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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 Shirley Johnson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shirley Johnson. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Earwig Music Company - Angels Sing The Blues - New release review

I just received the newest release, Angels Sing The Blues featuring performances by Liz Mandeville, Mary Lane, Al Short, Shirley Johnson and Johnny Drummer and it's cool! Opening with Al "Guitar" Short on the Johnny Guitar Watson track, A Real Mother For Ya, backed by Johnny Drummer on keys, Walter Scott on rhythm guitar, Anthony Palmer on lead guitar, Kenny Hampton on bass, Tino Cortes on drums this release starts off with a kicking funk. Danny O'Connor takes the mic on Cold Women With Warm Hearts and a rolling James Brown rhythm driven by O'Connor's own bass lead. Very nice! Johnny Drummer is up next and a slick guitar intro by Palmer opens Gonna Sell My Cadillac, Buy Myself A Mule. This track has a great feel with extended guitar work by Palmer and Drummers vocals are tight, complimented by his own harp work. Slowing it down a bit, Drummer leads a low slung groove in easy style. Palmer steps up with some real nice riffs on this track giving it a real bluesy feel. R&B style track, Get Your Lovin' Where You Spend Your Time, features Shirley Johnson on lead vocals and she takes command. Compact guitar riffs and simple phrasing makes this track a solid radio contender. Mary lane takes center stage on Just As Grown As You and with a solid 12 bar rhythm and prominent keys from Drummer delivers a stike right down the alley. On Ride In Your Automobile, Lane gets the band involved with backing vocals from Mike Pappas and Alvin Short for a cool driver. Drummer is back up front on Rockin' In The Juke Joint and this is a cool rumble. Shirley Johnson is back up front on I'm Gonna Find Me A Lover, a high stepping R&B track with some of her best vocals on the release. Hamptons bass work on this track stand out nicely with compliments by Palmer. Again on Unchain My Heart, Johnson takes total control with thick, rich, vocals. Drummer's organ work on this track sets up just the right amount of tension, along with a slick guitar solo from Palmer, making this one of the strongest tracks on the release. Mary Lane really grinds out a classic on You Can Have My Husband, Please Don't Mess With My Man. With solid organ backing, nice bass work from Hampton and tight drums from Cortes, Palmer rips a real nice solo on this one. Very nice! Liz Mandeville takes center stage on Use What You Got and she gets hot and sassy. This is a hot track with heavy overtones and a sweet guitar riffs. Continuing with I Just Want To Make Love To You, Mandeville really works it and Drummer's harp and organ add nicely with hot guitar riffs from Palmer. Very cool! On John Prine classic, Angel From Montgomery, Mandeville, Lane and Johnson team up for a solid soulful rendition supported by Amber McMillan and Taniesha Brock on backing vocal and John Elwood Migliaccio and Scott Harper on sax. Very smooth. Wrapping the release is a funky, Run A Red Light, with plucky guitar and bass riffs and Mary Lane showing her stuff just one more time.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

As the Years Go Passing By - Shirley Johnson

Like so many African-American vocalists, Shirley Johnson started out singing in church and then went on to embrace secular music. The Chicago resident, whose influences range from Mahalia Jackson to Koko Taylor, Etta James, and Ruth Brown, is a gritty, big-voiced blues singer who can also handle soul and gospel. Although Johnson has spent much of her adult life in Chicago, the Windy City is not her hometown; she was born in Franklin, VA and raised in Norfolk, VA. Johnson came from a very religious family and she was only six when she started singing gospel in a church choir. Johnson's family didn't think much of either the blues or R&B, which are considered sinful in some of the stricter, more fundamentalist Christian churches. Nonetheless, she managed to hear the blues as a little girl and fell in love with secular black music; despite her parents' disdain for the blues and R&B, she developed a healthy appreciation of Brown, James, and Taylor, as well as male bluesmen like B.B. King, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Little Milton, and the late Z.Z. Hill. None of those artists have been blues purists and James, in fact, is primarily a soul singer who often detours into the blues and listening to them obviously taught her that the blues and classic soul often go hand in hand. When Johnson reached adulthood in the late '70s, she was free to pursue a career in secular music, so she made her presence felt in Norfolk's blues and R&B circles and went on to become an opening act for Aretha Franklin, Jerry Butler, Z.Z. Hill, and other well-known artists who were passing through town. In the early '80s, she recorded some singles for two regional labels in Virginia and those recordings caught the attention of a man who was planning to start a label in Chicago. The aspiring record man expressed interest in recording Johnson and sent her a plane ticket to Chicago, but when she arrived in the Windy City she learned he didn't have enough money to pay for a session. Nonetheless, she decided to remain in Chicago and became active on the city's blues circuit, where she has performed both blues and soul. The people she worked with in Chicago included Little Johnny Christian, Artie "Blues Boy" White, and keyboardist Eddie Lusk (who took Johnson on the road with him on international tours). In the '90s, Johnson made some recordings for the Appaloosa label, including her 1996 album Looking for Love. Then, in the early 2000s, she signed with the Chicago-based Delmark, which released Killer Diller in May 2002, following it up with Blues Attack in 2009. ~ Alex Henderson, All Music Guide “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson 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!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Delmark Presents :It Ain't Over - 55 Years Of Blues

