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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 Provogue. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Provogue. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Provogue artist: Robin Trower - No More Worlds To Conquer - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, No More Worlds To Conquer, from Robin Trower and I like it! Opening with Ball of Fire, Trower on guitar (and bass), joined by Richard Watts on vocal and Chris Taggart on drums set a solid foundation. Maintaining a trace of early Trower styling, this music sounds fresh and new with rock roots and blues influence. Trower's riffs show power that I rarely see in contemporary rock or blues and his runs are fluid and firm. Very cool. Title track, No More Worlds To Conquer, has rhythmic roots in that early Trower/Hendrix dialog but the track is all original. I like how Trower takes a basic concept and with only a trace of history makes a new and completely independent new track which has excellent strength. With only a bass line and drums to guide to concept, Trower crafts the new melody and solo line on guitar, giving Watts the pathway for the vocals. Excellent! Birdsong is one of my favorite tracks on the release with what I'd call very Troweresque phrasing. Watts vocals really work nicely in the slot and Trower's soulful guitar lead is nicely executed spelling out the blues in Trower's own language. Very nice! Wither On The Vine is another really strong track delivered in more of a ballad style but of course in a Trower manner. Watts really is an ideal singer for Trower's band with just the right feel and Trower's guitar phrasing on this track works so nicely that it could easily carry the release alone. The most flamboyant track on the release is The Razor's Edge with a slow, strutting rhythm and searing guitar lead. Trading call and response with Watts and with the firm bottom by Taggart, this is an excellent rocker. Wrapping the release is I Will Always Be Your Shelter, a quiet ballad for Trower but a cool showcase for Watts and an opportunity for Trower to play solo guitarist instead of lead guitarist. A nicely composed and executed track, a solid closer. 

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Monday, January 31, 2022

Provogue artist: Eric Gales - Crown - New release review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Crown, from Eric Gales and it's powerful. Opening with Death of Me, a solid blues rocker with metal overtones. With a heavy drum stamped bottom by Greg Morrow and Lemar Carter this track has real swagger. Gales has never been bashful about throwing heavy guitar riffs out there and this track is no exception. His Jimi influence is ever present but not overtelling, backed by Joe Bonamassa on rhythm guitar, Josh Smith on rhythm guitar and Michael Rhodes on bass and backing vocals by LaDonna Gales. Very cool. I really like soul track, Stand Up with it's radio quality. Gales really shines on vocals on this track with it's super melody and with it's rich bass work and backing vocals by Jade McCrae, this track is strong. Another track with a heavy bottom is Survivor and it's lumbering feel lays open a grand floor for ultra fluid soloing by Gales. A lush guitar chord laden intro on Too Close To The Fire really puts you in mind of SRV's style but Gales music is always Gales music. There is a definite maturity in his newer music with more structure and focused guitar attack. Holding back throughout the track and allowing it to develop, he opens the floodgates and unleashes the beast for a high energy crescendo ala Pink Floyd with female backing vocal by Ladonna. Very nice. I really like Take Me Just As I Am and it's tribute to the super funky Curtis Mayfield like sound. With it's thumping bass and lead vocal by LaDonna and horn backing, this track is terrific! Funky, Let Me Start With This has a great feel with synthesized guitar riffs with great feel. Gales' vocals are strong ... this track could easily be the radio track for this release. I Found Her is a strong ballad with a gentle approach and sensitive delivery but watch when Gales drops the hammer on guitar...dynamite! Wrapping the release is I Gotta Go, a high energy R&B style track that would be a strong closer for a live show. With introductions, and a power punch, this is a hot closer leaving you wanting more. This is my favorite Eric Gales release to date.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Provogue artist: Eric Bibb: Dear America - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Dear America, from Eric Bibb and it may be his best in years. Opening with Whole Lotta Lovin' with it's rolling acoustic guitar riff and backing instrumentation by Ron Carter on bass and Glen Scott on keys this track had a very friendly warmness. Shaneeka Simon joins Bibb and Tommy Sims on lead vocal, and teamed with Steffan Astner on slide guitar gives this track strong appeal. Slower, lumbering Whole World's Got The Blues features a nice appearance by Eric Gales who lights up his electric guitar and Sims on bass, and Glen Scott on drums fill out the bottom. A modern take on the delta style blues, title track, Dear America pairs Bibbs acoustic guitar and vocal over Chuck Anthony on electric guitar, Scott on drums and percussion, Christer Lyssarides on mandola and Simon and Big Daddy Wilson on backing vocals. Strong ballad, Emmett's Ghost plays to Bibb's strength in songwriting, vocal and acoustic guitar. With a super melody, and message, Bibb delivers one of the best tracks on the release. Another upmix blues track, Talkin' 'Bout A Train fuses traditional blues with just a light tough of modern neo soul. Harmonica wiz Billy Branch steps up and delivers over hot drum beat and some great backing vocals by Scott. Funky! Wrapping the release is One-Ness of Love with the silky vocals of Lisa Mills paired with Bibb's own warm lead vocals. Violin work by David Davidson and David Angell, Scott on piano and Sims on guitar, make this a strong closer. 

