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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 Mississippi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mississippi. Show all posts

Friday, February 23, 2018

Louis Gearsgifter Youngblood - Self Titled - New release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the first full band release from Louis "Gearshifter" Youngblood and I really like it. Opening with driving blues rocker, Juke Joint, Gearshifter has a cool, loose, "Mississippi" delivery, backed by Matt Patton and Larry Morrisey on drums. His own guitar style is loose and cool. On traditional track, Rabbit In A Log, Gearshifter delivers like a pro. His vocals are cool, relaxed and rich, his guitar work has sting and organ backing by Jimbo Mathus is understated and solid. No Working Blues sounds like it's right out of a juke joint with it's crude but SRV like guitar riffs and rhythmic vocals. I really like this track which has a golden groove. A Big Change has a regal feel in almost a Screaming Jay vein. Gearshifters' loose guitar style is super and his vocals are rare. Very cool. Jimmy Olden's Goin' Down Slow has a slick, R&B feel but Gearshifter's vocals are all blues. Although not technically SRV, his riffs are every bit as soulful. Very nice. One of the top tracks on the release is Bobby Blue Bland's You've Got To Hurt Before Your Heal with a super melody, strong vocals and it's genuine R&B feel. Another crisp "club style" blues number featuring Youngblood accompanying himself on guitar is Bad Avenue with a cool story and tight blues riffs. Shuffle track, Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On is one of this tracks that just puts a smile on your face. A snappy pace that you can hardly resist bouncing to is the basis of the track and Youngblood's authentic vocals are spot on with his country spanking guitar riffs. Excellent! Wrapping the release is Youngblood original, Get Rich And Marry You with an easy, country two step feel. laid back and real, it's a real cool closer for a real strong release.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Malaco Records artist: Grady Champion - One Of A Kind - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, One Of A Kind, from Grady Champion, and it has variety. Opening with Bump and Grind, Grady Champion on lead vocal and harp along with Ken Smith on bass, Eddie Cotton on guitar and Carroll McLaughlin on keys set an early groove, not unlike a more polished Jesus Just Left Chicago. Nice opener. With a R&B feel, Heels and Hips floats along with a really cool bass line by Smith and nice backing vocals by Champion, Jewell Bass, Eddie Cotton and Lisa Palmer. Shuffle track, House Party, gets deeper in the groove with the addition of Kimble Funchess on trumpet, Jessie PrimerIII on sax, Sydney Ford II on bari, Robert Lamkin on trombone and champion's harp backed by nice vocals by Bass and Palmer. On Life Support, Champion really gets the band swinging on harp and some of his best vocals on the release. Myron Bennett's bass work is tight and vital giving this track just the right weight. Classic, Chicago style blues track, Leave Here Running, features Theodis Ealey on guitar and Champion really opens up his harp for a super run. Ealey throws down a cool solo of his own giving this track even more spirit. Another R&B track, Move Something, has a real nice feel, pumped by the bass work of Smith and the Jackson Horns. Soul tune, One Of A Kind, is one of my favorite tracks on the release with just the right amount of warmth, a nice sax solo by Primer, guitar solo by Ealey and most soulful vocals by Champion backed by super horns and backing vocalists. Stone In My Path has an Albert King kind of feel with Champion's gravely vocals balanced against his harp punctuation over nicely executed piano work by McLaughlin. Thin Line has a rolling bass line edged along by cool backing vocals. Champion's lead vocals and harp capper gives the track a real nice feel. What A Woman has a bit of a Willie Dixon lumber with vocals along the lines of the Wolf. Mr. Elvin Bishop adds slide guitar to the track giving it that extra bit of texture. More contemporary track, When I'm Gone has a cool funky edge, with nice backing vocals from Bass and Palmer. Clean piano work by McLaughlin stands out on this track bumped along by Scott's drum work. Wrapping the release is GC Boogie, a slick instrumental featuring Champion playing harp riffs and Cotton playing guitar riffs over a plucky bass line by Bennett and McLaughlin riding on organ. Cool closer.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Jimbo Mathus EP 'Band of Storms' coming May 6

Nine-song collection a mini-primer of “folk music”
from the fertile pen of the born-and-raised Mississippean
and Squirrel Nut Zippers founder

