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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 Boston. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boston. Show all posts

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Gandy Dancer Records artist: Peter Ward - Blues On My Shoulders - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Blues On My Shoulders, from Peter Ward and it's quite good. Opening with solid shuffle, She Took It All, Peter Ward on guitar and lead vocal sets a great pace with Mudcat Ward on bass, Neil Gouvin on drums and Sugar Ray Norcia on harp. Excellent opener. Surf rocker, Which Hazel, is a solid rocker along the lines of Chuck Berry with a strong surf twist. Clever lyrics and guitar riffs by Ward give this track a lot of gas. On title track, Blues On My Shoulders, Anthony Geraci adds nice piano and I particularly love the guitar work by Monster Mike Welch. Collaborate is all about lush chords and sassy sax and Ward's guitar work with Sax Gordon Beadle's sax work is just that. Excellent! Shuffle track, It's On Me is another outstanding entry on the release with a hot sax solo from Beadle and hot fingering from Ronnie Earl and Ward. Very nice. Southpaw is a hot number with a smoking B3 solo from Rusty Scott, solid bass work from George Dellomo, and hot guitar riffs by Ward.  One of my personal favorites on the release is jump track, Kansas City Blues featuring great vocals, a strong bass line by Joe Delia and really nice soloing by Ward. Wrapping the release is Drummin' Willie, about Willie Big Eyes Smith with Neil Gouvin on druma, Mudcat on bass and Sugar Ray Norcia on harp. This is a strong release with a lot of cool surprises. Check it out. 

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Playin' in the the Sand with Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters

During a recent sand sculpture competition on Revere Beach north of Boston, one contestant tied together his love of Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters with his sand sculpture building skills. Check out this work by Prince Edward Island artist Abe Waterman. Sure beats my work with a little bucket!

Thanks Mark Pucci

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Proof of Love - Gracie Curran & The High Falutin' Band - New release Review

I just received the newest release, Proof of Love from Gracie Curran and the High Falutin' Band and it's powerful. Opening with a potent guitar riff into a saturated amp by Tom Caroll, the High Falutin' Band sets a smokin' tempo on Even With The Rain. Sax man Mark Earley has the bottom and he really has control. Curran has a strong, sassy voice and Latin rhythm by drummer Derek John Bergman spices up the track. Ballad Take You With Me is constructed along the lines of a "Band" track but with Curran taking it light and key man extraordinaire Bruce Bears adding the warmth and Doug Woolverton laying down counter melodies on trumpet. A sweet guitar solo on this track by Carroll shows influence by Dickey Betts. Jack & MaryJane has the rhythm of Use Me Up which is just a great groove and sax man Earley is strong making memorable use of his horn. Very nice! Another fluid guitar guitar solo with hints of Jimi adds to the tone of the track. Super ballad Rock & A Hard Place gives Curran a nice opportunity to grind into the vocals and reverb treatment on the guitar adds a nice dimension. A super sax solo near the end of this track by Earley is another highlight of this track. Can't Getta is a R&B style track rhythmic vocal and Wooverton playing tight trumpet overtone. Been All Over has a gritty blues swagger and saturated harp work by Richard Rosenblatt. Carroll steps up with a stinging guitar solo on this track as well making it clearly one of the hot tracks on the release. Weight Of Her World is a mellow ballad giving Curran space to show her stuff with full horn backing from Woolverton and clean guitar soloing from Carroll. With Friends Like These has a haunting melody and may be my favorite track on the release. Light touches of trumpet by Woolverton punctuate the delicate nature of the track and Carroll adds just the right touches of guitar on this track to give it some bite. Nicely done.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Boston are back with their first new album in over 10 years!

On Monday December 9th, BOSTON’s latest studio album, "Life, Love & Hope" will be released in the UK by Frontiers Records. More than a decade in the making, the new album features 11 tracks replete with the classic and beloved BOSTON sound, as well as the latest in the evolution of Tom Scholz' musical artistry.
Diverse and cohesive, the long-awaited album has something for everyone. It fulfils the expectations of Boston fans, while exposing a new generation to one of the world’s greatest rock’n’roll bands.
Boston founder member Tom Scholz.
Scholz says, "These are songs from the heart, each of them taking many months of effort to write, arrange, perform and record, always up to the demands of BOSTON's harshest critic. Me. The songs have been meticulously recorded to analogue tape on the same machines and equipment used for BOSTON's hits for the past 35 years."
In 1976, BOSTON burst onto the music scene with their eponymous best-selling debut album and never looked back.  With over 17 million copies sold, BOSTON's hits included More Than a Feeling, Peace of Mind, and Smokin' - rock staples that are still in heavy rotation today.
Their second album, Don't Look Back was another chart-topper that confirmed their place in rock history, followed by Third Stage, which hit #1 on the charts, with the top single of 1986, Amanda.  With over 31 million albums sold to date, BOSTON's music has stood the test of time, as evidenced by live BOSTON audiences that spans generations.
Life, Love & Hope includes lead vocals from Brad Delp and prodigy Tommy DeCarlo, as well as Kimberley Dahme, David Victor, and songwriter Scholz himself. The new album features tracks that embody BOSTON’S trademark guitars, harmonies, and immaculately-crafted sound.  "I intentionally stayed close to the early BOSTON style on some of the songs, even using the same amps and instruments; on others I let my imagination run wild," says Scholz.
Photo Credit: Kamal Asar.
A beautiful full-colour booklet with notes from Scholz and detailed song credits accompanies Life, Love & Hope, and available now for pre-order on and other fine online retailers.
1st row: Tommy DeCarlo, Tom Scholz, Brad Delp (R.I.P)
2nd row: Kimberley Dahme, Jeff Neal, Gary Pihl
3rd row: David Victor, Curly Smith, Tracy Ferrie

