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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 Sunny Crownover. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sunny Crownover. Show all posts

Friday, December 29, 2017

M.C. Records artist: Duke Robillard - Duke and his Dames of Rhythm - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Duke and his Dames of Rhythm, by Duke Robillard and it's a mighty swing fest. Opening with From Monday On, Sunny Crownover has the floor, backed by Bruce Bears on piano, Brad Hallen on bass, Mark Teixeira on drums, Jon Erik Kellso on trumpet, Billy Novick on clarinet and alto sax, Carl Querfurth on trombone and of course Robillard on guitar. A bright prance, this track has super clarinet, strong guitar riffs, a powerful bass line and a particularly nice trombone solo by Querfurth. Maria Muldaur had the floor on Got The South In My Soul and again, powerful clarinet soloing by Novick and bright guitar riffs by the Duke really set it off. Kelley Hunt steps up to the mic on Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone, a solid blues ballad with solid vocals, jumping into swing time with Mark Earley's brilliant tenor sax solo. Kellso's trumpet work, Bears' piano work, another clarinet solo by Novick and a tight bass line from Hallen really give this track spank. Madeline Peyroux is a solid choice to deliver the sensuous vocal lines on Squeeze Me. Duke's guitar lines are tight, direct and rich providing a super contrast to the soulful soloing of Novick and the jazzy runs of Kellso. Very nice. Duke steps forward himself delivering perfect lead vocal on Walking Stick. This track has really nice instrumental lead work on it with particularly nice runs by Robillard, Andy Stein on violin and Kellso, with tight instrumental jazz jamming. Excellent! Catherine Russell has the lead on Blues In My Heart, surrounded by the bluesy muted horns of Kellso and Querfurth. On Easy Living, Peyroux has the lead over mild, jazz tones, warm sax harmony, simple piano and tight drums. Novick's tenor sax work on this track is particularly warm and rich and Kellso's trumpet is muted and solid. Ready For The River has a strong Dixieland jazz feel with brassy horns, mellow clarinet undertones and simple cadence. This one of my favorite tracks on the release with really nice balance. Wrapping the release is Call Of The Freaks, an instrumental track with a cool blend of trombone, clarinet, drums and piano stretching out to super guitar and muted trumpet soloing. Strong closer to an interesting release.



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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Stony Plain Records artist: Duke Robillard - The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard (September 25, 2015), by Duke Robillard and I personally think that's it's his best outing in years. This terrific exploration into American music begins with a sensitive acoustic guitar rendition of Stephen Fosters' My Old Kentucky Home. Very nice intro. Early blues track, Big Bill Broonzy's Big Bill Blues features Robillard on vocal and guitar and Matt McCabe on piano with just the right amount of swing. Very nice! Robillard original, I Miss My Baby In My Arms, has a really nice feel featuring Billy Novick on clarinet. His sensitivity on the stick contrasted against McCabes delicate piano work is perfect. Jimmie Rodger's, Jimmie's Texas Blues features Robillard on vocal (and yodeling), resonator and Mary Flowers on slide. An easy country blues track it has a very nice pace and warm feel. Novick is back on Robillard penned, Backyard Paradise, and it has a deliberate pace and Robillard's vocals are easy and smooth. Sunny Crownover takes the lead vocal on Robbie Robertson's waltz, Evangeline. With a pure earth feel, Robllard adds a number of stringed instruments and Jon Ross, the mandolin. Mary Flower on slide and Russell Gusetti on concertina give this track a real Appalachian feel. Excellent! Eric Moore's Left Handed is a solid blues number. Robillard's vocals are solid, acoustic guitar soloing is strong, McCabe hits a clear line on piano and Jerry Portnoy adds lush harp lines. Very cool! Eddie Miller's I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water has a more stripped down feel than what we customarily hear of this track and I really like it. Robillard's vocals are super and with only a uke rhythm and clean articulate acoustic soloing, it clearly stands out as one of the best of the release. There is also a cool solo on what sounds like a bowed bass. Very nice! Crowd favorite, I'm Gonna Buy Me A Dog (To Take Me The Place Of You), is another straight up blues number again featuring Portnoy on harp and McCabe on piano. Given a chance to take a nice walk, Portnoy does it with style. Nashville Blues is a vocal duet with Crownover and a bit of Piedmont guitar accompaniment. Mary Flower takes a real sweet lap slide solo on this number to close it out. WC Handy's Saint Louis Blues gets a real nice tribute with Novick on clarinet and Robillard on vocal. Robillard plays one of his coolest guitar solos on this number with simple and straight forward acoustic drive. Very cool! Hudson Whittaker's What Is It That Tastes Like Gravy? has a cool New Orleans sound with fine clarinet work by Novick. McCabe also takes the floor with strong, stylized piano riffs. Sleepy John Estes' Someday Baby (Trouble No More), keeps much of the primitive styling with Doug James on harp and Robillard on guitar and mandolin. One of my favorite tracks on the release, Hank Williams' Let's Turn Back The Years with traditional tex mex waltz like styling. Cool slide work from Flower and mando and guitar work by Robillard gives this track real traction. Robert Lockwood's Take A Little Walk With Me is a terrific track and McCabe really dresses the piano. Robillard's vocals work nicely with this track and placing electrifying acoustic guitar riffs throughout gives the track a more contemporary feel. Maria Muldaur takes the lead vocal on Santa Claus Blues and does an absolutely excellent job. Doug James on Bari and Dave Babcock on tenor really get this track swinging and Robillard plays some wonderfully wild jazz riffs along with Mark Teixeira on drums giving the track extra kick. Meade Lux Lewis' Profoundly Blue is a spectacular showcase for Robillard on acoustic guitar accompanied by Jay McShann on an extended piano solo. Excellent! Wrapping the release is Ukulele Swing featuring Robilard on a short little Uke ditty. This is a cool little track and a super conclusion to a very strong showing!

