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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 Henry Gray. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Henry Gray. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

VizzTone artist: Bob Corritore and Friends - Phoenix Blues Rumble - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Phoenix Blues Rumble, from Bob Corritore and Friends and it's a great blues rumble. Opening with Big Fat Woman 489 LBS. a blues rocker featuring Chico Chism on vocal and drums, Henry Gray on piano, Paul Thomas on bass and Bob Corritore on harmonica. This is a solid opener with plenty of harmonica by Corritore. With a deep, New Orleans, R&B feel King Karl has the microphone on Mathilda, wailing some really soulful lines. With Johnny Rapp on guitar, S.E. Willis on piano Thomas on bass and Doug James on horns, this is a real standout. George Bowman has the mic for slow blues, I Was A Fool and it's one of my favorites on the release with Jon Atkinson on guitar, Danny Michel on rhythm guitar, Troy Sandow on bass and Brian Fahey on drums. Corritore is a standout on this track with thick, heavily hooded harmonica and Atkinson lays in a tasty guitar of his own to tie down the track. Shuffle, Nine Times Out Of Ten, with it's sonny Boy Williams feel, again features Bowman on lead vocal. Atkinson on guitar fans the guitar nicely, Corritore blows a strong solo on harp and Sandow and Fahey hold the bottom tight. Sugaray Rayford leads the way on The Glide with super vocals joined by Junior Watson on guitar, Fred Kaplan on piano, Kedar Roy on bass and Rena Beavers on drums. Watson takes a real nice solo with Kaplan keeping the rhythm on piano. Wrapping the release is I'm Evil, a slower Chicago style track featuring Big Pete Pearson on lead vocal. With Johnny Rapp pulling the strings on lead guitar, Corritore adding essential harmonica lead, Chris James on guitar, Matt Bishop on piano, Patrick Rynn on bass and Fahey on drums, this is an excellent closer. 

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Friday, December 11, 2020

Henry Gray & Bob Corritore - Cold Chills - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Cold Chills, from Henry Gray and Bob Corritore and it's a heaping serving of Chicago blues. Opening with Cold Chills, Henry gray is upfront on lead vocal and piano and Corritore has great tone and fullness. Backed by Bob Margolin on guitar, Johnny Rapp on guitar, Chico Chism on drums and Pops McFarlane on drums, this unit is tight. Fats Domino's Don't You Lie To Me is a great track for Gray with natural piano spotlight and Corritore is mic'd forward in the mix which I really like. John Brim gats the mic on slow blues, Moonlight Blues, also taking the lead on guitar with Corritore on harmonica, Paul Thomas on bass, and Chism on drums. This track has a great feel and balance. Eddie Taylor Jr leads the way on guitar and vocal on Going Away Baby with Corritore on harmonica, Illinois Slim on on guitar, Brian Fahey on drums, and Bob Stroger on bass. Very nice. Gray is back on piano on Mother - In - Law Blues featuring Robert Jr Lockwood on guitar and Chism on drums, Rapp on guitar and Mario Moreno on bass. In the slot, solid. Tail Dragger is upfront on Hurt Your Feelings and Johnny Burgin adds tasty lead guitar. With Slim on guitar, Fahey on drums and Stroger on bass, deep Chicago blues. Jimi "Primetime" Smith is at the mic on You For Me a cool shuffle track with a nice lope. Gray and Corritore really shine on this track with Troy Sandow on bass and Marty Dodson on drums. Chief Schabuttie Gilliame does an outrageous job on lead vocal on boogie, Javelina Jamboree with Burgin smoking the guitar and great piano riffs by Gray. Backed by Moreno on bass and Chism on drums, this is my favorite track on the release. Wrapping the release is slower blues, Going Down Slow with Gray back on lead vocal and piano and chilling guitar riffs by Rapp. This is an excellent closer for a really strong traditional Chicago blues release. 

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Monday, December 7, 2020

VizzTone Label Group SWMAF Records artists: The Kid Ramos / Bob Corritore - Phoenix Blues Sessions - New Release Review


I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Phoenix Blues Sessions, from Kid Ramos and Bob Corritore and I really like it. Opening with Aw Shucks Baby, Kid Ramos and Bob Corritore really have a jam packed release here. With Nappy Brown on lead vocal, Henry Gray on piano, Mario Moreno on bass, Chico Chish on drums, Johnny Rapp on guitar and of course Corritore on harmonica and Ramos on lead guitar this is a solid opener. Super shuffle, Come On In is a perfect style for Ramos' guitar slinging style with it's swagger and features Gray on lead vocal and piano. Ramos walks it out nicely making this one of my release favorites. Slow blues, 24 Hours features Dr. Fish on lead vocal and he really digs in nicely working in really nicely with the soulful guitar lead of Ramos. Another slow blues, Mother In Law Blues, features Chism on lead vocal, Paul Thomas on bass and Tom Mahon on piano. I really like the piano guitar interplay between Mahon and Ramos on this one. Possum In My Tree is another real nice track, this time featuring Big Pete Pearson on vocal. Ramos pulls out the side on this one and with a Muddy Water kind of styling and with Mahon on piano. Very nice. Wrapping the release is Snakes Crawls At Night with Chief Schabuttie Gilliame on lead vocal with strong guitar lead, piano by Mahon on piano and Corritore on harmonica making for a super closer. 