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Friday, January 22, 2021

Provogue artist: Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band - Straight To You Live - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Straight To You Live, from Kenny Wayne Shepherd and it's a solid rocker. This is a double pack with a cd recording as well as a dvd video of the concert. Opening with Woman Like You, KWS of course leads the pack on vocal and guitar, backed by Noah Hunt on vocal and guitar, Chris "Whipper" Layton on drums, Joe Krown on keys, Scott Nelson on bass, Mark Pender on trumpet and Joe Sublett on sax. Shepherd sets a solid pace and with his trademark vocals and fluid lead runs sets up a good opener. Elmore James' Talk To Me Baby has a real nice shuffle pace with Pender and Sublett on horns and Shepherd on guitar and slide and some of his best vocals on the release. Real nice sax work by Sublett and a hot trumpet solo by Pender gives this track a real turbo boost. Bluesy ballad, Heat of the Sun is one of my favorites on the release with soulful vocals by Shepherd and explosive, melodic guitar work by Shepherd. Very nice. Shame, Shame, Shame is a strong slower shuffle with fiery blues guitar riffs and excellent vocals by Shepherd. A nice piano solo by Krown and extensive soloing by KWS really pushes this almost 9 minute track over the top. Excellent! Joe Walsh's Turn To Stone is always a favorite and a great showcase for lead guitar players to lay it all out there. Very nice. Classic blues number turned rocker, I'm A King Bee is full of energy with a driving beat and standout key work from Krown. Wrapping the release is Jimi Hendrix's Voodoo Child with KWS throwing everything at it but the kitchen sink. This is a solid review of a classic tune over 11 minutes and an excellent closer for a strong release. 

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Monday, March 25, 2019

Provogue artist: Walter Trout - Survivor Blues - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Survivor Blues, from Walter Trout and it's his most mature and cohesive release to date. Opening with powerful slow blues number, Me, My Guitar and the Blues Trout is back locked and loaded. I love his command of the volume swell, using it like an old master, making his guitar cry like a baby and his prasing is magical. With Michael Leasure on drums, Johnny Griparic on bass and Skip Edwards on keys, this is a terrific opener. On Woman Don't Lie, it's a slink funky beat that gives this track traction.Trading lead vocal with Sugaray Rayford and adding Teddy Andreadis on Wurlitzer really sets this one up or a guitar slam and Trout is all over it. Gone are the days of cramming every note into one measure and real feel and biting riffs carry this track high. Shuffle track, Please Love Me has great feel and tension with relaxed riffs with excellent punctuation work on a heavily pumped up BB King like style. Red Sun is a drum driven blues rocker with excellent bass lines by Griparic and relentless guitar soloing by Trout. very strong. Elmore James' Something Inside Of Me is one of my favorite tracks on the release with both sensuous blues attack and explosive note full barrages giving the track really nice dynamics. Very nice. Otis Rush's It Takes Time has super pace and allows Trout space to lay down some really nice solo lines. There's no question that he's laying it all out here. Robbie Krieger (The Doors) is featured on slide on Mississippi Fred McDowell's Goin' Down To The River and lays down smooth, mellow and cohesive blues riffs. Very nice. Wrapping the release is J.B. Lenoir's God's Word and Trout sings the words like he wrote them. Sounding very personal and focused while singing the lyrics he puts his shoulder into the guitar solo, driving hard and soaring with reckless abandon. Excellent closer for a very strong release. 

