Category Archives: Blues

Update: The Oxford American Southern Music #18 – Blues Issue

I just received notification that the Oxford American Southern Music Issue  due on news stands on December 12, 2016 has shipped. I can’t wait to absorb the superb music journalism and add it to my Oxford American Southern Music Issue collection 🙂

This year’s 160-page magazine and 23-song soundtrack is called Visions of the Blues. 
 
The issue features the greatest artists associated with the blues alongside contemporary musicians who are building on the genre’s legacy and reinterpreting the genre’s traditions. This is the first time that the Oxford American has devoted an entire music issue to a genre theme. To commemorate this occasion, we have created three different cover designs that celebrate three generations of musicians: John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, and Adia Victoria.  Our music issues are prized by collectors and often sell out.
A few highlights from the issue: John Jeremiah Sullivan on his hometown’s blues history; Elijah Wald on Bob Dylan’s lost blues album; Ann Powers on “Miss You” by Alabama ShakesAmanda Petrusich on the blues scene in Tokyo, Japan; Daphne A. Brooks on the power of blueswomen’s duets, from Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas to Lauryn Hill and Mary J. BligeGreil Marcus on “John Henry” by John Lee HookerJewly Hight on Bonnie Raitt’s journey of artistic formation; Crystal Wilkinson on how Prince saved her life; Rashod Ollison on Malaco Records; Jeffery Renard Allen’s short story about a fictional meeting between Jimi Hendrix and Francis Bacon; a memoir by Zandria F. Robinson; and “The Blues,” a new poem by Nikki Giovanni.
 
PLUS: Rhiannon GiddensGil Scott-Heron, Bassekou Kouyaté, Charley Patton, Regina Carter, Barbara Dane,Koko Taylor, Ida Cox, Otis Taylor, and much more.

Tom Petty sang it best, “The Waiting is the Hardest Part”.

  

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The Rolling Stones Blue & Lonesome Album – Available December 2nd

Five decades in the making and just three days to record

On 2nd December 2016, The Rolling Stones will release Blue & Lonesome, their first studio album in over a decade. Recorded in just three days in London, England, ‘Blue & Lonesome’ takes the band back to their roots and the passion for blues music which has always been at the heart and soul of The Rolling Stones.

‘Blue & Lonesome’ is available in various formats and will be released on December 2nd by Polydor Records. It was produced by Don Was and The Glimmer Twins and is available for pre-order worldwide from today, October 6th, at 9am EST in the USA and 2pm in the UK (equivalent times worldwide), go to rollingstones.com/blue-lonesome.

The album was recorded over the course of just three days in December last year at British Grove Studios in West London, just a stone’s throw from Richmond and Eel Pie Island where the Stones started out as a young blues band playing pubs and clubs.

Their approach to the album was that it should be spontaneous and played live in the studio without overdubs. The band – Mick Jagger (vocals & harp), Keith Richards (guitar), Charlie Watts (drums), and Ronnie Wood (guitar) were joined by their long time touring sidemen Darryl Jones (bass), Chuck Leavell (keyboards) and Matt Clifford (keyboards) and, for two of the twelve tracks, by old friend Eric Clapton, who happened to be in the next studio making his own album.

‘Blue & Lonesome’ sees the Rolling Stones tipping their hats to their early days as a blues band when they played the music of Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, Eddie Taylor, Little Walter and Howlin’ Wolf – artists whose songs are featured on this album.

The tracks are – Just Your Fool, Commit A Crime, Blue and Lonesome, All Of Your Love, I Gotta Go, Everybody Knows About My Good Thing, Ride ‘Em On Down, Hate To See You Go, Hoo Doo Blues, Little Rain, Just Like I Treat You, I Can’t Quit You Baby.

“This album is manifest testament to the purity of their love for making music, and the blues is, for the Stones, the fountainhead of everything they do.” Don Was, Co-Producer of ‘Blue & Lonesome’

THE ROLLING STONES – ‘BLUE & LONESOME’ WILL BE RELEASED BY POLYDOR RECORDS WORLDWIDE ON 2 DECEMBER 2016

Deluxe edition including CD album, 75 page mini-book about the making of the album and band postcard prints.