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Stony Plain Records Set to Release "The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard" on September 25




Stony Plain Records Set to Release The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard on September 25
A Decade in the Making, Latest Album from Multi-Award-Winning Guitarist Includes Special Guests Maria Muldaur, Jay McShann, Jerry Portnoy and Sunny Crownover

EDMONTON, AB – Stony Plain Records announces a September 25 release date for The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard, a very special album from the two-time Grammy nominee and multi Blues Music Award winning guitarist that focuses on the music that has informed his over 50-year career as a performing artist, bandleader and producer of seminal American roots music. The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard was recorded primarily at Duke’s own Mood Room studio, with additional work done at Lakewest Recording and some live recording done at the Blackstone River Theater in Cumberland, Rhode Island.
  
“This project has been about a decade in the making for various reasons I won't go into here,” Duke Robillard says in the liner notes about the sessions for the new CD.  “As many of you know, I am, and always have been, a huge fan of American roots music in its entirety. Blues, ragtime, early jazz, Appalachian music, early country, swing, honky-tonk, folk, R&B, soul, New Orleans music, rock and roll and all kinds of roots music have always moved and inspired me the most. Especially the artists that were there at the beginning of each style. Those artists always seem to be the most honest to my ears.”

Accordingly, Robillard has fashioned an album that salutes many of those influences on the new disc, demonstrating in the process the immense scope and breadth of the talent that has made him one of the most revered and beloved musicians in the world.  

“With this album I honor many of the pioneers of true American music, from close to the beginning of recorded music to the 1940s,” Robillard declares. “This is the time period I love most and find a never-ending river of new music to discover, enjoy and be influenced/inspired by. This recording concentrates on music written and recorded in the ‘20s to the ‘40s, with the exception of some original songs and Robbie Robertson's ‘Evangeline,’ which sounds like it could be from that time period!”

Besides Duke’s lead vocals and multiple stringed instruments performed throughout The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard, the all-star backing cast includes special guest vocalists Maria Muldaur and Sunny Crownover, former Muddy Waters band member Jerry Portnoy on harmonica and the late, Kansas City piano legend Jay McShann. Other players include Mary Flower – acoustic finger style and lap slide guitar and vocal; Marty Ballou and John Packer - acoustic bass; Matt McCabe – piano; Mark Teixeira and Marty Richards – drums; Billy Novick – clarinet; Doug James - baritone sax and harmonica; Dave Babcock - tenor sax; Jon Ross – mandolin; Russell Gusetti – concertina and the Providence Mandolin Orchestra.

Robillard taps into his wellspring of great American music songbook knowledge by covering everything from such blues icons as Big Bill Broonzy, W.C Handy, Sleepy John Estes, Robert Lockwood and Pete Johnson, to country legends Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers and the Delmore Brothers, with a nod to traditional popular music from writers including Stephen Foster. And Duke gets an early jump on the holiday season with the inclusion of “Santa Claus Blues,” featuring the soulful vocals of Maria Muldaur and written by one of America’s best pop music composers, Gus Kahn.    

