Finish off the year with another fine edition of our BluesPowR Radio Hour… This time around, we’ve got music from Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters, Black Stone Cherry, Don Bryant, and more, including some sounds of the season from Billy Flynn, Micki Free, and Chris “Bad News” Barnes that will help put you on the road to a rocking Christmas and bluesy new year!
Five Minutes Till Christmas – Micki Free (Tattoo Burn-Redux)
In Memory of T-Bone – Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters (Maxwell Street)
Palace Of The King – Black Stone Cherry (Black to Blues)
You’re Just About To Lose Your Clown – Brad Stivers (Took You Long Enough)
It Hurts Me Too – Chris “Bad News” Barnes (Hokum Blues)
Christmas and New Year’s Blues – Chris “Bad News” Barnes (Hokum Blues)
Driving You – Milligan Vaughan Project (MVP)
One Ain’t Enough – Don Bryant (Don’t Give Up on Love)
BroJoe – Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters (Maxwell Street)
Done Loving You – Chase Walker Band (Not Quite Legal)
Christmas Blues – Billy Flynn (Lonesome Highway)
Here’s some more sneaking slow blues for you, this time from a young guitarist and singer out of the Northeast U.S. named Seth Rosenbloom, who shows his chops both musically and vocally on this delightful cover of B.B. King’s “Gambler’s Blues”.
If you like what you hear here (and we’re betting you will), check out the rest of Rosenbloom’s self-titled debut EP, which also includes fiery covers of Elmore James’ “Wild About You Baby” and Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “I Don’t Believe” as well as two smoking originals of a similar vein in the slow-dragging “The Way Things Used to Be” and a Stevie Ray Vaughan-like “Nailed to the Wall”, all featuring Rosenbloom’s gravelly, forceful vocals and stinging guitarwork — reminding us of a slightly younger and rawer version of Matt Schofield — chock-full of diverse, impressive riffs.
We expect you’ll be hearing a lot more from (and about) this guy in coming years!
Here’s a great video we came across from one of the surviving masters of the Chicago blues, Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, who, at 82, is still knocking around both on stage and in the studio, with Clearwater currently in the process of recording a new album to follow his 2014 Soul Funky.
If this song doesn’t say blues, we don’t know what does!
And for an added treat, here’s Clearwater playing with a true son of the blues in Mud Morganfield (son of Muddy Waters), with the pair joined also by Jimmy Johnson. Hail to The Chief!
This spring, we told you about a 16-song collection purporting to contain the finest recordings of guitarist and singer John Lee Hooker, a bold claim considering the multitude of recordings the native Mississippi bluesman made during his lifetime. As solid and terrific a set as Whiskey & Wimmen: John Lee Hooker’s Finest is for those seeking a quick dose of Hooker’s infectious grooves, it would turn out to be, to borrow from the lyrics of one of Hooker’s songs, really just a “little wheel ’til your big wheel come”, with Craft Recordings/Concord Bicycle Music recently rolling out an expansive 5-disc box collection providing a whole lot more for Hooker fans to get lost in.
Fans of that earlier compilation will be glad to learn that all but one of the songs (“Whiskey & Women”) included there can also be heard in some form on the 100-track John Lee Hooker: King of the Boogie, a few, in fact, in multiple versions, with songs like “Boogie Chillen'”, “Boom Boom”, “Dimples”, and “I’m in the Mood” presented in both studio/solo and live or collaborative (and in a couple of cases, all three) versions on this larger set.
The collection, for example, begins and ends with different versions of Hooker’s earliest hit “Boogie Chillen'”, the first, a crackling recording of just Hooker and his guitar from the September 1948 solo session that launched Hooker’s career and that helps establish the boogie from the set’s very start. Contrast that to the later (as in five decades later) more rocking version, which captures a much older Hooker joined by Eric Clapton, Rick Kirch, and Johnny Lee Schell all on guitar and incorporates some lively keyboards, one of only a few songs on which Hooker begins to show his age vocally. In between, there’s also a live acoustic solo version of the song from 1962, a rather low-key performance with a soft-spoken intro that, along with the other songs included here from that same San Francisco blues club (Sugar Hill) show — the much more traditional, Sonny and Brownie-like than boogeying “Bottle Up and Go” and creeping “Crawlin’ King Snake” (also representing the second version of the song) — helps remind the listener just how smooth Hooker’s voice and playing could be.
Make way for some blues today with the latest episode of our BluesPowR Radio Hour, featuring music from Michael Ledbetter & Monster Mike Welch, the Sherman Holmes Project, Ilana Katz Katz, Steve Strongman, a doubleshot from Tommy Castro & the Painkillers and friends, and three from the Howlin’ Wolf tribute Howlin’ at Greaseland, with vocals from Henry Gray, Tail Dragger, and Terry Hanck, plus more!