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lover Man - Sonny Stitt

Sonny Stitt Alto Sax, Walter Bishop Piano. Tommy Potter Bass, Kenny Clarke Drums. Edward "Sonny" Stitt (born Edward Boatner, Jr., February 2, 1924 – July 22, 1982) was an American jazz saxophonist of the bebop/hard bop idiom. He was one of the best-documented saxophonists of his generation, recording over 100 albums. He was nicknamed the "Lone Wolf" by jazz critic Dan Morgenstern, in reference to his relentless touring and devotion to jazz. Edward Boatner, Jr. was born in Boston, Massachusetts,and grew up in Saginaw, Michigan. He had a musical background; his father, Edward Boatner, was a baritone singer, composer and college music professor, his brother was a classically trained pianist, and his mother was a piano teacher. Boatner was soon adopted by another family, the Stitts, who gave him his new surname. He later began calling himself "Sonny". In 1943, Stitt first met Charlie Parker, and as he often later recalled, the two men found that their styles had an extraordinary similarity that was partly coincidental and not merely due to Stitt's emulation. Stitt's improvisations were more melodic and less dissonant than those of Parker. Stitt's earliest recordings were made in 1945 with Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie. He had also played in some swing bands, though he mainly played in bop bands. Stitt was featured in Tiny Bradshaw's big band in the early forties. Stitt replaced Charlie Parker in Dizzy Gillespie's band in 1945. Stitt played alto saxophone in Billy Eckstine's big band alongside future bop pioneers Dexter Gordon and Gene Ammons from 1945 until 1956, when he started to play tenor saxophone more frequently, in order to avoid being referred to as a Charlie Parker imitator. Later on, he played with Gene Ammons and Bud Powell. Stitt spent time in a Lexington prison between 1948–49 for selling narcotics. Stitt, when playing tenor saxophone, seemed to break free from some of the criticism that he was imitating Charlie Parker's style, although it appears in the instance with Ammons above that the availability of the larger instrument was a factor. Indeed, Stitt began to develop a far more distinctive sound on tenor. He played with other bop musicians Bud Powell and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, a fellow tenor with a distinctly tough tone in comparison to Stitt, in the 1950s and recorded a number of sides for Prestige Records label as well as albums for Argo, Verve and Roost. Stitt experimented with Afro-Cuban jazz in the late 1950s, and the results can be heard on his recordings for Roost and Verve, on which he teamed up with Thad Jones and Chick Corea for Latin versions of such standards as "Autumn Leaves." Stitt joined Miles Davis briefly in 1960, and recordings with Davis' quintet can be found only in live settings on the tour of 1960. Concerts in Manchester and Paris are available commercially and also a number of concerts (which include sets by the earlier quintet with John Coltrane) on the record Live at Stockholm (Dragon), all of which featured Wynton Kelly, Jimmy Cobb and Paul Chambers. However, Miles fired Stitt due to the excessive drinking habit he had developed, and replaced him with fellow tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley. Stitt, later in the 1960s, paid homage to one of his main influences, Charlie Parker, on the album Stitt Plays Bird, which features Jim Hall on guitar and at Newport in 1964 with other bebop players including J.J. Johnson. He recorded a number of memorable records with his friend and fellow saxophonist Gene Ammons, interrupted by Ammons' own imprisonment for narcotics possession. The records recorded by these two saxophonists are regarded by many as some of both Ammons and Stitt's best work, thus the Ammons/Stitt partnership went down in posterity as one of the best duelling partnerships in jazz, alongside Zoot Sims and Al Cohn, and Johnny Griffin with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. Stitt would venture into soul jazz, and he recorded with fellow tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin in 1964 on the Soul People album. Stitt also recorded with Duke Ellington alumnus Paul Gonsalves in 1963 for Impulse! on the Salt And Pepper album in 1963. Around that time he also appeared regularly at Ronnie Scott's in London, a live 1964 encounter with Ronnie Scott, The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, eventually surfaced, and another in 1966 with resident guitarist Ernest Ranglin and British tenor saxophonist Dick Morrissey. Stitt was one of the first jazz musicians to experiment with an electric saxophone (the instrument was called a Varitone), as heard on the albums What's New in 1966 and Parallel-A-Stitt in 1967. Later life In the 1970s, Stitt slowed his recording output slightly, and in 1972, he produced another classic, Tune Up, which was and still is regarded by many jazz critics, such as Scott Yanow, as his definitive record. Indeed, his fiery and ebullient soloing was quite reminiscent of his earlier playing. He also recorded another album with Varitone, Just The Way It Was - Live At The Left Bank in 1971 which was released in 2000. Stitt joined the all-star group Giants of Jazz (which also featured Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Kai Winding and bassist Al McKibbon) and made albums for Atlantic Records, Concord Records and Emarcy Records. His last recordings were made in Japan. In 1982, Stitt suffered a heart attack, and he died on July 22 in Washington, D.C.  

