Congratulations to Tim Lease of Pittsburgh, PA, who was selected as the winner of the deluxe edition of Eric Clapton's Unplugged CD!
Thanks to all who participated in our contest. And, who knows, you just may get a shot at another giveaway soon!
It's been another busy few days for music award nominations. On Saturday, we told you about this year's Grammy Award nominees for blues album of the year, which were announced Friday night during the annual Grammy nominations ceremony (along with the contenders in many other mostly non-blues categories).
And today, the Blues Foundation unveiled its nominees for the all-blues equivalent of the Grammys - the annual Blues Music Awards (BMA), which will take place in Memphis on May 8th.
Three of the same albums up for a Grammy in the blues category - James Cotton's Cotton Mouth Man, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite's Get Up!, and the Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia, and James Harman harmonica collaboration Remembering Little Walter - are also up for the BMA's top album prize, while fellow Grammy contender Down in Louisiana (Bobby Rush) is nominated in the BMA's soul blues album category.
It's not surprising then that Musselwhite is among this year's leading BMA nominees with five, also earning nods for contemporary album (Get Up!), traditional album (Remembering Little Walter), and harmonica. James Cotton and guitarist Lurrie Bell also each received a complete handful of nominations, with both among the contenders in the album and traditional album (for Cotton Mouth Man and Blues in My Soul, respectively), traditional male artist, song (Cotton's "He Was There" and Bell's "Blues in My Soul"), and their respective instrumental categories.
Buddy Guy and Kim Wilson both earned four nominations, including one each for both B.B. King Entertainer of the Year and contemporary male artist. Guy's Rhythm & Blues was nominated in both the album and contemporary album categories, while Wilson also was recognized for harmonica and traditional album (Driftin' from Town to Town, on which Wilson's Blues All-Stars played with Barrelhouse Chuck).
A number of artists are up for awards in three categories. They are:
- Rick Estrin for B.B. King Entertainer, band, and harmonica
- Bobby Rush for B.B. King Entertainer, soul blues album, and soul blues male artist
- Doug MacLeod for acoustic album (There's a Time), acoustic artist, and song ("The Entitled Few")
- the Tedeschi Trucks Band for rock blues album (Made Up Mind), band, and contemporary female artist (Susan Tedeschi)
- Trampled Under Foot for contemporary album (Badlands), band, and bass (Danielle Schnebelen)
- Billy Boy Arnold for album and traditional album (Remembering Little Walter) and traditional male artist
Among the other artists receiving multiple nominations were Gary Clark Jr. (contemporary male artist and guitar), John Nemeth (B.B. King Entertainer and soul blues male), Rory Block (acoustic album and acoustic artist), Anson Funderburgh (guitar and traditional male artist), Johnny Sansone (contemporary male artist and song), Guy Davis (acoustic album and acoustic artist), Barrelhouse Chuck (Pinetop Perkins Piano Player and traditional album), and Johnny Rawls and Otis Clay (both nominated for soul blues album and soul blues male artist), to name just a few, while single nominees included Little G Weevil (acoustic artist), Joe Bonamassa (DVD for An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House), Royal Southern Brotherhood (DVD for Songs from the Road), Ana Popovic (contemporary female artist), The Rides (rock blues album for Can't Get Enough), Beth Hart (contemporary female artist), Toronzo Cannon (rock blues album for John the Conquer Root), and Walter Trout (rock blues album for Luther's Blues).
Below are the nominees in about half of the categories, with a complete list available on the Blues Foundation website, where members of the foundation can also cast their votes and purchase tickets for the May ceremony beginning December 16th.
Get Up! - Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite
Remembering Little Walter - Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia & James Harman
Rhythm & Blues - Buddy Guy
Cotton Mouth Man - James Cotton
Blues in My Soul - Lurrie Bell
B.B. King Entertainer
Contemporary Blues Album
Get Up! - Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite
This Time Another Year - Brandon Santini
Rhythm & Blues - Buddy Guy
Magic Honey - Cyril Neville
Badlands - Trampled Under Foot
Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Gary Clark, Jr.
High John Records - Time Brings About a Change (Floyd Dixon)
J&R Adventures - An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House (Joe Bonamassa)
Shake-It-Sugar Records – Live (Murali Coryell)
Ruf Records - Songs from the Road (Royal Southern Brotherhood)
Blue Star Connection - Live at Knuckleheads (The Healers)
Gary Clark, Jr.
Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female)
Rock Blues Album
Gone to Texas - Mike Zito & the Wheel
Made Up Mind - Tedeschi Trucks Band
Can't Get Enough - The Rides
John the Conquer Root - Toronzo Cannon
Luther's Blues - Walter Trout
Pinetop Perkins Piano Player
Traditional Blues Album
Driftin' from Town to Town - Barrelhouse Chuck & Kim Wilson's Blues All-Stars
Remembering Little Walter - Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia, James Harman
Cotton Mouth Man - James Cotton
Blues in My Soul - Lurrie Bell
Black Toppin' - The Cash Box Kings
Traditional Blues Male Artist
Billy Boy Arnold
For the procrastinators among you, it's still not too late to enter to win that copy of the deluxe edition of Eric Clapton's Unplugged CD, remastered and expanded to include several new songs from the session as well as some never-before-seen rehearsal footage.
All you need to do to be eligible is email us your name and mailing address at firstname.lastname@example.org. But do it today; we'll be drawing a winner at random this evening and announcing that winner here on the blog in the coming days.
As they say on the old lottery commercials: you have to play to win. The only difference is that this contest won't cost you a cent, and could make for a nice holiday present for you or that special Clapton fan in your life!
As if the Christmas songs you're now hearing everywhere weren't enough of a reminder, nothing better signifies the end of the year in the music world than the annual unveiling of nominees for next year's Grammy Awards, which took place Friday night in Los Angeles.
Once again, the blues are confined to a single album of the year category, with James Cotton's Cotton Mouth Man (Alligator Records), Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa's Seesaw (J&R Adventures), Bobby Rush's Down in Louisiana (Deep Rush Records), Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite's Get Up! (Stax Records), and the Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia & James Harman compilation Remembering Little Walter (Blind Pig Records) all up for this year's honor.
Bluesier nominees in other categories also included Gary Clark Jr., nominated for both Best Rock Song for "Ain't Messin 'Round" and Best Traditional R&B Performance for "Please Come Home", Harper and Musselwhite's I'm In I'm Out And I'm Gone: The Making Of Get Up! for Best Music Film, and Mavis Staples, nominated for Best Americana Album for One True Vine (Anti Records).
Winners will be announced at the 56th annual Grammy Awards, taking place January 26th.
Fortunately, there's still plenty of good blues for us to tell you about in the meantime, including some great new albums from the Royal Southern Brotherhood, the soulful Ursula Ricks, and yet another terrific project from Charlie Musselwhite, as well as a look back at some of the best 2013 had to offer in blues, so we hope you'll continue to join us - as we keep on livin' on blues power!
We've written here a few times before about the British-born, now U.S.-based blues rocker Joanne Shaw Taylor.
And we've also told you about Ruf Records' popular Songs from the Road series, including a recent set from fellow Brit guitar slinger Oli Brown.
So it shouldn't come as all that much of a surprise that you get a pretty terrific result when you put the two together in one project, as Ruf has done quite nicely with Taylor's Songs from the Road CD/DVD set, recorded at London's The Borderline club earlier this year.
Featuring 11 tracks ranging from the breezy and soft "Beautifully Broken" and "Diamonds in the Dirt" to the driving "Tied and Bound" and playfully funky "Kiss the Ground Goodbye" - all showcasing Shaw's husky vocals and thick guitar, the CD presents live versions of songs from all three of Taylor's studio albums, beginning with a trio of cuts off Taylor's latest, Almost Always Never. The stinging opener "Soul Station" is followed by a "Tied and Bound" that includes some particularly intense guitar solos from Taylor before the band softens the tone a bit with "Beautifully Broken".
From there, Taylor reaches back to her debut album White Sugar with a powerful, ten-minute take on "Watch 'Em Burn", then moving to the title track from her sophomore project Diamonds in the Dirt.
Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" is one of two cover songs on the CD (mixed and produced by the talented Jim Gaines), along with the slow, smoky blues of Frankie Miller's "Jealousy", a studio version of which can be heard on Almost Always Never.
Taylor returns to her 2009 White Sugar album for both "Kiss the Ground Goodbye" and the tender, catchy "Just Another Word", shifting back to Diamonds for the rocking closer "Jump That Train" before returning with an encore in the form of the smoldering lead track from White Sugar, "Going Home". It's either somewhat fortuitous or extremely well-planned that this same song which for so many served as the introduction to Taylor (by virtue of it appearing first on her debut album) happens to be the last track they hear here, providing a terrific reminder of just how far Taylor has come in short time.
The 14-song DVD adds a handful of other favorites, largely from Taylor's most recent album - represented through the breezy "You Should Stay, I Should Go", heartfelt "Almost Always Never", and quiet and sensitive "Lose Myself to Loving You" - but also including Diamonds' gritty "Let it Burn" and the slow blues of White Sugar's "Time Has Come", leaving out only "Manic Depression" from the CD.
