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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 Stilladog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stilladog. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jimmy Thackery - Wide Open - New Release Review - Stilladog (Guest reviewer)

Wide Open. What a perfect name for the newest release by Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers! This album knows no boundaries and is in fact wide open to whatever Thackery was inspired to record. And his inspiration took two years to come to fruition. He began writing for this album back in 2012 with final recording finally wrapping in April of this year. There's something here for many musical tastes, as long as it's not too far from the blues/jazz/rock vein. In fact it is so diverse that listening to the album from start to finish makes it seem disjointed at times. But that does not diminish the quality. For when a song is good, it's very very good. When it's not, it's still very listenable. Two tracks had been previously released for download from iTunes, the blues-rocker Hard Luck Man and the melancholy Someone Who's Crying Tonight. And while I would consider Hard Luck Man very good and one of many highlights on this release, Someone Who's Crying Tonight is just OK. So what's good about it you say? Well if you are a fan of the DC guitar masters Roy Buchanan or Danny Gatton, Thackery delivers Pondok which is an instrumental that has elements of both artist's styles. Thackery, then guitarist for the Nighthawks, emerged as the King of Washington DC guitar after Gatton and Buchanan passed and he obviously learned from both. It is the last track on the release and it's laid back tempo belies some of the guitar artistry Thackery displays. OK so now you know how it ends, lets go back to the beginning. The album starts off with Change Your Tune a jazz infused swing with vocals and is followed by a beautiful jazz influenced instrumental in a minor key called Minor Step. I must confess, Minor Step is one of my favorite tracks on the album. But quickly Jimmy gets the Drivers to switch gears to a real blues called Coffee & Chicken. This tune pays homage to anyone who ever ate a bucket of Kentucky Fried and strong coffee for breakfast. For the humorous minded there's King of Livin' On My Own which could darn near be a country tune. It makes you realize there's a whole lot of truth in humor. If you like a slow gut-wrenching blues, then You Brush Me Off is for you. Thackery gives Ronnie Earl a run for his money in the slow blues instrumental category on this one. I'd say this is by far the favorite cut on the album of my wife, the fabulous Mrs. Dog. It's right up there for me too. Some extremely tasteful guitar on this track, not flashy, but just right. What can I say? You need to hear it. Thackery then returns to blues-rock again with Keepin' My Heart From Breakin'. This is closer to what you may have come to expect from Jimmy's earlier albums with The Drivers. With Swingin' Breeze, Jimmy returns to the jazz style that started the album. It's the kind of song you might expect on a Duke Robillard or Herb Ellis album and it's refreshing to hear Thackery play in this style. Run Like The Wind is done acoustically and is a haunting ballad with blues connotations. These are all original compositions. I believe it's the first Jimmy Thackery album that does not contain a cover tune of any sort. I go way back with Jimmy Thackery. back to the Psyche-Delly (Bethesda, MD), Rewster's Roost (Taylorsville, MD), and 8X10 Club (Baltimore, MD) even Heinz Hall (Pittsburgh, PA) days. And I believe this is an honest and true statement of where Jimmy is in his life right now. Wide Open is not an album made for commercial success (what blues album is these days except Joe Bonamassa releases?) but it's like an abstract piece of art. With that I'd recommend that you take a listen. There's surely something in there that will speak to you.  

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”


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dateline: 7/12/2014 Westminster, MD- Common Ground Music Festival. - Stilladog - Special guest reporter

Yesterday the Common Ground On The Hill Music Festival began wrapping up two weeks of workshops, lessons, and jams. The prime purposes of Common Ground are cultural diversity, musical education, and promotion of the American roots art forms, particularly music and dance. Of course, at the heart of all this is blues music. Whether sawing out a hoedown on a fiddle, a zydeco two-step on accordion or ripping up a mean blues break solo on a National Steel guitar, the blues is always present while not always front and center. My day started out with a set by Scott Ainslie. He played a National Steel throughout his whole set, once using a paper napkin to use as a damper to get the sound he wanted when blending sad blues lyrics with an upbeat guitar line straight out of Nigerian Juju music! In addition to some original tunes his set was accented by Robert Johnson tunes and stories. He did Come On In My Kitchen in the David Bromberg style. And after telling the story of the "Sundown" laws that did not allow blacks out after dark -which got Robert Johnson's head busted open more than once- he finished the set with Crossroads Blues.