The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard – Track Listing
1 My Old Kentucky Home 1:25
2 Big Bill Blues 3:35
3 I Miss My Baby in My Arms 3:15
4 Jimmie's Texas Blues 3:08
5 Backyard Paradise 2:39
6 Evangeline featuring Sunny Crownover 3:01
7 Left Handed 3:06
8 I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water 3:25
9 I'm Gonna Buy Me a Dog (To Take the Place of You) 5:15
10 Nashville Blues featuring Mary Flower 3:07
11 St Louis Blues 5:07
12 What Is It That Tastes Like Gravy? 3:04
13 Someday Baby 3:17
14 Let’s Turn Back the Years 2:37
15 Take a Little Walk with Me 7:04
16 Santa Claus Blues featuring Maria Muldaur 2:50
17 Profoundly Blue feat. Jay McShann 3:46
18 Ukulele Swing 0:46

About Duke Robillard

Duke Robillard’s career path was set in 1967 when he founded the iconic Roomful of Blues, later holding down the guitar spot in The Fabulous Thunderbirds (following Jimmie Vaughan’s departure from that band), then working with rockabilly maverick Robert Gordon and recording two albums with the Legendary Blues Band (a sterling group of former members of Muddy Waters’ bands). In addition, Duke has logged countless gigs over the years as a producer, bandleader and guitar player with a plethora of giants of blues, roots and jazz music.  That laundry list includes late icons such as Big Joe Turner, Jimmy Witherspoon, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Jay McShann, Rosco Gordon and Herb Ellis, as well as contemporaries Bob Dylan, Dr. John, Jay Geils, Joe Louis Walker, Billy Boy Arnold and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne.

Since 1980, Duke’s been a touring bandleader for 98% of the time with nearly 30 albums to his credit under his own name. He is the true link from those great artists of the past to the current and future of roots music. With the recent passing of B.B. King and the aging of other blues elders, Duke continues to carry his blues torch held high, leading the music from the wilderness into the light. In recognition of his lifetime achievements, he was inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in May of 2014.



Sunday, October 7, 2012

Shining Stone Records artist: Sunny Crownover - Right Here Right Now - New Release Eeview

I have just received the newest release, Right Here Right Now by Sunny Crownover. On this recording, Crownover is backed by an all-star cast of musicians including Duke Robillard (guitar), Bruce Bears (keys), Brad Hallen (bass), Mark Teixeira (drums), Sugar Ray Norcia (harp) and a horn section that includes Doug James on sax. The release opens with Oh Yes I Will, a Wilson Pickett style R&B track and sets the tone for the release. One Woman Man has a funky blues structure with a jazz engine. Robillard lays down some nice funky, jazzy guitar riffs adding nice spice to the track. Love Me Right gets right into the Chicago blues groove with Sugar Ray andwering the call of Crownovers voice on harp. Right Here Right Now, the title track, is a country styled ballad and pegged squarely at the airplay market. Roll Me Daddy stays in the pop vein but with a bit more blues especially infused by the harp work of Sugar Ray. Cook In Your Kitchen tweaks up the speed a bit but really has a strong sense of pop country. This could easily hit the airwaves. Piano work by Bears and guitar riffs by Robillard add nice touches. Warned walks the line between R&B and (pop) country again providing ample hook matter for airplay. Robillard throws down a nice solo and the horn are more noticeable on this track.I Might Just Change My Mind gets on a boogie train and Crownover leads the way on vocals with the confidence of a seasoned pro. Robillard plays the hottest of his solos yet over the solid horn rhythm. Hi-Heels and Home Cookin' has a taste of New Orleans with some nice clarinet work. Possibly the best track on the recording. Bears plays some slick piano on this one too. Trust Your Lover digs into Elmore James country opening with some fat slide work. Robillard really pumps this track up with some sliding hot sauce throughout. Can't Let Go wraps the track with a southern style R&B track. If you like what I’m doing, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! - ”LIKE”


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Friday, August 24, 2012

Shining Stone Records Signs Blues Singer Sunny Crownover & Will Release Her Label Debut CD, "Right Here, Right Now," on October 2



SHINING STONE RECORDS SIGNS BLUES SINGER SUNNY CROWNOVER AND WILL RELEASE HER LABEL DEBUT CD, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, PRODUCED BY DUKE ROBILLARD, ON OCTOBER 2

MIAMI, FL – Shining Stone Records announces the signing of Massachusetts-based blues singer Sunny Crownover and the upcoming release of her label debut CD, Right Here, Right Now, produced by Duke Robillard, on October 2. Shining Stone Records is part of the Blue Duchess/Shining Stone Records Group founded by Robillard and Jesse A. Finkelstein. Right Here, Right Now was recorded at Lakewest Recording by John Paul Gauthier and showcases Crownover’s stunning voice backed by an all-star cast of musicians including Duke Robillard on guitar, Bruce Bears on keyboards, Brad Hallen on bass, Mark Teixeira on drums and a horn section that includes Doug James on sax. Multiple Blues Music Award nominee Sugar Ray Norcia guests on harmonica.

