Monthly Archives: February 2015

Tedeschi Trucks Band At F.M. Kirby Center – Live Show Review

TedeschiTrucksBandStageShot

We caught up with the Tedeschi Trucks Band tour as it rolled into F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA on Sunday February 15, 2015. The band is touring behind their second studio album, Made Up Mind. This eleven piece ensemble includes Derek Trucks on guitar, Susan Tedeschi on guitar and lead vocals, Kofi Burbridge on keyboards and flute, Tim Lefebvre on bass, Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson, both TedeschiTrucksBandMikeMattisonon drums and percussion, with former Derek Trucks Band vocalist Mike Mattison on harmony and lead vocals and acoustic guitar, plus Mark Rivers on harmony vocals and the horn section which includes Kebbi Williams on saxophone, Maurice Brown on trumpet, and Saunders Sermons on trombone. Together they make a joyful noise and it surely warmed up the bitter cold winter night.

TedeschiTrucksBandSusanSingingFor those unfamiliar with the band, Derek Trucks was an integral member of the Allman Brothers Band since 1999, as well as leader of the Derek Trucks Band which dissolved as TTB was being created. Susan Tedeschi was an award winning blues and roots singer and guitarist. The pair met when Susan toured as an opener for the Allman Brothers Band way back in 1999 or so. The two were later married and attempted to raise a family while being on the road in three different bands. Eventually they decided pool their talents and the Tedeschi Trucks Band was born. Their first album, Revelator, garnered TTB a Best Blues Album Grammy and a Blues Music Award for Album of the Year. Their follow-up live album, Everybody’s Talkin’ won the band a Blues Music Award for Best Rock Blues Album plus Susan, Derek and TTB itself won separate Blues Music Awards in 2012.

TedeschiTrucksBandDerekFeelingItAgainI have seen Tedeschi Trucks Band only once before this show and I was not impressed. I thought their debut album was lackluster, melancholy, and 180 degrees away from the triumph that was the final Derek Trucks Band record, Already Free. I felt let down by what I thought would be a powerful and dynamic band and record. The live set I saw previously found the band stumbling to find a pace for their shows and had too many mellow tunes grouped together. They lost me about half way through. Still, I respect these fine musicians and now, four years later, I was ready to give them another try, especially because I love the Made Up Mind album. I never expected the dynamic, expressive, full-bore Blues, Rock, and R&B juggernaut revue that trampled all my reservations and skepticism.

TedeschiTrucksBandKofiAndDerek

Without fanfare, the lights went down and one by one the band members came on stage, took their places, and started into the opening number. By the time they launched into “Made Up Mind” ten minutes later they were firing on all cylinders and ramping it up into overdrive. “Made Up Mind” is a raspy, chugging tune and drew cheers from the crowd seconds after Derek Trucks started scratching out the opening riffs. Susan Tedeschi belted out the chorus defiantly as the crowd sang along and boogied with the strutting rhythm. In the back of the hall, folks gathered to dance as Derek Trucks took everyone on slide guitar excursions into the heavens.

TedeschiTrucksBandKofiBurbridgeWhile Susan Tedeschi’s guitar playing has developed significantly since joining forces with her husband on stage, Kofi Burbridge serves as Derek’s main foil for soloing. Kofi is a maestro on keyboards and flute. He treated the crowd to many fantastic moments on both instruments. When Kofi takes a turn, Derek moves to Kofi’s corner on stage, listens intently, and with barely perceptible head movements spurs his musical partner higher. As for Susan, she played some excellent solos during Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “I Pity The Fool” which she also sang with fervor and authority.

 

TedeschiTrucksBandHornSection

The chemistry of the whole ensemble is undeniable. The horn section adds significantly to the overall sound, the two drummers are in lock step like a drum corps in a marching band, and vocalists Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers add layers of harmony that make the songs soar. Both Mike and Mark took turns on lead vocals. Susan Tedeschi is a formidable singer, but having two additional voices for lead vocals expands the band’s range exponentially. I realized about halfway through the set that this eleven piece band is a Rhythm & Blues orchestra. Each element of the band fills a specific purpose, creating layers of sound, and increasing the overall potency of the music. In a word, it was incredible.

TedeschiTrucksBandDerekAndSusan

Among the highlights were back to back acoustic tunes including Elmore James’ “Done Somebody Wrong” which was an electrified favorite of the Allman Brothers Band. Here, Derek and Susan took the song beyond its roots with a sparse arrangement that somehow kept all the intensity intact. “Bound For Glory” and “Midnight In Harlem” are standout tunes from the first album and they have developed into tour de force performance pieces. “Midnight In Harlem” showcases Susan Tedeschi’s command of her voice and the band’s ability to create tension and release. “Bound For Glory” has become an extended instrumental workout and gave me several breaks from reality as I found myself thinking I was in the middle of a full blown Allman Brothers jam. These moments gave me great hope for this extraordinary band, and my listening habits of the future.

