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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Nina Simone's first recordings, 'Mood Indigo: The Complete Bethlehem Sessions,' coming Feb. 9 from BMG.

2018 marks the 60th anniversary of these recordings made
 for Simone’s landmark debut album Little Girl Blue.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Nina Simone was only 25 years old in 1958 when she entered Beltone Studios in midtown Manhattan for a one-day recording session for her debut album, Little Girl Blue, on Bethlehem Records. The 14 songs she recorded that day reveal just how well developed Simone’s sound — her powerhouse vocals, her classically-trained piano-playing, her inventive, genre-blind arrangements, and her dynamic personality — already was. Bethlehem, a small and financially faltering jazz label, picked 11 tracks for Little Girl Blue. This unheralded debut yielded Simone’s biggest hit, a cover of the Gershwins’ “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy),” as well as her last one, “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” which charted in 1987 after being used in a TV commercial. 
By the time “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy)” was moving up the charts, Simone had moved on to larger and financially stronger Colpix Records. Wanting to capitalize on Simone’s hit, Bethlehem made the most of their Simone material. On Nina Simone and Her Friends, they placed “Porgy’ and the three songs left off of Little Girl Lost (“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” “African Mailman,” and “For All We Know”) with songs by her label-mates Chris Connor and Carmen McRae. Between 1959-62, Bethlehem also put out six singles utilizing all of their Simone tracks. To commemorate the 60th anniversary of these recordings, BMG/Bethlehem now has compiled these singles together as Mood Indigo: The Complete Bethlehem Sessions, due out on February 9, 2019
The 14-track CD version of Mood Indigo follows the chronology of Bethlehem’s single releases, starting with the first A-side “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy)” and ending with the last A-side, “My Baby Just Cares Me.” The collection contains an alternative take of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” as well as seven single-only tracks that previously have only been available on the original 45s. The LP version, pressed in standard black and limited edition blue vinyl, holds 12 tracks plus a bonus 7" replica of Simone’s first single, “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy)” backed with “Love Me or Leave Me.” 
The Bethlehem Sessions displays a young Nina Simone confidently putting her distinctive stamp on the set of jazz numbers and Broadway tunes. She prefaces Rodgers & Hart’s “Little Girl Blue” with a bit of “Good King Wenceslas" and drops a Bach-like interlude into the hot jazz “Love Me or Leave Me.” Although this was her first album, Simone had written in her contract that she could chose the album’s musical direction, and she chose songs she was familiar with from playing in clubs. The session featured Simone performing either solo on piano or backed by bassist Jimmy Bond and drummer Al “Tootie” Heath, two then-young jazz players who went on to lengthy careers. 
Mood Indigo’s liner notes include a new interview with Heath, who recalls the one-day session with Simone. “She sat at the piano and sang, and that was that … Nina was already Nina by then. She had her sound together — It was quite different. Her piano playing was something I had never heard before because it wasn’t typical jazz or it wasn’t typical classical. It was Nina Simone, it was her stuff.” Heath’s insightful interview is just part of the enlightening liner notes. Penned by Ashley Kahn, the author of the books Kind of Blue and A Love Supreme, the liner notes provide an excellent history on the making of Little Girl Lost, which was filled with its complications, much like the Simone itself.
This year not only marks the 60th anniversary of the Bethlehem Sessions, but it will also see Nina Simone being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, on April 14. Simone, who would have turned 85 on February 21st, has never disappeared from the public’s eye since she passed away in 2003. Recent years saw the release of two documentaries about her: The Amazing Nina Simone and What Happened, Miss Simone, the latter a 2016 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature. What Happened, Miss Simone also is the name of Alan Light’s well-received 2016 biography. Simone’s music continues to appear on TV and movie soundtracks (her tune "Take Care of Business” was used in the closing credits of 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. film). Musicians, moreover, have long cited Simone as an influence. The song “Plain Gold Ring,” which is on Mood Indigo, has been covered by White Magic, Nick Cave, and Kimbra, while Simone’s version of “Little Girl Lost” inspired renditions by the likes of Janis Joplin, Diana Ross, and Diana Krall. 
Simone’s career was as eclectic as her music. After leaving Bethlehem, she recorded for the Colpix, Phillips, and RCA labels, releasing more than 25 albums from 1959-1974. She continued to cover standards and pop songs, from Screaming Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” to the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody”; from the traditional “Children, Go Where I Send Thee” to the original version of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” Starting in the mid-’60s, her music turned more political, highlighted by such memorable tunes as “Sinnerman,” “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black,” “Strange Fruit,” "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free," and “Mississippi Goddam.” The last 30 years of her life, Simone led a more peripatetic expatriate existence. She continued to perform live (especially overseas) but recorded only sporadically. 
Just as Simone travelled the world, she also traveled down many musical roads. Mood Indigo, however, captures Simone at an incandescent moment — when her sound held both a complexity of style and a purity of youth.
1 Little Girl Blue 
2 He Needs Me 
3 Don’t Smoke In Bed 
4 African Mailman 
5 Mood Indigo 
6 Central Park Blues

7 For All We Know 
8 Good Bait 
9 You’ll Never Walk Alone 
10 Plain Gold Ring 
11 He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands (Alternate Take) 
12 My Baby Just Cares For Me

Also includes 7" single featuring “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy)”b/w “Love Me Or Leave Me” 

Pre-Order Links:
Barnes & Noble Exclusive Blue Vinyl 

CD & Standard Black Vinyl

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Announcing the 1st Annual Temecula Blues Festival

 Multiple BMA Nominee, vocalist Tad Robinson, headlines 1st Annual Temecula Blues Festival.

