Monthly Archives: November 2014

Hump Day! Risque Tunes For Your Midweek Blues 11/26/14

Welcome back for Hump Day! Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States and I am from the United States, I’m dedicating Hump Day to food and eating! Eating what? That’s for you to decide. Whatever it is, Memphis Minnie wants you to “Keep On Eating.” I’m guessing she’s talking about her hot buttered biscuits but you never know…

While you’re feasting on Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, remember your manner! Take T.V. Slim’s advice: “Don’t Reach Across My Plate.” I first heard this song as done by Albert Collins on his Frostbite album. I couldn’t find a clip with Albert’s version but the original certainly gets the point across. If you can find Albert’s version check it out. His keen sense of humor really shines.

Later on after the football games and a tryptophan and carbohydrate induced nap, maybe you’ll be looking for a light snack. Lonnie Mack and Stevie Ray Vaughan know exactly how you feel. They’ve got the “Oreo Cookie Blues.” If you’re looking for something else to snack on, A.C. Reed and Albert Collins can offer you some “Junk Food.” I know most of these tunes aren’t particularly risque but A.C. Reed does keep talking about a footlong…

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you enjoy a day of food, family, friends, and blues. I’m off to whip up some Blues Biscuits…

 

T.V. Slim Don’t Reach Across My Plate

 

Memphis Minnie Keep On Eating

 

Lonnie Mack & Stevie Ray Vaughan Oreo Cookie Blues

 

A.C. Reed Junk Food

2015 Blast Furnace Blues Festival Line-up Announced

BlastFurnaceBluesFestLogoThe Blast Furnace Blues Festival is an up and coming annual spring festival located in Bethlehem, PA at the Steel Stacks near the old Bethlehem Steel factory that can be seen in the backdrop image of this website. It is a beautiful, easily accessible campus and a great place to see musicians on stage. The festival continues to highlight the treasure trove of talented Blues artists in the Lehigh Valley alongside tremendous national acts. I dare say you may enjoy Friday night’s lineup of local acts as much as, or more than, the national acts. I have seen all these bands live a few times and they are all worthy of your time and attention. Check them out and support local musicians as often as you can no matter where you are!

 

PRESS RELEASE:

Shemekia Copeland, Tommy Castro, Heritage Blues Orchestra & More Headline 2015 Blast Furnace Blues Festival Presented by Highmark Blue Shield
Event, set for March 27-29 in Bethlehem, Pa., will feature 20 national and local blues acts

BETHLEHEM, PA–Two-time GRAMMY nominee Shemekia Copeland, multiple Blues Music Award and B.B. King Entertainer of the Year winner Tommy Castro, the Heritage Blues Orchestra and John Németh & the Bo-Keys headline the 2015 Blast Furnace Blues Festival presented by Highmark Blue Shield March 27-29, 2015 at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.  Three-day festival passes and single-day tickets for the event, which features 20-plus national and local blues artists, go on sale today, noon, at www.artsquest.org and 610-332-3378.

On March 28, Blast Furnace Blues welcomes the one and only Tommy Castro. A two-time winner of the coveted B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award, Castro has captured numerous honors for his music and songwriting including first place in the blues category of the 2012 International Songwriting Competition for “Hard Believer.” He has been touring nationally since the 1980s, first with the Dynatones, and then with The Tommy Castro Band. During his career, Castro has shared the stage with some of the greats in the blues, including legends Albert King and B.B. King.

Following a set by Castro, the Blast Furnace Blues audience will enjoy a scorchin’ set by John Németh & The Bo-Keys. Since 2002, harmonicist and singer-songwriter John Németh has recorded seven albums, earning seven Blues Music Award nominations in 2012 and 2013 alone. At Blast Furnace Blues, he will be joined by Blues Music Award nominees The Bo-Keys, whose music has been featured in multiple films including the Academy Award winner “Hustle & Flow.” The two artists recently joined forces to record “Memphis Grease,” and Blast Furnace Blues offers the unique opportunity to see them perform together on the same stage.

Headlining the festival on March 29 is vocal powerhouse Shemekia Copeland. Since beginning her career at the age of 16, Copeland has released seven albums, which have been nominated for several blues awards. She has shared the stage with artists such as Mick Jagger, B.B. King and Eric Clapton, while also performing at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama.

Also taking the stage March 29 is the GRAMMY-nominated Heritage Blues Orchestra. Based in New York, this group seamlessly blends together blues, gospel, country and jazz to create fierce and inspiring music that’s internationally cherished. Its 2013 album “And Still I Rise” made it onto the Top Blues Albums chart, and individual members have enjoyed their own astonishing successes.  At Blast Furnace Blues, the audience will have the opportunity to experience this incredible nine-piece orchestra, which comes complete with a rippin’ horn section.

