Big Head Blues Club returns with tribute to another blues great on Way Down Inside

Recently, we told you about the upcoming release from Big Head Todd & the Monsters’ bluesy side project – what you might call the Dr. Jekyll to their Monster persona – the Big Head Blues Club, a follow-up to the club’s 2011 Robert Johnson tribute album that, this time around, focuses on the music of one of the most prolific songwriters in the history of the blues in the great Willie Dixon.

Kicking off on a swinging, horns-laced “Hidden Charms” that nicely captures the song’s original magic, the band follows up with a quickened, keys-drenched and slightly funky take on “The Seventh Son”, sounding like they’ve been performing these songs on a nightly basis for years.

bhbc-album-front-300x300Though the Monsters seem to do just fine on their own, with lead singer Todd Park Mohr’s fluctuating voice working particularly well on songs like “Hidden Charms” and the closing, slow shuffling “Sittin’ and Cryin’ the Blues”, the addition of several special guests helps give further diversity and authenticity to the project, with Mud Morganfield (son of McKinley Morganfield, who most know by the stage name of Muddy Waters) lending his deep, very Muddy-ish vocals and terrific laugh on an upbeat “You Need Love” (from which the album’s title of Way Down Inside derives) that starts out creeping and then picks up to a rocking tempo, and a swaggering “I Want to Be Loved”, both also featuring Chicago bluesman Billy Branch on harmonica.

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Talking to Myself

Summer may officially be coming to a close, but the blues roll on with this latest edition of our BluesPowR Radio Hour, featuring new music from the likes of Joe Bonamassa, the Mike Wheeler Band, Gary Hoey, and Jane Lee Hooker; classic tracks from Big Mama Thornton, Walter “Shakey” Horton, and Sonny Rhodes; plus much more!

Playlist
Talking to Myself – Mike Wheeler Band (Turn Up!!)
Hurricane – Brothers Brown (Dusty Road)
Meet Me at the 10th Street Inn – Sonny Rhodes (Stony Plain 40 Years)
Walter “Shakey” Horton (w/ Hot Cottage) – Shakey’s Edmonton Blues (Stony Plain 40 Years)
Champagne and Reefer – Jane Lee Hooker (No B!)
Calamity Jane – Dylan Wickens & The Grand Naturals (Hi Lo-Fi)
What I’ve Known for a Very Long Time – Joe Bonamassa (Blues of Desperation)
Falling Down – Mighty Orq (Love in a Hurricane)
Down Home Shakedown – Big Mama Thornton (Blues Harp Women)
Back Up Against The Wall – Gary Hoey (Dust & Bones)
Like Flowers – Jeff Plankenhorn w/ Ruthie Foster (Soulslide)

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Mighty Sam McClain explores Time and Change on soulful posthumous release

Recently, we told you about a new CD/DVD featuring the late David “Honeyboy” Edwards. Here’s another terrific posthumous release, this from soul blues master Mighty Sam McClain, who you may recall passed away last summer at age 72.

mighty_sam_mcclain_time_and_change-300x262We really enjoyed McClain’s Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) back in 2012, as did many others, judging by the awards nominations the album received (including Blues Music Award nods for soul blues male artist, soul blues album, and song, as well as a Blues Blast Music Award nomination for song), and this project – entitled Time and Change: Last Recordings (Kirkelig Kulturverksted) – may be every ounce as good, starting on the smoldering, delicately funky grooves of “Let’s Talk”, with its thick, creeping horns, rich guitar, and messages of “we got to love one another” and “don’t fight no more”, before moving through a delightful mix of soul, R&B, funk, jazz, and blues sounds.

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Harmonica player Bob Corritore, rising singer/guitarist Big Jon Atkinson host House Party at Big Jon’s

We’ve told you here before about some of the terrific collaborations Chicago-born harmonica player Bob Corritore has recorded in recent years, teaming with industry veterans such as Tail Dragger, Henry Gray, and John Primer, to name just a few. Though Corritore may have paired with someone slightly less known this time around in 27-year-old West Coast guitarist and singer Big Jon Atkinson, you’d never know it by listening House Party at Big Jon’s (Delta Groove Music), between Atkinson’s deep gravelly vocals that display a maturity decades beyond his years and the vintage equipment and techniques on which the album was recorded at, you guessed it, Big Jon’s home studio in San Diego.

Corritore_Atkinson_House_Party (300x270)One of the most solid sets of blues laid down in recent years, House Party has a slick, old-school Chicago sound – the kind of stuff we’ve grown all too accustomed to hearing only from veteran blues acts such as John Primer and Tail Dragger in recent years – that harkens back to the likes of Elmore James, J.B. Hutto, and Howling Wolf, with the thick, opening “Goin’ Back to Tennessee”, for example, sounding like a cross of James’ “One Way Out” and Wolf’s “Evil”. From simmering numbers such as “It Wasn’t Easy”, to the lively, swinging “Mad About It”, and the “Christo Redemptor”-like instrumental “El Centro”, these guys prove time and again that they can really deliver.

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First listen: Dipping into Cheese Finger Brown’s Low-Down People

Here’s one to help ease you into the weekend, the gritty, hypnotic title track from Dutch bluesman Cheese Finger (C.F.) Brown‘s upcoming Low-Down People (Humu Records) album that very much lives up to the description of Brown’s sound promised in his press materials: “a modern approach to country blues fused with distorted guitar boogie, influenced by North Mississippi Hill Country Blues greats such as R.L Burnside, as well as John Lee Hooker, Captain Beefheart and Guy Clark”.

Though his name might be a little on the, well, cheesy side, this track suggests that Brown’s music is something to take seriously. We look forward to hearing a bit more from this bluesman in the coming months.

