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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 Maine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Maine. Show all posts

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Freight Train - Lenny Breau


Leonard Harold "Lenny" Breau (August 5, 1941 – August 12, 1984) was a musician, guitar player, and music educator. He was known for blending many styles of music including: jazz, country, classical and flamenco guitar. Breau, inspired by country guitarists like Chet Atkins, used fingerstyle techniques not often used in jazz guitar.
Breau was born August 5, 1941, in Auburn, Maine. His francophone parents, Harold "Hal Lone Pine" Breau and Betty Cody (née Coté), were professional country and western musicians who performed and recorded from the mid-1930s until (in Hal Breau's case) the mid-1970s. From the mid to late 1940s they played summer engagements in southern New Brunswick, Canada, advertising their performances playing free programs on radio station CKCW Moncton. Their son began playing guitar at the age of eight. When he was twelve years old he started a small band with friends, and by the age of fourteen he was the lead guitarist for his parents' band, billed as "Lone Pine Junior", playing Merle Travis and Chet Atkins instrumentals and occasionally singing. Breau made his first professional recordings in Westbrook, Maine at the age of 15 while working as a studio musician. Many of these recordings were released posthumously on a CD appropriately titled Boy Wonder.

The Breau family moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1957, and their new band travelled and performed around the city and province as the CKY Caravan. Their shows were broadcast live on Winnipeg's CKY on Saturday mornings from various remote locations. One of their regular listeners was Randy Bachman, who was sixteen years of age at the time. On one occasion Bachman bicycled to a Caravan performance in his West Kildonan neighborhood and ended up meeting Breau. Breau and Bachman soon became friends, and Breau informally began teaching Bachman, who has since described those lessons as "...the beginning of my life as a guitar player."

Around 1959 Lenny Breau left his parents' country band after his father slapped him in the face for using jazz improvisations on stage, and sought out local jazz musicians, performing at Winnipeg venues including "Rando Manor" and the "Stage Door". He met pianist Bob Erlendson, who began teaching him more of the foundations of jazz. In 1962 Breau left for Toronto and soon created the jazz group Three with singer/actor Don Francks and Eon Henstridge on acoustic bass.

Three performed in Toronto, Ottawa, and New York City. Their music was featured in the 1962 National Film Board documentary Toronto Jazz. They recorded a live album at the Village Vanguard in New York City and appeared on US-network television on the Jackie Gleason and Joey Bishop shows. Returning to Winnipeg, Breau became a regular session guitarist recording for CBC Radio and CBC Television, and contributed to CBC-TV's Teenbeat, Music Hop, and his own Lenny Breau Show. To many Canadians, Breau's jazz is still an evocative memory of the sound of CBC in the sixties.

In 1963 and 1964, Breau appeared at David Ingram's Fourth Dimension at 2000 Pembina Highway in Fort Garry, a suburb of Winnipeg.[2] Every Sunday night was a hootenany open to all. Another regular at the club on Sunday Nights at the same time was Neil Young and his band with Vancouver CKNW's Rick Honey as his drummer.

Breau's fully matured technique was a combination of Atkins' and Travis' fingerpicking and Sabicas-influenced flamenco, highlighted by extraordinary right-hand independence and flurries of artificial harmonics. His harmonic sensibilities were a combination of his country roots, classical, modal, Indian, and especially jazz, particularly the work of pianist Bill Evans.

In 1967, recordings of Breau's playing from The Lenny Breau Show had found their way into the hands of Chet Atkins. The ensuing friendship resulted in Breau's first two LP issues, Guitar Sounds from Lenny Breau and The Velvet Touch of Lenny Breau. Live! on RCA. He lived in various Canadian cities until 1976 when he returned to the United States. He spent the next several years moving between Nashville, Maine, Stockton, California and New York City eventually settling in Los Angeles in 1983.

These years were spent performing, teaching, and writing for Guitar Player magazine. During this time, he had custom 7-string guitars made, one classical and one electric. At the time, no company made a string that could be tuned to the high B on his classical guitar. Lenny used fishing line of the correct gauge, until La Bella began making a string for him. Only a few more solo albums and albums recorded with fiddler Buddy Spicher and pedal steel guitarist Buddy Emmons were issued during his lifetime.
Breau had continual drug problems from the mid-1960s, which he managed to get under control during the last years of his life. On August 12, 1984 his body was found in a swimming pool at his apartment complex in Los Angeles, California. The coroner reported that he had been strangled. His wife, Jewel Breau, was the chief suspect in the case but she was never charged with his murder and the case is still unsolved.

Many live and "lost" recordings have been issued since Breau's death. His studio recordings have also been reissued. Thanks to the efforts of Randy Bachman of Guitarchives, Paul Kohler of Art of Life Records and others, a whole new generation of listeners have access to his music.