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Jonny Lang Reveals Behind The Scenes Look At The Making Of Signs - Pre-Order Now Live In Front Of Fall Release

Signs To Be Released On September 8th In North America

Available For Pre-Order Beginning Today

2017 World Tour Dates On Sale Now

First Track “Make It Move” Now Available On All Streaming Services

Los Angeles, CA --- Jonny Lang’s brand new studio album, Signs, will be released in North America on September 8th via Concord Records.  The album (his sixth major label release) is his first in four years. The album is now available to pre-order beginning today:

The European release for Signs will be on August 25 via Provogue Records / Mascot Label Group.

Fans can now get an inside look at the making of Signs here:

Anyone who originally discovered Jonny Lang through his searing instrumental work will revel in the huge guitar tones and go for broke solos on Signs, while those who have appreciated his growth as an honest and passionate songwriter will find that honesty and passion unabated. Though he long ago left blues purism behind, Lang has never abandoned its spirit of universal catharsis through the relating of personal trials. Signs reaffirms his commitment to the blues and the guitar without sacrificing the modern approach that has made him such a singular artist. 

It is hard to believe that at only 36 years old Jonny Lang has already had a successful career for two decades. Easier to believe when you learn he released his first platinum record at 15—an age when many young people are just beginning to play music. Lie to Me revealed a talent that transcended the crop of blues prodigies floating around in the late Nineties. No flashy re-hasher of classic blues licks, even at that early age Lang was a full-blown artist with a style of his own. Also, setting Lang apart from the wunderkind crowd was a 15-year-old voice that sounded like a weathered soul shouter. Actual life experience was yet to come, and has been subsequently chronicled in a series of five uniformly excellent recordings.

What began as a bluesy sound, influenced by electric pioneers like Albert Collins, B. B. King, and Buddy Guy, evolved over those recordings into a modern R&B style closer to Stevie Wonder and contemporary gospel music. Lang’s distinctive, blues-inflected licks appeared on every album, but became one element in a sea of passionately sung and tightly arranged songs.

Signs is not merely a return the artist’s guitar-based beginnings, but an embodiment of an even more elemental sound. Beyond focusing attention on his soloing prowess, it is about recapturing the spirit of the early blues, where the guitar was front and center, fairly leaping out of the speakers. “A lot of my earlier influences have been coming to the surface, like Robert Johnson, and Howlin’ Wolf,” he reports. “I have been appreciating how raw and unrefined that stuff is. I had an itch to emulate some of that and I think it shows in the songs. Still, I let the writing be what it was and that was sometimes not necessarily the blues.”

The record, which features funk, rock, and blues elements, is held together by Lang’s distinctive playing and singing, and the lyrics, which center on themes of embattlement and self-empowerment. “Some of the songs are autobiographical, but not usually in a literal way,” Lang explains. “The main goal is for folks to be able to relate to what I went through. If I can’t make it work using just my personal experience, I use my imagination to fill in blanks.”

Signs was produced by Lang, Drew Ramsey, and Shannon Sanders. Josh Kelly helmed “Bring Me Back Home.” Lang offers, “Josh and I cut six or seven songs together and had a blast doing it.  I am saving the other ones for who knows what, but I definitely wanted that one to be on this record.”

