CD submissions accepted! Guest writers always welcome!!

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!


Please email me at Info@Bmansbluesreport.com

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Old No. 5's: Moment To Lose - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the newest release, Moment To Lose, by The Old No.5's and it's a contemporary rocker. Opening with We're Here, a smooth instrumental with a slide guitar melody by Brock Alexander with minimal support by Adam Walker, this release is off to a cool start that serves as an intro to explosive, Same Old You. Continuing with slide, rhythm and vocal by Brock , Olie Bowden on bass and vocal, Adam Watson on percussion and vocal, Taylor Smith on guitar, Howard Mahan on guitars and TJ Erhardt, cool pair. Driving rocker, Rock and Roll has terrific energy and a cool guitar riff under solid vocals. This track has a lot of guitar bot upfront and understated. Nice job. Shuffle track, Purdy, has the attributes of a radio track, paired with dual lead guitars ringing back to southern rock roots. Easy, melodic lead guitar work by Alexander, Smith and Mahan gives the track a nice contrast between the smoothness of the melody and interwoven guitar soloing. Wrapping the release is acoustic ballad, What Does That Prove, with Alexander on lead vocal and guitar with Erhardt on keys. A solid closer for a contemporary rock release. 


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Monday, January 10, 2022

Outside The Box - Mike Nagoda - New Release - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release (January 14, 2022) Outside the Box, from Mike Nagoda and it's an interesting blues rocker. Toronto based, Nagoda, was born with Cerebal Palsy and identifies as a queer, disabled blues and roots musician. Having a difficult time mastering guitar in a conventional fasion, Nagoda approached Toronto bluesman Brian Cober who developed the art of double slide where a slide is worn on two separate fingers creating an unusual effect. Opening with shuffle track, He's My Man, Nagoda wastes no time in displaying his sexuality, which was quite common with early blues although primarily heterosexual in nature. Joined by Liam Ward on harmonica, Nagoda showcases his double slide techniques. Pretty cool. With a slinky, kinda funky bottom, courtesy of D'Arcy Cain on bass, Jeremy Ronson on drums, Here To Stay has a rocky feel with Nagoda on guitar, vocal and Hammond. Slow, 8 bar track, Busker's Blues, features a nice guitar solo by Michael Keith, a solid piano solo by Anthony D'Allessandro, and some real nice harmonica by Liam Ward. O, Maximus is an interesting blues rocker with an adventurous instrumental extension featuring nice solos by Nagoda and Ward. Very nice. I think my favorite track on the release is "Pixies like" title track, Outside the Box, with it's alternating time signatures, vocal attack and rowdy guitar work by Frank Cosentino, Nelson Sobrel and Nagoda. Latin influenced, Conquistador, features cool percussion work by Chris Birkett with Ronson, Rex Ruber on alto sax, D'Allessandro on piano and a hot guitar solos by Robb Cappelletto and Nagoda. Wrapping the release is We Got A Party (Further On Up The Road), a loose blues rocking jam. D'Allesandro lays in another nice piano solo and Nagoda rips another solo of his own making this a solid closer for the release.

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Friday, January 7, 2022

Grant Dermody & Frank Fotusky - Digging in John's Backyard - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release (January 14, 2022), Digging In John's Backyard, by Grant Dermody & Frank Fotusky and it's a solid acoustic blues release focused around the work of mutual friend, John Jackson. Opening with Blind Blake's Hey Hey Daddy Blues, Fotusky takes the lead on guitar and vocal. This is a springy, Piedmont style track with a solid harmonica solo by Dermody and continued super picking by Fotusky. Another Blind Blake track, Police Dog Blues has Dermody on lead vocal and guitar with some really nice stylistic harmonica riffs. One of my favorite tracks on the release is slower paced, You Better Lie Down with focused vocals and wailing harmonica by Dermody and tasty blues riffs by Fotusky. Rev Gary Davis' classic, Death Don't Have No Mercy is another of my favorites on the release featuring Fotusky on lead vocal and guitar. I've always loved this track and with understated harmonica  throughout and a rich solo by Dermody as well as some nicely picked lead harmony by Fotusky, this track hits it square. Wrapping the release is Alberta with some of Dermody's best vocals on the release and sweet harmonica lead to boot. Solid closer. 