Other performers taking the stage during Blast Furnace Blues presented by Highmark Blue Shield include Texas-based blues guitarist Carolyn Wonderland, Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble, Eric Noden and Joe Filisko, Freddie King Reunion Band, and Shawn Holt & the Teardrops, led by the son of blues legend Magic Slim. The festival will kick off March 27 with a night of the blues by local favorites such as the Sarah Ayers Band, James Supra Blues Band, Friar’s Point and Dugan Thomas. On March 29, Blast Furnace Blues attendees can also enjoy a special Blues Brunch featuring music by local blues favorites The BC Combo. Tickets for the brunch, which are $35, are on sale now at www.artsquest.org and 610-332-3378

”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.”

Looking for the ultimate experience at Blast Furnace Blues? The festival is offering 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 2015 LINEUP

March 27

Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling

6:15 p.m.:                    Friar’s Point

6:45 p.m.:                    Dugan Thomas

8:30 p.m.:                    James Supra Blues Band

10:30 p.m.:                  Sarah Ayers Band

 

March 28

Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling

1:30 p.m.:                    Ed Anderson

3 p.m.:                         Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble

4:30 p.m.:                    Gaye Adegbalola

6 p.m.:                         Shawn Holt & the Teardrops

7:45 p.m.:                    Tommy Castro

9:30 p.m.:                    John Németh & the Bo-Keys

 

Fowler Blast Furnace Room Stage

2:15 p.m.:                    Shawn Holt & the Teardrops

3:45 p.m.:                    Eric Noden & Joe Filisko

5:30 p.m.:                    Ed Anderson

7 p.m.:                         Carolyn Wonderland

8:45 p.m.:                    Curley Taylor

 

March 29

Musikfest Cafe presented by Yuengling

11 a.m.:                       Blues Brunch with BC Combo (separate ticket required)

1:30 p.m.:                    Carolyn Wonderland

2:45 p.m.:                    Freddie King Reunion Band

4:15 p.m.:                    Chris O’Leary Band

6 p.m.:                         Shemekia Copeland

7:45 p.m.:                    Heritage Blues Orchestra

 

Fowler Blast Furnace Room Stage

1:15 p.m.:                    Mike Mettalia & Midnight Shift

3:15 p.m.:                    Maria Woodford Band

5 p.m.:                         Roddy Barnes

7 p.m.:                         Freddie King Reunion Band

 

For complete information, tickets and festival passes for Blast Furnace Blues presented by Highmark Blue Shield, please visit www.artsquest.org

Fresh Biscuits! New CD Reviews

When I started this weekly review feature I thought I’d be able to rein in my ramblings and turn out five short reviews each week. I was way off. I’d rather be thorough and give the work of the artists the time it deserves. So, some weeks we might have five, some weeks less. This week we have four. I hope you enjoy them and find something interesting for your ears.

AlteredFiveBluesBandCryinMercyAltered Five Blues Band

Cryin’ Mercy

Omnivibe Records

Release Date: October 28, 2014

The Alternate Five Blues Band formed in 2002 and quickly gained a reputation as a powerhouse live band from Milwaukee to Minnesota and all around the Midwest. Their 2008 debut album focused on the band’s ability to re-arrange popular covers. Titled Bluesified, the album featured juke joint versions of songs like Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing” and The Romantics “What I Like About You.” Their 2012 release Gotta Earn It featured original material and received rave reviews. 2014 brings us their third record Cryin’ Mercy. The disc is produced my Tom Hambridge, the writing is mature, and the performance is white hot. Cryin’ Mercy is their best yet.

The music is tight but loose and the grooves are deeply in the pocket. The lyrical content avoids clichés and even when singling out modern excesses like Prada shoes and Coach purses, the sentiments are timeless. And you just have to smile at lyrics like this phrase from “Demon Woman” – “I bet an x-ray of your body shows your head has two horns!” In “I Got You” vocalist Jeff Taylor sings “I don’t need your trust but I’d like your fortune cookie.” I don’t know if that’s dirty, sexy, or dangerous. Maybe it’s all three.

Mark Solveson provides fat bass riffs, powering “Stay Outta My Business” and “Demon Woman” with low down rumbling force. Solveson’s inventive bass playing is compelling and is a breath of fresh air in the modern blues genre. “Demon Woman” has a taut riff that lands on a devilish sounding chord. Guitarist Jeff Schroedl’s playing burns like Hell fire and keyboardist Raymond Tevich puts a nefarious twist on some Brimstone fueled Gospel organ riffing. “I’m In Deep” is a swift shuffle with Raymond Tevich whipping up a Jimmy Smith style sermon. Jeff Schroedl is a guitarist’s guitarist. He plays for the song, but shows off his chops occasionally. He doesn’t over-play and chooses tones that match the tune. The MVP of Altered Five Blues Band is keyboardist Raymond Tevich. His playing and phrasing is tremendous and he uses a full range of keyboard timbre. He melds his influences into a greasy giblet gravy that makes everything better.

