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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 Philadelphia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philadelphia. Show all posts

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Phyllis Hyman & Angela Bofill

Phyllis Linda Hyman (July 6, 1949 – June 30, 1995) was an American singer-songwriter and actress. Phyllis Hyman was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and grew up in the St. Clair Village, the South Hills section of Pittsburgh. Born to an African American family, she was the eldest of seven children and a third cousin of actor Earle Hyman (best known for his recurring role on TV's The Cosby Show as Cliff's father, Russell Huxtable). After leaving Pittsburgh, her music training started at a music school. On graduation, she performed on a national tour with the group New Direction in 1971. After the group disbanded, she joined All the People and worked with another local group, The Hondo Beat. At this time, she appeared in the film Lenny (1974). She also did a two-year stint leading a band called Phyllis Hyman and the P/H Factor. Hyman was discovered in 1975 by internationally known pop artist and music industry veteran Sid Maurer, and former Epic Records promoter Fred Frank, and signed to their Roadshow Records/Desert Moon imprint. Hyman moved to New York City to work on her reputation. She did background vocals on Jon Lucien's Premonition and worked in clubs. In 1975 when Norman Connors was laying tracks for "You are My Starship" (1976) he could not get permission to use Jean Carne for the album and had heard about Phyllis Hyman, who was working at a club on the upper Westside of Manhattan. One night after a Jon Lucien concert at Carnegie Hall he went to see Phyllis perform and offered her a spot as the female vocalist on his fourth album for Buddah Records. Once the title song got airplay on Jazz radio, "Starship" went gold, catapulting Phyllis' career along with Norman Connors and Michael Henderson to new heights. R&B radio jumped on board and Norman and Phyllis scored on the R&B charts with a remake of The Stylistics' "Betcha by Golly Wow!". Hyman sang with Pharoah Sanders and the Fatback Band while working on her first solo album, Phyllis Hyman, released in 1977 on the Buddah Records label. When Arista Records bought Buddha, she was transferred to that label. Her first album for Arista, Somewhere in My Lifetime, was released in 1978; the title track was produced by then-labelmate Barry Manilow. Her follow-up album, You Know How to Love Me, made the R&B Top 20 and also performed well on the club–dance charts. In the late 1970s, Hyman married her manager Larry Alexander (who is the brother of Jamaican pianist and melodica player Monty Alexander), but both the personal and professional associations ended in divorce. Around this time, Hyman began using cocaine, which led to a lifelong dependency. Hyman's first solo Top Ten hit came in 1981 with "Can't We Fall In Love Again", a duet with Michael Henderson. The song was recorded while she was performing in the Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies, a tribute to Duke Ellington. She performed in the role for almost two years, receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical and winning a Theatre World Award for Best Newcomer. Problems between Hyman and her label, Arista, caused a pause in her recording career. She used the time to appear on movie soundtracks, television commercials and guest vocals, working with Chuck Mangione, The Whispers and The Four Tops. Hyman provided vocals for three tracks on jazz pianist McCoy Tyner's Looking Out (1982). She toured often and did a college lecture tour. In 1983, Hyman recorded the song "Never Say Never Again" as the title song for the James Bond movie of the same name, written by Stephen Forsyth and Jim Ryan. However, Warner Brothers informed Forsyth that Michel Legrand, who wrote the score for the film, had threatened to sue them, claiming he contractually had the rights to the title song. An alternate title song composed by Legrand was eventually used for the film and performed by singer Lani Hall, formerly of Sérgio Mendes and Brasil '66. Free from Arista in 1985, she released the album, Living All Alone on Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International label the following year, capitalizing on the torch songs, "Old Friend" and the melancholy title track, as well as "You Just Don't Know" and "Screaming at the Moon". In 1987, Phyllis Hyman recorded "Black and Blue" as a duet with Barry Manilow on his 1987 Swing Street Arista album. Manilow was a long time admirer of Phyllis and her work. Shortly afterwards, she appeared in the films School Daze and The Kill Reflex. She would also continue to lend her voice to albums for other artists and musicians like Grover Washington, Jr. and Lonnie Liston Smith, while at the same time doing international tours. Her next album, again on Philadelphia International, called Prime of My Life, released in 1991, was the biggest of her career. It included her first number one R&B hit as well as her first Billboard Top 100 hit, "Don't Wanna Change the World". The album provided two more top 10 R&B singles in "Living in Confusion" and "When You Get Right Down to It", and the less successful "I Found Love". Just over a year later, she appeared one last time on a Norman Connors album, singing the title song, "Remember Who You Are", which became a minor R&B hit. Prime of My Life has sold 454,000 copies to date. The album and debut single were both RIAA certified Gold in 1992. Hyman's last album, I Refuse to Be Lonely, was a journey into her personal life. Both the title track and the single "I'm Truly Yours" became minor R&B hits. On the afternoon of June 30, 1995, Hyman committed suicide by overdosing on pentobarbital and secobarbital in the bedroom of her New York City apartment at 211 West 56th Street. She was found unconscious at 2pm, hours before she was scheduled to perform at the Apollo Theater and died three hours later at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital. Her suicide note read in part: "I'm tired. I'm tired. Those of you that I love know who you are. May God bless you." She was 45 years old. A memorial service was held at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Manhattan. The following week would have been her 46th birthday  

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

VizzTone Label Group artist: Gina Sicilia - It Wasn't Real - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, It Wasn't Real, from Gina Sicilia. Sicilia has a rich voice and a smooth delivery. Opening with the title track, It Wasn't Real, Sicilia delivers a sultry pop jazz track with nice sax work backing by Jay Davidson. Next up is a track that I became familiar with through my love for James Brown. This has a totally different feel with a more laid back swing type groove. Davidson again steps up with a sweet solo. Walkin Along The Avenue has a distinct 40's sound and possibly the coolest track on the release. Dennis Gruenling plays some really complimentary harp on this track and Joel Bryant adds a nice B3 line. City By The Water is a strong radio play track with a real bluesy feel. Davidson again gets the chance to shine with a real solid sax solo. The release is wrapped with country influenced Walkin' Shoes. Overall this release will appeal to a more adult audience with strong pop melodic tendencies. It is very well done.