TedeschiTrucksBandDerekFeelingIt

I really can’t say enough about the complete reversal of opinion I experienced during the show. I am pleased to know this band has hit its stride and will hopefully continue to improve. Unfortunately it happens less and less, but it’s a good feeling to sit in a concert hall and be utterly impressed. Over the course of two hours, this well-oiled machine called Tedeschi Trucks Band raised the bar for every working band out there.

 

Revisiting An Interview With David Maxwell

DavidMaxwellPianoEyesSometimes it is only in retrospect that we can truly appreciate a moment, or a word, shared with another human being. For me, this human being was David Maxwell, a man I had the wonderful opportunity to interview a few years ago. When I heard of his passing I wanted to revisit the conversation we had and in doing so I realized some wonderful things. In essence, David told me that music was ultimately a healing experience for him and that, above all, he has lived a rich life and he has been “basically, pretty happy…”

 

Maureen Elizabeth: David what is your perception of “the state of the Blues” today?

David Maxwell: That’s a tricky question. Things have to evolve, art forms go into modification. There was a pretty big watershed when SRV was around. He was an amazing guitarist and I think he set the tone for a lot of guitarists after him. Then there’s the old school kind of stuff. I was influenced by Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, all those piano players like Pinetop, and Slim – I knew them personally. And there were so many more that I heard on CDs or with whom I got together, like Charles Brown. I think that there are a lot of really talented Blues artists out there today. The palette has really changed a lot – it has expanded – and I am all for that. I play a lot of jazz, world music, and I think there is a lot of soulful music all over the place. I’m not saying that I’m a died in the wool pure Blues player, but when I do play the Blues my reference point is the kind of stuff that came out of Chicago, primarily, and all its influences from Mississippi and all the deep Blues that came out of there. Some people say “well there’s Deep Blues – capital D, capital B, almost like it’s a museum piece. I try to keep it alive and when I play I stick to the language, but I add my jazz predilections or whatever and I stretch it a bit maybe rhythmically or in its tonality, but I really try to stick to that sound that, to me, really represents the Blues.

ME: You stay true to the sound while still breathing new air into it?

DM: Yeah. I think that the danger is groups sounding too generic – where you have the guitar playing overriding everybody in the rest of the band, where it’s just a rug or a vehicle for the guitar player to shine, or the singer, or whatever. I liked it when everybody was contributing, just as it was back in those days, like with Muddy’s band, Howlin Wolf-all those bands out of Chicago. But not only there, other cities as well, but it was more of a group spirit. I think that there are some really good players out there today. I record with Chris James, Pat Rynn, Rob Stone- they’re on Earwig -and they kind of keep to that tradition. But there are so many other musicians who maybe don’t play in that style because if everybody did it would be kind of boring, but they have their own style and I think they are great. There are some great singers out there and a lot of my old friends. So there’s a combination of the so called old school and some of the recent developments of great players as well.

DavidMaxwellWithRonnieEarlME: Your style is often described as as post-war Chicago Blues…

DM: Well, there’s Chicago blues – I guess they use the war as a demarcation because we‘re dealing with more electrified instruments and clubs where you have electric guitars and microphones. It’s not the acoustic kind of blues that you might associate with some of the clubs of the 30’s and 40’s when the so called “rediscovery period” happened. When I was growing up in the mid 60’s and I was at club 47, I heard people like Skip James, Son House, Booker White and Fred McDowell. Later, Muddy Waters came through with James Cotton on harmonica and Buddy Guy, Jr Wells… but that was something different, that was considered kind of “too electric” in a way by some of the standards of the time. You know, we were sort of gravitating toward the kind of thing where you wanted these deep acoustic blues or folk music. I heard that stuff, but when I heard Otis Spann with Muddy Waters I just thought “wow” – there was something so soulful with his playing that just led me to really want to go after that kind of sound. I fell in love with it – I was really passionate about it

ME: So Otis and Muddy really opened the door for you…

DM: Well, yeah. In high school I really didn’t hear that much blues. I was into jazz and I was playing piano so I learned a little about chords, but it was around the early 60’s where I began. I knew Alan Wilson, he lives in the town next door to me, and he later joined Canned Heat, but in high school he played trombone and we used to have jam sessions. We’d be playing soul, jazz stuff – he’d always been into Dixieland, New Orleans, real rootsy stuff -and then he got into the early Mississippi blues and he kind of turned me on to that. I was getting into it and then we found Muddy Waters and everything kind of changed. I really began to try to learn that style, that Otis Spann style, Sunnyland Slim, and I started to play with people to back people up and it went on from there.

ME: I find it fascinating that when I talk to musicians about their early experiences hearing the Blues there is always a real passion or a real draw…

DM: Well, I’ll tell you what happened to me. In 1963, I was in my junior year abroad in Paris. I had been going to the University of Rochester for two years and I wanted to get away from the college –it wasn’t really happening for me- It was a little bit stultifying for me.