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, May 9, 2013

Bob Margolin meets Mike Sponza Band

I was born in Boston in 1949 and was brought up in nearby Brookline, Massachusetts. Inspired by Chuck Berry, I started to play guitar in 1964 and began playing in Rock bands right away. I soon followed the path of Chuck Berry’s inspiration back to the Blues. I was especially taken by the music of Muddy Waters and listened to as much of it as I could find. I worked in Blues or Blues-Rock bands in the Boston area, including with Luther “Georgia Boy” “Snake” Johnson, and The Boston Blues Band. In August, 1973, I went to see Muddy at Paul’s Mall in Boston. He had seen me in opening bands and had been very encouraging to me because I was trying to play his style of “Old School” (Muddy’s term) Chicago Blues. He had just lost long-time guitarist Sammy Lawhorn and he hired me to play in his band. While most musicians in modern times learn from listening to recordings, Muddy put me on his right side on the bandstand so I could watch him play guitar. I sure appreciated that opportunity while it was happening, and tried to use it to learn to give Muddy what he wanted on the bandstand, and for myself. Bob and Muddy, 1978 Bob and Muddy, 1978 Muddy’s band toured the world and jammed with many great Blues and Rock musicians, but the biggest thrill was playing Muddy’s blues with him. He brought me with him to special shows and recordings too, when sometimes he didn’t use his whole band, to give him a familiar sound when he worked with other musicians: In 1975, we recorded Grammy® Award-winning Muddy Waters Woodstock Album, his last with Chess Records, featuring Paul Butterfield, and Levon Helm and Garth Hudson from The Band. Throughout the last half of the ‘70s, when I had time off from Muddy’s band, I would add on to Washington D.C.’s The Nighthawks and The Charlottesville Blues All-Stars, playing Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll and making life-long friends. In ‘76, Muddy brought me with him to San Francisco to perform at The Band’s The Last Waltz concert. Martin Scorcese filmed the concert for the movie of the same name. As it happened, only one camera was operating during our performance, zooming in or out, and since I was standing right next to Muddy, I was in every shot while he sang a powerful “Mannish Boy.” Now, when the movie is shown on TV, everyone I speak to tells me, “I saw you on TV!” for a few days. Then they tell me I looked scared, happy, mad, excited, or bored, or however they would have felt in my place. I also played on the four albums that Muddy recorded for Blue Sky Records, which were produced by Johnny Winter, and with Johnny on his Nothin’ But The Blues album. Three of those albums won Grammy® Awards. Bob, Johnny Winter, Muddy - London, 1979 Bob, Johnny Winter, Muddy In 1980, Muddy’s band left him over business problems, though we all remained personal friends with him until his death in 1983. It is sometimes presumed that I worked with Pinetop Perkins, Jerry Portnoy, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones, and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith in The Legendary Blues Band, which they formed, but actually Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson and I each started our own bands at that time. I was living in Washington, DC then and in 1985 moved to Blacksburg, Virginia, a beautiful college town in the mountains. All through the ‘80s I ran up and down the highways, mostly in Virginia and North Carolina (to where I moved in ‘89) and played Blues in bars for soulful folks having fun. I was able to make a living without the pressures of the music business, and didn’t even feel any need to make an album -- I was playing most nights, and with total musical freedom and no commercial considerations. Sometimes I’d make a live recording of my band off the mixing board, and make up cassette copies for my friends. Bob Margolin Blues Band, 1980 In ’82 and ‘83, I did some gigs with my neighbor in Springfield, Virginia, Rocakbilly musician Tex Rubinowitz, who taught me the language of that music. We did a show backing original Rockabilly legend Charlie Feathers, and worked with fine players like Danny Gatton and Evan Johns. Occasionally, I would do a “high-profile” gig, based on my Muddy Waters connection. In ‘84, at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, we did a tribute to Muddy where Pinetop and I added on to The Fabulous Thunderbirds, with Etta James singing, and Taj Mahal and James Cotton opening. With my band, I opened shows for Stevie Vaughan, George Thorogood, Johnny Winter, and The T-Birds. These years of playing many styles of Blues, as well as some Rock ‘n’ Roll, Rockabilly, Funk, and favorite oldies were important to my musical development, just as my Chicago Blues experience was. And beyond the music, being at home onstage, improvising on the moment, and treating the audience like friends in all kinds of performing situations helps me break down the barriers that are often found between musician and audience. We all have a better time than if I was playing a show AT them. Though I can’t mark my progress in the ‘80s by recordings, folks who were at my shows then come out now and let me know how much they enjoyed my band in places like Desperado’s in D.C., The Nightshade Cafe in Greensboro, North Carolina, or The South Main Cafe in Blacksburg, Virginia. Those clubs, and many more like them, are gone now. I worked with some wonderful musicians over hundreds of gigs in the ‘80s – Jeff Lodsun, Clark Matthews, Steve “Slash” Hunt, Rev. Billy Wirtz, Doug Jay, Terry Benton, Jeff Sarli, Tom Principato, Steve Wolf, Steve Jacobs, Rick Serfas, Big Joe Maher, John Mooney, Ben Sandmel, Dave Besley, Matt Abts, David Nelson, Mike Avery, Billy Mather, Nappy Brown, Fats Jackson, Sweet Betty and many more. By the end of the ‘80s, it didn’t take a psychic to see that the Blues Scene was going to change a lot in the ‘90s. People were not going out to clubs as much for their entertainment but there were many new Blues bands emerging, all wanting to work. I realized that in order to continue making a living playing Blues, I would have to record and get back out on the world-wide Blues Scene and tour more widely. In 1989 I recorded my first solo album The Old School for Powerhouse Records, which is owned by Tom Principato, a Washington D.C. guitar wizard who started the label to release his own albums and those of his friends. The Old School features Mark Wenner, harp player for The Nighthawks, Big Joe Maher on drums, and Jeff Sarli on bass. I began 1990 doing a 10-week cross-country tour playing guitar with James Cotton, who was taking a break from his high-energy Blues-boogie to feature more traditional Chicago Blues. A big highlight of that tour for me was getting to work with and learn from the late Luther Tucker, a great Blues guitar player who had worked with Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Lockwood Jr., and of course, Cotton. My second album for Powerhouse, Chicago Blues, released in ‘91, features songs from three different recording sessions. One had Chicago Blues legend Jimmy Rogers on guitar and harp master Kim Wilson, with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on drums. I did a few songs with Willie on drums, along with Pinetop Perkins and Calvin “Fuzz” Jones, all from Muddy’s band, and Kaz Kazanoff on sax and harp and co-producing. I also did some with my band at the time, Mookie Brill on bass and harp, and Clark Matthews on drums. The Powerhouse albums are out of print. Also in the early ‘90s, I began a second career as a music magazine writer. Local friends from the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society in North Carolina asked me to write a story for their newsletter about Chicago harp legend Carey Bell, a friend of mine who was coming to town for a concert. Soon, I began to write stories and Blues album reviews for a local entertainment weekly, ESP. After doing that in ’91 and ’92, I was interviewed for the new Blues Revue Quarterly magazine. It occured to me that my local Blues writing might be even more at home in this growing Blues magazine, and I contacted founder/publisher/editor Bob Vorel and submitted some of my stories. Since then, I have been a regular contributor, writing articles from my personal experience, profiles of musicians I know, and some Blues Fiction stories. In August, ‘92 I began working on my third solo album in my hometown of Boston with help from friend and guitar star Ronnie Earl, and his band. Kaz was co-producing again, and I did some additional songs with my own band back in North Carolina. I also did a couple of songs with just my acoustic guitar and the vocals of legendary R&B singer Nappy Brown, whom I worked with occasionally. Another special guest was Chicago Blues legend John Brim, with whom I’d cut a Handy Award-nominated album for Tone-Cool Records, Tough Times, in ‘92. I sent a rough tape to Bruce Iglauer, president of Alligator Records, the premier independent Blues record label. Bruce was not ready to pick up my album, but he made some very constructive suggestions about performance and mix. I appreciated the benefit of Bruce’s perspective and experience and reworked the songs and re-submitted them. Finally, in July ‘93, Bruce committed to finishing the album with me and releasing it on Alligator. The album is called Down In The Alley. This was certainly the biggest “break” I’d had in music since Muddy took me into his band 20 years before, for Alligator is without peer for promoting their artists. At the same time, I signed with Piedmont Talent, a fine Blues booking agency based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Down In The Alley and Piedmont’s strong booking took me all over the world and helped me re-connect with the Blues audience that hadn’t seen much of me in years. At the end of ‘93, I did a gig at B.B. King’s club in Memphis with Billy Boy Arnold, a Chicago Blues harp legend who also had a new release on Alligator. Our success together led to a lot of bookings over the next few years with Billy Boy and my band, and we backed him on his next Alligator album, Eldorado Cadillac. 