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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 Sugar Brown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sugar Brown. Show all posts

Friday, July 20, 2018

Sugar Brown - It's A Blues World - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, It's A Blues World. from Sugar Brown and it's real cool. Opening with up tempo shuffle track, Hummingbird, featuring Sugar brown on vocal and guitar, Rockin' Johnny Burgin on guitar, Michelle Josef on drums, and Russ Boswell on bass. Cool opener. Love Me Twice has a great rhythm and signature Johnny Burgin guitar soloing. Really nice. With the addition of banjo by Nicol Robertson, Minnie Heart on fiddle and Julian Fauth on piano, Lousy Dime has an interesting rural feel and classic lines . One of my favorites on the release. Another of my favorites is title track, It's A Blues World, with a classic House of the Rising Sun progression. Subtle guitar riffs by Burgin, coupled with SB's vocal and harp, along with clean piano work by Fauth give this tack just the right balance. Out Of The Frying Pan has a strong rural blues feel with raw amplification on guitar and vocal giving the track a real authentic feel. Very nice. Rockin' track, Those Things You Said, sits in the groove with only guitar and drums under the vocal making it another strong top contender. Rockin' boogie, Looking For Two O'clock has a solid vocals and snappy beat with lofi guitar riffs giving the track an early 60's sound.  Dew On The Grass has a real nice swing with piano rolls by Fauth, bari sax by Heart cool guitar riffs by Burgin and a high impact drum feel from Josef. Wrapping the release is Brothers, a rural country style blues with just over basic backing over acoustic finger picking by Brown and Burgin complimented by Heart and Robertson. Cool Closer.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Interview with the dynamic Rockin’ Johnny Burgin

Bman: Hi Johnny, Haven’t seen you in a while. I'm really sorry that I missed your show in Phoenix. I was in Europe and just got back. One show I really wanted to see. How did it go?

RJB: I had a great show in Phoenix. "Bob Corritore and " Dave Riley sat in.  I had a great bassist from Alburquerque, J.D. Sipe, and Brian Fahey from The Paladains on drums.  I hadn't played with him since a tour in Europe three or so years ago with Mud Morganfield and Taildragger.

Bman: Wow. That must have been a great show! Damn. I really wanted to see you. Are you coming back again this year?

RJB: I hope to be back in October.

Bman: Great! I should be  good then. I don't think I have anything planned for October. Last I heard you were in Europe with Aki Kumar . I love Europe. How did the tour go? Where were you?

RJB: I left for Europe on Halloween, and got back at Christmas.  The first two weeks of the tour were with Aki Kumar and our West Coast Meets Chicago project.  We hit Sweden (w/ Trickbag ), the Netherlands, and the Bay Car Blues Festival in France and some FR club dates.  Then Aki went home, and I went to Finland, Italy and Spain.   

Bman:  So you’ve been back on US soil for a while. What have you been up to? Still touring or in the studio?

RJB: In January, I was in the Bay area the whole time.  I played New Year's Eve with Nick Gravenites and long time Elvin Bishop drummer Gary Silva on drums. That was fun.  In January, I cut material for a new Rockin Johnny Burgin CD, Neoprene Fedora .

It'll be out by March 15.  I had Nancy Wright on it, Vance Ehlers, June Core (the rhythm section on Greaseland), not to mention 3 zydeco songs I wrote with Billy Williams on rub board and Steve Willis (plays w Elvin) on accordion.  Kid Andersen and Bob Welsh played guitars and pianos, and Aki was on it as well.  He did two songs on vocal, and Alabama Mike did two songs I wrote.  Out of 16 tunes, I did three covers, a Johnny Littlejohn song, an LV Banks song, and a Little Joe Blue Song.  And Aki did a song by Willie Williams, which makes 12 originals-- that's a record.

Bman: Outstanding! I love the stuff that comes out of Greaseland and that lineup is top notch. I'm looking forward to see what you came up with. I also heard that you caught up with Quique Gomez in Spain. Outstanding! I'm really looking forward to hearing it.

