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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!!!

Get Yourself Some Snake Oil Here! Holler! An Interview with Shane Speal’s Snake Oil Band

Shane Speal wants you to be afraid. Very afraid. Because anything can happen. Speal’s Snake Oil Band performs with a near manic energy that is, at best, unpredictable. There is no homeostasis here – and the band wants it that way. What’s coming next?  You.  Just.  Don’t.  Know.

Vaudevire: A theatrical performance which incorporates song, dance, comedy, and magic… and, if you are lucky, rubber chickens.

Snake Oil: Various liquid concoctions, of deeply questionable medical value, sold as an all purpose curative medicine by traveling hucksters, to heal you.

Snake Oil1

This is the traveling tent under which you will experience Shane Speal’s Snake Oil Band. The magic of the Snake Oil Band will captivate your mind, your body and – if you buy the snake oil – your soul. You cannot walk away untouched – flying rubber chickens and toilet paper cannons won’t let you. And if you give yourself over to the Snake Oil experience – you will have a damn good time.

Blues Biscuits had the opportunity to sit down with Shane Speal, King of the Cigar Box Guitar, and Ronn Benway, Master of Mayhem, Band Philosopher, at the Annual Guitar-B-Cue held in New Alexandria Pennsylvania. As I approached the well worn picnic table for our interview, Ronn was busy preparing his body (and yes, it is his instrument) for the evening show, with duct tape, thimbles and other assorted assemblages.

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I had interviewed Shane Speal several years ago when The World’s First Cigar Box Guitar Museum opened at Speal’s Tavern. At that time Shane was primarily a solo artist, and, even then, performing with an intense energy that has only been magnified with the addition of Ronn Benway, Aaron Jones and Farmer Jon.

MaureenElizabeth: Tell us about the evolution of this particular incarnation of your music… Shane Speal’s Snake Oil Band.

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Shane: It all started as jams at a bar… the band has never practiced. We take the stage without a set list and we just feed off the audience. It started with me being a solo performer back when I ran an open mic out in York, PA. Ronn is originally from Las Vegas and Venice Beach, California and for a while he was busking…

Ronn: I was busking in Seattle; just singing and street performing in the market area and it became clear to me that if I didn’t get there early enough… it’s a real shot for the best spot at the market everyday because you want the 12:00 – 1:00 spot. So, I kept this washboard with me and if I couldn’t get the best spot to play, I could pony up with another guy and say “hey, look, we can make more money if there is two of us together.” That’s how I started with the washboard – I just bought it – I didn’t know how to play it! It was $3.99 in the Mexican market and it was the first washboard I ever bought. I went to Lowes ® and bought the least amount of screws and stuff I could put on it and started playing it. When I moved here in 2011, I left my washboard in Seattle. I went to Shane’s open mic and there was a washboard sitting there. He had a washboard on a stand with cymbals and cowbell…

Shane: I jokingly called it my drum set for the open mic because here I am, running an open mic, playing Cigar Box Guitar using a footstomper. So, I brought a washboard as the house drum set and Ronn walked in…

Ronn: As far as I could tell no one was touching it.

Shane: No one was…

Ronn: And it just sat there…

Shane: And when Ronn saw it he went nuts!

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Ronn: I couldn’t believe I walked into a bar in Pennsylvania and there was a washboard. So I said “hey, can I play this?” and Shane said nobody plays this. I said I can play this! Anyone who runs an open mic for any length of time is like Oh? You can do that? Go ahead! You get to know who in your audience can do what… you know this guy does poetry and this guy sings…

Shane: That’s a good point! That’s an excellent point. Ronn would sit in with me and I would play the first forty minutes of the set and Ronn would play washboard.

Ronn: After a while when my friends would ask me to go to play trivia at another bar I would say I kinda have to go practice washboard with Shane – not like it’s a burden- but like as a “thing.” I need to go do this! At first I was just coming into open mic and we were just hanging out and singing and putting my name on the list and suddenly I needed to go practice with this guy every Wed night.