A documentary entitled The Genius of Lenny Breau was produced in 1999 by Breau's daughter Emily Hughes. It includes interviews with Chet Atkins, Ted Greene, Pat Metheny, George Benson, Leonard Cohen, and Randy Bachman, as well as family members. One Long Tune: The Life and Music of Lenny Breau by Ron Forbes-Roberts (University of North Texas Press 2006) is considered the definitive work on Breau. Nearly 200 people were interviewed for the book which includes a thorough analysis of Breau's music and an extensive comprehensive discography of his recordings.

CBC Radio presented a documentary-soundscape on Lenny Breau entitled "On the Trail of Lenny Breau" (the title is in reference to Breau's parent's song "On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine"). It was first broadcast on September 13, 2009 as part of a regular weekly program called Inside the Music. It was narrated by Lenny's son Chet Breau. The one-hour feature was produced in Montreal by John Klepko.
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Friday, January 20, 2012

Jay Gaunt with Jason Ricci's band New Blood


Jay Gaunt began playing harmonica at the age of 12, developing a passion for blues music. One of Jay’s first exposures to blues was The Blues Brothers movie and shortly thereafter he went to see Dan Aykroyd (in full Elwood mode) at the Opus Theater in West Nyack, NY, at which time Dan called up Jay to sit in for the encore. The moment he stepped on stage and played the Mississippi sax, Jay was hooked. Since then he has been hungrily seeking out everything he can find that relates to harmonica, blues and roots music.

While Jay’s favorite music is the blues, he is not limited to just one genre. He also plays jazz, funk, rock and pop. Jay’s main influences on harmonica are James Cotton, Jason Ricci, Little Walter, Dennis Gruenling, Paul Butterfield, Chris Michalek, Sonny Boy Williamson, Kim Wilson, and Junior Wells. However, Jay does not only listen to harmonica players, but also draws influences from an array of musicians as diverse as Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, and Donny Hathaway.

Jay has shared the stage with Dan Aykroyd, Honeyboy Edwards, the James Cotton Blues Band, Tab Benoit, Kenny Brown, Keith Sykes, Jason Ricci & New Blood, Bob Margolin, Dave Fields, Rich DelGrosso, Eric McFadden, Zac Harmon, Jimmy Hall, Mark Hummel, Jon Paris, Rob Paparozzi, Michael Powers, Richie Canata, Victor Wainwright, Davis Coen, Treasa Lavasseur and Mike Zito.

In addition to performing at B.B. King’s Clubs in New York and Memphis, Terra Blues and The Cutting Room in NYC, Jay has also gigged at Ground Zero Blues Club, Rum Boogie and New Daisy in Memphis, and Biscuits & Blues in San Francisco. Festival performances include The Greeley Blues Fest (2008 & 2009) and Blues from the Top (2008 & 2009) in CO as well as the Cape May Jazz Festival (2009) in NJ. In December 2009 he undertook his first European dates performing with Knut Reiersrud and The Alabama Lovesnakes in Oslo, Norway.

Gaunt has studied with Dennis Gruenling, David Barrett, Jason Ricci, Chris Michalek, Mark Hummel, Jon Paris and Michael Peloquin. He is presently studying music composition with Dr. Pedro Da Silva of NYU.

He is a regular attendee and performer at the annual SPAH conventions and is featured in the spring 2010 issue of Harmonica Happenings. A recent interview with Jay is posted at www.harmonica411.com. Late fall 2009 he appeared in a New Jersey Network State of the Arts TV program and earlier this year Jay was the featured artist on a CBS Sunday Morning segment about Harrison Harmonicas, both videos of which are posted on his YouTube channel.

In 2008 he released his debut album, Blown Away, recorded in San Francisco. His 2010 release, Harmonicopia, was recorded at Royal Studios, Memphis, TN and produced by Lawrence \"Boo\" Mitchell and Charley Burch.

Raised in Portland, Maine, Jason Ricci is the son of the controversial businessman/politician/activist Joe Ricci, founder of Elan School. Ricci started playing music in punk bands at the age of 14. After discovering a love of the harmonica and Blues music, he turned his attention in that direction. In 1995, Ricci moved from Portland to Memphis, TN, where shortly thereafter he placed first in the Sonny Boy Blues Society contest at 21 years of age. Later that same year Ricci recorded his first album, Jason Ricci.

In Memphis, Ricci began playing with David Malone Kimbrough, son of blues great Junior Kimbrough, and soon was a part of the bands of both Kimbroughs and was sitting in with R. L. Burnside. This also marked a dark period for Ricci, as drug addiction led to a one-year stint in jail.

In 1999, Ricci won the Mars National Harmonica Contest, and began playing with Keith Brown, later recording with him as well. In 2000, he received a two-page write up in Blues Access magazine by Adam Gussow (harmonica player for Satan and Adam) saying:

"I am convinced he along with New Jersey's Dennis Gruenling is one of the best harmonica players of his generation."

