Category Archives: Random Blues

These Blues Go To Eleven

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

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

SpinalTaptheseGoToEleven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Memory Of Duane Allman 1946-1971

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

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

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.

B.B. King Live at the Regal HIGH RESOLUTION COVER ART

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.

Five Lessons Of B.B. King

The passing of B.B. King last night has put me in a reflective mood. I’ve never been the biggest B.B. King fan, but I enjoyed his music, respected his achievements, and recognized him as giant among legends. His influence in undeniable and today’s social media feeds are overflowing with tributes to the man, his music, and his spirit. How did a poor boy born into poverty on a cotton plantation get so far and touch so many? What lessons can be learned from the man born Riley B. King? I’m sure there are many more than what I listed, but these five are what I consider the big ones.

1. Adversity can be overcome
B.B. King was born on a plantation in 1925 Mississippi. He died one of the most respected musicians and people in the world. He shared his story countless times and encouraged young musicians everywhere to keep going. He didn’t let bad circumstances prevent him from succeeding. Neither should you.

2. Music is to be shared
Over the course of his career, B.B. King shared his stage with a myriad of performers from all genres of music. He sang with a diverse array people from jazz songstress Diane Schuur to the ultimate Country Outlaw Willie Nelson. One of his biggest hits was performed with a little band out of Ireland called U2. B.B. welcomed all comers to the Blues and was welcomed in turn by everyone else.

3. One note matters
Most guitarists across all musical genres count B.B. King as an influence. All Blues guitarists were influenced by B.B. whether they know it or not. B.B. King is widely regarded as THE Blues guitarist. He didn’t build that reputation on flash. His guitar playing is simple at its core, but ultimately impossible to imitate because so much of B.B.’s spirit went into his playing. He could put more emotion in one note than most players put in 100. They know it, too.

4. Dedicate yourself to your craft and the rewards will follow
B.B. King played 250-300 shows a year for most of his career. Sometimes more. He said he loved the road and spent his life traveling from town to town taking Blues to the people. He spent his life honing his skills, building great bands, and perfecting his shows. His dedication and attention to details set him above the crowd, earned him a satellite radio channel, several TV specials and appearances, myriad awards, and millions of fans.

5. A little humility will get you everywhere
I’ve never heard or seen in print a mean word about B.B. King. Likewise I’ve never heard of B.B. King being anything but humble. His positivity, humility, and welcoming attitude made him not just the King of the Blues but a Good Will Ambassador around the world. He didn’t get that far by being an asshole.

The video below is one of hundreds of examples of B.B. King sharing his stage and music. This time he brings out Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Lonnie Brooks, Eric Johnson, and Gregg Allman. As Bandleader and Ringmaster, B.B. makes sure everyone gets the spotlight. Sharing, humility, and good humor are all here. Thank you for showing us the way Mr. King.

Should Corey Harris Play Blues?

Has it ever been disputed that Blues is Black music? Corey Harris seems to think that fact has been lost on modern blues musicians and listeners. He seems to believe Blues are not authentic if they aren’t played by Black people, and he doesn’t like it when White people imitate the Black Blues musicians. Corey recently wrote an essay for his blog titled “Can White People Play The Blues ?” I encourage everyone to read it at least twice. There is a lot to digest in Corey’s thoughtful and passionate piece and I agree with much of it including his disdain of the modern Blues genre’s tendency to imitate and regurgitate what came before. However, if what came before moves you and you feel it, and can relate to it, who is to say you are not authentic? As listeners I think many of us can tell when someone is pretending. However, Blues is not a lucrative music scene. You have to dedicate your life to it if you want to succeed. There really isn’t much room for those without passion. Still, there are many who seek to relive what they think was the heyday of the music, play note for note versions of “Got My Mojo Working,” and name drop Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters every few minutes. In part, I think Corey is railing against those who do so without any understanding or regard to its origin because he sees them as empty imitators, and he may be right.

