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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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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Dan McKinnon - The Cleaner - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, The Cleaner, from Dan McKinnon and it's quite good. Opening with blues rocker, Storm, McKinnon on guitar sets a great pace with scorching riffs and lead vocal, backed by Peter Eratostene on bass and Michael Carbone on drums. Walk That Aisle is another solid rocker with a driving bass line and distorted guitar. Slinky, 17 Years has a melodic radio feel with Albert King flavored guitar riffs. Rowdy romper, King Baby, has a swaggering ZZ Top kind of feel but with McKinnon's own signature riffs and vocal styling. Very cool. One of my favorite tracks is Junior Kimbrough flavored All Mine with it's distinct bass line, driving drum line and Kimbrough like guitar riffs. McKinnin takes a nice excursion on guitar on this 6 plus minute track giving it real bite. Very nice. Shuffle track, More Than Enough has a polished Robben Ford feel and McKinnon's guitar riffs are clean and definitive. Very nice. Ballad, Til You Come Around not only has a solid melody and vocals but sure tension and vital guitar riffs. Wrapping the release is Wowowow which also has that dirty, gritty Mississippi Hill Country sound. I really like this track, an excellent closer for a solid release. 

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

BERT JANSCH - JUST A SIMPLE SOUL - The first comprehensive Best Of collection - Oct 26th via BMG

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Bert Jansch
Just A Simple Soul

The first comprehensive Best Of collection spanning Jansch’s 5-decade-long career, compiled by Bernard Butler and the Bert Jansch estate

Released 26th October via BMG

Released on 2CD, 2LP and advance pre-order 2LP+Tote bag
“Bert lived and breathed the sound of the guitar and its endless possibilities for communication, storytelling, conversation, emotional dialogue. We have a life’s work here, and what a life Bert Jansch has given us.” – Bernard Butler

“One of the most influential and intriguing musicians to have come out of the British music scene". – Johnny Marr
From his 1965 iconic debut album, Bert’s peerless musicality, songwriting and interpretation of traditional song has held generation after generation spellbound and inspired musicians in all genres. Just A Simple Soul – named after the closing track on his 1998 album Toy Balloon ­- is the first collection of Jansch’s entire solo career, with insightful liner notes by Bernard Butler (Suede) who compiled this selection with the Bert Jansch Estate. As a writer and player, Jansch has inspired countless other music icons including Jimmy Page, Paul Simon, Johnny Marr, Laura Marling, Graham Coxon, Fleet Foxes and Neil Young.

Pre-order the collection HERE

Presented chronologically the collection begins by drawing from his prolific 1960s period, during which he released six albums between 1965 and 1969. His self-titled debut, sometimes referred to as The Blue Album, is listed at #3 in NME’s Best Folk Albums Of All Time, and this collection plucks three tracks including the harrowing ‘Needle Of Death’; about the tragic passing of Bert’s friend, folk singer Buck Polly. The influence of young singer Anne Briggs began to show in this period, and the traditional folk songs she taught him, plus his bluesy, improvised guitar accompaniment which dominated his third solo album, Jack Orion (1966), featuring John Renbourn on guitar. That same year, the collaborative album Bert & John laid the foundations of the trad folk supergroup Pentangle. Jack Orion included ‘Blackwaterside’ (featured in this collection), a traditional song Jansch learned from Briggs. Elsewhere, eco-warning ‘Poison’ and ‘The Bright New Year’ are included from Bert’s fifth solo album Birthday Blues (1969), with Pentangle colleagues Danny Thompson and Terry Cox.

Jansch recorded three solo albums while part of Pentangle, notably Rosemary Lane (1971), an album described by The Guardian as “a stark, reflective work”, which again included a traditional song learned from Briggs (‘Reynardine’, included here) alongside his own compositions. Also featured here is ‘The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face’ (originally written by Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger) as a duet with Mary Hopkin. ‘Fresh As A Sweet Sunday Morning’ and ‘Chambertin’, lifted from 1974’s L.A. Turnaround, highlight a significant passage, being recorded after Pentangle’s demise, featuring erstwhile Monkee Mike Nesmith on production. Jansch’s 70s’ output is drawn to a close with the inclusion of Kittiwake from his 1979 album Avocet, on which he teamed up with the multi-instrumentalist Martin Jenkins and Danny Thompson for a concept album inspired by birds.