After cooling off with a craft beer at Der Bier Garten which was really served in a garden, we took in Guy Davis set complete with some Appalachian clog-style dancing to a blues number. Guy Davis is probably one of the most popular and well recognized artists at the festival and has been playing there for many years. He did several classic blues tunes in addition to a few covers. He was accompanied by Professor Louie on accordion and Christopher James on mandolin. The knockout punch by Guy Davis was a rendition of Bob Dylan's Lay Lady Lay in which Professor Louie's haunting accordion part set the base for Davis impassioned vocals. In my mind Lay Lady Lay by Guy Davis was the runner-up for best single song of the day!

Mary Flower followed Davis on the "Blues Stage." She played a number of original tunes. If you are unfamiliar with Mary Flower music, she is at times heavy on the slide guitar played lap style on Dobro and a custom made box guitar. The highlight of her set was I'm Dreaming of Your Demise from her Misery Love Company album. Despite the fact that she was smack in the middle of Carroll County Maryland, she did not play the Carroll County Shuffle. Instead she offered up loads of other top notch acoustic blues and was a most gracious performer.
After a pulled pork sandwich and some jalapeno & sriracha coleslaw we settled in for the most entertaining set of the day, Professor Louie & The Crowmatix. This set was billed as "Professor Louie & The Crowmatix with the Rock of Ages horns. Except the Rock of Ages horns apparently missed the tour bus. But in their place was a trombone, trumpet, tenor and baritone sax horn section made up of local guys which Professor Louie introduced as "The Westminster Horns."
Thanks to Coffey Music of Westminster, Bob Coffey and his merry band (including my old tennis partner Dave Motter on trombone) the Rock of Ages horns were barely missed! The band did have to stay pretty close to the charts with a bunch of new guys playing, so only organized solos were rendered. But it was a great set highlighted by three outstanding Band covers, Ophelia, Don't Do It, and The Weight. Professor Louie is another artist who has been very active in Common Ground. I know he's played every year that I've been there, and many more.

The grand finale was Hot Tuna. Jorma Kaukonen was extremely sharp for a 70 year old picker. And the tone resonating from his acoustic guitar was about as pure a tone as the instrument can render! Along with long time partner Jack Cassady on bass and Barry Mitterhoff on Mandolin, they picked their way through the American Folk and Blues catalog and their own songs. Hesitation Blues, Prohabition Blues, and Nobody Knows You When You're Down & Out were all very strong numbers. But the single best song of the day was Barbeque King Blues! Just fantastic. Sooo much better than ANY rendering of this song than anything I've heard since the time I picked up Jorma's Barbeque King album on vinyl from the cut-out bin at my local record store in 1984. I hope it was recorded to be released on a future album because they really nailed it and looked like they were having fun doing it!
Bottom line: It was a beautiful day to do many of the things I enjoy most, drinking beer, eating barbeque, and listening to the very best blues music. This festival is truly a hidden gem and has been for years. In years past I've seen Buckwheat Zydeco, Arlo Guthrie, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and CJ Chenier at this festival. And the best thing is, it's only two miles from my house! It's a shame more people don't come to it, but on the other hand the crowd was just right for maximum enjoyment. The Festival continues today with Professor Louie playing again and tonight's headliners, New Riders of the Purple Sage.

 Stilladog Rides Again!  