ME: What were you studying?

DM: Classical Music – and I was playing a little bit of jazz.   I was doing a music major and a liberal arts major at the same time, so I went to Paris, to a school there, and I got exposed to all kinds of music because many international artists would come over from India, Iran… from everywhere, and I was totally into that stuff. But then the Blues Caravan came over, I think it was probably in ‘64, in the spring. I was probably in the third balcony of this huge theater in Paris, with a friend – and we were diggin’ it- and there was Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Muddy Waters and then Otis Spann played something solo – he played “Goin’ Down Slow” and what he did was just… I’m not sure if I knew it was Otis at the time or I figured it out later. There were other piano players there – there was Memphis Slim- but this was not Memphis, this was Otis, the style. What it was, was that this guy was just so magnetic and so electrifying, and a little inebriated – I think he almost fell over on the piano bench – but he was singing and he was playing this stuff with all this right hand figures – it sent shivers down my spine. Now that’s the moment that you are looking for. Later on, when I got back to Cambridge and went back to school, Muddy came through with Spann and Cotton and the Band, I heard Spann again, and that began a relationship ship that lasted until Span died in ‘70. I got to know him, and eventually I got to sit in with him at the jazz workshop up in Boston. I kinda’ followed him around a little bit and Muddy was really supportive. One night I even replaced Spann on piano when he was sick – this was the late ‘60’s when Paul Oscher was in the band. Paul and I are fast friends, we’ve been friends forever – but that was the key, when I heard that sound. I had a friend who taught art classes at MIT- those were the days when you could just requisition the student lounges, so we staged these jam sessions – and one time, when Muddy was in town, we had the pianos back to back, you know, Otis Spann and me – it was great – stuff doesn’t happen like that anymore. That’s when Big Momma Thorton came through and I backed her up for a week. I would play with a bunch of local Boston musicians as well; J. Geils and all those people – you know, that was a breeding ground. But for me, when I went out on the road with Freddy King in the 70’s, I would have my Eric Dolphy tapes and my Cecil Taylor tapes at the same time and my Otis Spann and Freddy King tapes too, so I’ve always been interested in more than two facets of it.

ME: When the music speaks to you – you must answer its call…

DM: Exactly. Lots of music speaks to me, but the Blues speaks to me in a way that really comes from the heart – you have to play it with subtly, getting the right inflections, the right kind of feeling to it, otherwise it becomes just another form.

ME: It’s not an intellectual exercise…

DM: No, not at all. I’ll save all my intellect for figuring out Herbie Hancock or somebody like that – it’s all about expression and communication from that point, where you are dealing with a specific language – you don’t want to violate the language, but you want to enhance it.

DavidMaxwellAtPianoME: And you want to make it your own…

DM: Exactly.

ME: Looking back, what would you consider a peak moment in your career?

DM: I’ve had many, many, many, and I’ve probably forgotten half of them because it’s always the gigs where you say ah man that was so great, we couldn’t have done it any better than that. But if you want some names, playing with Freddie King undoubtedly was one of my greatest experiences. I played with him for a couple of years- baby grand or grand piano- and it was great to be a part of that. It’s on DVD – they were big on the video cameras back then in ‘72, ‘73 and it’s on You Tube – I have muttonchops and a beard and my hippie beads and my platform shoes. I was the only white guy in the band so I was straddling both worlds, but there was definitely some extremely moving moments like when he sang “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” and other slow Blues tunes. I also played with James Cotton in the late 70’s and we had some great, great moments. Playing with Bonnie Raitt was very special. Otis Rush, Hubert Sumlin -playing with those guys, there was something very, very special about that. And Louisiana Red – I recorded an album with him. Red is singularly a huge force – there is nobody like him. And then Ronnie Earl – we have this magic together that is pretty inspiring – I’ve know Ronnie since the 70’s and I recently had a CD release party for Conversations in Blue –it’s about Otis Spann and how I reinterpret his work. Ronnie and I played together many times over in the last 30 years. There’s been a lot of great experiences and to mention one particular gig – the short answer to that is “yeah – there probably is one night where everything magically fell together and I wish we would have recorded it” but I can’t remember the night or when it was but the general answer is all the people I mentioned- those people are really special.

ME: Any regrets along the way?

DM: No too many. I’ve just tried to be who I was. Basically I have been pretty happy.

ME: You’ve lived your life doing what you love…

DM: Sometimes I think, well, maybe I should be playing more jazz or maybe I should be composing more, but you generally do what you are good at and you continue to work at the other things that you want to accomplish.

ME: What is your hope for the next generation of musicians?