TAYLOR, Miss. — Trying to pinpoint the musical proclivities of Jimbo Mathus is a bit like trying to predict the path of lightning. You never know where his seemingly limitless creative energy might take him next. But you can bet those bolts of inspiration will produce something you need to hear.
His latest project, the nine-song EP Band of Storms, out May 6, 2016 on the Big Legal Mess label (via Fat Possum), is a brilliant collection of what he characterizes as “just some odds and ends … you know, folk music.”
Well, that depends on your definition of folk music. If it includes Stonesy R&B grooves, straight-outta-Nuggets rawk, deep blues, barrelhouse honky-tonk, a string-laden murder ballad and Louisiana-accented bluegrass, then yeah, we could call it folk. As filtered through the fertile mind of a diehard Southerner, born and raised in Oxford, Miss., not much more than a stone’s throw from Tupelo, Holly Springs and Clarksdale. That is, right in the birthplace of American roots music.
“It’s just a continuation of the work I’ve been doing for, shoot, the past 20 years,” Mathus says. “There’s no big overall, arching thing. It’s just random notes out of my brain.”  
But then he reveals that there is a theme of sorts, and that most of the subject matter is reflected right in Erika Jane Amerika’s cover art. It features a maniacal-looking Mathus standing near a cypress swamp, holding his lightning-struck Epiphone guitar in one hand and a fiery bible in the other. A lightning-zapped Econoline van hovers above him; gathered at his feet are an alligator, his Catahoula dog and a snake-handling Yemayá (the “great mother” of Santeria religion).
All his writing has basically the same theme, Mathus says. “It’s dealing with nature — forces beyond us — and trying to sum it up in my little cave paintings that we call recorded songs.”
Those “little cave paintings” were created at Dial Back Sound, the Water Valley, Miss., studio owned by Fat Possum Records partner Bruce Watson. Mathus has birthed loads of material there; he’s able to jump into the studio just about whenever motivation strikes. The situation is so ideal, Mathus closed his own successful studio a few years back; he was no longer interested in running it after finding so many fulfilling opportunities at Dial Back, including producing and accompanying other artists. 
He uses the winding eight-mile drive from his home in the tiny artist enclave of Taylor, Miss., to think about projects. “If it’s me or if it’s somebody else, it’s all the same,” he says. “We just study on it, trying to make it as great as we can.”
Mathus doesn’t even list individual credits on his albums because, he says, they’re so collaborative. But he plays just about all the instruments, augmented by helpful friends. In this case, they include Watson as executive producer; Mathus produced. Bronson Tew engineered, mixed and mastered — and played many instruments, too. Also contributing are Ryan Rogers, Eric Carlton, Will McCarley, Jamison Hollister, Jim Spake, Mark Franklin and Stu Cole, who plays bass in Mathus’ most renowned musical endeavor, the Squirrel Nut Zippers. (He’s also a member of pal Luther Dickinson’s South Memphis String Band with Alvin Youngblood Hart, and credits Luther’s late dad, famed pianist/producer Jim Dickinson, as the source of much of his musical mojo.)
The result is an ode to what Mathus calls the “primal Southern groove.” 