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Howlin' At Greaseland - Various Artists - New Release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Howlin' At Greaseland, from Kid Andersen's Greaseland Studios and it's strong. This all-star tribute release to Howlin' Wolf features many of today's greatest blues players. Opening with Meet Me In The Bottom, Alabama Mike is upfront on lead vocal backed by Rick Estrin on harp, Alex Pettersen on drums, Bobby Yamalov on bass, Kid Andersen on guitar and slide and Lorenzo Farrell on piano paving a wide path. On Smokestack Ligntnin', John Blues Boyd has the mic, joined by Rockin' Johnny Burgin and Kid Andersen, Joe Kyle Jr. on bass, Estrin on harp, D'Mar on drums and Jim Pugh on piano. Very nice. Howlin' For My Darling features Terry Hanck on sax and vocals, backed by Johnny Cat Soubrand on guitar, Andersen on bass, Pettersen on drums and Pugh on piano. Both Hanck and Soubrand stretch a bit instrumentally adding nicely to the tight groove.  Tail Dragger is upfront on I'm Leaving You and Aki Kumar's harp work stands out nicely, with a crisp guitar solo by Burgin, backed by Vance Ehlers on bass and June Core on drums. Henry Gray is on top on Worried Life Blues, one of my favorites on this release. His vocals and piano work are very real backed by Patrick Rynn on bass, Chris James on guitar. Shuffle track, Riding In The Moonlight, features Boyd on lead vocal, Andersen and Rockin' Johnny on guitars and Estrin on harp. This is a super track giving each featured artist space to take a whack. Very nice. Lee Donald belts out Forty Four with Andersen on piano, Soubrand on guitar, Kumar on standout harp, Phillips on bass and Core on drums. Another of my favorites on the release is Don't Trust No Woman with Tail Dragger on vocal Burgin on guitar and Kumar on harp. Gritty and tasty. Gray and Andersen play a simple duet on Little Red Rooster which is quite powerful with Gray's gripping vocals and piano styling. Wrapping the release is Spoonful with Boyd on vocal with stinging guitar riffs by Burgin and Andersen. This is a solid release of Burnett originals, performed in authentic style. Very cool.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Blues Hall of Fame Inductees announced: Mavis Staples, Johnny Copeland, Henry Gray, Latimore and more

Six performers, one album, five singles, one book and one magazine founder
will be inducted at the Blues Foundation’s 38th Annual
Induction Ceremony on May 10