DM: What I hope is that they really just find what they are interested in and really give voice to that and appreciate whatever turns them on. That may sound simple, but a lot of kids are pressured to do this and do that and some of them are working 35 hours a week and don’t have time to practice. But just to revel in the beauty and the sensuality of the music… music is ultimately a healing experience for me, that’s where it goes, that’s the primary thing. For years I’ve been intrigued by other musical systems like Turkish or Persian where they have particular scales that relate to particular ailments. I’m totally into that and I play a lot of what you might call totally improvised music where I’m just painting or sculpturing or making architecture with just sound…

ME: That’s beautiful…

DM: It is, at its base, kind of mystical and at its best it’s, hopefully, uplifting and cathartic…

ME: Is there any other thoughts that you would like to share with our readers?

DM: It’s been a pretty rich life. I’ve been able to play with a lot of cool people, a lot of legends… We make our choices and we do what we want… and I’m always open to new things…

ME: Thank you David for being such a gift to us…Rest in Peace…

 

Prior to his passing, David was nominated for a 2015 Blues Music Award for
Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year.
You can vote for David by clicking the icon below:

 

All photos in this article were used by kind permission of DavidMaxwell.com

 

Fresh Biscuits! New Releases For February 2015

It’s new releases round up time again. This week we’re combining the last two weeks’ new releases because there wasn’t much for either one but we want to let you know about what’s new. It seems Steve Earle has joined the ranks of Blues musicians, at least for this record. Steve has always had a fair amount of Blues in his music so this one should be interesting. I never really saw Steve as a country artist; to me he is a roots rockin’ singer/songwriter and no matter the genre he always comes up with good music. Keep an eye out for this one. 

There’s also a great 1997 live set from Dave Alvin where he joined Gatemouth Brown, Billy Boy Arnold & Joe Louis Walker for a rousing Blues jam. Other archival releases include a Leadbelly box set and a Mississippi Fred McDowell live album with recordings from 1971.  Igor Prado Band with Delta Groove Allstars offers a set of collaborations including two songs featuring the late great Lynwood Slim performing Lowell Fulson’s “Baby Won’t You Jump with Me” and Paul Gayten’s “You Better Believe It.” There’s also brand new music from Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, and Little Freddie King. It’s not a big new releases list but there’s plenty of exciting possibilities for your ears this time around.

Steve Earle

Steve Earle Terraplane

Dave Alvin

Dave Alvin, Gatemouth Brown, Billy Boy Arnold & Joe Louis Walker Live In Long Beach 1997

The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band

The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band So Delicious

Igor Prado Band with Delta Groove Allstars

Igor Prado Band with Delta Groove Allstars Way Down South

Little Freddie King

Little Freddie King Messin’ Around Tha Living Room

Fred Mcdowell

Mississippi Fred Mcdowell Live 1971

Lead Belly

Lead Belly The Smithsonian Folkways Collection

Fresh Biscuits! Weekly CD Reviews – February 20, 2015

We’re back again with some CD reviews for you. This week we have some exciting instrumental hi-jinks, kick-ass rockin’ blues, and a delightful R&B influenced album. If you’re in the Northeast like me, you’re probably frozen, snowed in, and offering bounties for Jack Frost on Craigslist. These hot Blues will hopefully warm you up. As always, I hope you find something interesting for your ears!

JohnGintyBadNewsTravelsLiveJohn Ginty

Bad News Travels Live

American Showplace Music

Release Date January 13, 2015

 

Organist John Ginty is a Morristown, NJ native who has traveled the world playing in the road bands of acts like Jewel and Dixie Chicks plus stints with Citizen Cope and several others. Ginty is a founding member of Robert Randolph and the Family Band with whom he received two Grammy nominations. In 2003, John appeared on the Blind Boys of Alabama’s Grammy Award winning album Higher Ground. Maybe it was just luck, but it’s more likely that John Ginty knows how to pick his musical partners. When it came time to record his first studio album, 2013’s Bad News Travels, he chose a host of superb musicians to join him. Recently, Ginty released a double disc live set recorded in front of a small audience in the studio where he created Bad News Travels –  Showplace Studios, in Dover, NJ. Reuniting with many of the guests from his album, Ginty presents the music in organic form – musicians in a room playing off each other and drawing energy from the joy of music making. Thus we have Bad News Travels Live.

Bad News Travels Live is not merely an exercise in replicating the studio album. Ginty and friends fine-tuned the running order and added a pair of Ginty originals not on the studio album. The result is an energetic, uplifting romp through timeless sounding music. The set starts with the funky driving rhythm of “Switch.” The whole band gets to stretch their fingers and preview the stellar musicianship about to be unleashed upon the crowd. The band includes Mike Buckman on guitar, Paul Kuzik on bass, Dan Fadel on drums, and Anrei Koribanics also on drums. The drummers are exceptional together and provide the finely tuned engine this band needs to perform at optimal magnitude. They are the drum corps, front line, back line and boogie crew laying down the beat for me and you! “Arrivals” is a raucous instrumental that reminds me of a revved up version of Buddy Guy’s “Man Of Many Words.” Ginty is man of many notes and I’m pretty sure I heard all of them in this tune. Luckily I am not Emperor Joseph II from Amadeus. I do not believe in too many notes. “Arrivals” is a breath taking experience but just as soon as it’s gone Albert Castiglia is out on stage firing up a mellower but no less brilliant “Elvis Presley.” The King is dead, long live the king! Apparently Elvae are popping up in visions all over town. This is a fun tune and adds levity to a session that people could interpret as serious business.

