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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 Blue Healer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blue Healer. Show all posts

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Jimbo Mathus & the Annunaki Playboys Live at The Raven Cafe in Prescott, Arizona

I caught wind that Jimbo Mathus was playing a show about 2 hours north of my home and I hightailed it to Prescott, AZ. I know that this doesn't seem like much of an effort but you got to know, I listen to new music every day, OK ...lets say 250-300 new releases yearly and for me to drive very far to see a show.... it better be damn good. Well, Jimbo Mathus never disappoints and yes, it was damn good! I arrived in Prescott just in time to get a seat and a beer before the Captain hit the stage to a standing crowd only performance. I was not one of the 500 million people who knew Mathus from his Squirrel Nut Zippers band and was delighted to find this guy through his association with Buddy Guy. The truth is I went to see Buddy Guy with a fellow guitar player and who watches the opening act . We were sitting there jawing away and waiting on Buddy Guy and I said to my buddy..."who is this guy?". Jimbo Mathus was the opening act and that day back in like 2001 was the day I found Mathus. He not only had the opening act, but he also played in Guys band. He knocked me out then and he knocks me out now. Jimbo's music is strongly rooted in the people, with heart. His passion for the music is genuine and his love and appreciation of his audience is obvious. Mathus played 3 sets beginning at around 8 and ending at Midnight. He did take 2 short breaks to catch his breath and sell a few t shirts, albums and CD's.

 I'm not great at taking notes but I do have some recollection of detail. His first set was laden nicely with tracks from his newest release Blue Healer, which is terrific by the way. I know that he played the title track, Blue Healer (above), which is one of my 2 favorites from the release as well as Coyote (below- which is the other). He also played Old Earl which is one of his story telling tracks. If you don't know Mathus' story telling, you are missing the boat. Mathus, like all of the true great performers, not only can get around on his instrument (I think he plays about everything) but can captivate his audience with clever tales. Old Earl is the one from the Blue Healer release.

 When I go to a concert, I really don't go as a reporter but as a part of the audience so forgive me for just enjoying the concert. I know that he played Shoot Out The Lights, a hot rocker, Tallatchie, a rural feeling song that I really love and one that I want to ask Mathus about later. It has one clever line that I will always remember... "Can't see you no more, newspapers say I sing". Excellent! Fire In The Canebreak, a swampy funk rocker along the lines of Little Feat, Tennessee Walker Mare, Aces and 8's, a tex mex track and Shine Like A Diamond.

His second set was really geared to audience participation with a Chuck Berry track, some R&B, Lowell Folsom's Tramp which was recorded by Mathus and Guy 15 years ago. Mathus played guitar with reckless abandon, something that I rarely see anyone but Buddy Guy do...superb! He also did real nice versions of Guitar Slim's, Things That I Used To Do and Hank Williams', Hey Good Looking. At my request he did one of my favorite country ballads, Fallen Angel. Mathus has a unique ability to take you somewhere that you want to be through his music. Another crowd favorite was John Fogerty's Stuck In Lodi. Whether it's blues, country, R&B, rock... this man has been there and he does it with intention. Raven Cafe employees were kind enough to clear a few tables for some tiny dancers near the stage and the crowd had a blast. I can't say that Mathus' music is for everyone. What I can say is, I don't get paid to do this. I do it because I love it. I go to see who I want to see, and when I see something terrific, I try to tell my friends. Well friends, this guy captures the soul of the blues in whatever he does. What does that mean? Listen to Skip James, early JL Hooker, Son House. These were men who believed in what they were doing. They liked to make a little money along the way, but they were playing real music, without the polish and all of the processing. Jimbo Mathus is the real deal. Go see him without expectations that he will blow you away on guitar. He can, he may... but go there to see a real artist perform his craft. You can thank me later!

The Annunaki Playboys are  Eric "Carlos San Pedro" Carlton - keys, Stuart "StuBaby" Cole - bass, Scott "Pako" Goolsby - guitar and Alex "Youngblood" Holeman - drums.

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Fat Possum Records artist: Jimbo Mathus - Blue Healer - New Release review