Vocalist Jeff Taylor is a powerful singer. Minor cracks in his otherwise smooth voice give it character and add poignancy to a song like “Find My Wings.” Taylor’s voice is just gruff enough to lend gravitas to his words. It makes it all real. This is Blues, people. We want imperfections. We want the real deal. Luckily Altered Five Blues Band gives us more than just the real deal. Their Maximum Groove Blues will have you Cryin’ Mercy for sure!

 

ChrisDuarteLucky13Chris Duarte Group

Lucky 13

Blues Bureau International

Release Date: October 14, 2014

Chris Duarte seemed to burst onto the music scene in 1994 but he was far from an overnight sensation. He’d been playing music in Austin, Texas for most of the 80’s. He’d been in a number of bands and even released an album in 1987 called Chris Duarte & The Bad Boys. After seemingly endless lineup and name changes with The Bad Boys, Chris put together the first Chris Duarte Band and since 1991 he hasn’t looked back. The new disc Lucky 13 on Blues Bureau International is indeed the thirteenth record from Chris Duarte Group. Whether it will be lucky or not is yet to be seen, but the band’s sound is fully realized and Chris seems to get better every year.

Early on, short-sighted critics dismissed Chris as a Stevie Ray clone. Over the years Chris has had to overcome this one-dimensional stigma but it has focused his musical vision. In the modern era of blues, guitar is king and kings of guitar influence almost everyone. From Albert, Freddie, and B.B. to Hendrix, Albert Collins, and Johnny Winter, players of a certain age have similar influences. But it’s all about how you make them your own that counts. Chris Duarte plays big bad Texas blues. The shuffles strut with pride, the minor blues dig deep in the Texas sand, and his licks are as spicy and smoky as Lockheart barbecue.

“You Know You’re Wrong” fades in to start the album, building from a quiet, gentle lead-in blowing up into an alternating high-low riff that will spin your head. Chris’ rhythm playing is tighter than an oil baron’s purse strings. One song into the disc and you know it’s going to be a fun listen. “Angry Man” is a rockin’ shuffle tune with some stop time maneuvers that’ll give you whiplash. The infectious chorus will make this one a great live song. Chris is in great voice too, and he fits about six minutes of guitar notes into this five minute romp. Damn, that man can play!

For all the Big Texan fireworks, Chris Duarte also has serious jazz chops. From his chord voicing to his lead phrasing, Chris demonstrates a deep connection with guys like Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, and Charlie Christian. On “Who Loves You” Chris blurs the lines between Jazz and Blues for a fun, upbeat tune that will have you smiling while you shake your head at his guitar mastery. “Let It Go” is a slow minor key blues a la “Tin Pan Alley” and it too spends time in Jazz territory. There’s a slight echo to Chris’ tone on “Let It Go” that gives it a damp, late night alley feel. Chris plays delicate fluid lines whose attainment should be the desire of any serious guitar player.

There are fourteen songs on Lucky 13 and they range from full-on rock to smoky jazz. He has some sonic fun with “Not Chasing It” and lyrical fun on “Ain’t Gonna Hurt No More” singing lines like “your Daddy wants to see me dead.” “Minefield Of My Mind” gets into Jazz Fusion territory. Not crappy 80’s jazz fusion either; we’re talking Mahavishnu Orchestra/RTF barnstorming. The disc closes with another ride into Jazzland. This time Chris and the band “Jump The Trane” for a twisting journey through the wilds of Texas Blues Be-Bop. It’s sick. You shouldn’t be allowed to end a record this way. It’s like kissing someone good night and then punching them in the face. I love it.

The record may be called Lucky 13 but Chris Duarte’s success has more to do with hard work, incredible talent, intense focus, and solid song writing than any mystical fates. Chris has put the time in. Now it’s your turn. Get yourself some Lucky 13.

 

NormanTaylorBlueSoulNorman Taylor

Blue Soul

Soul Stew Records

Release Date: February 3, 2014

Damn! Norman Taylor’s voice is smooth. I never heard of this guy until his new disc Blue Soul crossed my path. Acoustic Blues is not really my thing. I like to play it but listening to it throws me off. I don’t know why. I can appreciate the artistry; I just don’t want to hear it. We all have our shortcomings. Sometimes I hear some that hold my attention though. Norman Taylor has a deep, emotive voice that defies categorization. He sounds like a Soul Man, a Preacher, and a Blues Belter. His guitar playing is exquisite too. The combination held my ear and sent me to the worldwide web to learn more about Mr. Taylor. I didn’t feel too bad about my ignorance once I found that even the almighty Google knows next to nothing about this excellent musician.