While there is no shortage of instrumental serious business here, John Ginty had the good sense to bring in a vocal powerhouse to match the fleet fingered fireworks. Dynamo Alexis P. Suter lends her inimitable voice to “Seven And The Spirit” along with her Alexis P. Suter Band partner in crime Jimmy Bennett on guitar. Bennett is a well-rounded tasteful player who seems to play exactly what the songs needs. “Seven And The Spirit” has plenty of hot jamming from Bennett and Ginty and winds down with a nod to Otis Redding’s “Can’t Turn You Loose.” Alexis also provides the perfect foil for Ginty and Albert Castiglia on “Damage Control.” This swampy boogie with scorching guitars fires up a crawfish boil that’ll have the whole neighborhood dropping by.

Speaking of dropping by, Todd Wolfe drops by for a pair of tunes and while I was hoping he would sing, he did not. He did however put on his There & Back Jeff Beck hat, cranked the overdrive on his Fender amp and blasted out Telecaster licks that would have made Roy Buchanan smile – and we all know that didn’t happen often. Wolfe plays on “Peanut Butter” and “Rock Ridge.” The latter sounds so familiar I thought it was a Jeff Beck tune for a moment. Wolfe’s slide playing is pitch perfect as he feeds the beasts that prowl out on “Rock Ridge.” Cris Jacobs takes a plunge into his old jam band days, ripping up wicked solos on “Mirrors” as well as trading blazing licks with Albert Castiglia on “Damage Control” and “The Quirk.” John Ginty is the perfect host, encouraging all his guests to shine by giving them plenty of musical space and pushing them higher with his own dynamic playing. Still, Ginty is the star of the show. He gets an amazing array of sounds from his Hammond B-3, Vintage Vibe piano, and an acoustic piano. There are no synthesizers – just a man who knows how to get the most from his instruments. He is a monumental talent who has thus far evaded the ears of too many. The music from this double CD is also available on DVD. With DVD you can watch up close as the maestro coaxes otherworldly notes from his keyboard. The DVD is a bird’s eye view of the live session and offers the opportunity to see how these performers interacted and created this powerful music.

I get a lot of CDs to review and unfortunately I don’t have time to write about them all. I have to choose what to cover and I prefer to write about music I like. Even still, some of the records I’ve reviewed fall by the wayside after a short time. John Ginty’s Bad News Travels Live is not one of those records. I loved it from the first few notes. Last year I heard John playing live on B.B. King’s Bluesville on Sirius XM. I was beyond impressed and filed his name away to investigate. John’s talent on keyboards, his songwriting, and his musical perspective leave me wanting more. If I was a keyboard player, I don’t know if I’d want to quit or go practice more but this is one of those records that gets you musically fired up and ready to jam. The Bad News is Good News and it all travels at the speed of sound. Go hear some today!

 

EricSardinasBoomerangEric Sardinas

Boomerang

Jazzhaus Records

Release Date January 13, 2015

 

Eric Sardinas has been taking the world by storm one gig at a time for over 15 years. He looks like Ian Astbury’s cousin from Texas and plays guitar like he taught the Devil at some crossroads south of Hell. His voice is raspy and road weary; honest and bold, emitting emotion with every note. Born in Florida Sardinas first got his hands on a guitar at age six. Inspiration came from the roots music in his mother’s collection and his elder brother’s penchant for classic rock. As a teen, Eric dove head first into the Blues. His own music gave voice to the amalgamation of those influences. His music falls on the harder rocking side of blues and over a series of records he has honed his skills, wrestled with demons, logged the miles, and fought the good fight for music that comes from the heart and gut. His latest album with his band Big Motor is called Boomerang and it brings all those elements back around again for a triumphant, defiant set.

The electrified acoustic resonator is the first thing you hear on Boomerang and in many ways it’s all you need to know about Eric Sardinas’ new album. It is his signature instrument. It is ragged, gritty, down, and dirty. It is street level brilliance and elegant savagery. The song you’re hearing is “Run Devil Run” and it needs to be heard on big, loud speakers that used to fill living rooms with faux wood chic and big black rectangles daring you to tangle with them. Be prepared to listen to the whole damned thing this way because ear buds will never do this joyful noise any justice. All too soon, “Run Devil Run” is over but “Boomerang” is booming with positive waves of energy and more of that chugging guitar. Sardinas gets a variety of tones from his resonator on “Tell Me You’re Mine.” From the squonky wah-wah effects to white-washed wall of sound slides, he packs this tune with undeniably imaginative guitar licks. His voice is also in fine form all over Boomerang. Eric Sardinas voice and guitar playing make the rare perfect match in a singer/guitarist. Some guitar playing bandleaders sing because there is no other choice. Sardinas voice seems inextricably linked to his hands and tone. His hearty voice is as much a part of his musical charm as his guitar playing.