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Absolution part 1- Jymie Merritt w/Michael Thomas Quintet

Jymie Merritt (born 3 May 1926) is an American jazz double-bassist.Raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he has worked in jazz, rhythm and blues, and blues. He has worked with Bull Moose Jackson, B. B. King, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Max Roach, among others. He was an early adopter of the Ampeg bass (a hybrid acoustic-electric instrument) and founded Forerunner, a community organization in Philadelphia. He is the father of a bassist Mike Merritt from Conan.  

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Who Owns The Joint - Johnny Sparrow

After playing with Louis Armstrong and Lionel Hampton's bands in the mid-'40s, sax player Johnny Sparrow formed his own band, Johnny Sparrow and His Bows and Arrows. The group was based in Philly in the early 1950s, and signed to Gotham Records in 1952.

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

My Man - Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. Critic John Bush wrote that Holiday "changed the art of American pop vocals forever." She co-wrote only a few songs, but several of them have become jazz standards, notably "God Bless the Child", "Don't Explain", "Fine and Mellow", and "Lady Sings the Blues". She also became famous for singing "Easy Living", "Good Morning Heartache", and "Strange Fruit", a protest song which became one of her standards and was made famous with her 1939 recording. Music critic Robert Christgau called her "uncoverable, possibly the greatest singer of the century"

Friday, March 29, 2013

Round Midnight - Michael Brecker

Michael Leonard Brecker (March 29, 1949 – January 13, 2007) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Acknowledged as "a quiet, gentle musician widely regarded as the most influential tenor saxophonist since John Coltrane", he was awarded 15 Grammy Awards as both performer and composer. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music in 2004, and was inducted into Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 2007. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in Cheltenham Township, a local suburb, Michael Brecker was exposed to jazz at an early age by his father, an amateur jazz pianist. He grew up a part of the generation of jazz musicians, who saw rock music not as the enemy but as a viable musical option. Brecker began studying clarinet, then moved to alto saxophone in school, eventually settling on the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument. He graduated from Cheltenham High School in 1967 and after only a year at Indiana University, Michael Brecker moved to New York City in 1969, where he carved out a niche for himself as a dynamic and exciting jazz soloist. He first made his mark at age 21 as a member of the jazz-rock band Dreams—a band, that included his older brother Randy, trombonist Barry Rogers, drummer Billy Cobham, Jeff Kent and Doug Lubahn. Dreams was short-lived, lasting only a year, but Miles Davis was seen at some gigs prior to his recording Jack Johnson. Most of Brecker's early work is marked by an approach informed as much by rock guitar as by R&B saxophone. After Dreams, he worked with Horace Silver and then Billy Cobham before once again teaming up with his brother Randy to form the Brecker Brothers. The band followed jazz-rock trends of the time, but with more attention to structured arrangements, a heavier backbeat, and a stronger rock influence. The band stayed together from 1975 to 1982 with consistent success and musicality. During his career, he was in great demand as a soloist and sideman. He performed with bands, which spanned from mainstream jazz to mainstream rock. Altogether, he appeared on over 700 albums, either as a band member or a guest soloist. He put his stamp on numerous pop and rock recordings as a soloist. His featured guest solos with James Taylor and Paul Simon are excellent examples from this body of work. For example, on James Taylor's 1972 album, One Man Dog, Brecker's solo on the track "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" complements the other acoustic instruments and sparse vocal. Also, on Paul Simon's 1975 album Still Crazy After All These Years, Brecker's solo on the title track is used to a similar effect. His solos are often placed in the bridge, or appended as a coda. This musical structure and instrumentation typifies (and somewhat defines) this jazz-rock fusion style. Other notable collaborations in this genre include work with Steely Dan, Lou Reed, Donald Fagen, Dire Straits, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, John Lennon, Aerosmith, Dan Fogelberg, Frank Sinatra, Frank Zappa, Bruce Springsteen, and Parliament-Funkadelic. Brecker also recorded or performed with leading jazz figures during his era, including Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Chet Baker, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Charles Mingus, Jaco Pastorius, McCoy Tyner, Pat Metheny, Elvin Jones, Claus Ogerman, and many others. During the early 1980s, he was also a member of NBC’s Saturday Night Live Band. Brecker can be seen in the background sporting shades during Eddie Murphy’s James Brown parody. After a stint co-leading the all-star group Steps Ahead with Mike Mainieri, Brecker finally recorded a solo album in 1987. That eponymously titled debut album marked his return to a more traditional jazz setting, highlighting his compositional talents and featuring the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument), which Brecker had previously played with Steps Ahead. In 1987 he featured his new solo CD at the JVC Newport Jazz Festival, incorporating the EWI. Referring to the sound, that Brecker produced from the EWI, musician and opening act Ruben Riera (flautist, percussionist) (with The Gary Pearson Ensemble) said "it was amazing". He continued to record albums as a leader throughout the 1990s and 2000s, winning multiple Grammy Awards. His solo and group tours consistently sold out top jazz venues in major cities worldwide. Michael Brecker in Munich (July 2001) He went on tour in 2001 with a collaborative group, Hancock-Brecker-Hargrove. This tour was dedicated to jazz pioneers John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Brecker paid homage to Coltrane by performing Coltrane's signature piece, "Naima". This composition is a definitive work for tenor sax; its demanding solo enabled Brecker to show his complete mastery of the instrument. The live concert CD from the tour, Directions in Music (2001), won a Grammy in 2003. While performing at the Mount Fuji Jazz Festival in 2004, Brecker experienced a sharp pain in his back. Shortly thereafter in 2005, he was diagnosed with the blood disorder myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Despite a widely publicized worldwide search, Brecker was unable to find a matching stem cell donor. In late 2005, he was the recipient of an experimental partial matching stem cell transplant. By late 2006, he appeared to be recovering, but the experiment proved not to be a cure. He made his final public performance on June 23, 2006, playing with Herbie Hancock at Carnegie Hall. On January 13, 2007, Michael Brecker died from complications of leukemia in New York City. His funeral was held on January 15, 2007 in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. On February 11, 2007, Michael Brecker was awarded two posthumous Grammy awards for his involvement on his brother Randy's 2005 album Some Skunk Funk. On May 22, 2007, his final recording, Pilgrimage, was released receiving a good critical response. It was recorded in August 2006 with Pat Metheny on guitar, John Patitucci on bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums and Herbie Hancock and Brad Mehldau on piano. Brecker was critically ill, when it was recorded but the other musicians involved praised the standard of his musicianship.[6] Brecker was again posthumously nominated and subsequently awarded two additional Grammy Awards for this album in the categories of Best Jazz Instrumental Solo and Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group, bringing his Grammy total to 15. During his career, Brecker played a Selmer Mark VI tenor saxophone using a customized Dave Guardala mouthpiece. Early in his career, he had played a Selmer Super Balanced Action saxophone. His earlier mouthpieces included a metal Dukoff (in the late 1970s and early 1980s) and a metal Otto Link (in the mid-1970s).

