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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 James Armstrong. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Armstrong. Show all posts

Monday, November 13, 2017

Catfood records artist: James Armstrong - Blues Been Good To Me - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Blues Been Good To Me, from James Armstrong and it's quite enjoyable. Opening with title track, Blues Been Good To Me, James Armstrong has a great rolling rhythm going leading the way on vocal and guitar. John Kattke on B3 adds a real nice feel joined by Matt Murdick on keys and Darryl Wright on bass. Second Time Around has a nice slide sound by Armstrong and with his smooth vocals and a modified rock beat. Robert Palmer's Addicted To Love gets a cool, loping swing and Armstrong makes it his own, backed by Amy Slack and Kimberlie Helton as well as the horns of Bryan Fritz, Corey Fritz and Kasimu Taylor. Early Grave is a real nice R&B track and has not only a great feel but premium guitar soloing, vocals and additional vocals by Johnny Rawls and Mary Jo Curry. Very nice! Funky, Old Man In The Morning (Young Man At Night) has a great JGW /WWW R&B/blues feel and clever hook making it one of my favorites on the release. Another super track, Change In The Weather, is a somber bluesy ballad. Armstrong not only shines on vocal but his guitar work in soulful and inviting. Very nice. High stepper, Sleeping With A Stranger  has a cool moving bottom and fluid guitar soloing over top. Wrapping the release is Shot Gun Wedding, a bluesy ballad has a real nice feel and Will Jackson's bass line is solid and groovy. Armstrong has put together a great set of tracks here and this is a solid closer for a real nice release. 

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Monday, September 11, 2017

"Blues Been Good to Me" Declares James Armstrong on New Catfood Records CD, Coming October 20

Blues Been Good to Me Declares James Armstrong on New Catfood Records CD,
Coming October 20

EL PASO, TX – Catfood Records announces an October 20 release date for Blues Been Good to Me, the new CD from James Armstrong, which he produced with Blues Music Award-winner Johnny Rawls. This is his third album for Catfood, following Blues at the Border (2011) and Guitar Angels (2014).

Recorded primarily at Sawhorse Studios in St. Louis, as well as at associate producer Jim Gaines’ Bessie Blue Studio in Tennessee, Blues Been Good to Me showcases the vocals and guitar of James Armstrong, backed by a hand-picked group of musicians who have played with him on numerous live shows, which made for a very comfortable fit. The band includes Matt Murdick - keyboards, vocals (who has worked with Buddy Guy, John Primer, Little Melton, and Johnny Johnson); Johnny McGhee - rhythm guitar (one of the founding members of LTD and has worked/recorded with Marvin Gaye, Natalie Cole and, George Duke); Andrew Blaze Thomas – drums (who has worked with Billy Branch, Bernard Allison, Anna Popovic and Ronnie Baker Brooks); and Darryl Wright – bass (who has worked with Mavis Staples).

“Whenever I'm working on a new CD, I always like to be extremely prepared,” says James Armstrong about the recording process. “On this project, it didn't turn out that way, which seems like a blessing in hindsight. I was extremely busy when I was writing songs and arranging music for this project. Four months prior to going into record, I played over 70 shows. I had a European Tour in March and did 19 shows in 25 days in different cities, came home for two weeks and worked in the States and then flew to Spain for two weeks playing 12 shows back-to-back in different cities in 14 days.

“When we got into the studio in St. Louis, everyone knew how stressed I was because I didn't feel prepared. Prior to the session, I had sent demos for everyone to hear. Two songs I had to finish writing at the session, ‘Second Time Around’ and ‘Old Man in the Morning,’ but I told myself that I was just going to see what happens. I had asked Johnny Rawls to produce the CD with me, who is a master and a veteran at recording.

“Working with the legendary Jim Gaines as associate producer was a special treat. I recorded all of my guitar and vocals at his studio in Tennessee. Jim really helped me get over some of my fears and limitations from my injury in 1995 which resulted in permanent nerve damage to my left hand. I was able to do things on the guitar I have not been able to do since my injury.”

The 10 tracks on the new disc include a number of originals, as well as exciting covers of songs from Robert Palmer (“Addicted to Love”), and Marvin  Gaye  (“How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You”).