1994 found me touring hard and playing at many of the major Blues festivals during the Summer season. In August and September, The Muddy Waters Tribute Band, the musicians who were in Muddy’s band when I was, went on a national tour with B.B. King, Dr. John, and Little Feat. In December of that year, we cut an album featuring ourselves and special guests from the Rock and Blues worlds, You Gonna Miss Me, a Tribute to Muddy Waters on Telarc Records. That recording was nominated for a Grammy® Award in ‘96. Also at the end of ‘94, I recorded my second album for Alligator, My Blues and My Guitar which featured special guest Chicago Blues harp legend Snooky Pryor, Kaz Kazanoff playing harp, horn, arranging for a horn section, and co-producing again, percussionist Jim Brock, and my band at the time, Chuck Cotton on drums and Steve “Slash” Hunt on bass. My Blues and My Guitar was released in ‘95 and I was nominated for a W.C. Handy Award in the guitar category in ‘96. ‘95 and ‘96 found me touring constantly, doing clubs, concerts, festivals, and overseas tours with my band, sometimes with Billy Boy Arnold or the Muddy Waters Tribute Band. At the end of ‘96 I toured again with James Cotton, this time in a trio with David Maxwell, an old friend from Boston who is one of the world’s greatest Blues piano players, and is featured on all of my Alligator albums. My third album for Alligator, Up & In, was released in March, ‘97. I tried to play some deep Blues, but the song that got the most attention, and airplay on Blues radio, was “Blues for Bartenders.” This song is a string of “this guy walks into a bar...” jokes set to a Blues shuffle. While I was making Up & In, I went out to dinner with Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer and Piedmont Talent presidents Steve Hecht, and we were trying to think of a special way to promote the album. Bruce suggested that since Pinetop Perkins was a special guest on the album, that we book lot of shows with Pinetop added onto the band. Great idea. It has been my honor to work often with Pinetop since then. I introduce Pinetop Perkins at our shows together this way, and it should work for you now if you don’t know about him: “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s Star Time. Please welcome a young man who worked with the original King Biscuit Boys in Helena, Arkansas. He played with great slide guitar players Robert Nighthawk and Earl Hooker, and spent twelve years in Muddy Waters’ band. On his own, he is a living legend of the blues piano and has won 10 W.C. Handy Awards, and was nominated for a Grammy this year...” – and since I originally wrote this for my website, Pinetop’s had more W.C. Handy Awards, Grammy® nominations, and a Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award too. Pinetop Perkins and Bob, King Biscuit Festival 2003 Pinetop Perkins and Bob Pinetop was born in 1913, two years before Muddy Waters. When we played in Muddy’s band together, I stood onstage between Pine and Mud, and those times are the deepest Blues music I will ever experience. Though many of my shows are still done with just me and my band, the many times in the last few years that Pine has been our featured guest are a pure pleasure for me. We try to back him up gracefully and to inspire him to play his best, deep Blue and good fun. Pinetop is getting the recognition he deserves now -- when I introduce him as above, fans rush the stage like he was Elvis. Also in ’97, I scripted and was featured in an instuctional video, Muddy Waters’ Guitar Style, for Starlicks Video produced by Dave Rubin and distributed by Hal Leonard Corp. Originally on VHS tape, this video is now widely available on DVD. It gives up what I know about Muddy’s guitar playing for the Blues guitar player. It continues to sell strongly, according to the checks in my mailbox. Eight times between ’95-’05, I played at the Handy Award shows in Memphis, usually leading an all-star band and performing with such fine musicians as Scotty Moore, Joe Louis Walker, Shemekia Copeland, Marcia Ball, Tracy Nelson, Reba Russell, Kim Wilson, Snooky Pryor, Charlie Musselwhite, Chris Layton, Pinetop, Rod Piazza, Dr. John, Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, Willie Kent, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones, and bass players Mookie Brill and Tad Walters, who were in my band at the time. In ’97, I appeared on a Kennedy Center Tribute to Muddy Waters, which featured Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, John Hiatt, G.E. Smith, Peter Wolf, Nick Gravenites, Keb’ Mo’, Big Bill Morganfield, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Charlie Musselwhite, Barry Goldberg, and Johnnie Johnson. A DVD, A Tribute to Muddy Waters, King of the Blues, of that show was released the next year. In ’98, I was approached by Blind Pig Records to produce a debut album for Muddy’ son, Big Bill Morganfield. Rising Son won a W.C. Handy Award for Bill, “Best New Artist” in 2000. I was having artistic differences with Alligator Records and left them on friendly terms to make Hold Me To It for Blind Pig Records, released in June ’99. I made the album I wanted to with Blind Pig, and Big Bill Morganfield and I were co-billed on a number of shows in ’99 and 2000 which featured my band backing us. During that time, Bill and I also played some shows which featured Pinetop Perkins. This revue was called “The Rolling Fork Revue,” a joke that musician/comedian Rev. Billy Wirtz made to our booking agents, referring to Muddy Waters’ birthplace and our traditional Blues. I still think it’s strange that the name stuck – I’ve still never even been to Rolling Fork, Mississippi, and I don’t pretend to be an old African-American Bluesman, and most people who hear the name don’t understand the obscure reference to Blues history. The “Rolling Fork Revue” name is retired now, but the idea of old-fashioned revues featuring well-known players is a good one and lives on... As The Blues World grows tighter in the New Millenium, I’ve been putting together revues with my legendary Chicago Blues friends. In the Fall of 2002, I produced a recording of The Bob Margolin All-Star Blues Jam which features Pinetop, Carey Bell, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy D. Lane, and my bass/harp/singer Mookie Brill. This album was released on May 27, 2003 on Telarc Records. In 2004, it brought me two W.C. Handy Award nominations: one for “Blues Band of the Year” and the other for “Traditional Blues Album.” It was recorded at Blue Heaven Studio in Salina, Kansas, known for it’s majestic acoustics and the audiophile dedication of owner/promoter Chad Kassem. It shows off the consummate engineering skills of Mark Williams, who has worked on all of my albums since ’93, and has taught me patiently about the process of recording music. Hubert Sumlin and Bob, Chicago Blues Festival '05 Hubert Sumlin and Bob At the end of 2003, booking agent Hugh Southard left Piedmont Talent to start his own booking agency, Blue Mountain Artists. Believing in Hugh and how he operates in business and friendship, I jumped over to Blue Mountain and have enjoyed the progress that they’ve made booking me on my own, with The Bob Margolin All-Star Blues Jam, and starting in 2005 with Legends of Chicago Blues. This gang features a customizable line-up of with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on drums and harp, a choice of harp players James Cotton, Carey Bell, or Jerry Portnoy, guitar genius Hubert Sumlin, piano players Pinetop or David Maxwell, and a choice of Calvin “Fuzz” Jones, Bob Stroger, or Mookie Brill. I am also producing and consulting on re-issues of Muddy Waters’ recordings for the Blue Sky Label for Sony/Legacy. I played guitar on these recordings and it’s an honor to make them sound as good as we can, present unreleased recordings for the first time, and write liner notes that reveal the story of the recordings from the inside. The first was released in September, 2003 -- the Muddy “Mississippi” Waters Live Legacy Edition. It was remixed, remastered, and featured a new CD of a performance of Muddy and in his band in a small club. In 2004, it won the W.C. Handy Award Best Historical Recording. In May, 2004, the other three albums I did with Muddy for Blue Sky Records were reissued: Hard Again, I’m Ready, and King Bee. Each album features out-takes from the original sessions. The albums were remastered but not remixed, and I wrote new liner notes for each of them. King Bee and I’m Ready were nominated for Handy Awards for Best Historical Recording in 2005. I was particularly surprised and thrilled to win the Handy Award for Guitar in 2005. I will take it as an inspiration to honor all Blues guitar players. In early 2004, Blues Revue magazine was sold by founder/publisher Bob Vorel to Visionation, which publishes the online Blues magazine Blueswax ( The print and the online magazine exist independently and now I write articles for both regularly. In 2005, I was honored to receive a W.C. Handy Award for Best Instrumentalist, Guitar. I took it as an inspiration to honor all Blues guitar players. I continued to tour worldwide, both with my North Carolina band and in revues which featured Chicago Blues Legends like Hubert Sumlin, James Cotton, Carey Bell, Pinetop Perkins, and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. 2006 brought more of the same, including tours in Finland, Poland, and the Czech Republic. In January of 2007, I released In North Carolina, a CD that I crafted at home, alone. It is a solo album in that nobody else played a note on it, but there are songs where I overdubbed more than one guitar part, and I played electric bass and snare drum on some. I wanted to play the music that was in my heart, beyond the music I make onstage and in recording studios, and take my time recording it,. To release the album, I formed my own record label Steady Rollin’ Records, with partners Chip Eagle (publisher of Blues Revue and BluesWax) and Richard “Rosy” Rosenblatt (former President of Tone Cool Records, a great harp player, and an old Boston Blues Scene friend). We soon realized that we could provide the same label services for other Blues musicians with independent labels. We formed the VizzTone Label Group. As of the beginning of 2010, we have 23 releases. VizzTone makes sense in today’s world where the twentieth-century business model of marketing recordings is long gone. It’s a win-win-win situation for VizzTone, the artists, and music lovers. In January of 2007, as my own new CD was being released, I was in California producing and playing on Candye Kane’s Guitar’d & Feathered CD for Ruf Records. In February I produced Breakin’ It Up, Breakin’ It Down for Sony/Legacy. This live album is from concert tapes of a 1977 tour featuring Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, and James Cotton after the release of the legendary Hard Again album. I played in the original concerts, chose the songs for the CD, worked on the sound of the recordings with master engineer Mark Williams, and wrote the liner notes for it. The album won a Blues Music Award in 2008 as Best Historical Recording. In 2008, I continued non-stop touring, but also co-produced and played on Gaye Adegbalola’s Gaye Without Shame and Big Bill Morganfield’s Born Lover. Both were released through the VizzTone Label Group. I also won another Blues Music Award for Guitar. In 2009, I produced and played on Mac Arnold’s Country Man and it was released on VizzTone. In October, 2009, I toured in Argentina and Chile with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Bob Stroger. For 2010, I’m hoping to finish and release a new CD, Steady Rollin’ Live with performances of my North Carolina band, Matt Hill and Chuck Cotton, plus some from the Chicago Blues legends I still work with, Hubert Sumlin, Bob Stroger, and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. All the music I’ve listened to and played, all the experience onstage, and all of the fine musicians I’ve worked with have left their mark on me, and are obvious when I play now. On the bandstand, I play what feels right at the moment, whether it’s featuring my original songs, telling stories, joking and talking with he audience, or just playing for the dancers. I like to be “professional” in terms of responsibility and competence, but past that, I am a musician playing for my friends. Thank you for checking me out and getting to know me, but you can get much closer to who I am by listening to my music. I hope this background makes that more interesting for you.