Pentangle reunions and illness limited Jansch’s 80s’ solo output. It’s represented by ‘Sweet Rose’ from From The Outside (1985) which was described by Irish author and composer Colin Harper as “Bert's rawest and most cathartic work since Bert Jansch twenty years earlier.” When The Circus Comes To Town (1995) was the start of a renaissance for Bert with the title track featured here, as well as ‘Morning Brings Peace of Mind’. This collection takes its name from ‘Just A Simple Soul’, on 1998’s follow-up Toy Balloon, which also included Bert’s take on Jackson C. Frank’s ‘Carnival’ which was a perennial in his live sets.

Jansch’s 21st century output is represented by ‘Crimson Moon’ (Crimson Moon, 2000) and ‘On The Edge Of A Dream’ (Edge Of A Dream, 2002), two records that bookend his 2001 Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Edge Of A Dream featured Bernard Butler on electric guitar, Bert’s son, Adam, on bass and vocals of Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star. This collection is concluded with ‘High Days’, taken from Bert’s 23rd and, tragically, final studio album The Black Swan. Released through Sanctuary and Drag City, it featured prominent admirers including Beth Orton, Devendra Banhart and Helena Epsvall. It was dubbed an instant classic, described by Pitchfork as “immaculate but natural”, and named one of the best albums of 2006 by MOJO, who described it as “a beautiful, evocative piece of music… his strongest album in years.”

Just A Simple Soul
reminds us of Bert Jansch’s enduring legacy and his influence across the musical spectrum. As Bernard Butler eloquently puts it; “Bert lived and breathed the sound of the guitar and its endless possibilities for communication, storytelling, conversation, emotional dialogue. We have a life’s work here, and what a life Bert Jansch has given us.”

Pre-order the collection HERE

Tracklist - LP

Side 1

1. Strolling Down The Highway
2. Angie
3. Needle Of Death
4. It Don't Bother Me
5. Black Water Side
6. Soho
7. The Time Has Come

Side 2

1. Go Your Way My Love
2. Come Back Baby
3. Poison
4. The Bright New Year
5. Rosemary Lane
6. Reynardine
7. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Side 3

1. Fresh As A Sweet Sunday Morning
2. Chambertin
3. Baby Blue
4. Daybreak
5. Kittiwake
6. Sweet Rose
7. Let Me Sing

Side 4

1. Morning Brings Peace of Mind
2. Carnival
3. Just A Simple Soul
4. Crimson Moon
5. On The Edge Of A Dream
6. High Days

Tracklist - CD


1. Strolling Down The Highway
2. Angie
3. Needle Of Death
4. It Don't Bother Me
5. A Man I’d Rather Be
6. The Waggoner’s Lad
7. Black Water Side
8. Soho
9. The Time Has Come
10. Go Your Way My Love
11. Come Back Baby
12. Poison
13. Promised Land
14. The Bright New Year
15. Rosemary Lane
16. Reynardine
17. M’Lady Nancy
18. Moonshine
19. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face


1. Fresh As A Sweet Sunday Morning
2. Chambertin
3. The Blacksmith
4. Baby Blue
5. Daybreak
6. Kittiwake
7. Up To The Stars
8. Sweet Rose
9. The Road Tae Dundee
10. Let Me Sing
11. When The Circus Comes To Town
12. Morning Brings Peace of Mind
13. Toy Balloon
14. Carnival
15. Just A Simple Soul
16. Crimson Moon
17. Omie Wise
18. On The Edge Of A Dream
19. The Black Swan
20. High Days


The Bob Lanza Blues Band Talks About "Kids, Dogs & Krazy Women" on New CD Coming August 31 from Connor Ray Music

The Bob Lanza Blues Band Talks About Kids, Dogs & Krazy Women on New CD Coming August 31 from Connor Ray Music

HOUSTON, TX – Connor Ray Music announces an August 31 release date for Kids, Dogs & Krazy Women, the new CD from New Jersey-based blues guitarist Bob Lanza and his band.  Kids, Dogs & Krazy Women is Bob’s fifth album release. Digital pre-release sales start July 31.

Bob and the band will celebrate the new album’s release with a special CD party and show on Saturday, September 29, at the legendary Stanhope House, 45 Main Street, Stanhope, New Jersey.

