Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters, Bob Margolin, and more stand up to cancer at Project Blues Review 2017

This past weekend, we had the honor of attending our second Project Blues Review show in Columbus, Ohio. Still pretty amped after having seen a fantastic performance from Taj Mahal and Keb Mo’ the previous evening at the Heritage Music BluesFest in Wheeling, and with fond memories of our first Project Blues experience back in 2014, a tribute to Muddy Waters that featured John Primer, Bob Margolin, Bob Corritore, Bob Stroger, David Maxwell, and others, we had a sneaking suspicion this was going to be another great night of blues music at the LifeCare Alliance Center. And once again, the organizers of this fine event didn’t disappoint, treating the audience to a superb seven-hour show that included some of the biggest local and national names in the blues.

Carney, Booker & Berichon

The evening started with a set from Drivin’ Home, a local band featuring Project Blues Review producer Mike “Bear in the Chair” Berichon joined by International Blues Challenge winner Sean Carney and members of his band and vocalist Shaun Booker. Together, they tore through a set that included such classics as “All Your Love”, “You Belong to Me”, “Further on Up the Road”, and “Pack It Up”, with Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff of The Texas Horns also joining on harmonica for part of the program.

Next up was the Project Blues Review, featuring local keyboardist Bobby Floyd, local bass player Lenny Paul Fatigati, The Texas Horns, and a rotating cast of guitar-playing frontmen, starting with a shuffling set from Chicago’s Tom Holland that included “Sugar Sweet” and Otis Rush’s “It Takes Time” before Holland conceded the stage to fellow Project Blues host and 2017 Blues Music Award (BMA) Best Emerging Artist Album winner (Tengo Blues) Jonn Del Toro Richardson.

Holland

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TajMo, Rory Block, Jontavious Willis, and others shine at opening night of Heritage Music BluesFest

There were plenty of stars to see across the West Virginia-Ohio region this past weekend, and we aren’t talking about the ones you may have spotted while watching for the Perseid meteor shower. There’s really no telling what all we might have missed taking place above us, with our eyes having been so transfixed on the stages of two of our favorite summer blues gatherings, beginning Friday night at the Heritage Music BluesFest in Wheeling and then trekking further west to Columbus the next afternoon to catch the annual Project Blues Review benefit show. We’ll have more on Project Blues in the coming days, but in the meantime, here’s a recap of the first leg of our weekend musical adventure, the opening day of the Heritage Music BluesFest.

Somehow making his very first appearance at Heritage (but most likely not his last judging by the audience’s enthusiastic reaction), Pittsburgh’s Billy Price and his seven-piece band kicked off the 2017 edition of the festival with a soulful, energetic set that included songs from his new album Alive and Strange and earlier Blues Music Award-winning collaboration with Otis Clay (This Time for Real) as well as classics like “Can I Change My Mind”, “A Nickel and a Nail”, and the closing “I Don’t Want No Woman”.

 

 

 

 

 

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Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band lays it on down on rootsy, rocking new album

Guitarist and singer Kenny Wayne Shepherd and his band are back to their rocking ways on their brand new CD Lay It On Down (Concord Records), where they also add in some new sounds longtime fans may not expect from them.

“I wanted to make an album of great American roots music…,” Shepherd states in the album’s press materials. “I wanted to play to our strengths, but I also wanted to make an album full of music that people haven’t heard from us before.”

From the opening licks of the breezy, radio-friendly “Baby Got Gone” and hard-driving, “Boogie Man”-styled “Down for Love” to the closing, “top down, pedal-to-the-metal, better hold on tight” “Ride of Your Life”, Shepherd and the band lay down their fair share of rocking, cruising-down-the-highway-ready material stocked with terrific guitar grooves. And you’ll also of course hear a few nice ballads along the way, such as the tender “Louisiana Rain”.

But several of the songs (keeping with Shepherd’s interest in cars) veer in new, much different directions, including, for example, the gentle, country-flavored Eagles-ish title track that Shepherd co-wrote with “Blue on Black” collaborators Mark Selby and Tia Sillers (the three of whom also wrote “Louisiana Rain”) and the two countryish numbers that follow in the shuffling, handclap-filled “She’s $$$” and the soft ballad “Hard Lesson Learned”.
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George Thorogood throws rootsy Party of One on debut solo album

George Thorogood certainly isn’t the first rocker to make an album of all blues and roots music (see, for example, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, Gary Hoey, and this recent announcement from Black Stone Cherry), nor is he really the last you might expect to do so, considering the success he’s had over the years with his covers of songs like John Lee Hooker’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”, Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?”, and Elmore James’ “Madison Blues”. But what might surprise some about Thorogood’s brand-new album is that he chose to record the project in the same manner in which he’s made it known he likes to drink: alone.

