Blues supergroup The Proven Ones proves its mettle on Wild Again debut

With each person having already distinguished himself as an individual performer, sideman, or member of such accomplished blues bands as The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters, The Mannish Boys, and Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, it should come as no surprise that the new soul-blues-rock supergroup The Proven Ones can make some great music together. But what may surprise you is just how great the music on the band’s debut album Wild Again (Roseleaf Records) is, with the recording quickly becoming one of our favorites of 2018.

Featuring the sturdy, soulful vocals of Boston bluesman Brian Templeton, the guitar talents of Kid Ramos, the keyboards of Anthony Geraci (Sugar Ray & the Bluetones), bass from Willie J. Campbell, and drums from Jimi Bott (who also recorded and mixed the project), the band — whose members have appeared on hundreds of recordings — very much lives up to its name on this inaugural offering, proving to be easily on par with the likes of other successful recent collectives such as Royal Southern Brotherhood, The Rides, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
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Buddy Guy proves The Blues is Alive and Well on latest album

With mentors like Memphis Slim and Muddy Waters and contemporaries like B.B. King all having moved on to a better place, blues legend Buddy Guy is fully aware of the role he plays in music today, having been charged by some of those very same individuals with the weighty task of helping to carry on the blues in their stead. And that’s exactly what Guy continues to do — probably better than anyone else in the business right now — on his new album The Blues is Alive and Well (Silvertone/RCA Records).

Sometimes reflective, like on the slow, brooding opener “A Few Good Years”, the “Catfish Blues”-ish “Somebody Up There”, and the swaying, horn-drenched “End of the Line”; sometimes fun, like on a “Cognac” that also features guitarists Keith Richards and Jeff Beck to make for a smooth, slow-burning blues party of sorts on which Guy remembers another good friend with the lyrics “If the late Muddy Waters was here drinking with us, that bottle would be ten times gone”, then interjecting “can’t drink with me no more, Muddy, but I, I got Keith Richards”, and a Sly & the Family Stone-like “Whiskey for Sale” that’s, as Buddy likes to say, “so funky, you can smell it” (or, in this case, taste it) with backing vocals from the McCrary Sisters and Hambridge’s daughter Rachel, slide guitar, B3 and clavinet, with Guy at the end asking “Don’t that make ya’ feel good now?” (it sure does, Buddy, thanks); and sometimes just straight-up blues, like on the scorching cover of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Nine Below Zero”, the shuffling, partly falsetto-chorused “Guilty as Charged”, and a cautionary “Bad Day”, the album is everything you’d hope for from the soon-to-be-82-year-old Guy, showing that he’s still got his stuff both instrumentally and vocally, from the hard, biting blues for which we’ve long admired him (check out, for example, “Old Fashioned”, another number that incorporates some nice playing from the Muscle Shoals Horns) to slower-tempoed collaborations with the likes of longtime friend Mick Jagger (who contributes harmonica and a single “yeah” on the creeping “You Did the Crime”) and UK singer James Bay (who joins Buddy on both guitar and vocals for “Blue No More”).
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Sound of a Broken Man

With summer officially upon us, here’s another talk-free edition of our BluesPowR Radio Hour to help keep you cool (at least in the eyes and ears of your friends), with music from Tinsley Ellis, one-man blues-rock band Steve Hill, Long Tall Deb & Colin John, Dharmasoul, Eric Corne, Los Angeles Chargers offensive lineman Joe Barksdale, The Love Light Orchestra featuring John Nemeth, and more.

Whether you’re playing it at work or working it at play, our BluesPowR Radio Hour is all you need to get your summer started — and keep it going — on a bluesy note. Check out our latest episode today!

Playlist
Trouble – Long Tall Deb and Colin John (Dragonfly)
The Early Morn – Brother Dege (Farmer’s Almanac)
Bad Breaks – The Love Light Orchestra feat. John Nemeth (The Love Light Orchestra feat. John Nemeth)
The Stumble – Joe Barksdale (Butterflies, Rainbows, & Moonbeams)
Pull String to Inflate – Eric Corne (Happy Songs for the Apocalypse)
Come and Go (Delbert McClinton Tribute) – Markey Blue-Ric Latina Project (Raised in Muddy Water)
Sound Of A Broken Man – Tinsley Ellis (Winning Hand)
Healing Ground – Jim Allchin w/ Keb’ Mo’ (Decisions)
Just Plain Sick – Jim Allchin (Decisions)
Love Again – Dharmasoul (Lightning Kid)
Hate to See You Go – Steve Hill (One Man Blues Rock Band)

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Award-winning bassist-singer Danielle Nicole gives much to smile about with Cry No More

We can’t recall why exactly we never got around to telling you about Danielle Nicole‘s 2015 debut solo album Wolf Den, but it’s certainly one worth checking out if you haven’t done so. Whether you like what you heard there and are returning for more or choose to use it as more of a starting point for working your way back to Wolf Den, the recent follow-up release from this bass-playing, blues-belting siren is even stronger: if Wolf Den is an album you should own, then Cry No More (Concord Records) is one you must own, sounding a lot like the kind of breakout album Just Won’t Burn was for Susan Tedeschi or Nick of Time was for Bonnie Raitt.