I did learn that “Norman Taylor is a Singer/Songwriter/Acoustic Blues performer from the South Jersey/Philadelphia area. His style is entrenched in the country blues of people like Robert Johnson and Skip James, and contemporary acoustic blues men like Keb’ Mo’, Eric Bibb and Guy Davis.” It’s not much but it is spot on, although I would put him more in the Guy Davis camp.

He may be from the greater Philadelphia area but he takes us on a road trip to Memphis on disc opener “100 Miles From Memphis.” He name drops all the hot spots he’s dreaming of to keep his mind off the last 100 miles. Taylor’s finger picking, combined with accompanists Steve Goldstien on guitar and Roycee Martin’s rumbling bass give the song a rotary feel like wheels on asphalt spinning toward the Mississippi Bridge. As he sang about ribs at the Rendezvous and breakfast at the Blue Plate I got pretty damned hungry by the time the song was over. Road trip!

The disc features two versions of “Betrayed Blues.” The first is a slow, sad acoustic ballad and the second, which closes the disc, is the only full band electric song on the album. It’s also my favorite. The tune is rearranged into a funky stuttering shuffle with stinging lead guitar and pulsating bass. Acoustic guitarists often chose different phrases on electric guitar than those who play electric most of the time. The acoustic players regularly have to choose notes and combinations that will fill spaces. They use more chord shapes than scales. They think outside the Blues Box, so to speak. It makes it really interesting when they switch to electric. Taylor and Goldstien play off each other with both playing tasty leads and the rhythm work is elegantly brilliant. This is an interesting way to close an acoustic record but it effectively showcases the range of Norman Taylor and his cohorts including drummer Tom Callan who provides the funk.

Altogether, Blue Soul is worthy of your attention. To me, it seems perfect for late night listening, or while sipping a cold drink and sitting on the porch on a warm summer’s day. Norman Taylor’s rich voice will draw you in and focus your attention. All your troubles will fall away for a while and all will be right with the world.

 

MagnusBergCutMeLooseMagnus Berg

Cut Me Loose

Screen Door Records

Release Date: November 11, 2014

18 year old Norwegian Magnus Berg received his first guitar at the age of seven. The instrument was built by his grandfather and set young Magnus on his musical path. Initially infatuated with Angus young, Magnus eventually developed an interest in the roots of Angus’ playing and started moving backward in time toward the Blues. He found some favorites of his own like B.B King, Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Otis Rush and Jimmy Reed. Berg’s family spent time in Florida each year and during one stay in late 2012 he caught the ear of singer/songwriter Kirsten Thien during a sit-in with Mike Zito. Thien and Berg became songwriting collaborators and she eventually brought him into her live band. Together they have toured together in the USA, Norway, France, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands giving young Mr. Berg a trial by fire on stages around the world. Their relationship also led to Berg’s signing with Thien’s Screen Door Records which has just released Magnus Berg’s debut album, Cut Me Loose.

Aside from the tough, gritty riffing on the opener “Cut Me Loose” the most noticeable aspect of the music is Magnus Berg’s voice. 18 years old or otherwise, Magnus has a perfect voice for blues. His phrasing is developed well beyond his years and there is no hint of a teenager’s under-developed voice and range. His love of Muddy Waters is apparent from the first notes of “One Way To Please You.” Stylistically it owes as much to Nashville as it does to Chicago, but the harp is all Little Walter and they definitely have their mojo working on the vibe. Later in the record they turn “Hoochie Coochie Man” on its ear by removing the signature riff. They replaced with an equally authentic and rustic sounding arrangement and Berg’s Telecaster slide work is refreshingly simplistic and organic. “When You Leave Me” is a lonesome dirge with killer harmonica playing from Bjørn Tore “Daffy” Larsen. The whole band is solid and plays great together. Beyond “Daffy” and Magnus there are Håvard Sunde on drums and Roy Oscar Pettersen on bass. The quartet has the feel of a true band and not just wunderkind plus back up musicians. The interplay is tight and intuitive, and everyone gets a chance to shine.

The maturity level is high on Cut Me Loose. It doesn’t feel like a debut record and Magnus doesn’t seem like a teenager. I hate to focus on his age but it could be a sticking point for a lot of people, including me. I think it’s great that young people are interested in Blues and I strongly encourage it, but teens as bandleaders often fall short. In this case, Magnus Berg delivers in a big way. So far, he seems like the total package. He writes good songs, comes up with credible re-arrangements of classics, sings well beyond his age, and is confident enough to be part of the band. It will be great to see him grow as an artist and I bet he’ll have one Hell of a voice ten years from now. It’s way too soon to cut him loose, he’s got a lot of miles to go and I suggest you get on the train sooner than later.