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Blues Foundation welcomes the 38th class of Blues Hall of Fame inductees in a ceremony taking place on May 10, 2017. This year’s 14 richly deserving honorees represent all five of the Hall of Fame’s categories: Performers, Non-Performing Individuals, Classic of Blues Literature, Classic of Blues Recording (Song) and Classic of Blues Recording (Album).
The six performers chosen for induction include two distinctive vocalists, Mavis Staples and Latimore; a pair of legendary guitarists, Magic Slim and Johnny Copeland; and longtime Howlin’ Wolf sidemen guitarist Willie Johnson and piano-man Henry Gray. They will join the more than 125 performers who already are Hall of Fame members. The year’s non-performer selection is Living Blues Magazine co-founder and radio show host Amy van Singel, who passed away in Sept. 2016. 
The Classic of Blues Literature pick is the rightfully recognized Father of the Blues, W.C. Handy’s 1941 memorable autobiography. John Lee Hooker was among the Hall’s first inductees in 1980 and now his 1966 Chess album Real Folk Blues will enter the Hall of Fame too in the Classic of Blues Recording Album category. The quintet of Classic of Blues Recording songs includes Bo Diddley’s signature tune “Bo Diddley,” Tommy Tucker’s much covered classic “Hi Heel Sneakers,” the Albert King hit “I’ll Play the Blues For You,” Son House’s “Preachin’ the Blues” and “I Ain’t Superstitious,” which features 2017 inductee Henry Gray playing on Howlin’ Wolf’s well-known 1961 recording. 
The Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony takes place Wednesday, May 10 at Memphis’ Halloran Centre for the Performing Arts and Education. Hosted by the Blues Foundation, the evening begins at 5:30 p.m. with a Cocktail Reception, followed by the Induction Ceremony at 6:30 pm. Tickets for this open-to-the-public ceremony are $100 per seat and can be purchased online at:
More festivities occur the following day, May 11, with the Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards. Celebrating the past year’s best in blues recordings and performances, this event will be held at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. A pre-ceremony party commences at 5:30 p.m., while the Awards Show, including a seated dinner and featuring performances by many of the nominees, starts at 7 pm. Individual tickets and tables may be purchased for $150 per seat at the same link as above. For more information, contact Barbara Newman, President & CEO;; (901) 527-2583, Ext. 12 
Henry Gray, who played piano in the Howlin’ Wolf band and other Chicago blues groups before returning to his native Louisiana in 1968, has rarely been in the spotlight, but has steadily built an impressive resume entertaining audiences around the world with his blues-drenched piano pounding. Gray, born in 1925, is still performing regularly six decades after his first recording sessions in Chicago.
Willie Johnson (1923-1995) recorded only a few songs on his own, but as a sideman his storming barrage of distortion and incendiary guitar licks in the 1950s, especially on the early records of Howlin’ Wolf, earned him a lasting reputation as a groundbreaking commando in the annals of electric guitar playing. Mentored by Wolf in their Mississippi days, Johnson played in Wolf’s band in the South and in Chicago, and recorded for Sun Records in 1955.
Mavis Staples, one of America’s premier singers of gospel and soul music, has expanded her musical mastery with her performances in more blues-based settings in recent years. The blues is nothing new to the Staples family, as Mavis’ father and founder of the Staple Singers, Roebuck “Pop” Staples, was a devotee of Delta blues master Charley Patton back in Mississippi. Mavis, born in Chicago in 1939, remains on her lifelong mission to inspire and uplift her listeners no matter what musical genre she employs.
Johnny Copeland (1937-1997) was one of a bevy of blazing guitar slingers to emerge from the vibrant Third Ward of Houston, Texas, and one of the city’s most powerful singers as well.  Establishing himself with a series of blues and soul singles beginning in 1958, he attained national prominence in the 1980s recording blues albums for Rounder Records. His daughter Shemekia has followed in his footsteps by winning multiple Blues Music Awards.
Magic Slim led one of the most relentless, hard-driving bands in Chicago blues history for several decades until his death in 2013. Born Morris Holt in Mississippi in 1937, he earned his nickname from his friend and fellow blues guitar ace Magic Sam. Slim was also known for possessing perhaps the largest repertoire of any blues artist, always able to pick up another song from the radio or the jukebox, enabling him to record more than 30 albums and garner dozens of Blues Music Awards nominations. His son Shawn “Lil Slim” Holt is ably carrying on the family blues tradition.
Latimore, the abbreviated stage name of singer, keyboardist and a songwriter Benny Lattimore, has cut a dashing figure on the Southern soul circuit ever since he began touring in the 1970s on the strength of hits such as “Stormy Monday” and his best-known original, “Let’s Straighten It Out.”  Latimore, who was born in Tennessee in 1939 but has called Florida home since the 1960s, is now a distinguished and still spirited love philosopher and elder statesman of the scene.
Individuals: Business, Production, Media or Academic
Amy van Singel, known to blues radio audiences as “Atomic Mama,” was a cofounder of Living Blues magazine in Chicago in 1970. She and her former husband Jim O'Neal published the magazine from their home in Chicago until they transferred the publication to the University of Mississippi in 1983. Her radio career began at Northwestern University and included stints at stations in Chicago, Mississippi, Memphis, Alaska and Maine. Amy died in her sleep at her home in Maine on Sept. 19, 2016, at the age at 66.
Classics of Blues Literature
Father of the Blues by W.C. Handy is a monumental opus that is indispensable to the study of American musical history. Published in 1941, the book traces Handy’s background as a trained orchestra leader, his discovery of the blues and the struggles he endured to become a successful music publisher. It is often cited as a primary resource on the earliest years of blues history. No book is more deserving of designation as a Classic of Blues Literature.
Classics of Blues Recording: Albums
The 1966 John Lee Hooker album Real Folk Blues is the latest of several Chess Records’ Real Folk Blues albums to be elected to the Blues Hall of Fame. Whereas the rest of the LPs in the series by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and others were compilations of older recordings, the Hooker album was newly recorded in May of 1966 in Chicago. Hooker was his inimitable and spontaneous self, reworking some of his older songs and improvising new ones, accompanied by his Detroit guitarist Eddie Burns and Chicago sidemen Lafayette Leake and S.P. Leary.
Classics of Blues Recording: Singles
“Bo Diddley” was not only the 1955 hit record that made Ellas McDaniel famous — it also gave him his professional name. The famed “Bo Diddley beat,” an energized update of the old “Hambone” rhythm, rocked the world, and Bo continued to create classics for Checker Records in Chicago with his innovative blend of blues and rock ’n’ roll.
“Hi-Heel Sneakers” by Tommy Tucker was the last blues record from the mighty Chess Records catalogue to hit No. 1 on the charts. Recorded in New York in 1963, the single on Chess’ Checker subsidiary label topped the Cash Box magazine R&B charts in 1964. Tucker’s enticement to “put on your red dress” and hi-heel sneakers has resounded on countless bandstands ever since.
“I Ain’t Superstitious,” an ominous Willie Dixon composition recorded by Howlin’ Wolf in 1961, is best known to rock audiences through the Jeff Beck Group’s 1968 cover version featuring Rod Stewart on vocals. On the original session for Chess Records in Chicago, Wolf’s band included Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Rogers, Sam Lay and 2017 Blues Hall of Fame inductee Henry Gray.
“I’ll Play the Blues for You,” recorded by Albert King in Memphis for the Stax label in 1971, was written by Jerry Beach, a longtime fixture on the Shreveport, Louisiana, music scene who died in 2016. In Beach’s lyrics, sung with warmth and tenderness by King, the blues becomes a source of soothing and comfort. King’s 45 spent eight weeks on Billboard magazine’s Best Selling Soul Singles chart in 1972 
“Preachin’ the Blues,” a two-part single by Son House on the Paramount label from 1930, is a prime example not only of House’s intensity as a Delta blues singer and guitarist but also of his lifelong inner conflict between the lure of the blues life and devotion to the church. House, who did preach in church at times, also sang of the hypocrisy he saw in religion with lyrics such as “I’m gonna be a Baptist preacher and I sure won’t have to work.”

About the Blues Hall of Fame Museum: Since opening in May of 2015, the Blues Hall of Fame Museum has become a must-see destination for blues aficionados and casual fans alike. Through its ten permanent galleries and the Upstairs Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise Gallery’s temporary exhibit space, the museum exposes, educates, and entertains visitors, providing them a unique way to explore blues culture and history, while also highlighting its 400 inductees. Visitors can use interactive touchscreens to access databases that allow them to hear music, watch videos and read stories about every museum’s inductees. Guests can also view one-of-a-kind memorabilia, from musical instruments and tour attire to awards and artwork.
The 2017 Hall of Fame class will be represented in the special exhibit galleries beginning in early May. Located at 421 S. Main Street, Memphis, the museum is open seven days a week (10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 1-5 p.m. Sun.). Admission is $10 per person, with children and Blues Foundation members free. The museum is also available for private parties and events after hours. For more information, call 901-527-2583.
About the Blues Foundation: This world-renowned, Memphis-based organization holds a mission to preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recording and performance, expand worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form. Founded in 1980, The Blues Foundation has approximately 4,000 individual members and 200 affiliated blues societies representing another 50,000 fans and professionals around the world. Its signature honors and events — the Blues Music Awards, International Blues Challenge, and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards — make it the international hub of blues music. Its HART Fund provides the blues community with medical assistance for musicians in need, while Blues in the Schools programs and Generation Blues Scholarships expose new generations to blues music. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the global blues community with answers, information, and news.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Chicago Blues Extraveganza - Rhythm Room - Phoenix Arizona - Excellent Concert Review