There’s only one co-write — the twangy “Play with Fire,” also credited to his late friend Robert Earl Reed. “He and I were pretty close collaborators,” Mathus reflects. “This was one he wrote right before he passed. He left me all his music to carry on with, and every so often, I’ll just pull out one of his sheets and cut one of his songs. He had never recorded this one. I just showed the band and we did one take.”
Mathus says he loves its almost desperate imagery, and when he sings, “Yes, let’s play with fire/Let’s cross in front of trains in the darkness, feel the flames/oh, yes, let’s play with fire,” he draws each “yes” into a long hiss. 
Of those sibilant s's, he says, laughing, “I’m getting into character. If you wanna sing like the devil, you gotta hiss like a snake.” Then he adds, “The way you say the words is very important. If it’s a rock ’n’ roll song, you maybe got 20 words. You gotta squeeze the most out of ’em.”
He does exactly that in “Massive Confusion,” the garage-rocker that serves as a straight-up homage to the Replacements, Bobby Fuller Four and the Ramones — and contains what he’s sure is the first-ever rhyme of “yemayá” and “FBI.”
“I wrote it when I was getting audited by the IRS and I was trying to save my fuckin’ ass,” Mathus explains. “It’s just super-punk rock. I came up in the ’80s and the Replacements turned me on to songwriting. They showed me that I could actually write songs. I’m 48, but I’m still a punk rocker.”
Mathus has stories about every song, starting with the rollicking, horn-pumped rock of the opener, “Gringo Man.” He wrote it on a cheap guitar rig he picked up at a Christian supply shop in Jackson, Tenn.
“Sometimes a guitar will write its own song,” Mathus says. “It was like a little cardboard amp with a plastic cord going to it; I made that almost clichéd little rock ’n’ roll riff. But it’s like Keith Richards said about Jimmy Reed: He wrote the same song over and over, but he never did the same thing twice. It’s about celebrating the groove.”
The honky-tonk blooz of “Can’t Get Much Higher” was one for the piano player, Mathus says. He borrowed some of its lyrics from one of his heroes, Charley Patton — father of his nanny, Rosetta Patton.
Dramatic pedal steel and strings give “Stop Your Crying” a Southern gothic turn, with Mathus’ voice going from big and angry to almost plaintive as the song reaches its murderous climax.
“I think it’s one of my best vocals I’ve ever done. But it’s extremely personal. I wrote it for someone very special,” he says, not mentioning who.
“Wayward Wind,” inspired by an Emmylou Harris lyric, has elements of an Irish/English/Scottish drinking song — and was, indeed, written while Mathus was playing U.K. beer halls with his “brother from another mother overseas,” Ian Siegal. “With songwriting, you just pick up scraps and try to turn ’em into a whole page. This one kind of fits in with the theme of desperation, of somebody leaving,” Mathus says. “The blues is all about movin’ on down the line.”
Resonator echoes convey the more elemental blues of “Slow Down Sun,” on which he beseeches the sun, the wind and the rain not to hurt his true love with lines like, “Hold up rain/don’t let your waters down/I’m afraid my baby might slip in and drown.”

“Keep It Together” sounds as if George Harrison might have written it, but Mathus says it came to him after watching the documentary about fellow Southerners Big Star.
“I listen to blues, jazz, country and gospel, but I’ve never listened to rock bands at all, since the Replacements and the Ramones — since the ’80s,” he says. “But I was really touched by the sounds, the chords, the layering of the guitars and the melodies that they brought.”
He leaves us with the mandolin plucks, boot-heel stomps and yowlin’ yelps of “Catahoula” — written, like many of these tunes, in the dog days of summer. “You’d be surprised how much rhymes with Catahoula,” he says, laughing again. “It’s going back to the old balladry days where you state your case right at the top of the song; you give the geography and the whole synopsis right there at the top.”
Speaking of synopses, we should mention Mathus’ career credits include working with Buddy Guy and Elvis Costello, among other luminaries. He says he’s also getting ready to fire up the Vaudeville-meets-swing band Zippers, who had a platinum-selling album and played President Clinton’s second inaugural, among other high-profile gigs. But in the meantime, he remains ready to catch those bolts of “rambunctious creativity” whenever they strike.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Fat Possum celebrates 25 years with blues LP/digital reissues

