Fall New Releases For Your Christmas List

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

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

Andy Santana

Andy Santana & The West Coast Playboys Watch Your Step!

Anthony Geraci

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

Arlen Roth

Arlen Roth Slide Guitar Summit

Joe Bonamassa

Joe Bonamassa Live At Radio City Music Hall

Walter Trout

Walter Trout Battle Scars

Leslie West

Leslie West Soundcheck

Tommy Castro

Tommy Castro Method To My Madness

Kim Simmonds & Savoy Brown

Kim Simmonds & Savoy Brown The Devil To Pay

John Mayall

John Mayall Find A Way To Care

Mike Zito & The Wheel

Mike Zito & The Wheel Keep Coming Back

Paul Butterfield

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

Shemekia Copeland

Shemekia Copeland Outskirts Of Love

Danielle Nicole

Danielle Nicole Wolf Den

Duke Robillard

Duke Robillard The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard

Joe Louis Walker

Joe Louis Walker Everybody Wants A Piece

Guy Davis

Guy Davis Kokomo Kidd


MonkeyJunk Moon Turn Red

Various Artists

Various Artists Blues Harp Women

Jonn Del Toro Richardson

Jonn Del Toro Richardson Tengo Blues

Steve Howell & The Mighty Men

Steve Howell & The Mighty Men Friend Like Me

The  Jimmys

The Jimmys Hot Dish

Colin Linden

Colin Linden Rich In Love

King Louie & LaRhonda Steele

King Louie & LaRhonda Steele King Louie & LaRhonda Steele

Lara Price

Lara Price I Mean Business

Eric Bibb and JJ Milteau

Eric Bibb and JJ Milteau Lead Belly’s Gold

Kevin Selfe

Kevin Selfe Buy My Soul Back

Thorbjorn  Risager & The Black Tornado

Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado Songs From the Road

The Claudettes

The Claudettes No Hotel

Dave Weld And The Imperial Flames

Dave Weld And The Imperial Flames Slip Into A Dream

Mitch Woods

Mitch Woods Jammin’ On the High Cs

Chris O'Leary

Chris O’Leary Gonna Die Tryin’

The Robert Cray Band

The Robert Cray Band 4 Nights of 40 Years Live

Gary Clark Jr.

Gary Clark Jr. The Story of Sonny Boy Slim

Laurence Jones

Laurence Jones What’s It Gonna Be

Harmonica Shah

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

Dudley Taft

Dudley Taft Skin and Bones

Jay Willie

Jay Willie Johnny’s Juke Joint

Charlie Musselwhite

Charlie Musselwhite I Ain’t Lyin’

Dave & Phil Alvin

Dave & Phil Alvin Lost Time

Popa Chubby

Popa Chubby Big, Bad And Beautiful – Live

Nikki Hill

Nikki Hill Heavy Hearts Hard Fists

Loren Connors

Loren Connors Live In New York

Les Copeland

Les Copeland To Be In Your Company

Todd Wolfe Band

Todd Wolfe Band Long Road Back

Andy Cohen

Andy Cohen Road Be Kind

The JC Smith Band

The JC Smith Band Love Mechani

Andy Poxon

Andy Poxon Must Be Crazy!

Tommy McCoy

Tommy McCoy 25 Year Retrospective

Al Basile

Al Basile B’s Expression

Briggs Farm Blues Festival Info And Playlist

Briggs Farm Concerts is proud to announce another exciting year of Blues at Briggs Farm, Friday July 10th & Saturday July 11th, 2015. Nescopeck, Pennsylvania. 

For the 18th year the Briggs family will transform their tranquil, rural farm into one of the most celebrated & award winning blues festivals nationally, that keeps music lovers and festival goers alike wanting more, from the time the first guitar rings out Friday until the gates close Sunday afternoon. Two stages will host twenty one International, National and Regional acts promising the most exciting lineup to date.

Since its first year in 1998, “Briggs Fest” has been continually captivating and attracting larger audiences with bigger and better acts annually. Along with Mississippi Delta inspired cuisine and “farm fresh roasted sweet corn,” diverse, unique vendors, on-site camping, free parking and free hayrides… This year’s festival is looking to be the best yet.