To those who know Sunny Crownover only from earlier collaborations with Duke Robillard, such as her Introducing Sunny and Her Joy Boys CD in 2009 or Duke’s Stomp! The Blues Tonight and Tales from the Tiki Lounge albums, which were exercises in mostly vintage jazz and blues, and classic pop, her vocals on Right Here, Right Now will be a revelation. From the opening track, “Oh Yes I Will,” Sunny is right in the pocket, her vocals dripping with blues and soul on a song that could have come from the classic Stax era in Memphis, with Duke even channeling the great Steve Cropper on some funky guitar, too.

“This CD was over a year in the making,” recalls Sunny Crownover about the pre-planning, songwriting and recording sessions that yielded the new disc. “On the Sunny and Her Joy Boys album, I focused on emulating that pure, refined, and slightly restrained vocal style to fit the instrumentation. Then, on Stomp!, the tracks that I’m on showed a little more diversity in the vocals, still with a hint of that style from the jump blues era. So, a lot of people think that’s what my vocal style is all about. Duke and I decided it was time for me to do a solo CD and to go back to my beginnings with contemporary blues/roots and R&B, which is more of what folks in Austin (where she spent her early singing years) knew me for; and also what people in New England first knew me for when I arrived on the scene as a vocalist in the band 2120 South Michigan Avenue.”

“Producing and playing on this album has been incredibly fun and gratifying for me,” says Duke Robillard in the album’s liner notes. “When Sunny first spoke to me about wanting to do a contemporary blues album, I was not sure it was the right path for her to take after recording more traditional jazz, classic pop and early R&B with her. It didn’t take long before we realized it was a perfect fit for her versatile sound.”

When it came time to assemble songs for Right Here, Right Now, Duke turned to social media to solicit some of the new material. “Our first try was to request new blues related tunes from my many Facebook musician friends,” says Robillard. “The idea was a new and fruitful one and we soon had several tunes that fit Sunny’s style and personality. We recorded that first batch of songs and realized we had the beginnings of a really good CD.

“My next step was to contact my new friend in Nashville, Gary Nicholson, who had mentioned writing together sometime upon meeting. Gary, besides being a great artist in his own right, is one of the most amazing songwriters and all around great guys today. It would be an understatement to say that the chemistry was there. In two afternoons we managed to write basically half the album and tailor the tunes to Sunny perfectly. I left for Nashville with orders to write a tune called “Hi-Heels and Home Cookin’,” that being two things Sunny was known for amongst friends. And write one we did! Gary’s sly, barely disguised clever lyrics initially put quite a blush on Sunny’s face but hey, you asked for it girl! And of course she came through with a sultry and sassy performance that is one of the most fun tunes on the album, done in a mock twenties blues fashion but appropriately updated.”

The Robillard/Nicholson collaboration yielded four songs, plus one solo composition by each of them. Added to the tunes solicited from Duke’s Facebook friends, including one from long-time buddy and former Roomful of Blues bandmate Al Basile (“I Might Just Change My Mind”), as well as others from LA-by-way of Texas blueswoman Brenda Burns (“One Woman Man”) and several others. The result was that Right Here, Right Now came together in a “perfect storm” of artist, songs and musicians. Some of the CD’s other musical highlights include the rollicking Chicago blues of “Roll Me Daddy,” the funky, rockin’ “Cook in Your Kitchen,” the cautionary, horn-fueled tale, “Warned” and the beautiful title track love ballad, “Right Here, Right Now.”

“We really liked the idea that some of the tunes came from local Boston songwriters,” says Crownover. “In some cases I knew within a few notes that I absolutely had to record them; a couple of examples are ‘Love Me Right’ and ‘Trust Your Lover.’ The ones we selected all were chosen to really give people a chance to hear a more contemporary, bluesy, soulful side of my voice. A huge amount of work went into this, with the aim of producing something that has a wide appeal and showcases a more contemporary, bluesy and powerful side of my vocals. I hope we've done that!”

Sunny Crownover first began singing blues in Dallas/Fort Worth area clubs and coffeehouses before moving to Austin, and soon began singing with Van Wilks and other local blues and R&B bands. She moved to New England a dozen years ago, where Robillard first heard her sing in late 2007 at a Harvard University concert. Duke immediately knew he’d found the voice he was looking for to bring life to a number of projects he’d been wanting to do for over 35 years.

For more information, visit www.blueduchessrecords.com