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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It’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”.
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.
UK writer/blogger Breton Towler offers these thoughts on a recent performance from one of blues’ greatest at the Birmingham Symphony Hall.
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.
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.
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)
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
While we’re on the subject of tributes to blues greats, you may have heard that blues-rocker Joe Bonamassa has done a few of his own recently, following up last spring’s spectacular Muddy Waters/Howlin’ Wolf recording from Red Rocks with first a short tour honoring the three Kings of the blues (Albert, B.B., and Freddie) and then a series of shows saluting the British blues explosion that featured the music of Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page.
Just this week, it was announced that the Three Kings show will be released in September in the form of a CD/DVD set entitled Live at the Greek Theatre.
Knowing Bonamassa, it won’t be long before we also have the chance to hear and see the British blues tribute neatly packaged in a similar manner. But in the meantime, here’s one from the British Blues Explosion show that has Bonamassa doing a whole lot more than just “Pretending” to be a successor to these guitar greats with a cover of the hit Clapton tune:
And while we’re at it, you also might want to check out this track from the upcoming Live at the Greek Theatre DVD (portions of which will also be airing on public TV and MTV Live/Palladia during August and September), which finds Bonamassa and band taking on B.B. King’s “Let the Good Times Roll”:
It’s been five years now since we told you about a Robert Johnson tribute album from an outfit calling itself the Big Head Blues Club, consisting of rock/jam band Big Head Todd & the Monsters joined by a rotating roster of blues guests that included Hubert Sumlin, B.B. King, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Charlie Musselwhite, Cedric Burnside, and Ruthie Foster, among others.
So we were delighted to hear recently that the Club is slated to make a return appearance this fall, this time paying tribute to another blues great in singer/songwriter/producer/bass player and both Blues and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Willie Dixon. Often referred to as the “poet laureate of the blues”, Dixon, you’ll recall, was the author of such classics as “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Spoonful”, “Wang Dang Doodle”, “My Babe”, “Little Red Rooster”, “Built for Comfort”, “I Ain’t Superstitious”, “Evil”, “I Just Want to Make Love to You”, and “You Can’t Judge a Book By the Cover” along with hundreds of others performed by the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Little Walter, Otis Rush, and Koko Taylor, and covered by countless artists through the decades, including Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, Cream, Eric Clapton, and The Doors.
With several of the featured bluesmen from the previous recording having since moved on to the big blues gig in the sky – including B.B. King, Honeyboy Edwards, and Hubert Sumlin – the Club has a bit of a different line-up in this most recent incarnation, with the Monsters joined this time around by a pair of second-generation bluesmen in Mud Morganfield (son of McKinley Morganfield, a.k.a. Muddy Waters) and Ronnie Baker Brooks (son of Lonnie Brooks), as well as harmonica player Billy Branch, who got his start as a member of Dixon’s Chicago All-Stars band shortly after being discovered by Dixon.
You can hear and read more about the upcoming album from the Club and their accompanying tour on PledgeMusic. We haven’t yet seen a tracklist of the 13 songs that will make up the project, but you can hear “Hidden Charms” on the video introducing the album, and we can only deduce from the album’s title that either or both “You Need Love” (covered by Zeppelin as “Whole Lotta Love”) or “I Can’t Quit You Baby” – each of which contains the lyrics “way down inside” – will also be included, most likely the former.
We’ll be sure to bring you more on this one upon its September release, but in the meantime, here’s a look back at the earlier Club (including Cedric Burnside and Lightnin’ Malcolm) performing Robert Johnson’s “Come On in My Kitchen” from a Mississippi show:
Last summer, we told you about the Muddy Waters 100 project, on which former Waters band guitarist John Primer and a collection of friends paid tribute to the late blues master with a set of updated takes on a number of Waters classics, many incorporating such modern effects as electronic drums and drum loop programming to help achieve producer Larry Skoller‘s goal of demonstrating that “in one way or another, these sounds all lead back to Muddy Waters”. While that revisiting-the-classics approach certainly seems to have resonated with blues fans and critics alike, with Muddy Waters 100 having earned blues album of the year nominations in both this year’s Grammy and Living Blues awards, this rootsy new release from West Coast sensation Fantastic Negrito also serves as a nice example of the influence the blues has had on the broader music industry through the decades, with sounds ranging from Lead Belly to the Beatles to Prince and Gary Clark Jr., blending in its fair share of alternative, hip-hop, and rock along the way.
Negrito, you may recall, catapulted to fame last year after winning NPR’s inaugural Tiny Desk Concert Contest. Shortly after, his song “An Honest Man” could be heard as the opening theme on Amazon’s original series Hand of God, with Negrito also making several guest appearances on the show throughout the season.
After a couple of powerful EPs, Negrito has released his much-anticipated debut full-length album in Last Days of Oakland (Blackball Universe), a raw, insightful recording that tackles such timely issues as race, police violence, economic and wage disparity, and the current state of his longtime home of Oakland, California, through a rich combination of grooves and catchy riffs that Negrito describes as “blues with a punk attitude”.
Regardless of which side you take on issues such as the U.S. presidential candidates, the shootings by and of police officers, and Brexit, we can all probably agree that the world has witnessed a truly sad state of affairs in recent weeks.
We can’t think of a better message of hope to offer our friends than this classic tune from the late, great King of the Blues. Give it a listen, share, and then go out and do something good to help make the words to this song’s chorus a little more of a reality.
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