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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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Showing posts with label Baltimore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baltimore. Show all posts

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ella Hums The Blues - Don Abney And His Quartet

Don Abney (John Donald Abney; March 10, 1923 in Baltimore, Maryland – January 20, 2000 in Los Angeles, California) was an American jazz pianist. Abney studied piano and french horn at the Manhattan School of Music, and he played the latter in an Army band during military service. After returning he played in ensembles with Wilbur de Paris, Bill Harris, Kai Winding, Chuck Wayne, Sy Oliver, and Louis Bellson.[1] He had a sustained career as a session musician, playing on recordings for Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Oscar Pettiford, Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan, Eartha Kitt, and Pearl Bailey. He also played on a large number of recordings for more minor musicians and on R&B, pop, rock, and doo wop releases. After moving to Hollywood, he worked as musical director for Universal Studios/MCA. He appeared as a pianist in the film Peter Kelly's Blues behind Ella Fitzgerald. Additional credits include recording and arrangements for the film "Lady Sings The Blues." He toured with Anita O'Day in the 1980s. Early in the 1990s he moved to Japan and toured there with considerable success, playing weekly at the Sanno Hotel in Tokyo. Upon his return to the United States in 2000, he died of complications from kidney dialysis. He was interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery, in Burbank, CA. He is survived by 5 children.

  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 favorite band!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Shifty Blues - Eubie Blake

James Hubert Blake (February 7, 1887 – February 12, 1983) was an American composer, lyricist, and pianist of ragtime, jazz, and popular music. In 1921, Blake and long-time collaborator Noble Sissle wrote the Broadway musical Shuffle Along, one of the first Broadway musicals to be written and directed by African Americans. Blake's compositions included such hits as, "Bandana Days", "Charleston Rag", "Love Will Find A Way", "Memories of You", and "I'm Just Wild About Harry". The musical Eubie! featured the works of Blake and opened on Broadway in 1978. Blake was born at 319 Forrest Street in Baltimore, Maryland to former slaves John Sumner Blake (1838–1917) and Emily "Emma" Johnstone (1861–1917). He was the only surviving child of eight, all the rest of whom died in infancy. In 1894 the family moved to 414 North Eden Street, and later to 1510 Jefferson Street. John Blake worked earning US$9.00 weekly as a stevedore on the Baltimore docks. In later years Blake claimed to have been born in 1883, but his Social Security application and all other official documents issued in the first half of his life list his year of birth as 1887. Many otherwise reliable sources mistakenly give his year of birth as the earlier year, reprinting the false information that had been printed before these official documents and census records came to light. Blake's musical training began when he was just four or five years old. While out shopping with his mother, he wandered into a music store, climbed on the bench of an organ, and started "foolin’" around. When his mother found him, the store manager said to her: "The child is a genius! It would be criminal to deprive him of the chance to make use of such a sublime, God-given talent." The Blakes purchased a pump organ for US$75.00 making payments of 25 cents a week. When Blake was seven, he received music lessons from their neighbor, Margaret Marshall, an organist from the Methodist church. At age fifteen, without knowledge of his parents, he played piano at Aggie Shelton’s Baltimore bordello. Blake got his first big break in the music business when world champion boxer Joe Gans hired him to play the piano at Gans' Goldfield Hotel, the first "black and tan club" in Baltimore in 1907. According to Blake he also worked the medicine show circuit and was employed by a Quaker (Quakers) Doctor. He played a Melodeon (organ) strapped to the back of the medicine wagon. Blake stayed with the show only 2 weeks because the Doctors' religion didn't allow the serving of Sunday dinner. Blake said he first composed the melody to the "Charleston Rag" in 1899, which would have made him 12 years old, but he did not commit it to paper until 1915, when he learned to write in musical notation. In 1912, Blake began playing in vaudeville with James Reese Europe's "Society Orchestra" which accompanied Vernon and Irene Castle's ballroom dance act. The band played ragtime music which was still quite popular at the time. Shortly after World War I, Blake joined forces with performer Noble Sissle to form a vaudeville music duo, the "Dixie Duo." After vaudeville, the pair began work on a musical revue, Shuffle Along, which incorporated many songs they had written, and had a book written by F. E. Miller and Aubrey Lyles. When it premiered in June 1921, Shuffle Along became the first hit musical on Broadway written by and about African-Americans. The musicals also introduced hit songs such as "I'm Just Wild About Harry" and "Love Will Find a Way." In 1923, Blake made three films for Lee DeForest in DeForest's Phonofilm sound-on-film process. They were Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake featuring their song "Affectionate Dan", Sissle and Blake Sing Snappy Songs featuring "Sons of Old Black Joe" and "My Swanee Home", and Eubie Blake Plays His Fantasy on Swanee River featuring Blake performing his "Fantasy on Swanee River". These films are preserved in the Maurice Zouary film collection in the Library of Congress collection. In 1938 Avis was diagnosed with tuberculosis and died later that year at 58. Of his loss, Blake is on record saying, "In my life I never knew what it was to be alone. At first when Avis got sick, I thought she just had a cold, but when time passed and she didn’t get better, I made her go to a doctor and we found out she had TB … I suppose I knew from when we found out she had the TB, I understood that it was just a matter of time." While serving as bandleader with the United Service Organizations (USO) during World War II, Blake met and married Marion Grant Tyler, widow of violinist Willy Tyler, in 1945. Tyler, also a performer and a businesswoman, became his valued business manager until her death in 1982. In 1946, as Blake's career was winding down, he enrolled in New York University, graduating in two and a half years. Later his career revived again culminating in the hit Broadway musical, Eubie!. In the 1950s, interest in ragtime revived and Blake, one of its last surviving artists, found himself launching yet another career as ragtime artist, music historian, and educator. Blake signed recording deals with 20th Century Records and Columbia Records, lectured and gave interviews at major colleges and universities all over the world, and appeared as guest performer and clinician at top jazz and rag festivals. He was a frequent guest of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin. Blake was featured by leading conductors such as Leonard Bernstein and Arthur Fiedler. By 1975 Blake had been awarded honorary doctorates from Rutgers, the New England Conservatory, the University of Maryland, Morgan State University, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn College, and Dartmouth. On October 9, 1981, Blake received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by President Ronald Reagan. On March 10, 1979 Blake performed with Gregory Hines on Saturday Night Live. Blake claimed that he started smoking cigarettes when he was 10 years old, and continued to smoke all his life. The fact that he smoked for 85 years was used by some politicians in tobacco-growing states to build support against anti-tobacco legislation. Blake continued to play and record into late life, until his death. Eubie Blake died February 12, 1983 in Brooklyn, just five days after celebrating his (claimed) 100th birthday (actually his 96th—see below). He was interred in the Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. His head stone,engraved with the musical notation for I'm Just Wild About Harry, was commissioned by the African Atlantic Genealogical Society (AAGS). The bronze sculpture of Eubie's bespectacled face was created by David Byer-Tyre, Curator/Director of the African American Museum and Center for Education and Applied Arts, Hempstead NY. The original inscription indicated his correct year of birth, but individuals close to him insisted that Eubie be indulged; and paid to have the inscription changed. 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”