If Danielle sounds a bit familiar, it may be that you recognize her from her former stint alongside her brothers Kris (drums) and Nick (guitar) Schnebelen in the much-acclaimed, International Blues Challenge-winning family trio Trampled Under Foot, which the siblings decided to disband in 2014.

But it’s clear that Danielle hasn’t just pushed those days to the past, calling upon former Trampled Under Foot producer Tony Braunagel (Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Burdon) to co-write a handful of songs (including the swaying, soulful title track), play drums on, and produce Cry No More, as well as guitarist brother Nick Schnebelen for the opening number “Crawl”, a powerful, rocking song on which Danielle — who, in 2014, became the first female winner of the Blues Music Award for Best Instrumentalist-Bass — immediately
takes charge both lyrically (“crawl when you want love, crawl on your knees, crawl if you wanna’ get next to me/ If you want my love back at all, then get down and crawl”) and with her commanding delivery.

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Buddy Guy dishes cool new blues on Nine Below Zero

We couldn’t let you head into the long weekend without making sure you’ve heard the first single off Buddy Guy‘s upcoming (June 15) release The Blues is Alive and Well (Silvertone/RCA Records), a biting take on the Sonny Boy Williamson classic “Nine Below Zero”…

Also including album producer Tom Hambridge on drums, Kevin Mckendree on piano, and Willie Weeks on bass, along with Rob Mcnelley on rhythm guitar, the track is available as an instant download when you pre-order The Blues is Alive and Well, which also features guest appearances from Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck and James Bay.

We don’t know about you, but this song was all the convincing we needed to pull out the old wallet!

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Blues for a Soldier

Get ready for the long weekend with the latest talk-free episode of our BluesPowR Radio Hour, featuring music from Marcia Ball, the Nick Moss Band with Dennis Gruenling, Mud Morganfield, Marie Knight, and a pair of tracks from Joyann Parker, plus a song commemorating the men and women who make the holiday possible from the Jon Spear Band. Here’s wishing you a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend, as well as the best of the blues always!

Playlist
Too Much For Me – Marcia Ball (Shine Bright)
Boogie in the Rain – Rockwell Avenue Blues Band (Back to Chicago)
Envy – Joyann Parker (Hard to Love)
Take My Heart and Run – Joyann Parker (Hard to Love)
Blues for a Soldier – Jon Spear Band (Hot Sauce)
Oh Yeah – Mud Morganfield (They Call Me Mud)
A Cool Breeze in Hell – Breezy Rodio (Sometimes the Blues Got Me)
Trouble – Too Slim & the Taildraggers (High Desert Heat)
Let Us Get Together – Marie Knight (The Gospel Truth Live)
Tight Grip On Your Leash – The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling (The High Cost of Low Living)
Come Back Home – Lance Lopez (Live in NYC)

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Tune into the Weekend: NJ duo Dharmasoul sounds like Chosen Ones on versatile debut recording

Here’s one to help take you into the weekend from a new, New Jersey-based duo that goes by the name of Dharmasoul. Featuring Jonah Tolchin on guitar and Kevin Clifford on drums (with the two trading off on lead and backup vocals), Dharmasoul makes an awfully strong name for itself with its debut album Lightning Kid (Dharmasoul Records).

Joined by a trio of friends on bass guitar, keyboards, and viola as well as two female backing vocalists, Tolchin and Clifford deliver an impressive program of ten original tracks, with sounds ranging from R&B soul and rock to hip-hop and funk.

In addition to the early-Black Keys-like grooves and stinging guitar of the upbeat, hypnotic “Chosen One” (for which you can view the video below), you’ll also want to be sure to check out the soulful R&B of “Open Your Heart” that fluctuates between a swaying, “I Found a Love” easiness and raw guitar and Fantastic Negrito-like vocals, and the hip-hop gospelish soul (think Tedeschi Trucks Band meets Fantastic Negrito, with a bit of Black Keys thrown in) of “Love Again”, including some terrific keyboards from Brendan Moore.


