Blues submissions requested! Guest writers always welcome!!

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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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Yellow Dog Records artists: The Ragpicker String Band - Self Titled - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, The Ragpicker String Band by Mary Flower, Rich DelGrosso and Martin Grosswendt and it's refreshing. Opening with Walter Vinson's Honey Babe, Martin takes the lead on vocals and guitar with Mary on harmony and slide and Rich on harmony and mandolin. Nicely blended vocals, warm slide and clean mando work makes for a super opener. Lil Johnson's Minor Blues features Mary on lead vocals and she does a really nice job grabbing the tension of the original. A tight mando solo by Rich and Mary's guitar accompaniment enriched by Martin on fiddle rounds out the track. Contemporary Google Blues by Rich Lyons, features DelGrosso on lead vocal and mando. Martin's bottleneck slide work on this track is really sweet and Mary rounds out the track with clean guitar riffs. Very nice! A change in perspective altogether with Thelonious Monk's, Blue Monk... rag style. Mary on guitar, Martin on slide and Rich on mando...very nice! Sleepy John Estes' Clean Up At Home is a cool track featuring lead mando and vocal by Martin. Mary compliments on guitar with a nicely executed solo and vocal and Rich on vocal and mandola. JW Routh's Motel Towel has really rich vocal harmonies behind Rich on lead vocal and mandola. Mary's lap slide playing is really stylistically nice and Martin also adds guitar. Mary's own composition, Baby Where You Been, of course features Mary on vocal and guitar. With a 40's flavor and backed by Martin on mando, Rich takes a really nice resonator solo. Another Sleepy John track, Black Mattie, is one of my favorites on the track. Rich's mandola work on this track is particularly cool backed by Mary on guitar and Rich on slide. Another Walter Vinson track, Lonely One In This Town, is a cool period piece reminding me quite a bit of the Red Clay Ramblers. Rich vocals highlighted by Martin on fiddle makes this a standout track. One of DelGrosso's originals, By Your Side, has a little bit of an island feel but still remaining in the folk blues realm. Rich on lead vocal and mandola is really nicely complimented by Mary's slide work on this track. Another Sleepy John track, Milk Cow Blues is one that I was introduced to long before I knew of Estes by Ry Cooder. Love Estes but have a particularly soft spot for those early Cooder releases and this track has a similar mandolin riff by Martin as played by Cooder. Mary takes the primary guitar solo on this one and Rich compliments on Mandola. Very nice! An excellent take on Keep Your Lamps Trimmed And Burning is offered up here and Mary does her best lead vocal on this track. Accompanying herself on guitar with Martin and Rich adding warm backing vocals, this is one of my release favorites. Another DelGrosso original, Street Doctor Blues, has a real Estes sound and Rich's lead vocals and especially his mando work really make this track breathe. Mary's slide work on this track is really slick and Martin supports on guitar. Mary penned the closer, Bruno's Dream, a real nice instrumental featuring her on slide, Martin on guitar and Rich on mando. This is a really clean track and a super closer to a honest release. Excellent!

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Shemekia Copeland To Appear On NPR's "Weekend Edition Saturday" On 10/10


Host Scott Simon Talks To Copeland About Outskirts Of Love 

NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday will air an interview and performance with singer Shemekia Copeland on October 10. Host Scott Simon talks to Copeland about her new CD, Outskirts Of Love, and her life as "a fresh, gripping roots music performer." (Wall Street Journal)

MOJO magazine says, "It is Copeland’s thrilling voice, part Koko Taylor, part Mavis Staples and capable of incredible expression, that makes Outskirts Of Love so super-special. Spectacular, stirring, sanctified and sassy…at the crossroads where funk meets blues rock. Her band, led by producer Oliver Wood, and featuring guests Billy F Gibbons, Robert Randolph, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Will Kimbrough, is faultless throughout."
Copeland’s return to Alligator Records with Outskirts Of Love (she recorded four albums for the label from 1998 through 2006) finds her at her most charismatic. She mixes freshly written material with thrilling reinventions of songs originally recorded by Solomon Burke, ZZ Top, Jesse Winchester, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jesse Mae Hemphill and her father, the late Johnny Clyde Copeland. The result is Copeland’s most musically adventurous album of her still-evolving career.

With a voice that is alternately sultry, assertive and roaring, Copeland’s wide-open vision of contemporary blues, Americana, roots and soul music showcases the evolution of a passionate artist with a modern musical and lyrical approach. Whether she’s belting out a raucous blues-rocker, firing up a blistering soul-shouter, bringing the spirit to a gospel-fueled R&B rave-up or digging deep down into a subtle, country-tinged ballad, Shemekia Copeland sounds like no one else.

Copeland has performed thousands of gigs at clubs, festivals and concert halls all over the world and has appeared on national television, NPR, and in newspapers, films and magazines. She is a mainstay on countless commercial and non-commercial radio stations. She's sung with Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, James Cotton and many others. She opened for The Rolling Stones and entertained U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait. Jeff Beck calls her “f*cking amazing.” Santana says, “She’s incandescent…a diamond.” In 2012, she performed at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama. Afterward, Jagger (with whom she sang) sent her a bottle of champagne.