Bob Corritore, one of the top Chicago blues harp players on the planet today and owner of the Rhythm Room in Phoenix, AZ brought a terrific concert to town last night and I was fortunate enough to be in attendance. Corritore, a native of Chicago moved to Arizona over 30 years ago and is such a part of the blues music fabric here that he is sometimes taken for granted by locals. Making routine appearances here around his own recording and touring schedule he often becomes a complimentary musician to guests in his own house. His instrumental release, Taboo is certainly one of the best contemporary blues harp releases that I have heard. Last night, hosting a great group of Chicago musicians, Corritore took the stage with Eddie Taylor Jr. (guitar and lead vocal),Illinois Slim (guitar) and Brian Fahey (drums).
This was a terrific set of straight up Chicago blues showing just how good Taylor is both as a lead singer and blues guitarist and giving Corritore the opportunity to really shine.This initial set was maybe 6 -10 songs and was extremely well received. Exceptional bassist and vocalist Bob Stroger joined the group on bass and lead vocals. Stroger is an exceptional performer who stands out as a musician when in a back up role but as a leader really takes control. Having performed with Eddie King, Odie Payne, Otis Rush, Sunnyland Slim, Willie Big Eyes Smith and Carey Bell, he knows how to do his business and he took control. This was a short but powerful set with Strogers queezing solid gutsy blues from this set of excellent musicians.

This probably isn't a secret to any of my daily readers but I was especially here to see Rockin' Johnny Burgin. Johnny took the stage like wild fire playing two dynamic tracks from his most recent release, Greetings from Greaseland which is exceptional. I had only seen Johnny on video, backing others such as Tail Dragger on his DVD Live At Rooster's Lounge and on Youtube so I was extremely anxious to see him in person. This guy has his own style of guitar playing and is a really super singer. Now don't go off half cocked thinking I'm saying he's Stevie Ray Vaughn or Joe Bonamassa. He's Johnny Burgin and he takes his craft seriously, playing the rocking edge of the Chicago blues and doing it with dynamic style. Burgin only played two tracks as a band leader/lead vocalist, but I've been to concerts where there weren't two songs that I enjoyed as much as these two tracks so don't take that lightly.
Next up was ninety year old Henry Gray has played with a literal who's who of blues including Sonny Boy Williamson II, Homesick James, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Billy Boy Arnold, Muddy Waters, Johnny Shines, Hubert Sumlin, Lazy Lester, Little Walter Jacobs, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Little Milton Campbell, Jimmy Rogers, Jimmy Reed, and Koko Taylor.  I reviewed his most recent release with Corritore, Blues Won't Let Me Take My Rest and his appearance in person was dynamic and memorable. His vocals are solid and his piano playing inspiring. His style to my ear is somewhat similar to one of my favorites, Booker T Laury and his set as a leader was really great as well.
Finally Tail Dragger took the stage, or the entire room as the case was, singing to and hugging most everyone in the room. Kneeling, crawling and growling the entire way, Tail Dragger lived up to every show of his that I have ever seen. Check out my review of his most recent release, Stop Lyin' from 2013. Burgin, who is a now regular with Dragger had some super opportunities to fan the flames and although careful to never take over the show, was super hot gasoline on the smoking fire. Needless to say this was an exceptional show. If you have the opportunity to see this line up, do it. It won't happen too many times and clocking in at over 3 hours, you get way more than your monies worth!  Oh, and Rockin Johnny has some terrific hot blue t shirts. If you know the Bman, you know he's all about the blue (s) so don't be afraid to ask Mr Burgin. They are very affordable and really cool. Mine's in the mail so don't be surprised to see me sporting one at the next blues show!

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Delta Groove Music artist: The Henry Gray / Bob Corritore Sessions - Blues Won't Let MeTake My Rest - New Release review

