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.


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
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
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.


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.

Todd Wolfe Band Live Show Review – 2nd Story Blues

ToddWolfeBand201510022ndStory-1Todd Wolfe is not a household name, except maybe at his house. He’s never sold a million records under his own name, but he’s played on a few million sellers by others including old band mate Sheryl Crow. He’s opened shows for his musical heroes and he’s shared the stage with some as well. He plays the blues, but he likes to rock out. If this was 1972 he’d probably be mentioned in the same breath as many of his heroes like Leslie West and Eric Clapton. His writing and playing are imaginative, dynamic, and underrated. In an age of iPods, BitTorrents, Kimyes, Lady Ga Gas, and radio goo-goos, Todd Wolfe has gone largely un-noticed by the masses. Maybe that’s a good thing. Todd Wolfe continues to put out honest, heartfelt roots and blues music on his own terms. He works hard, traveling the world with his band to spread his self-described “Bluesadelic” musical vision.

Like all blues related music, Todd’s often gives a nod to the past. The overall sound of the band is reminiscent of Cream, Mountain, Rory Gallagher, and even the Son Seals Blues Band of the mid to late 70’s. Todd’s sound is raw, energetic, and pure. His vocals are gritty, gutsy, and occasionally gruff. His lyrics draw on his life experiences and his innate sense of song-craft makes every tune memorable. He is adept at slide guitar, and is as comfortable with only an acoustic guitar as he is at maximum volume fronting his powerhouse band featuring Justine Gardner on bass and Roger Voss on drums.

ToddWolfeBand201510022ndStory-2Last week we had the opportunity to catch Todd Wolfe Band in the initial phase of their tour celebrating the release of their phenomenal new album Long Road Back. The show was presented by 2nd Story Blues Alliance, an organization supporting Blues and musicians in the Lehigh Valley region of eastern Pennsylvania. 2nd Story brings in national blues acts to the Epic Center in Fountain Hill, PA right next door to Bethlehem. Todd Wolfe was a long time fixture of the Lehigh Valley and the local audience was enthusiastic. Todd brought along Hammond B3 and all around keyboard wizard John Ginty, who played on and co-produced Long Road Back, plus local favorite Sarah Ayers to sing on a pair of tunes. The result was two sets of incredibly dynamic music featuring jams that pressed to the edge of the cliff and almost fell off. It was wonderful to hear and mesmerizing to watch.

Armed with a handful of guitars and a single Marshall amp, Todd immediately proved his mastery of classic riff creation leading the band through several new tracks from the new album Long Road Back. The music covered a lot of stylistic ground and John Ginty on keyboard made this formidable trio an even more powerful quartet. One of my favorite moments was the performance of the atmospheric album closer “Hoodoo River.” When I first heard this song, I thought it was missing something but I liked it anyway. The missing piece must have been my fault because it has since become one of my favorite Todd Wolfe Band tunes. It is an instrumental track wherein the second theme never seems to resolve and I have come to believe that is exactly the point of it. The keyboard and guitar jams made this tune levitate and Voss and Gardner formed a well-oiled groove machine. It was perfectly unresolved and exquisitely performed.

ToddWolfeBand201510022ndStory-3Justine Gardner and Roger Voss play telepathically and the petite Gardner makes a rumble exponentially bigger than the figure she cuts. The whole band gets deep into the music and plays toward each other much of the time. You definitely get a bird’s eye view as these talented musicians create music on the fly that they want to make, and would be making whether you were there or not. It is honest and in the moment. Their energy draws you in and the quality of the songs keeps you there. Whether it’s “Miles To Go” or “Day By Day” from the last album, or a new rocker like “One Shot,” the brisk stomp of “Sunnyvale,” the Fusion-Blues of Ginty’s “Peanut Butter,” a primal and thunderous re-imagining of Stephen Stills’ “Black Queen,” or the maximum R&B of Sarah Ayers singing “Mercy” the band went from highlight to highlight. If you miss Todd Wolfe Band live you’re missing some of the best musicians out there making music with integrity and imagination every time they take the stage.

For more pictures from the show, check out our Facebook page.

Just in case you aren’t familiar with Todd’s work, I put together a Todd Wolfe Primer playlist. Remember, Spotify is great to find new music but the artists get very little from any streaming service. If you enjoy what you hear, buy the CD or digital album. Supporting the artists is the only way to ensure you get to hear more from them in the future.