Hump Day! Risque Tunes For Your Midweek Blues 11/12/14

BluesBiscuitsHumpdayHave you got the Hump Day blues? Feeling down? Feeling low? A little sluggish? Need to put a little spring in your step? Forget the Snake Oil salesmen. It’s time to call on your doctor – your special doctor who loves to make house calls and give you a thorough exam. He’s got the cure for all your ills and guarantees to make you feel good. Real good.

That’s right. Even in Blues playing doctor is a popular game. Today we have Muddy Waters with “I’m Your Doctor.” The tune is the B-side of Muddy’s 1960 Chess single “Read Way Back.” Muddy has his mojo working overtime on this one and Little Walter is writing harmonica euphoria prescriptions. Muddy knows he can cure your headache with a double dose of love so please strip down and get ready to be probed. Who’s ready for the rectal exam?

Next we have George Thorogood & The Destroyers performing “Love Doctor” from their album The Hard Stuff (that sounds dirty). He proudly declares “the doctor is IN!” after offering to operate on you and kiss it where it hurts. Now that’s bedside manner!

Finally we have Johnny Winter and “Medicine Man” from his album Let Me In (that also sounds dirty). This is low down and grooving with guitar licks to soothe your aches and pains but this medicine man has other ideas about how to maintain your happiness and well-being. He’d also like to remind you that “your g.p.’s got cold hands” and “Dr. Quincy’s much too old” just in case you were thinking maybe Quincy was available for the evening’s examinations. Don’t suffer alone, let Johnny Winter in – he’s the warm-handed medicine man.

Happy Hump Day friends. Go forth and operate…

 

Muddy Waters I’m Your Doctor

George Thorogood & The Destroyers Love Doctor

Johnny Winter Medicine Man

Fresh Biscuits! New Releases For November 11, 2014

It’s been a while since we did a new releases roundup. October was a slow month but as the holiday shopping season approaches, labels like to get all their stuff out for you to buy for yourself and your music loving friends and family. This week we’ve included a few items from last week, this week and next week. At the bottom we have a few items for the vinyl fans out there too. We featured two of the new releases in our reviews last week so please check those out as well – Dana Fuchs & Mike Zito reviews.

Mike Zito

Mike Zito and The Wheel Songs From The Road – Live in Texas (CD + DVD)

Dana Fuchs

Dana Fuchs Songs From The Road (CD + DVD)

Ruf Records 20 Years Anniversary

Various Artists Ruf Records 20 Years Anniversary

Otis Taylor

Otis Taylor Otis Taylor Collection

Magnus Berg

Magnus Berg Cut Me Loose

Maggie Cocco

Maggie Cocco Get Me

Jeff Chaz

Jeff Chaz Chronicles

Erin Harpe & Delta Swingers

Erin Harpe & Delta Swingers Love Whip Blues

Eric Bibb

Eric Bibb Blues People

Danny Green

Danny Green Road Leading Home

Bruce Katz

Bruce Katz Homecoming

Blues Karloff

Blues Karloff Ready For Judgement Day

For the fans of those twelve inch black CDs, there are several recent vinyl releases and reissues for your eyes and ears this month.

VINYL:

Keb' Mo'

Keb’ Mo’ Bluesamericana

Howlin' Wolf

Howlin’ Wolf Howlin’ Wolf (180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl)

John Lee Hooker

John Lee Hooker Boogie Chillun

Blues Brothers

Blues Brothers Briefcase Full of Blues

Fresh Biscuits! Three For The Road – New CD Reviews

This week we have Three For The Road featuring new live albums from Dana Fuchs and Mike Zito, plus a look at the new 8 disc Rory Gallagher Irish Tour ’74 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. All these are a treat for live music fans. I hope you enjoy this week’s reviews and find something interesting for your ears!

DanaFuchsSongsFromTheRoadDana Fuchs
Songs From The Road
Ruf Records
Release Date: November 11, 2014

Dana Fuchs hit the streets of New York City at age nineteen. Almost twenty years later she is something of a local hero. Some know her for her portrayal of Janis Joplin in the off-Broadway musical Love, Janis. Some know her from her mesmerizing role as Sadie in the film Across The Universe. But after three acclaimed albums and thousands of performances, most people know Dana for her own body of work and dynamic shows. When it came time to capture one of those shows on tape and film, Dana Fuchs naturally chose to do so in front of a New York City crowd. The new live CD/DVD Songs From The Road was recorded at Highline Ballroom on March 14, 2014. It captures the dynamic performer and her road-tested band at the height of their power.