I just received the newest release, Blues Won't Let Me take My Rest from Henry Gray and Bob Corritore. Featuring 10 previously unreleased out of 14 included tracks, this release features not only Gray and Corritore, but many other of the greats in recent blues history. Opening with Let's Get High, a great piano shuffle with Gray on lead vocal backed by Willie "Big Eyes" Smith on backing vocal and drums and Corritore on harp, this is a great opener. Gray's vocals on Blues Won't Let Me Take My Rest are a stark contrast to Clapton but this is real and Gray's piano with Corritore on shielded harp, Bob Margolin and Johnny Rapp on guitar and Chico Chism on drums, this sounds a lot like Muddy's band. New Orleans flavored boogie, I'm In Love Again features a cool harp riff by Corritore and hot guitar riffs by Rapp. Robert Jr Lockwood is featured on vocal and guitar on Robert Johnson's Ramblin' On My Mind, one of my favorite tracks on the release. Big Maceo's Worried Life Blues, feature Nappy Brown on lead vocal but Gray's piano work is solid and unmistakable. Gray is in top form on vocal on They Raided The Joint, joined by Kid Ramos on guitar, Corritore on harp, Paul Thomas on bass and Chism on drums. Very cool! Dave Riley takes the lead vocal spot on Ride With Your Daddy Tonight joined by Chris James on guitar, Yahni Yiley on bass and Eddie Kobek on drums. Corritore and Gray both do really nice jobs on this track making it one of the strongest instrumental tracks on the release. Lowell Fulsom's Trouble Blues, has a great feel with Rapp laying down some real nice slide over Gray's killer piano and vocal work. Excellent! Shuffle track, I'm Gonna Miss You, keeps Gray up front on piano and vocal. With extended harp work from Corritore, Steve Cushing on drum and, Paul Thomas on bass this track, Rapp steps up again with some pretty cool riffs on guitar. John Brim's That Ain't Right features Brim himself on the mic backed by Troy Sandow on bass and Big John Atkinson on drums. Corritore keeps up the heat but this track really shows how nicely Gray can hit the groove on piano. Ernest Lawler's Can't Afford To Do It has Gray back on lead vocal backed by Little Frank, Danny Michael and Big John on guitar, Sandow on bass and Brian Fahey on drums. One of the hottest tracks on the release is Boogie Woogie Ball, really giving Gray the open door to rock it and he really does. Corritore has strong continuity on harp throughout the track, Kirk Fletcher it tight on the beat with hot riffs backed by Patrick Rynn on bass and Brian Fahey on drums. Very cool! On laid back Honey Don't Let Me Go, Gray has the full focus with lead vocal and piano. Backed by Rapp on guitar, Thomas on bass and Cushing on drums, Corritore steps in for a nice harp solo balancing out the track nicely. Wrapping the release is BB King's She Don't Move Me No More featuring Gray on beautiful piano and lead vocal. I especially like Corritore's riffs on this track as well as Rapps tight guitar solos. Paul Thomas on bass and Chico Chism on drums round out the line up.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Vizztone Label Group artist: Rob Stone - gotta keep rollin' - New release review

I just received the newest release (September 9, 2014), gotta keep rollin', from Rob Stone and it smells of sweet Chicago. Opening with a strong Chicago style blues, Wait Baby, Stone is out front singing and blowing his harp backed by Chris James on guitar. Cool harp work and solid guitar riffs over a solid beat provided by Patrick Rynn (bass) and and Willie Hayes (drums)provides for a great opener. John Lee Willamson's easy stepping Wonderful Time features nice piano work from David Maxwell and a different slice of Stones super vocal work. His harp work complimented by James on guitar makes for an happy go lucky track. Another Chicago style shuffle track, Lucky 13 gives Stone a wide road to play his harp and he takes every inch of it. Cool vocal phrasing, a tight guitar solo from John Primer and a cool melody makes for one of the most memorable tracks on the release. Anything Can Happen features Eddie Shaw on sax and he tears up the solo opportunity as you would absolutely expect. Very cool! Jazz Gillum's, She Belongs To Me, has a subtle easy pace lead by Frank Rossi on brushes giving Stone an easy cloud to sing and especially harp over. Billy Emerson's Move Baby Move, has a great swing and a ringing guitar solo rhythm throughout. James steps out nicely on guitar on this track but leaves room for the super Eddie Shaw to wind it up and blow it out. Very nice! Strollin' With Sasquatch is a very cool instrumental featuring Stone on harp, Ariyo on piano, Maxwell on piano, James on guitar, Rynn on bass and Hayes on drums. Smooth! Wired and Tired has that Muddy Waters jump feel. Featuring Henry Gray on a signature piano solo and Eddie Kobek on drums this track moves. Stone lays out some great harp riffs and James is ever ready on guitar. Super! Willie McTell's Cold Winter Day is a real down and dirty blues track featuring some of my favorite harp work on the release. Maxwell rolling in some really nice piano work and with hot guitar riffs from Primer not only in solo form but also under the melody this is another of my favorites on the release. Excellent! Cornelius Green's It's Easy When You Know How has a certain R&B feel featuring Maxwell on piano under the vocal and harp work of Stone. Having more of a pop feel, this track should have broad appeal. Blues Keep Rollin' On features cool vocal harmonies with Clarke Rigsby and a really infectious melody/rhythm. Not No More' is a great final track for this release with a driving drum rhythm from Hayes, tidy guitar riffs and solo work from James, super piano work from Maxwell, clever lead vocals from Stone, accentuating backing vocals by Mike Mahany and an overall good feeling. Very cool!

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 This track not on this release but a good example of Stone's work:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

This Stone Has "Gotta Keep Rollin'" - Chicago Blues Singer/Harmonica Master Rob Stone Delivers High-Energy Mojo on His New CD for VizzTone Label Group, Due September 9

This Stone Has Gotta Keep Rollin’ – Chicago Blues Singer/Harmonica Master Rob Stone Delivers High-Energy Mojo on His New CD for VizzTone Label Group, Due September 9

Special Guests on Stone’s First Album for VizzTone Include Blues Hall of Famer Eddie Shaw, John Primer, David Maxwell and Henry Gray

NEWTON, MA – The VizzTone Label Group announces a September 9 release date for Gotta Keep Rollin’, the new CD from Chicago blues singer/harmonica master Rob Stone, distributed nationally by Redeye Distribution. Joining Rob Stone and his battle-hardened group of band mates Chris James (guitar), Patrick Rynn (bass) and Willie “The Touch” Hayes (drums), are several special guests, including newly-inducted Blues Hall of Famer Eddie Shaw (sax), guitarist John Primer, Blues Music Award-winning piano player David Maxwell and Henry Gray, former piano man for the legendary Howlin’ Wolf.