2015 Briggs Fest is offering a Who’s Who of established & up and coming Blues Artists. Headlining the Main Stage on Friday night is Devon Allman, guitar virtuoso and son of legendary Greg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band. Musically described as Muddy Waters meets Sun Ra, Allman finds inspiration from a wealth of influences; Teeny Tucker, described by James “Skky Dobro” of Blues Blast Magazine as “…the best female Blues vocalist on the scene today; Alexis P. Suter Band is back on the Briggs scene with her commanding bass baritone artfully blending gospel and blues; Butterfield Revisited, lead by Gabriel Butterfield, son of legendary harmonica player, Paul Butterfield, takes the stage with seasoned music veterans to pay their mutual respects to Paul Butterfield, a true pioneer of the blues and 2015 inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Saturday night Main Stage performances include Headliner Danielle Nicole, a powerhouse vocalist of the new generation of blues and a 2014 Blues Music Award winner, with the Danielle Nicole Band; white-hot chemistry meets world class material with Mike Zito and the Wheel, ” His music flows into the veins and move the body in ways that can only be described as free and wild, ” says Jazz Review; last of a breed of 60’s high octane rock, the Slam Allen Band is real soul and blues entertainment from the Grammy nominated bandleader, lead guitarist and vocalist with blues legend James Cotton; go back in time with Terry “Harmonica” Bean and the Cornlickers and experience authentic Delta and Hill Country Blues.

The “Delta Style” Back Porch Stage is an intimate setting providing audiences the opportunity to get “up close” with performers from several different bands.It’s here on Friday, July 10th at 4:30, an educational observance of the Blues will take place called the Centennial Blues Celebration. Michael Cloeren, Award winning Founder & Producer of Pocono & PA Blues Festivals, will feature six influential blues artists who were born in 1915: Robert Lockwood Jr., Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Johnny Shines, David “Honeyboy” Edwards and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Cloeren will discuss their life and times, their stories and connections to the Blues, and a sample of their music will be performed by Teeny Tucker, Bobby Kyle and Lonnie Shields. It’s a proud part of the American story and Briggs Farm is thrilled to offer this truly unique event on the Back Porch Stage.

Other Back Porch Stage performers include Lonnie’s Back Porch Party featuring Lonnie Shields, young and talented Jessie Loewy, Ben Singleton, and the soul man Leroy Hawkes. Bobby Kyle, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Miss Melanie and the Valley Rats, Teddy Young and the Aces, and Hess & Owens, Terry “Harmonica” Bean, Miner Blues, and Symphonic Haze.

Briggs Farm Blues Festival is unique! If you talk to anyone who has been to a “Briggs Fest,” chances are they have not missed a year since their first experience! This is because of the festival’s growing popularity with the international and national acts wanting to play the fest; Mississippi Delta inspired cuisine including farm fresh sweet corn, diverse, unique vendors, on site camping, free parking and free hayrides! Oh, let’s not forget about the great people and good vibes.

Briggs Farm also offers a “quiet camping area” designated for those who want to enjoy a calm relaxing weekend at the Briggs family’s welcoming farm. “The Woods” hosts late night jam sessions for those who are attracted to late night, post festival activities.

Briggs Farm is sure to provide you with a great environment and great friends making your stay at Briggs Farm memorable. When the gates close Sunday afternoon, don’t worry, there is always next year!

On Friday July 10th the camping area will open at 10:30 am, and the concert field will open at 12:30 pm. The following day, Saturday, July 11 the concert field will open at 12:30 pm, and on Sunday the camping area will close at 2:00 pm. The music goes till midnight each night.

For tickets and information please on to or call Briggs Farm Concerts. Telephone (570) 379-3342

^^^ The above information is from the official press release ^^^

We at Blues Biscuits have been to Briggs Farm about half a dozen times and it is always a highlight of the summer. There is continuous music on two stages which is a bit of a bummer because you will inevitably miss some great performances, but they schedule afternoon and evening sets for many of the second (Back porch) stage performers so you have multiple chances to see them all. The food is outstanding, the friendly laid back atmosphere is fantastic, and the grounds are easy to navigate. There is a short walk between the stages so you don’t lose much time when traveling to the other stage. Parking is easy, the staff is incredibly helpful and friendly, and the Briggs family are true Blues fans which shows in everything they do to ensure your enjoyment of the festival. I cannot recommend Briggs Farm Blues Festival enough. Make the trip, you will not regret it.

To get you familiar with this year’s lineup we put together a playlist featuring many of the artists performing this year. if you do not subscribe to Spotify, you can still listen to this playlist, and all our other Spotify playlists through our website.