  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”


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Do That Thing - Ten Foot Polecats

Their sound, though hard to define, has been referred to as “punk-blues”, “gutbucket soul”and “explosive stomp and groove”. This high-octane trio from Boston, MA has been touring the country for the past five years, taking their unique form of roots music (influenced by the sounds of the northern Mississippi hill country) to cafes, restaurants, record stores, rock clubs, theatres, festivals and back yard parties, and playing for anyone who will listen. In 2010, they released their first full-length CD, "I Get Blamed For Everything I Do" (Hillgrass Bluebilly Records). Their new album, “Undertow” (also on Hillgrass), will be officially released in March/April 2013.  

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!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mean To Me - Ruby Braff Trio

Reuben "Ruby" Braff (March 16, 1927 – February 9, 2003) was an American jazz trumpeter and cornetist. Jack Teagarden was once asked about him on the Gary Moore TV show and described Ruby as "The Ivy League Louis Armstrong." Braff was born in Boston. He was renowned for working in an idiom ultimately derived from the playing of Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke. He began playing in local clubs in the 1940s. In 1949, he was hired to play with the Edmond Hall Orchestra at the Savoy Cafe of Boston. He relocated to New York in 1953 where he was much in demand for band dates and recordings. He died February 10, 2003, in Chatham, Massachusetts.

 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, January 17, 2013

Canned Heat Blues - Paul Rishell and Annie Raines

When 22-year-old harmonica ace Annie Raines first sat in with 42-year-old country blues guitarist Paul Rishell in a Boston bar in 1992, few in the crowd suspected that they were witnessing the beginning of a musical partnership that would span the next fifteen years and counting. As a working team, Paul and Annie have racked up hundreds of thousands of miles on the road in the U.S. and Europe, collaborated on original songs, and released I WANT YOU TO KNOW (Tone-Cool/Artemis 1996), MOVING TO THE COUNTRY (2000), the W.C. Handy Award winner for Acoustic Blues Album of the Year, and GOIN’ HOME (2004), which was nominated for two Handy Awards. Paul Rishell and Annie Raines’s fifth project together, the live recording “A NIGHT IN WOODSTOCK” was released in 2008 as a CD and in 2009 as a DVD on their own Mojo Rodeo label, and distributed internationally by Burnside Distribution, each release earning multiple Blues Music Award nominations. The live concert features special guests John Sebastian, Bruce Katz, and Paul and Annie’s own backing band joining the duo for an eclectic, high-energy set of acoustic and electric originals and classic blues songs. The DVD includes extra features such as artist biographies, video guitar lessons and audio commentary by Rishell, Raines and Sebastian. Paul and Annie are equally passionate about their craft and devoted to the study and performance of a wide range of blues styles, from the syncopated acoustic guitar wizardry of Blind Lemon Jefferson and Son House to Chicagoan “Little” Walter Jacob’s swinging amplified harmonica. Paul has reached what Boston Phoenix writer Ted Drozdowski called “a place deep and resonant as Robert Johnson’s crossroads, where authenticity, soul, and a sense of purpose and commitment ring out in every note he sings and plays.” Annie has added vocals, mandolin, piano, and other instruments to her musical arsenal, while being recognized by top professionals and fans worldwide as the “queen of the blues harmonica.” Says blues legend Pinetop Perkins, “She plays so good it hurts!” Touring internationally at festivals, clubs, and concert halls, and teaching workshops and seminars, Paul Rishell & Annie Raines have earned loyal fans around the globe. Paul and Annie are featured in the new jug band music documentary, Chasin’ Gus’ Ghost, which debuted at the San Francisco Film Festival in August 2007. They have performed on diverse radio and TV shows including A Prairie Home Companion, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and PBS’s Arthur. They have performed and recorded with Susan Tedeschi, John Sebastian, Pinetop Perkins, and Rory Block. Susan Tedeschi recorded an “unplugged” version of Paul’s Blues on a Holiday with Paul and Annie for her 2003 release, Wait For Me. Recently, Annie began writing a ‘blog of tales from their road tours for their website,, garnering a new following in the online community. Annie Raines was born in 1969 in Boston and grew up in the suburb of Newton, Massachusetts. She picked up the blues harp at 17 and made her stage debut at the 1369 Jazz Club in Cambridge a few months before her high school graduation. Enthralled by the recordings of Muddy Waters, Little Walter Jacobs, Big Walter Horton and Sonny Boy Williamson, she became a fixture at Boston area blues jams. She briefly attended Antioch College and 1988 interned with Washington, DC homeless rights activist Mitch Snyder, who persuaded her to drop out of school to pursue her musical career. One of the few female blues harmonica players in the country, Annie played the New England club circuit with local bands, and traveled to Chicago where she met and played with many of her musical idols including Pinetop Perkins, Louis Myers, and James Cotton. She also enjoyed yearlong stints with the Tarbox Ramblers and the Susan Tedeschi Band, going on to perform on Susan’s first three albums. She lives in Boston with her number one musical hero, Paul Rishell. Paul Rishell was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1950, descended from a long line of Methodist preachers and Norwegian painters. At the age of ten, he discovered that he could keep time on the drums, though his feet didn’t reach the pedals. He started a band a few years later, playing surf music and rock ‘n roll, until a friend turned him on to the country blues records of Son House, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, and Blind Lemon Jefferson. He immediately took up the guitar and in the early 70’s Paul moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and had the chance to play with many of the first and second generation of blues masters — including Son House, Johnny Shines, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Howlin’ Wolf. Paul Rishell’s debut recording, BLUES ON A HOLIDAY (Tone-Cool) was released in 1990 to resounding critical acclaim. The album was half acoustic, half electric, and established Paul as a masterful, versatile blues player and as well as a deeply soulful singer and songwriter. He followed that with SWEAR TO TELL THE TRUTH in 1993, which featured heart-stopping solo performances as well as guest artists Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters and “Little”Annie Raines. Paul’s original music has been used in plays, films, and countless television shows including Friends, Oprah, and A&E’s Biography. He has built up a stellar reputation over 40 years as a performer, teacher, and torchbearer of the country blues tradition. His former students include Susan Tedeschi and Michael Tarbox. Dirt Road Blues, Paul’s instructional video/CD-Rom for, was released in 2008 with detailed demonstrations and transcriptions of his original songs and songs by Scrapper Blackwell, Blind Boy Fuller, and many others. He is currently serving as a visiting artist at Berklee College of Music in Boston. 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”