Shane: “Practice” meaning sitting in, live, in front of people!

Ronn: It was as if something was growing and we had to keep helping it grow and keep nourishing it. Farmer John had a plastic bucket when we started…

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Shane: Farmer Jon, our bass player, built a washtub bass out of a plastic bucket – he showed up just to be goofy and we tried to put microphones on it just to make it work – it was just fun. One night I brought in parts and we electrified his washtub bass and plugged it into the P.A. system and it worked. So he started sitting in. Ronn on washboard, Farmer Jon on washtub bass and Aaron Lewis, who is one of the best harmonica players in Central PA, ended up coming out to the open mic and sitting in as well. So, once a week, for the first half hour of an open mic, four people got onstage without any practice and just ripped the place apart. I looked at these guys after a few months and said “you know, I’m gonna start booking gigs, you are that good.” So we booked our first gig, showed up with no set list, no plan – everybody just plug in and go – and we rocked the joint. These guys watch me constantly. If you ever watch a Snake Oil Band concert, they (the band members) are dancing in the crowd, they are going nuts-but they always have on eye on me and all I have to do is lift my guitar up once and strike it down and everybody stops. It’s almost like Frank Zappa, the way he used to lead his band, with one motion of his hand the band would stop. We are now that tight that I can do that and -Boom – the band stops.

ME: It’s becoming intuitive…

Shane: Yes, very intuitive.

Ronn: You learn to read your leader.

Shane: Lately we’ve been performing our album from start to finish, which means for the first time in our existence we use a set list. And these guys don’t like it. It’s weird.

Ronn: Yes, it’s weird.

ME: Lacking the spontaneity!

Shane: Yes, because if we are feeding off the crowd and someone starts yelling something at us we want to play what they want!

ME: Do you feel that this was certain alignment of stars that brought you all together?

Ronn: (laughing) Nooo – we’re people that just like to drink…

Shane: We like to get together and drink and jam.

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Ronn: Everything in my life works out this way. Everything just drops in my lap and it just happens. We all create what we need in our lives and we all hope for what we want. Some people hope for horrible things and get them. Some people hope for wonderful things and get them. Literally, I joined my first band the first week I moved to York. I remember one of the first times I played with you (Shane) was at the Revolution Field at a beer fest at a minor league baseball stadium at second base. Shane said “ why don’t you come out and join me out there?” and I said “oh, okay.” We had never really played outside of the open mic-we were nowhere near close to amplification at that point – and he leans over to me and says “hey, we’ve practiced in this bar why don’t we play a baseball stadium!” (At this point Ronn and Shane erupt into laughter at the sheer absurdity of the moment.) When we were playing at the stadium, Shane leans over and says “man, I know what you want to do Ronn Benway – I am sitting on this stool, banging on this box with my foot. I cannot dance with these people, but you can – go dance with these people!”

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Shane: And Ronn looked at me and said “you get me.” And that is the magic of this band – even though my name is one the top of the bill and I’m in the center of this stage – Ronn has become the star of this band – people talk about him and his washboard playing once we leave – yeah, I’m playing 3 string cigar box guitar doing Led Zeppelin on it and they go nuts about that, but they go insane about Ronn. Each member of the band has their own distinct personality just like the Beatles and Kiss – both of those bands were four parts of one whole and that is what I love about this band.

Ronn: Oh, I forgot all about this (story). I’m at the Hive, which is in the Royal Square, it’s an art studio, and a photographer from the York Daily Record comes up and takes some pictures from across the street. I’m playing guitar and Michael Sallemi is playing upright bass and we’re singing and dancing around, putting on a show… we’re gathering a crowd in front of the studio and this photographer comes over and she comes up and she’s a little confused… and she says “you’re Shane Speal?” And I said “I’m not Shane Speal” and she says “but you’re in Shane Speal?” And I said “I am a member of Shane Speal’s Snake Oil Band” and she says “and what’s this?” And I said “not the Snake Oil Band!” (Laughing) and she says “well, what do I call this?” I said “I am Ronn Benway.”