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Thursday, January 6, 2022

Another Planet Music LTD. artist: Mississippi MacDonald - Do Right, Say Right - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Do Right, Say Right, from Mississippi MacDonald and  I really like it. Opening with easy shuffle, I Was Wrong, Mississippi MacDonald is firing on all cylinders with a great soulful voice and fat, BB King like guitar phrasing, joined by Phil Dearing on keys, Elliot Boughen on bass and Mark Johnson-Brown on drums. One of my favorite tracks on the release is funky blues, It Can't Hurt Me with it's Albert King influenced guitar riffs and MacDonalds solid vocals. Organ and horn accents throughout buy Dearing really punch up the track and aggressive bass lead by Boughen adds real bottom. Check out the tasty guitar lead on Drinker's Blues. MacDonals's fat bends and double stop accents really sets this track with strong backing vocals by Lucy Dearing. Slow Blues, If You Want A Good Cup Of Coffee is another of my favorite tracks on the release. MacDonald has a really solid voice, no taking away from that but when he knuckles down on guitar, he can really play. His trem bends and phrasing are really juicy and pinched harmonics accent nicely over the keyboard bed set by Dearing. Excellent! Keep Your Hands Out Of My Pocket is a particularly hot track with MacDonald showing that his influences are broad. With hints of T-Bone Walker, BB King, Albert King, and SRV to name only a few, MacDonald has you sitting back just riding the wave. Very nice. Wrapping the release is Your Wife Is Cheating On Us, a clever shuffle with traditional BB King formatting. With "horn" punch and keyboard backing, MacDonald uses this track as his vocal showcase and it's bound to be a crowd pleaser. His guitar riffs are stinging and his sensitivity it spot on. This is a really strong track to close a really strong release. 


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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

AC Myles - Transitory - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Transitory, from AC Myles and it's a steady set of rock tracks. Opening with Upstairs, That Was Her, AC Myles on lead vocal and guitar leads the way on what could easily be a television shown theme song with rock guitar riffs and joined by Phil Santellan on bass and Brian Bischel on drums. With a funky beat, Other Side is a cool rocker with solid vocals and some of my favorite guitar work on the release. 3 Ways is a straight up rocker with a solid beat and well blended vocals. Country flavored, Sonder City is a flavorful instrumental with clean drum work and dual guitar pairing for call and response. Wrapping the release is trance rocker, Dirty Dark, with a an electronic like bottom and subtle guitar work as melody and embellishments. This release is a mixed bag of music with a little of something for everyone.  


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Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Forty Below Records artist: Sugaray Rayford - In Too Deep - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, In Too Deep, from Sugaray Rayford and it's chocked full of R&B style blues. Opening with funky, Invisible Soldier, Sugaray Rayford is upfront with his powerful voice, backed by Rick Holmstrom on guitar, Drake Hunkikaid Shining on keys, Taras Prodaniuk on bass, Matt Tecu on drums and a powerful horn section consisting of Aaron Liddard on trumpet and Tom White on trombone. I really like the slinky bass line on No Limit To My Love  blended with the subtle guitar lead of Eamon Ryland and vocal backing by Gia Ciambotti and Eric Corne. Very nice. Please Take My Hand is a really warm vocal track with sonic roots in field hollers or work songs. Nicely paired vocal backing by Rayford and Corne sets the lead vocal off nicely. My favorite track for radio play is One with it's smooth bottom and rich vocal. I like Prodaniuk's bass line on this one and the violin and cello work of Eric Gorfain and Richard Dodd. Wrapping the release is Booker T style United We Stand, with it's funky bottom and high stepping beat. Steve Cropper like guitar riffs from Holmstrom and punchy horns from Finch and White make this a solid closer. 


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Monday, January 3, 2022

Virginia and The Slims - Busman's Holiday - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Busman's Holiday, from Virginia and The Slims and it's a collection of contemporary blues and jazz pop tracks. Opening with easy shuffle, Let It Go, Joanna Best leads the way on lead vocals with James Kamp on sax, John Davis on bass, John Barrett on drums and with some slick guitar riffs from Howie Neal. Traditional blues shuffle, Sugar Baby, again lead by Best, has a really really cool lead guitar / rim shot exchange between Neal and Barrett giving this track a solid excursion. My favorite track on the release is Latin flavored, The Way I Walk with a terrific rhythm by Barrett and shimmery guitar chords and clean lead by Neal and some of Best's showcased vocals on the release and a solid sax solo by Kamp. Wrapping the release is Shine, another Latin flavored tracks with Hank Bones joining Best on vocal. This is a full release of pop intense tunes with a commercial flavor. 