Mississippi label’s classic blues debut on vinyl in 2016 

OXFORD, Miss. — Fat Possum Records, the Oxford, Mississippi-based label that set a new standard for raw blues and rock ’n’ roll, will commemorate its 25th anniversary with a year-long program including the first-time-on-vinyl release of 30 groundbreaking blues recordings.
The series, highlighting Fat Possum’s storied and varied history, includes new and first-time-on-vinyl releases from hard-hitting North Mississippi “Hill Country Blues” performers; stellar sides from past masters of the Delta style cut in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, recorded by famed musical historian George Mitchell; classic compilations of juke joint blues-rockers; and a first-time-on-vinyl reissue of the acclaimed 2005 All-Star tribute to arguably Fat Possum’s second most famous bluesman, Junior Kimbrough, involving Spiritualized, Black Keys, The Stooges, and Pete Yorn.
Fat Possum was started in 1991 by Matthew Johnson using $4,000 in student loans. The label soon gained recognition with albums by North Mississippi bluesmen Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside, produced by musician and former New York Times music critic Robert Palmer.
Starting with Kimbrough’s All Night Long, and followed by Burnside’s Bad Luck City, Fat Possum found itself landing a perfect one-two punch to the blues-rock establishment, finding just the right mix of commercial and critical success and — utter ire among the so-called blues purists. Releases that followed were an ear-opening experience for blues listeners. Eschewing rocked-up “contemporary blues” and directionless archival reissues, Fat Possum brought to the foreground a generation of hard-hitting blues musicians who had been hiding in plain sight for decades. With never a nod to the past, no evidence of nostalgia, the music wasn’t presented with a whiff of the folkloric — these were upside-your-head records that were made to blow the back off your shack.
Fat Possum’s original stars and some of its greatest discoveries will be available as part of its 25th-anniversary series. Kimbrough will be represented by a vinyl reissue of Meet Me in the City, released a year after the trance-blues master’s 1998 death. 
T-Model Ford will be heard on a pair of ferocious sets cut in tandem with longtime drummer Spam: T-Model’s label debut Pee Wee Get My Gun (1997) followed by Bad Man (2002), the latter of which was produced by the venerated musician-producer Jim Dickinson.
The most down-home side of the Fat Possum roster will be represented in a cache of albums by some of the label’s most gifted solo performers: Robert Belfour (2000), Robert Cage (1998), Johnny Farmer (1998), and Asie Payton (2002). R.L. Burnside, perhaps the label’s best known and most revered artist, will be heard on a compilation of material recorded before his arrival at Fat Possum. R.L. Burnside’s Unplugged, packages never-before-heard sides recorded in Europe in 1982.
Music by these and other Fat Possum blues artists — plus offerings from house-rocking modern acts as Grandpa Boy (a.k.a. Paul Westerberg of the Replacements), Bob Log III, 20 Miles (featuring Judah Bauer of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion), Heartless Bastards — will be released on vinyl and digital editions of the label’s three Not the Same Old Blues Crap anthologies (from 1997, 2001, and 2004) and the compilation All Men Are Liars (1998).
Fat Possum-affiliated label Big Legal Mess will offer a selection of ten LPs and full-length downloads drawn from George Mitchell’s genre defining fieldwork, recorded between 1963 and 1982. Some of the material has been unavailable in its entirety since its original 12-inch release. Artists include such masters as Furry Lewis, Buddy Moss and Houston Stackhouse.
Additionally, John Lee Hooker’s Alone, a 1976 solo live set by the Detroit blues titan captured at New York’s Hunter College, will make its appearance on two individual LPs. Also premiering on vinyl will be Sunday Nights, the 2005 Kimbrough salute starring the Black Keys (whose own Fat Possum albums put them on the map), Iggy & the Stooges, Spiritualized, Cat Power, Mark Lanegan, and a host of other top rock ’n’ roll talents.
Since its outset two-and-a-half decades ago, Fat Possum’s operating motto has been “We’re Trying Our Best.” This celebratory cavalcade will prove definitively that its pretty damn good.  
Complete Fat Possum Anniversary Release Schedule
Released in 2015:
Oct. 2 - Not the Same Old Blues Crap 1 LP
Oct. 30 - J.W. Warren – Life Ain’t Worth Livin LP / Digital
Oct. 30 - Jimmy Lee Williams – Hoot Your Belly LP / Digital
Nov. 27 - Buddy Moss – self titled LP / Digital
Nov. 27 - Not the Same Old Blues Crap 2 LP
To be released in 2016:
January 8 - Leon Pinson – Hush – Somebody Is Calling Me LP / Digital
February 19 - Not the Same Old Blues Crap 3 (Blues Crap 1 & 2 in the UK Also)
April 8 - Furry Lewis – Good Morning Judge LP / Digital
April 8 - Houston Stackhouse & Friends LP / Digital 
April 16 - Sunday Nights: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough Record Store Day LP

April 16 - Junior Kimbrough – I Gotta Try You Girl Daft Punk Edit Record Store Day LP
May 06 - R.L. Burnside - Mississippi Hill Country Blues LP
May 20 - John Lee Hooker - Alone Volume 1 LP

May 20 - John Lee Hooker - Alone Volume 2 LP 
May 27 - T-Model Ford - Pee Wee Get My Gun LP

May 27 - T-Model Ford - Bad Man LP
June 10 - Jim Bunkley & George Henry Bussey LP / Digital
June 10 - Junior Kimbrough - Meet Me in the City LP
June 24 – R.L. Burnside (unreleased recordings)
July 15 - Asie Payton - Just Do Me Right LP

July 15 - Robert Belfour - What's Wrong With You LP
July 22 - All Men Are Liars Compilation CD / LP / Digital
Aug. 17 - Jimmy Lee Harris – I Wanna Ramble LP / Digital

Aug. 17 - Robert Cage - Can See What You're Doing LP
Sept. 9 - Johnny Farmer - Wrong Doers Respect Me LP
Oct. 7- Dewey Corley & Walter Miller LP / Digital
Oct. 7 - Paul “Wine” Jones - Mule LP

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