Shane: York is going through an Art renaissance right now, so there is music everywhere… so that’s how we started, just four guys jamming around an open mic, getting an audience. Our shows got more and more insane – we added the confetti cannons, we began throwing rubber chickens at the audience …whatever we could to bring the theatrics -because I’m all about theatrics. I grew up with Kiss and Blue Man Group – lately our newest weapon is our toilet paper gun –we’ll be firing that off tonight as well.

ME: I’m going to hide – I’m feeling very unsafe right now!

Shane: It’s hilarious – but any time we do these things, it’s a fun interactive thing – and, let’s face it, no Blues band I know of is doing anything like this. We are a Blues band – we’re playing Blues, we’re playing old Blues, we playing our new version of it. – the day we put the album to bed we sat there in the studio and looked at each other and the feeling was… we think that we created a new genre or a new subgenre of the Blues. As we were listening we were all thinking no one is doing anything like this – it’s all homemade except we are mixing stomp/rock blues sort of like R. L. Burnside based, a little Led Zeppelin thrown in there, a little bit of punk with jug band and prison chants

ME: I love the chants on your new CD.

Shane: It was something no one was doing…

ME: Oh, I want more!

Shane: Thank You! I’ve been listening to them and wanted to do a project based all on prison chants and I had one record company interested in it but it ended badly.

ME: Ronn, watching you play the washboard – that looks like a skill…

Ronn: Skill? (Laughing)

ME: It doesn’t look like just anyone can pick it up and just do it!

Ronn: Easier than digging a ditch I’ll tell you that! A couple of times I have put it (the washboard) on a drummer and just have him not know what to do with it because he is a drummer and they drum! They don’t play themselves! I get washboard players who don’t like my technique. They want me to bring it down, like you’re trying too hard, really that’s not the way you play washboard.

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Shane: I don’t want Ronn to play rhythm – I want Ronn to play MAYHEM. Just like Farmer Jon, I don’t want Farmer Jon to play bass _ I want him to play rumble. What blew our minds was nobody could really hear Jon on stage and then when we were in the recording studio and we had done some isolated tracks – Jon went into the studio and did tracks on top of what we did. When we were listening to it later we all looked at each other and we’re like he’s playing gospel running bass lines on a washtub bass! None of us realized how intricate he was playing. He doesn’t have time to listen to anything that any of us are doing. He’s stomping on his feet, he’s picking up the next guitar and, not to be insulting to Farmer Jon, I don’t think that any of us thought that he was playing much on the tub until we listened! We sat there and listened and we thought wow he should be playing in a Black Baptist Church! It was just insane what he was playing!

Ronn: But none of us can hear him usually because we are all busy…

Shane: …and it’s always been enough rumble to give the bottom end to this band that we were lacking – and I wanted that low rumble! Just like with Ronn – I don’t want him to play perfect washboard, to play perfect Rock. No, I want him dancing, I want him slamming whistles, and I want him shaking his butt with the women in the audience

Ronn: And these are all things I enjoy! Coincidentally enough!

Shane: Nobody ever accused KISS of being good musicians – yet they were one of the biggest bands in the world.

ME: Very theatrical.

Shane: Yeah and that’s why you go to a KISS show. But, if you actually break KISS down, you realize that Gene Simmons is one of the most underrated bass players in history. With us, too, I’m not too worried about musicianship, but if you break the musicianship down, everyone is a baddass in my band. And they’ll rip any musicians head off. The harmonica player, Aaron, – the funny thing about him is I like him better than any other harmonica player because he knows when not to play. I need John to be the rumble, I need Ronn to be the rodeo clown, I need Aaron to step back whenever he needs to step back, and then I just do my thing. Trust me, I’m a lazy man and I would never force this band to have a practice, but I would lose it if I lost any of these members because I can get on stage, no preparation, and know that we are going to blow away the audience. The shows we pay – nobody can touch us. They may be better musicians – but nobody can touch us.