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Thursday, December 30, 2021

Jon Spear Band - B-Side Of My Life - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, B-Side Of My Life, by Jon Spear Band and it's a solid rocker with pop tunes and Blues roots. Opening with funky, Big Talk with it's juicy bass line by Andy Burdetsky, the opener features Jon Spear on guitar, Dara James with beefy lead vocal and rhythm guitar and John Stubblefield on drums. Excellent! Title track, B-Side Of My Life is a cool rock n roller with Spear on lead vocal and guitar, James on harmonica and some really flashy piano work by Skip Haga. Neville Brothers' Yellow Moon is framed by a strong bass line by Burdetsky and tom toms by Stubblefield with really nice vocal and guitar lead by James. Very nice. Blues ballad, Darker Side features soulful vocal lead and guitar soloing by James, with a firm bass foundation making it one of my favorites on the release. Wrapping the release is swing track, Time For The Blues, with shared lead vocal by Spear and James and a cool walking bass line by Burdetsky. This is a cool release with a lot of flavor. 


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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Davis Hall & The Green Lanterns - Self Titled - New Release Review

 


I just had the opportunity to review the most recent self titled release by Davis Hall & The Green Lanterns and I really like it! Opening with Temperanceville with it's cool New Orleans march rhythm anchored by N. Jay Burr on tuba and Jim Casson on drums, Mike Branton on slide guitar and Wayne Deadder on guitars exchange leads on this making this a terrific opener. Funky, Marshville Station, again has an incredible groove set by Casson and Russ Boswell on bass and with the addition of Brent Barkman on organ and Bernie LeBarge adding solid lead guitar lines over the top, this is a great track. Deadder Branton and Burr are back on The Right Road to Boyle has terrific, easy flowing slide over a solid New Orleans beat. White Pigeon gives Deadder a solid opening to lay down some real nice jazz style riffs and Branton's slide work, doubled with Burrs tuba sets a funk rocky Southern feel. Wrapping the release is The Dream of Chantler with eerie slide work by Branton balanced with the harmonica work of Al Lerman over the keys and sampling of Casson. This is an unusual release and one that you should really check out.  


( What if Dark Orchard (Jim Casson’s experimental music project) and “The Blues” got together in New Orleans and watched Twin Peaks with Daniel Lanois? This is the question that inspired “Davis Hall & The Green Lanterns”. The story – During the COVID19 lockdown, musicians were trying to find ways to keep busy. Drummer Jim Casson was asked to record some backing tracks in his home studio "The Cherry Pit" for his friend, guitarist Steve Grisbrook with bassist Russ Boswell. After recording a few cover songs for Steve, Jim approached Russ to see if he wanted to try to write something original. Russ was game so Jim improvised a drum take while thinking with song form in his head, but with no firm idea of a song, just a funky New Orleans vibe. Jim sent this track to Russ who then added a bass line with chord changes to Jim’s track. They decided that the right person to add a guitar part was their old band mate Bernie LaBarge. Brent Barkman was then asked to contribute an organ part and the song “Marshville Station” was born. Excited at the success of this first experiment, Jim decided to try another one, but this time the same magic was not repeated and the project was shelved. Meanwhile, tuba player Jay Burr was working on a singer songwriter album and had asked Jim to contribute drum parts. Jim decided to ask Jay if he would try to add a tuba part to the shelved project. Jay agreed and it was magic again. They continued to collaborate on several more songs using the same formula of improvised drum takes and then adding form with the tuba. Jim decided that the complimentary instrumentation for this project would be guitar (Wayne Deadder) and slide guitar (Mike Branton). With their additions, the project had a solid foundation. Other contributors to become “Green Lanterns” were Steve Marriner (harmonica), Al Lerman (harmonica), and Stephen Miller (dobro). Jim felt that this album should in some way pay tribute to his home, The Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. “Davis Hall” was the name of the community centre in his hometown where he attended nursery school and “The Green Lantern” was the soda shop in town when he was a kid. All of the song titles are names or former names of villages in the Niagara Peninsula. The “Dark Orchard” element is the addition of samples, loops and spoken word elements into the songs. Everything came together when Jim discovered a recording from 1963 of local disc jockey Bob Bowland from CHOW radio in Welland, the station that was most played in his home while growing up).