Friday, December 21, 2012

Washboard Serenaders / Jerome Darr

For a player who rates only three lines of biographical information in one major jazz reference book, Jerome Darr had an incredibly versatile and prolific career, showing up on sessions from blues to bebop and even strumming a few arpeggios behind Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers. He was one of many fine players to hail from Baltimore and his first major professional affiliation was in sort of a jug band, the Washboard Serenaders. The guitarist was a member of this group from 1933 through 1936, a tenure that included a well-received European tour. Jazz researchers find great, glaring holes in Darr's activities from this point, either picking back up on him in the classic jazz context of Buddy Johnson's band in the early '50s, or wondering about his involvement with the much more modernistic Charlie Parker during roughly the same period. The guitarist was not hiding in a closet during the '40s, however: he simply focused on work as a studio musician during an era when the efforts of such players went largely uncredited. Discographer Tom Lord, for example, lists less than 20 recording sessions in total for this artist between 1935 and 1973. Such a thin statistic indicates that the hefty, complete list of recordings Darr appears on include many other styles besides jazz. Simply fitting in may have been the main requirement in these contexts, and it is indeed difficult to pinpoint whether it is Darr or someone else such as Skeeter Best playing on some of the Lymon tracks, as studio bandleader Jimmy Wright made use of several different players. In his final years, Darr was mostly swinging in the busy band of trumpeter Jonah Jones, in a sense coming full circle with the type of playing he had started out with. collapse 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”

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Saint Louis Blues - Joe "Stride" Turner

Joe Turner (November 3, 1907 – July 21, 1990) was an American jazz pianist.

