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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 Ursula Ricks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ursula Ricks. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Severn Records artist: Ursula Ricks - My Street - New Release Review

I just received the newest release (October 15, 2013), My Streets, from Ursula Ricks and it's super! Opening with Tobacco Road, a laid back R&B track with great bones. Harp master Kim Wilson adds some nice riffs blending and nicely complimenting Ricks rich voice. Sweet Tenderness has a really nice flow nicely showcasing Ricks' amazing feel for her music. Backed by strings and Christal Rheams and Caleb Green, this track has a solid radio sound. Mary Jane has an infectious groove and Ricks plants herself firmly in the back beat. Full key work from Kevin Anker and unusually rhythm guitar work from Johnny Moeller add to the interest of this track. Title track, My Street, has a really interesting rhythm led by Robb Stupka on drums and Steve Gomes on bass. Ricks just coasts along on top on the track adding her vocals musically. Very nice! I really like the way that Due moves. A slinky track with Kenny Rittenhouse and William Dunn on trumpet is a really nice venue for Ricks. Moeller steps up with some soulful bluesy guitar riffs and Anker really hits the spot with the organ. Right Now, the blusiest track on the release has a JG Watson/WW Washington feel with blues and funk. This kind of track really plays to my soft spot. The musical arrangement on this track is killer with instrumental pieces added like a master adds a dab of paint. A dab of organ here, a drum riff there, and then Moeller steps up with a killer guitar solo. Make Me Blue has just that right amount of sway and you can't help but move with the rhythm. Again Ricks does a masterful job of just inserting vocals that lead the track but don't smother it. Excellent! Just A Little Bit Of Love has been one of my favorite tracks for many years and it's nice to see it covered by Ricks. (If you haven't heard this track by Curtis Mayfield, run, don't walk to your nearest cd store and buy a copy... It's excellent.) Ricks adds her own flair to the track and Mark Marella spices up the mix with a nice percussion break. Closing the release is the funky What You Judge, a smokin' hot number. It's really nice to see some great artists like Ricks fill the void left in this neo-soul/blues space as it is lacking (or at least it isn't finding it's way to me). Ricks has chosen a terrific track for the close with just the right amount of funk. Moeller steps up on the track, leaving his blues at the door and laying down a great riff. Anker peeks around the corner with some really nice key riffs as well making this one of the absolute standout tracks on the release. I really like this release and hope to hear more from Ricks soon!  

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Monday, March 26, 2012

SEVERN RECORDS SIGNS BLUES GUITARIST BRYAN LEE AND SOUL/BLUES SINGER URSULA RICKS


NEW CDS ON BOTH IN PRODUCTION AT SEVERN STUDIOS FOR RELEASE LATER THIS YEAR

ANNAPOLIS, MD – David Earl, president of Severn Records, has announced the signing of New Orleans-based blues guitarist/singer Bryan Lee and Baltimore-based soul and blues singer Ursula Ricks to the label. Both artists are recording albums at Severn’s new state-of-the-art studios in Annapolis for release later this year. Severn Records is distributed in the U.S. by City Hall Records.

Although raised in a small Wisconsin town near the shores of Lake Michigan, Bryan Lee has been a New Orleans resident since 1982, so much so that he’s been called a “New Orleans Blues Institution;” and is also known as the “Braille Blues Daddy,” dubbed so because he’s been blind since the age of eight. Eric Clapton called Bryan Lee “one of the best bluesmen I have ever heard.” He's played the prestigious New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival over 25 years and his new Severn CD will be his debut for an American label, with previous albums appearing on the Canadian imprint, Justin Time.

Bryan Lee’s new album was produced by Kevin Anker, David Earl and Steve Gomes, with Lee backed by the illustrious Severn House Band of Kevin Anker (keyboards), Steve Gomes (bass), Johnny Moeller (guitar) and Robb Stupka (drums). The new disc is a mix of originals and covers of Bobby Womack’s “When Love Begins Friendship Ends,” Howlin Wolf’s “Evil” (with a guest harmonica performance by Kim Wilson) and a beautiful rendition of the George Jackson classic, “Aretha Play One for Me.”

“We are thrilled to have Bryan Lee as part of the Severn family of artists,” said David Earl. “He is a consummate professional and has had a long recording career. The process of recording this album has opened new musical doors for Bryan and Severn. We look forward to working with him for a long time.”


Growing up, Lee listened to clear channel station WLAC in Nashville and became enamored with the sound of the blues he heard on the radio. By the time he was 15, Lee was playing guitar in a variety of rock and blues-rock bands, and in his late teens he befriended legendary guitar slinger Luther Allison. In 1981, Lee and his band opened for Muddy Waters at Summerfest in Milwaukee, and he got a chance to talk with his hero backstage. After Lee told Muddy how honored he was to be opening for such a legend, Waters told the youngster, “Bryan, stay with this. One day you’re going to be a living legend.” Those words of encouragement have become an inspiration to Bryan Lee throughout his career.


Bryan Lee’s recognition in the Crescent City began in 1982 with a long residency at the Old Absinthe House in the French Quarter. One of the formative blues guitarists who caught his act was a young Kenny Wayne Shepherd, whose time sitting in with Lee’s band proved to be a revelatory experience for him. Many years later, Shepherd would return the favor by including Lee in his documentary, 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads.

Lee, whose New Orleans studio became a victim of Hurricane Katrina’s wrath, was later nominated for a Blues Music Award for his Katrina Was Her Name CD. For more on Bryan, visit http://www.braillebluesdaddy.com/.

For Baltimore’s own Ursula Ricks, this Severn Records release will be her debut album. Ursula’s new CD was also produced by the Severn team of Kevin Anker, David Earl and Steve Gomes and features her bluesy, soulful vocals backed by Kevin Anker (keyboards), Steve Gomes (bass), Johnny Moeller (guitar) and Robb Stupka (drums). Kim Wilson is a special guest, adding his harmonica talents on the original track, “Tobacco Road.”

Ursula Ricks’ new album includes eight original songs, as well as her unique interpretations of songs by Bobby Rush (”Mary Jane” - a very funky/soul version) and Curtis Mayfield’s “Just a Little Bit of Love.”

“Ursula's unique vision and vocal ability made recording her debut album a real pleasure,” said David Earl. “Like any seasoned pro, she knows what she wants to hear.
Ursula has flown under the radar for so long. We are excited that the world will finally get an opportunity to experience her incredible music.”

Ursula Ricks fell in love with the blues listening to her mom sing in the living room, and she wrote her first song at the age of 16. In her early twenties, she formed an all-female band, began writing original music and playing in local clubs. She was later introduced to and educated further in the art of blues music by the players who came into perform at a local club called the Full Moon Saloon. She called her band “Ursula Ricks Project,” for all the players she has been fortunate to share the stage with. Ursula has opened for Johnny Lang in Baltimore and even played the very first annual Baltimore Blues Festival.
She has been playing along the East Coast from New York to Florida for over 20 years and has played with some of the best artists alive.