Listen to the Little Walter track, “Just Your Fool”

The Blues Society – Augusta Palmer

The Memphis Country Blues Festival (as it came to be known in succeeding years) had a shoestring start, organized by the Memphis Country Blues Society, an ad hoc group consisting of counterculture figures, musicians, and fans, including Robert Palmer, who would go on to write the seminal book Deep Blues and become the first pop music critic for the New York Times. His daughter, Augusta Palmer, a filmmaker and professor at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York, is seeking to tell the story of the festival in a documentary called The Blues Society.

You can contribute to the crowdsourcing campaign here.

Country Blues Festival: 50th Anniversary

From 1966-1969, the Memphis Country Blues Festival was held at The Overton Park Band Shell (now the Levitt Shell). This racially integrated festival was significant in its use of blues, rock and soul music in a time of segregation in Memphis. In 1969, the footage of the festival was broadcast nationally on Sounds of Summer, hosted by Steve Allen.  This hour-long footage features performances by The Bar Kays, Johnny Winter, Bukka White, Rufus Thomas, Furry Lewis, Moloch, Jim Dickinson, Sid Selvidge and many more.

On Thursday September 8th at 7 p.m. the film, The Blues Society will be shown at the Levitt Shell to celebrate the 50th anniversary.  A panel discussion will follow the film with Robert Gordon, Augusta Palmer, and others.

PREORDER THE BIGGEST MUSIC ISSUE OF THE YEAR!

The Oxford American’s 18th Annual Southern Music Issue will feature stories, profiles, and essays about the South’s most storied and influential musical heritage: THE BLUES.

As always, the issue will come packaged with a CD of songs, with liner notes in the magazine.

The issue is out in early December 2016. Reserve your copy today.

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(Pictured: Taj Mahal, 1974. Photo by Baron Wolman / Iconic Images)

ORDER NOW

New Rolling Stones blues album due out early December 2016

According to the Rolling Stones European Fan Club, “Its Only Rock and Roll”…

Charlie

The Rolling Stones will be releasing a new studio album with blues songs early December 2016 worldwide. The album is featuring cover songs only. The new album is the second in a series of projects including Havana Moon, and that album with its own songs is probably due for a 2017 release.

More details of songs and guest spots will appear on the fan club site soon.

National Blues Museum – St. Louis, Missouri

I am thankful for the CBS Sunday Morning television show. It constantly increases my awareness of the performance arts and other subjects.

This morning I learned about my new music pilgrimage stop, The National Blues Museum based in St. Louis, Missouri. Adding this invaluable place to my bucket list.

ALLIGATOR RECORDS 45TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION

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LINER NOTES

On May 25 and June 2, 1971, the rawest, roughest-edged, most joyful blues band in Chicago recorded their first album. With the help of two fledgling producers, Bruce Iglauer and his friend Wesley Race, they cut multiple takes of twenty-five songs in two evenings, recorded live and mixed as they were being recorded. The album, issued in August of that year, was simply named after the band: Hound Dog Taylor And The HouseRockers, the first release from a brand new label called Alligator Records.

Alligator was a leap of faith, an underfinanced one-man operation run out of an efficiency apartment. It was launched with an album by a band virtually unknown outside the local bars where they played. The album captured the band’s glorious racket and the vibrant, rocking spirit of the South and West Side Chicago blues clubs—simple neighborhood taverns in the city’s black community where mostly Southern-born, working class people bonded together and sloughed off the frustrations of their day-to-day hard lives by listening and dancing to the honest, rhythmic, joyful and cathartic music they had grown up with—the blues. Two of the three members of the band—Hound Dog, a fifty-five-year-old former sharecropper and factory worker, and Brewer Phillips, a part-time construction worker, had come to Chicago from Mississippi looking for decent jobs. The third member, drummer Ted Harvey, a loading dock worker, came from the Windy City. They had no reputation, no booking agent or manager, and they were not creating music that sounded much like anything getting played on any form of commercial radio. Yet their unbridled energy, unfettered joy and raw soulfulness of their music somehow communicated to people all over the world, making them blues legends and making their debut recording a classic that continues to be discovered by legions of new fans.