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Donald Duck Bailey

Donald "Duck" Bailey is an American jazz drummer. He is probably best known as the drummer in the trio of jazz organist Jimmy Smith from 1956 to 1964 and also for his work with The Three Sounds on Blue Note Records. Bailey also worked as a sideman for some of the most famous musicians in jazz including Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Hampton Hawes, Sonny Rollins, and Red Mitchell. He also played with John Coltrane in their early Philadelphia years. Bailey is also known as "The King of Organ Trio Drummers". In 1978, Bailey released a harmonica album called "So In Love" (Trio Records) in Japan which received rave reviews. His latest project "Blueprints of Jazz Vol.3 featuring Donald Bailey" was issued on the Talking House record label in 2009. Bailey continues to perform around the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Blue Dot Records artists: Frank Bey with the Anthony Paule Band - You Don't Know Nothing - New release Review

I just received a copy of the newest release, You Don't Know Nothing, by Frank Bey with the Anthony Paule Band. This release was recorded live in San Francisco and I have to say the people who saw this show got an ear full! Bey has a very solid soul style to his blues and this band is absolute killer! The recording opens with the title track, You Don't Know Nothing About Love which is a smokin' soul track. Bey is a great showman and Anthony Paule wastes no time in showing that he can really make his guitar sweat. Not only beautifully bluesy riffs but great filler riffs giving nice texture...and with great tone. Backed by a stellar band including Tony Lufrano on Keys, Paul Olguin on bass, Mike Rinta on Trombone, Paul Revelli on drums, Nancy Wright on Sax and Steffen Kuehn on trumpet. Yes, Bey is the star of this show and a mighty strong singer he is but take nothing at all from the great horn backing on this set. On Ain't That Lovin' You, Paule shows his jazz chops integrating style and technique for a really nice spotlight. On John Lennon's Imagine, Bey gives a somewhat "sacred cow" a very proper cover. Paule, Lufrano and Wright take an absolutely blistering solo interlude on this track making it particularly interesting. The band does a very clean cover of Town Without Pity led by Paule and before you start thinking, Montrose... no. This is done more in a Les Paul style with a lot of 50's feel. It is actually quite cool but then... Wright steps in with "the beef" on the sax and Paule plays counterpoint on the guitar making the entire track quite memorable. Again on Still Called The Blues, a funky Albert King like track, Wright really steps it up and if you love sax... and I mean down and nasty grab you by the short hairs sax..this is it! I also gotta say Rinta plays one of the hottest trombone solos I've heard on CD this year! Paule original, Can't get The Time Of Day, gives Paule a great chance to step out swing style and some nice swing articulated guitar he does. Paule also takes the vocal lead on this track and the horn section comes forward in the mix a bit but when they break loose, Wright is on the trigger listening? This lady is really hot.... I mean don't get close to the brass! Paule rips some really nice riffs on this track as well even squeezing some chickin' pickin' in there! Real tasty! Bey takes on Ray Charles' Hard Times and although not Ray Charles, he does a really sweet job. Wright takes over where Bey leaves off and man can she carry the load. This is some of the most soulful sax on any blues CD to reach my desk in quite some time. This is a really hot set instrumentally as you can tell and Bey really sets the tempo. On You've Got To Hurt Before You Heal, Bey brings is back to solid soulville and give Wright and Paule each a chance to show their gold one last time. Although primarily a ballad track showcasing the strong vocal efforts of Bey, Lufrano really pulls the track together on organ and Wright and Paule each get one last chance to shine. This was a show not to miss and I'm happy to have had the opportunity to listen to it today.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Blues For Marian - Billy Butler

Billy Butler (December 15, 1925 – March 20, 1991) was an American soul jazz guitarist born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He played with The Harlemaires, Tommy Flanagan, tenor saxophonist Floyd "Candy" Johnson, Houston Person, organist Harry "Doc" Bagby, Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Smith, David "Fathead" Newman, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Bill Doggett, King Curtis, Sammy Price, William (Wild Bill) Davison, Dinah Washington, Panama Francis, Johnny Hodges, Norris Turney, Al Casey, Jackie Williams and others. He also co-wrote, with Bill Doggett, the 1956 R&B hit "Honky Tonk". He was with the Doggett band from 1954 to 1964 and recorded many albums with the organist.  