The disc is dedicated to Eric’s friend Johnny Winter who passed away last year. Eric’s Rock and Roll style of blues is akin to Johnny’s early 70s work. “If You Don’t Love Me” exemplifies this with its back breaking beat, high speed classic blues riffs, and white hot slide licks. Coupled with the next track, Leiber and Stoller’s classic “Trouble,” Sardinas seems to be offering a one two punch from his Johnny Winter bag of tricks. It’s a classic Rock & Roll original, served with grime and grease on a steaming hot Blue Plate with a side of kick-your-ass. You’re still listening through the 35” high Pioneers right?

Unlike Johnny Winter, Eric doesn’t go for the extended solos and wild jams. Boomerang is a succinct ten song record clocking in at just under thirty-five minutes. This is old school, wham bam, thank you ma’am, hit ‘em hard, hit ‘em again and go rockin’ blues. There’s no special edition, no bonus tracks, and no songs you don’t want to hear. They left the scraps on the cutting room floor and we’re all better for it. This band is on fire, the playing is powerful and the songs just might get you in trouble with the law. Big Motor runs on high octane fuel and Boomerang is it.

 

BennyTurnerJourneyBenny Turner

Journey

NOLA Blue

Released on October 27, 2014

 

Benny Turner is from Gilmer, TX. His family later decided to move to the Windy City where his brother Freddie King eventually rose to fame. Benny played in Freddie’s band for a long time and after Freddie’s passing, Benny went on the road with Mighty Joe Young and later Marva Wright. He’s made some Soul singles in the past and released a few blues CDs recently as well. Benny Turner is a bassist and singer with quite a pedigree and musical history. He brings together all those experiences on his most recent album called simply, Journey.

Journey follows divergent paths that weave in and around each other on this genre-bending set. A classic Blues shuffle called “Breakin’ News” is our first step on the path and it’s a rollicking roller with thumping bass and pulsing organ that will have you skipping down the road like you just dropped a house on a witch. The horn section swings and Jellybean Alexander pounds out the rhythm giving this tune a robust arrangement full of hidden charm. Someday I absolutely must be in a band with a guy named Jellybean. “Don’t Ride My Mule” sounds dirty and “I Wanna Give It To You” is dirty. If you’re familiar with our Hump Day features you know we love dirty blues. I wonder if Turner’s significant other is aware of being compared to a Mule. It probably explains the romantic evening he has planned in “I Wanna Give It To You.”

“How I Wish” is an old-style Blues a la Bobby Blue Bland. The big background vocals, horn section, and gliding minor chords make it a lush genre-jumping arrangement. The tune is beautifully delivered and Turner’s vocals are sublime. “My Mother’s Blues” takes us back to the porch of his childhood home. The rustic approach and sparse arrangement is a welcome break from the Big City Blues that make up the bulk of this set. It also shows Turner is comfortable and adept with all styles of Blues. Turner plays the blues on Kazoo here and makes it not only palatable but welcome. This is also one of two songs on which Benny plays guitar on the album. He is a genuine jack of all trades and plays guitar with laid back confidence. “My Mother’s Blues” is bouncy, catchy, and oddly beautiful.

Benny also plays guitar on “My Uncle’s Blues (Fannie Mae).” He plays a perfect cadence and Patrick Williams howls on the harmonica. I guess Benny’s uncle like chasing women through the hay. This is a robust rabble rouser, strident and strong, strutting like the king of the barnyard. With this song, “Don’t Ride My Mule,” and “I Wanna Give It To You” Benny Turner shows there has been and always should be fun in the Blues. Unfortunately, Blues is also about the hard times too. Our Journey ends with a poignant minor blues/gospel combination called “What’s Wrong With The World Today.” Vocalists Tara Alexander, Deanna Bernard, Ellen Smith, and Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes form a choir around Turner’s plea for peace, love, and understanding. Turner calls out cities like Detroit, Baltimore, and Chicago to “lay your pistols down boys.” The verse calling out cities is a goose bump moment. It is a chilling reminder that our struggles are greater than ourselves and need to be addressed from sea to sea. It’s a message of peace from a man whose Journey in life has been from the Jim Crow south the Obama administration. However, Benny Turner’s musical Journey is just getting started again and I suggest you join him.

Hump Day! Risque Tunes For Your Midweek Blues 2/18/15

Ah, Hump Day. Hump Day this week falls on Ash Wednesday, the official beginning of Lent for Christians. Of course, that means giving up something near and dear to your heart for 40 days or so. Some things are easier to give up than others. Usually on Hump Day we focus on the sexual nature of the blues but other vices have played a large role in the Blues as well. So this week we are expanding our illicit horizons to a few things you might not want to give up until Good Friday.