Howlin’ for My Darling – Terry Hanck (Howlin’ at Greaseland)
Cookin’ In Your Kitchen – Altered Five Blues Band (Charmed & Dangerous)
Homeless Child – Sherman Holmes Project (The Richmond Sessions)
The Excuse – Ilana Katz Katz (Subway Stories)
Worried Life Blues – Henry Gray & Aki Kumar (Howlin’ at Greaseland)
I Can’t Stop Baby – Michael Ledbetter & Monster Mike Welch (Right Place, Right Time)
Money In the Bank – Steve Strongman (No Time Like Now)
Don’t Trust No Woman – Tail Dragger (Howlin’ at Greaseland)
Them Changes – Tommy Castro & The Painkillers w/ David Hidalgo (Stompin’ Ground)
Live Every Day – Tommy Castro & The Painkillers w/ Charlie Musselwhite (Stompin’ Ground)
Don’t let the name of the program fool you: this recent performance from singer/songwriter Don Bryant on PBS’ Bluegrass Underground just oozes with bluesy soul, with Bryant backed by The Bo-Keys for a number of songs off his new comeback album Don’t Give Up on Love (Fat Possum Records) — including Bryant’s take on the soul classic “A Nickel and a Nail” plus Bryant originals like “Something About You”, “I Got to Know” (previously recorded by The “5” Royales), and “How Do I Get There?” — as well as another well-known song Bryant co-wrote some years back with wife Ann Peebles called “I Can’t Stand the Rain”.
If you like what you hear here, you’ll want to be sure to check out the rest of Bryant’s new album, with tracks like the smooth, swaying “First You Cry” and punchy “Can’t Hide the Hurt” and “One Ain’t Enough” being the first we’d recommend!
For longtime bluesmen Henry Gray and Tail Dragger, the late, great Chester Burnett — a.k.a. Howlin’ Wolf — didn’t just serve as an inspiration. For them, he was a band leader and mentor, and the inclusion of these now senior statesmen of the blues is just one of the things that helps to make Howlin’ at Greaseland (West Tone Records) such a special tribute to this true giant of the genre, along with contributions from names like harmonica player Rick Estrin, multi-instrumentalist (and project recorder) Kid Andersen, horn man Terry Hanck, and keyboardist Jim Pugh (Robert Cray Band), among others.
While the album probably didn’t need additional star power beyond the strong vocals delivered by Alabama Mike, John Blues Boyd, Lee Donald, Aki Kumar, and Hanck, combined with the sharp playing of the rotating backing band that Andersen assembled at his San Jose, California, Greaseland Studios for the recording, the presence of Gray and Tail Dragger on almost a handful of tracks does help to add a nice extra bit of authenticity and raise an already commendable project to an even higher level.
Let the blues take over with this intoxicating edition of our BluesPowR Radio Hour, featuring music from Gregg Allman, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Guy Davis & Fabrizio Poggi, Bette Smith, Hurricane Ruth, a doubleshot from Colin James, and more!
Under The Influence – The Mojo Stars (Under the Influence)
Louise, Louise – Guy Davis & Fabrizio Poggi (Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train)
Durty Hustlin’ – Bette Smith (Jetlagger)
Boogie Funk – Colin James (Blue Highways)
Riding In The Moonlight/Mr Luck – Colin James (Blue Highways)
Blood Moon – Too Slim and the Taildraggers (Blood Moon)
Down For Love – Kenny Wayne Shepherd (Lay It On Down)
Cheating Blues – Hurricane Ruth (Ain’t Ready for the Grave)
I Woulda Been Wrong – Al Basile (Quiet Money)
Tattoo Burn – Micki Free (Tattoo Burn-Redux)
I Love The Life I Live – Gregg Allman (Southern Blood)
Five decades after its beginnings as part of the British blues explosion, Savoy Brown continues to cast a familiar blues-rocking spell on the band’s latest album Witchy Feelin’ (Ruf Records). Now down to a trio made up of founding member Kim Simmonds on vocals and guitar joined by Pat DeSalvo on bass and Garnett Grimm on drums, the band rolls through just shy of a dozen tracks thick with stinging guitar and rich, steady grooves.
Opening on the powerful, shuffling “Why Did You Hoodoo Me” and a gritty, crawling “Livin’ on the Bayou” that mixes Simmonds’ often Mark Knopfler-like vocals with some David Gilmour-ish guitar solos, Witchy Feelin’ is already a winner before you even arrive at the album’s creeping title track and such other gems as the steady-rocking “I Can’t Stop the Blues”; a laidback and lonesome “Standing in a Doorway” that will help fill up your musical drinking glass with its gentle vocals and thick slide riffs; a hard-driving, Cream-like “Can’t Find Paradise”; and a slow-cooking, wah-filled “Thunder, Lightning & Rain” on which the band brings things down a bit to allow Simmonds’ guitar to do much of the talking.
The album concludes on the soft instrumental “Close to Midnight” and, if you like that, you might also want to check out another somewhat recent project in the form of Simmonds’ solo Jazzin’ on the Blues, a jazzy and quieter instrumental acoustic album that also finds Simmonds contributing harmonica and bass on several songs, joined only by Ron Keck on percussion.
Today, we launch another new feature here, an occasional post to help get your weekend off to a good start with a track that’s caught our ear. Sometimes, the song might be a standalone single; other times, a tune we just can’t wait to highlight in an album review or on our BluesPowR Radio Hour, or something that we feel really stands out from an album we may not otherwise get to tell you about.
It’s all just another way of helping to introduce you to some of the other blues acts and music on the scene, with our inaugural track coming from a recently reunited blues duo by the name of Screamin’ John & TD Lind (who first worked together in a band called Edenstreet), a swinging, blues/early rock n’ roll style number off their forthcoming album Gimme More Time (Down in the Alley Records). Here’s to the weekend!