Forty-five years later, Alligator Records, now with a catalog of almost three hundred albums, continues to be bound by the same philosophy that led to that first recording—that direct, unvarnished, straight-from-the-soul blues and blues-rooted music, the music we call “Genuine Houserockin’ Music,” speaks to some primal, necessary place in people’s consciousness. We believe that our music, if delivered by charismatic, soul-stirring artists, and if publicized, promoted and marketed with unwavering energy, will find a worldwide audience, stand the test of time, and keep the label moving forward for years to come.

The first years of Alligator were dedicated to recording artists from Chicago’s deep well of blues talent. Besides Hound Dog Taylor, the label released albums by Big Walter Horton, the then-unknown Son Seals, Fenton Robinson, Koko Taylor and Lonnie Brooks. In an effort to expose the wealth of Windy City artists, in 1978 and 1980 we released the six-LP (now four-CD) Living Chicago Blues set (and followed it with a single-album collection called The New Bluebloods in 1985 to introduce some of the newly-arisen Chicago talent).

Starting in 1978, Alligator began recording blues musicians from across the country. Established blues stars like Albert Collins, James Cotton, Gatemouth Brown, blues-rock guitar heroes like Johnny Winter, Roy Buchanan and Lonnie Mack, and ‘next generation’ artists like Kenny Neal, Tinsley Ellis and Little Charlie & The Nightcats all joined the Alligator family.

As the blues grew further from its Deep South roots, and the African-American audience turned to other forms of music, the large pool of musicians who had grown up in the blues tradition began to dry up. At the same time, a new generation of musicians, inspired by the blues but not part of the historic flow of blues, began to reshape the traditional elements to speak to contemporary audiences. Artists like JJ Grey, Anders Osborne, Jarekus Singleton, Selwyn Birchwood, and the newest Alligator family members, Toronzo Cannon and Moreland & Arbuckle, are defining blues and roots music for future decades.

The previous Alligator Anniversary Collections have been aimed at showing the complete span of the music we’ve recorded. For this collection, we have chosen to shine the spotlight somewhat more on the current artist roster and on those artists who are showing some of the directions Alligator will be heading in the future.

Over the last five years, since the release of Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Collection, we’ve lost too many members of the extended Alligator family, not only artists on the roster and those who had previously recorded for us, but also those who made memorable guest appearances on our releases. We will always miss Michael “Iron Man” Burks, Otis Clay, Michael Coleman, Popsy Dixon of the Holmes Brothers,  Lacy Gibson, Wendell Holmes, Long John Hunter, Smokin’ Joe Kubek, Magic Slim, Sista Monica Parker, Pinetop Perkins, Ann Rabson, Pete Special of Big Twist & The Mellow Fellows and Johnny Winter. We also pay special homage to The King Of The Blues, B.B. King, who graced us with a guest appearance on Alligator. This collection is dedicated to all of them. 

Bruce Iglauer

 

Johnny Winter – Down and Dirty

Johnny Winter: Down & Dirty, the definitive, feature-length documentary by acclaimed Lemmy co-director and producer, Greg Olliver, will be available worldwide on March 4, 2016, on DVD and iTunes. The package will feature never-before-seen photos and bonus footage, including extended interviews and his final studio performance, a solo resonator version of the Son House classic, ‘Death Letter.’

Produced independently through Secret Weapon Films in NYC, director Greg Olliver was welcomed into the Johnny Winter family during the final two years of Johnny s life, capturing the making of his Grammy-winning Step Back (Best Blues Album, 2015), and traveling the world from Beaumont to Hong Kong. Winter continued to perform over 200 sold out shows a year until his death on tour in Switzerland in 2014.

The film also features Clive Davis, Edgar Winter, James Cotton, Billy Gibbons, Warren Haynes, Luther Nallie, Joe Perry, Tommy Shannon, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks and more.

Our Musical Journey to Tennessee: Part 1 – Memphis, Home of the Blues, Birthplace to Rock ‘N’ Roll

July was an action packed music month for us. The month started with our vacation trip to Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee. Stay tuned for other music posts about more music events we experienced in July.