From the first notes of the lead-off track, a rousing take on Johnny Jones’ “Wait Baby,” through the album’s closer, “Not No Mo,” (a swingin’ entreaty to a lady friend), it’s obvious that Rob Stone’s music, while steeped in the finest traditions of Chicago blues, is not here gathering dust. It’s exciting, vibrant music for the 21st century with more grooves and high-energy than the law should allow.

Over the course of an dozen high-energy tracks that feature six originals, plus blistering covers of the aforementioned Johnny Jones, John Lee Williamson, (“Wonderful Time”), Jazz Gillum (“She Belongs to Me”), Billy “The Kid” Emerson (“Move Baby Move”), Willie McTell (“Cold Winter Day”) and Cornelius Green (“It’s Easy When You Know How”), Rob Stone and Co. take the listener on a tour of the sounds heard in Chicago-land’s finest blues clubs.  

Gotta Keep Rollin’ is Stone’s fourth album as bandleader and first for VizzTone. His previous CD, Back Around Here (Earwig – 2010) scored big on the blues radio charts and was also named by Living Blues magazine as one of that year’s top release. Prior releases also include No Worries (1998) and Just My Luck (2003), which was nominated for a Chicago Music Award in the “Best Blues Album” category. Rob was also prominently featured in the Martin Scorsese-produced “Godfathers and Sons” episode of the critically-acclaimed blues series that aired on PBS stations nationally in 2003.

Now based in Los Angeles, Rob Stone cut his musical teeth in the gritty clubs of Chicago’s north, south and west sides, learning from the masters. He got his start at age 18, when he slipped into a blues joint in his native Boston to check out harp great Charlie Musselwhite and was instantly transfixed. He bought his first harp the next day and began listening to recordings of Little Walter, Big Walter Horton, Junior Wells, James Cotton and the two Sonny Boys.  Before long, Rob was learning the finer points of the instrument from ex-Muddy Waters mouth organ maestro Jerry Portnoy and playing regularly with Rockabilly legend Sleepy LaBeef. Relocating to Colorado in 1990, he got his feet wet playing with biker bands on the smoky bandstands around Colorado Springs. Then in ‘93, legendary drummer Sam Lay invited the young harpist to sit in with his combo, leading to a job offer and a move to Chicago the next year. Touring internationally with Sam Lay for four years introduced Stone to blues fans worldwide. Despite leaving Sam’s band in 1998 to form the first incarnation of his current band, the C-Notes (with Chris James and Patrick Rynn), Rob and Sam continued to perform together over the years, and Sam has appeared on several of Rob’s albums. “I have worked with many harmonica players, and he turned out to be the best,” says Sam (quite an endorsement, considering Lay was a member of Paul Butterfield’s vaunted mid-‘60s band and also kept impeccable time for Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter). “That cat is a monster harmonica player and musician!”

Besides headlining his own club tours, Stone has opened major shows for a wide-range of stars, including B.B. King, Sheryl Crow, Robert Cray, Los Lobos, James Cotton and Etta James. He’s also gaining a wide reputation as an emerging talent throughout Europe with consistent overseas touring, as well as in Japan, where he’s built an impressive following of fans.

Rob Stone’s hard-hitting, honest and highly-danceable blues never fails to delight crowds at his shows. Firmly committed to spreading the blues gospel, Stone is nevertheless his own man, carving out a niche for himself with exceptional singing and harp work, plus a knack for writing terrific original blues songs.

Rob Stone and his band will support the release of Gotta Keep Rollin’ with non-stop touring both in the U.S. and abroad.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Earwig Music artists: Chris James and Patrick Rynn - Barrellhouse Stomp - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Barrelhouse Stomp, from Chris James and Patrick Rynn and it's a roller! Opening with contemporary Chicago style blues track, Goodbye, Later For You, in traditional fashion, Rynn and James open the release featuring super harp support from Rob Stone and piano work from Aaron Moore. James is always solid on vocals and he lays down nicely phrased riffs on guitar. Just Another Kick In The Teeth has a funky swing to it featuring Eddie Shaw on sax (as well as Jonny Viau, Norbert W Johnson) and Jody Williams on guitar. Viau opens I Feel So Good with a honkin good sax solo and James does a nice job of delivering on this classic blues track with contributions from Willie Big Eyes Smith (drums) and Aarom Moore on piano. Messin' With White Lightning has a spankin quick pace and Jody and James are on it with guitar riffs. Hot piano riffs from David Maxwell highlight this track and Willie Hayes is tight on drums. On slower paced swing track, Before It's Too Late, James digs in with vocal acuity and Moore really shines on keys.  A Fact Is A Fact, a quick paced Chicago style blues features Viau and Johnson on sax and Eddie Kobek on drums. James' vicious slide work and Rynn's steady bass work really make this work. One of my favorite tracks on the release, It Always Can Be Worse, James plays really nice harp along with his vocals and guitar, backed nicely by Hayes, Maxwell and Rynn. I'm Gonna Stop Foolin' Myself has a real R&B feel to it with Johnson and Viau back on mighty sax and Williams lays down some fine riffs on guitar. On classic Vicksburg Blues, Stone is back on harp and Williams on guitar but it's James on vocal and Maxwell on keys that really take this track for a ride. Bobby's Rock is in the tradition of Freddy King with really super fluid slide work from James and fine sax work from Kobek, Viau and Johnson. Take It Easy is a jammin boogie with Maxwell leading the way on keys. This is another track that really highlights James' vocals. Last Call Boogie is a really cool track using the Latin beat under the blues. Full blast sax work, Kobek really smokin the drums, Gray really hammering the keys and nice double stop guitar work from James makes this a terrific wrap to a solid release.  