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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Pro Sho Bidness artist: Lowell Fulson Live! with Jeff Dale & The Blue Wave Band - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Lowell Fulson Live!, from Jeff Dale & The Blue Wave Band and it's really strong. This release comes about for Fulson's 100th birthday and is well worth waiting for. Opening with instrumental, Do You Feel It, the band is really kicking up the funk with Fulson, Lightnin' Dan Sonenfeld and Jeff Dale on guitars, Phil Munsey on drums, Pete Zilchak on alto sax, Steve Primo on tenor sax, Marshall Crayton on tenor sax and Ron Maldonado on bass. On Shuffle, You're Gonna Miss Me, Fulson is upfront on lead vocal and guitar. The recording quality really isn't bad for a live recording from 1983. On, Too Many Drivers, Fulson again has the lead vocal and guitar and Marshall Crayton, PeeWee Crayton's grandson lays in some vicious sax work. Slow blues, Blue Shadows has a really nice feel with solid vocals by Fulson. Funky, Stoop Down Baby has a great sound with solid bass work by Maldonado and sax soloing by Crayton. My favorite track on the release is Blues Pain, featuring Fulson on lead guitar and vocal. With warm sax backing, Fulson's vocals are perfect and his guitar work expressive. Very nice. Wrapping the release is Going To Chicago Blues, a really solid shuffle with Fulson on lead vocal and guitar. With sax backing and a firm rhythm, Crayton belts out a sax solo closing this cool recordings of Fulson and his legacy. 


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Monday, December 27, 2021

Sunny Bleau - Breakfast Served Cold - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Breakfast Served Cold, by Sunny Bleau, and it's a solid set of pop and bluesy tracks. Opening with Let It Slide, deep voice singer, Sunny Bleau creates her own niche with a bright rhythm and a loose, 60's San Francisco kind of sound. Backed by Nicholas A Cocco on guitar and keys, Paul Kastick on drums and Alex Karasinski on bass...cool opener. Johnny Mercer's Autumn Leaves gets a real slinky rework for one of my favorite tracks on the release. Bleau grinds out the melody with a lot of soul and Cocco lays in a nicely phrased guitar solo over the Latin flavored rhythm by Karasinski and Kastick. Another cool rhythm permeates the space on Bedroom Rendezvous with Latin influenced percussion rhythm guitar. A top radio style track with it's hypnotic feel.  Wrapping the release is ballad, I Should Be Sleeping, with a straightforward melody and understated sax punctuation. Cool release. 


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Thursday, December 23, 2021

Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson - Once In A Blue Moon - New Release Review

 


I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Once In A Blue Moon, by Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson, recorded live in John Kelly's Hideaway Cafe' in St Petersburg, Florida. Opening with C.C. Rider, Johnson is upfront on lead vocal and guitar, joined by Curtis "Kid" Royal, Pat Herlehy on sax, Paul Nadeau on keys, Otis Doncaster on harmonica, Mikey Maguire on bass and Magic Drumski on drums. This is a full intro with a more than 12 minute jam featuring nice solos from Herlehy, Nadeau and Doncaster and of course an excellent solo by Junior. On Muddy Water's Hoochie Coochie Man/I'm A Man, Johnson really works the classics with plenty of vocal soul and emotion. On shuffle, Thank You Sugar, Junior really works the track on vocals with soulful wailing sax by Herlehy, and a cool walking bass line by Maguire. Slow blues, Stealing Chickens, is one of my favorites on the release with plenty of space for soloing by Herlehy, Nadeau and excellent guitar work by Johnson and Royal. Excellent! Another slow blues, You Got Me Wonderin' is really an excellent showcase for Junior and Royal on guitar. Very nice. Wrapping the release is Mean Old World and again, the gang really hit it hard. Herlehy really gets his sax wailing over the rhythm guitar work of Johnson and Royal and the pumped up organ work of Nadeau and an excellent closing on guitar by Royal. Very nice. 


