Blues-rockers Catfish move on from lockdown with acoustic EP Bound for Better Days

One of the many bands that helped get us through the long pandemic with their livestream performances was UK blues-rockers Catfish. While an earlier album and DVD, Exile – Live in Lockdown, allowed fans to hear and see the band in their full blues-rocking glory, capturing the four-piece band in the same room together for the first time in five months during an onstage concert appearance, many of Catfish’s other performances during the lockdown required a much more stripped-down approach.

That served as the inspiration for this latest release, the five-track EP Bound for Better Days, which finds the band offering acoustic takes on four of its own songs along with a beautifully intense cover of Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” that proves that singer and guitarist Matt Long is just as talented on the tender songs as on the rockers for which the band is so well-known.

The EP starts with a 9+ minute, western-tinged “Broken Man” that stretches from such quiet touches as the soft staccato piano notes from Matt’s father Paul Long after the first chorus and Kev Hickman’s percussion slaps a bit later to Matt’s powerful, building vocals and guitar heard throughout the song.

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Now posted: our pics from the inaugural Maple House Festival

Eric Gales

We’ve just posted a few (okay, a whole bunch of!) pics from the Maple House Festival that took place in Pittsburgh a few weeks back to our BluesPowR gallery, featuring dedicated albums for Eric Gales and the Ghost Hounds, as well as a combined album capturing the (literally) smoking set from the Black Pumas and a late morning funkfest from Big Sam’s Funky Nation.

Read our earlier recap of the festival here

After two and a half years of pandemic, you’ll see that these artists gave us a whole lot with which to work both photographically and musically!

Ghost Hounds

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Tune into the Weekend: Murali Coryell unfurls Ukraine War Cries

Murali Coryell, 2010 Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival

Guitarist and singer Murali Coryell, the son of late jazz fusion guitarist Larry Coryell, delivers a subdued but powerful message on his latest single, “Ukraine War Cries”. Along with Coryell’s usual emotive playing and soulful vocals, the slow blues grooves of this track are accompanied by some pointed lyrics about the situation in the Ukraine, including “What’s life worth? One dollar a gallon for gasoline?/ while the bombs rain down and the women and children scream” and “I looked up the difference between Russia and Ukraine/ They have their own history, language and their name/ If someone told me, I didn’t have a right to exist, I would do everything in my power to willfully resist” along with its chorus of “Something wrong is going on, a surreal dream/ But it’s happening, and I can’t turn my back or avert my eyes/ I can see it, I can hear it. Ukraine War Cries.”

If that doesn’t get you thinking about what more you can do to help with relief and aid efforts to the Ukraine, we’re not sure what will. And it sure does sound good in the process.

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Ghost Hounds, Eric Gales help bring the blues to Pittsburgh’s first Maple House Festival

Black Pumas

We don’t know what Pittsburgh-based blues-rockers the Ghost Hounds might have had planned for the rest of their set at this past weekend’s inaugural Maple House Festival at Hartwood Acres Park, but we’re pretty sure it would’ve been good, judging from what we were able to hear from them before the set was cut short by approaching severe weather. Unfortunately, by the time the winds settled, the skies somewhat cleared, and the gates re-opened for the return of the crowd, it was already time to move on to the night’s next act in the R&B/soul-funk sounds of the Black Pumas, who, we think most would agree, put on a pretty spectacular show themselves, including closing with their smooth soulful hit “Colors”.

Ghost Hounds

But we have to say, we certainly liked what we heard from the Ghost Hounds before the break in the action, with a nice mix of songs from past albums (including the rocking “Bad News” and their cover of Cliff Richards’ “Devil Woman” off Roses are Black and the catchy, soulful, part-responsibility-owning cooker “Half My Fault” off A Little Calamity), their latest album, the recently released blues-focused You Broke Me (the driving “Baby We’re Through”), and even an upcoming album, which, from this preview, sounds like the band will be very much carrying forward the momentum they’ve started to build on other recent projects.

This was our first time catching the Ghost Hounds live, and we’re pleased to report that the band delivered everything we looked forward to seeing, with lead vocalist Tre’ Nation playing the soulful, dynamic frontman but other band members and backing singers also getting plenty of chances to shine throughout the set, including some great solos from guitarists Johnny Baab and Thomas Tull as well as a few shout-outs to hometown keyboardist Joe Munroe, all making for a highly energetic and entertaining set that guaranteed we — and lots of others in attendance from the look and sound of it — will be coming back for more.

Stay tuned for more Ghost Hounds coverage in the coming weeks as we bring you an interview with band guitarist Johnny Baab

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Ghost Hounds are anything but broken on blues album You Broke Me

A few weeks back, we told you about the second single from Pittsburgh-based blues-rock sextet the Ghost Hounds‘ upcoming blues album You Broke Me (Maple House Records): an electrifying cover of the Howling Wolf classic “Smokestack Lightning“. So, while we knew the first two tracks off the album were definitely killer, with the chugging opening “Baby We’re Through” having been released earlier this year, we had to wonder if it was possible for the rest of the album to be anywhere as solid, and are pleased to report that is indeed the case: from the early-Stones-like slow blues of the title track that follows those two singles to the swinging take on Ry Cooder’s “Willie Brown Blues” (from the Crossroads movie soundtrack) and all the way through to the album’s closing number, the second of two (both excellent) versions of the original “Through Being Blue Over You”, this one a swaying acoustic take that nicely highlights singer Tre’ Nation’s soulful vocals, and, the former, a slightly more robust electric version. 