Joseph H. Turner was born in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. One of the masters of the stride piano style associated with Harlem, New York City, Turner got his first big musical break in 1928 with his hiring by the Benny Carter Orchestra. He also played with Louis Armstrong. After World War II, he settled in Europe, living in Paris from 1962. He played at La Calavados, a nightclub situated on the Champs Elysees until his death from a heart attack in 1990, at the age of 82
If you like what I’m doing, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! - ”LIKE”

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Live at the Temecula Theater DVD - Dennis Jones Band - New Recording Review

I just received Live at the Temecula Theater featuring the Dennis Jones Band. Dennis is a young axe slinger with a tight backing made up of Michael Turner on Drums and Sam Correa on Bass (both on vocals). The band opens with Kill The Pain, a blues rock track with the underlying rhythm of a Jeff Beck like track (solid) and featuring Jones out front with his honey burst Les Paul. Jones has a very versatile voice and has mastered the guitar quite well. His vocal styling is definitely influenced by Jimi and certainly not a bad choice. His riffs, played in a modern style have their roots in the delta. Next up is Him Or Me, which actually has the construction of a Hendrix track but of course is totally original. Jones seems to prefer Bogner amplification for his dirty sound and Fender Blonde Vibrolux Custom for his clean channel. This is a cool song with again a blues rock feel there are definitely some Jimi influenced riffs on this track. Jones, now on a sunburst Stratocaster with a rosewood board, plays I'm Good, built around Hookers One Bourbon concept, takes on a new life and sounds very fresh. Brand New Day, a fast boogie track finds the band driving quite hard. This is a pretty cool track with limited guitar work but really solid. Passion For Blues, title track of Jones' second release, is laid over a solid bass/drum riff and gives Jones the opportunity to play some more fingered chord style rhythm and hold the volume back for the clean solos which follow. A Strat and a Vibrolux belong together. The Best That I Can brings the tempo up a little and exhibits a more modern approach to the blues with rock riffs. Jones demonstrates once again his clean mastery of the fretboard and I'm watching. Big Black Cat has a great classic driving bass line and Jones fires up the fretboard like he's from Texas. Riffs are red hot and driving but with a little jazz in the mix. Very cool track! The second set starts off with Don't Worry About Me, a strong blues infused rocker. When I Die again demonstrates how important a bottom end is to a trio with the drums and bass setting the table for Jones to lay out his pallet if musical colors. Home Tonight has a modern R&B style feel but doesn't inhibit Jones from demonstrating a short burst of pyrotechnics. Back on Les Paul, Jones plays Try Not To Lie, a straight up boogie giving the band a chance to break loose and even finds Jones with a Chuck Berry riff in there. Back on his Strat, Jones leads the way with some beautiful clean guitar riffs on Fresh Out Of Love. Although this concert is filled with terrific guitar playing, this particular track really shows Jones mastery of sensitivity and articulation on his axe. Super Deluxe is back on the boogie train with the walking bass line and Jones raking the chords in rhythm. Hot Sauce see's Jones stripped down to a "wife beater" and cowboy hat and playing a butterscotch black guard Tele demonstrating that he can cross the lines and play a hot country based blues rocker to finish up the set.
There are 4 Bonus Tracks included on this DVD, Something Good, a slow blues track which may be one of the best tracks on the recording; Falling Up, a more airplay oriented track; the hard driving You're Wrong based on Jimmy Reed riff and pushed into a modern rocker and Stray Bullet, a soul style ballad with strong guitar work.
The people who attended this show got their money's worth and when you check this DVD out, you will too!!
If you like what I’m doing, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! - ”LIKE”

Monday, March 26, 2012



ANNAPOLIS, MD – David Earl, president of Severn Records, has announced the signing of New Orleans-based blues guitarist/singer Bryan Lee and Baltimore-based soul and blues singer Ursula Ricks to the label. Both artists are recording albums at Severn’s new state-of-the-art studios in Annapolis for release later this year. Severn Records is distributed in the U.S. by City Hall Records.

Although raised in a small Wisconsin town near the shores of Lake Michigan, Bryan Lee has been a New Orleans resident since 1982, so much so that he’s been called a “New Orleans Blues Institution;” and is also known as the “Braille Blues Daddy,” dubbed so because he’s been blind since the age of eight. Eric Clapton called Bryan Lee “one of the best bluesmen I have ever heard.” He's played the prestigious New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival over 25 years and his new Severn CD will be his debut for an American label, with previous albums appearing on the Canadian imprint, Justin Time.

Bryan Lee’s new album was produced by Kevin Anker, David Earl and Steve Gomes, with Lee backed by the illustrious Severn House Band of Kevin Anker (keyboards), Steve Gomes (bass), Johnny Moeller (guitar) and Robb Stupka (drums). The new disc is a mix of originals and covers of Bobby Womack’s “When Love Begins Friendship Ends,” Howlin Wolf’s “Evil” (with a guest harmonica performance by Kim Wilson) and a beautiful rendition of the George Jackson classic, “Aretha Play One for Me.”