The first solo album of Thorogood’s more than 40-year career, Party of One marks a true back-to-the-roots approach for the singer and guitarist who has sold some 15 million albums worldwide and performed more than 8,000 live shows, not only in that Thorogood began his career as a solo acoustic musician, but also in both his return to Rounder Records, the label on which Thorogood first signed back in 1976 and recorded his first three hit albums, and reunion with producer Jim Gaines (John Lee Hooker, Luther Allison, Stevie Ray Vaughan), who produced several of Thorogood’s earlier albums.

Thorogood’s response to the self-posed question of “what’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done yet?”, Party of One is described in press materials as “Thorogood’s long-awaited tribute to the artists that shaped his musical consciousness” and features the rocker’s unique, mostly acoustic, takes on 15 tracks including blues classics from Hooker, James, Robert Johnson, Willie Dixon, John Hammond Jr., and Brownie McGhee; country numbers from Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Gary Nicholson; and gems from The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. Each of the songs features Thorogood entirely on his own — including playing slide guitar, Dobro or harmonica on some numbers — as recorded live in the studio with minimal overdubs.
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If I Ever Get Lucky

If summer’s all about freedom, then this episode of our (have we mentioned talk-“free”?) BluesPowR Radio Hour fits right in, featuring doubleshots from both the Tucci Band and blues-rocking “Mama” Ana Popovic; “Something Strange” from the Billy Price Band; some heavy-rocking “evil” from the Apocalypse Blues Revue; a little bit of zydeco from Corey Ledet and pals; and some gospelish sounds from the Mike Eldred Trio, plus tracks from Bob Corritore and John Primer, Andy Fairweather Low & the Low Riders, and Karen Lovely.

Go ahead and give it a listen or two (and feel free to tell a friend)!

Playlist
“Something Strange” – Billy Price (Alive and Strange)
“When I Leave Home” – Bob Corritore/John Primer (Ain’t Nothing You Can Do!)
“Push Me Away” – Corey Ledet and His Zydeco Band (Standing on Faith)
“Love You Tonight” – Ana Popovic (Trilogy)
“Who’s Yo’ Mama?” – Ana Popovic (Trilogy)
“If I Ever Get Lucky” – Andy Fairweather Low & the Low Riders (Listen Here)
“Somebody Been Runnin'” – Mike Eldred Trio (Baptist Town)
“High Roller” (w/ Larry McCray) – Tucci Band (Olivia)
“Train Blues” – Tucci Band (Olivia)
“Evil Is as Evil Does” – The Apocalypse Blues Revue (The Apocalypse Blues Revue)
“Twist My Fate” – Karen Lovely (Fish Outta Water)

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I Am the Blues documentary captures current state of Delta blues

You may recall the live, GRAMMY Award-winning project from more than a decade back focused around the Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen, featuring the music of Robert Lockwood Jr., David Honeyboy Edwards, Pinetop Perkins, and Henry Townsend. While all of those artists have long since passed, a just-released documentary shows that there are still at least a few Delta greats remaining, even if some of them may not now or ever be household names.

Following recent GRAMMY Award-winning blues harmonica player and singer Bobby Rush — a Louisiana native — across Mississippi and Louisiana, I Am the Blues (Film Movement) also features a number of other Delta-born or -based blues musicians, including Leo “Bud” Welch, Lazy Lester, LC Ulmer, Barbara Lynn, RL Boyce, Carol Fran, Lil’ Buck Sinegal, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, and pianist Henry Gray, most of whom were already in their 70s or beyond at the time of filming, with some having been performing since as far back as the 1950s or 1960s.

Directed by Canadian filmmaker Daniel Cross, the nearly two-hour documentary captures the musicians performing at various juke joints, community shows, backyard barbecues, churches, front porches, and more, as well as being interviewed on their careers, love of the blues, and topics such as race, blues in the church, and the devil in music. Bobby Rush talks about the chitlin’ circuit and getting paid (and paying his band, including his guitarist Freddie King) in the form of hamburgers; Henry Gray remembers Howlin’ Wolf; RL Boyce recalls playing with the likes of Bobby “Blue” Bland, Albert King, Little Milton, and Jessie Mae Hemphill; and Little Freddie King harkens back to his childhood and building a cigar box guitar.

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Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters to headline Project Blues 2017 fundraiser

There’s now just less than a month remaining until the 2017 edition of the annual Project Blues fundraiser about which we’ve told you in the past. They’ve had some great lineups for this event since its inception, including such names as Booker T. Jones; Keb Mo’; James Cotton; a Muddy Waters Tribute Band that featured John Primer, Bob Stroger, David Maxwell, Bob Margolin, Bob Corritore, and Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith; Anson Funderburgh; Diunna Greenleaf; Karen Lovely; Jonn Del Toro Richardson; Tom Holland, Sean Carney, Omar Coleman; Bernard Jenkins; the Texas Horns; and Dave Specter, among others, with many of the artists having put in repeat appearances through the event’s history.