Blues Birthday Playlists – B.B. King And Roy Buchanan

Two giants in the Blues world, who are sadly no longer with us, would have had birthdays recently. B.B. King would have been 90 years old and Roy Buchanan, the world’s greatest unknown guitar player would have been 76 this year. B.B. lived a long and fruitful life and gave us too many musical highlights to even think about, but Roy was a troubled man whose life came a sudden end in a Virginia jail in 1988, where he allegedly took his own life. B.B. and Roy had very different life stories but they were both called to the Blues and both left behind legions of fans who still wonder how they played those notes.


In honor of B.B. King and his 90th birthday we put together 90 minutes of his music. We could easily have made Live At The Regal half the play list, but part of our goal was to find some gems off the beaten path – so we start off with the first two tracks from that iconic album instead. From there we go to a hot live version of “Hummingbird” from a live gig at the famous Fillmore East. B.B. loved to play music with his friends so we included some of our favorite collaborations too. “Riding With The King” with Eric Clapton, “Call It Stormy Monday” with Albert Collins (because Albert makes everything just that much better), “All Over Again” with Mark Knopfler, and the penultimate tune in the playlist, “Playin’ With My Friends” featuring Robert Cray. We round out the playlist with a stellar version of “The Thrill Is Gone” from a live BBC set. B.B. may be gone, but fortunately the thrill indeed lives on.

Roy Buchanan. I can’t say enough about Roy Buchanan. I never cared about Telecasters until I heard Roy. How did he keep those things in tune? How did he get that tone? Where did he find that note? Roy was the subject of a PBS documentary called Introducing Roy Buchanan, sometimes referred to as “The Greatest Unknown Guitarist In The World.” As a result of the film he began a journeyman recording career, making records for well known labels like Polydor, Atlantic, and Alligator, as well as making a few albums on minor labels in between. He was restless and often bristled at being cast as a guitar star and having labels interfere in the music he wanted to make. In interviews, Roy proclaimed his Alligator albums as his favorites and most representative of the music he wanted to play. To my ears, Roy really shined in live performance. His tone was outrageous and his playing exquisite. He knew incredible licks from every genre and often juxtaposed styles creating exciting musical moments that still leave us stunned today. Unfortunately Roy couldn’t sing worth a damn and never hooked up with a singer who could match the quality of his guitar playing, relegating him to second or third tier in a music industry driven by vocal pop hits and even in Blues where vocalists traditionally had a leg up on instrumentalists.

Regardless oRoyBuchananLiveFromAustinTXf interference, commercial failure, and personal demons, Roy Buchanan left behind a stunning musical legacy that sends guitarists all over the world back to the woodshed when they hear him. For our playlist we pulled tracks from his whole recorded output. The opener is a track from the hodge podge leftovers record called Malaguena. It’s introduced by a commercial for one of Roy’s local gigs and kicks into a track aptly titled “Rambunctious”. From there it is a carousing ride along the back roads of Roy’s mind and musical creations. From pure Blues, to fusion, to roaring hard rock, we covered it all, including several live excursions from posthumous releases. Roy is an endless source of inspiration. If you’ve never heard Roy, or only some bits and pieces, we hope you’ll enjoy this playlist and begin your own journey through Roy’s catalog. He was truly a Master of the telecaster.

Thanks 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 get very little money from streaming media. If you hear something you like, please buy it and support the artists.

Tribute To Stevie Ray Vaughan – 25 Classic Performances

StevieRayVaughanDoubleTroublePublicityShotThe world lost Stevie Ray Vaughan 25 years ago today. We lost a man, a musician, a legend, and a shining light in world full of darkness. Stevie overcame his personal demons and set about helping others do the same, both directly and indirectly. He was open about his experience and inspired people to change through not just his music, but his words and his actions. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of his horrific death, we shall celebrate his life. We put together a Spotify playlist of 25 Classic Performances. Granted, we were limited to the available music on Spotify which luckily includes most of his recorded output for CBS/Sony. Strangely enough, the SRV box set is missing and if possible I would have included some incredible live performances on there including “Rude Mood” and “Testify” from MTV Unplugged. Stevie Ray Vaughan played those two songs on 12-string acoustic guitar and when I saw it live on TV I was stunned and still am. Simply amazing. Anyway, here’s what we have lined up for you. Some it is off the beaten path but I hope it gives you a full picture of the man and his life in music. My notes are in italics.