Ronn: I have a little workout regimen that I do before I play – a little stretching – and people will ask “what are you doing?” Or when I am taping up before I play “what are you doing?” and I say “just relax, this will all make sense in a little bit.” Don’t worry – you’re gonna love me or hate me in 20 minutes.”

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Shane: And that’s what we’re all about. There are a few ingredients in this band. Number one is the theatrics, number two is the novelty of the instruments that we are playing, and number three is that our music has hooks. We have hooks in all our songs.

ME: And those hooks do stay with you!

Shane: Ronn used to run a music store out in Venice California, so Ronn is my music trivia nemesis.

Ronn: Before the internet, you know, when you just had to know stuff.

Shane: Well, Ronn’s a music expert and we’re both huge Bowie freaks, Beatles…all songs with hooks and Ronn is a songwriter too. He’s going to start opening up Snake Oil shows, and so is Aaron, and all his songs have hooks and sing along choruses. We want to take things back to the roots. Howlin’ Wolf used to crawl across the stage in concert, he used to bark at the audience, if you ever go on You Tube and see some of his concerts he’s eating his harmonica, licking it and eating it and shoving it in his mouth and pulling it out and playing it. It’s all his theatrics and it was dangerous. The Blues used to be dangerous and it’s not now. You go to a Blues festival and there is nothing dangerous about it. We want to bring that back. We want people to be afraid you’re going to get electrocuted when you go to one of our shows (laughing). Or hit with a rubber chicken.

ME: Well, I’m getting a little nervous….

Ronn: I have the worst aim with those rubber chickens – I hit children. I hit a lady in a wheelchair…I have these worst aim…

ME: Where does your theatrical background come from, Ronn?

Ronn: I was born in Las Vegas, my parents both worked in the Sands Hotel with the Rat Pack on stage. I used to go to Wayne Newton’s Christmas parties – I am born and raised Las Vegas and all the BS that goes with that is in my soul. I am the party commissioner. I am here to make sure that everyone has a good time. I didn’t drink alcohol for 14 years and that was great time for me because I would go out and think how much would I spend if I was drinking. I would buy the bar drinks and then once everyone got liquored up enough I could be myself. I don’t need alcohol to be like this –although I enjoy alcohol – and I can get a little out of hand sometimes if I have too much of it – but I don’t need alcohol to perform a show. And I have this thing too where I really try to play every show like as if I might walk out of the venue and get hit by a bus. I don’t want anybody to go like “wow did you see his last show?” “Yeah, it was alright.”

Shane: He leaves everything on stage. This whole band leaves everything on stage. That’s just how we are.

Ronn: I play like I’m never going to play again – that’s the only way I want to do it.

Shane: And we’re getting older and older and it’s getting tougher and tougher.. and we still drink.

Ronn: I was old when I started this!

ME: So how long is recovery time these days?

Shane: Red bull is my best friend.

Ronn: If I’m not feeling it, then how are you going to feel it? I mean we are selling snake oil here. In general the music business is snake oil – it’s hey look over at this it’s shiny and pretty – it’s a trick. We’re tricking people to have a good time. You go to a bar, you buy the beer, you think you want to have a good time, and you sit there with your arms crossed and say “impress me.”

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Shane: A lot of bands show up with their hats and their 2000 Stratocasters and play Messin’ with the Kid. I’ve heard that that motherfucking song 15 million times and if another Blues band does Messin’ with the Kid I’m going to fucking cut ‘em. I swear to god we did a Blues fest last year and I heard it three times! I’m sorry but our goal is to shake up and destroy the Blues status quo and take it back to a dangerous period!

ME: What drives your anti-establishment vision?

Shane: I’ve always been that way. It even goes back to being in school and being a nerd misfit –not like the rest of the kids. Back in the 80’s everybody was listening to Duran Duran and that’s when I decided to go through my Beatles phase.

Ronn: That’s why you hate fedoras!