Personally, I have been enthralled by Blues and its history for about 30 years. It was those damned White guys who brought me into the fold too. Stevie Ray Vaughan, Led Zeppelin, Cream, The Allman Brothers Band, Johnny Winter, and even Cinderella drew me into the music called Blues. I went backward from there and discovered a world of music rich in history and influence. Even as a teenage fan, I knew it came from Blacks, but I never in my life thought I shouldn’t play it because I’m White. I certainly never expected, as Corey suggests, asking permission from a Black person to play Blues. I came from a mostly white rural area. The only Black person I knew was into Rap and didn’t seem to know anything about Son House. That subconscious sense of entitlement may be his whole point about White Blues vs. Black Blues. I never saw the music as Black or White. Just because it was born of Black tribulations doesn’t mean others can’t relate to it.

I also get Corey’s stance that culture informs the music, but sometimes the music of one culture can resonate with people in another, especially where similar circumstances allow the feeling of the music to penetrate the soul. And while a culture can lay claim to the creation of an art form, it does not own it. Art, including music, is uniquely human and is for all people, everywhere, and it moves us all differently. After World War II, the poor children of war-ravaged England found the Blues at the time blacks in America were turning away from it and getting into Motown and Soul music. The postwar generation stood in line for food, saw their parents work exist as unofficial indentured servants in dank factories, and saw their future as little more than taking their parents place at the factory. their future was one of poverty, debt, and death. By the time the kids like John Mayall, Eric Clapton, and Keith Richards brought British Blues to American shores, most blacks had moved on from this music they supposedly own. The mostly-white hippies of America were looking for escape from the ravages of another war, this time in Viet Nam. They turned to music that soothed their souls and in many cases it was the amped up British Blues of Cream and The Rolling Stones among many others. To their credit, these bands loved the black artists and talked about them consistently which led to a Blues revival in the United States. The children of a burned out Britain could relate to the messages in the Blues songs and wanted to meet the kindred spirits who created them or knew those who did. The British Blues movement made White kids aware of one of America’s finest creations. It’s a shame and a sin that it happened that way, but I for one am glad it did.

Corey Harris seems more than incensed that Whites imitate the Blacks by dressing like them, singing like them, and acting like them. Of course white blues players will copy the original Black musicians. But this isn’t exclusive to White people. I’ve seen Black Blues artists who model their presentation after the greats, but in those cases it’s considered traditional. Black musicians created the template. Naturally, if you see something you like and you want build a similar item, you’re going to use a template, or blueprint. From cars, to homes, to guitars, and songs, there is nothing new under the sun. Everything has roots in what came before. As human beings we share a common history. Some of us have experienced that history in different ways but it affects all of us.

Corey Harris asserts over and over that Blues is Black Music, however his essay hints that inversely, Black Music is Blues as is everything that came from it. Does Mr. Harris mean that Blues is one facet of Black Music? Harris states that Black music “has never stood still, it has never stopped evolving and changing.  Whatever happened to Black people, happened in the music.  And since Black culture is obsessively fresh, as soon as the new influence became standard, a new standard was applied.” Yes, Corey seems to be examining Black music in his essay and Black music has changed a lot. In the 50’s and 60’s it changed into Soul and Rhythm & Blues. In the 70’s it became Funk, and in the 80s, Black Music became Rap. Still, many performers sing and play R&B. They didn’t have the same experiences as Ray Charles, so Black or White or any race, do they have to ask Ray’s permission to play R&B? Simply because a style of music has been left behind by its creators doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed, performed, or further developed. Among Mr. Harris’ issues with Whites playing Blues is the idea that Black Music evolves while Whites are nostalgic about Blues and don’t do anything new with it.