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”


Monday, December 23, 2013

Walter “ Wolfman” Washington and the Roadmasters – Live at dba New Orleans - New Release Review - Stilladog - Guest Writer

As soon as I heard that Walter “Wolfman” Washington had a new live album out I had to get a copy. I have been a fan of his ever since Bman turned me on to him back in 1991. But back in October I met and made friends with him out on Duval Street in Key West. This album was recorded shortly after and was released on November 21, 2013 at the dba music club on Frenchmen Street in the Marginy. The Roadmasters consist of Jack Cruz, bass; Wayne Maureau, drums; Antonio Gambrell, trumpet; and the hardest working tenor man I know of, Jimmy Carpenter, sax. This is exactly the same band he had with him on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise when I last saw him. The horns of Gambrell and Carpenter are a frequent feature on nearly every song and they are fantastic. Better on this record than I remember on the cruise. The album starts off with an instrumental introduction, Funkyard, from the Funk Is In The House album. It’s a tune that features solos by both horn men as well Walter himself including his familiar Wolfman howl. It is quickly followed by a classic Wolfman number, I’m Tiptoeing Through, which was originally recorded for his Wolf Tracks CD in 1986 and re-released on his 2000 On The Prowl album. Walter and the band ease seamlessly into more of a Soul groove with a 6 ½ minute version of When The Answer Is Clear followed by At Night In The City. Both contain the understated tasteful picking for which Walter is famous. After that, the tempo picks up a bit with Girl I Want To Dance from his Sada album –which I just recently picked up and also highly recommend. Walter lays down some fantastic licks on this number as well along with a sprinkling of some hot trumpet. It’s at this point I got the feeling I was right there in the club the night these tracks were recorded. Walter slows the pace a bit for the next number a Bill Withers-esque, You Got Me Worried. The horn arrangements over top of the funk groove on this tune are really great. But the band quickly changes gears to nearly bossa beat with I’m In Love. Jimmy Carpenter takes a beautiful solo on this song that accentuates how diverse a sax man he is. Blue Moon Risin’, the slowest number –and closest to real blues– follows. So, at 45 minutes into the set the band then goes into somewhat of a structured jam on Tweakin’ from his Doin’ The Funky Thing release. This one injects a little hip-hop into the set as if jazz, soul, funk, and blues weren’t enough!
The only cover on the album is next with the Jimmy Reed classic, Ain’t That Lovin’ You? It is done completely Walter-style, which is to say, very tastefully. The horn heavy numbers Tailspin and Stop and Think conclude the album except for the typical Wolfman Washington exit instrumental, Wolfman Outro, complete with Wolfman howl. It’s clear that this album was recorded in front of an audience familiar with Walter’s music. He has a weekly gig at dba and obviously played the crowd favorites. I would almost call it a “greatest hits” style of live album (as many are). The only reason I would not is that it does not contain many of my favorite Walter “Wolfman” Washington tunes such as, It Was Fun While It Lasted, Crescent City Starlight, and Use Me. If you can handle the kind of musical diversity Wolfman Washington brings to the stage then this album is for you. As a side note, Walter celebrated his 70th birthday Friday night with a star studded gig at the Maple Leaf Bar out on Oak Street in New Orleans. The band included both Cyril and Ivan Neville, Anders Osborne, and Stanton Moore. So happy birthday Wolfman! This is a great album. Stilladog says, “Woof!” 

  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”


Monday, November 25, 2013

Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise #21 October 2013 - Stilladog - Guest Contributer

Welcome aboard to the world’s biggest 7 day blues party!  Yes friends, 7 days where you can’t tell the blues artists from the fans. Although everybody’s experience is different –and a blues cruise vacation is exactly what you make it– a good time is had by all… day after day!

So I’m going to tell you about my experience on my 4th LRBC a few weeks ago.   I try to get on board pretty early so I can learn the layout of the ship and how to get from concert venue to concert venue in the most efficient manner.  And by doing so you get to see and talk to some of the artists before any action really starts.  Right off the bat I ran into Cyril Neville who was as lost as my wife and I.  Later I saw Lucky Peterson on a lounge chair outside his stateroom while walking the Promenade Deck. 

