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Fresh Biscuits! New Releases May 19, 2015

Greetings and salutations! It’s time for new releases again and this week we have four more exciting albums. The Amanda Fish Band debuts on VizzTone with Down In The Dirt. Amanda was part of the VizzTone showcase at Rum Boogie in Memphis as part of BMA week. She’s getting a lot of attention right now and we’ll have a full review of the new album posted soon. And yes, Amanda is related to Samantha. Amanda is Samantha Fish’s older sister and according many, is also Kansas City’s best kept secret. Make sure you check out Down In The Dirt.

Sugaray Rayford is back with Southside. Sugaray Rayford was nominated for the prestigious BB King Entertainer Award by the 36th Blues Music Awards. He was also nominated for Traditional Blues Male Artist and included in three Mannish Boys nominations. He has an incredible set of pipes and could probably sing the phone book and hold your attention. You do remember phone books right? Billy Price and Otis Clay are two other guys who could probably steal your date while singing the ingredients in a can of Campbell’s soup to them. This is definitely a week for fans of talented vocalists and tremendous interpreters of song. Don’t let that take your attention from the Texas Horns though. These guys will blow you away!

Texas Horns

Texas Horns Blues Gotta Holda Me

Billy Price and Otis Clay

Billy Price and Otis Clay This Time For Real

Amanda Fish Band

Amanda Fish Band Down In The Dirt

Sugaray Rayford

Sugaray Rayford Southside

Fresh Biscuits! New Releases For October 21, 2014

It’s a big week in Blues for new releases. There’s a terrific new disc from Otis Clay & Johnny Rawls which we reviewed here, along with new music from Lisa Mills, Rory Block, and HowellDevine.

The Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research put together a set of previously unreleased tracks Sean recorded with Paul Linden, Melvin Zachery and Ray Hangen at The Magic Shop in New York. The producer Steve Rosenthal and the distributor, VizzTone, are donating all proceeds to the the The Sean Costello Memorial Fund. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of In the Magic Shop will go to support research at a rehab facility dedicated to creative people with co-occurring illness. So beyond the music there are great reasons to pick up a copy of this new release.

Lastly, there’s the Deluxe Edition reissue of one of the greatest live albums of all time – Rory Gallagher’s Irish Tour ’74. This new set has 8 discs, complete shows from the tour and 43 unreleased tracks. I had to order it from Amazon UK. It seems the US is only getting a paltry 2CD version of the full Cork show. I can’t wait to get the box set and we’ll publish a review once it lands in my hands.

Howelldevine

HowellDevine Modern Sounds of Ancient Juju

Rory Block

Rory Block Hard Luck Child: A Tribute to Skip James

Sean Costello

Sean Costello In the Magic Shop

Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls

Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls Soul Brothers

Ben Poole

Ben Poole Live At The Royal Albert Hall

Howard Glazer

Howard Glazer Looking In The Mirror

Lisa Mills

Lisa Mills I’m Changing

Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher Irish Tour ’74 Deluxe Edition

Songs For Saturday – Weekly CD Reviews

I hope you’re all enjoying your weekend. We have four new reviews for you. Yes, I’m a day late and a dollar short but I wrote a lot, went off the rails here and there and even threw in a rant! I hope you enjoy this week’s reviews and find something interesting for your ears!

OtisClayJohnnyRawlsSoulBrothersOtis Clay & Johnny Rawls

Soul Brothers

Catfood Records

Released Date: October 21, 2014

 

I am not the world’s biggest Soul music fan. I like it but I have to be in the mood for it, and I have conflicting feelings regarding its inclusion under the Blues umbrella. If I go to a Blues festival or show, I want to hear blues. I want to hear some poor bastard with a broken heart playing his guts out in 12 bars or less. I want it lean and mean, and not too clean. Soul music is just too nice. I’ve seen Johnny Rawls, and Otis Clay in concert and while both shows were enjoyable I wasn’t blown away by either. Then again, each set was at a Blues festival and I wasn’t really in the mood for Soul music. Hell, either could have been one of those times I listened to Soundgarden on the way to the show. Soul music doesn’t make its way into my purview all that often. I have my Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett records and that’s about as far as it goes. And now, across my desk comes a new album by two big names in Soul music – Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls. I had low expectations. I hear soul music in movies, or on SiriusXM once in a while for a change of pace, and a lot of it seems schmaltzy. Such was my state of mind when I popped Soul Brothers into the player.