1. Scuttle Buttin’ – Live At Montreux 1985
2. Say What! – Live At Montreux 1985
This is the wicked 1-2 punch Stevie used to open many shows. This was a great way to declare he was back to take no prisoners after a lukewarm reception at Montreux 3 years earlier.
3. Couldn’t Stand The Weather – Couldn’t Stand The Weather
All time favorite Stevie Ray Vaughan tune. I can see his wrist flying in my mind’s eye as I listen to that rhythm guitar part. Damn!
4. Little Wing/Third Stone From The Sun – Archives
SRV transforms this Hendrix beauty into an instrumental excursion beyond the Sun.
5. Texas Flood – Live At The El Mocambo
Incredible performance of the song that started it all for SRV & Double Trouble. Listen close and see if you can tell where he switched to playing behind his back.
6. Change It – Soul To Soul
The first few bars of this one shiver my spine every time!
7. Satisfy Susie – Lonnie Mack – Strike Like Lightning
Stevie as sideman and contributor on this tune that features a main riff that Stevie borrowed from time to time. Here he trades solos with Lonnie while simultaneously lifting Lonnie’s career out of obscurity. Stevie was kind to his predecessors.
8. Telephone Song – The Vaughan Brothers – Family Style
Funky track from the only album with big brother Jimmie Lee. This one will get you movin’! Stevie displays his incredible rhythm chops on this one too.
9. Blues At Sunrise – Albert King & Stevie Ray Vaughan – In Session
Albert talks way too much on this whole album but in between is some of the most incredible string bending you’ll ever hear from either of these two giants of the blues.
10. Travis Walk – In Step
This killer instrumental is not as blustery as “Rude Mood” or “Testify” but it’s bouncy and happy and will make you smile until your face freezes that way. Be careful!
11. Collins Shuffle – Live At Montreux 1982
Another Albert influenced SRV quite a bit too. Albert Collins. This is a terrific tribute to the Master of the Telecaster.
12. The Sky Is Crying – Essential
When I first heard SRV’s studio version of this I wasn’t impressed and I didn’t like that there was no slide guitar. This live version still has no slide guitar but he pulls out all the stops. It completely changed my mind about his choice to cover this song.
13. Give Me Back My Wig – Archives
I just love that Stevie liked Hound Dog Taylor and chose to cover one of his songs. I love Hound Dog too. This one DOES have slide guitar from Stevie Ray Vaughan.
14. Look At Little Sister – Soul To Soul
A blistering Texas Shuffle that he played so well. I love the trilling on the low strings and Double Trouble’s confident Strut.
15. Boot Hill (1984 Version) – Couldn’t Stand The Weather (Deluxe Edition)
An earlier version of the song found on The Sky Is Crying posthumous album. Now you can play a game of “Spot The Differences”! Exciting isn’t it?
16. Tin Pan Alley (aka Roughest Place In Town) – Live At The Spectrum, Montreal, August 17, 1984, Late Show
I had this bootleg for years before they added it to Couldn’t Stand The Weather. This is a blistering version of this great tune from Texas Flood.
17. Pride And Joy – Texas Flood
It’s just a classic and couldn’t be excluded.
18. Mary Had A Little Lamb – Live At Montreux 1985
If possible I would have included a post-rehab version of this song but there wasn’t one. This is an excellent substitute. Messed up or not, SRV was firing on all cylinders during his return to Montreux.
19. The Things That I Used To Do – Live At Carnegie Hall
Stevie got to play Carnegie Hall and he brought along his friends and big brother. He shared his success with the people he loved. We should all try that.
20. Crossfire – In Step
A Double Trouble composition and it’s a corker! Follow that bass! Stevie lights this one up like a Christmas tree.
21. Tick Tock – The Vaughan Brothers – Family Style
I hardly ever listen to this song but it features a great vocal performance by Stevie Ray Vaughan that cannot be denied. It’s also a direct reminder of our limited time here and that we need to make the most of it.
22. Lookin’ Out The Window – Soul To Soul
A little under three minutes of pure fun from Stevie and the boys.
23. Tightrope – In Step
Another example of Stevie’s talent in the rhythm guitar department. He was more than just incendiary solos and Texas shuffles. He was a tremendously well-rounded musician and showed it often.
24. Voodoo Child (Slight Return) – Live At The Spectrum, Montreal, August 17, 1984 Late Show
No one did Hendrix like Stevie Ray Vaughan and no one ever has. Stevie Ray Vaughan seemed to inherently understand Jimi’s playing and could expand on it or deconstruct it at will.
25. Riviera Paradise – In Step
We close with this beautiful piece of music from a beautiful person. You are missed Stevie Ray Vaughan, you are missed.