Tuesday, January 15, 2013



On My Mind / In My Heart, the title track from the upcoming Alligator Records debut album from Boston's soul singing, songwriting, guitar playing Jesse Dee, will make its worldwide debut on Monday, January 14. The song will stream at, the website of the influential music magazine Blurt. The album will be released on Tuesday, February 26. Dee will tour extensively in support of the CD, with a show at New York's Iridium on Friday, March 8 and a hometown CD release party planned for Saturday, March 9 at Boston's Brighton Music Hall. The full tour schedule will be announced shortly.

With his warm and honest sound, his instantly memorable melodies and positive, slice-of-life lyrics (evoking the heyday of the Brill Building songwriters), Jesse Dee expertly updates soul music for contemporary audiences. The new album is a sweet soul masterpiece full of good vibes and funky, joyful music. Like Sam Cooke, Dee writes about real life with true emotional poetry. His lyrics are set to toe-tapping melodies with horn charts channeling The Memphis Horns and 1970s-era Van Morrison. "I'm a music fan first," Dee says, "so it's important to me to seek out and create with original ideas. That's why songwriting is so important, and why I mean every word I write and sing."


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tree O Records Signs Juliet and the Lonesome Romeos & Will Release Their Debut CD, "No Regrets," on January 15

Tree O Records Signs Boston-Based Juliet and the Lonesome Romeos and Will Release Their Debut Album, No Regrets, on January 15, 2013

NASHVILLE, TN – Tree O Records announces the signing of Boston-based group Juliet and the Lonesome Romeos, and will nationally release their debut album, No Regrets, on January 15, 2013. No Regrets was produced by Michael Dinallo and Ducky Carlisle, known collectively as “The Tremolo Twins,” whose credits include a Grammy Award, a number one single and various gold and platinum awards.

Dynamic singer Juliet Simmons Dinallo, whose powerfully soulful vocals drive the band, demonstrates a flair for roots-infused pop music, while incorporating a definite leaning toward the country side of life. The deeply emotional songs travel down the highways and backroads between heartache and hope. Boston Globe writer Steve Morse described her voice as “fresh and emotionally charged, as though Juliet were a long-lost sister of Lucinda Williams.”  

The 10 original songs on No Regrets cover a wide spectrum of American music. Juliet co-wrote seven of the tunes with Michael Gray, one with husband/producer Michael Dinallo, and one alone. The opening title track exemplifies the pop/country musical meshing throughout the album.  The song itself tells the story of a person taken advantage of for the last time.  “Wishing Well”, written solely by Juliet, crunches along like Harvest-era Neil Young meets Lucinda until it hits the poppy chorus with oohs and aahs. Curtis Mayfield-inspired rhythm guitar propels the beautiful love song and country-soul ballad “Song For You”.  The rocking and punchy “Narcissus” is the ultimate kiss-off song, delivered with a snarling vocal by Juliet and a ripping guitar solo by Jonas Kahn.  The vocal/guitar duet “Winter Night” is the softest moment on the record with a stark beauty invoking love found in the cold of winter.

“Last Kiss” is a roots-rock tribute to a fallen friend.  The sadness in watching a loved one fall to schizophrenia is the subject of “Unkindest Cut”, which is yet again fueled by a powerful vocal by Juliet and soulful guitar by Michael Dinallo.  “Faded Highway” is a Billy Joe Shaver-inspired piece of writing from Michael Dinallo.  The destruction, after-effects and lasting suffering from Katrina in New Orleans are lamented in “September Day”.   The country-soul ballad “Learn To Love Again” provides the ultimate showcase of Juliet’s remarkable vocal talent, and closes the album out on a warm note of hope and happiness.

No Regrets is a calling card announcing the arrival of a major new musical talent in Juliet and the Lonesome Romeos, with her rich, powerful, take-no-prisoners voice bursting with soul. From the original and insightful songwriting, to the masterful musicianship and spot on production, No Regrets truly is an album that has something for everyone.

Born in North Carolina, Juliet Simmons Dinallo lived in Maine for a short while before moving to Massachusetts. She was exposed to the arts and music from birth with both her parents being English literature scholars.  Her father studied Shakespeare, hence her name and the album’s song titled “Unkindest Cut”, and her mother was a folk music DJ while at college.  With music and literature all around her, it is no wonder Juliet was singing songs by the Beatles as soon as she could walk and talk. During her teens, she played in garage bands with her brother and later studied music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she landed a spot on the world-renowned Berklee Gospel Choir.

Immersing herself in the eclectic Boston music scene, Juliet collected the experiences and relationships she encountered, which would help her write the songs on No Regrets. By playing in the local clubs, she also honed her vocal style and performing chops, while meeting the musicians who helped her shape the sound and feel of the new album. Growing up in this fertile musical environment helped Juliet transcend her musical influences (Patty Griffin, the Beatles, Shawn Colvin, Van Morrison, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett, and Emmylou Harris), while maintaining the inspiration they provide, which is an important part of becoming a true artist.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I Just Want To Make Love To You - Buddy Guy w/ Tony Z

Hammond B-3 blues organist Tony Z was long a fixture on the New England blues club circuit, and for two years as part of Boston-area guitarist Ronnie Earl's touring band, the Broadcasters. Born and raised in Boston, Tony Zamagni began playing organ at St. Patrick's School in Roxbury. He cut his musical teeth with the Boston band Combat Zone and then went on to play with the Platters for the next ten years. He spent most of the latter part of the 1980s trying to organize his own touring band (no small feat) and working as a session player in Miami for TK Records, where he recorded an LP with the group Miami. After meeting Ronnie Earl through a mutual friend, trumpeter Bob Enos, Zamagni teamed up with the guitarist and joined his road band, the Broadcasters, from 1989 to 1991. Get Down with the Blues In 1991, Zamagni moved to Chicago, where he worked for three years with guitarist Larry McCray and found work as a session musician on albums by Son Seals, Saffire, Little Smokey Smothers and Lee "Shot" Williams. Zamagni's debut album, Get Down With the Blues, was released on Rounder's Tone-Cool subsidiary in 1995. The outing is first-class, self-produced in Chicago's Streeterville Studios with some stellar backing musicians: former Roomful of Blues guitarist Duke Robillard, drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, saxophonist Houston Person, harmonica master Sugar Blue and former Albert Collins band bassist Johnny B. Gayden. Buddy Guy was so impressed by Get Down With the Blues that he hired Tony Z to tour with him. In 1998, Tony Z released his second record for Tone Cool, Kiss My Blues. The record featured another all-star cast including Cornell Dupree on guitar, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie on drums again, Chuck Rainey on bass, Lenny Pickett on sax and Kim Wilson blowing harp on two tracks. Since then he has toured with Buddy Guy and on his own, continuing to spread his unique take on the B-3 sound. 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!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Shining Stone Records artist: David Maxwell - Blues In Other Colors - New Release Review