But Blues has evolved. However, I get the feeling Corey doesn’t like how it has evolved and changed. He says it needs to be sung to be blues but then says modern blues has turned into guitar hero worship, which is clearly contradictory since it is a change. Mr. Harris seems concerned that Blues is no longer focused on individual singers accompanying themselves on guitar or piano. He seems disdainful of the front man formation of modern Blues bands that highlight instrumentalists. This too is an evolution of what Muddy Waters started when he formed the first electric blues band. Maybe the key word there is electric. Electricity provided amplification. Suddenly those without good singing voices could express themselves through amplified instruments. The means of expression evolved and expanded. Should we discount the genius of Hubert Sumlin because he wasn’t a singer? Isn’t it a good thing that more people can express themselves musically and connect with an audience without ever muttering a word? Right there is proof that blues in universal and transcends language, culture, and circumstances.

Mr. Harris umbrage at calling Blues universal though, as if universal is a White concept and Whites control what is and what is not universal. The truth is that universal is merely a word used to describe the phenomenon experienced by so many, a feeling evoked by songs sung over a one-four-five chord progression. Most human beings, regardless of race, creed, or color would be moved by and could relate to the songs of the Blues. The world wide appeal of Blues is proof. And as Corey says, Blues comes from the music of Africa. Humanity, too, sprung forth from Africa and spread all around the world, just like the Blues. Blues has a rich history and it can be shared and appreciated people of all colors and cultures. We need to be a culture of Earth and stop focusing on all our differences. The music we love and the people we love all have their distant origins in the same place. When you limit yourself to seeing everything in terms of Black and White you lose sight of all the other colors of the Universe and your experience on Earth is greatly diminished.

So, should Corey Harris play Blues? Even after reading his essay several times, based on his own words I’m still not sure. There are contradictory arguments that might preclude him from doing so. He didn’t live in the same conditions Son House did. He doesn’t live in the same time period he describes as Blues Time. He grew up outside Denver and graduated from a New England university. But he is Black, and I think we all agree that Blues is Black music. He has studied the history of Blues, lived in Africa, sang on the streets of New Orleans, and has been recording a fairly traditional form of Blues since the 1990s. As a Black man he has faced obstacles I, and many of you, never will. I cannot know his struggle, and likewise he cannot know mine. I personally don’t care what color he is, but at the same time I don’t discount it. In fact I’m glad a Black person is playing Blues. Much of his essay comes back to the idea that Whites discount the Black struggle and the way it formed Blues music. On this we agree. Everyone who enjoys Blues should delve into the history of the music and the culture it came from. That knowledge will certainly increase your understanding of Blues and probably enhance your enjoyment. It will bring you closer to the music and expand your sense of the history that goes along with the foundation of songs upon which all of us stand. Yes, Corey Harris should play the Blues. And so should you no matter what your skin looks like. Remember where it came from, but make it yours.

Hot Biscuits! Our Favorite Blues CDs Of 2014

YearEndSleighFullOfCdsThe end of the 2014 is closing in and it’s been a great year for Blues fans. There was a ton of new albums this year. Some great debuts, terrific live albums, and a slew of interesting reissues. We at Blues Biscuits started this venture mid year and we’ve reviewed and covered a lot of great music since then. As most magazines do, we have compiled our list of favorite Blues CDs of 2014.

Our list is in no particular order, although I must say that for me, the album I keep playing over and over again this year is Dave & Phil Alvin’s Common Ground. It’s probably my favorite album this year in any genre. You can’t miss with these guys and their crack band covering Big Bill Broonzy. Phil & Dave singing and playing together is just as exhilarating as it was 35 years ago at the dawn of The Blasters’ career. If you didn’t get it yet, go get it right now or shoot an email to Santa and have him drop it in your stocking. If you already have it, you know what I’m talking about. Get a copy for all your roots and blues loving friends. You can find our review of the album here.

Thus, in no particular order, our 14 favorite Blues CDs of 2014:

 

Dave & Phil Alvin

Phil and Dave found Common Ground. Neither one wants to wear a pink bunny suit.

Jimmy Thackery

Whether it’s Jimmy Thackery playing music or Santa digging in his sack, the possibilities are Wide Open.

Indigenous

Time Is Coming for you to fill some stockings with this incredible album from Mato Nanji and Indigenous.

Chris Duarte

I’d gladly trade the 364 gifts from the 12 days of Christmas for one copy of Lucky 13.