Since Fat Tuesday was yesterday and we’re celebrating excess this Ash Wednesday Hump Day, we have six tunes for your enjoyment. Billy Boy Arnold will start us off with a song about a woman hopelessly in love with “Whiskey, Beer And Reefer.” She was probably a fun girl for a while. It sounds like he’s not ready to give her up yet. We know Otis Rush isn’t ready to give up his woman yet. Otis is hooked! He works through his struggle with “I Can’t Quit You, Baby.” Jimmy Rogers has a liquid solution for the broken heart; any heart, really. He’d rather be “Sloppy Drunk” and I don’t see him giving it up for forty minutes let a lone forty days. 

George Thorogood relates a tale of woe regarding his woman and a bit of cocaine. If only he’d fasted on the cocaine and stuck to bourbon, scotch, and beer he would have avoided prison and his lady friend might still be alive – especially if she gave up nagging for Lent. Sometimes you just have to step away from the situation and get tall. Moreland & Arbuckle are getting taller by the hour. Cruisin’ the back roads and getting high have a history as old as the automobile itself. Drive carefully boys and girls, Moreland & Arbuckle could be out there driving Tall just when you least expect it.

Last but definitely not least, we have Albert Collins and his crowd pleasing exercise in denial “I Ain’t Drunk.” Since we’re celebrating sins of all kinds this week, I feel I should mention the sin committed in this video: excessive synthesizer. I’m pretty sure I see the keyboard player stroking the wheel (that sounds dirty) to bend the keyboard notes. He’s one drink away from whipping out the keytar and there would be no forgiveness, from God or anyone else, for that indiscretion! And shame on Debbie Davies who appears to be enjoying this extravagant synth shower of notes. I blame the 80’s and the drinkin’.

Alright, Biscuiteers, enjoy Hump Day and leave that cocaine be.

 

SPECIAL NOTE: If you enjoy Moreland & Arbuckle, please consider supporting their Kickstarter campaign. The band has produced a brand new record and are looking for supporters to help them get it distributed. Please click HERE to support the band.

 

Billy Boy Arnold Whiskey, Beer And Reefer

Otis Rush I Can’t Quit You Baby

Jimmy Rogers Sloppy Drunk

George Thorogood & The Destroyers Cocaine Blues

Moreland & Arbuckle Tall Boogie

Albert Collins I Ain’t Drunk

 

Hump Day! Risque Tunes For Your Midweek Blues 2/11/15

ShemekiaCopelandForHumpDay
“Who doesn’t love Hump Day?”

Happy Hump Day Biscuiteers! Valentine’s Day is coming up so I hope you have plenty of bawdy Blues ready for Hallmark’s annual Hump Day Blow Out (#thatsoundsdirty). One way to warm up for this winter holiday of love is to check out the sultry side of songstress Shemekia Copeland.

Shemekia will be appearing at F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA next Friday, February 20, 2015 and it got me thinking about her catalog of songs. She never gets raunchy, but it gets pretty steamy when this “Wild, Wild Woman” starts to “Turn Up The Heat.” Shemekia actually has a song called “Happy Valentine’s Day” but it’s a depressing tale of a cheating man making her cry on Valentine’s Day. Now, that is no way to treat a lady. Certainly not the new Queen of the Blues!

If you want to know how to treat her, go no further than “Your Mama’s Talking.” For some reason, ladies referring to themselves as Mama in bawdy songs doesn’t seem as creepy as the guys calling themselves Daddy, but it’s still disturbing. This mama will take your mind off that conundrum for sure.

We hope you have a happy Hump Day, a Happy V-day (naughty!), and if you’re in the area, please join us at Shemekia’s show at the F.M. Kirby Center next Friday.

Now, turn up the heat!

Shemekia Copeland Your Mama’s Talking

Shemekia Copeland Wild, Wild Woman

Shemekia Copeland Turn The Heat Up

Shemekia Copeland Coming To F.M. Kirby Center

ShemekiaCopeland_Approved2Vocal powerhouse, Shemekia Copeland, will visit the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, February 20 at 8:00 p.m. as part of the “Live from the Chandelier Lobby” concert series. The Chandelier Lobby provides an intimate setting where the attendees can experience the passion and power of the musicians up close.

While only in her early 30’s, Shemekia Copeland is already a force to be reckoned with in the blues music industry. She has already opened for the Rolling Stones, headlined at the Chicago Blues Festival, scored critics choice awards on both sides of the Atlantic (The New York Times and The Times of London), shared the stage with such luminaries as Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Mick Jagger, and Eric Clapton, and has even performed at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama. Heir to the rich tradition of soul-drenched divas like Ruth Brown, Etta James and Koko Taylor, Copeland was presented with Taylor’s crown on June 12, 2011 at the Chicago Blues Festival.

Born in Harlem, New York, in 1979, Copeland is the daughter of the late Texas blues guitar legend Johnny Clyde Copeland. Ms. Copeland has recently re-signed with Alligator Records, the label she called home from 1998 through 2005. Shemekia is working on a new album with producer Oliver Wood and the new music is due in September 2015.