“We are thrilled to have Bryan Lee as part of the Severn family of artists,” said David Earl. “He is a consummate professional and has had a long recording career. The process of recording this album has opened new musical doors for Bryan and Severn. We look forward to working with him for a long time.”

Growing up, Lee listened to clear channel station WLAC in Nashville and became enamored with the sound of the blues he heard on the radio. By the time he was 15, Lee was playing guitar in a variety of rock and blues-rock bands, and in his late teens he befriended legendary guitar slinger Luther Allison. In 1981, Lee and his band opened for Muddy Waters at Summerfest in Milwaukee, and he got a chance to talk with his hero backstage. After Lee told Muddy how honored he was to be opening for such a legend, Waters told the youngster, “Bryan, stay with this. One day you’re going to be a living legend.” Those words of encouragement have become an inspiration to Bryan Lee throughout his career.

Bryan Lee’s recognition in the Crescent City began in 1982 with a long residency at the Old Absinthe House in the French Quarter. One of the formative blues guitarists who caught his act was a young Kenny Wayne Shepherd, whose time sitting in with Lee’s band proved to be a revelatory experience for him. Many years later, Shepherd would return the favor by including Lee in his documentary, 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads.

Lee, whose New Orleans studio became a victim of Hurricane Katrina’s wrath, was later nominated for a Blues Music Award for his Katrina Was Her Name CD. For more on Bryan, visit

For Baltimore’s own Ursula Ricks, this Severn Records release will be her debut album. Ursula’s new CD was also produced by the Severn team of Kevin Anker, David Earl and Steve Gomes and features her bluesy, soulful vocals backed by Kevin Anker (keyboards), Steve Gomes (bass), Johnny Moeller (guitar) and Robb Stupka (drums). Kim Wilson is a special guest, adding his harmonica talents on the original track, “Tobacco Road.”

Ursula Ricks’ new album includes eight original songs, as well as her unique interpretations of songs by Bobby Rush (”Mary Jane” - a very funky/soul version) and Curtis Mayfield’s “Just a Little Bit of Love.”

“Ursula's unique vision and vocal ability made recording her debut album a real pleasure,” said David Earl. “Like any seasoned pro, she knows what she wants to hear.
Ursula has flown under the radar for so long. We are excited that the world will finally get an opportunity to experience her incredible music.”

Ursula Ricks fell in love with the blues listening to her mom sing in the living room, and she wrote her first song at the age of 16. In her early twenties, she formed an all-female band, began writing original music and playing in local clubs. She was later introduced to and educated further in the art of blues music by the players who came into perform at a local club called the Full Moon Saloon. She called her band “Ursula Ricks Project,” for all the players she has been fortunate to share the stage with. Ursula has opened for Johnny Lang in Baltimore and even played the very first annual Baltimore Blues Festival.
She has been playing along the East Coast from New York to Florida for over 20 years and has played with some of the best artists alive.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Black Napkins - Frank Zappa

Is this Blues?

Frank Vincent Zappa (play /ˈzæpə/; December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American composer, singer-songwriter, electric guitarist, record producer, and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, electronic, orchestral, and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. Zappa produced almost all of the more than 60 albums he released with the band The Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist.

While in his teens, he acquired a taste for percussion-based avant-garde composers such as Edgard Varèse and 1950s rhythm and blues music. He began writing classical music in high school, while at the same time playing drums in rhythm and blues bands—he later switched to electric guitar. He was a self-taught composer and performer, and his diverse musical influences led him to create music that was often impossible to categorize. His 1966 debut album with the Mothers of Invention, Freak Out!, combined songs in conventional rock and roll format with collective improvisations and studio-generated sound collages. His later albums shared this eclectic and experimental approach, irrespective of whether the fundamental format was one of rock, jazz or classical. He wrote the lyrics to all his songs, which—often humorously—reflected his iconoclastic view of established social and political processes, structures and movements. He was a strident critic of mainstream education and organized religion, and a forthright and passionate advocate for freedom of speech, self-education, political participation and the abolition of censorship.

Zappa was a highly productive and prolific artist and gained widespread critical acclaim. Many of his albums are considered essential in rock and jazz history. He is regarded as one of the most original guitarists and composers of his time. He also remains a major influence on musicians and composers. He had some commercial success, particularly in Europe, and for most of his career was able to work as an independent artist. Zappa was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

Zappa was married to Kathryn J. "Kay" Sherman from 1960 to 1964. In 1967, he married Adelaide Gail Sloatman, with whom he remained until his death from prostate cancer in 1993. They had four children: Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen. Gail Zappa manages the businesses of her late husband under the name the Zappa Family Trust.
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