Walter Trout

When The Blues Came Callin’ Walter Trout sang loud for all to hear.

Tedeschi Trucks Band

If you can’t decide on a last minute gift, TTB will help you with their Made Up Mind.

Gary Clark Jr.

Gary Clark Jr. Live – This one will roast your chestnuts real good.

Rory Gallagher

Santa kicks off his yearly ride with an Irish Tour. With all the raw energy in this deluxe box set, Santa will be done a little early this year.

Allman Brothers Band

While Santa is away, The Allman Brothers Band will Play. All Night.

Shane Speal

Santa lets loose a Holler! every time he rides through the threshold of Hell!

Harpdog Brown

What It Is is a F&#cking great album from a guy who looks a little bit like Burl Ives.

Selwyn Birchwood

Don’t Call No Ambulance, just put the suit on and get in the sleigh.

Alexis P. Suter Band

You’ll find this in your stocking if you’ve been good, because Santa will Love The Way You Roll.

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That’s it Biscuiteers, 14 CDs from 2014 we keep going back to more than the others.

There’s still a sleigh full of great music to explore from 2014. What were your favorites? Share with us on Facebook and Twitter @BluesBiscuits.

Happy Holidays everyone. It’s a Festivus for the rest of us!!!

A Tribute To Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie RayHendrixGuitarMagMy introduction to Stevie Ray Vaughan began with Jimi Hendrix. “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” was and is my favorite Hendrix tune of all time. By the time I was aware of Stevie Ray Vaughan, sometime in 1986, I had collected all the versions of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” I could find. Being 15, unable to drive and living in Podunk, PA, with a paper route and crappy job at the local grocery store did not give me a lot of access to the music I craved so the number was few and I studied them closely.

I did have access to music magazines and if you remember the 80’s you know there was a surplus of them, from Creem to Hit Parader, Rolling Stone and Spin, to my favorite, Guitar For The Practicing Musician. I was and am an LP liner notes nut and Guitar… went even further in depth, analyzing the music and players, sharing influences, writing habits, and of course, instruments. I had yet to get into playing guitar past the noodler stage but serious interest was right around the corner. Mostly I was reading Guitar… for the interviews. I knew little of blues and as a 15 year old listener I had no idea I was already hearing blues from my favorite bands like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix Experience. Even Tom Keifer from Cinderella was playing blues for me, and mentioned Johnny Winter in a Guitar… interview – a name I tucked away for much later.

StevieRayLiveAliveLPOne day whilst perusing Guitar… I saw an advertisement for an album called Live Alive by a flamboyant looking dude named Stevie Ray Vaughan. A few things piqued my interest. It was a live album and from Iron Butterfly Live, to The Who Live At Leeds to The Jimi Hendrix Concerts and Frampton Comes Alive, I was a live album guy. This Stevie Ray was dressed in a flashy gold coat that matched the ring on his hat and the color of the guitar. He looked like a cowboy who joined Sha-Na-Na. Awesome. But perhaps most intriguing was the inclusion “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” Now I was really interested. I filed this away too.

ColumbiaHouseAdA short time later I saw this album in an ad for Columbia House Music Club. Get 12 LPs for a penny! A penny? Damn. I had a penny. I decided this Ray Vaughan guy would be worth the hassle of taping a penny to the card, so I picked 11 LPs since Live Alive was a double and counted as two selections, and mailed in my card – ever hopeful the penny would stay affixed. I still wonder how many they got without that penny. Anyway, I would deal with the purchase requirement later, once Mom realized I signed her up for Columbia House. Six to eight weeks later my box of records arrived and I excitedly opened my cache of music.

I found “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and cued it up on the turntable. Holy shit. This is amazing. A little different in the opening but he nailed the feel of it. It sounded like Hendrix to me. People haven’t always covered Hendrix tunes like they do now. For a while they were like sacred texts, plus no one really wanted to be judged in comparison Jimi. Stevie didn’t care. He loved Hendrix and was going to play the music. He inhabited the music. I was stunned. This was incredible. After my “Voodoo Child” induction to Stevie Ray, I went back to the side one of the LP and digested the whole thing through, all the while checking out the photos on the inside cover of this marauding, mariachi pirate kicking his guitar, wearing Native American headdresses, and hamming it up with his band. Who is this guy?