I just received the newest release (April 21, 2015), Blue Healer, from Jimbo Mathus and it's rowdy! Opening with pouncing rocker, Shoot Out The Lights, Mathus has the band in high hear right out of the gate. Joined by Ryan Rogers, Eric Carlton, Stu Cole, Bronson Tew, Kell Kellum, Eric Amble, Barrett Martin and Gig and Sunny Stuckey, Mathus blends rock, psychedelics and country for a hot rocker. Mama Please quiets down a bit with a tex mex kind of flavor with keys, accordion, vocal harmonies and simple country guitar riffs. Title track, Blue Healer, has an intoxicating feel with really cool guitar effects. A simple melody and dynamic vocals make this a strong selection for the title track. Excellent! Sometimes I Get Worried has strong bones, supported by strumming guitar rhythm and sliding guitar soloing. Backing vocals and Mathus own vocal lead make this a good radio choice. Ready To Run is a straight up rocker with a nod to Bruce Springsteen. With a driving rhythm and a natural anthem, this is a track that will likely garner broad attention. Ballad, Thank You, is particularly sensitive and primarily acoustic with only necessary instrumental appointments. Very nice! Coyote is a really cool track with a strong dose of western styling. Shimmery guitar tones and Mathus honest vocals make this one of my favorite tracks on the release. Bootheel Witch is a gritty rocker with a bit of David Bowie at his cockiest. With guitar riffs sounding more like Joey Santiago, this track transcends many eras but still sounds like Jimbo Mathus. Excellent! Old Earl has the sounds of a european/country track. What I mean by that is country music with strong roots in europe being more like a folk tune. A cool story, something that Mathus is in my mind best known for, with that country twist and light country styling gives this track a certain bite. Waiting On The Other Shoe To Fall is a driving country rocker with raucous vocals and a British flavor. Save It For The Highway is a solid rocker with just a dip of country. Stripped down and high on energy, this one is bound to be another crowd favorite. Mathus has so many musical influences, it all comes out as one natural blend with seamless integration of all sounds music. Wrapping the release is R&B track Love and Affection. Opening with a spiritual style piano riff, it quickly turns into a cool New Orleans style piano blues. Mathus leads the way joined by nicely blended backing vocals and a tight little guitar solo. Excellent piano riffs throughout and overall super styling makes this an excellent closer for another wild adventure from Mathus.

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Sorry but so early that I can't find a suitable video. Here's Jimbo playing a cool boogie:


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Jimbo Mathus to release Blue Healer



MISSISSIPPI ROOTS MUSIC WIZARD JIMBO MATHUS
MAKES HIS ROCK ’N’ ROLL MANIFESTO WITH
THE COSMIC, KALEIDOSCOPIC BLUE HEALER


Co-produced by Bruce Watson, the ex-Squirrel Nut Zippers and South Memphis String Band co-founder’s new album provides a psychedelia and garage rock drenched tour through the sounds of the South

Eric Ambel of the Del-Lords is special guest.
OXFORD, Miss. — From the gritty, chiming six-string stomp of opener “Shoot Out the Lights” to the angelic gospel choir and piano finale of “Love and Affection,” the new album Blue Healer is a flat-out, no holds barred, brawling, sprawling excursion through the deep musical soul of Jimbo Mathus.

Born and raised in North Mississippi, where the sound of the region’s blues and gospel blend with the echoes of rock and R&B from nearby Memphis, Mathus has become a vital link in the chain of great American music. He built the foundation of the ongoing old-timey/swing revival with unlikely ’90s hit-makers the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Then Mathus became an MVP indie producer and sideman who made his bones playing guitar on blues legend Buddy Guy’s seriously twisted electric groundbreaker Sweet Tea. He’s also a co-founder of the critically heralded South Memphis String Band, with fellow roots music rabble-rousers Luther Dickinson, of North Mississippi All Stars, and Alvin Youngblood Hart. And along the way he’s toured internationally and recorded under his own name and with his Tri-State Coalition band, leaving a dozen untamed, free-ranging albums in his wake.

Now the artist has created his absolute manifesto with Blue Healer. The 12-song set was co-produced by Mathus and Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum house studio maven Bruce Watson at Dial Back Sound in Water Valley, Mississippi, an all-analog recording palace that’s perfect for Mathus’ blend of old-school tones and edgy, kinetic energy.
At its core, Blue Healer is a concept album with room for acid-fed, supernatural visions, vulnerable love songs, Saturday night brawls, bad-boy regrets and youthful celebrations — all embellished by Mathus’ estimable abilities as a natural raconteur and straight-from-the-heart singer.

“It’s the story of a man in a southern landscape who is swept insanely apart by internal and external winds,” Mathus explains. “He digs deeper and deeper into the very fabric of his reality, experiencing love and lust, despair, hope and sheer animal exhilaration on levels few ever do. He is tested in every way imaginable and achieves a sort of enlightenment — gains power and understanding of life’s mysteries. Yet questions remain. He wonders if the struggle was worth it, or even real. Is he madman or sage? Con man or honest counsel? Is this autobiographical or fictional? Only the Blue Healer knows the answer to the great cosmic heebie-jeebie.”

The Blue Healer — not to be confused with the Blue Heeler, or Cattle Dog — is a mythological figure that makes her appearance three songs into the album, on the title number. Mathus intones the story of this mysterious yet comforting female presence over a fever dream soundtrack where reverb drenched guitars writhe like angry serpents in a Delta fog and lysergic Farfisa stirs the mists. By then Mathus — or, at least, the album’s protagonist — needs healing. He’s gotten into plenty of trouble, raising a raunchy, riff-driven rock ’n’ roll ruckus with help from Del Lords’ guitarist Eric Ambel on the opener “Shoot Out the Lights,” and ticking off a list of vices and failings from drug use to pyromania in the confessional “Mama Please.” “Coyote” briefly changes the setting from the Deep South to a peyote-fueled Southwestern landscape, where tremolo’d guitars are the breadcrumbs along a cosmic cowboy’s trail that runs among the rough-hewn sonic landmarks of Neil Young, the Electric Prunes and spaghetti western film composer Ennio Morricone.