Barry Levenson – The Visit – Featured CD Review

BarryLevensonTheVisitBarry Levenson

The Visit

Rip Cat Records

Released on July 17, 2015

Barry Levenson is a Los Angeles-based producer, arranger, studio musician, and live performer. After you hear him you get the impression he could play anything and he does. You could say his day job is making music as a hired hand for a multitude of projects from up and coming Popsters to movie soundtracks and TV bumpers. His hands may be required to do it all but his heart makes its home in the realm of Blues and Jazz. Originally from Pittsburgh, he’s been all over the geographical map as well. He studied music in Boston, toured the world with Canned Heat and currently works in Los Angeles. Barry is into old school tones and tunes and he concocts masterful musical excursions which perfectly suit his tasteful, sometimes delicate, and always melodic playing. On his new album, The Visit, from Rip Cat Records, Barry brings his vast library of licks, riffs, and tones over to your house for a late night listening party.

The album opens with the genre defining riff of “I Wonder Why.” Several of Barry’s influences have done this song from Earl Hooker to Freddie King but Levenson offers a masterful instrumental version much like Otis Rush did on Right Place, Wrong Time. In one complete, cogent track Barry sets forth his mission statement for The Visit. He’s bringing all his musical inspirations together for your listening pleasure. Barry’s music exists in the sweet spots of Blues and Jazz. The notes are blue but the feeling is positive and uplifting. It’s the musical equivalent of one door opening as another closes. “I Wonder Why” has all these elements, with Barry exquisitely combining styles of Otis, Freddie, T-Bone and others into a Barry Levenson brew that hits all the right notes.

On “Ice Cold Kiss” Barry takes a vocal turn adding smooth, jazzy vocals over a smoky layer of late night blues accented by cascading piano and horn lines courtesy of Mike Thompson and Phil Krawzak respectively. It’s a mid tempo tune that evokes images of a smoky, dimly lit late night jazz club, the air thick with cigarette smoke, stale beer, and pheromones. Many of songs we hear during The Visit exude late night melancholy with some exception like opener “I Wonder Why,” and “It’s Mighty Crazy” which is just plain fun. Being a creature of the studio and Los Angeles, Barry’s personal musical pursuits probably find their reality in late night jams. The late night jams are an improviser’s playground and Barry’s knowledge and encyclopedia of guitar licks make him the top choice in any pick-up game, but that circumstance surely informs the music he creates. This is big city late night music.

The title track, “The Visit,” expertly weaves together jazz and blues. The breakdown in the middle starts with a jazzy rhythmic chorded solo that builds into a West Side Chicago Blues head cutting contest big finish before slipping into a swinging coda. You have to go back and listen to this one a few times to hear everything you missed. “This Time I’m Gone For Good” and album closer “You’re Gonna Need Me” features Billy Price on vocals. Billy is a well-known and respected soul singer whose latest album, This Time for Real, was recorded with Chicago soul singer Otis Clay. Guitar aficionados may remember Billy from his stint with Roy Buchanan. Barry Levenson is a player on par with Roy Buchanan and it’s great to hear Billy working with a less histrionic, but equally evocative player. The two men form a sympathetic duo that makes each song a special moment during The Visit.

Even before you hear the music, you get a hint of what is to come. The cover of The Visit looks like you’ve opened the front door around 10 pm to find Barry and his trusty guitar. He’s brought his friends Magic Sam, Otis Rush, and T-Bone Walker with him. He even brought along his old pal from Pittsburgh Billy Price to sing a few. “Have you heard of Grant Green?” Barry asks, and then plays some licks to remind you. It’s like the old days when people would bring records to a party and would actually listen to them and discuss what they heard. One song would inspire the next in a Round Robin of pre-internet music sharing. To me that’s what The Visit is all about. Don’t wait for Barry to knock on your door, schedule a visit for yourself and some friends with this terrific musical love letter to a time before playlists, Pandora, and ear buds.

The Visit is available at iTunes, Amazon, Rip Cat Records, and other outlets.

Fresh Biscuits! New Releases July 31, 2015

Holy Moley Biscuiteers! The new releases this past week are a guitar fan’s dream. Buddy Guy is possibly THE Blues guitar player of all time. From acoustic grooves to face melting electric pinwheels of blues jamming joy, Buddy can and has done it all. That’s probably why the usual Blues labels don’t have anything out this week. The album dropped just one day after Buddy’s July 30 birthday and even at 79 years young Buddy strikes fear in the hearts of pretenders to the throne. Born To Play Guitar is an obvious yet perfect title for a Buddy Guy album and he isn’t ready to stop yet. Like the title track says, “I got six strings loaded on my bad machine, show me the money and I’ll make this damn thing scream!” Yeah he will.

