Keb’ Mo’, Bettye LaVette, Warren Haynes and others pay tribute to King of the Slide Guitar on Strange Angels: In Flight with Elmore James

Recently, we told you about a 100th birthday set celebrating blues singer and guitarist John Lee Hooker. While that extensive collection consisted of Hooker’s own recordings from throughout his career, this centennial tribute to blues slide guitarist extraordinaire Elmore James offers a baker’s dozen of James’ songs interpreted by contemporary musicians including Tom Jones, Bettye LaVette, Warren Haynes and Billy Gibbons, Rodney Crowell, and Keb’ Mo’, among others.

Recorded in various cities throughout the U.S., from L.A. to Nashville to New York City and Boston, Strange Angels: In Flight with Elmore James (Sylvan Songs Records) features a mostly house band (dubbed Elmore’s Latest Broomdusters) joined by a rotating line-up of guest vocalists and musicians. Although not all of the interpretations here are presented in a straight blues fashion, with Rodney Crowell and Jamey Johnson, for example, adding a country-fried flavor (through both their vocals and acoustic guitars) to songs like “Shake Your Money Maker” and “It Hurts Me Too”, respectively, and other tracks having a jazzy, Americana, soul or pop style, the end result is a diverse, intriguing set that blues fans will easily appreciate and welcome to their collections.

James’ signature slidework is of course much celebrated here, often emanating from the guitar of the Broomdusters’ designated slide man Doug Lancio, but also by others such as fellow Broomduster Larry Taylor, who contributes both slide and upright bass on Tom Jones‘ punchy “Done Somebody Wrong”; Joe McMahan; Duke Levine; longtime Saturday Night Live bandleader G.E. Smith, who appears on Bettye LaVette‘s soulful, scratchy-throated “Person to Person”; Warren Haynes, who not only backs Johnson on “It Hurts Me Too” (where you’ll also hear some terrific piano and B3 organ from Billy Earheart) but sings and is joined on slide by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons for a gritty “Mean Mistreatin’ Mama” that also features Cowboy Eddie Long on pedal steel and Mickey Raphael on harmonica; and Keb’ Mo’, who provides vocals and National guitar on a jaunty “Look on Yonder Wall”, accompanied by McMahan on electric guitar, Lancio on mandolin, and Sonny Barbato on accordion. A jazzy, brooding “Dark and Dreary” with breathy vocals from Addi McDaniel is, in fact, the only track here absent of slide, relying (quite successfully) instead on the violin of Darol Anger along with accordion from Barbato, acoustic guitar from Levine and Thomas Juliano, and bass clarinet from Bob D’Ambrosio for a nice change of pace.

Continue reading

Posted in Albums | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Keb’ Mo’, Bettye LaVette, Warren Haynes and others pay tribute to King of the Slide Guitar on Strange Angels: In Flight with Elmore James

Mojo Risin’: Tyler Morris steps up among blues-rockers with Next in Line

Recently, we told you about a rising young Massachusetts guitarist named Seth Rosenbloom. Tyler Morris is another, even younger guy from the same neck of the woods, but with a bit heavier of a style, as you can hear on his just-released third album Next in Line (VizzTone Records). At just 19 years old, Morris’ music has already been featured or reviewed in the pages of Guitar Player and Vintage Guitar magazines, and this slow-dragging, hard-rocking track (with strong vocals from Morten Fredheim) from Next in Line shows just why!

Among the other highlights from the album — which was produced by longtime Johnny Winter guitarist/band leader/producer Paul Nelson — are a terrific cover of Bill Carter’s “Willie the Wimp” (Stevie Ray Vaughan) that features blues singer and guitarist Joe Louis Walker on vocals and the catchy instrumental “Choppin'” on which the band is joined by the Uptown Horns (and Morris’ guitar sounds a lot like Walker’s). Check this guy out today!

Posted in Artists, Mojo Risin' | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Mojo Risin’: Tyler Morris steps up among blues-rockers with Next in Line

Blue and Lonesome

Fight the frigid winter temperatures with another scorching edition of our BluesPowR Radio Hour, featuring doubleshots from Kim Wilson and Tweed Funk, as well as music from the Supersonic Blues Machine, Chris Pierce, Nick Schnebelen, The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer, and more!

Playlist
Somebody’s Fool – Supersonic Blues Machine w/ Robben Ford (Californisoul)
Blue and Lonesome – Kim Wilson (Blues and Boogie, Vol. 1)
Searched All Over – Kim Wilson (Blues and Boogie, Vol. 1)
Get Ready – The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer (Apocalipstick)
Kansas City Blues – Steve Howell & Jason Weinheimer (A Hundred Years from Today)
Mean Town Blues – Nick Schnebelen (Live in Kansas City)
Love, Life And Money – Steve Kozak Band (It’s Time)
Come Together – Tweed Funk (Come Together)
Who Is This – Tweed Funk (Come Together)
Don’t Fight It – Chris Pierce (You’ve Got to Feel It!)

Posted in BluesPowR Radio Hour | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Blue and Lonesome

The Original Blues Brothers Band hits on Last Shade of Blue Before Black with latest recording

Although it’s been decades now since the Blues Brothers Band played together in its original and most popular form (with the death of John Belushi, a.k.a. “Joliet Jake” Blues, in 1982), the Blues Brothers legacy has carried on through a variety of mediums
that have included a movie sequel, reunion concerts, a musical, an official Blues Brother Revue stage show about which we told you a few years back, and several recordings, including this recent offering featuring original members Steve “The Colonel” Cropper (guitar) and Lou “Blue Lou” Marini (sax), original band leader Paul “The Shiv” Shaffer (piano), a number of other former members, and recognizable friends of the band such as guitarist Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Eddie Floyd, and Dr. John “The Nite Tripper”, with Marini commenting about the album: “We really wanted to honor our history and to include some of our favorite musicians that we’ve worked with and loved over the years.”