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sittin On Top Of The World - Ray Benson

Ray Benson (born March 16, 1951) is the front man of the Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel. Ray Benson performing in April 2009 In 1970, Benson, a Jewish native of Philadelphia, formed Asleep at the Wheel with friends Lucky Oceans and Leroy Preston. The group relocated to Austin in 1973 after a suggestion from Willie Nelson . Since then, the group has released more than 20 albums and earned 9 Grammy awards. Though the band's lineup has changed greatly over the years (about 90 people have been part of Asleep at the Wheel at some point), Benson has always remained at the helm as the band's driving force. In addition to his work with Asleep at the Wheel, Benson is also an accomplished producer whose credits include albums by Dale Watson, Suzy Bogguss, Aaron Watson, James Hand and Carolyn Wonderland; also single tracks for Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville, Brad Paisley, Pam Tillis, Trace Adkins, Merle Haggard, and Vince Gill. In 2003, Benson released his first solo album entitled Beyond Time. Benson is also a founding member of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, which raises money to help aging R&B artists, and a member of the board of directors of the SIMS Foundation, which provides low-cost mental health services to Austin musicians and their families. He is also a trustee for the Texas chapter of NARAS, a board member of St Davids Community Health Foundation, Board member and founding member of Health alliance for Austin musicians (HAMM). Benson is 6 feet, 7 inches tall with size 16 EEE feet.

  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!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Shirley Scott

Shirley Scott (March 14, 1934 – March 10, 2002) was an American hard bop and soul-jazz organist. She was most well known for working with her husband, Stanley Turrentine, and with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, both saxophonists. She was known as 'Queen of the Organ'. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Scott was an admirer of Jimmy Smith, and played piano and trumpet before moving to the Hammond organ, her main instrument, though on occasion she still played piano. In the 1950s she became known for her work (1956–1959) with the saxophone player Eddie Davis, particularly on the song "In the Kitchen". She was married to Stanley Turrentine and played with him from 1960 to 1969. Later, she led her own group, mostly a trio. Saxophonist Harold Vick often played with her. In the 1980s, she became a jazz educator and became a highly known and respected member of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's jazz community. Scott died of heart failure in 2002, which was hastened by the diet drug fen-phen. Scott won an $8 million settlement in February 2000 against American Home Products, the manufacturers of the drug cocktail   

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dynamic Roots Music Singer/Songwriter Gina Sicilia Readies New CD, "It Wasn't Real," for April 30 Release on VizzTone Label Group

Dynamic Roots Music Singer/Songwriter
Gina Sicilia Readies New CD, It Wasn’t Real, for Release April 30 on VizzTone Label Group

New Album Produced by Grammy-Winner Glenn Barratt

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Dynamic roots music singer/songwriter Gina Sicilia announces an April 30 release date for It Wasn’t Real, her new CD on the VizzTone Label Group, which promises to expand her burgeoning career as one of the most creative, exciting and diverse artists in the genre today.

Produced by Grammy-winner Glenn Barrett, It Wasn’t Real was recorded at Morningstar Studios in Gina’s hometown of Philadelphia, and features the singer backed by a cadre of local all-star session players who bring a soulful intensity that matches Sicilia’s emotionally-charged vocals. 

The new album’s nine original songs showcase Gina’s growth as a songwriter who can deal with universal themes of love and fate, but is able to inject a personal deep-felt longing throughout with her commanding vocal style. The lone cover is a scintillating re-working of the great Etta James’ 1961 hit, “Don’t Cry Baby.” 

“These songs mean a lot to me,” Gina says. “My goal is to write in a way that’s observant and soulful, and to get at the pleasures and the pressures of love, joy, family, responsibility…all the complexities that are part of living. And with Glenn’s help and the support of the great band he put together, I think I’ve made my best album.”

Considered a true rising star in the blues world ever since her debut album, Allow Me to Confess, brought her world-wide acclaim in 2007, Gina manages to raise the bar even further with It Wasn’t Real, throwing down a music gauntlet of soul, power, grit and energy for others to follow. Her songs and performances gracefully cross genres on the new album, too, with echoes of soul, rock and even Americana woven throughout the tapestry of sound she’s created on the new disc, bringing Gina’s music to an even wider audience.

“Even though I’m mostly known in the blues world, I love and I’ve absorbed all kinds of music — R&B, country, doo-wop, jazz, soul, pop and blues. So when I get inspired to write a song, it’s likely to go anywhere and even combine those styles,” Sicilia explains. Threads of those genres can also be heard in her previous three albums, including 2008’s Hey Sugar and 2011’s Can’t Control Myself, which were all produced by Sicilia’s bandleader and guitarist Dave Gross.

“Working with Glenn took me out of the comfort zone Dave and I have together, and that made me a little nervous and forced me to push myself,” Sicilia recalls. “That gave me the edge and the encouragement I needed to explore the entire breadth of my vocal range, which I think people get to hear for the first time on this album.”