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Final recording of David “Honeyboy” Edwards, new CD/DVD presents Mississippi bluesman tellin’ what he knew about the blues and some of its biggest legends

honeyboy_somethin_that_I_knowIt’s hard to believe that next week already marks five years since the passing of Delta bluesman David “Honeyboy” Edwards. But a new CD/DVD package of a 2010 show from Honeyboy, joined by longtime manager and harmonica player Michael Frank and guitarist Jeff Dale and his band The South Woodlawners, is sure to evoke fond memories of Honeyboy for those who ever had the pleasure of seeing him perform, as well as provide all blues fans a nice listen and look at Honeyboy from the final year of his life.

Recorded at Los Angeles’ G Spot, I’m Gonna Tell You Somethin’ That I Know (R.B.I. Media LLC – Pro Sho Bidness) captures a 95-year-old Honeyboy delivering the seated, down-home Delta blues of songs such as his own “Apron Strings” in addition to such classics as Robert Lockwood Jr.’s “Little Boy Blue”, Jimmy Rogers’ “That’s Alright”, Robert Petway’s “Catfish Blues”, James Oden’s “Goin’ Down Slow”, and Robert Johnson’s “Sweet Home Chicago”.

Most of the tracks tend to be similarly paced country blues numbers, with songs like “Catfish Blues” and “Apron Strings” serving as the album’s more uptempo offerings, but that doesn’t make this collection any less entertaining, as, for example, Honeyboy tears in on slide on the first of two takes on Rogers’ “That’s Alright”, presents some of our personal blues favorites in “Little Boy Blue”, “Goin’ Down Slow”, and “Catfish Blues”, and offers a patient, satisfying cover of Muddy Waters’ “Country Boy”.

IMG_0705 (180x143)While Honeyboy’s lyrics here aren’t always the most extensive or sophisticated you’ll have heard from him, repeating the same sole verse, for instance, numerous times on the opening cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Riding in the Moonlight” (here titled “Ride with Me Tonight”) and offering a total of just a verse and a half during a five-and-a-half-minute take of his own plucky “Apron Strings” (allowing us perhaps to focus more closely on his talents on guitar), it’s a joy to be able to watch and hear Honeyboy again, in what would be the Delta bluesman’s final time being filmed or recorded.

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Guest post: Buddy Guy – A Blues Experience Like No Other

UK writer/blogger Breton Towler offers these thoughts on a recent performance from one of blues’ greatest at the Birmingham Symphony Hall.

Courtesy: Eamonn Moore

Guy at Birmingham Symphony Hall; credit: Eamonn Moore

Seven times a Grammy award winner and an inductee of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Yet he needs no introduction. Buddy Guy may have only just turned 80 years young, but when he attacks the fretboard of his beloved polka dot Stratocaster, the blues has never felt so alive.

Birmingham Symphony Hall was spellbound by one of the greatest axemen in history who shows no signs of slowing down. The untamed ferocious assault opening of “Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues” was a masterclass of raw exuberance and impeccable timing. Blessed with the soul and swagger of his world-class backing band, this tender menace poured out from his head down to his shoes.

Eric Clapton once called him “without a doubt the best guitar player alive”, but this wall of sound also served to showcase the supreme showmanship of this old-school bluesman.

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All I Ever Do is Sing the Blues

Here’s another talk-free edition of our BluesPowR Radio Hour to help keep your summer sizzling, including music from the Knickerbocker All-Stars, Mike Zito & the Wheel, Fantastic Negrito, Davina and the Vagabonds, Tinsley Ellis, and more, as well as a double-shot from real life blues brother (to Freddie King) Benny Turner.

All the best blues to ya’!

Playlist
Corey Dennison Band – Tugboat Blues (Corey Dennison Band)
Knickerbocker All-Stars – I Tried (Go Back Home to the Blues)
Benny Turner – I Can’t Leave (When She’s Gone)
Benny Turner – That’s Alright I’ll Get Over You (When She’s Gone)
Davina and the Vagabonds – Red Shoes (Nicollet and Tenth)
Mike Zito & The Wheel – Nothin’ But the Truth (Keep Coming Back)
Fantastic Negrito – In The Pines (Last Days of Oakland)
Mark May Band – All I Ever Do (Blues Heaven)
Markey Blue – Worries (The Blues Are Knockin’)
Tinsley Ellis – All I Think About (Red Clay Soul)

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Happy International Blues Music Day!

IBMD_2016Wherever in the world you happen to be, we hope you’ll celebrate International Blues Music Day by getting out to take in some live blues today!

(And go ahead and mark your calendar for the years ahead, with IBMD always taking place the first Saturday of August!)

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Book to Columbus for Booker T., Diunna Greenleaf, and Project Blues Review 2016

We’ve told you before about the Project Blues Review that takes place in Columbus, Ohio, each August to benefit individuals and families afflicted by cancer, and even had the chance to cover the event a few years back when John Primer, Bob Margolin, Bob Stroger, David Maxwell, and Bob Corritore joined with others in presenting an all-star tribute to Muddy Waters.

We won’t be able to make this year’s program, but would be remiss in not mentioning the great line-up Mike “Bear in the Chair” Berichon & co. have again put together, including headliner Booker T. Jones (as in Booker T. & the M.G.s of “Green Onions” fame), along with other performers such as Anson Funderburgh, the Texas Horns, Diunna Greenleaf, Jonn Del Toro Richardson, and Tom Holland.

If you’re able to make it to Columbus for this one next weekend, we suspect you won’t be leaving disappointed, as it looks like another great night of blues for a terrific cause!

(L-R) Bob Corritore, Bob Margolin & John Primer at Project Blues Review 2014

(L-R) Bob Corritore, Bob Margolin & John Primer at Project Blues Review 2014

IMG_4151 (280x221)

Booker T. at 2013 Crossroads Guitar Festival

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