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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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

If You Don't Give Me What I Want - Miss Ida Blue

There's a flood of old timey jazz bands right now and a bunch of jug and blues bands but really, no one else is NYC is singing the bawdy but uptown vaudeville blues style of Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith, Memphis Minnie, and others--let alone doing it so well! Ida emanates Brooklyn attitude, which stems partly from her hoodrat-meets-Amy Winehouse fashion sense, from ripped tights to a diamond cheek piercing. Ida (real name Mara Kaye) was born and raised in Mill Basin, Brooklyn. She says, "I'm really into rapper gold and boss chains. Even in a black and white photo that gold shines through. It looks hard against my white socks and little dresses? rough around the edges. It's Brooklyn, the Brooklyn I know about, the Brooklyn I grew up with... Back in '95 in mill basin you either had a nameplate necklace or a nameplate ring or, if you were lucky, you had both."

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Blind Pig Records artist: Sena Ehrhardt - Live My Life - New Release Review

I just received the newest release (September 2, 2014), Live My Life, from Sena Ehrhardt. Opening with pop country rocker, The Stakes Have Gone Up, Sena, who is a serious vocalist is joined by lead guitarist Cole Allen for what would be an opening radio hit. Things You Shouldn't Need To Know opens with twin guitar lead of Allen and Smokin' Joe Kubek. Rick Roussell lays down a nice bass line and Paul Peterson adds a nice drum rhythm. Kubek steps up on this track with a cool slide solo as well. Classic R&B track, Slow Down, gets a nice rework for one of the most enjoyable tracks on the release. Joined by St. Paul Peterson on bass and Michael Bland on drums this track has spunk. On Leon Russell's Help Me Through The Day, Ehrhardt puts her soul into this solid ballad. Bruce McCabe add some real nice key work on this track and is joined by Jimi "Primetime" Smith on rhythm guitar allowing a nice space for Allen to lay down a smokey guitar solo. Title track, Live My Life, has a funky feel with a definite pop edge. Allen throws down a short but blistering guitar solo to ice this track. Chilled To The Bone is an easy rocker with a catchy melody and smooth rhythms. Allen sits back on the track but does lay in some nice guitar riffs complimenting Ehrhardt's strong vocals. Too Late To Ask has a bluesy feel with Ehrhardt and Allen sharing lead vocals. This is probably the hot track for radio play with all of the right components for broad appeal. Funky rocker, Everybody Is You, has a real nice groove and Ehrhardt gets right into it. I particularly like Allen's attack on guitar on this track. Albert Collin's If Trouble Was Money drags Ehrhardt into the grit and she is right on it. The bluesiest track on the release, Allen takes his guitar for a nice ride... very cool! Did You Ever Love Me At All is another pop rocker with a bit of sting. Allen on second lead vocal is a nice contrast to Ehrhardt and again with rugged guitar work gives the track a bit more edge. Wrapping the release is Come Closer, an easy country ballad. Overall this is a fairly pliable release with a little something for everyone. A number of the tracks should appeal to broad audience and the release is fairly consistent in style.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

American Showplace Music artist: John Ginty - Bad News Travels DVD - New Release Review