In addition to longer and more frequent solos from Taylor than you'll hear on her albums, this live set also provides the opportunity to see the energy and passion with which the somewhat elusive (at least for those of us in Pittsburgh) Taylor and her band, particularly bassist Joseph Veloz, perform.
Like most of the other sets in the Ruf series, this Songs from the Road is one well worth checking out.
With new Almost Always Never, Joanne Shaw Taylor almost never fails to delight
With Diamonds, another fine gem from Joanne Shaw Taylor
Oli Brown brings it home on live Songs From the Road
Soul Fixin' Fan: Luther's Songs from the Road
In the midst of all your holiday celebrations and shopping, don't forget to take some time for yourself to enter our Clapton Unplugged deluxe edition giveaway contest. Then, take some time to revel in this remastered and expanded 2-CD, 1-DVD set featuring previously unreleased songs and footage from the taping of this historic session!
To enter, just send your name and mailing address to email@example.com.
But hurry: we'll be selecting one lucky winner at random next Monday, December 9th, with the winner to be announced later that week.
Good luck, and thanks in advance for your entry!
Two recent releases take us back to a few big names in the blues, albeit in very different ways: the first, a remastered reissue of a piano blues classic from the great Roosevelt Sykes; the second, a tribute to one of the most soulful blues singers ever in O.V. Wright, from another pretty soulful guy of whom you may have heard named Johnny Rawls.
Roosevelt Sykes, The Original Honeydripper (Blind Pig Records)
Most blues listeners will doubtless be familiar with Blues Hall of Fame pianist Roosevelt Sykes in one way or the other, either through his own memorable barrelhouse-style performances or the countless covers of such classics he penned as "44 Blues", "Driving Wheel", "Night Time is the Right Time", and "Dirty Mother for You".
Two of those songs - "Driving Wheel" and "Dirty Mother for You" - are among the 14 you'll hear on the newly remastered The Original Honeydripper, which also include Sykes' take on such gems as Ray Charles' "What'd I Say", Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose" and the jazz standard "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" (written by Sam Stept, who grew up in Pittsburgh) as well as a few rescued outtakes from the original session at Ann Arbor's Blind Pig Cafe in the form of the traditional slow blues of "St. James Infirmary" and a jaunty "Don't Talk Me to Death" that make for superb additions. The only other difference between this and the original LP from the late 1970s is the omission here of the well-known "Sweet Home Chicago", which probably won't elicit too many complaints considering the number of times most fans will have heard it.
Also included here are the lively opener "Cow Cow Blues", the playful "I'm a Nut", and the scat-filled, slightly risque "I Like What you Did", along with the barrelhouse boogie woogie of "Running the Boogie" and a rollicking cover of the "Viper Song", a marijuana-themed number popularized by Fats Waller. Interspersed among those are the slow blues and tender wit of such tracks as "Too Smart Too Soon" and "Early Morning Blues", although the songs to which the crowd was clearly most receptive on this particular night were the more familiar "Driving Wheel" and closing, hoot and holler-filled "Dirty Mother for You," which Sykes introduces with "I recorded this tune in 1934. Some people say it's suggestive. Some say it's smutty. And some people say it's corruptible. Some people say it's just plain dirty. But it's nothin' of the sort. Although I have no control of your thoughts..." before he works into such classic lyrics as "Another fine lil' sexatary / and they all call her Terry / All she need now is a big dic-tionary / she be a reading mother for you, don't ya' know / a spelling mother for you, don't ya' know / she's a educated mother fo'ya / wouldn't tell you no lie".
And nor can we: this reissue is one terrific album to have.
Johnny Rawls, Remembering O.V. (Catfood Records)
If soul's your thing, you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone better at it than the late, great O.V. Wright, who you may recall having done such gems as "Blind, Crippled and Crazy","Nickel and a Nail", "Precious Precious", and "Eight Men, Four Women", all of which can be heard done by Wright's one-time music director and guitarist Johnny Rawls on his latest album Remembering O.V. Soul man and Blues Hall of Famer Otis Clay joins Rawls on vocals for a trio of songs, starting with the grooving opener "Into Something (I Can't Shake Loose)", the midtempo ballad "Nickel and a Nail", and the album's sole (no pun intended) original, the snappy, O.V.-inspired "Blaze of Glory" on which Rawls recalls being in the same car as Wright when he died more than 30 years ago.
Of course, Rawls has had plenty of practice with his mentor's songs, having helped keep Wright's band runnng in the decade following the soul/blues legend's death. More recently, Rawls has included a different song from Wright on his past three albums ("Ace of Spades", "Blind, Crippled and Crazy" and "Eight Men, Four Women" respectively), each given new life here through remixing from the great Jim Gaines.