   (TEMECULA, CA) - The burgeoning SoCal Inland Empire finally has it's very own Blues Festival with the advent of the 1st Annual Temecula Blues Festival, Civic Center Plaza, 41000 Main St., taking place Saturday, April 21, from 12 Noon until 10 pm (rain or shine). Tickets: $38., now available online at Info: (951) 676-2722. Presented by The Old Town Blues Club (formerly The Lucky Stone). All ticket sales final.

                  Highly-regarded South Bay-based vocalist Shari Puorto & Band are on the bill.

  Multiple BMA nominee, vocalist Tad Robinson, headlines a strong eight-band bill that also includes San Diego-based guitar ace Stoney B. Blues Band; highly-regarded South Bay vocalist, Shari Puorto Band; blues harmonica at its best from The Honey Lickers; Chris Fast Band; Bill Magee Blues Band; Cash N Freedman; and JD Priest Band. There's also a Vendor Blues Village featuring Blue Beat Music; Ugly Hands; Blues Festival Music; and many more.  A top-end assortment of food vendors include Rene's Cowgirl Cantina (Gourmet Mexican); Rosati's Authentic Chicago Pizza; Laurent's Cafe' (French Pastry Sandwiches); Devilicious Cafe; Rock N' Jenny's Italian Subs; Bad To The Bone BBQ; The Bridge at 3rd Fish N Chips; The Bank (Mexican Food). No less than eight quality Inns and Hotels give the concert-goer the option of staying the night, with great live bands on Sundays at the Old Town Blues Club nearby.

 "This festival will be the first of annual blues festivals to follow, so go ahead and make the decision to be a part of this inaugural event and make a weekend out of your trip to lovely Temecula," says TB Promoter, Andy Doty. "You'll enjoy yourself immensely." The Temecula Blues Festival will be held on the plaza, a beautifully-landscaped area with trees, grassy areas, park benches and a serene water fountain to create the perfect Spring day concert environment.

 Temecula, which is situated within a population of twenty-million Southern California residents, is alive and kicking as a regional hot-spot, entertainment destination. Nowhere else in the country can a person wine taste at 40-plus wineries, beer taste at approximately a dozen micro-breweries, gamble and/or stay the night at California's largest casino (Pechanga) and experience a large volume of nightly, live music entertainment right in the heart of Old Town, which has a little bit of everything to offer including unique restaurants, boutique retail shops, hotels, museums, theater, art, antiques, a weekend farmer's market, and a wide variety of live entertainment every weekend. Old Town has over forty annual special events, including the famous Rod Run Car Show each Spring that attracts more than 30,000 visitors to Old Town Temecula.



Billy Thompson - BT - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, BT, from Billy Thompson and it's terrific! Opening with Burn It Down, Bernadette, Billy is smoking right out of the can with an extremely funky rocker. leading the way on vocal and slide guitar, backed by Michael Leroy Peed on keys, Daryl Johnson on bass, Eric Selby on drums, DK Kelly on percussion and Xzantiny Grant on vocals, these guys are hot. On blues shuffle, Phoine, Billy is backed by a stacked deck with Mike Finnigan, James Hutchinson on bass and Anthony Braunagel on drums. Finnigan really winds out the keys giving Billy plenty of air to pound with screaming riffs. Very nice. Cool R&B number, Silent Warrior has a great feel with excellent guitar riffs pushing the intensity during the beef of the track. Thompson's vocals are soulful and spot on. Very nice. With it's slick R&B tempo, Mud Island Woman is infectious and with Thompson's stinging harp riffs, crisp guitar lead  and vocal lead, this may be the best track on the release. Bluesy, Stranger really showcases Thompson's soulful vocals and solid vocal phrasing. Finnigan's organ work nicely surrounds Thompson's shimmering guitar riffs, nicely accenting the suspense of the track. This track is really hot giving Thompson a great opportunity to not only showcase his vocals but to stretch on guitar. Excellent! In The Back Of Garage is a definite radio style track with an excellent melody with a soulful sound, and precise guitar work. Children Of The Sun is a smooth ballad with biting guitars riffs and rich piano faire developing into a progressive jazz tune based on a Whipping Post like rhythm. Very nice. Wrapping the release is cool, stylistic blues number, Reason For Goin' Fishin', with it's rural feel. Peed's bouncy piano work and Selby's stumble drums give the track a nice Lusiana country feel. This is a real nice closer for a real strong release.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Jim Shaneberger Band - Above and Below - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Above and Below, from the Jim Shaneberger Band and it's quite good. Opening with Jimi Hendrix flavored rocker, My Way has a classic Stone Free feel but with a more modern polished delivery and melodic rock feel.  Super opener. Shanebereger is upfront on lead vocal and guitar but this is a definite group collaboration with a solid bass line from Jeff Baldus, and tight rock lines from Steve Harris on drums. Pat Travers comes to mind as I listen to Indifference with powerful swags of guitar lead and flavorful drum riffs over a swaggering bass line. Solid ballad, Bright Side shows real strong radio appeal with a super melody, nice harmonies and acoustic guitar lead. Shuffle track, Ain't Your Daddy's Blues, gives Shaneberger a chance to use a totally different vocal style not unlike Jonny Lang. His low slung guitar riffs have plenty of sting and Carl Schantz on drums does a great job. Another real cool rocker is Way Down South with it's blues style drone note and lumbering feel. Very nice. Just Sayin', Bro is a loose guitar jam with a great bass line making it tuff to sit still. Wrapping the release is Whole Lotta Soul, a contemporary R&B style track with a feel that I would associate with Wolfman Washington for example. This track has a lot of personality with a snappy beat, nice harmonies and a warm jazz like guitar interlude. This is a real cool release.

View Bman Blueswriter's profile on LinkedIn

  If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”

 For added exposure - Blues World Wide Group "LIKE" 


“Like” Bman’s Facebook page and get support for your favorite band or venue - click HERE