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Blueberry Hill - Henry Gray

Louisiana-based pianist and singer Henry Gray has a career in American roots music that goes back more than 60 years. Gray was born January 19, 1925, in Kenner, LA, now a suburb of New Orleans. He grew up in Alsen, LA, a few miles north of Baton Rouge. Henry began playing piano as an eight-year-old, and he learned from the radio, recordings, and Mrs. White, an elderly woman in his neighborhood. As a youngster, he began playing piano and organ in the local church, and his family eventually got a piano for the house. While blues playing was not allowed in his parents' home, Henry was encouraged to play blues at Mrs. White's house, and by the time he was 16 he was asked to play at a club near the family home in Alsen. After he told his father, his father insisted on going with him, and once he saw that little Henry made decent money playing blues, he had no ethical or moral problems with his son playing blues piano. After a stint in the Army in the South Pacific in World War II, Henry relocated to Chicago where he had relatives. After arriving in Chicago in 1946, Gray began hanging out in the bustling postwar club scene there, checking out the Windy City's best piano players. One day while he was sitting in at a club, he caught the attention of Big Maceo Merriweather, then a big fish in a small pond of Chicago piano players. Merriweather kindly took Gray under his wing and showed him around the city's blues clubs, and he got to know stars of the scene, including Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. In 1956 Wolf asked Henry to join his band. Gray quickly accepted the offer and stayed on as Wolf's primary piano player until 1968. Gray also became a session player for other recordings made by Chess Records, and over the years he has recorded with many icons of the blues. In addition to Wolf, Gray has recorded or performed with Robert Lockwood Jr., Billy Boy Arnold, Muddy Waters, Johnny Shines, Hubert Sumlin, Lazy Lester, Little Walter Jacobs, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Little Milton Campbell, Jimmy Rogers, Jimmy Reed, and Koko Taylor, among others. Although Howlin' Wolf did not pass away until 1976, Gray left Wolf's band in 1968, following the death of his father, and returned to Alsen to assist his mother with the family fish market business. Gray worked with the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board as a roofer for the next 15 years. A Tribute to Howlin' Wolf In the past 30 years, since he's been back in Louisiana, Gray has performed at nearly every New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival as well as other prestigious gatherings, including the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, and the San Francisco Blues Festival. In 1999 he was nominated for a Grammy for his playing on the Tribute to Howlin' Wolf album released by the Cleveland-based Telarc label, and in 1998 he was handpicked by Mick Jagger himself to play Jagger's 55th birthday soiree in Paris, along with a few other noted blues musicians. Having spent so much of his life as a sideman, Gray's recordings under his own name were few and far between, but that all began to change in the 1990s. Gray's recordings include Lucky Man for Blind Pig in 1988; Louisiana Swamp Blues, Vol. 2 for Wolf Records in 1990; Watch Yourself in 2001 for Lucky Cat; Henry Gray Plays Chicago Blues for Hightone Records in 2001; and the Henry Gray and the Cats CD and DVD sets for the Lucky Cat label in 2004. 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!

Friday, October 12, 2012

BOOGIE - Henry Gray & Guitar Gabriel

Robert Lewis Jones (October 12, 1925 – April 2, 1996), known as both Guitar Gabriel and Nyles Jones, was an American blues Musician. Gabriel's unique style of guitar playing, which he referred to as "Toot Blues", combined Piedmont, Chicago, and Texas blues, as well as gospel, and was influenced by artists such as Blind Boy Fuller and Reverend Gary Davis. After hearing of Guitar Gabriel from the late Greensboro, North Carolina blues guitarist and pianist, James "Guitar Slim" Stephens, musician and folklorist Tim Duffy located and befriended Gabriel, who was the inspiration for the creation of the Music Maker Relief Foundation. Gabriel wore a trademark white sheepskin hat, which he acquired while traveling and performing with medicine shows during his late 20s. Gabriel was born in Decatur, Georgia, moving to Winston-Salem, North Carolina at age five. His father, Sonny Jones (also known as Jack Jones, James Johnson, and as Razorblade for an act in which he ate razor blades, mason jars, and light bulbs) recorded for Vocalion Records in 1939 in Memphis, accompanied by Sonny Terry and Oh Red (George Washington). Sonny Jones also recorded a single for the Orchid label in Baltimore in 1950 (as Sunny Jones). His family, who grew up sharecropping, shared a talent for music. His great-grandmother, an ex-slave, called set dances and played the banjo; his grandfather played banjo and his grandmother the pump organ; his father and uncle were blues guitarists and singers and his sisters sang blues and gospel. In 1935, Gabriel's family moved to Durham, North Carolina, where he began playing guitar on the streets. Between the ages of 15 and 25, Gabriel traveled the country playing the guitar in medicine shows. During his travels, he performed with artists such as Bo Diddley, Lightnin' Hopkins, Louis Jordan, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, B. B. King, T-Bone Walker and Jimmy Reed. In 1970, Gabriel went to Pittsburgh and recorded a single, "Welfare Blues," as well as an album, My South, My Blues, with the Gemini label under the name "Nyles" Jones. The 45 became a hit in Pittsburgh and Cleveland and though the album sold well, Gabriel never saw any royalties. Disillusioned and embittered by the music business, Gabriel returned home to Winston-Salem where he continued playing music, but expressly for his community, at churches, homes, clubs, "drink houses," and even at bus stops when children were returning home from school. The album, My South, My Blues was reissued in 1988, on the French label, Jambalaya, as Nyles Jones, the Welfare Blues. Tim Duffy and Guitar Gabriel in Utrecht, 1991 In March 1990, musician and folklorist Tim Duffy began searching for Guitar Gabriel. After being directed to a drink house in Winston-Salem, Duffy met Gabriel's nephew, Hawkeye, who took him to meet Gabriel. Duffy and Gabriel forged a friendship, and began performing under the name Guitar Gabriel & Brothers in the Kitchen, later recording the album, which was released on cassette, "Do You Know What it Means to Have a Friend?" on their own Karibu label. During this time, Duffy would assist the impoverished Gabriel by providing transportation, paying bills, and providing food for him and his wife, but realized that there were many more musicians like Gabriel who were in need of the same assistance, and who were still capable and willing to record and perform. In 1994, Tim and his wife, Denise Duffy founded the Music Maker Relief Foundation. Through this foundation, Gabriel was able to perform in professional venues, including the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, and made several trips to Europe. Gabriel died April 2, 1996, and is buried with his guitar (per his request to Duffy) at the Evergreen Cemetery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina “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”