StevieRayLiveAliveInsideCover

At this point I wasn’t completely sold on Stevie Ray. I loved the Hendrix, and the fast tunes like “Pride And Joy” and “Love Struck Baby” but still, I was regretting my exclusion of his other albums in my 12 for a penny deal. Over the next year I eventually picked up “Texas Flood,” and “Couldn’t Stand The Weather” which I enjoyed quite a bit. I was in shock when I heard “Scuttle Buttin’.” That was the fastest thing I’d ever heard and I was, at this point, quite a metal head. Still, SRV was just one more guitar player I liked. Sometime over the course of the year, I turned sixteen, won $50 in a school poetry contest and ventured into the world of bootlegs with the winnings. I’ve been trapped there ever since. I found a cassette bootleg of Stevie Ray Vaughan live at Loreley. It had no track list, no label, and no specific date but it was marked as a soundboard recording. My young ears had heard some really crappy Led Zeppelin audience boots, so soundboard drew me in. I paid eight 1987 dollars for the tape and it transformed me from casual SRV fan to apeshit wingnut in just under 90 minutes. He actually pulled off “Scuttle Buttin’” live and it was better! Plus “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and sick versions of “Little Wing” and “Third Stone From The Sun.” Third. Stone. From. The. Sun. What?

StevieRayLiveInJapanWithPipeCloseUpThat was it. All bets were off and my SRV bootleg collecting skyrocketed. I bought them all. Eventually I moved into the realm of VHS bootlegs and came home with Live In Japan January 1985. Out comes Stevie Ray puffing a pipe and casually ripping his way through “Scuttle Buttin’” – it just wasn’t fair. He was too good. My close friend and musical conspirator digested all this along with me and we spent hours watching Stevie Ray’s hands and poring over live recordings. The day “In Step” came out I bought it and took it over to his house so we could hear it together. All the while, I was reading every interview I could find with Stevie Ray Vaughan. I learned a few of his tunes and some of his licks from magazines like Guitar For The Practicing Musician. I even started using GHS guitar strings because of Stevie Ray. Within all this Stevie Ray Vaughan material, I discovered blues. I slowly realized it had been around me all the while.

StevieRayGHSAdStevie Ray Vaughan, even at his most drug-addled and intoxicated, was always talking about his heroes. People like Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, Freddie King, B.B. King, Lonnie Mack, Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin, and his big brother Jimmie Vaughan. I checked out all these guys and discovered a world of music that slowly redirected my attention away from metal. Naturally it was at this point I seriously regretted buying a Charvel guitar. The Jackson-cut headstock and fire-engine red finish weren’t very bluesy. Anyway, I tied this information together with what I learned from reading about the blues adored by Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. I also recalled that name Tom Keifer dropped in an interview a few years earlier: Johnny Winter. Johnny Winter and Stevie’s work with Lonnie Mack led me to Alligator Records. My listening has never been the same.

I will always remember where I was when I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan was dead. Keep in mind this was 1990. I had no internet. No texting; no tweeting. The 24 hour news cycle hadn’t even been born yet. That came later with the first Gulf War. I was in my room, waiting for a friend and listening to Neil Young & Crazy Horse. My friend arrived and asked if I heard. Heard what? Stevie Ray Vaughan is dead.

What? How? Where? I teared up. I felt like I had been sucker punched. I felt like I knew him from listening to him pour out his soul in his music. I read all the interviews. He was clean and sober and helping others get their lives together. He was playing great, touring a hot new record and had just made a record with his brother. How could he be gone? I must admit that when I heard the circumstances of his death my first reaction was why wasn’t it Clapton? Callous I know. Sue me. I took his death hard. Only my grandmother’s death has affected me more. I felt empty and hurt. A huge black hole now existed in my musical universe.