I brought along an essential music book to read on the plane, Mystery Train (Sixth Edition) by authoritative music journalist, Greil Marcus. The synergy of this book fit perfect with the music mission. The first chapter was about Harmonica Frank, 1951 (the year of my birth), Sam Phillips and Sun Studio. The book set the stage for the first leg of the music journey, Memphis. There was also a chapter about Elvis Presley but more about the King of Rock and Roll in Memphis later in this saga. 🙂

The path of American music discovery

A major goal in the music of our heart has been to visit the four homes (birthplaces) of American music, blues, country, jazz and rock n roll. We had previously visited the birthplace of jazz, New Orléans, Louisiana where we saw Preservation Hall on St. Peters Street.

We journeyed first to Memphis, Tennessee to learn more about the home of the blues and the birthplace of rock n roll. We stayed at the Hampton Inn at 175 Peabody Place a half block away from Beale Street.

The music on Beale Street spirited us out of the  hotel and around the block like a pied piper. We saw two blocks of motorcycles lining the pedestrian thoroughfare.

Bikes on Beale

“I’m walking in Memphis, Walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale” Marc Cohn ©Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Beale Street is a majestic street. We took note of B.B. Kings Blues Club at the top of Beale. We decided to have dinner and catch a show there the next night. We had to pay our respects to the King of the Blues.

From the 1920s to the 1940s, Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Memphis Minnie, B. B. King, Rufus Thomas, Rosco Gordon and other blues and jazz legends played on Beale Street and helped develop the style known as Memphis Blues. As a young man, B. B. King was billed as “the Beale Street Blues Boy”.

We had a fantastic dinner at the Flying Fish the first night. It was rated 4.5 stars. The fish was deeeelicious as my great-nephew Blake loves to say 🙂

The next day we signed up for a day tour of Memphis at the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. We had a wonderful tour guide. Our first stop was Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland. I kept hearing the song, “Graceland” by Paul Simon in my head as we drove to the tourist attraction.

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Graceland was a sight to behold. What knocked me out the most about Elvis’s estate was The Jungle Room and the sheer amount of awards he received in his lifetime for music and movies. Truly we were witnessing the King of Rock N Roll’s palace. What an honor it was to see it all.

The next stop on the Memphis tour was Sun Studio. A momentous place where Sam Phillips recorded, Howlin Wolf, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. We didn’t take the studio tour as the place was mobbed. We looked around, took some pictures, bought some souvenirs and got back on the shuttle. Finally got to witness the birthplace of rock n roll.

(RoadTripSports.com photo by Kendall Webb)

I preordered the book that Peter Guralnick has been writing about Sam Phillips for 25 years. My goal is to learn more about Sam Phillips from his close friend.  Peter Guralnick is the definitive Memphis music historian. I can’t wait to get back to Memphis and continue the music discovery.

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Nashville Skyline  will be Part 2, stay tuned….

Say No to the Devil: The Life and Musical Genius of Rev. Gary Davis

When someone like Bob Dylan says he’s “One of the wizards of modern music,” pay attention. And if you’re a blues aficionado, you need to pay special attention because the Reverend is one of the kings of Piedmont Blues. Ian Zack was very thorough in this well-researched tome, interviewing former students, fans and scrutinizing public records, to put together the bittersweet story of a blind man who grew up the son of poor Southern sharecroppers, then moved to North Carolina where he made his living as a street performer, and finally to New York, where he gained notoriety in the folk boom of the fifties and sixties. Players like Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), Stefan Grossman and Ry Cooder consider him a mentor. (There’s even a great story about a shy young guitarist who couldn’t bring himself to play for him. The player? Eric Clapton.) Years after his death, he continues to inspire musicians and fans, even if they don’t realize it. His “Cocaine Blues,” made famous by several including Jackson Browne, is known to many. Still, he’s not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (even though they feature BB King and Buddy Guy) and when Rolling Stone published a list of the top one hundred guitarists, Davis was not included.

This should be required reading for anyone interested in the blues and especially for guitar players. – Courtesy of SingOut Magazine – http://singout.org/2015/02/24/ian-zack-say-no-to-the-devil-the-life-and-musical-genius-of-reverend-gary-davis/