A mostly live studio recording that captures everyone playing together (on largely first or second takes), The Last Shade of Blue Before Black (Severn Records) offers a variety of horn-filled tracks in the tradition of the Blues Brothers, including solid and timeless renditions of such blues classics as Jimmy Reed’s “Baby, What You Want Me to Do”, “I Got My Mojo Working” (Muddy Waters), and Willie Dixon’s “Don’t Go No Further” mixed with the modern sound and lyrics of songs like the swaying “21st Century Baby” (“she’s always bringing me the blues”) written and sung by Rob “The Honeydripper” Paparozzi, soul numbers like Dan Penn, Rick Hall and Oscar Franks’ “You Left the Water Running” and Floyd and Cropper’s “On a Saturday Night”, and funky tracks like “Itch and Scratch”, Floyd’s “Don’t Forget About James Brown”, and Brown’s “Sex Machine”, the latter song featuring Shaffer on vocals and piano.

Continue reading

Posted in Albums | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Original Blues Brothers Band hits on Last Shade of Blue Before Black with latest recording

Artists from around world rise to challenge on International Blues Challenge #33

Blues promotion and preservation member organization The Blues Foundation puts on a couple of big programs in Memphis each year: in May, a Blues Music Awards (BMA) gala celebrates the best of the blues from the past year, including performances from many nominees and other top names in the genre, and, each January, an International Blues Challenge (IBC) competition draws rising blues acts from around the world, all hoping to earn the title of that year’s best solo/duo or band winner and the recognition that comes with it, including opportunities such as professional recording contracts and festival appearances.

While the foundation has been putting out CDs and DVDs featuring performance highlights from each of the BMA ceremonies since 2011 or so, and a few earlier CDs also celebrated W.C. Handy Award (as the BMAs used to be known) winners and nominees, last year’s International Blues Challenge #32 was really the first recording allowing listeners to hear some of what we’ve been missing at the annual IBC, with the album leaving us both mighty satisfied as well as hopeful that we might be treated to similar installments spotlighting future IBC participants.

So we were of course pleased to learn about the release of International Blues Challenge #33, a collection featuring finalists from the 2017 competition that, like the inaugural edition, does an excellent job of showing that the blues is still very much alive and well and in many diverse forms.

Though the names of the acts on the IBC collections may not be as well-known as those you’ll hear on the BMA sets, the music itself is surprisingly solid: if you didn’t happen to know to what you were listening, there are times during IBC33 at which you could easily wonder if you’re hearing a disc of rare blues classics from much more experienced, established artists — or perhaps even some BMA nominees (although one of the criteria for eligibility in the challenge is that artists can’t have been nominated for a BMA).

Continue reading

Posted in Albums | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Artists from around world rise to challenge on International Blues Challenge #33

Kim Wilson delivers old-school Blues and Boogie on latest solo release

Harmonica player and singer Kim Wilson has done a lot of fabulous stuff through the years, not only as a founding member of the long-running Thunderbirds band whose name includes that same adjective and for which he continues to serve as frontman, but also on his own and in collaboration with other bluesmen and women, including having shared the stage or studio with Eddie Taylor, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Sonny Rhodes, Charlie Musselwhite, and countless others through the years, as well as a superb recent collaboration with Mud Morganfield on the Muddy Waters tribute For Pops.

Backed by an alternating line-up that includes Big Jon Atkinson, Billy Flynn, Bob Welsh, and Nathan James on guitar and bass, the late Barrelhouse Chuck on piano, and others, Wilson’s latest album Blues and Boogie, Vol. 1 (Severn Records) finds the harp ace blowing through a nice mix of, just as advertised, blues and boogie originals and covers, including from the likes of Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Elmore James, Magic Sam, Jimmy Reed, and more.

From the seducing sway of songs like “You Upset My Mind” (Jimmy Reed), “Same Old Blues” (Magic Sam) and “Sho Nuff I Do” (Elmore James), to swinging instrumentals like “Edgier”, “Teenage Beat” (Little Walter) and the opening “Bonus Boogie”, and breezy numbers like “From the Bottom” (Sonny Boy Williamson II) and the Sugar Ray & the Bluetones-style, horns-accented “No Love in My Heart” (Elmore James), everything here is, well, fabulous. But the tracks that stand out perhaps the most are a tough, lively “Ninety Nine” (Sonny Boy Williamson II) and two creeping numbers in a Thunderbirds-sounding “Blue and Lonesome” (Little Walter) with its gruff harmonica and a “Worried Life Blues” (Big Maceo Merriweather) featuring some cavernous vocals from Wilson and terrific playing from Barrelhouse Chuck.

Continue reading

Posted in Albums | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Kim Wilson delivers old-school Blues and Boogie on latest solo release

Christmas and New Year’s Blues

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!

Playlist
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)

Posted in BluesPowR Radio Hour | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Christmas and New Year’s Blues

Mojo Risin’: Gambling on the future of the blues with Seth Rosenbloom

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!

Posted in Artists, Mojo Risin' | Tagged | Comments Off on Mojo Risin’: Gambling on the future of the blues with Seth Rosenbloom

Tune into the Weekend: Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater’s Lowdown Lonesome Feeling

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!

Posted in Tune into the Weekend | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Tune into the Weekend: Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater’s Lowdown Lonesome Feeling

John Lee Hooker again proves undisputed King of the Boogie on 5-disc centennial retrospective

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.

Continue reading

Posted in Albums | Tagged | Comments Off on John Lee Hooker again proves undisputed King of the Boogie on 5-disc centennial retrospective