The first night they always have a BBQ on the pool deck at departure. This time it was Rick Estrin and the Nightcats hosting the BBQ. The best part being when Kid Anderson went into a guitar solo playing slide with a cell phone. Next came the Virgin and Returnee Parties.  The artists for these are never announced. As a returnee I went for my free champagne at the Showroom at Sea.  And to kick it all off was Los Lobos with Lee Oskar on harp. Talk about setting the bar high.  These guys were fantastic!  I had seen Lee Oskar a few years ago with the Low Rider Band (the band formerly known as WAR but due to legal limitations cannot bill themselves as WAR any more). But I swear Lee was better with Los Lobos who were great in their own right.  The consensus opinion was that this was the best Returnee Party in history.
Lee Oskar jams with Los Lobos at the Returnee Party

After that we stayed at the Showroom to check out Walter “Wolfman” Washington.
  He was one of the artists I specifically wanted to see on this cruise.  Bman had turned me on to Walter back in about 1991 and I’d never gotten a chance to see him live.  I was not disappointed. Wolfman Washington with his jazz-infused, New Orleans funk style blues was great.  Sadly not too many people attended this show. I imagine on account of going to see Ruthie Foster instead. When Ruthie’s set ended the crowd packed into Walter’s gig for the last half hour.

As for me, when Walter’s set ended I went out to the Pool Deck to hear Royal Southern Brotherhood.  But I only heard a few tunes featuring mostly Mike Zito because I had to head back to the Showroom for Irma Thomas.  That’s the dilemma about the Blues Cruise. There’s so many good people to see and you just can’t possibly be in two places at once.  Well, Irma Thomas was great.  She did not work from a set list. She just said “This is not your regular kind of show. I’m gonna call the tunes unless there’s something special you want to hear. Let me know what it is and we’ll do it.”  Irma would not be the only artist to take that approach.

Day two was in Key West, FL.  Supposedly for Fantasy Fest which started the night before.  But by pulling into port at 8:30am all the naked spray painted Fantasy Fest breasts, and other body parts, were all in bed sleeping from the previous evening.  So we had our own Second Line parade up Duval Street led by keyboardist, Mitch Woods, dressed as Liberace and the Wild Magnolias (Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and Big Chief Bo Dollis Jr.).  It terminated at Sloppy Joes Bar where Mitch led a jam that lasted from 10:00am until 3:00pm.
Big Chief Bo Dollis Jr. and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux lead the parade to Sloppy Joe’s

Toward the end of the jam, Walter “Wolfman” Washington joined Mitch and the band for a couple numbers. When he came down off the stage I got to talk to Walter and joke around with him. What a great guy! You may not know this, but Walter was one of the first “name” artists who started to play New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  There are many who say he saved music in New Orleans after the hurricane because so many musicians had fled to Houston, Dallas, San Francisco and all points in between to make a living since most clubs in New Orleans had shut down. But not Walter. He immediately began playing his regular gigs most notably at the Maple Leaf Bar –where he still has a weekly gig. When people saw Walter back, they came back too!

Stilladog and Walter “Wolfman” Washington sharing a joke outside Sloppy Joe’s in Key West 
 So at 5:30 the ship had to leave Mallory Square in Key West cause if any of you have ever been there for the Sunset Party (Circus) which happens every night… well you just can’t have a huge freakin’ cruise ship obstructing your view.  But that’s OK with us ‘cause Our Ship Kicks Ass and we gonna have a good time anyway.

And sure enough we did. Reason why? Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers!  Over the course of the cruise I saw these guys play 3 gigs and they were absolute Zydeco Dynamite on every one!!  Led by accordionist Dwayne Dopsie, and fueled by saxophonist Reginald Smith and washboard man, Paul LeFleur (The Marlboro Man) they rocked the ship.  What a passionate performance! I can personally attest to the fact that the man was soaked from head to toe at the end of every set.  Even the dude’s jeans were completely soaked!
Pool Deck zydeco duel between Dwayne Dopsie & Paul LeFleur

A day at sea is always filled with great blues and it took us a day and something to get from Key West to New Orleans. It was a Sunday and we got the day started with a Gospel Brunch with Ruthie Foster which was fantastic! 

The rest of day three was highlighted by more of Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers, the hardest working band on the ship! A set by Popa Chubby on the Pool Deck was particularly good. Man he really ripped the place up. I was extremely impressed with Popa Chubby.   I knew he was good, but not that good!  Reminded me of Leslie West.  In fact, better than Leslie West even. And that’s saying something.  