Filling out the album are a strong, John Lee Hooker-ish acoustic rendition of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Lonesome Graveyard” that adds some prominent piano, a creeping “Still You” and an early rock n’ roll sounding “On Your Trail”. The tracks routinely allow each of the instruments to stretch out, providing ample opportunity to hear some bouncy keys, stinging guitar, and driving drums throughout the album, with fellow western PA musician Charlie Barath also contributing harmonica on a handful of songs.

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Tune into the Weekend: Ghost Hounds unleash Smokestack Lightning, announce upcoming blues album

We’ve been meaning to write something about the Pittsburgh-based blues-rockers Ghost Hounds for some time now, and for once procrastination may actually have worked in our favor: not only do we get to tell you about the band, with whom some of you may already be familiar as an opening act for Bob Seger or the Rolling Stones in recent years, but we get to do so in the context of their new blues-focused album, You Broke Me (Maple House Records), announced today.

Although you’ll have to wait until May 13th to hear the whole album, here’s the band’s gritty, well, smoking take on the Howlin’ Wolf classic “Smokestack Lightning,” which starts with some searing guitar before giving way to Tre’ Nation’s soulful vocals, some muddy harmonica and bouncy keys.


With “Smokestack Lightning” following the blazing first single from the album – “Baby We’re Through” – earlier this year, it’s sounding like You Broke Me could very much be a winner, something we’ll be sure to report back on in the coming weeks if the rest of the album sounds anywhere as good as these first two tracks!

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Tune into the Weekend: Joe Louis Walker remembers B.B. and Lucille with some Regal Blues

Veteran blues guitarist and singer Joe Louis Walker has a new album out this month on Cleopatra Records, which, as acknowledged by its title of Eclectic Electric, is indeed an eclectic collection of tracks ranging from originals like the chugging opener “Uptown Girl Blues” that features fellow guitarist Jimmy Vivino to covers that span from Muddy Waters’ “Two Trains Running” to a funky take on Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” featuring song co-writer Waddy Wachtel on guitar, a swampified “All She Wants to Do is Dance” (Don Henley), and a “Hotel California” (the Eagles), featuring longtime Walker pal Murali Coryell on guitar, that may be even more haunting than the original with its blistering guitar work and Walker’s unique vocals.

But haunting is a far cry from the sound of our favorite track off the album: a new version of this swinging original we heard from Walker once before, back on the B.B. King Blues Band‘s 2019 album The Soul of the King. While this version again finds Walker backed by the former members of B.B.’s band, it also includes Doyle Bramhall II as a guest guitarist, and is just what the doctor — no, the King — ordered to help kick your weekend off right!

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Latest Jazz Festing in Place offers classic performances from B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Dr. John and more

If you didn’t tune in for the first weekend of this fall’s edition of WWOZ’s Jazz Festing in Place the past weekend (with the live, in-person version of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival once again cancelled due to the continued pandemic), you missed hearing some terrific archival sets from musicians from throughout the festival’s five-plus decade history. In addition to some well-known blues acts like B.B. King (1994), John Lee Hooker (1991), Bonnie Raitt (2009), Dr. John (2009), Clarence Gatemouth Brown (2000), Samantha Fish (2018), Marcia Ball (1999), Champion Jack Dupree (1990) and Walter “Wolfman” Washington (2016), highlights of this weekend’s lineup also included a 2013 set from Guitar Slim Jr. and the famed 1974 Professor Longhair “Fire Benefit” show — featuring the Professor himself as well as the likes of Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, The Meters, Earl King, and Snooks Eaglin — along with performances from such other greats as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Stevie Wonder, Irma Thomas, the Allman Brothers Band, Buckwheat Zydeco, The Band, Dianne Reeves, John Mayer, the Funky Meters, Mahalia Jackson, Carole King, the Voice of the Wetlands All Stars and Herbie Hancock, among others.

The good news is you don’t need to be too bummed about missing it: you can listen to any or all of the past weekend’s sets for the next couple of weeks on WWOZ’s online two-week archive. And there’s also a  second weekend of the virtual festival starting this Thursday, featuring a whole different slate of performances, including sets from Allen Toussaint, Fats Domino, Jon Cleary, The Neville Brothers, Joe Cocker, Trombone Shorty, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Ellis Marsalis, Henry Butler, Dee Dee Bridgewater, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Santana, The Meters, Anders Osborne and more!

All of which is to say, if you’re not finding some way of Jazz Festing in Place, whether it’s catching the sets upon their initial broadcast or later through the online archive, you’re really missing out!

And many thanks of course to WWOZ for helping to “let New Orleans live in (all of us)” with the once-again fantastic programming!

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Tune into the Weekend: Canadian bluesman Steve Hill’s take on Robert Johnson classic Hellhound on My Trail

Probably one of the biggest highlights of our week was the release of this new single from one-man blues band Steve Hill: a splendid cover of the haunting Robert Johnson classic “Hellhound on My Trail”, available now through all streaming platforms. We think it will be one of yours too!

Enjoy!

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Tune into the Weekend: Not just Dear America, but the Whole World’s Got the Blues on Eric Bibb’s latest album

We can’t think of another bluesman or woman as consistently good at what they do as Eric Bibb; although his music may not always be the flashiest or provide for the most diverse of sets, there’s probably nothing that we’ve heard from the folk-bluesman over the decades that we haven’t appreciated and liked, and his latest album Dear America (Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group) is no exception.

Here’s our favorite track from the album, the creeping, slightly haunting “Whole World’s Got the Blues” that also features guitarist and singer Eric Gales:

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