Wow. The first song has these two Soul music gurus doing a classic Dave Mason track. It seems like a sellout to get people interested – the white people that unfortunately make up 90% of the Blues audience. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. The band gets a little funky and the vocal arrangement plays to the strengths of both vocalists and by the end of the first chorus I’m digging in and listening closer. What seemed like a pandering choice started to seem like a bold choice. They could have led off their first full length collaboration with any song but they went with this. I don’t know if it was their idea, the management, the label, or who, but it was a great choice. It helps that the band pulled it off. The band is The Rays featuring Richy Puga on drums, Bob Trenchard on bass, Johnny McGhee on guitar, Dan Ferguson on keyboards, Andy Roman on sax, Mike Middleton on trumpet, Robert Claiborne on trombone, Nick Flood on sax and The Iveys – Arlen, Jessica and Jillian – providing background vocals. I guess it worked on all levels and hopefully not just because I’m white. They definitely got me interested and in the mood to hear more.

This dynamic collaboration started last year when Otis Clay was a guest on three tracks on Johnny Rawls’ O.V. Wright tribute album Remembering O.V. They both put their hearts into Soul Brothers which for my money is better than anything I’ve heard from them individually. The biggest surprise for me is the seamlessness of the originals and covers. Sure you’ve heard “Only You Know And I Know” and “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted” before but it feels like you’ve heard “Road Dogs” and “Poor Little Rich Girl” too. They’ve crafted a “Best Of Soul” record using original material. It’s quite a feat and a testament to the artistry of these two men. Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls are both in excellent voice and this is one of those recordings where you can hear the smiles going back and forth between these guys. “Road Dog” has them exploring their parallel travels in the business and in Tyrone Davis’ “Turn Back The Hands Of Time” Rawls calls on Taylor to take us back to 1966 just as Otis belts out his testimony as the tune closes. “Hallelujah Lord” finds both men embracing their gospel roots, “Voodoo Queen” is the closest they come to a blues song, and “Living On Borrowed Time” has big bad horn arrangements straight out of Memphis. To call Soul Brothers a tour de force may see like hyperbole and maybe it is, but with Soul Brothers Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls have delivered a timeless Soul and R&B album that needs to be heard by everyone on Pop radio calling themselves Soul singers. Soul Brothers is the real thing.

DukeRobillardCallingAllBluesDuke Robillard Band

Calling All Blues

Stony Plain

Released on September 23, 2014

 

Duke Robillard’s history is in many ways the history of modern blues. He’s been in Roomful Of Blues and Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Blues Music Awards named him “Best Blues Guitarist” four out of five years from 2000 to 2004, and even B.B. King has called him “one of the great players.” Over the years Duke has been a champion for all forms of Blues and has covered most of them. The new record from the Duke Robillard Band is “Calling All Blues” and once again Duke brings together many styles on to one disc.

The music has a classic sound and Duke’s gruff raspy vocals are the perfect complement to the songs. His name may be Duke Robillard but he is the King of Tone. Even if he wrote horrible songs they would sound great. I would hate Techno less if they sampled Duke’s tones. Every blues tone you could want is on this new disc. And the acoustic bass? Damn, that thing sounds good. It was recorded perfectly too. It’s unobtrusive but if it was gone you’d probably cry until they put it back. It’s warm, fuzzy, and groovy – this music swings with style. Duke addresses the tones lyrically too, with “Nasty Guitars.” In the liner notes he mentions that he’ll occasionally be playing some beautiful passage in a nice clean tone and people will be looking bored. He knows it’s time to rip it up with some Nasty Guitars.

“Down In Mexico” is a laid back shuffle that suits the fun in the sun vibe. “I’m Gonna Quit My Baby” is a swinging bopper that will have you moving like a tilt-a-whirl. Duke’s open string fills and gritty tone are superb. The beat is countered by stuttering piano lines courtesy of Bruce Bears. It’s delightful. “Svengali” is a mind bending carnival of sound. I don’t know what the Hell is going on in this song but I love it. There are echoes, slides, stomps, string bends, and the machine that goes “ping.” It will make you dizzy, twist your mind, and make you wish you were Big. Keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times please. “Emphasis On Memphis” is as advertised and “Motor Trouble” seems to be a veiled reference to losing a little bit of your get up and go power. As producer and guest guitarist on many Stony Plain releases, and with his own prolific output, this surely can’t apply to the Duke himself.

I love the tones and tunes on Calling All Blues but “Confusion Blues” is too soft and smooth. It sticks out among the gritty vocals from Duke and all the grimy, low-down grooves on the rest of the album. It’s not a bad song or performance, but it pulls you out of the moment. Otherwise this is a perfect album. It clocks in around 40 minutes and makes the most of it. Even Sunny Crownover turns up to sing her guts out for you on “Blues Beyond The Call Of Duty.” Calling All Blues is calling all blues fans far and wide, mobilizing the troops and bringing in new recruits. Get in line with the Duke and move, people. It’s boogie time.