Taking place Saturday, August 12th at Columbus’ LifeCare Alliance Center, this year’s six-hour event is looking to be another good one, featuring guitarist Ronnie Earl & his band The Broadcasters as headliners, with Margolin, the Texas Horns, Holland, and Del Toro Richardson all also making return appearances, as well as local musicians Lenny Paul Fatigati, Bobby Floyd, and Drivin’ Home.

Proceeds from the event will again benefit the Columbus Cancer Clinic and go towards helping to pay for the services the clinic provides individuals and families afflicted by cancer.

And if you purchase a general admission or premium general admission ticket through the Project Blues website before July 30th, you’ll automatically be entered in a contest that will allow selected first place winners to upgrade their tickets to front row VIP seating, second place winners to upgrade to premium general admission seating, and third place winners to receive an additional pair of general admission tickets!

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The late Phil Guy shines again on My Blues, Baby concert DVD

There are plenty of blues men and women who never received the respect or attention they deserved, and perhaps no one was more criminally underrated than late blues guitarist and singer Phil Guy, a genuine blues brother to the legendary Buddy Guy and longtime player on the Chicago and world blues scenes. An inspiration to Robert Cray and others, Phil’s been gone for nearly nine years now, but friends and family have done their best to help keep his memory alive through an annual International Phil Guy Day that coincides with Phil’s April birthday as well as various prostate cancer awareness programs such as those Buddy performed earlier this year in both Chicago and Memphis, joined for the latter by harmonica player Bobby Rush.

But there’s nothing quite like being able to see and hear Phil himself again playing the blues, as a new DVD from UK music collection specialists JSP Records makes possible. Recorded at London’s 100 Club in early 1999, My Blues, Baby includes Phil both performing and being interviewed, providing a terrific look at Phil’s talent, history, and personality for any fan of the blues, Chicago or otherwise.

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Now on CD: Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones Live at Checkerboard Lounge

A few years back, we told you about the Live at the Checkerboard Lounge Chicago DVD that captured a historic 1981 performance from blues great Muddy Waters at Buddy Guy‘s Chicago club, during which Waters was joined onstage by the Rolling Stones, Guy, Junior Wells, and Lefty Dizz. If you didn’t take our advice then and pony up a few extra bucks for the deluxe edition of this now award-winning film that also included a CD of the evening’s performances, Eagle Rock Entertainment is kindly offering a second chance to own the audio from the program with its release of a standalone CD.

Similar to the companion CD that was available in 2012, this one includes all of the songs from the DVD except for two, a “Country Boy” from Waters that took place early in the program (prior to the Stones’ arrival) and an instrumental reprise of “Baby Please Don’t Go” from Dizz. While it’s nice to hear the complete set of tracks and be able to fully witness everything that takes place through the DVD, this recording is much too good to pass up also having in your collection, regardless of whether you have already seen or own the DVD version.

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The Cash Box Kings hit the jackpot with Royal Mint

Recently, we told you about Chicago bluesman Linsey Alexander’s soulful latest albumĀ Two Cats. If you’re in the mood for something of the Chicago variety with a little more swing, you’ll want to check out Royal Mint, the Alligator Records debut for seasoned Midwestern players The Cash Box Kings.

Formed in 2001 by harmonica player Joe Nosek, the band added veteran Chicago vocalist Oscar Wilson six years later, with the two now leading a rotating line-up of band members that includes Billy Flynn and Joel Paterson on guitar, Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith, Mark Haines and Alex Hall taking turns on the drum kit, Brad Ber on bass, Mel Ford on rhythm guitar, and newbie Lee Kanehira on piano and organ, filling a void left by late longtime band member and friend Barrelhouse Chuck, who wasn’t well enough to play on this recording (the band’s first without him in ten years) and to whom the album is dedicated.

Together, they produce a delightfully entertaining baker’s dozen of songs, from the swinging, Sugar Ray & the Bluetones-like sounds of the opening “House Party” (Amos Milburn) and Clifton Chenier’s “All Night Long”, both featuring Al Falaschi on saxophone, to the stripped-down Delta blues of Robert Johnson’s “Traveling Riverside Blues” that features just Wilson on vocals and Paterson on guitar, to the light breezy ragtime of the closing original “Don’t Let Life Tether You Down”, one of three songs on which Nosek handles vocals, providing such sage advice as “don’t let money run your life, cuz’ greed leads to strife” and “so leave that Facebook alone, and your iPhone at home/ don’t let things tether you down/ don’t let rectangular screens pull you ’round on a string/ don’t let things tether you down”.

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