RJB: Quique is a good friend, I've worked with him in Spain and America many, many times.  When Aki went home I caught up with him. I cut a cd's worth of stuff with Quique  in Toledo.  It'll come out in the summer. I'm glad we finally did a cd together. 

Bman: Weren’t you also in session with Mike Mettalia?

RJB: Yes, I've known Mike since the Smoke Daddy days in the 90s.  He wanted to do some sessions with Little Jerry Jones, Mary Lane, and Milwaukee Slim (and me!) so I acted as a liaison.  We've done some nice shows together over the years.  He's really keeping the blues alive in my book! 

Bman:  I really need to check that out! What else have you got cooking as if that isn’t enough?

RJB: Right now I'm doing a three month tour that started in San Jose, then went to Phoenix, Alburquerque, Dallas, it's going to  Houston, Clarksdale, Springfield, Chicago, Minneapolis, Toronto, France, Russia, then flying back to Chicago and driving back to SF doing gigs in NE and Utah.   Doing a session with Jeremy Johnson in Minneapolis in March, he's a great engineer (he did RJ Mischo's latest cd) drummer and guitarist.  I've always wanted to record with him.
Also doing a session on this trip with Sugar Brown (Ken Kawashima) in Toronto.  We're old college buddies and started out together with Taildragger He's a great player and songwriter.  

Bman: Yeah, I like Sugar Brown's work. Lot of talent there.

RJB: I am doing a tour in Sweden in May with Aki and Trickbag.  I'm doing the 10th anniversary Blues Fest after party at Reggie's with special guests TBA in Chicago in June.  Also I'm playing the Bluesfest with Mary Lane.  Playing King Biscuit with Taildragger in October  and I'll be touring a lot to promote Neoprene Fedora , as well and my release wtih Quique when it comes out.

Bman: Man. You are a busy guy. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Now I got to get some CD's and sit back and enjoy!

RJB: Thanks a lot Bman

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Sugar Brown - Poor Lazarus - New release review

I just received the newest release, Poor Lazarus from Sugar Brown and I quite like it! Opening with rocker Walkin' With Frankie, a Frankie Lee Sims track, it has a certain crude construction quality that I find particularly cool. Sugar Brown leads on guitar and vocal, joined by Joolyah Narveson on rhythm guitar and sax, and Art Maky on drums. Meet Me In The Country is a great delta style blues track with an authentic guitar riff throughout. Growing to a loud jangle this track keeps it's backwoods sound and primitive sound. Very nice! Boogie track, What A Comrade Left Behind has a Hound Dog Taylor feel with just a minor pinch of C&W styling. Love the loose guitar soloing by Brown. Tom Waits track, Get Behind The Mule has a RL Burnside rockin blues sound with real intensity, joined on this track by Pat Phillips on drums and Tyler Stoddart on maracas. Brown has a cool voice and gets a cool guitar groove going. On RL Burnside's Goin' Down South Narveson switches over to upright bass and Art Maky plays drums following Brown in a chant like blues track. Poor Lazarus is a real cool remake of a traditional track about the shooting of a black man at the hands of a vengeful sheriff, with a heavy Doors like blues feel and descending bass work from Narveson. Bharath Rajakumar joins on chromatic harp. Very cool track! Instrumental, Blue Lights Hooker is possibly my favorite track on the release with a traditional Chicago styling...nice and slow. Rajakumar lays it down heavy on chromatic harp and with predominantly only a bass line played under the melody and joined by Phillips on vibes. Tokyo Nagaremono is an unusual track in that it is a theme song from a Japanese film , Tokyo Drifter. This track doesn't have a blues construction but it is in fact a very cool eerie ballad. Train Sixty-Four feels like a Morganfield track with a deep delta root. Written in fact by Brown, it features raw vocals by Brown, a simple guitar track and is supplemented by Rajakumar on harp, Narveson on upright, Maky on drums and Phillips on percussion. With a Johnny Otis/R&B/Bo Diddley fusion, Brown takes a Lewis Carroll poem, The Mad Gardener's Song: Part 1 and makes it into a contagious rocker. Cool! Burn It Down visits the Jimmy Reed blues book with a great driving blues rhythm, solid vocals and screaming harp. Very nice! The Mad Gardener's Song: Part 2 gets an eastern twist but still over a basic stripped down blues rocker grinds out a real cool track. With a twist on Willie Dixon, Brown comes up with Not Your Backdoor Man. Staying with that Mississippi Hill style, Brown gets a solid groove and certainly understands how to deliver the vocals. His raw, fat, jangly guitar work rides nicely on top of a solid bed of rhythm by Narveson, Maky, Phillips. Wrapping the release is Willie Dixon's Weak Brain and Narrow Mind but with a very solitude interpretation. This track is a real surprise on the release, very understated but powerful. This is a real strong release that packs a punch!