The quiet spirit of “Thank You,” a love song that Mathus sings to the spare accompaniment electric and acoustic guitars, spotlights the dusty sincerity reflected in his voice throughout the album. In fact, his graceful and commanding vocals on Blue Healer are the spine and soul of its songs, no matter where they roam — even when Mathus is serving up hot refried Southern boogie on “Bootheel Witch” or using weeping pedal steel to abet his country-style tale of prize winning lay-about “Old Earl.” It all culminates in “Love and Affection,” which is a breathing compendium of the major elements in Mathus’ musical DNA: rock ’n’ roll strut, blues guitar hijinks, backwoods funk and gospel testifying, all framed by untrammeled joy.

For Mathus, who was born in 1967 in Oxford, Mississippi, his entire life has pointed toward this uncanny album. “As a boy, I was fascinated by ancient things and the arcane,” he states. “I saw visions. I could see and feel the Earth plummeting through the solar system and it, in turn, grinding along, clock-like. I saw and heard time being sucked into the gaping maw of infinity. I always felt both frightened and comforted by these experiences. Then came music.”

His father was a banjo player, horse trader and small-town attorney descended from Scottish fiddlers and singers. Alcohol-fueled music and all-night singing surrounded the young Mathus. At age six he joined his family’s band as mandolinist. “As a small child,” Mathus explains, “I was sort of self-contained — very adult. I was allowed to wander the back streets of Jackson or the hillbilly towns of Arkansas, alone with my mandolin absorbing songs. I never had any trouble sitting in with and learning from the musicians I found there. It was weird because adults always told me their problems. They would ask my advice, like I knew the answers.”

When Mathus began creating his own original music in high school his first composition was “Chokin’ on a Lude,” — fodder for his noise rock band Johnny Vomit and the Dry Heaves. “My hometown was a Pentecostal Church-infested conservative Southern hillbilly town,” he relates. “Old men sat on the courthouse steps whittling. Needless to say the band and song didn’t go over well in my area. I was asked to leave high school for being too subversive. They mailed me my diploma and said, ‘Please go!’”

Various mishaps led to his being arrested and sent to the Mississippi River to work as a deckhand. “I was basically an indentured servant to a barge company outta New Orleans,” he says. “I had to perform extreme physical labor in the most brutal conditions alongside big, bad men. But they would pull me aside and spill their guts, seek my advice on shit with their old ladies or whatever. Ask about their deceased father or grandmother. They thought I was some kinda fortune teller.”

Mathus settled in the cultural and artistic oasis of Chapel Hill, North Carolina in the early ’90s and immediately started assembling the musicians who would become the Squirrel Nut Zippers. “I already had the background on the Deep South musical styles — black, white and creole,” he recounts. “ In Chapel Hill I was able to use the libraries, record stores, bookstores, original music clubs – all that shit I had never seen before. I was able to do the research I’d always dreamed of. I went back to the roots of American art and music. I found the Harry Smith anthology. I educated myself.”

Through seven albums and one hit single, 1996’s MTV favorite “Hell,” the Zippers negotiated the turf of roots music, alternative rock and hipster cool like penguins on a slalom course. By the time the group disbanded in 2000 — although reunions continue — Mathus had already begun a solo career with the 1997 release of Jas. Mathus & His Knockdown Society Play Songs for Rosetta, an effort to raise money for his ailing one-time nanny Rosetta Patton, the daughter of legendary early Delta bluesman Charley Patton. Along with the string of ensuing solo recordings and productions for mostly local bands at his now-gone Delta Recordings studio in Clarksdale, Mississippi, he also embarked on a career as a session player. In 2001 he was the second guitarist and creative sparkplug for Buddy Guy’s expressionist blues explosion Sweet Tea, and worked on its follow-up, the Grammy winning Blues Singer.
Further fueled by an apprenticeship with the great producer/pianist/raconteur and fellow Mississippian Jim Dickinson — whose history ran from the beginnings of the Memphis blues festival to Captain Beefhart’s Magic Band to the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers to the Replacements to his sons’ North Mississippi All Stars — Mathus was ready for an evolutionary leap.


“I was encouraged by great men to take on the full Southern musical landscape and forge it into my own cannon of songs — to dig deep inside myself and to look and listen hard at what I found there,” he says. The results can be found on his albums Jimmy the Kid, Confederate Buddha, Blue Light, White Buffalo and 2012’s Dark Night of the Soul, which marked his first collaboration with co-producer Watson. And they culminate in the wild, revelatory contours of Blue Healer. “And so,” Mathus adds, “the journey continues."