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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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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mudslide Records artists: Delta Wires - Born In Oakland - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Born In Oakland, from Delta Wires and they are wielding some mighty horns. Opening with Sunny Day with it's jazzy rock sound, Ernie Pinata is up front on lead vocal. Tom Gerrits funks up the bass against Tony Huszar who really knows how to use the kick pedal. Gerry Jonutz on alto, tenor and bari sax, David Bowman on trombone and John Christensen on trumpet are over the top with Richard Healy with his funky guitar riffs. Driving blues rocker, Vacation, has a super bass line and cool horns but when Pinata breaks loose on the harp, this track flies. My favorite track on the release is instrumental, In The Middle, with a super trombone solo from Bowman followed by hot solos by Christensen, Jonutz and Pinata. Hot! Wrapping the release is All I Have To Give, another jazzy pop rocker with punchy horns, a blistering solo by Pinata and a wicked guitar solo by Healy and a ripping sax solo by Jonutz. This release is a lot of fun if you like the horns... and who doesn't.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Slide Guitar Master Dennis Johnson Set to Release New "Rhythmland" CD September 15 on Root Tone Records

Slide Guitar Master Dennis Johnson Set to Release New Rhythmland CD September 15 on Root Tone Records

SACRAMENTO, CA – San Francisco Bay Area-based slide guitar master Dennis Johnson announces a September 15 release date for Rhythmland, his latest CD on the Root Tone Records label. Johnson plans to release his first single off the new disc, “Timbale” to iTunes on August 1, and will celebrate the new album with a special CD release party show on September 15 at the Guild Theater in Sacramento. Listen to “Timbale”  :Here 

Rhythmland was produced by Dennis Johnson and Craig Long and recorded at Paradise Studios in Sacramento. On the CD, Dennis Johnson (guitar, vocals) is backed by his band, dubbed The Mississippi Ramblers: Tim Metz – drums; Jonathan Stoyanoff – bass; and Craig Long - keyboards, background vocals. Johnson also wrote nine of the album’s ten songs and spins a unique take on the classic, “Walkin’ Blues.”

Rhythmland explores Americana, roots, blues, Latin, rock and folk rhythms with standout improvisational sections. “I wanted to make a diverse album with great rhythms, lyrics and improvisation,” says Dennis. “The rhythms on the record really pull the listener in. That’s one reason we called the record Rhythmland.” 
Inspiring lyrics and vocals are spotlighted on songs like “Faith” and “That Way No More.” Adds Dennis: “I am really happy with the lyrics on this record. The lyrics are based on life experiences and delve into important guiding principles to help you get through the ups and downs of life. These are lessons I have lived. The songs on the album tell some great stories.” 

Rhythmland also features several innovative slide guitar techniques. “I came up with techniques like halftime rhythmic slides and artificial harmonic slides that you hear on the Latin cascara song, ‘Timbale,’” he explains. “I have learned to think rhythm first, and it takes slide guitar to a whole new level. It’s not about how many notes you play, but what you do with the notes you choose. I want to support the rhythms of the song.” 

In the studio, Johnson worked with co-producer Craig Long to find unique guitar tones that fit with the songs and other instruments. “There are some great guitar tones on the record,” he proclaims. The 12-string dobro just sings on the band's version of “Walkin’ Blues;” Dennis' 1961 Martin New Yorker demonstrates a beautiful acoustic resonance on the jazz-flavored “My Love Is Here for You” and just rips on the barrelhouse “High Heel Shoes.” 
“He well deserves the name of master slide guitarist.” – RootsTime Magazine
San Francisco native Dennis Johnson is one of the hardest working musicians with a deep passion for preserving and innovating roots music. He is one of roots music's best kept secrets.
Johnson realized at a young age that music was his calling. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, he heard the music of Chuck Berry and it struck a chord with him. As a teenager, he taught himself the guitar and discovered his passion for slide guitar. He discovered the music of Robert Johnson, (Bay Area favorites) Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo and was hooked. Dennis recalled “seeing Roy play the first time really blew me away; he’s a huge influence on my music.”
The iconic Robert Johnson's approach to guitar was the blueprint for Dennis’ evolution as a guitarist. “Robert‘s guitar playing sounded like two guitars,” Dennis explains. “It’s a blend of rhythm and slide phrases that sound like two guitarists are playing when it’s really one. I approach guitar in much the same way.”
The road to becoming a professional musician was paved when Dennis met Delta blues legend David “Honeyboy” Edwards. “I was at a personal crossroads in deciding whether to be a musician. Honeyboy told me, ‘If you like to play the blues, play the blues!’ The eloquence of that statement was in its simplicity. When I shook Honeyboy's hand I felt an energy there. This was a profound moment in my life. It was fate.”
Honeyboy's advice turned out to be a risk that paid off. In 2010, Dennis Johnson released his first album, Slide Show, to critical acclaim. Slide Show rose to the Top 50 blues CDs worldwide and No. 21 on the California Roots Radio Charts.
In Slide Avenue, Johnson pushed the boundaries of slide guitar with amazing instrumental conversations between slide guitar and saxophone, fiddle, piano, B3 organ, Wurlitzer and more. The album seamlessly blended swing, blues, New Orleans, rock, roots and folk music. The radio charts, reviews and audience response proved the results were stellar. Slide Avenue rose to the top of the Roots Music Report radio charts.

Rhythmland happened because I spent a lot of time exploring rhythms. Once the grooves were found, the lyrics came easily. I was fortunate to collaborate with two accomplished musicians, drummer Tim Metz and bassist Jonathan Stoyanoff, on arranging some of the tunes.  The result is an album I feel is our best material to date.”