Since the release of his debut album, Grammy Award winning Jonny Lang has built a reputation as one of the best live performers and guitarists of his generation. The path Lang has been on has brought him the opportunity to support or perform with some of the most respected legends in music.  He has shared the stage with everyone from The Rolling Stones and B.B. King to Aerosmith and Buddy Guy, who he continues to tour with today.


6/10     Birmingham, AL                                                                    Alys Stephens Performing Arts

6/11     Nashville, TN                                                                         Schermerhorn Symphony Center

6/16     Riverside, IA                                                                          Riverside Casino & Golf Resort 

6/17     Aurora, IL                                                                              Blues on the Fox Fest

6/18     Moorehead, MN                                                                     Bluestem for the Arts Amphitheatre

6/22     Columbia, MO                                                                        The Blue Note

6/23     Wichita, KS                                                                            Orpheum Theatre

6/24     Okmulgee, OK                                                                       Musogee (Creek) Nation Festival

7/06     Lexington, MI                                                                         Lexington Village Theater

7/07     Kent, OH                                                                                Kent Stage

7/09     Rochester, MI                                                                         Meadowbrook 

7/13     Peoria, IL                                                                                Riverfront

7/14     Minneapolis, MN                                                                   Music In The Zoo 

7/15     Sioux Falls, SD                                                                       Sioux Falls Jazz Fest

7/20     Tucson, AZ                                                                             Rialto theatre

7/21     Chandler, AZ                                                                          Chandler Center

7/22     Las Vegas, NV                                                                       Boulder Station

7/28     Saratoga, CA                                                                          Mountain Winery

7/29     Lincoln, CA                                                                            Thunder Valley Casino

8/11     Los Angeles, CA                                                                    Teragram Ballroom

8/13     Arlington, WA                                                                        Stillaguamish Festival

8/19     North Thornton, NH                                                               White Mountain Boogie

8/20     Alexandria, VA                                                                      Birchmere

8/22     New York, NY                                                                       Highline Ballroom

8/23     Philadelphia, PA                                                                     World Café Live

8/25     Toronto, ON                                                                           Danforth Music Hall

8/26     Trois-Rivieres, QUE                                                               Trois-Rivieres en Blues

9/08     Aspen, CO                                                                              Belly Up

9/09     Boulder, CO                                                                           Boulder Theater

9/10     Arvada, CO                                                                             Arvada Center

9/14     Dallas, TX                                                                              House of Blues

9/15     Houston, TX                                                                           House of Blues

9/16     Austin, TX                                                                              ACL Live

9/18     Kansas City, MO                                                                    Knuckleheads

9/19     St. Louis, MO                                                                         Pageant

9/21     Milwaukee, WI                                                                       Potawatomi Casino

9/22     Milwaukee, WI                                                                       Polawatomi Casino

9/23     Chicago, IL                                                                             House of Blues

9/24     Louisville, KY                                                                        Bourbon & Beyond Festival

9/26     Indianapolis, IN                                                                      The Vogue

9/29     Huntington, NY                                                                      Paramount

9/30     Hartford, CT                                                                           Infinity Hall

10/01   Fairfield, CT                                                                           Warehouse

10/03   Boston, MA                                                                            The Wilbur Theater

10/04   Portland, ME                                                                          Aura

10/06   Cranston, RI                                                                           Park Theatre

10/07   Hampton Beach, NH                                                              Hampton Beach Casino

10/22   Zwolle, NL                                                                             Hedon

10/23   Cologne, DE                                                                           Gloria

10/25   Berlin, DE                                                                               Columbia Club

10/27   Hamburg, DE                                                                         Mojo

10/29   Copenhagen, DK                                                                    Amager Bio

10.30   Oslo, Norway                                                                          Rockafeller

10/31   Stockholm, SE                                                                        Nalen

11/04   London, UK                                                                            SBE (London Folk and Roots Fest)

11/05   Leuven, BE                                                                             Hep Depot (Leuven Blues Festival)

11/07   Cleon, FR                                                                               La Travene (Blues de Travene)