Gina Sicilia got her first true taste of performing in front of an audience at age 19 during the weekly jams held at Philadelphia blues and jazz club, Warmdaddy’s, beginning in 2005. She’d already acquired her eclectic musical taste from her parents, who played all kinds of music on their home stereo, including pop tunes from her father’s native Italy. But after she ordered a packaged-for-TV compilation album called Solid Gold Soul that featured Bobby Bland, Etta James, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and others, she become hooked on old-school soul, blues and R&B.
She had planned a career in journalism despite the encouragement of her musical mentor, Russell Faith, an important local composer and musician who’d written songs for Frank Sinatra. His death in 2004 galvanized Sicilia into action. “I started taking the subway by myself to the jams at Warmdaddy’s,” she says. “From the first time I got the courage to go onstage, the musicians there encouraged me.”
It was at the Warmdaddy’s jams that Gina met Dave Gross, and soon thereafter they started dating and performing together. Gross encouraged her to record, and Allow Me to Confess was released just after Sicilia graduated from Temple University and was free to begin touring. The album was soon picked up for distribution by the VizzTone Label Group and Sicilia rapidly signed with a national roots music booking agency.

“I see myself as always evolving, reaching for a new place where I want my music to be and a way I want it to sound,” she proclaims. “I don’t know if I’ll find that place, but I’ll never stop searching.”

For more, visit
  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!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lover Man - Sonny Stitt,Walter Bishop,Tommy Potter,Kenny Clarke.

Charles Thomas Potter, born in Philadelphia on September 21, 1918, died March 1, 1988, was a jazz double bass player. Potter is known for having been a member of Charlie Parker's "classic quintet", with Miles Davis, between 1947 and 1950; he had first played with Parker in 1944, in Billy Eckstine's band with Dizzy Gillespie, Lucky Thompson and Art Blakey. Potter also performed and recorded with many other notable jazz musicians, including Earl Hines, Artie Shaw, Bud Powell, Count Basie, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, Max Roach, Eddie Heywood, Tyree Glenn, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Buck Clayton and Charles Lloyd.

  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!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Honky Tonk - Bill Doggett

Bill Doggett (February 16, 1916 – November 13, 1996) was an American jazz and rhythm and blues pianist and organist. He is best known for his compositions "Honky Tonk" and "Hippy Dippy", and variously working with The Ink Spots, Johnny Otis, Wynonie Harris, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Jordan William Ballard Doggett was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.[1] His mother, a church pianist, introduced him to music when he was nine years old. By the time he was fifteen, he had joined a Philadelphia area combo, playing local theaters and clubs while attending high school. Doggett later sold his band to Lucky Millinder, and worked during the 1930s and early 1940s for both Millinder and arranger Jimmy Mundy. In 1942 he was hired as The Ink Spots' pianist and arranger. Toward the end of 1947, he replaced Wild Bill Davis as the pianist for Louis Jordan's Tympany Five. It was in Jordan's group that he first achieved success playing the Hammond organ. In 1950 he is reputed to have written one of Jordan's biggest hits, "Saturday Night Fish Fry", for which Jordan claimed the writing credit. In 1951, Doggett organized his own trio and began recording for King Records. His best known recording is "Honky Tonk", a rhythm and blues hit of 1956 which sold four million copies (reaching No. 1 R&B and No. 2 Pop), and which he co-wrote with Billy Butler. The track topped the US Billboard R&B chart for over two months. He won the Cash Box award for best rhythm and blues performer in 1957, 1958, and 1959. He also arranged for many bandleaders and performers, including Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lionel Hampton. As a jazz player Doggett started in swing music and later played soul jazz. His bands included saxophonists Red Holloway, Clifford Scott, Percy France, David "Bubba" Brooks, Clifford Davis, and Floyd "Candy" Johnson; guitarists Floyd Smith, Billy Butler, Sam Lackey and Pete Mayes; and singers Edwin Starr, Toni Williams and Betty Saint-Clair. His biggest hits, "Honky Tonk" (the Part 2 side of the record) and "Slow Walk" featured saxophonist Clifford Scott. He continued to play and arrange until he died, aged 80, of a heart attack in New York  

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Addicted - Gina Sicilia, Debbie Davies

Young Philadelphia songstress Gina Sicilia exploded onto the scene in 2007, as her debut CD, ALLOW ME TO CONFESS, was met with joyous acclaim by fans and critics alike. She was heralded as a distinctive new voice in the Blues, as well as an insightful songwriter and interpreter of neglected classics in the Rhythm & Blues canon. In 2008 she was nominated for “Best New Artist Debut” at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis, Tennessee, just as her sophomore release HEY SUGAR proved her also to be a legitimate contender in the worlds of Classic Country and Americana. With her new 2011 release, Can't Control Myself, Gina broadens her stylistic palette, infusing even more Soul and Americana into her bedrock influences of Blues and R&B. This CD features seven new Gina Sicilia compositions, as well as three choice covers borrowed from Bobby Bland, Stevie Wonder, and Ike & Tina Turner. Gina’s singing and songwriting continue to break new ground, showing remarkable depth, power, and seemingly unstoppable growth. Can't Control Myself was produced and engineered by Gina’s label mate, the insanely talented Dave Gross, who also played every instrumental track on the record except for trumpet, sax, and one lap-steel track. Now 25 years old, the genre-defying Gina Sicilia continues to smash pigeonholes into kindling and redefine the boundaries of soulful music. 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!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

James Sweeting, Joe Caruso and Chris Smith

Bassist James Sweeting III – Bassist Born in Philadelphia in 1959 James was exposed to the great music scene of that City in the sixties and early seventies. Influenced by the music of the “Sound of Philadelphia” and the great bassist that were coming out of that city such as Stanley Clark, Christian McBride, Percy Heath, Jimmy Garrison and countless others, James initially sought to join his friends corner doo wap singing group but was persuaded to take up playing the instrument that most closely matched his vocal range, the bass, at the age of twelve. He studied at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia and played in several local bands during his teenage years, in 1977 he took a break from music to go to college and then law school eventually becoming a successful attorney in the Central Florida area. After a twenty-five year hiatus James once again picked up the bass in 2002. He began playing for several local churches and developed into the principal bassist for the W.N. Mckinney Gospel Choir, his bass playing is featured on their 2007 release Testament, which is available at Target and on CD Baby as well as other outlets. James has enjoyed a resurgent musical career playing with such luminaries such as Bernie Lee, Dave LaRue, Larry Carlton, Bill White, Ray Lasome, Billy Hall, Sissy Peoples and many other artists. His faith has sustained him in his music and he gives glory to the Creator who has provided him with the opportunity to share the gift of music. 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, January 18, 2013