I have just received a copy of the newest David Maxwell release, Blues In Other Colors. This is a 13 track composition with all songs written and performed by Maxwell. Joining Maxwell (keys) is Harry Manx (Mohan Vina and guitar), Jerry Leake (Indian and West African percussion) Fred Stubbs (Turkish ney),Boujmaa Razgul (Oud and Moroccan raita), Troy Gonyea (guitar), Eric Rosenthal (drums), Marty Ballou (double bass), Paul Kochanski (electric bass) and Andy Plaisted (congas). The recording is fairly hard to describe with conventional melodies and familiar sounds woven with the sounds of the east and Africa. Movin' On as an example, has a very traditional western styling which is carried throughout on piano but features the overlay of Mohan Vina and African percussion. The sounds are almost a juxtaposition of cultures. Conversely, Blue Dream begins with more of an eastern feel and is overlaid with piano as a woven compliment. The entire recording has a contiguous flow more in a jazz vein with some particularly straightforward taps on the blues. Cryin' The Blues finds Maxwell playing very direct piano blues riffs and Gonyea playing straightforward blues riffs on guitar. The Turkish ney is featured on Heart of Darkness along with the balafon giving is a much more eastern cultural feel. Manx plays some bluesy riffs on the Mohan Vina but this is still very eastern in nature. Rollin' On is a take on Rollin' and Tumblin' and takes a fairly straight forward shot at it with conventional instrumentation for the most part as does Just The Blues. Overall a very well composed and soothing recording.
  “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson 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”

 The following video is not of a song from the CD. It is attached here for the reader to see the quality of work performed by Maxwell as raved about by Bonnie Raitt, James Cotton and Otis Rush. If I am able to find a more suitable video it will be added later.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Soul of a Man

The Soul of a Man is an eight piece band dedicated to blues and soulful music. Incorporated in the band are musicians from as far away as Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Quebec, Canada, and from all across the US. The Soul of a Man is based out of Boston, Massachusetts, but can be found performing through out the North East and the greater New England area. Please take a look at our performance schedule to see when the group will be playing a show near you. is the place to go to hear our most recent recordings, and to stay informed about our current and future performances. You will also be able to read individual band bios and get updates about the band. The Soul of a Man prides itself on delivering the best in live entertainment, and we hope to see you at our shows. We love to make music, but it’s the fans that really make it special for us.
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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Move On Down The Road - Alan Wilson and Canned Heat

Alan "Blind Owl" Christie Wilson (July 4, 1943 – September 3, 1970) was the leader, singer, and primary composer in the American blues band Canned Heat. He played guitar and harmonica, and wrote most of the songs for the band.
Wilson was born in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up in the Boston suburb of Arlington. He majored in music at Boston University and often played the Cambridge coffeehouse folk-blues circuit. He acquired the nickname "Blind Owl" owing to his extreme nearsightedness; in one instance when he was playing at a wedding, he laid his guitar on the wedding cake because he did not see it. As Canned Heat's drummer, Fito de la Parra, wrote in his book: "Without the glasses, Alan literally could not recognize the people he played with at two feet, that's how blind the 'Blind Owl' was."
With Canned Heat, Wilson performed at two prominent concerts of the 1960s era, the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and Woodstock in 1969. Canned Heat appeared in the film Woodstock, and the band's "Going Up the Country," which Wilson sang, has been referred to as the festival's unofficial theme song. Wilson also wrote "On the Road Again," arguably Canned Heat's second-most familiar song.

Wilson was a passionate conservationist who loved reading books on botany and ecology. He often slept outdoors to be closer to nature. In 1969, he wrote and recorded a song, "Poor Moon", which expressed concern over potential pollution of the moon. He wrote an essay called 'Grim Harvest', about the coastal redwood forests of California, which was printed as the liner notes to the Future Blues album by Canned Heat.

After Eddie 'Son' House's 'rediscovery' in 1964, Wilson taught him how to play again the songs House had recorded in 1930 and 1942 (which he had forgotten over a long absence from music); House recorded for Columbia in 1965 and two of three selections featuring Wilson on harmonica and guitar appeared on the set. On the double album Hooker 'N Heat (1970), John Lee Hooker is heard wondering how Wilson is capable of following Hooker's guitar playing so well. Hooker was known to be a difficult performer to accompany, partly because of his disregard of song form. Yet Wilson seemed to have no trouble at all following him on this album. Hooker concludes that "you [Wilson] musta been listenin' to my records all your life". Hooker is also known to have stated "Wilson is the greatest harmonica player ever"

Stephen Stills' song "Blues Man" from the album Manassas is dedicated to Wilson, along with Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman.
Wilson died in Topanga Canyon, California of a drug overdose at age 27. Although Wilson had reportedly attempted suicide twice before and his death is sometimes reported as a suicide, this is not clearly established and he left no note.
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Monday, April 2, 2012

Chris Smither's 'Hundred Dollar Valentine' due June 19


First long-player by fingerpicker/singer/songwriter to feature all original songs features session support
from Morphine, Groovasaurus, The Lemonheads players

BOSTON, Mass. — There are such things as the cosmic blues. Janis Joplin once recorded a song by that name — she spelled it kosmik. But Chris Smither lives them.

Smither’s cosmic blues are on full display in Hundred Dollar Valentine, a brilliant amalgam made of equal parts past, present and future. It is music that traces its roots back deep into tradition, anchors its rhythms and textures in today, and reaches forward into the future, asking the Big Questions — why am I here? Is there purpose to all of this or is it just a spinning cascade of random moments?

And he does it all with six strings, an insistent, understated groove and a sly wink — letting you know that we may all enter and leave this world alone, but that don’t mean we can’t have a good time while we’re here.

Hundred Dollar Valentine, Smither’s 12th studio disc, due out June 19, 2012 on Signature Sounds, sports the unmistakable sound he’s made his trademark: fingerpicked acoustic guitar and evocative sonic textures meshed with spare, brilliant songs, delivered in a bone-wise, hard-won voice.

From his early days as the hot New Orleans transplant in the Boston folk scene, through his wilderness years, to his reemergence in the 1990s as one of America’s most distinctive acoustic performers, Chris Smither has always been his own man. He has zigged when others have zagged, eschewing sophisticated studio tricks and staying true to his musical vision, surrounding himself with sympathetic musicians ranging from Bonnie Raitt and the late Stephen Bruton to the next-generation kindred spirits with whom he works today.

It’s easy to see that Smither’s primary touchstone is acoustic blues, once describing his guitar style as “one third Lightnin’ Hopkins, one-third Mississippi John Hurt and one-third me.” While “blues” can evoke images of beer-sodden bar bands cranking out three sets a night wondering why one’s baby left them, Smither reaches back to the primordial longing and infinite loneliness held within the form.

Sure, the album kicks off with the deceptively jaunty title track, whose good-time, ricky-tick shuffle masks the singer’s walking the creaky floorboards of doubt. But the cosmic blues come to the fore on the next cut: “On the Edge” is part conversation, part confessional and part affirmation. This is when you start to realize what extraordinary artistry — what seamless meshing of sound, subject and delivery — is going on here.