 

SkylaBurrellBandBluesScarsSkyla Burrell Band

Blues Scars

VizzTone

Released On October 7, 2014

 

Skyla Burrell Band. Never heard of them. It’s a big blues world out there and new contenders appear constantly. I was surprised to learn the band has been in existence for quite some time. The band was formed by Skyla Burrell and Mark Tomlinson in 2002. Their first album was 2004’s Working Girl Blues. The new disc, Blues Scars, is their fifth! The good thing about discovering a band five records into a career is that you don’t have to wait a few years to hear more, if you want to. I want to. The Sklya Burrell Band is tight. They don’t just lay it down; they knock it down and kick it. It’s blues, it’s rock, it’s swinging good time Saturday night fist fight low down hoe down get down and boogie music. Even the ballads have a fair amount of strut and swagger.

The disc kicks off with little fanfare and dives right in to the title cut which features a stuttering riff under Skyla’s vocal. She belts it out and fills in the gaps on lead guitar. Skyla Burrell shares lead guitar duties with Mark Tomlinson. Thankfully the liner notes let us know Skyla takes the first solo in each song and Mark takes second. Their styles mesh like Keith Richards and Mick Taylor. The rhythm guitars are just as important as the leads in this band and they masterfully weave around each other. “Shut You Down” has a marching stomp beat with a sidewinding riff and terse lead guitars. “Love Letter In Blue” is a wistful ballad with tender sentiments and mournful lead guitar lines permeating the soul of the song. On “6 Mile Cemetery Road” they unleash some Screamin’ Jay Hawkins hoodoo and “Juke Joint Tonight” has all the tilted swing of the finest Chuck Berry records. Drummer Ezell Jones, Jr. reminds me of Steve Jordan on this tune, and a few others, from the style to the tuning of the snare. Mr. Jones is a jazzy rocker deep in the pocket. It’s a beautiful thing.

When this disc showed up I had no idea what to expect. The CD cover’s Windows Paint lettering screams low budget ambivalence and the band shot looks like a Prom photo gone wrong, with the band leader looking like she just stepped off the Walk Of Shame. Is it wrong to complain about album covers? I know budgets are tight but still, you want something representative of the music. You don’t want somebody putting the CD down or passing it by altogether because it looks like maybe you just didn’t give a damn how your hard work was represented on the cover. The high energy, rough and tumble spirit of the band would have been better captured almost any other way. I have mad Photoshop skills. I volunteer to do the next cover for them, free of charge. And it’s not just this band. There are several out there with album covers of dubious origin and it obviously irritates me. Maybe the record labels are to blame. I don’t know, just fix it! Okay, end of rant. It’s the music that matters and I want people to be interested enough by the cover to want to hear the music.

Blues Scars is a Rock & Roller’s blues album. It swings, it bops, it zips, and it dips. It’s old style Rock & Roll that came straight from the Blues. This band hits it fast, hard, and often. Most of the songs are between two and a half and four minutes. They fill the songs with hot licks, sweet tones, impassioned vocals, and undeniable spirit. Between Skyla’s tremendous voice, twin blazing guitars and deeply grooving rhythm section you have a recipe for all night boogie marathons that are guaranteed to leave a few Blues Scars behind. Get yours today!

 

MarkusJamesHeadForTheHillsMarkus James

Head For The Hills

Firenze Records

Released Date: October 28, 2014

 

Markus James loves percussion and he loves the blues. Markus has been playing blues-based music with traditional West African musicians since 1994. In that year he made his first visit to Niafunke, the northern Mali home of the legendary Ali Farka Toure. Markus James has studied the West African rhythms, cadences, and styles as well as their blues counterparts in the United States, particularly in Mississippi. As he traveled around Mississippi after a successful 2003 appearance University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, he encountered familiar music and was drawn in by the old-school drummers. At one point, after performing in Mali, West Africa, Markus James made a realization, “I came back to the US, saw the Deep Blues film, and was amazed to see the exact same thing that I had just seen in the sand dunes outside Timbuktu: three drummers and a guy playing what they call a cane flute. It was just such an obvious connection between the musical traditions I had been immersed in in West Africa and some of the traditional music in North Mississippi.” On his new album, Markus chose to Head For The Hills. The North Mississippi Hills.