Her passion for singing, matched with her huge, blast-furnace voice, gives her music a timeless power and a heart-pounding urgency. Her music comes from deep within her soul and from the streets where she grew up, surrounded by the everyday sounds of the city – street performers, gospel singers, blasting radios, bands in local parks and so much more.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at the Kirby Center Box Office, by phone at (570) 826-1100 and online at www.kirbycenter.org.

Tickets Prices: $20.00 (advance), $25 (day of show), plus fees

Fresh Biscuits! New Releases For February 10, 2015

Well, my little Biscuiteers, this week is a dry week for new releases. Maybe the industry is giving you some time to explore the music of the Best Blues Album nominees from the 2015 Grammys that were held this past weekend. Johnny Winter won this year. Personally I think it was a sympathy win since we lost him this year. For more of my thoughts on his new album check out our review here. For my money, of those nominated, Dave & Phil Alvin had the best record, with Charlie Musselwhite at a close second. Our review of Dave & Phil’s album is here. On the left side of our page we have a poll. Who do you think should have won the Grammy? Click your choice and vote! The other fine nominees are Ruthie Foster and Bobby Rush. Check out their latest albums too since this week is looking bleak for new releases to enjoy.

What we do have this week is a Stax/Volt Singles box set, a live set from recent Blues converts Spin Doctors, and a Vance Kelly live set that seems to have been available digitally since December. Check them out. The Spin Doctors last album – If The River Was Whiskey  – was their first Blues foray and is terrific. If they keep it up they just might make a successful transition into the glamorous world of Blues. I hope they like carrying their own gear and then getting it stolen! But they’ll never be as good as Joe Bonamassa – just ask him! Okay, okay, JB gets a lot of grief and he just got a little more. I still dig him. Bring back Black Country Communion, Joe!

Anyway, three big new releases. Enjoy:

 

 

Spin Doctors

Spin Doctors Songs From The Road

Vance Kelly

Vance Kelly Live At Kingston Mines

Stax/Volt Soul Singles

Various Artists The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles: 1972-1975

Hump Day! Risque Tunes For Your Midweek Blues 2/4/15

BluesBiscuitsHumpdayDamn it’s cold out there! Especially if you’re anywhere from Sweet Home Chicago eastward. It’s Hump Day and we all need a little warmth in our lives this wintery week to get us through. Thankfully, plenty of blues men and women have some suggestions for us.

Howlin’ Wolf offers his “300 Pounds Of Joy” to keep you warm. I’m guessing he’s not talking about slow cooking a side of beef, but meat is definitely being offered, if you know what I mean…

Alexis P. Suter has a few ideas to warm you up this winter. She explores them in her song “Big Mama.” “Big mama gonna play with you, big mama gonna see you through.” She cares. She wants to warm you up – up being the operative word. Candye Kane has similar thoughts. She knows you need a “Great Big Woman” this Hump Day to show you how to love. Your temperature is rising already isn’t it? At least, I think it’s your temperature.

Big Twist & The Mellow Fellows are looking for some heat, and ladies they want to you to keep your hot box burning. “Don’t Turn Your Heater Down” please, they need your heat all around them. Finally we have Joe Louis Walker agreeing with the ladies of the blues as he looks for a “Big Fine Woman” to warm his heart and other organs. That sounds dirty.

No matter what you’ve got, shake it, roll it, bump it, and hump it. It’s hump day after all!

Howlin’ Wolf Three Hundred Pounds of Joy

Alexis P. Suter Band Big Mama

Candye Kane Great Big Woman

Big Twist & The Mellow Fellows Don’t Turn Your Heater Down

Joe Louis Walker Big Fine Woman

 

 

Fresh Biscuits! New Releases For February 3, 2015

It’s time for another new releases listing. The new releases this week are a guitar blues extravaganza. I can’t wait to hear all these CDs! Tinsley Ellis has a new disc called Tough Love out today. You can read our review by clicking here. Beyond Tinsley’s fretboard fireworks, there’s Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King’s latest platter. I had the thrill of jamming with these legends a few years ago and while it went by in the blink of an eye I am forever grateful to them for inviting me onto their stage.

Bernard Allison is back this week with his funky fury and Jeff Michaels offers an homage to Texas Blues, which his website says came out last summer. Maybe this is a reissue too, or a wider release. Last up is a reissue of Kenny Parker’s 1998 record Raise The Dead. They seem to have renamed it during the reissue process, maybe to trick you into buying it again if you already have it. Maybe not.

Everybody get your air guitars out and be ready to boogie…

Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King

Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King Fat Man’s Shine Parlor

Tinsley Ellis

Tinsley Ellis Tough Love

Bernard Allison

Bernard Allison In The Mix

Jeff Michaels

Jeff Michaels Long Live Texas Blues

Kenny Parker

Kenny Parker Raising The Dead