I just received a cool new DVD from John Ginty, The Showplace Sessions Live. This is a live video session of Bad News Travels and it's quite live, tight and entertaining. Opening with Switch, a walking bass line driven B3 extravaganza. Paul Kuzik sets the tempo and Ginty takes over where Booker T left off. With a double drums setup featuring Dan Fadel and Andrei Koribanics this is a tight track. Very nice! Arrivals is a funky jam with cool guitar lines by Mike Buckman and Ginty playing against his retort. Next up is Black Cat featuring Albert Castiglia. A slow blues groove, Ginty sets a really nice stage for Castiglia to take the lead on vocal and guitar. I've only ever seen Castiglia on Youtube (never live) and he is an exceptional player. I am looking forward to seeing him if he ever makes it to Phoenix. He doesn't over sing, his phrasing is inviting and his vocals are really nice. Ginty plays both piano and B3 solos taunting Castiglia into a really sweet and extremely fiery guitar solo. Excellent! On funk infused Elvis Presley, again Castiglia takes the lead on vocals with the feel of Boz Scaggs. I've reviewed a few of his releases and all favorable but watching him in person quickly elevates him to the list of people who I want to see in person soon! Castiglia's smokin' soloing played against Ginty's strong improvisational skills on keys makes this one terrific track. Up next is Peanut Butter, an easy shuffle featuring Todd Wolfe. Ginty's B3 work is exemplary and Wolfe grabs his tele just choking the life out of it. I've seen Wolfe in concert a few times and have always walked away smiling but Ginty coaxes a flame thrower out of Wolfe's bag of tricks. Excellent! I think that I mentioned that it was hard for me to fathom a blues band that was primarily built around a B3 player but Ginty is one guy who can really carry it off. He is no wallflower and really cooks the keys. On Rock Ridge, there is a cool phase shift during the B3 intro that messes with your head a little bit. Wolfe uses a coricidin bottle to get his slide tone before breaking into a cool jazz style jam with Kuzin walking the bass lead and Ginty and Wolfe stretching it out. Very nice! Next up is Seven and the Spirit, a bluesy rocker featuring Alexis P. Suter. I just reviewed Suter's terrific new release and it's a pleasure to see her join Ginty on stage with her guitar player, Jimmy Bennett. This is one of today's elite female blues singers with Jackie Scott and Karen Carroll in my opinion. Bennett lays into his Les Paul and Ginty adds substantially to the track with his well heeled organ work, along with the drumming of Fadel and Koribanics elevating the track to a full revival feel (Can't Turn You Loose). Guitarist/vocalist Cris Jacobs and Castiglia join Suter and Ginty on stage for Damage Control, a funky rocker with more than a little taste of country. Jacobs knows his way around the telecaster and plays some blistering solos but also venturing into Jerry Garcia territory in style. Castiglia, playing his custom strat style guitar with rosewood fretboard and what look like some pretty expensive humbuckers. Sharing vocals on this track each player gets a chance to take his day in the spotlight making for a pretty cool jam. The Quirk opens with a cool B3 riff from Ginty, joined by Castiglia and Jacobs. Kuzik is solid on bass and Ginty gets a chance to stretch a bit. Jacobs takes the first guitar solo with a very round sound for a tele. Castiglia is up next mowing the fretboard's upper register. Ginty brings the tension back down with his laid back melody before driving off on his own solo. Off the Cuff is a keyboard feature track for Ginty with primarily drum and bass backing. The duo drumming actually brings me in mind of early Allmans with Trucks and Jainoe. Listening to it multiple times I actually think I hear a trace of Trouble No More hiding in there somewhere. Fadel and Koribanics take a pretty nice drum break showing the cleanliness and coordination of two guys who play a lot together. Ginty takes a free form solo without any backing. Creating a musical impressionistic painting as an abstracted graphic forms on the screen is a definite change. Sliding right in to the beautiful intro of Mirrors, Ginty and Jacobs trade riffs before opening into a funky rock track. Jacobs gets a Santana like tone out of his tele and plays sparingly as Ginty crafts the body of the track, taking extended times breathing very soulful solos from his tele. Very nice! Wrapping the release is Trinity featuring all of the guest artists along with Ginty and band. Again, a tent raising revival style track finds Ginty leading the way. Breaking into a smooth sway Castiglia is fist to take the floor followed closely by Jacobs. Shifting gears again to a bit of a pop feel, Ginty creates a theme line and Buckman gives his first solo. Jacobs isn't far behind with a hot blistering riff followed by Bennett on slide. Castiglia paces himself taking the longer of the solos with plenty of spark. Wolfe is also more patient but lays out a crisp solo as well. Cool conclusion to a really nice show.

 The extras include an impromptu interview with Ginty as he sets up his B3 and Leslie. This is primarily an opportunity to meet John the man and his dedication to his own craft. Another feature is an interview with producer/director Ben Elliott. A walk around the control room shows the super analog equipment present in Showplace studio. Some of the history of the studio and equipment and it's significance to the sound is really cool. Additional footage shows the live room where the musicians sit. An explanation of how the acoustics are controlled and different acoustic effects as well as isolation rooms are featured.  

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