Worried Blues - Gladys Bentley

Gladys Bentley (August 12, 1907 – January 18, 1960) was an American blues singer during the Harlem Renaissance. Bentley was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of American George L. Bentley and his wife, a Trinidadian, Mary Mote. She appeared at Harry Hansberry's "Clam House" on 133rd Street, one of New York City's most notorious gay speakeasies, in the 1920s, and headlined in the early thirties at Harlem's Ubangi Club, where she was backed up by a chorus line of drag queens. She dressed in men's clothes (including a signature tuxedo and top hat), played piano, and sang her own raunchy lyrics to popular tunes of the day in a deep, growling voice while flirting outrageously with women in the audience. On the decline of the Harlem speakeasies with the repeal of Prohibition, she relocated to southern California, where she was billed as "America's Greatest Sepia Piano Player", and the "Brown Bomber of Sophisticated Songs". She was frequently harassed for wearing men's clothing. She claimed that she had married a white woman in Atlantic City. Bentley was openly lesbian during her early career, but during the McCarthy Era, she started wearing dresses, married a man (who later denied that they ever married), and studied to be a minister, claiming to have been "cured" by taking female hormones. She died, aged 52, from pneumonia in 1960. Fictional characters based on Bentley appeared in Carl Van Vechten's Parties, Clement Woods's Deep River, and Blair Niles's Strange Brother. She recorded for the OKeh, Victor, Excelsior, and Flame labels. 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!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Meeting Tonight/This Little Light"- Clara Ward Singers