Fresh Biscuits! Weekly CD Reviews

This week, Devon Allman announced he’ll be leaving Royal Southern Brotherhood. RSB is one of my favorite bands of the last few years and the second to crumble after a few short years (Black Country Communion was the other). RSB will be continuing to make music, adding Tyrone Vaughan – son of Jimmie Vaughan – to the lineup. The front line will now feature founding member Cyril Neville, Tyrone Vaughan, and Mike Zito’s replacement, Bart Walker. In light of these developments we decided to take a look at the most recent Royal Southern Brotherhood album, and the Ruf Records debut of new member Bart Walker.

heartsoulbloodRoyal Southern Brotherhood


Ruf Records

Release Date June 10, 2014

Royal Southern Brotherhood was put together by Thomas Ruff of Ruf Records. His idea was to bring together members of two of the most respected musical families in the South and see if they could revive the spirit and soul of Southern music in the modern era. The main players were Cyril Neville of the Neville Brothers, Devon Allman – son of Gregg Allman and leader of Honeytribe, and bluesman Mike Zito who is an old friend of Allman’s from their days working in bands and at Guitar Center in St. Louis. The rhythm section features musical titans as well. Drummer Yonrico Scott is from Derek Trucks Band, and bassist Charlie Wooton is a veteran of the Louisiana music scene and started out playing with Zydeco icon Chubby Carrier. Their debut record, the self-titled Royal Southern Brotherhood, garnered rave reviews and their following road work turned them into a formidable live band. Earlier this year Mike Zito announced his departure from RSB to focus on his solo career. This week, Devon Allman announced the same. Thus their second studio album as a unit has become this line-up’s swansong.

heartsoulblood is the name of the recent disc and it also describes the vibe of the album. It’s almost like they knew this would be it for them and they poured everything into it. The record opens with “World Blues” which is a bayou stomping, greased lightning slide-guitargasm celebrating the universality of Blues. World Blues seems to be the music they are creating as a band as well. The percussive elements are drawn all around the world. Neville and Scott are percussionistas. They weave and their parts together and their inner clocks merge into one heart that beats under all the music Royal Southern Brotherhood creates. This is clear especially in “Here It Is” which showcases Cyrille Neville’s stripped down funk. The focus is dialed in on the rhythm section and Neville’s hypnotic vocal. Bassist Charlie Wooton and drummer Yonrico Scott lock into a zesty groove and sparse guitars give the tune a lot of room to breathe.

“Rock And Roll” is a barnstorming Rock and Roll song about Rhythm & Blues. The guitar tandem of Zito & Allman blow the roof off every Chitlin circuit joint left standing from Memphis to Macon, Georgia. Devon Allman leads the group through a beautiful wall of sound called “Groove On.” The dense arrangement is so unobtrusive you almost don’t realize how much you’re hearing. This effect is expertly achieved and is a testament to the talent of the band and producer Jim Gaines. “Callous” tells how a hard life will leave a callous on your soul, over an echo drenched, clean-tone riff that sounds like a mix of Cream’s “Crossroads,” Beatles’ “Come Together” and Albert King’s “Born Under A Bad Sign,” but mostly “Come Together.”

“Ritual” is a Hoodoos-and-Voodoo-on-the-bayou bit of nasty business involving a whip and a snake. This must be some kind of fertility ritual. The tune is dense as a Bitches Brew and twice as creepy, unless your motto is “Sticks and stones may break my bones but whips and snakes excite me.” “Let’s Ride” is an ode to bikers but it seems way too mellow for a Harley Rally. If you’re looking for a tune to help you relax while you’re parked at the Crazy Horse monument whilst taking a break from your trip to Sturgis, this is the one. “She’s My Lady” has some sweet soul vocals. It’s a mellow love song, with a Detroit via Nawlins vibe and some Grant Green style guitar playing. It sublimely showcases the vocal skills of the band and the signature harmonies that may be lost without Allman and Zito. Album closer “Love And Peace” seems to express the band’s motto. Even the guys who quit have proclaimed their love for the band and the individuals therein. There’s no acrimony, just well-wishing to all involved.

Like the South itself, the band has a beguiling laid back charm that draws you in with its warmth, salt water breezes, home cooking, and hospitality. Their music has a natural flow to it. It feels good to listen to this kind of music. I only hope the loss of Allman and Zito won’t change the dynamic too much. Allman provides the classic rock grit and soaring Les Pauls, and Mike Zito brings the swampy blues and fiery slide work. Both will be missed as vocalists, and if you’ve seen them live, you know their friendship and musical brotherhood ratchets up their stage presence considerably. We wish them both the best in their solo careers and we hope the Royal Southern Brotherhood continues to make engaging, positive music for years to come. We’ll always have their heartsoulblood and that alone might be enough.