StevieRayOneOfTheLastEventually I started trying to fill that hole and find someone else with that sound. No one else at that time sounded like Stevie Ray Vaughan. I looked. I dug up Tinsley Ellis, Smokin’ Joe Kubek, anybody who played blues with a Strat – I tried them out. I found a lot of great music and my journey deeper into the blues began in earnest. Without Stevie Ray’s death I may have never discovered Ronnie Earl or Roy Buchanan, Jimmy Thackery, Walter Trout, or even more recent guys like Chris Duarte and Mato Nanji. I also discovered I loved most styles of blues and went back to the masters like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, and Son House. My musical universe expanded greatly but the black hole has never been filled. I’ve just learned to accept it. I did not know Stevie Ray Vaughan and never met him in person, but I loved him and I miss him to this day. I miss the music that could have been and the powerful force for good he represented by helping people and always humbly directing others to those who came before him to whom he felt indebted. He was a class act, amazing musician, and a respectful, unpretentious human being. Stevie Ray Vaughan continues to inspire me and his music lifts me up whenever I hear it or play it. Not a day goes by without thinking of something or hearing something Stevie Ray Vaughan related and in many ways that makes me very happy. Fly on little wing, fly on…

Win Pennsylvania Blues Festival Tickets! That’s A Hot Biscuit!

Exciting news Biscuiteers! Today we launch our first contest. It’s a Facebook contest and you’re invited to enter. Two lucky winners will each receive a pair of tickets for next Sunday to Pennsylvania Blues Festival at Blue Mountain Ski Resort. The rules are pretty simple: You MUST do two things: Like the contest post AND share it. That’s it. It seems simple right? 1. Like the contest post on Facebook. 2. Share the contest post on Facebook. YOU MUST DO BOTH TO WIN. Two winners will be selected at random. The contest is open until 6 pm ET, Tuesday July 22. Winners will be announced on Facebook, on Twitter @BluesBiscuits and here at www.bluesbiscuits.com. If you win please acknowledge your win and confirm with us by Wednesday July 23 at 6 pm ET. Good Luck! Please follow the link below…

Briggs Farm Blues Festival Live Tweet Event This Weekend

Friday and Saturday, July 11 &12, 2014 we’ll be on site at Briggs Farm for this year’s “best weekend of the summer.” Follow us on Twitter @BluesBiscuits and if you don’t have Twitter but you’re on Facebook, Like Blues Biscuits there and you’ll get the Tweets in our Facebook feed.

This will be our very first live tweet event so we hope you will join us and provide feedback. Let us know what you think, discuss the artists, complain about the crappy cellphone pictures, or tell us we’re eating too many BBQ sandwiches.

Briggs2014WebBannerHere’s a quick rundown of the lineup and schedule:

Friday July 11th, 2014

Main Stage
9:45pm        
Eric Gales
8:00pm         Samantha Fish
6:15pm         Eddie Shaw
4:30pm         Harper & Midwest Kind

Back Porch Stage
9:00pm        Lonnie Shields

7:30pm        Harper & Midwest Kind
6:00pm        Anthony Sherrod with the Cornlickers
4:40pm        Gabriel Butterfield Blues Band
3:25pm        Dan & Glen Hess
2:30pm        Norman Taylor

Saturday July 12th, 2014

Main Stage
9:30pm          Eddie Turner
7:40pm          Alexis P. Suter Band

5:50pm          Mike Farris
4:00pm          Anthony Big A Sherrod

Back Porch Stage
8:30pm         Lonnie Shields

7:00pm         Clarence Spady
5:30pm         Christine Santelli
4:15pm         Beareather Reddy
3:00pm         Symphonic Haze
1:45pm         Dustin Drevitch & James Owens Blues Revue

LINEUP SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Briggs Farm Blues – Highway 239 Revisited

Briggs Farm Blues Festival starts next week and here’s a look back at the last few years. Please like our Facebook page while you’re there.