminded me of Roy Buchanan. I didn’t expect him to sound like Roy but I figured it would be something I liked. Well damn if I wasn’t right again. This band is probably dynamite live. Look My Way has a live feel even with the guitar overdubs. The band is a three piece and they boogie hard, rock out, and roll through the blues like a jack-knifed 18 wheeler on I-95. Tucker lacks a distinct vocal quality and I suspect that like many guitar players he chose to do it himself instead of dealing with Lead Singer Syndrome. However, the trio’s jams are the key to their success and they win the day every time. They are a tight band but loose enough to follow Ken Tucker wherever he takes these tunes. Look My Way isn’t going to change the world but it lights it on fire real nice for 50 minutes or so.

STANDOUT TRACKS: What I Need, Best Bad Habit, Brother Whiskey Sister Nicotine

You can get a taste of these fine albums by checking out our playlist on Spotify. Thanks for checking out this and our playlists. They are a great way to hear new music and revisit some classics, but please keep in mind that artists get very little money from streaming media. If you hear something you like, please buy it and support the artists.

Smokin’ Joe Kubek Passes Away At 58

SmokinJoeKubekBlastFurnaceSmokin’ Joe Kubek, the Dallas blues guitarist and fixture of the Dallas/Fort Worth music scene, died Sunday October 11, 2015 of a heart attack at age 58. Smokin’ Joe died shortly before he was to appear onstage at the Pleasure Island Seafood Blues & Jazz Festival in North Carolina, according to the release. Mr. Kubek was scheduled to play there Saturday afternoon with his longtime collaborator Bnois King. Sinc meeting Bnois at a 1988 jam in Dallas they have been on the road constantly, playing clubs and blues festivals around the world 10 months a year.

Smokin’ Joe Kubek was born November 30, 1956, in Grove City, PA but grew up in Irving, TX. He turned professional at age 14 and fell in love with the blues in his late teens. He went on to work with noted Dallas soul men Al “TNT” Braggs, Little Joe Blue, and, for a time, Dallas blues legend Freddie King. Mr. Kubek was about to tour with King in late 1976 when King died of a heart attack. Kubek played with other bluesmen named King — B.B. and Albert — as well as with Stevie Ray Vaughan and many others. He made many friends on the road and earned the love and respect of his fellow musicians. His passing is a big blow to the Blues community.

Please check out our review of Smokin’ Joe and Bnois’ most recent album Fat Man’s Shine Parlor.

KubekKingFatMansShineParlor

We have put together a playlist dedicated to Joe and Bnois, two Blues Brothers and Road Dogs who kept it revelant, real, and often raucous.