11/09   Marseille, FR                                                                          Espace Julien

11/10   Six-Fours-les-Plages, FR                                                        Espace Malraux

11/11   Paris, FR                                                                                 La Cigale

11/13   Prague, CZ                                                                              Lucerna

11/14   Vienna, AU                                                                             Porgy and Bess

11/16   Sumperk, CZ                                                                          House of Culture (Blues Alive Fest)


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Quinn Sullivan Cruises Midnight Highway In The Studio And On The Road


Provogue / Mascot Label Group Debut Hits Retail January 27, 2017

Provogue / Mascot Label Group has announced the release of Quinn Sullivan’s Midnight Highway on January 27, 2017.  Sullivan has been a music professional for more than 75 percent of his life. He’s shared the stage with Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Los Lobos, The Roots, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi and Joe Bonamassa, and he opened for B.B. King, who later invited him to play his treasured “Lucille” guitar. He has performed on concert and festival dates throughout the United States – including at storied venues like Hollywood Bowl, RFK Stadium and Madison Square Garden – traveled overseas – performing at both the Montreux Jazz Festival and India’s Mahindra Blues Festival – and played several editions of the Experience Hendrix Tour, backed by Jimi’s original bassist Billy Cox.  He’s also appeared on national TV, with guest appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Oprah, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Conan and twice on The Ellen DeGeneres show.
Yes, Sullivan has packed some extraordinary experience into his decade-long career, and that’s even more remarkable when you consider that he’s only 17. His third studio album, Midnight Highway, was produced by multi GRAMMY® winner Tom Hambridge - who also does double duty as Quinn’s studio and road drummer - and will be released on January 27th in North America, and on March 24th in the rest of the world.  The album is yet another milestone in Quinn's extraordinary journey, which began with him jamming with the kids music combo Toe Jam Puppet Band at age three, appearing on Ellen when he was six, and being taken under the wing of blues legend Buddy Guy at age eight, whose protégé he remains to this day.

Quinn’s age and enduring relationship with Buddy Guy is certainly notable, but so too is his total dedication to his craft. “I wanted to see how far we could get musically on this album. I had a lot more creative input on this one and was more active in writing, so it’s something of a mixture.  I didn’t want to completely break away from the blues - that’ll always be my home ground - but I just wanted to stretch out. Mastering the vocals was important too and was the result of a lot of playing and touring, and studying with a vocal coach.  I’ll admit I hit an awkward stage with my voice when it was changing a few years ago, but I like the way things have worked out so far.”

Quinn confides, “My major goal as an artist is to get into songwriting more,” and he’s well on his way with Midnight Highway, for which he had a hand in writing three of the stand-out tracks, “Eyes For You”, “Lifting Off” and “Going.”  One of the other songs that Quinn tackled is George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”  While Quinn will forever be rooted in the blues, he’s extremely passionate about The Beatles, so every effort was made to replicate the Harrison classic as faithfully as possible.  Producer Tom Hambridge remarked, “We really tried to make it sound like it was off the White Album, so we researched everything about the track, where the mic placement should be, how to get the organ to sound like the original. Quinn is such a huge Beatles fan so, of course, he really loved the process.”

The album was recorded primarily at Nashville’s prestigious Blackbird Studio with some of the greatest players in Nashville, including many of the same musicians who played on the Buddy Guy albums that Hambridge produced. These include bassists Michael Rhodes and Tom Macdonald, guitarist Rob McNelley, and keyboard player Reese Wynans, a veteran of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble.  Hambridge notes, “Quinn was anxious to make an album the way I make those Buddy Guy albums, and he did, in fact, tear it up.  Quinn felt the mojo and he ‘brought it’ in a big way.”

As a young child, Quinn was brought to numerous festivals and concerts by his music-loving parents.  He was the “kid with the guitar “ in the audience, who would strum along with what was happening on stage.  Through videos, Quinn became enamored with Buddy Guy, so his  Dad made arrangements for him to meet his idol when Guy came to his hometown.  Backstage before the show, he asked Buddy to autograph his guitar which, of course, he did — but on condition that the boy play it for him.  That led to Buddy calling Quinn onstage to join him during his set and an unlikely, though solid bond was then formed between the great Chicago bluesman and the eager youngster from Massachusetts.