Kids, Dogs & Krazy Women has been a long time coming. Working with acclaimed producer and performer, Anthony Krizan (Spin Doctors, Noel Redding, Lenny Kravitz), at his Sonic Boom Recording Studio in Raritan, New Jersey, Lanza delivers a mix of covers and originals, done only the way he can do it. The album also includes a tribute to the late, great harmonica master, James Cotton, penned by Lanza and Krizan.

Lanza has known Krizan for many years, but had never gotten the opportunity to work with him until now. “It’s a no brainer,” he says, about working with Krizan. “I’ve known Anthony since 1990. Thru the years we crossed paths many times, as I watched his career as a performer and producer soar, and I always thought about what doing a record with him would sound like.”  

As fate would have it, the two would hook up on a landscaping job. They were doing labor for a mutual friend, who said he would love to hear Anthony and Bob playing together. With that thought in mind, they both continued with their respective bands, doing gigs around the area, crossing paths here and there. Two years later, this past March, the two guitarists would end up on the same bill, a fundraiser for the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation. A resulting jam at the end of the show presented the opportunity for them to play together, and it sounded as if they were playing together for years. “That day I asked Anthony if he’d be interested in recording us,” Lanza recalls. Krizan didn’t hesitate and two weeks later, Lanza would bring his rhythm section, Vin Mott and Dave Lockhart, to Sonic Boom Recording Studio.

"Right from the start, we knew we had some great stuff going on,” says Lanza.  Joining the two guitarists are John Ginty on Hammond B3 organ and piano, Vin Mott on harmonica and drums and Dave Lockhart on bass.  The session resulted in some real raw blues, with Krizan adding haunting slide guitar, pushing Lanza's guitar playing and singing to another level. 

“John Ginty is a good friend of Anthony’s and I opened up for him a few times over the years, so we called him in,” Lanza remembers. “He is one of the world’s foremost Hammond B3 players, and his piano playing just cooks on this disc. To have him on this session was an honor, and it bought the session to another level.”  

Ginty had this to say about the sessions: “The best part of the New Jersey music scene is how small and connected it is. I've been on the same bill as Bob Lanza for many years, and it was always a thrill to hear him play live. I've also been making records at Anthony Krizan's Sonic Boom Studio for years. Now, playing on Bob’s new album has been a thrill, and it sounds incredible and authentic. Great blues records are made here in New Jersey, and this is certainly one of them.”

Kids, Dogs & Krazy Women is raw and real, and delivers the blues from the heart, soul and the gut. “Bobby Lanza is the real deal and a true bluesman,” says producer Krizan. “He plays guitar with fire and emotion; on top of that, his voice and songwriting abilities are stellar, as well. We tracked this record live with no studio tricks to masque the rawness of the session. You can feel the energy on the tracks and you can feel the band laying it down together in the room! We used all old-school recording equipment, like ‘60s Neve pre-amps and Olympic modules and we used all vintage guitars and amplifiers!”

Lanza chimes in: "Yeah, I didn’t have to bring too much to Anthony’s studio because between his guitars and amplifiers and my guitars and amplifiers, we have some of the nicest vintage gear, and we put all of it to use.”

Amplifiers were everywhere: Krizan’s coveted 1964 Super Reverb, as well as two old Gibson amps, are on full display on this disc. In the guitar department, Lanza’s 1966 Gibson 345 and his 1968 thin line Telecaster, along with Krizan's  TV yellow 1960 Les Paul Special (responsible for the killer slide work  on the title cut) and some choice vintage Telecasters all make their presence known. “Man, Anthony really hit the note on that one” says Lanza, referring to the slide solo on the title cut.

Kids, Dogs & Krazy Women will stoke your mojo for old school rhythm and blues. Lanza and Krizan make a formidable team on this recording, blending swampy blues and roots music effortlessly, as if they were meant to be together. “I think this record will stand up to what’s happening right now, as well as standing with some blues classics,” says Krizan. “Doing this record was a lot of fun and I hope listeners can tell how much, from the sound coming out through the speakers.”

The songs on this disc stay in your head for days after listening, a true testament to the musicians involved and the vibe that went on inside Sonic Boom Studio during the sessions. “I’m very excited about this release,” Lanza summarizes. “It just seems so right to finally record with Anthony and hear the results that came from sessions that we all had so much fun doing.”