Shane: If I see the waves are going one way with a trend I will immediately go the opposite way. I don’t know why – it is ingrained in me. In the 90’s everyone was playing Strats and wanted to be Stevie Ray, so I started playing the shittiest guitars I could find – the stuff that Hound Dog Taylor played – because to me Hound Dog Taylor was the opposite of clean Blues. From Hound Dog Taylor I got into the Cigar Box Guitar. I’ve always gone against the grain. We have only one goal – to make it impossible for anyone to follow us – and we will pull out every anti-establishment trick.

Ronn: I love that someone came up to us after a festival and said that we blew Tesla off the stage!

Shane: We hear that a lot! Angry Johnny Stangry played ahead of us today – he could rip my head off on the guitar, he could rip my head off. That’s not what I want to be. He’s doing his thing and he is going to get famous because he is that good. Me, I’m playing three strings on a stick jammed through a box. I’ve got three guys behind me playing on homemade instruments. Even my harmonica player is playing his harp through a beer can microphone. I want to do everything different. I don’t want to follow any trends – I want to create the next trend and be the king of it. I call myself the King of the Cigar Box Guitar because nobody was stupid enough to choose it in the first place. Now that I’ve chosen it and I have used that stupid moniker for 10 years, people respect the name. I think it’s hilarious because it’s always been a joke to me. But, in the same way, I’ve always wanted to create my own sound and let everyone else follow me. Right now we are in a big movement of Bluegrass. Where we’re from, everybody is doing Bluegrass. My band refuses to do Bluegrass, but my band will get in to Bluegrass shows and I will plug my guitar into distortion and I will crank it up to feedback levels in the middle of a Bluegrass fest and people love it. They freakin’ love it because nobody’s crazy enough to do it. We’re antiestablishment. We’re punk rock on junk instruments –we’re junk. Jug band punk – junk rock. (Laughing)

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Ronn: In life you are either your own product or you are helping someone else sell their product. That’s really what we all are. I owned a record store and I sold other people’s products and at one point in my life one day I said I don’t want to sell other people’s products anymore, I want to sell my own product. And if there is anything that is counter culture about us, it’s that this guy sits in his woodshed and makes this shit and makes it look easy – easy enough to sell to people. He is his own product. I am my own product. I moved to York and somebody said what are you going to do for money and I said I am going to go in front of the Strand Theater and play before the concert. Really? Nobody does that! Well I just made a hundred bucks doing that! I came to town and I created my own job. This guy (Shane) didn’t like selling advertising and so he created his own job and now he is his own product. And that’s the trick to being free. Everybody wants to be free deciding between Coke ® and Pepsi ® and the truth to being free is not being controlled by all these others – it’s taking your own destiny and making your own – making what you want to see in the world.

Shane: At the same time I still feel compelled. I have made my own genre; I’ve made my own music. But I still feel compelled to teach everyone how to do it. I actually started the whole Cigar Box Guitar movement by posting free plans on line. And now that I am playing, I do free lessons on line. How hard is it for me to set up my iphone and show my tips and cheats on guitar? I do it for free and other people are joining suit and their starting their own bands and showing up at open mics

ME: Giving people the opportunity to follow their own creative spirit…

Shane: Exactly. If you want to pigeon hole us, in a way, I am telling booking agents that we are bringing back Vaudeville. Vaudeville died when motion pictures took off – we’re bringing it back and we’re putting it in stage. Ronn is very much the comic relief on stage. We’re doing the Snake Oil pitch and everything else. When you come to see us you will see modern electric blues that is as rough hewn as R.L. Burnside , as funky as Bootsy Collins and as rocking as AC/DC in a Vaudeville setting. This is just who we are and this is just what we do.

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Rubber chickens, confetti cannons and toilet paper guns aside… there is nothing like the live experience of Shane Speal’s Snake Oil Band. Let me tell you, whatever they’re sellin’ – I’m buyin’. You will be healed.

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Olivier Basselini would be proud.