Clara Ward (April 21, 1924 – January 16, 1973) was an American gospel artist who achieved great success, both artistic and commercial, in the 1940s and 1950s as leader of The Famous Ward Singers. A gifted singer and arranger, Ward took the lead-switching style used by male gospel quartets to new heights, leaving room for spontaneous improvisation and vamping by each member of the group while giving virtuoso singers such as Marion Williams the opportunity to step forward in songs such as "Surely, God Is Able" (among the first million-selling gospel hits), "How I Got Over" (which she wrote; one of the most famous songs in the Black gospel repertoire), and "Packin' Up". Clara Ward's mother, Gertrude Ward (1901–1981), founded the Ward Singers in 1931 as a family group, then called variously The Consecrated Gospel Singers or The Ward Trio, consisting of herself, her youngest daughter Clara, and her elder daughter Willa. Clara Ward made her first solo recording in 1940 and continued accompanying the Ward Gospel Trio. The Ward Singers began touring nationally in 1943, after making a memorable appearance at the National Baptist Convention held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that year. Henrietta Waddy joined the group in 1947 after Willa Ward retired; she added a rougher alto and the enthusiastic stage manners taken from her South Carolina church background. The group's performance style, such as the mimed packing of suitcases as part of the song "Packin' Up", may have been condemned by some purists as "clowning" but was wildly popular with their audiences. The addition of Marion Williams, who came out of the Pentecostal tradition growing up in Miami, Florida, brought even more to the group. A powerful singer with a preternaturally broad range, she was able to reach the highest registers of the soprano range without losing either purity or volume, and could also swoop down to growling low notes in the style of a country preacher. Williams' singing helped make the group nationally popular when they began recording in 1948. In 1949 the Ward Singers toured from Philadelphia to California in their new Cadillac, appeared on TV in Hollywood, and recorded for the Miltone Record Company of Los Angeles. The Miltone recordings were purchased in a multi-artist package by Gotham Record Company, which had moved to Philadelphia. Gotham's Irv Ballen recorded some new Ward material, including "Surely God Is Able", and some of the Ward Singers' Gotham recordings were transferred to Savoy Record Company in Newark, New Jersey to settle a contract dispute. When Savoy began contracting with the Ward Singers for new recordings in the 1950s, they were mostly recorded and engineered in Bergen County, New Jersey by Rudy Van Gelder. In 1950, Clara Ward and the Famous Ward Singers of Philadelphia made their first appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York City on a gospel program titled Negro Music Festival, produced by gospel music pioneer Joe Bostic, sharing the stage with Mahalia Jackson and appearing there at Carnegie Hall on Bostic's program again in 1952. Over the years, Gertrude Ward created a booking agency for gospel acts, sponsored tours under the name "The Ward Gospel Cavalcade", established a publishing house for gospel music, and even wrote a book for churches on how to promote gospel programs. Gertrude also created and managed a second group, "The Clara Ward Specials", to accompany the Ward Singers. Although as musical director of the Ward franchise Clara was willing to share the spotlight with her talented co-singers, she and her mother were tightfisted about sharing the group's financial rewards with other members. According to Willa Ward's biography of Clara Ward, with the exception of Gertrude and Clara, Willa and other members of the group were grossly underpaid. In addition, their meager earnings were further reduced because Gertrude and Clara provided their housing and charged them for it. Accordingly, stars such as Marion Williams and Frances Steadman not only had to accept second billing and lesser pay for their work, but pay their employers rent out of their earnings. Williams left the group in 1958 when her demand for a raise and reimbursement for hotel expenses was rejected; she was followed shortly thereafter by the rest of the group—Henrietta Waddy, Esther Ford, Frances Steadman and Kitty Parham—who formed a new group, "The Stars of Faith". Their departure marked the end of the glory days for the Ward Singers, who later alienated much of their churchgoing audience by performing in Las Vegas, nightclubs, and other secular venues in the 1960s.[citation needed] By this time the late Queen of Gospel Dr. Albertina Walker had formed her group The Caravans in 1952, following the advice of her mentor the great Mahalia Jackson, and the spotlit had transitioned to them as they blazed the gospel trail. In 1963 Clara Ward was the second gospel singer to sing gospel songs on Broadway in Langston Hughes' play Tambourines To Glory. She was also the musical director for this play. The first being her former group members, which were known as the Stars of Faith, which starred Langston Hughes in the first Gospel stage play and first play that featured an all black cast to be produced on Broadway, The Black Nativity. While performing at the Castaways Lounge in Miami Beach, Florida, in the 1960s, Clara collapsed and was rushed to the hospital and told if she recovered she would never sing or walk again. Gertrude Ward telephoned Mother Dabney, a spiritual healer in Philadelphia, PA, and Clara miraculously was restored to health. Details were reported in the Gospel News Journal published by Marvin Bunton. Clara later recounted this experience in a church service at the Wayside Chapel in Sydney, Australia. This testimony was released on an LP issued on the WARD label along with Clara singing "The Lord's Prayer" and a few other Ward musical selections. During the group's heyday, however, it was both widely popular and highly influential, emphasizing glamor—traveling in over-sized Cadillacs, preferring sequined gowns for choir robes, and wearing wigs and jewelry that more conservative churchgoing women considered too worldly—while bringing Gertrude Ward's shrewd entrepreneurial sense to the gospel music business at large. Though Gertrude was a savvy negotiator, her understanding of the value of music copyrights was limited. According to Willa Ward, Gertrude was misled into believing that the songwriting royalties from Clara's compositions would be minimal and accordingly sold them. In her book Willa said the music ended up under the control of Herman Lubinsky, founder of Savoy Records (who was known for his unscrupulous exploitation of recording artists), and became owned by Planemar Music Company. Clara Ward was the first gospel singer to sing with a 100-piece symphony orchestra in the 1960s. They recorded an album together on the Verve label, V-5019, The Heart, The Faith, The Soul of Clara Ward, and the Ward Singers performed their music live in Philadelphia with the symphony and the Golden Voices Ensemble. Though Clara Ward did not regularly sing secular music as a soloist or with her groups, she did sing backup for pop artists with her sister Willa's background group, most notably on Dee Dee Sharp's smash hit, 'Mashed Potato Time", which reached #1 on Billboard's pop chart in 1962. In 1969 she recorded an album for Capitol Records, Soul and Inspiration, which consisted of pop songs from Broadway plays, Hollywood movies and the Jimmy Radcliffe song of hope "If You Wanna Change The World". This album was later reissued on the Capitol's budget Pickwick label minus one song. In the same year she recorded an album in Copenhagen, Denmark on the Philips label, Walk A Mile In My Shoes, which included the pop title song, other pop songs (such as "California Dreaming") and a few gospel songs. She also recorded an album for MGM/Verve, Hang Your Tears Out To Dry, which included country and Western, blues/folk, pop and an arrangement of the Beatles' hit song, "Help". Her 1972 album Uplifting on United Artists, produced by Nikolas Venet and Sam Alexander, included her stunning interpretation of Bill Wither's pop hit "Lean On Me" and a rearrangement of the Soul Stirrer's 1950's recording of "Thank You, Jesus". Also in 1972 Ward, because she was under exclusive contract to United Artists at this time, provided vocals for a Canned Heat's album The New Age, on the ballad "Lookin' For My Rainbow"; it was released on that album and as a single 45 rpm record. In 1968 Clara Ward and her singers toured Vietnam at the request of the U.S. State Department and the U.S.O. It was a very popular war-time tour supported by recorded radio broadcasts of the Ward Singers on U.S. Armed Forces Radio. The Ward Singers narrowly missed death when their hotel in Vietnam was bombed and several guests died. However, Clara was never afraid because she knew she was bringing some momentary joy, consolation, and a religious message to soldiers, many of whom would not return home alive, and they showed their appreciation and enthusiasm for her style of gospel music. When asked during a TV interview what was her favorite concert, Clara responded that these tours in Vietnam during the war were her favorite. She was invited back to Vietnam by U.S.O. in 1969 for several more months. These war-time tours were filmed and all the Ward Singers were given special certificates of recognition by the U.S. Army. The U.S.O did not pay a salary to entertainers, but after these tours the Ward Singers went to Japan each year for commercial concerts and released LPs in Japan to coincide with these tours. Clara Ward co-starred in the Hollywood movie A Time to Sing, starring Hank Williams, Jr., Shelley Fabares, Ed Begley, and D'Urville Martin. She was cast as a waitress in a Nashville, Tennessee cafeteria who inspires a young singer, played by Hank Williams, Jr., to pursue his dream of becoming a Country & Western recording artist. There are also several scenes of the Clara Ward Singers performing gospel songs. This movie was released by MGM in 1968 and Clara's picture appears on lobby cards and other movie advertisements. Other movie appearances include Its Your Thing starring the Isley Brothers, and Spree, also known as Night Time in Las Vegas. The late 1960s and early 1970s were an extremely busy and successful time for the Clara Ward Singers. The summer months usually found them at the Golden Horseshoe Club in Disneyland in Anaheim, California or touring colleges across the United States. They also toured in Australia, Japan, Europe, Indonesia, and Thailand. They had a one-day TV special in London, England. They were in demand on American TV shows constantly and appeared on The Mike Douglas Show over a dozen times. They appeared on Oral Roberts' Country Roads TV special and an album soundtrack was issued of this show. Clara still found time to sing at her mother's church, the Miracle Temple of Faith for All People in Los Angeles. and at Victory Baptist Church. Her mother, Gertrude Ward, also had a popular religious radio program in the Los Angeles market. 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!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Train Train - Danny Overbea