Grooveyard Records isn’t afraid of Buddy Guy. They have three new releases by powerhouse guitarists. Jay Jesse Johnson, Craig Erickson, and Bryce Janey all push the blues rock envelope with scorched earth, take no prisoners playing and writing. Warren Haynes is player known for his rough and tumble blues based playing too but this time around he has toned it down and recorded an album of acoustic based performances. His playing is reserved and subdued, offering gracefully delicate passages and and subtle slide licks which weave through the rich tapestry sewn by his conspirators from Railroad Earth. Other guests include Grace Potter and fellow Allmans Marc Quinones and Oteil Burbridge, plus Shawn Colvin and Mickey Raphael.

We put together a short Spotify playlist and featured a few tunes from last week’s new releases as well since not all of this week’s new albums are available on Spotify. The playlist is below the new releases list. Spotify is a great way to sample new music but if you like what you hear, please support the artists and buy the CDs or mp3s. The artists deserve to be paid for their work and streaming royalties are pretty much a joke.Also keep in mind that if you buy a CD from an artist at a show, they make almost twice as much from the sale than if you buy it through a retailer. Support live music and the artists and let’s keep this thing rollin’!

On a lighter note, we hope you find something interesting for your ears! Enjoy.

Buddy Guy

Buddy Guy Born To Play Guitar

Craig Erickson

Craig Erickson Sky Train Galaxy

Jay Jesse Johnson

Jay Jesse Johnson Set The Blues On Fire

Bryce Janey

Bryce Janey Delta Road

Warren Haynes Feat. Railroad Earth

Warren Haynes Feat. Railroad Earth Ashes & Dust

Fresh Biscuits! New Releases July 24, 2015

It’s time once again for new releases. There are a few interesting items this week. First up is a hot new record from Albert Cummings. The first time I heard this guy I didn’t know any of his songs. He arrived at Bluestock without his band, grabbed a couple volunteers to back him up and took the stage by storm (kinda like what the hurricane did to Bluestock). I was floored. I’ve been a fan ever since. For his new disc Someone Like You on Blind Pig, he worked with famed producer David Z and labelmate Jimmy Vivino who leads the Conan show’s Basic Cable Band and has spent time in Butterfield Revisited. Don’t miss this one, especially if you’re a fan of guitar driven blues.

Celebrating Muddy Waters’ centennial is Muddy Waters 100, an official and authorized tribute album featuring pretty much everyone ever. It has John Primer, Billy Branch, Gary Clark Jr., Shemekia Copeland, James Cotton, Bob Margolin, Keb’ Mo’, Derek Trucks, Johnny Winter, Vincent Bucher, Leanne Faine, Tim Gant, Khari Parker, James Teague, Steve Gibons, Keith Henderson, and the Living History Band which includes Matthew Skoller, Billy Flynn, Johnny Iguana, Felton Crews, Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith. I haven’t heard it yet but there’s a rumor that electronic drums were used on some of it. Why they would do such a horrible thing I don’t know, but hopefully it’s just a rumor. I thought I’d warn you anyway.

The latest Girls With Guitars dropped a little while back but we missed it, so in case you did too we included it this week. These are usually fun albums and spotlight talented young women making their mark in a male dominated world of guitar worship. I am one of those guitar worshipers and I always look forward to these sets. Eliana Cargnelutti, Sadie Johnson, and Heather Crosse are featured on this latest edition. Eliana Cargnelutti is an award-winning singer and guitarist. She has already shared the stage with the Crème de la Crème of the Italian blues scene and has also collaborated with renowned American jazz and blues guitarist Scott Henderson. At 18, Sadie Johnson may be the youngest musician ever on the Blues Caravan. This native of Bloomington, Indiana has proven equally adept at playing classic old-school country blues to modern-day blues-rock. Leading female artists like Samantha Fish and Susan Tedeschi have encouraged her commitment to the blues. Heather Crosse is also from the USA. She is a respected bassist from Clarksdale, Mississippi and her band Heavy Suga‘ & the SweeTones has appeared frequently at the world-famous Ground Zero Blues Club. This superb trio has upped the ante on future Girls With Guitars new releases for sure.

Beyond these, we have a new disc from Andra Faye & Scott Ballantine called Coulda Woulda Shoulda and the album Mighty Sam McClain was working on at the time of his death – Tears Of The World – with Knut Reiersrud. Lots of good stuff this week so I hope you find something interesting for your ears.

Albert Cummings

Albert Cummings Someone Like You

Andra Faye & Scott Ballantine

Andra Faye & Scott Ballantine Coulda Woulda Shoulda

Mighty Sam McClain

Mighty Sam McClain & Knut Reiersrud Tears of the World

Various Artists

Various Artists Muddy Waters 100

Eliana Cargnelutti, Sadie Johnson, Heather Crosse

Eliana Cargnelutti, Sadie Johnson, Heather Crosse Girls With Guitars