With Outskirts Of Love and a packed tour schedule, Copeland has her eyes fixed firmly on the future as she continues to break new musical ground. "I want to keep growing, to be innovative," she says. “I’m a lifer, singing about things that are important to me, using my music to help people. My dad always said ‘we’re all connected.’ I’m an old soul marching to the beat of my own drum,” she continues, “and right now I’m making the most exciting music of my career.”

New Anthem for the Blues!

Acclaimed bluesman Zac Harmon, winner of both major awards from the Blues Foundation – the International Blues Challenge and the Blues Music Award – has come up with a new anthem for the genre - "Long Live The Blues."  The song, which he co-wrote with John Hahn and Christopher Troy, is a powerful, upbeat declaration that the blues "is here to stay."

In the current Living Blues magazine Zac was asked about the song:

Living Blues: You pull no punches on that one with those who think the blues may be dying or dead.
Zac: Well, that song is an anthem for all the bluesmen in America.   I just kind of feel like blues is the roots and the father of most of your popular musical art forms in America, but yet blues always has to take a backseat to everybody.  And so, this is just an anthem for all of us, to say "We're still here, and we're gonna be here."

To watch a great video of Zac and his band performing this new anthem for the blues, please click HERE.  Kindly share this video by posting on your Facebook page, social media or website.

"Long Live the Blues" is a track from Zac’s new Blind Pig release entitled Right Man Right Now.  Living Blues said the CD "is Harmon is at his best: a smooth, polished sound grounded in traditional blues stylings yet thoroughly modern in sensibility. The future of the blues is in very good hands, indeed.” 

Upcoming dates for the Zac Harmon Band:
Oct. 8
Helena, AR
King Biscuit Blues Festival
Oct. 18
Fredricksburg, TX
Blankets and Blues
Oct. 29
Sioux City, IA
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Oct. 30
Topeka, KS
Uncle Bo's
Oct. 31
Topeka, KS
Uncle Bo's
Nov. 14
Fort Dodge, IA
Starlight Village
Dec. 11
Richardson, TX
Freddy King Winter Blues

Ruf Records artist: Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown - The Devil To Pay - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, The Devil To Pay, from Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown and I must say it's really hot! I have been a Kim Simmonds/Savoy Brown fan since high school and I've seen band changes both good and bad. Kim's dedication to keep rocking after 50 years and 45 albums is amazing and a testament to someone who loves what they are doing. Opening with Ain't Got Nobody, Simmonds leads right into a masterful guitar intro, the likes which of I haven't heard since his earlier release like Blue Matter and Looking In. This is a "slow blues" track and Simmonds absolutely blows the lid off right off the bat. The guitar phrasing on this track is some of the most beautifully executed work I have heard in years. Kim... excellent! Like I told you when I last saw you... certainly one of the greatest living blues guitarists today. Bad Weather Brewing is a moderate paced shuffle track with pure raw guitar riffs. Complimented by Pat DeSalvo on bass and Garnet Grimm on drums, this band is cooking. On rocker, Grew Up In The Blues, Simmonds shows continued progress in development of new blues rock riffs. I also want to note that I feel that the overall writing on this release is stronger than on most of the releases in recent years. His constant search for new means of expression and maintaining driving rhythm is exceptional. On shuffle track, When Love Goes Wrong, Kim backs off on the throttle a bit, but still playing smooth articulate guitar riffs. On Oh Rosa, Simmonds breaks out the harp giving the track still another dimension. Simmonds isn't Little Walter but he isn't Bob Dylan either. I really like his style and I think this track is a nice addition to the release. Title track, The Devil To Pay, is an upbeat Jimmie Rogers style blues rocker with a raking guitar rhythm and a natural fluid guitar break. Stop Throwing Your Love Around has a bit of a Willie Dixon flavor and Simmonds does some traditional Savoy Brown improvisational riffs against a traditional blues base. Very nice. Freddie King style, Snakin', shows Simmonds in pure shuffle mode. A real nice guitar instrumental, Snakin' is bound to make it's smooth transition into all blues stations play lists. Got An Awful Feeling finds Simmonds back at his best, choking the crap out of his guitar neck. This guy really does know how to get the best from his guitar and it's always nice to see him show it off. Excellent! Most Simmonds fans know that Kim has always been a slide master and this is the track where he whips it out. His best vocal effort on the release and a solid rock and roller, this track is great! Watch My Woman ventures into swing blues, a place that I've rarely seen Kim and I have to admit it's really nice. Stepping out on guitar, Gatemouth style, seems really natural for Simmonds and a cool change up for the Boogie Master! Whiskey Headed Woman slows down a bit with an almost relaxed, T-Bone Walker kind of style. Up beat accents by Grimm cooks this track and again, Simmonds vocals are some of his best. Want to hear Kim just ride along and play fluid guitar riffs against the up it is. Very cool! Wrapping the release is rocker, Evil Eye, with it's solid blues roots. Simmonds hits the guitar hard with searing string bending notes and the band drives it home, reminiscent of the conclusion of Hell Bound Train. Hot conclusion for a hot new blues rocker.

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