Producer David “Goody” Goodrich (credits: Peter Mulvey, Jeffrey Foucault, Rose Polenzani, The Amity Front), a true musician’s musician, is a natural partner for Smither. “He knows me and my music so well that I trust his ideas implicitly and he keeps coming back with new ones,” says Smither. “This is my fifth project with Goody and each time he raises the bar.”

The recording sessions came together during early 2012 at Signature Studios in Pomfret, Connecticut. Stopping by were the nexus of two of Boston’s most distinctive and influential acts of the recent era — Treat Her Right’s (later Morphine) drummer Billy Conway and Jimmy Fitting on harmonica, and Goodrich’s ex-Groovasaurus bandmates Anita Suhanin (vocals) and violinist Ian Kennedy (Page/Plant, Lemonheads, Juliana Hatfield, Peter Wolf, Susan Tedeschi).

“I've either worked with or been around all the musicians on this record over the years so it was a very comfortable and personable situation,” says Smither. “All these folks are the best at what they do. It makes my job easy.”

While this is Smither’s twelfth studio album, this is his first-ever outing comprised entirely of self-penned songs. He’s always favored the cream of songwriters, such as Dylan, Mark Knopfler and Chuck Berry, mixed with classics from the blues canon, but this time, the credits read all-Smither. “Actually,” he laughs, “there are two covers on the record; but it’s me covering myself.”

“My producer and manager made the argument — a strong one — that songs from my earlier catalog were written by a young man. I'm not a young man any longer but they thought it would be interesting to interpret work from my youth from the perspective of having been on the planet as long as I've been now.”

While it is no surprise that several of his songs have become virtual standards, it is ironic that the assuredly masculine Smither has found favor almost exclusively with female singers: “Love You (Me) Like a Man” has been recorded countless times, with the best known versions by Bonnie Raitt and Diana Krall, “Slow Surprise” by Emmylou Harris and “I Feel the Same” by Raitt, Candi Staton and Esther Phillips among others.

“We chose ‘I Feel the Same’ because of its conciseness. I’ve been told it’s a good example of less is more,” says Smither. Indeed, in three spare verses, “I Feel the Same” is one of the most hauntingly evocative modern blues ever written. “All that nothin’ causes all that pain,” marvels the singer, as he surveys the desolate landscape of heartbreak before him.

Equally unflinching is “Every Mother’s Son.” Tracing a direct line from Cain to Billy the Kid to David Koresh and Timothy McVeigh, “Every Mother’s Son” is an indelible portrait of nihilism:

“I speak to you. I think you'll understand/You know you’ve made your son Joseph a dangerous man/He's gone to town, he's bought himself a gun . . .” “It’s a song I wish would become irrelevant,” says Smither, “But I don’t think it ever will.”

On Hundred Dollar Valentine, Chris Smither makes music that simultaneously breaks and fortifies one’s heart. It’s music that acknowledges that even as we are together, we are alone. This is music that stares into that absolute abyss and does not lie. This is music that locks its gaze with life and death and does not look away.

On Hundred Dollar Valentine, Chris Smither sings the cosmic blues.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

They Call Me the Snake - Luther ' Snake Boy' Johnson

The confusing plethora of artists working under the name of Luther (nickname here) Johnson can leave even those with a decent knowledge of blues in a major state of confusion. But in this biographical entry, we concern ourselves with the life and times of Luther "Georgia Boy/Snake Boy" Johnson who, to make matters even more confusing, also worked and recorded under the names Little Luther and Luther King. (It turns out his real name wasn't even Luther, but Lucius.) Upon his military discharge, he picked guitar as a member of the Milwaukee Supreme Angels gospel group, working the local church circuit. But the blues bug hit and he soon had his own little blues trio together, eventually settling in Chicago by the early '60s. He played for a while with Elmore James and was a regular fixture in the Muddy Waters band by the mid-'60s. He recorded as Little Luther for Chess in the mid-'60s ("The Twirl") and by 1970 was relocated to Boston, Massachusetts, working as a solo artist. The next five years found him working steadily on the college and blues festival circuit before cancer overtook him on March 18, 1976, at a mere 41 years of age. ~ Cub Koda, Rovi
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Beyond Here Lies Nothing - Peter Parcek (and Free Download)

Peter Parcek’s daring, incendiary and soulful style is a distinctive hybrid. He weaves rock, gypsy-jazz, country, folk, and blues-- especially blues-- into a tapestry of melody, harmony and daredevil solos that push those styles to their limits without sacrificing the warmth of his own personality.

Peter calls his approach "soul guitar," an appellation that alludes to his playing’s depth of feeling and character, as well as its deepest roots in classic American music. But Peter’s sensibilities are equally attuned to the future.

Peter’s journey as a musician began when the Vietnam War erupted and he graduated high school. With the blessings of his mother and the help of a family friend, he relocated to London, England, and found himself in the thick of the British blues explosion.

"I got real lucky," he recounts. "Whenever I could afford it or sneak in, I could see Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Peter Green in clubs, as well as many other great guitarists who were on the scene, but never made it big.

Daunted by the six-string virtuosity on display all around him, Peter put down his guitar to sing and blow harmonica and joined a band, playing rooms like the famed Marquee Club — one night on a bill with the Pink Floyd. But fate intervened. He was returned to the States for lack of a British work permit.

Once back in Middletown, CT, Peter began witnessing great American blues artists in concert: Skip James, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy. "I would sit as close as possible so I could see exactly what they were doing on the guitar," he says. "It was an amazing education."

Decades later, he would receive a superlative from Guy. "I met some people who knew Buddy and took me to his dressing room after a show," Peter says. "I felt a little out of place, because I didn’t really know anybody. So out of nervousness, I guess, I just absent mindedly picked up one of Buddy’s guitars, unplugged, and started playing. After a while I realized the room was quiet and I looked up, and Buddy was watching me with his finger pressed to his lips for silence.

"You’re as bad as Eric Clapton," Guy remarked. "And I know Eric Clapton."

Peter, who is remarkably modest about his virtuosity, says he didn’t get serious about his instrument until he moved to Massachusetts. "That’s when I developed from a guitar owner to a guitar player, by practicing eight to 10 hours a day," he explains.

Between jobs as a school counselor and instrument salesman, Peter joined his first serious band, Boston’s Nine Below Zero. Their visceral take on classic and original blues won them regional acclaim and led to Peter playing on recordings for the piano legend Pinetop Perkins and a stint as Perkins’ touring bandleader.

"It was an amazing time," Peter relates, "and it inspired me to take the reins of my own music and form a band."

"What I try to bring to any music I play, but especially to blues, is something I learned from Skip James when I saw him perform at Wesleyan University in the ’60s," says Peter. "He played beautifully, with real elegance, and conducted himself in a gentlemanly manner. But people kept talking, so at one point he stopped playing and announced, ‘Mr. Skip would appreciate it if you would stop perambulating when he is expressing.’ And then he left until things quieted down.

"That made something click in me. Skip showed me that it was right to play blues with dignity and style, and to express and conduct yourself as an artist. He obviously put his entire soul into what he was doing on a lot of levels. And that’s what I try to do whenever I pick up a guitar."
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