Markus James recruited Junior’s son Kinney Kimbrough, Calvin Jackson who played with R.L. Burnside, and Junior Kimbrough, Aubrey “Bill” Turner from Otha Turner’s fife and drum band, and R.L. Boyce who played with Jessie Mae Hemphill. In addition to these A-list rhythm makers he brought in Marlon Green, who was the last drummer for John Lee Hooker, and who is currently working live shows with James. The drummers, who split duties on the album, are the only instrumentalists aside from Markus James on the album but James plays a plethora of instruments himself. He sings and plays electric slide guitar, 3-string cigar box guitar, gourd banjo, slide dulcimer, acoustic guitar, harmonica, beatbox, and a snakeskin-covered 1-string diddley bow. The result is an earthy, primitive, and complex combination. Everything about this music is percussive, even James guitar playing. The way he plucks the strings and slaps the guitar while playing slide belie the heart of a drummer. Even the most stripped down tracks on Head For The Hills will give you plenty to hold on to and will keep your foot tapping.

You can’t get much more primitive than “Diddley Bow And Buckets” which has only the instruments named in the title. Still it is a compelling track, solidifying the notion that excellent music can come from unlikely objects. Album opener “Just Say Yes” is a driving, thumping Hill Country trance-inducer, “Gone Like Tomorrow” is a spacey, wide open adventure in dreamland, and “Nomo” is an anguished dirge. “Woke Me” which features Kinney Kimbrough has a “Rollin’ And Tumblin’” groove. Head For The Hills closes with an appropriately organic acoustic piece called “Green.” Most of the music can’t really be described. The tones and beats come at you in unfamiliar combinations and every song raises your expectations for the next. Head For The Hills is a wonderful exploration of primordial music in a high tech world and makes the musical connection from future to past.

Fresh Biscuits! New Releases For September 2, 2014

After last week’s disappointing lack of new releases, this week comes back strong with new music from the late great Johnny Winter, promising guitarist Philip Sayce, and some soulful blues from Grady Champion and Otis Clay. Vinyl fans will find some reissues below too.

On to the round-up, Biscuiteers!

Johnny Winter

Johnny Winter Step Back

Sena Ehrhardt

Sena Ehrhardt Live My Life

Grady Champion

Grady Champion Bootleg Whiskey

Philip Sayce

Philip Sayce Influence

Otis Clay

Otis Clay Walk A Mile

Karl S. Williams

Karl S. Williams Heartwood

 

For the vinyl addicts out there, we have a few LP reissues this week:

Lightnin' Slim

Lightnin’ Slim Bell Ringer

B.B. King

B.B. King The Blues

Jackie Wilson

Jackie Wilson He’s So Fine

There you have it folks, go forth and enjoy some new blues this week!

Fresh Biscuits! New Releases For June 24, 2014

There are several blues releases this week. At Blues Biscuits we are striving to be your go-to resource for new release information, dates and itineraries. We hope you’ll check in every week and see what’s fresh from Blues hearth.

This week’s batch features new music from Janiva Magness, Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers, and a trio of vintage live recordings, including two Kings of the blues and the world’s greatest unknown guitarist, presented by Rockbeat Records.

There are also a handful of blues related releases on vinyl, so dust off the turntable, replace the stylus, set a course for 33 1/3 and you’ll be ready for some hot wax.

Fresh Biscuits  –  6/24/14

Eric Johnson Europe live












Eric Johnson – Europe Live



Otis Clay Truth Is












Otis Clay – Truth Is


Kenny Brown Going Back To Mississippi














Kenny Brown – Goin’ Back to Mississippi



Rod Piazza Emergency Situation












Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers – Emergency Situation



Deanna Bogart Just A Wish Away












Deanna Bogart – Just a Wish Away



Mark Massey One Step Ahead












Mark Massey – One Step Ahead of the Blues


Janiva-Magness-ORIGINAL












Janiva Magness – Original


Freddie King Live & Loud 1968












Freddie King – Live and Loud 1968


Albert King Live In The 70s












Albert King – Live In The 70’s


Roy Buchanan Live At My Fathers Place












Roy Buchanan – Live At My Father’s Place

 

Blues On Black

Vinyl New Releases6/24 Vinyl

Eric Johnson – Europe Live

Walter Trout – The Blues Came Callin’

Keb’ Mo’ – Keb Mo

Eric Clapton & B.B. King – Riding With The King




Recent Vinyl Releases
Seth Walker – Sky Still Blue
Lucky Peterson – The Son of A Bluesman – with extra tracks
Eric Clapton – From The Cradle (2xLP 180 Gram Vinyl)
Eric Clapton – Me and Mr. Johnson
Canned Heat – Vintage
Eric Bibb – Natural Light
Hillstomp – Portland, Ore

 

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