Dana’s voice is in fine form and it is indeed Dana’s voice. There are hints of Janis Joplin, sure, and a little Aretha and Otis Redding too, but she blends the familiar into her own natural phrasing and intonation. And you’ll notice on the DVD that Dana Fuchs leaves it all on the stage. She gives you every ounce of energy she has. The band is tight and delivers the goods in every song. Guitarist Jon Diamond is a former session player who met Dana shortly after her arrival in New York. They have a distinct chemistry which has led to a highly successful and satisfying songwriting partnership. From Stonesy rockers like “Set It On Fire” and “How Did Things Get This Way” to the heartbreaking ballad “So Hard To Move” and the hopeful Gospel groove of “Sad Salvation.” The band also features Matt Beck on guitar, Jack Daley on bass, Pete Levin on keyboards and Joe Daley on drums. Back up vocalists known collectively as the Screaming Sirens, featuring Elaine Caswell, Nicki Richards and Bette Sussman, intertwine with Dana voice creating a beautiful quilt of sound that will warm you to your soul.

Together, these musicians cover a lot of ground. “Tell Me I’m Not Drinking” and “Sad Salvation” reach back to the debut album Lonely For A Lifetime. From 2011’s Love To Beg they bring out “Set It On Fire,” “Summersong” and an intense cover of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” 2013’s highly acclaimed Bliss Avenue is represented by “Livin’ On Sunday,” “Handful Too Many,” “So Hard To Move,” “Vagabond Wind,” and the incendiary show-opener “Bliss Avenue.” For fans of her work in Across The Universe, Dana closes with a gutsy, soul-stirring “Don’t Let Me Down.”

Inexplicably, the running order on the CD and DVD are different. The song “Love To Beg” appears only on the DVD, while “Keep On Walkin’” is only on the CD. The DVD avoids the ADHD frame transitions of the MTV era. You get a clear view of the energy Dana brings to each song and which she shares with her audience. On stage she is part temptress, part whirling dervish. She is a full body singer, drawing power from her entire being. She has presence, fortitude, and stirring voice. She is visual, visceral, and versatile. Songs From The Road is a tour de force for the Dana Fuchs Band and leaves you wanting more.

MikeZitoSongsFromTheRoadMike Zito & The Wheel
Songs From The Road
Ruf Records
Release Date: November 11, 2014

Mike Zito has been steadily building his audience, building a career in music, and playing honest songs to devoted fans around the world. A few years ago he co-founded a new band called Royal Southern Brotherhood with Devon Allman and Cyril Neville. RSB took off like a rocket and threatened to derail the hard won solo career Mike had developed. Staying true to his heart and his art, Mike announced his departure from RSB this year. His studio albums have gone from strength to strength with 2013’s Gone To Texas being one of the best yet. Zito and the Wheel put on powerful, passionate shows and it seemed like it was time to capture the road show on tape. The new live album, Songs From The Road, was recorded on January 10th, 2014 at Dosey Doe in The Woodlands, TX. The Wheel features sax man Jimmy Carpenter, bassist Scot Sutherland, keyboard wiz Lewis Stephens and drummer Rob Lee. When speaking about the band recently, Mike Zito said “We’re all on the same page. We’re not interested in solos, we want to play together.” On the CD and DVD, you hear and see this is a true band. The songs and performances are the stars, with the whole group of musicians giving everything to serve them.

Mike Zito & The Wheel hit their stride in the live environment. The interplay gets intense on several occasions. Sax player Jimmy Carpenter sometimes manages to sound like a horn section unto himself. He and Zito go toe to toe and it reminds me I’m really going to miss Mike Zito’s guitar dueling with Devon Allman in RSB. Carpenter is perfect sparring partner though and together they make extraordinary music. Lewis Stephens is the keyboard filled center of this sweet jelly donut, adding flourishes, layering tones, and holding everything together. He is a master at work. It’s a shame we don’t get to see all their performances on the DVD or hear them on the CD. Between the CD and DVD, Songs From The Road features 17 songs. Appearing on the CD only are “C’Mon Baby,” a stark, earthy, melancholy version of Prince’s “Little Red Corvette,” and the uplifting and rockin’ “Rainbow Bridge.” Appearing only on the DVD is the poignant “I Never Knew A Hurricane,” plus “One Step At A Time,” “Let Your Light Shine On Me,” “Natural Born Lover,” and “Texas Flyer.”

Don’t miss the bonus features on the DVD. Along with fan interviews, you get six Storyteller style performances from Mike Zito. He talks about the songs and sings them to his own acoustic guitar accompaniment. The stripped down versions of these songs draws out the quality of Zito’s writing and plaintive expression in his voice. The stories are honest and informative too. Mike goes into great detail, describing the events that led to the song “Greyhound” which in turn influenced “Gone To Texas.” He relates his love of history and the fact that “Gone To Texas” is an old slang expression indicating someone left to get their head together, which turns out to be exactly what happened to Mr. Zito. The bonus material is as compelling as the main show and makes this set comprehensive in its presentation of Mike Zito as a writer, instrumentalist, and singer.