There's no question that Rawls is very much in the zone on this project, presenting each of the ten tracks masterfully, with other highlights including the creeping, deep-vocaled "Don't Let My Baby Ride", a funky "I've Been Searching", the softly swaying "Precious Precious", a melodious "Poor Boy", and the superb "Blind, Crippled and Crazy", all making use of some tight background vocals from the Iveys and, more often than not, rich horns to heighten the soul factor.
One of the best soul-blues albums we've heard in quite some time, Remembering O.V. is as much a treat for longtime fans of both Wright and Rawls as it is for those seeking to discover or re-discover these artists, and a guaranteed contender for soul blues album of the year honors in the upcoming music awards.
We're in a bit of a Clapton-ish mood here this week, between Tuesday's release of the highlights DVD and CD sets from this spring's Crossroads Guitar Festival and having learned of the free stream of this recent show from Clapton, which includes such blues numbers as "Key to the Highway", "Hoochie Coochie Man", "Got My Mojo Workin'", "Driftin' Blues", "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out", "Crossroads", "Little Queen of Spades", and an appearance from Andy Fairweather Low on vocals for "Gin House Blues", along with hits like "Layla", "Wonderful Tonight", "Cocaine", "Pretending", and "After Midnight". If you haven't heard this one yet, you're going to want to check it out; in addition to being available for free online listening thanks to Swiss radio SRF3, it's also one of the liveliest and strongest sets we've heard from Clapton and his band.
Speaking of free, we're giving away a copy of the recent reissue of Clapton's historical, multi-Grammy Award-winning Unplugged album, remastered and expanded to include several previously unreleased outtakes from the session - including Big Maceo Merriweather's "Worried Life Blues", alternate takes of both "Walkin' Blues" and "Running on Faith", and early versions of "Circus" and "My Father's Eyes" - as well as a DVD containing both a restored version of the original 1992 MTV Unplugged broadcast and a 14-song (two more than originally aired, with both "Circus" and "My Father's Eyes" added) rehearsal.
To enter to win the 2 CD+DVD deluxe edition set, just shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and mailing address. We'll pick one winner at random on Monday, December 9th, and announce the winner's name and city here on our blog later that week.
In the meantime, here's one of the songs from the rehearsal session in "San Francisco Bay Blues":
More about the deluxe edition:
You may recall our recent preview of the upcoming Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 DVD (Rhino Entertainment), which we wrote without the benefit of having yet been able to view the double-disc set, although we still remember fondly (and will for a long time) many of the included highlights from our coverage of the two-night festival this past April.
Released Tuesday, we're happy to report that the DVD is nearly as entrancing as was the festival itself. In addition to being able to again see some great pairings and performances from the likes of Taj Mahal, Keb' Mo', Buddy Guy, Robert Randolph, the Allman Brothers Band, Gary Clark Jr., John Mayer, B.B. King, Andy Fairweather Low, Jeff Beck, Steve Cropper, Booker T., Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Vince Gill, Doyle Bramhall II, and Mr. Clapton himself, we were pleasantly surprised upon viewing to find that the DVD does indeed include Robert Cray and Los Lobos' fantastic cover of Jimmy McCracklin's soulful "Just Got to Know" on disc 2 - not the Los Lobos tune "I Got to Let You Know" as indicated on the track listing - giving yet another terrific reason to own this latest installment from Clapton and friends.
Unfortunately, the Cray/Los Lobos performance isn't included among the 29 cuts that make up the two CDs, so we highly encourage you to go ahead and spend a few bucks more for the DVD if you're forced to choose. Or, better yet, plan to pick up both.
You'll be glad you did.
Memphis soul band The Bo-Keys last week released a pair of hot 45 singles, all very soulful, on their Electraphonic Recording label. Here's a neat mini-documentary on the singles that kicks off with the funky instrumental "Wind Up Monkey" (which you can listen to more of here), the B-side to the slow, quiet, gospely remake of the James Carr soul classic "Dark End of the Street" (Dan Penn /Chips Moman) that features brothers Percy and Spencer Wiggins on vocals.
Percy is also featured on the A-side of the second 45, the upbeat, Syl Johnson-influenced original "I Need More Than One Lifetime (To Love You)", backed with another funky instrumental, a familiar tune in the theme to the classic Western motion picture "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly", before the segment closes on the music to the band's previous single with Percy in "Writing on the Wall".
If you're looking for some sweet soul music to help get you through your hump day, we can't think of a better place to start than these new singles from the Bo-Keys!