Armstrong explains the genesis of the two cover songs: “Growing up in California as a teenager I wanted to be Jimi Hendrix. I listened and played a lot of rock 'n' roll. Darryl Wright (bass player on the CD) came to me with this song idea to put in to my live show. After doing it for a while, I realized I wanted to record it. I always enjoy changing certain song formats like rock, country, etc. into my style of the blues.

I've always loved Marvin Gaye's and James Taylor's versions of ‘How Sweet It Is,’ so I decided to speed it up with a swing-shuffle feel. With my country music background, I wanted to add a little country guitar lick in there. Also, I've never heard the song done before with slide guitar.”

Armstrong also reprises a new version of “Sleeping with a Stranger, a song he originally recorded as the title track of his first album for HighTone Records. “I wrote and recorded ‘Sleeping with a Stranger’ for HighTone Records in 1995, and it was the first song I ever had any major success with. I stopped playing it in my live shows for the last ten years but I'm always getting requests to do it. I decided to re-record it. In the early ‘90s I was in a relationship that I was not happy with. One morning, I woke up and there was a poem that she wrote called ‘Sleeping with a Stranger’ on her pillow. I changed a few words, added music and the next thing I knew I had a song.”

James Armstrong will continue touring throughout the summer and fall in support of the new album, and summarizes his feelings about it thusly: “I'm extremely happy with the results of the recording. Blues Been Good to Me is the most exciting recording I've done in years.”

Friday, January 31, 2014

Catfood Records artist: James Armstrong - Guitar Angels - New release Review

I just received the newest release, Guitar Angels (February 18, 2014) from James Armstrong and its smooth! Opening with a swinging shuffle tune, Grandma's Got A New Friend, Armstrong picks up where he left off on Blues at the Border with clever lyrics and stinging guitar work. Healing Time has a Curtis Mayfield/Wolfman Washington groove with a nice R&B feel and sweet vocals. A total redo of Glenn Frey's Take It To The Limit is actually almost unrecognizable in a good way. This track has a lot of attitude and drummer Rick King adds that drum attitude. With a real nice loping groove Armstrong lays down BB King like riffs and sings one of the coolest covers I've heard in a long time. Guitar Angels is a really nice Mayfield like R&B style ballad. Possibly my favorite track on the release, Armstrong sings in the pocket and Eric Tinsley lays down a nice bass line for Armstrong to solo over. Very nice! Moving To Nashville has a bit of a two step feel with nice slide work from Armstrong. Goodbye Kiss is a straight up ballad with solid vocals and melody. Dan Ferguson carries the basis of the track on keys. Bank Of Love is a hot potato with Rick King laying down a strong drum line. Armstrong really grips the vocal part on this track and with complimentary guitar riffs tears this track up! Another of my favorites on the release. Saturday Night Women has a cool strut to it featuring cool bass lines from Malcolm Gold and perfect rockin key work from George Papageorge. Armstrong has the perfect feel for guitar accent demonstrating it well on this particular track. Johnny Copelan's Blues Ain't Nothin' establishes a terrific groove with Gold again on bass and Warren Grant on drums. Armstrong does a great job of strokin this classic funky blues track. R&B style Runaway Train has the support of a great horn section includingAndy Roman (sax) Mike Middleton (trumpet) and Robert Claiborne (trombone). With a slick funky jog this track hits home. Finishing up the release with the radio version of Guitar Angel, this is a great conclusion to a sweet release. Jimi Hendrix melodies swirl through soul track with blues guitar riffs. Very very nice.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

James Armstrong Talks to "Guitar Angels" on New Catfood Records CD, Coming February 8

James Armstrong Talks to Guitar Angels on New Catfood Records CD, Coming February 8

Follow-Up to His Critically-Acclaimed Label Debut Is His Most-Personal Album to-Date

EL PASO, TX – Catfood Records announces a February 18 release date for Guitar Angels, the latest album from contemporary blues singer/guitarist James Armstrong, and follow-up to his acclaimed label debut, Blues at the Border.

“This new CD bears the stamp of James Armstrong throughout, along with the assistance of his good friend, Michael Ross, as producer,” says Catfood Records head Bob Trenchard. “Various musicians were used in the making of the album and it was recorded at three different studios, but the common thread is James Armstrong’s unique talent on every song. He is a true original in his songwriting, guitar playing and vocals.”