RoryGallagherIrishTour74DeluxeRory Gallagher
Irish Tour ’74 – 40th Anniversary Expanded Deluxe Edition Box Set
Sony Music/Capo/Eagle Records
Release Date: October 21, 2014

By 1974, Rory Gallagher had been performing around the world for the better part of a decade. He had been in the big Irish show bands in the mid 60’s, played Isle Of Wight with his trio Taste, was courted by The Rolling Stones when Mick Taylor left, and had been the subject of a rumored Jimi Hendrix quote about the best guitar player in the world. Still, he and his band were slugging it out night after night, playing anywhere that would have them. They found fame on the European continent and amassed a rabid following. In winter 1973 and 1974, they headed back to their home country of Ireland for a string of highly anticipated sold-out shows with Tony Palmer in tow to document the trek.

While Rory had accomplished a great deal and was at a career high point, Ireland, and specifically Belfast had been taking a beating. The political climate of Northern Ireland left Belfast ripped apart from what many consider the most destructive violence in the country’s history. This era of unrest came to be known as The Troubles and didn’t really end until 1998’s Good Friday Agreement. The Troubles divided the Irish people along religious, ethnic, and political lines and by winter 1973, when Rory embarked on his now famous tour, Belfast was decimated. Roy Hollingworth, noted writer with Melody Maker described the city as “a shattered, deserted and frightened place.” Live music was pretty much absent in Belfast but Rory Gallagher was willing to bring his show to his beloved city, an endeavor which forever won him the hearts of people across the country no matter their political views. About the decision, Rory was very matter-of-fact and plain spoken, as he usually was, “I see no reason for not playing Belfast. Kids still live here.” And so, Rory and his band, bassist Gerry McAvoy, drummer Rod De’ Ath and keyboardist Lou Martin set out on a tour in Ireland when almost no one else would, and gave the people momentary respite from The Troubles.

The now famous album Irish Tour ’74 says it was recorded on tour in Ireland but we now know most of the tracks came from the Cork City Hall shows on January 3rd and 5th 1974. The new box gives us eight unreleased tracks from these Cork shows, plus 35 more unreleased tracks over the course of the next five discs. Discs three and four were recorded at Dublin Carlton Cinema on January 2nd 1974, five and six were recorded at Belfast Ulster Hall on December 28th and 29th 1973, and disc seven is a wonderful revelation comprised of music recorded on the afternoon of January 4th 1974 in Cork City Hall during an extended jam session held to get the sound levels right for recording. On disc seven the band is relaxed and having fun. There’s no pressure and they are playing for the pure joy of it. They absolutely tear it up on “Just A Little Bit” and they stomp their way through a previously unreleased version of Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied.” Rory’s deft touch on slide is stunning.

Rory was a product of the show bands of the sixties and as such he played similar sets every night with his own band. Most bands of the era did the same. They rehearsed an hour and a half of songs and that was it. What this means to we people of the future in 2014 is there’s a lot of repeated tracks on the Deluxe Edition. This should not scare you away. The band may have played the same songs, but each performance has something special to recommend it. Rory and his band were tremendous improvisers and the nature of their repertoire meant every night would be different. As lead guitarist, Rory especially had the opportunities to stretch his solos, change his tones, modify his attack, and keep everything fresh.

The Belfast shows are especially exhilarating and it’s a wonder they were captured at all. Rory’s brother and manager Donal Gallagher tells the story in the extensive booklet that comes with the set. “For the opening shows at Belfast’s Ulster Hall, the booked Ronnie Lane mobile unit had failed to turn up, citing insurance difficulties.” Apparently it would have been parked on a street nicknamed Bomb Alley and the insurance company was having none of it. Donal continues, “in order that the audio could still be recorded, we utilized the two fold-back monitor channels on our newly designed German ‘Stramp’ audio desk.” The audio quality did suffer a little and gets a little noisy but the performance more than makes up for any hi-fidelity issues. Rory and the band feed the music-starved Belfast crowd and create a continuous loop of energy between the stage and hall. “Cradle Rock” is furious, “Tattoo’d Lady” is poignant especially since Belfast could be considered the land of the musical circus Rory ran to as a teenager, “Million Miles Away” is soaring, and Rory’s slide work and finger picking during “In Your Town” are propelled by the monstrous power of Gerry McAvoy and Rod De‘ Ath. Just when you think they couldn’t have any more to give the raving Belfast crowd, the band finishes with the eleven and a half minutes of frenzy known as “Bullfrog Blues.” The Catholics and Protestants could all agree that Rory gave them everything he had.

The band is ferocious throughout this set. Keyboardist Lou Martin gets a lot of soloing time and keeps up with Rory all the way. Gerry McAvoy was with Rory from 1971 to 1991 and is a sadly under-rated bassist. His parts on these tracks alone are enough to earn him legendary status and on the DVD you can see how his energy and spirit powered the band and drove Rory to keep playing better and better. Rod De‘ Ath was a drum titan and known well to musicians everywhere. He had power when needed and subtlety often required for blues. The Rory Gallagher Band was a force to be reckoned with on any night, but during this Irish tour they were as dangerous as the streets of Belfast. All their energy is captured in these tapes and the Tony Palmer film included as disc eight.