Canadian Guitarist Extraordinaire Colin James Says He Has "Miles to Go" on New CD, Out September 21

Canadian Guitarist Extraordinaire Colin James Says He Has Miles to Go on New CD, Out September 21

Toronto, ON-- With his 19th album, Miles to Go, releasing September 21 (Stony Plain Records in USA;  True North Records for the rest of the world), acclaimed guitarist Colin James is getting back to the blues.

Miles to Go is Colin James’ ambitious sequel to his critically-acclaimed 2016 CD, Blue Highways, and it continues James’ story with a collection of carefully curated songs handpicked from some of the greatest blues artists.  

In the months leading up to the recording, as James was reflecting on songs for the album he decided to reacquaint himself with a beautiful red Gibson ES-335.  It was just like the guitar he played as a teenager, but regretfully had to sell for rent money.

While James reconnected with this guitar, Miles to Go seemed to just flow onto the studio floor.

This album blends songs old and new, some of them completely reimagined and some almost perfect homages. But all are unified by a theme of undying love for the blues and the highest respect for the creators that led the way.

Known as one of Canada’s best blues musicians, it wasn’t until Blue Highways that James found himself on a blues chart: the album spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Roots Music Report’s Blues Chart. It also landed him one of his biggest hits: “Riding in the Moonlight,” a Willie Dixon song that James once covered when busking in the streets and subways of Toronto and Montreal that landed on a Spotify playlist garnering millions of streams.

When James set out to make Blue Highways, an album of blues covers recorded with his touring band, he always intended it to be the first of two installments. Now we have Miles to Go, in which James records nine new covers of his favorite artists (Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Little Willie John, Robert Johnson, etc.) and adds two originals, “I Will Remain” and “40 Light Years.”

“Blues has always been a pass-it-forward kind of thing,” says James. “It’s also surprisingly hard to write. You have to be careful how modern you get in your phrasing. Certain writers can write a song that sounds like it was done 40 years ago, but it’s deceptively hard.”

To be a blues musician is to always have a dialogue with the past.  As with much blues music, it’s the performances on the original versions rather than the actual song that drew James to them. That said, what could he possibly bring to them in 2018? “You bring what you can,” he says. “If I feel like I’ve brought enough, then I put it out. I knocked a bunch of songs off this record when I realized that I couldn’t bring anything to them that weren’t there already. All my life I’ve tried to bring vitality to older songs. Hopefully, my dedication to it is what floats it over the mark. That’s a subjective thing; some people will always prefer the original. However, there’s always a group of people coming up to see me after a show who might say, ‘Oh, I never would have heard ‘One More Mile’ by James Cotton—nothing in my life would have pointed me there.’ ”

So much of Colin James’s career has pointed him to this moment: joyfully tangled up in the blues, which, as he notes, “is the only genre where you can maintain a young profile at the age of 53.”

Colin James Upcoming Canadian Tour Dates

07/13/18    Windsor, ON        Bluesfest Windsor   

07/14/18    Ottawa, ON        Ottawa Bluesfest   

08/17/18    Grande Prairie, AB    Bear Creek Folk Music Festival   

08/19/18    Salmon Arm, BC    Salmon Arm Roots & Blues   

08/25/18    London, ON        London Bluesfest   

09/08/18    Blue Mountains, ON    Blue Mountain Village   

Justin Saladino Band - A Fool's Heart - New Release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, A Fool's Heart, from Justin Saladino Band and it's groovingly smooth. Opening with A Fool I'll Stay, a melody rich track with a catchy hook, Justin Saladino on lead guitar and vocal crafts a top radio track, joined by Gabriel Forget on bass, A.J. Aboud on drums and Felix Blackburn on guitars. Add a little bounce and you have Honey, a polished R&B track with just the perfect balance of guitar and vocal.  Take What You Need is polished with a solid weave of vocals, keys and guitar. This is as close to Steely Dan as it gets. My favorite track on the release is Bad Habit with it's skipping funky rock fusion feel. Saladino's vocals are cool and lain back and the guitar, bass and drums workout is terrific! Bluesy ballad, Peace Be With You, has a strong melody and familiar feel with smooth vocals and nicely accented guitar work over warm organ backing. Very nice. Wrapping the release is Mama Said, an easy set acoustic style ballad featuring Saladino backing his own vocals with fingerpicked electric guitar. This is a really "nice" release with a lot of feel. 

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  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”

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