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Sugar Brown - Sugar Brown's Sad Day - New Release Review

I just received the newest release (March 4, 2014), Sugar Brown's Sad Day, from Sugar Brown and I really like it. Opening with Elmore James' Fishman's Blues, SB and Bharath Rajakumar on guitar capture a bit of the rawness of Hound Dog Taylor accompanied only by Ben Caissie on drums. Great opener! Next up is Bo Diddley based track, Before The Law. Featuring SB on vocal and guitar and Rajakumar on harp as well as Caissie on drums and maracas. Another original, Sad Day, sounds like it is out of the Morganfield soung book and solid down and dirty blues. With cool vocals and slide riffs from SB and tight harp work from Rajakumar this is a great track. With a solid Sonny Boy Williamson sound, Grim Reaper smells like Chicago. SB leads his troops like he was born in the back of a Southside bar and Rajakumar doesn't hold back on harp. Zak Izbinsky also adds guitar work on this track. Very cool! Jimmy Rogers track Act Like You Love Me has a great simple boogie beat and classic distortion sounding like it was recorded 70 years ago. Very authentic and real. Volcano Woman continues to cement my thoughts clearly of how much I like this release. With really nice harp work and guitar/vocal duets this track has all of the basis covered. Floyd Jones' Stockyard Blues is a super vehicle for this group of men. A super straight blues track with only simple guitar and vocal (w/foot stomp) this track is cool! 2 O'clock is just SB on vocal and harp with foot stomp and with a little rock pace, keeps it raw and real. No embellishments... just the blues. Hook-a-Boogie captures the feel of JL Hooker with the raw edge guitar and rhythm. Mimicking Hookers singing pattern, raw and random soloing and keeping it simple is the key and SB does a great job! Throwing in Velvet Underground's Run, run, run with a twist is actually quite interesting. Like I said, the blues is everywhere and SB gets it. Traditional blues number John Henry really gets the delta treatment and is very believable (as opposed to other current over polished excuses to play long disjointed guitar solos). I am not trying to make disparraging remarks about contemporary players who elaborate on guitar because sometimes they really do a nice job, but it's really cool to see someone take a real simple approach at this type of track (vocal and guitar). Excellent! What Are We Going To Do shows how nicely SB is able to get right into the heart of the blues with his own creations. Delta Mississippi Muddy Waters would give this guy a pat on the back for his efforts. I really like SB's vocals and slide playing and Caissie adds nicely on upright bass. Hard to play in open tuning without giving Rollin' and Tumblin' a good shot. SB and Rajakumar blend vocals for a real swampy sound. On top of simple delta slide and Caissie on bass is all it takes. Elmore James' It Hurts Me Too gets a super cover with exceptional feel on vocal and slide. SB and gang close the release with an almost 8 minute smoking boogie jam, Boogie For Fuji featuring SB on harp, Zak Izbinsky and Rajakumar on guitar, and Caissie on drums. Slowing back to a simple delta pace for the close this makes for a terrific wrap.  This is really an exceptional outing for this group and i can't wait to put it in my car and listen to it cranked a few times!

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