RoryGallagherIrishTour74ExpandedOne last thing I have to mention is the packaging. The booklet is well done, very informative, and has lots of pictures. However, the construction of the box is entirely too flimsy. The spine of the set is a thin piece of cardboard that gets no support from the flaps that fold in to create the square. Since many brick and mortar retail outlets, especially in the US, won’t have this set in-store you will most likely have to get it shipped to you. The cheap cardboard spine and outer sleeve will not hold up well in shipping if they just put it in a padded envelope as Amazon did with mine. Buyer beware. The music, on the other hand, stands up strong and proud 40 years on. This set is a must have for Rory fans, guitar fans, blues fans… oh Hell, this is just great music by great musicians and everyone should have a copy.

New Facebook Contest – Win Alexis P. Suter Band Tickets

ASPBatKirbyContestBanner

It’s contest time again folks! You can win tickets to see Alexis P. Suter Band, and their special guest Norman Taylor, at FM Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA on November 15, 2014. To win a pair of tickets, describe the Love The Way You Roll album cover in ten words or less. The description with the most Likes by 11:59 Eastern Time Wednesday November 12, 2014 wins the tickets! Put your description in the comments below the post on our Facebook page, get all your friends and relatives to Like your entry and you could be at the show.

APSBLoveTheWayYouRollThe cover of Love The Way You Roll is a distinct deviation from the usual Blues album cover and captures the imagination. There are layers of hidden visual treats, references, and in-jokes. Let your senses guide you to the best concise description (ten words or less!) you can come up with and share it with us. Click the image of the album cover for a high definition version so you can explore it’s hidden charms!

 

If you’re not familiar with the band, here they are with the tune “Big Mama” from Love The Way You Roll:

Show details:

Back by popular demand, the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts announces the return of its “Live from the Chandelier Lobby” concert series, which will feature one performance per month beginning in November and running through April, 2015.

Alexis P. Suter Band
with special guest, Norman Taylor
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15 at 8pm

The latest lobby series kicks off on Saturday, November 15 at 8:00 pm with a very special performance from blues, baritone powerhouse Alexis P. Suter and her band.Fans will remember Suter and company from their roof-raising performance last year when they rocked the Kirby Center in support of Trombone Shorty.  Since then, the band has released a new album, Love The Way You Roll, which has sat atop the Blues album charts for seven weeks and counting!In other words, get your tickets early!

Tickets to see the Alexis P. Suter Band go on sale this Friday, October 17 at 10:00 a.m. and will be available at the Kirby Center Box Office, online at kirbycenter.org and by phone at (570) 826-1100.

This time around promises to be even more exciting, as Michael Cloeren , founder of the Pocono/Pennsylvania Blues Festival and director of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, will serve as emcee for each performance, introducing the performers and conducting brief Q-&-A sessions between the artists and their fans.

“Live from the Chandelier Lobby” once again features general admission seating, with an estimated capacity of 300 patrons.

Ticket Price: $20.00 (advance) | $25.00 (doors), plus fees

Hump Day! Risque Tunes For Your Midweek Blues 11/5/14

BluesBiscuitsHumpdayHump Day baby! Hump that bump! Bump that Booty. It’s Booty time, booty time across the USA! Like that classic Blues band the Spin Doctors once said “Gotta love it, it’s my duty, she got a big fat funky booty.” Tongue in cheek right? Right!

I don’t know how or why but this week is Booty week. Let’s blame Linsey Alexander who just put out a new disc called Come Back Baby (reviewed here) and he has a tune called “Booty Call” that’s catchy, naughty, and bawdy. The blues men have a long history of loving a big woman with a big back side. From Leadbelly’s “Big Fat Woman Blues” to Big Joe Turner’s “TV Mama” – the one with the big wide screen – the blues loves a booty. Whether they’re calling it, bumping it, humping it or just looking at up close and personal, they love it.

Freddie King was a fan of the shakin’ booty, and as you’ll see in the Bobby Rush video, so is he! There’s plenty of gratuitous booty shakin’ when Bobby Rush is on stage with Mizz Lowe and the other dancers. Watching Mizz Lowe work it might not be safe for work so keep it on the down low.

Last, we have Son Seals. Poor Son was so depressed by the skinny women in the big city he declared he was “Goin’ Home” where women got meat on their bones – and a big fat ass (we added that part but he was thinking it!). Somebody shoot thang! Happy Hump Day friends. Enjoy!

 

Linsey Alexander Booty Call

http://vimeo.com/105465132

Freddie King Shake Your Booty (Live)

Bobby Rush I Ain’t Studdin’ You (Live)

Son Seals Goin’ Home