The nine original songs on Guitar Angels are bolstered by the inclusion of two stellar covers: a wonderful re-working of the Eagles hit, “Take It to the Limit,” which he transforms into a bluesy shuffle; and a solid take on Johnny Copeland’s “Blues Ain’t Nothin’.”

“Working with Bob Trenchard of Catfood Records has been a blast,” says James Armstrong about the sessions. “I was delighted after the 2012 release of Blues at the Border that Bob wanted me to do another one so quickly. The songs came from some new ideas, some old ideas and some humorous ones.”

One of the “humorous ones” James refers to is the album’s lead-off track, “Grandma’s Got a New Friend,” a song about how the Baby Boomer approach to aging differs from previous generations. A tune that James has been performing live for many months, it’s become a crowd favorite and was an obvious choice to include on Guitar Angels. Another fan-pleaser is “Saturday Night Women,” which never fails to elicit shouts from club audiences when performed live.

James Armstrong’s approach to the blues and songwriting has always been from a contemporary standpoint that keeps the music relevant without forsaking its roots. To that end, there are several very personal songs that mean a lot to James, but will also resonate with listeners, as well. “Healing Time,” co-written by Armstrong and Michael Ross, deals with the death of Michael’s brother, Norman, who had recently passed away. It’s a moving tribute to a brother who also played guitar with such notables as Ronnie Spector and Irene Cara.

The album’s title track “has been in my head for a few years,” notes Armstrong. Since my injury in 1996, many guitar players, alive and dead, have helped me. I still am unable to bend the third finger on my left hand, or use my little finger, but I attribute some of the reason I’m actually able to play the guitar again to my ‘guitar angels:’ my father, James Armstrong Sr., Mike Ross, Coco Montoya and Joe Louis Walker.”

The incident James refers to was the horrible home invasion attack he suffered in 1996 that left Armstrong without the use of his left hand and arm, including permanent nerve damage. This threatened his career forever, but that thanks to a lot of hard physical rehabilitation, plus the support of friends, fans and the blues community, Armstrong returned to performing and has never looked back.

Born to a jazz guitar-playing father and blues-singing mother, James Armstrong was literally born to play the blues. Raised in Los Angeles, he formed his first band in the seventh grade and by age 17 was already touring the country. He soon became the youngest guitar player ever in Smokey Wilson’s legendary band and was mentored by another legend, Albert Collins. Shortly thereafter he was discovered by HighTone Records co-owner Bruce Bromberg and signed with the label, recording several acclaimed albums for them.

James Armstrong will support the release of Guitar Angels with consistent touring both in North America and overseas. For more information, visit  and

Sunday, April 22, 2012

James Armstrong Live

In a world where TV contests promise instant stardom and post 9-11 border hassles have forced many artists to hang up their guitars, James Armstrong is still out there, earning his title as “Ambassador of the Blues.” Instead of buckling under the pressures of being a touring bluesman in the 21st century, he’s made them the topic of many of the songs on his much awaited new album, Blues at the Border. Recorded in New York and Texas for his new label, Cat Food Records, Blues at the Border manages to honor the sound of traditional blues while giving it the contemporary grit his fans have grown accustomed to hearing from James.

Born in Los Angeles, Armstrong’s mother was a blues singer and his father played jazz guitar. James started performing at the age of eight and by the time he was 17, he was touring across the country. Over the years he’s worked with Albert Collins, Keb Mo', Coco Montoya, Roy Brown,Joe Louis Walker, Chaka Khan, Ricky Lee Jones, Peter Tork, Jan & Dean, Mitch Mitchell and Tommy Castro.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Catfood Records artist: James Armstrong - Blues At The Border- new release review

I just got a pre release copy of copy of James Armstrong's new release called "Blues At The Border". (Release date December 6, 2011). I've listened to the cd about 3 times and it really is good. It has a really relaxed manner about it and it has a great bluesy swing. James has a smooth voice and plays really tasty guitar riffs over a tight rhythm section. The recording features 11 tracks which were all written by Armstrong or his production affiliates. Armstrong, a native of LA was born into a blues performing family and was performing at 8 and touring at 17. He has worked with Albert Collins, Keb Mo', Cooco Montoya, Roy Brown, Chaka Khan, Ricky Lee Jones, Jan and Dean, Mitch Mitchell and Tommy Castro to name a few. James is a real entertainer! This is a recording that you should check out!