Tom Hambridge calls Quinn “a sponge who soaks up everything that’s around him,” adding, “he’s listening all the time and he just so happens to be around great artists.  Every time he plays, it’s a little deeper. Buddy Guy is, of course, his mentor, so he channels Buddy’s over-the-top reckless abandon.” That’s completely understandable, as Buddy has, more than once, advised Quinn, “Just go out there and show them why you’re here… make them remember you.”

Off stage, Quinn is well aware of the unique opportunity he’s been afforded and is focused on music as an ongoing pursuit.  He contrasts his experience with many of his contemporaries’ - “They’re struggling to come up with what they’re going to do when they’re out of school, but I’ve decided this is what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life."

The track listing is: “Something For Me,” “Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming,” “Midnight Highway,” “Crazy Into You,” “Eyes For You,” “Lifting Up,” “She Gets Me,” “Rocks,” “Going,” “Graveyard Stone,” “Big Sky,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Buffalo Nickel.”

Ronnie Baker Brooks Announces First New Album In Ten Years


Produced By Steve Jordan, Featuring Lonnie Brooks, “Big Head” Todd Mohr, Bobby “Blue” Bland, 
Steve Cropper, Angie Stone, Eddie Willis, Al Kapone, Felix Cavaliere, Lee Roy Parnell
Out On Provogue / Mascot Label Group January 20, 2017

Chicago, IL --- Brooks, 49, was born in Chicago, and started playing guitar around age six. At 19, he joined his father, Lonnie Brooks who by then had influenced some of the most well-known bluesman of our history: Jimmy Reed, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Johnny Winter, and Junior Wells. For 12 years, the two would tour together, putting Ronnie out front with Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and Koko Taylor. 

Times Have Changed, Brooks’ first album in ten years, carries with it the weight of grown perspective and time spent perfecting old material. Brooks worked it with Steve Jordan, whose work runs from Keith Richards to Stevie Wonder, John Mayer and Eric Clapton. With that comes a lesson in rhythm and blues history. Brooks refers to the director as “a walking encyclopedia of music detail and equipment”, a professor through which Brooks could take that next developmental step. “Once we got the ball rolling, my confidence went higher and higher”, he says. “I’m a better musician for this experience.”

The experience Brooks is talking about is that which came together over the course of a few weeks at Royal Studios in Memphis, the home of Al Green, Syl Johnson and Bobby “Blue” Bland. Jordan and Brooks brought in a mint press of Memphis music royalty: Stax Records staple Steve Cropper (Booker T. & the M.G.'s, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave), Archie Turner (Al Green, Syl Johnson, O.V. Wright), jazz saxophonist Lannie McMillan, and R&B icon Angie Stone. For several tracks, Brooks also enlisted brothers Teenie (guitar), Charles (organ) and Leroy Hodges (bass) of the legendary Hi Rhythm Section, which served as the house band for hit soul albums by artists like Al Green and Ann Peebles. “We used the same mics that Al Green used on his record”, says Brooks. “Matter of fact, we were using much of the same band! It kind of took that vibe.” The first track recorded was a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly hit Give Me Your Love. The second, Twine Time, the instrumental jam from Alvin Cash. 

“To be honest with you, when Steve said ‘Man, we need an instrumental,’ the first person I thought of was Freddie King. Steve wanted something more appealing to all people, not just guitar players. He said ‘What about Twine Time?’’ I said, ‘Is he serious?’ Yeah, Twine Time. But that song was a key to this album. Man, that just lit the fire for this record. It became one of the funnest tracks we did.”