I opened the mail yesterday and found a real treat. I received a copy of the recording, It Ain't Over celebrating Delmark's 55 years in business live at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago. I have been in this club many many times and this would have had to be the blast of all blasts. The opening track finds powerhouse singer Zora Young doing some power funk with a backing band featuring Lurie Bell and Scott Cable on guitars, Roosevelt Purifoy on keys, Bob Stronger on bass and Kenny Smith on drums. Young's Till The Fat Lady Sings is a great opener for this show. Bell throws down some great blues riffs on the funk playing his 335 and as Purifoy starts to rap out the funk on the keys Young starts to channel the godfather of soul with some squeals that would make JB proud. The rhythm section on this band is remarkably tight and Cable gets in some hot riffs on his Strat. I notice three amps on stage throughout the night which appear to be a Brownface Vibroverb, a Pro Tweed and a Blackface Twin.
Next up is Jimmy Johnson who does two great songs; Cold Cold Feeling and You Don't Know What Love Is. Johnson's vocals are very strong and deliberate and grab you good. He also manages to squeeze some terrific blues solos out of what I have found to be in general a sterile guitar. It's like they say, Jeff Beck can play a toy guitar and it will still sound like Jeff beck. Well. this isn't a toy and Johnson knows how to play it really well. Johnson is backed by Dave Specter on guitar, Brother John Kattke on keys, Harlan Terson on bass and Marty Binder on drums. Kattke gets the opportunity to show his stuff on You Don't Know and Spector takes a cool second guitar solo on his Epi 335 with the mini pickups.
Aaron Moore takes the stage for two vocal/ piano numbers with Kenny Smith on drums. It's all about style and Moore delivers the goods on Wading In Deep Water and Why You So Mean To Me.
Little Arthur Duncan leads the next set of Pretty Girls Everywhere and I Got To Go of course featuring Duncan, ever the showman, on harp and vocals, Rick Kreher on Strat, Nick Moss on a JazzMaster, Bob Stronger on bass (Fender Jazz) and Kenny Smith on drums. I hadn't mentioned it earlier but Stronger is right in the pocket and always tight. Moss takes short crisp solos on each track.
Lurrie Bell is up next with Don't You Lie To Me and Reconsider Baby. Bell is joined by Purifoy, Stronger and Smith. He plays both pickups most of the time and seems to opt for more of a twangy single coil tone that really suits his playing style. (The more I watch this video the more I am impressed by Stronger's incredibly tight playing). Bell really digs in on Don't You Lie To Me and lays down a very cool shuffle solo. On Reconsider Baby Bells vocals are impressive and he has fattened up his tone somehow and really takes the 335 down. Some extremely impressive playing by Bell in choice not only of riffs and style but neck position for effect and dynamics.
Bell's crew stays on stage and they bring up Shirley Johnson to sing a terrific version of As The Years Go Passing By. Johnson has a great deep rich voice and Bell keeps stinging the tune with impeccable taste. Bell gets another chance to shine and he steps up. He is relentless on the 335 and squeezes every drop of blues out of it!
Eddie Shaw replaces Johnson with Bell and crew and rips onto the stage playing a great tenor sax into to For You My Love. He leads the band in vocals and Purifoy's presence is more prominent. Shaw blows some major league riffs and the place is hoppin. The Sun Is Shining, a great loping blues tune gives the band a great opportunity to stretch a little first with Shaw on tenor, then with Purifoy on keys and bell on guitar. This turns into a cool boogie jam.
Last up is Tail Dragger with the addition of Big D. on Harp, Kevin Shanihan on Strat for Tend To Your Business. Big D. takes a great swat on harp and the band lays back and lets TD have the floor. Bell takes a particularly articulate stretch on this track and Shanahan gets in a quick tasty shot of the blues. For the final track Tail Dragger does a great version of My Woman Is Gone. His vocals are impressive and the band is tight. Billy Branch joins on harp and blows out some terrific riffs.
This is a great show commemorating the 55th year of Delmark and the declaration of Delmark Records Day (March 7, 2008) in Chicago by Mayor Richard M. Dailey and the hard work done by founder Bob Koester of such a meaningful blues milestone.
Special features including a pretty insightful discussion of the history of Delmark, it's development and the blues. It's a great listen.
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