Popa Chubby rocks the Pool Deck

Coming up the Mississippi into New Orleans I had the pleasure of enjoying the ride with Dion Pierre – bass man for the Zydeco Hellraisers and Kevin Minor –drummer for the Zydeco Hellraisers (and alumni of Hopewell High School in Aliquippa, PA) both of whom call New Orleans home.  We passed the bayous and levees.  Up past the New Orleans Battleground where Andrew Jackson and the pirate, Jean LaFitte, defeated the British in 1814.  To the canal in the 9th ward where Minor pointed out to me “That’s the canal that flooded and fucked up all this area over here.” Very few people approach the city from this direction and it was clearly impressive even to the folks who live there.

The city was impressive too. My wife and I walked about 8.5 miles that day. Started out for an Oyster Po’ Boy at Mother’s on Poydras.  Then down past the House of Blues on Decatur into the French Quarter.  Up to Preservation Hall. Past the Old Absinthe House. Over to the St. Charles Trolley and a trip out past the Garden District to the famous Maple Leaf Bar home of New Orleans blues, jazz, zydeco, and everything in between for as long as anyone can remember. A few beers and some serious music discussion with Regan the bartender and then a trolley trip back into town. Arriving just in time for a bus ride out to the Mid-City Lanes Rock N Bowl where we heard the wonderful guitarist June Yamagishi (who you can see in the HBO series Treme’).

June Yamagishi at Mid-City Lanes Rock N Bowl

Another day at sea followed featuring Ft. Lauderdale guitarist, Albert Castilia, whose set was accompanied by guests, Samantha Fish and Mike Zito.  It is about at this point in the trip that musicians who jam together until 4:00am every night on the pool deck begin to crash each other’s scheduled sets and you never know who you might see or where.  Johnny Winter? Kim Wilson? Rev. Billy C. Wirtz?  Andy Forrest? Dave Keyes? Jimmy Carpenter? They were all there and would just show up. It was great!!  Lucky Peterson was also a high point of the sets I saw on our way to Progreso, MX.

In Mexico, I guess the people who took the tour of the Mayan ruins enjoyed Mexico but I opted to stay on the ship and drink poolside all afternoon.  It was a good choice. It was a day of relaxation for the musicians. And they were hanging poolside too. I never intruded on their personal time but it was very cool to observe, for instance, a conversation between Kim Wilson, Rick Estrin, and Lee Oskar.  Now that’s some harp royalty right there!  Ruthie Foster and her band just kicking back with some fans. We caught a bit of Anson Funderburgh and Eric Lindell’s set early that evening too.

At 6:30 the next morning I headed back to the pool for the Sunrise Party except there was no sun.  It was cloudy and we had some pretty damn rough seas. So rough the pool water was completely splashing out 7 feet high!! Somebody smuggled in some tequila and vodka and I mixed my own Bloody Mary and hung out with my fellow cruisers for a jello shooter to celebrate our last day in Blues Heaven on water.  Had a hell of a time keeping my balance but I was better off than those who get seasick.

The feature of the last day was the Lucky Peterson Jam on the pool deck which was going great until Lucky decided to play some disco music and everybody kinda just walked away.  Right up until that it was smokin’.  But artists need to understand it’s the blues people come to hear and even though I agree with the Etta James claim that “It’s all blues, baby” other’s don’t. 

The last set I saw was Marcia Ball who also just said, “Call the tune and I’ll play it.” I had not seen Marcia since 1999 at the Superdome in New Orleans and not much has changed except we’re both older and grayer.  She still rocks on that electric piano and swings her long crossed leg the whole time.
Marcia Ball

Back in Florida I found myself waiting for my family to pick us up at the port alongside Popa Chubby. We all just turn into one big blues family on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise.  It is an experience I highly recommend not only because the music is fantastic but it’s a very relaxing vacation.  I’ll be on the next one in January too, hope to see you on board. I’ll be hanging in the Crow’s Nest.  Just say, “Whatcha drinking, Stilladog?” And I’ll know you are a Bman’s Blues Report fan.