After 15 months with Big Al and the Heavyweights, Ricci started his own band, Jason Ricci & New Blood, in 2002. This band features Shawn Starski, who, in June 2008, was named by Guitar Player Magazine as one of the "Top Ten Hottest New Guitarists." In 2005, Ricci was honored with the Muddy Waters Most Promising New Blues Artist award.

In 2007 Ricci and New Blood were signed to Eclecto Groove, a new subdivision of Delta Groove Productions. His first album with the label, titled Rocket Number Nine, was released October 23, 2007. Later in 2009 the band recorded "Done With The Devil" for the same Label. The band as a whole has been nominated for Blues Band of the Year three times by Blues Wax magazine. Ricci won the Blues Critic Award for Harmonica Player of the Year (2008) and was nominated for a Blues Music Award for Harmonica Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010.

By January 2011, Jason had relocated to New Orleans, and assembled a new band, Approved By Snakes, with guitarist John Lisi.

Jason received "Best Harmonica Player" at the May 6, 2010 Blues Music Awards.
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Death Letter - Samuel James


Samuel James is part Bill Withers, part Tom Waits, part James Brown, part Leo Kottke, and part P.T. Barnum.

A roots troubadour of the highest order, James will sing you a song with raw, sweat-pouring soul, all the while playing the guitar with such commanding virtuosity you'll swear he's reinventing it. Then he'll tell you a story enrapturing you to the point where you'll almost forget he's a musician.

Samuel James was born the last in a long line of performers including dancers, story tellers, porch-stomping guitar thumpers, and a session-jazz pianist dating back to the 1890s.

James' songwriting has everything from the heavenly flights and evil pits of love to tales of true and bizarre folk heroes.

On stage he can be seen sliding on a resonator, fingerstyling a flamenco guitar, clawhammering a banjo, neck-racking a harmonica, and occasionally showing off on the piano if there happens to be one around.

Samuel James has received standing ovations for his solo acoustic work from Maine to California as well as Canada England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland Germany, France, Norway, Belgium, Poland, and Turkey. Come one, come all and find out why!

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jason Ricci w/ Frank Ward



Jason Ricci (February 3, 1974) is an American harmonica player and singer.

Raised in Portland, Maine, Jason Ricci is the son of the controversial businessman/politician/activist Joe Ricci. Ricci started playing music in punk bands at the age of 14. After discovering a love of the harmonica and Blues music, he turned his attention in that direction. In 1995, Ricci moved from Portland to Memphis, TN, where shortly there after he placed first in the Sonny Boy Blues Society contest at 21 years of age. Later that same year Ricci recorded his first album, Jason Ricci.



In Memphis, Ricci began playing with David Malone Kimbrough, son of blues great Junior Kimbrough, and soon was a part of the bands of both Kimbroughs and was sitting in with R. L. Burnside.[4] This also marked a dark period for Ricci, as drug addiction led to a one-year stint in jail. Ricci claims to have been sober ever since.



In 1999, Ricci won the Mars National Harmonica Contest, and began playing with Keith Brown, later recording with him as well. In 2000, he received a two-page write up in Blues Access magazine by Adam Gussow (harmonica player for Satan and Adam) saying:



"I am convinced he along with New Jersey's Dennis Gruenling is one of the best harmonica players of his generation."



After 15 months with Big Al and the Heavyweights, Ricci started his own band, Jason Ricci & New Blood, in 2002. This band features Shawn Starski, who, in June 2008, was named by Guitar Player Magazine as one of the "Top Ten Hottest New Guitarists." In 2005, Ricci was honored with the Muddy Waters Most Promising New Blues Artist award.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Way I Hurt Myself - Jason Ricci and New Blood


At a young age Jason Ricci has compiled a musical resume that most musicians don’t achieve in a lifetime. Jason has won the Sonny Boy Blues Society contest, The Mars Music National Harmonica Contest, The Muddy Waters Award and many other accolades. Ricci has been featured on televison as well in various commercials, evening and morning news broadcasts, and on two episodes of Emril Legassi's show "Emril Live". Jason has gigged/toured or worked with (not "jammed with" or "Opened For") Big Al and the Heavy Weights, Jimmy Lloyd Rea, Susan Tedeschi, Billy Gibson, Bobby Little, The Hounds, Nick Curran, Josh Smith, Enrico Crivellaro, Big Bad Smitty, Satan and Adam, Junior Kimbrough, Shawn Kellerman and many more. Jason Ricci is that rare individual that only comes along once in a generation – an artist with the unique ability to help shape and redefine the sound of his chosen instrument and forever change the course of music history. His style is varied and his influences far reaching, having spent countless hours absorbing everything from Sun Ra to Little Walter, the Rolling Stones to the Pixies, Lou Reed to Govt. Mule, and everything in between. The depth of his music crisscrosses the audible landscape leaving no stone unturned as he fully explores blues, jazz, funk, rock, punk, and even drawing inspiration from the current crop of jam bands, all while still retaining the stamp of his own inimitable style.
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