Several tracks on Times Have Changed were recorded at the legendary Blackbird Studio in Nashville. “It had great hospitality, a great vibe, great tone, great equipment,” Brooks said. “And of course I got to get closer to some of the musicians who live there, Felix Cavaliere, Steve Cropper - they all live there, and it just created a great atmosphere. One of the key things for me was that we got Todd Mohr there, and he was willing to play rhythm guitar along with Lee Roy Parnell, so we got a nice little chemistry going with the three guitar parts together.”

‘Times’ also comes laden with original hits. Five of the eleven tracks were penned by Brooks. Raised on others’ music, he’s always considered the songwriting process to be as sacred. “It’s like having a baby”, he says. “You see it come to life. Once you play it live, it grows even more. That was the most fun part of it, for me: the creative side. Coming up with a song people can relate to, and you relate to, it just snowballs. It’s almost like therapy for me. Like the song Times Have Changed: I wrote that song years ago. I sent Steve my songs and he picked that one. It’s kind of timeless. Every day something’s changing. Now, when I play it live, you can see the effect of it. Initially, it was just an idea: just a riff. Now, this song has influence on people. We were just in Europe this year, after the bombing in Brussels. And we’re playing Brussels. I played that song; people were in tears. It helped them heal.”

It’s on that title track that Brooks brandishes what may be his finest songwriting talent: the ability to humanize social issues and unite different voices into one cohesive thought. That’s no more evident than in the latter stages of the song, in which Brooks deploys his longtime friend, Memphis' Al Kapone, to drop 32 bars on what the future holds for our people.

“My whole intention, when I started with Golddigger (his 1998 debut album) and up through this one, was to be authentic enough for the older generation but have something that the younger generation could latch onto,” says Brooks. “I try to be that bridge. With Take Me Witcha (2001), I’ve got a rapper on that. On The Torch (2006) we went with Al Kapone. He’s a bridge. He’s a bridge from blues to hip-hop. With music, it all comes from the heart. It comes from the heart and from the soul. In blues, it doesn’t matter what you’re talking about, it relates.

“That was my intention on this record: to build that bridge.”

The complete track listing features: “Show Me” (feat. Steve Cropper), “Doing Too Much” (feat. “Big Head” Todd Mohr, “Twine Time” (feat. Lonnie Brooks), “Times Have Changed” (feat. Al Kapone), “Long Story Short,” “Give Me Your Love (Love Song) (feat. Angie Stone), “Give The Baby Anything The Baby Wants” (feat. “Big Head” Todd Mohr & Eddie Willis), “Old Love” (feat. Bobby “Blue” Bland), “Come On Up” (feat. Felix Cavaliere & Lee Roy Parnell), “Wham Bam Thank You Sam,” “When I Was We.”

Friday, October 28, 2016

Provogue artist: Eric Johnson - ej - New release review

I just had the opportunity to review Eric Johnson's newest release, ej and it's quite special. An all acoustic release with acoustic guitar and piano it is a different side of Johnson. Opening the release is an instrumental cover of Simon and Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson. Solid and very ornately adorned, a beautiful track. Somber ballad, Wrapped In A Cloud features Johnson of vocal, piano and acoustic guitar with strings. A very nice track outside of what you would traditionally think of with Johnson. Once Upon A Time In Texas is a curious, adventuresome, guitar interlude with a lot of dynamics and almost Spanish accents. Very nice. Jimi Hendrix's One Rainy Wish has the introspective melody of Hendrix with it's complexity but with a totally new twist. Johnson has successfully take it to a new place with new dynamics. Very nice. One of my favorites on the release is the classically structured, Serinidad, with it's chord bases and jazz like lead. Very special indeed. Les Paul's The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise is a super guitar duet with Doyle Dykes and it literally really runs. A fine blend of gypsy styling, country jazz and pure Les Paul style, this track is a shining star. Simon and Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair, gets a more classical styling with piano and solid vocals. One of the best vocal outings on the release. Wrapping the release is Song For Irene, an intricate acoustic piece with cleanly articulated melodic runs. A nice conclusion to an interesting direction for Eric Johnson.

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