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Henry Gray & Tail Dragger with Bob Corritore's Rhythm Room All-Stars

JAMES YANCY JONES, known as THE TAIL DRAGGER, is a long-time disciple of Howlin' Wolf; in fact, the Wolf gave James the moniker "Tail Dragger" emanating from one of the Wolf's now-classic songs. The Tail Dragger followed Wolf from club- to-club, watching and getting pointers from the larger-then-life Howlin' Wolf for more than 20 years. The Wolf allowed

"The Dragger" to perform his blues while Wolf took a break on weekend shows. Soon "The Dragger" was playing his own numerous club dates on the West and South Sides of Chicago.

TAIL DRAGGER is from Altheimer, Arkansas and during his formative years he saw Sonny Boy Williamson and Boyd Gilmore perform at house parties and country suppers. Dragger soon heard the records of Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters and Elmore James and his musical tastes were set in stone.

Tail Dragger remains intensely loyal to his early influences. The Tail Dragger, by his own admission, sings only lowdown blues. "Lowdown blues is all I like...All I feel...and I sing what I feel," flatly states The Dragger. "Its's like I get into a trance when I sing the blues, I forget about everything else. Nothing else matters," concludes The Tail Dragger.
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Monday, March 5, 2012

Delta Groove Artists: Tail Dragger and Bob Corritore - Longtime Friends in the Blues : Review

I just had the opportunity to review the new recording by Bob Corritore and Tail Dragger. Longtime Friends In The Blues will be formally released on March 20, 2012. Tail Dragger wrote 9 of the ten tracks included on this Chicago Blues infused release. The band is made up of numerous veteran artists. In addition to Tail Dragger on vocals and of course Corritore on harp, Henry Gray plays Piano, Kirk Fletcher and Chris James play guitar, Patrick Rynn plays bass and Brian Fahey plays drums. The recording begins with I'm Worried and Tail Dragger takes no time in demonstrating his trademark vocals and his Howlin' Wold influence. Sugar Mama finds Tail Dragger and Henry Gray trading off on vocals. This track shows some particularly cool guitar riffs and of course always Corritore staying tight with his harp. Birthday Blues is a great uptempo blues with strong soloing by Corritore. She's Worryin' Me is a great tune with Corritore winding his harp up a little and great understated guitar work under the mix. Cold Outdoors is another solid track with some strong piano work by Gray and of course solid vocals by Tail Dragger and some great harp voicing from Corritore. So Ezee is a cool driving blues and possibly the best track on the release. The tempo is just solid and Corritore is right on the back of Tail Dragger blowin his harp and the guitars kick in some really great riffs. Through With You is the first slow blues on the release and is very effective in grabbing the sound. All of the instrumentalists get a chance to show their stuff and Dragger leads the way. Done Got Old picks the tempo back up and gets the groove going really well. This is real Chicago! Boogie Woogie Ball, another of my favorites, gives Gray a chance to take the lead and he doesn't hold back. He does a great job on hammering out a great boogie on the keys and leaves space for some nice guitar soloing as well as the rest of the band to strut their stuff. Please Mr. Jailer, another slow blues track finds Tail Dragger beggin the jailer to have mercy on his girl. This is another strong track and another where Corritore blows some great licks. You like Chicago blues? This is the place!

As a side note Corritore and Tail Dragger first met at a Howlin' Wolf tribute in Chicago the day after Wolf died back in 1976. Gray performed and recorded with Wolf for 12 years.

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This track isn't on the release but is representative of the music on the cd. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Little Red Rooster - Henry Gray

While he is best known for his lengthy tenure with Howlin’ Wolf, Gray also backed a virtual who’s who of legendary Chicago blues artists in the studio, and on the bandstand.

Gray’s style was, and still is, instantly recognizable. Rather than play chords like most of his contemporaries, Gray instead plays a busy cluster of notes on his right hand, overtop of the solid blues or boogie bass that he plays with his left hand. His style shone brightest on Wolf’s early 1960s recordings like, “Tail Dragger,” “Goin’ Down Slow” and “You’ll Be Mine.” But, even earlier, he enhanced Billy Boy Arnold’s, “I Wish You Would,” G. L. Crockett’s, “Look Out Mabel,” and Jimmy Rogers, “Blues All Day Long,” to name but a few.

Born January 19, 1923, at Kenner, La, he moved with his family to rural Alsen, La, when he was one year old. Little Henry began playing piano at the age of 10. He took formal lessons, but in 2002 he admitted, “There was no feeling in doing that.”
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