Lost Bayou Ramblers releasing new album of perversely progressive Cajun traditional music

Lost Bayou Ramblers' evolution as a perversely progressive band rooted in Cajun traditions continues to excite, challenge, and redefine both genre expectations as well as cultural preconceptions. Produced by Korey Richey (LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire) their latest studio album, Kalenda, is set for release on September 26 on Rice Pump Records.

Their Jack White-produced performance in the 2017 documentary series and record release American Epic helped solidify Lost Bayou Ramblers' reputation as one of the world's finest traditional Cajun outfits, if one of the least orthodox. With eight albums, a Grammy nomination, contributions to the score of the Oscar-nominated Beasts Of The Southern Wild, and touring with both Arcade Fire and the Violent Femmes, Lost Bayou continues to swing wide from their Louisiana home base.

Lost Bayou Ramblers' new album celebrates the complex history and cultural diversity of "Kalenda" - a Caribbean dance, a Louisiana rhythm, a Cajun rock'n'roll song, and eventually a woman's name - that crossed both the black-white and Creole-Cajun divides in so many forms. The Ramblers channel those suggestive rhythms associated with the dance as producer Korey Richey masterfully incorporates new hues from his sonic palate into their arrangements. Once again, the band stands at the crosscurrents of Louisiana culture by inhabiting the gray area between Cajun and Creole, convention and innovation. Their Kalenda is at once a mystery and a revelation.

This amazing line-up of musicians led by brothers Louis Michot (fiddle and lead vocals) and Andre Michot (accordion and lapsteel), include Bryan Webre (electric bass), Johnny Campos (electric guitar), Eric Heigle (electronics and acoustic guitar), and Kirkland Middleton (drums). The ensemble brings the cumulative experience of 17 years of touring, recording, and collaborating to bear on Kalenda's creation with intoxicating results.

Lost Bayou Ramblers was formed in 1999 by brothers Andre and Louis Michot, performing the roots Cajun music they learned as members of Les Frères Michot, the family band their father and uncles formed in the 80's. The brothers quickly began playing clubs and festivals around Louisiana, and taking the traditional music they were raised with to new levels of rhythmic energy and spontaneity, producing the punk and psychedelic labels given to the band by reviews over the years.

In 2012, with five albums under their belt, including a Grammy nomination for their 2007 release Live a la Blue Moon, the band released its most progressive and sonically experimental record to date, Mammoth Waltz. With the stylings of producer Korey Richey and the help of guest artists Gordon Gano, Scarlett Johansson, and Dr. John, Mammoth Waltz was named #2 in the "Top 21 Louisiana albums of the 21st Century" by the  Times Picayune, and acted as an invitation for all music lovers to tune in to the hypnotic Cajun rhythms Lost Bayou Ramblers have been known for since their inception in 1999.

Lost Bayou Ramblers' contribution to the score of Beasts of the Southern Wild in 2012 brought them further renown worldwide, and continuing performances with Wordless Music Orchestra and score composers Benh Zeiltin and Dan Romer.

2014 brought LBR the support slot on Arcade Fire's REFLEKTOR tour. In addition, they made a live appearance on NPR's World Café. The program rated LBR's performance #1 on "David Dye's five favorite live music moments in and out of the World Café studio."  They also released Gasa Gasa Live, recorded at New Orleans' Uptown experimental music venue, one of four shows they played that day in the Crescent City.

Lost Bayou Ramblers have continually integrated new sonic elements to their live performances, always experimenting and growing the show to what it's become today, an eclectic mix of modern sounds and rhythms with ancient Cajun melodies and lyrics and that's reflected in the ambitious aesthetic reach of Kalenda. They will be premiering the repertoire from Kalenda live at a string of concert dates around the country, ranging from Seattle to Brooklyn to New Orleans, and all points in between.

Reuben Records artist: Amy Black - Memphis - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Memphis, from Amy Black and it's old school. Opening with It's Hard To Love An Angry Man, Black shows her serious nature backed by Al Gamble on Hammond, Leroy Flick Hodges on bass, George Sluppick on drums, and really nice guitar work by Joe Restivo. Mark Franklin on trumpet, Kirk Smothers on tenor sax, Art Edmaiston on bari sax really adds to the warmth and Reba Russell, Daunielle Hill and Black contribute super backing vocals. Out for a rumble on The Blackest Cloud Edmaiston's sax work really sets the track off and the horn section really adds punch. Ballad, Without You is a full taste of the reason this release is called Memphis (from my perspective) with upfront female vocals and solid horns. One of top radio tracks on the release, If I Could Reach Out (and Help Somebody) is a super smooth with R&B bones and strings (Jessie Munson on violin, Yennifer Correia on violin, Jennifer Puckett on viola and Jonathan Kirkscey on cello. I particularly like Black's lead vocals on Let The Light with a airy darkness and rich backing vocals, Rev Charles Hodges on Hammond and a bluesy guitar solo by Restivo. High steppin' What Makes A Man has that cool Al Green strut. Franklin's trumpet highlights and that super bari sax by Edmaiston really sets the track off. Sassy, Further On Up The Road, with terrific vocals by Black, top notch key work from Hodges, really punchy horn work and excellent guitar work from Restivo. Wrapping the release is classic blues track, I Need Your Love So Bad. Excellent lead vocals are the key with super Hammond work from Hodges and hot bluesy chops from Bobby Manuel on guitar making this a strong closer for a cool release.

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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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