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Shane Speal’s Snake Oil Band is currently touring the Mid Atlantic States.

 

shane-speals-snake-oil-band-sideshot-Freddie Graves Photography

Shane Speal’s Snake Oil Band is:

Shane Speal – cigar box guitars, vocals and stomping foot

  • Ronn Benway – washboards, rubber chickens and stunts
  • Aaron Lewis – harmonica, vocals and confetti cannons
  • Farmer Jon – electric washtub bass and high fives

CONTACT: SHANE SPEAL
shanespeal@yahoo.com
717-781-6463

shane-speals-snake-oil-band

 

 

 

Fresh Biscuits! Shane Speal’s Snake Oil Band – Holler CD Review

ShaneSpealHollerShane Speal’s Snake Oil Band
Holler!
C.B. Gitty Records

Shane Speal, the King Of The Cigar Box Guitar, and his Snake Oil Band has released, or should I say unleashed its new disc into the wild. The Snake Oil Band was born from weekly jam sessions and grew into one of York, PA’s biggest acts. Holler! brings together all the band’s favorites: sex, murder, booze, and Michael Jackson. Yeah, that Michael Jackson. Apparently the Snake Oil Band is known for its Prince covers too. Throw in some Son House, electricity, and a wicked sense of humor and you might start to fathom the depths of the musical depravity found in the Finest Bluest Blues Elixir this side of the Monongahela River. Holler!

I must confess I’ve never heard any of Shane’s previous discs. I didn’t know what to expect and had no frame of reference. I don’t usually go blind into these things but the album cover and the song titles pulled me in. The opening riffs and scorching slide of “49 YEARS” are menacing, mean and murderous; made in Hell, made in Heaven, made to make you dismayed. If Rob Zombie had a jug band it would sound like this. This is Captain Spaulding’s blues. He’s going to play this song while he chases you around the tunnels under his basement and you’ll like it. The song’s protagonist is spending “49 YEARS” in the pen and he’s not happy. Even the title is in CAPS; that’s mad. He’s got murdering in mind and you’ve got 49 MINUTES to live once he’s out. The sound is harsh, the percussion adds suspense, the shrieking slide and the howling harp add tension, and I’m pretty sure I heard finger-tapping around the 2:12 mark. If I never heard another song by this band I’d still consider them to be legendary. This might be the best blues song I’ll hear all year.

What’s really scary is the fact that all these sounds are made with jug band instruments. The band consists of Shane Speal on cigar box guitars, vocals and stomping foot, Ronn Benway on washboards, rubber chickens and stunts (stunts? I probably don’t want to know), Aaron Lewis on harmonica, vocals and confetti cannons, and Farmer Jon on electric washtub bass and high fives (for all those stunts, I suspect). The traditional instruments argument could be made from either side but these truly are traditional instruments. For ages humans have made music from re-purposed items. It’s the music that matters and the Snake Oil Band makes a glorious racket on their instruments of indeterminate origin. The “Holler! Medley: Holler, The Clapping Song, Line ‘Em Up, Black Betty” is menacing in its own right, “Strung Out, Drunk and Busted (And There’s A Body In The Trunk)” is the broken down, destitute blues you’d expect, and to brighten things up they throw in “How Long Will You Make Me Suffer.”

There are plenty of moments of good fun on Holler! too. “Judy Got A Booty” chugs along at a steam train pace. This is a stomper for sure. Shane works the slide in and around the beat and the harp pulses and pumps as the train rolls on. Catch a glimpse of that caboose if you can. “When She Gets Drunk, She Gets Horny” isn’t the love ballad you’d expect and “A Fat Man Will Love You (Like No Skinny Boy Can)” pretty much is. “Simulated Sadie” shows off the vocal talents of the band over an acoustic jug band arrangement. Sure, it’s about a woman who had a little too much work done and can’t move her lips any more, but what else would it be about? I doubt Sadie will voice any complaints.