b. 3 January 1926, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, d. 11 May 1994, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Guitarist and singer Overbea, who came out of the Chicago R&B scene, was one of the earliest pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll. He began his musical career in 1946 and first recorded in 1950 as a vocalist on an Eddie Chamblee track. Overbea joined Chess Records in 1952, producing his best-known songs, ‘Train Train Train’ (number 7 R&B) and ‘40 Cups Of Coffee’, the following year. Both were essentially rock ‘n’ roll songs before the concept of ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ had even emerged. In the pop market, ‘Train Train Train’ was covered by Buddy Morrow and ‘40 Cups Of Coffee’ by Ella Mae Morse. By 1955, when rock ‘n’ roll was making its breakthrough on the pop charts, Bill Haley And His Comets recorded ‘40 Cups Of Coffee’, which, even though it did not chart, proved to be one of their better efforts. Famed disc jockey Alan Freed featured Overbea many times in his early rock ‘n’ roll revues in Ohio and New York; his acrobatic back-bend to the floor while playing the guitar behind his head was always a highlight of the shows. Overbea was also a talented ballad singer (in the mode of Billy Eckstine), having most success with ‘You’re Mine’ (also recorded by the Flamingos) and ‘A Toast To Lovers’. Overbea made his last records in 1959 and retired from the music business in 1976. 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”

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Hello Little Girl - Ernie Andrews

Ernie Andrews has a raw vitality that communicates instantly, he exudes a "reach 'em by preachin'" energy, influenced by his gospel roots. Born Christmas day in Philadelphia, his early years were spent in his mother's Baptist Church. In his early teens, his family moved to Los Angeles, where he studied drums at Jefferson High School and continued singing. He was discovered by songwriter Joe Greene in 1947, when he won an amateur show at the Lincoln Theatre on Central Avenue in Los Angeles. Greene was so impressed that he immediately took Andrews into the studio to record at age 17. With a 300,000 seller hit, "Soothe Me" with "Wrap It Up And Put It Away" on the flip side, Ernie Andrews became a singer to be reckoned with. In 1953, he had another big record with "Make Me A Present of You" with Benny Carter. By this time, Andrews was working at home and out of town playing clubs, concerts and "after-hours" rooms. In 1959, Andrews joined Harry James' band, touring the U.S. and South America for nine years, which time he considers his most valuable learning experience. In 1967, he recorded the jazz classic "Big City" with Cannonball Adderley on Capital Records. Obviously a fan and admirer, Cannonball Adderley stated, "When it comes down to the real nitty-gritty, there's Ernie Andrews." After the project with Cannonball, Andrews rejoined Harry James in 1968 for one more year before going it alone. In 1969, Baltimore became home base for Andrews, where he worked the East Coast and the Midwest, again scoring big with his hit record of "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." In 1974, he returned to Los Angeles, where he resided with his wife of 50 years, Dolores, who recently passed away, but Ernie continues on, sharing the lives of his five children and grandchildren. Early influences included Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine, Al Hibbler, Johnny Mercer, Jimmy Rushing and "Big" Joe Turner. Jazz producer Gene Norman said of Andrews, "Ernie is everything an outstanding modern singer should be. His sound and style have been influenced by his predecessors, but he contributes important values . . . uniquely his own." Several years ago Andrews returned to the scene of his prime -- to the Gaiety Club across from the Lincoln Theatre -- as his life was being profiled in an award-winning documentary, available on video, "Ernie Andrews' Blues on Central Avenue," directed by Lois Shelton. Ernie continues to play clubs, concerts and jazz festivals throughout the world, and often performs in Las Vegas. In 1989, he recorded with Gene Harris and the Philip Morris Superband, "Live at Town Hall NYC" for Concord, and subsequently toured with the band for three months covering five continents. Engagements followed in 1991 and 1992 with Ray Brown at the Blue Note. In 1993, 1994 and 1996, he performed in concert at club venues all over the world, including Europe, Asia, Australia, and throughout the United States, Canada and South America. He performed with his own small group at the WBGO Annual New Year's Eve, which was nationally broadcast on National Public Radio. After a two hour stint with his own quartet featuring Aaron Graves on piano, Frank Wes on bass, and Kenny Washington on drums, Ernie then tore the house apart with a big band including the Heath Brothers, led by Jimmy Heath. Los Angeles Times critic Don Heckman said of a recent performance at the Jazz Spot in Los Angeles, "[H]e blends a hard-swinging, outgoing vocal style with a quick-witted sense of humor . . . he does so with a rich timbre, a gift for drama and a singular capacity to stimulate an audience," and "[H]e was a musical whirlwind, bringing life, love, humor and musicality to everything he sang." A four-page discography includes 20+ albums, such as "This Is Ernie Andrews" and "Soul Proprietor," "Travelin' Light" with arrangements by Benny Carter, Gerald Wiggins and John Anderson; "From The Heart," and his recent releases "No Regrets," "The Great City" and "Girl Talk." He is also featured on numerous albums, including "Ellington Is Forever," Volumes I and II with Kenny Burrell; "Juggernaut" and "Juggernaut Strikes Again" with the Capp-Pierce Orchestra; "Paris All-Stars" with Jay McShann; and "You Can Hide Inside the Music" with the Harper Brothers (Verve). Having the ear to improvise and a rich resonant voice, Andrews plays his vocal chords as a musician plays his horn. He must be seen to be fully appreciated. With his special strut, unique mannerisms and a performance that portrays the gamut of emotional experience, he consistently moves audiences to standing ovations. There's only one, and he's the best. 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!