BartWalkerWaitingOnDaylightBart Walker

Waiting On Daylight

Ruf Records

Release Date March 12, 2013

In 2012 Bart Walker represented Nashville at the Blues Foundation’s annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Bart and his band came in second overall and he won the top guitar title. The ES-335 Gibson Custom guitar he won for his efforts appears on his latest album, Waiting On Daylight. Waiting On Daylight may not have happened if Ruf Records owner Thomas Ruff wasn’t in the audience at the IBC. Ruff signed Walker to a contract and brought him together in the studio with the legendary Jim Gaines who has produced a long line of terrific albums for musicians like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Santana, and John Lee Hooker. Armed with a slew of songs and the guidance of a veteran like Gaines, Bart Walker has made a blistering record. This is tough, loud, gritty blues mixed with a little Nashville inflection, some hard rock drive, and down home storytelling.

“It’s All Good” opens the record in a hopeful way. The singer is content with his lot in life – maybe because he such a damned good slide player. The licks are so clean I had to rewind and see if I heard fretting in there. His intonation is sure-handed and he effortlessly mixes it up with fretted notes, not just in this song but in several on Waiting On Daylight. For instance, his slide power is all over J.B. Hutto’s “Hipshake It” which boasts a relentless riff and soaring slide licks giving the ladies all the incentive they need to shake what mama gave ‘em. “99%” is a fiery populist tune about the disparity between the haves and have-nots in our society. Walker’s playing matches the intensity of the anger and disgust felt in his vocals. “Waiting On Daylight” has soaring leads accenting Walker’s heartfelt vocals. Bart Walker is a guitar slinger and a hell of a player, but he can sing too. And not just the “somebody had to do it vocals” a lot of guitarists slip past us. Bart is a bonafide vocalist. It is an instrument he skillfully uses to present his songs.

Closing the album, Bart delivers a clever revision of The Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post.” Gone is the bombastic bass rumble and quick stepping rhythm. In their places are a quarter time feel with guitars playing arpeggios instead of chords under the verses. Gregg Allman did a similar reworking on his solo album Searching For Simplicity, which is an arrangement his solo band still plays. Bart Walker took it a few steps further by removing any kind of signature riff, instead focusing on the voice and the rip roaring solos he fires off seemingly effortlessly. If you’re going to cover a classic song, this is the way to do it.

In many ways, Bart Walker’s approach to “Whipping Post” is apropos of his entire approach to making music. He mixes classic ingredients from tones and lyrical themes, to song structure and guitar licks, but he makes his own recipes. His sense of dynamics, powerful but friendly voice, and endless guitar chops fortify each tune making them something more than a random mash of influences. Clocking in around 48 minutes, Waiting On Daylight leaves the scraps on the cutting room floor and delivers 100% lean and mean 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.

Fresh Biscuits! New Releases For September 9, 2014

What does the new release schedule have in store for us this week?

This week’s new releases include Mike Zito & The Wheel’s live CD/DVD combo (only ten bucks on Amazon). Zito recently announced he’s leaving Royal Southern Brotherhood which really “Hurts My Heart” but I’ll get over it. RSB is picking up Bart Walker which should be an interesting combination.

Danny Bryant has a new disc out. Danny has been busy fronting Walter Trout’s band whilst Walter recovers from a liver transplant. There’s also a T-Bone Walker collection and an interesting collection contrasting and comparing God’s gospel and the Devil’s blues. We have a photo of the back cover so you can check out the 37 tracks.


Mike Zito

Mike Zito And The Wheel Songs From The Road – Live In Texas

Rob Stone

Rob Stone Gotta Keep Rollin’

Danny Bryant

Danny Bryant Temperature Rising

T-Bone Walker

T-Bone Walker Ultimate Collection 1929-57


Absolution Dusty Road

Brownie McGhee
Sonny Terry

Rev. Gary Davis, Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry, Louisiana Red, Jemima James and Bob Malenky The Blues & Salvation

Fresh Biscuits! | Royal Southern Brotherhood – heartsoulblood

heartsoulbloodThe new RSB CD heartsoulblood is out today. These guys keep getting better and better,  and they’re prolific too! Since the debut they have put out a live CD/DVD, and Devon Allman, Cyril Neville, Yonrico Scott, and Mike Zito have all put out superb albums of their own, plus, most of the band played on Black Wind Howlin’ – the new Samantha Fish CD. Let’s give bassist extraordinaire Charlie Wooten some love too. He is a master musician.