Holler! closes with another frenetic thumping rocker called “Don’t Give Me None Of Yo’ Business” that, in a way, defines the mission of these musicians. They’re making music they want to make, on instruments they made and want to use, and they refuse to be penned in by convention. It is in this kind of setting that truly interesting and engaging music is made and Shane Speal’s Snake Oil Band has done it. There is nothing fake here, no chicanery, no blatant salesmanship, no promises not kept. They aren’t selling Snake Oil but they are selling the cure for what ails you. Holler!

Please support the artists. For Shane Speal’s Snake Oil Band show dates click here.

Fresh Biscuits! New Blues Releases For July 1, 2014

It’s a slow week for new releases, Biscuiteers. This happens around a holiday, especially one smack dab in the middle of a sunny summer with people thinking about beaches, hot dogs, and fireworks instead of new blues music. Where have our priorities gone?

There are a few new releases though. Shane Speal, the King of the Cigar Box Guitar released Holler on Sunday night, well ahead of the usual Tuesday release time. You can get the download or order a hard copy at his website. Another independent release comes from Jimmy Thackery. The legendary guitarist dropped the record labels a few years ago and has been offering his new music through direct marketing and CD Baby. Unfortunately we missed it in last week’s round-up but we just fixed that didn’t we?

There are a few more reissues this week including McKinley Morganfield – A.K.A. Muddy Waters, or is it Muddy Waters – A.K.A. McKinley Morganfield? That was the problem when it first came out in 1971. This then-comprehensive Muddy Waters collection looked like a record by McKinley Morganfield and many less-informed record store clerks miss-filed the album causing issues for consumers and businesses alike. The music leaves no doubt, this is Muddy Waters. A.K.A. McKinley Morganfield A.K.A. Muddy Waters. OK?

Lots of questions this week so here’s an answer to the question “What’s new this week?”:

Fresh Biscuits – July 1, 2014

Jimmy Thackery – Wide Open

JimmyThackeryWideOpenCD

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shane Speal’s Snake Oil Band – Holler

ShaneSpealHoller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave FieldsAll In

DaveFieldsAllInCD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Levon Helm BandThe Midnight Ramble Sessions, Vol. 3

LevonHelmBandMidnightRambleVol3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Muddy Waters – A.K.A. McKinley Morganfield

MuddyWatersAKAMcKinleyMorganfield

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B.B. KingBlues Is King

BBKingBluesIsKing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it Biscuiteers. I know Levon Helm Band is a stretch but Levon was reared in and around blues music and his band gave the world Chris O’Leary who is a damned fine bluesman, harp player, and songwriter. It’s safe to say blues fans might like Levon Helm and vice versa. The person in charge of complaints is Helen Waite.

Hump Day! Risque Tunes For Your Midweek Blues 6/25/14

LucilleBoganGreetings and salutations Biscuiteers! It’s hump day again and this time we’re gettin’ really down and dirty with Lucille Bogan and Blind Boy Fuller.

Our Lucille Bogan selection was suggested by the king of the cigar box guitars himself, Mr. Shane Speal. We blame him for this NSFW entry that could teach 2 Live Crew a few things about filth. The Washington Wives of the 1980’s would have hated Ms. Bogan and not just because she was black. Tipper Gore would have run screaming to Blackie Lawless for a hug after she heard this one. Tipper probably wouldn’t like “Sloppy Drunk Blues” or “B.D. Woman’s Blues” either. In case you’re wondering, B.D. stands for Bull Dyke. The Washington Wives would probably choke on that one too.

Lucille Bogan – “Shave ’em Dry”

BlindBoyFullerBlind Boy Fuller was well known for his hokum (double entendre) tunes, including “I Want Some Of Your Pie” which surely inspired Led Zeppelin’s “Custard Pie.” This Blind Boy Fuller tune isn’t as overtly dirty as Lucille Bogan’s “Shave ’em Dry” and given his Blind Boy status he can be forgiven if he said “Hello ladies” as passed the fish market that morning.

 

 

 

Blind Boy Fuller – “What’s That Smells Like Fish?”