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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 Devil Down Records. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Devil Down Records. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Devil Down Records artist: Turchi - Road Ends In Water - Review


I have had the opportunity to review the new recording Road Ends In Water by Turchi. It will be available for sale on March 1. This is a really interesting recording and one that should be well received by fans of the new primitive blues movement (like me). By the new primitive blues movement, I refer to bands such as the Black Keys, The White Stripes and so many other bands who have gone back to the roots of the blues and put their own spin on the style.

Turchi has done a masterful job of presenting his own music, not a copy of the aforementioned bands, and it is really cool. The recording features 10 tracks, but I am unsure as to how many are originals as the interpretations are fresh. The first track, Keep On Drinkin' is great to get the groove started with Turchi's field holler type voice over slide work and backing instrumentals. On Watchya Tryin he uses the effective technique of singing along with his resonator on the melody and then steps back to play lead on what sounds like an electric guitar tuned in an open tuning. Be Alright has the tempo of the early Chicago blues stuff when it was first becoming electrified and the slide tone of Hound Dog Taylor (not his style...but the raw tone). One of the things that I really like about the release aside from the raw guitar playing is the vocal delivery which is sometimes distorted and sometimes delayed and sometimes in the present. Overall it is very effective. Do For You again a Chicago style blues in that it has the sound of the early electrified blues. Really cool. Don't Let The Devil Ride is a little more modern sounding but still retaining the raw edge present throughout the recording as with the great slide playing. I Can't Be Satisfied, the old Muddy Waters song is done much at the tempo of the original with substantially altered vocals actually putting me in mind of some of the effects the the Stones used on early recordings. Had the artist not thought through all of these issues I don't believe that the song could have carried it's weight. Really great! Shake'em keeps the original tradition strong with the slide resonator and dual slide work throughout. The final song, Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning has a very fresh look at the song. I have 3 times seen the title and gone back to the recording to hear it. It's a great tune and one that most of us know well. It is almost like a Hot Tuna take on a blues song but in this case, Turchi stays much closer to the original than Hot Tuna did on this song 40 years ago. It retains it's spirituality and is a great cap to the end of the recording.

I highly recommend this recording to anyone who likes the pure blues in an unadulterated form done by modern musicians. I feel that Turchi has done an excellent job.

Releases 01 March 2012
Vocals: Reed Turchi
Guitar: Reed Turchi, Luther Dickinson, Chris Reali
Bass: Chris Reali
Drums: Cameron Weeks

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Devil Down Records Artist Earl "Little Joe" Ayers

Here's an honest blues musician who is obviously uncomfortable in front of the camera... but he still tells a good story!
Earl “Little Joe” Ayers is a blues guitarist and singer based in Holly Springs, Mississippi. For over thirty years, he was a member of the Soul Blues Boys, Junior Kimbrough’s long-time backing band.

Ayers was born in nearby Lamar and began performing at house parties in the area when he was 15. When asked what inspired him to begin playing the guitar, he replied, “It was something that other people weren’t doing.” He also saw the enjoyment that his second cousin, Lindsey Boga, and Junior Kimbrough derived from their musical pursuits, and “didn’t want to be left behind.”

Boga was a contemporary of Kimbrough’s as well as the first person he performed publicly with. Ayers bought his first guitar from Boga’s father for $4 and began learning from his second cousin. “I was around Junior about every other Sunday; I was around [Boga] every other day,“ Ayers says. After Boga went into the Army, Ayers learned more from Kimbrough himself, “picking up his sound.” Ayers absorbed Kimbrough’s unique style so well that eventually Kimbrough asked him to play with him, and in 1965 he joined his band.

Calling themselves the Soul Blues Boys, the band was initially composed of Kimbrough and Ayers on guitar and George Scales on bass. Kimbrough later added a drummer to their group; John Henry Smith, John Henry McGee (both now deceased), and Calvin Jackson all served terms behind the drum kit for Kimbrough. Scales was frequently absent due to the demands of his job as a concrete finisher for a construction firm, and during his long absences Ayers began to play bass in his place. He remained the bassist for the Soul Blues Boys until Kimbrough’s death in 1998.

Ayers toured extensively in the region with Kimbrough and company, but drew the line on playing overseas as he doesn’t care for flying. They made the rounds of the festival circuits in the summertime, and played at house parties and local jukes such as Marshall Scruggs’ in winter. They also frequently performed with members of the Burnside family. “It became almost like a combining thing,“ Ayers recalls. “Whenever they’d have a gig, we’d get one; whenever we’d get a gig, they’d get one.“ In 1991 Ayers played bass behind Kimbrough in Robert Palmer’s documentary Deep Blues; their performance of “All Night Long” was filmed before the release of Kimbrough’s debut album of the same name on Fat Possum Records, which was also produced by Palmer.

Ayers has performed irregularly since Kimbrough’s death. In recent years he has made appearances at the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic in Potts Camp, as well as at Red’s in Clarksdale. He also occasionally sits in with fellow Hill Country blues musicians such as Kenny Brown. Having recently retired from his job as an electrician for the Holly Springs School District, he and fellow Soul Blues Boys George Scales and Calvin Jackson are discussing a possible return to full-time performing. Ayers has four children and two grandchildren; his son Trenton Ayers is also a bassist, and currently performs with the Mississippi Delta-based blues-rock band The Electric Mudd. Ayers released "Backatchya", a solo album, on Devil Down Records in September 2011.
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