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New recording from Steve Hill captures One-Man Blues Rock Band live

We’ve marveled several times before at Canadian blues-rocker Steve Hill‘s one-man act, as heard, for example, on Hill’s Solo Recordings volumes II and III. And while we’ve not yet had the opportunity to witness Hill onstage with our own eyes and ears, we’re happy to report that the talented musician is no less impressive live, judging by his latest recording The One-Man Blues Rock Band (Manhaton Records).

Recorded during a performance in Quebec last fall, the album is a raw, mostly rocking affair that nicely showcases Hill’s gruff, gritty vocals, often stinging guitar, and driving drums and other percussion that Hill plays with his feet and a drumstick attached to the head of his guitar, also adding harmonica on several numbers.

Starting on a rocking “Rhythm All Over”, Hill doesn’t ease up until five songs in with the quiet, rootsy “Tough Luck” that Hill’s harmonica helps give a country-western flavor after a nice guitar intro, also hitting the driving “Go On”, “The Collector” and “Damned” on the way. Tough, Gary Clark, Jr.-like guitar permeates the shuffling “Never is Such a Long Time” before Hill picks up the tempo with a grungy take on “Hate to See You Go”.
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Love Light Orchestra, Blues Music Award winner John Nemeth shine on debut recording

Here’s one we’ve been meaning to tell you about for a while now, a soulful, swinging recording that harkens back to the Memphis big band sound of B.B. King and Bobby “Blue” Bland, with the band, in fact, taking their name from one of Bland’s biggest hits in “Turn on Your Love Light”. Made up of musicians who have toured and played with Bland, The Bo-Keys, Gregg Allman, Solomon Burke, Robert Cray and others, The Love Light Orchestra also features the talented John Nemeth on vocals; together, they make one hell of a first impression on their debut album The Love Light Orchestra featuring John Nemeth: Live from Bar DKDC in Memphis, TN! (Blue Barrel Records), twelve tracks of soulful, horn-driven blues that range from the swaying style of Percy Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone to Love” and a quiet, jazzy take on Buddy Ace’s “This Little Love of Mine” to the partly falsetto croons of Freddie King’s “What About Love” and the closing, shuffling R&B adaptation of Al Green’s “Love and Happiness”.
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Mayall, Trout producer Eric Corne offers some Happy Songs for the Apocalypse on own latest album

We’ve mentioned the name Eric Corne on these pages quite a bit in recent years, with Corne having produced many of the latest recordings from blues masters John Mayall and Walter Trout. The founder and president of Forty Below Records, Corne has also recorded artists such as Joe Walsh, Edgar Winter, Lucinda Williams, Nancy Wilson, Joe Bonamassa, Guitar Shorty, Coco Montoya, and Karen Lovely, among others, through the years, but also happens to be a pretty darn good songwriter and musician himself, as demonstrated on his new album Happy Songs for the Apocalypse (Forty Below Records).

Here’s a song from the album we thought you might like, what Corne’s press materials describe as an “alt blues rocker” that features Walter Trout on guitar along with some gritty harmonica from Corne.

That’s definitely one of the more rocking numbers you’ll hear on the album, along with a “Pull String to Inflate” that features Mavis Staples guitarist Rick Holmstrom, with most of the other tracks being, as the recording’s title suggests, more of a breezy or swaying variety, frequently accompanied by lyrics reflecting on the current state of the world, with alternative pop, folk, rock, and other Americana sounds that range from The Beatles, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, and Tom Petty to Trigger Hippy, Son Volt, and The Lumineers, thanks to an impressive assortment of guest musicians and instruments that include pedal steel, dobro, dulceola, violin, slide guitar, Wurlitzer, Hammond organ, theremin, accordion, pump organ, tack piano, omnichord, euphonium, and flugel horn, among others, with Corne himself providing lead and harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, harmonica, percussion, whistling, and ukelele at various times.

It’s a terrific album, but if you’ve got limited time to check it out, we suggest you start with tracks like the bubblegummy slide guitar-, horns-, harmonica- and cowbell-laced “Locomotion”; the falsetto-vocaled ballad “The Gilded Age”; the swaying, violin-accented “The Distance You Run”; and the closing, almost-solo ukelele number “Sing, Little Darlin’ Sing” that also includes laughter and talking from Corne’s young daughter Lilly Rae for a nice sampling of what Corne has to offer before you dive into the album in its entirety.

This is one of those recordings that continues to grow on you with each listen, so do yourself a favor and don’t wait for the apocalypse to draw nearer before you pick up a copy.

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