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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

WAMCO Music artist: Alexander McCabe - Body and Soul - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Body and Soul, from Alexander McCabe and it's lively and spontaneous. Opening with Elena, Alexander McCabe forms the innovative melody on soprano sax in 3/4 time. Backed by the rhythmic piano work of Paul Odeh, a firm yet bouncy bass line by Ugonna Okegwo and snappy, light rhythm work by Craig Wuepper on drums this is a cool opener. Odeh takes the first off melody solo stretch and Okegwo a strong interlude of his own. Very nice. If I See Her is a solid ballad again led by the excellent sax lead of McCabe. His phrasing is creative and with firm piano punctuation by Odeh, this track opens itself nicely. Odeh is up next with nicely crafted lines of his own with light, drum accents by Wuepper, followed by a nicely formed solo by Okegwo on acoustic bass. Very nice. Title track, Johnny Green's Body and Soul really gives McCabe a grand opportunity to rip some really great lines on sax with Odeh, Okegwo and Wuepper holding a tight bottom. I like how Odeh bites into his piano solo with a great walking bass line by Okegwo on this track making it one of my favorites on the release. Wrapping the set is John Coltrane's Countdown. McCabe shows that he is up for the challenge with rapid fire perfection with Odeh, Okegwo and Wuepper in tight unison. This is a strong release and not for the casual listener. Very cool. 


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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Forty Below Records artist: John Mayall - The Sun Is Shining Down - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, The Sun Is Shining Down, from one of the fathers of modern blues, John Mayall and it's quite good. Opening with Hungry and Ready, Mayall on harmonica and lead vocals, Melvin Taylor on lead guitar, Greg Rzab on bass, Jay Davenport on drums and Carolyn Wonderland on rhythm and with Ron Dziubla on sax, Mark Pender on trumpet, Richard Rosenberg on trombone providing a power horn sound. Dynamic opener. Markus King really hits hard on Can't Take No More with slashing guitar riffs over the tight rhythm by Davenport. With it's driving bass line by Rzab, Chills and Thrills, Mayall plays a nicely phrase piano solo and adds B3 warmth and Mike Campbell lays down a strong guitar lead. Very nice. Slower blues, A Quitter Never Wins showcases Mayall on lead vocal nicely, floating on his own key backing and intuitive harmonica punctuation. One of my favorites on the release is Driving Wheel again featuring Melvin Taylor on lead guitar. With a full horn backing and Mayall's solid vocals, this is another strong contender for top track on the release. Wrapping the release is title track, The Sun Is Shining Down with it's swampy rhythm and featuring Wonderland on lead guitar. This is a cool track that really simmers. Excellent closer. 


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Monday, December 20, 2021

SteepleChase Lookout artist: David Janeway - Distant Voices - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Distant Voices, from David Janeway and it's a real nice set of contemporary takes on classic jazz tracks as well as a number of new tunes by Janeway. Opening with Sweet And Lovely, Janeway who leads the way on piano sets Amheim classic tune with a light Latin beat. Cameron Brown on bass runs an interesting counter melody held tight by Billy Hart on drums. Ellington's Blue Serge gets laid back with really nice piano improvisation by Janeway and just the right balance of bass and drum support by Brown and Hart. Brown takes a real nice acoustic bass solo on this track, now punctuated by Janeway. Very nice. Gary Peacock's Gardenia is fertile soil for improvisation by Janeway and Brown with solid phrasing and execution on this classic. One For Cedar is an original by Janeway and has a strong melody, nicely showcased by this trio. I really like Hart's enthusiasm on this track in particular with tight riffs and some sweet interludes. One of my favorites on the release is Freddie Hubbard's Brigitte with it's introspective melody. Janeway plays a Fender Rhodes on this on giving it an even more warm feel. Very nice. Interjecting some progressive work, Wayne Shorter's Nefertiti opens with a inciteful bass intro by Brown. Hart's cymbal rhythm opens the track up even further and Janeway takes the melody for a nice long ride, again on Rhodes. The trio really works this track over making it another of my favorites on the release. Wrapping the set is original track, Movin' On, showing Janeway on piano, trading lead with Brown for a really nice flow with Hart tight on cymbal and rimshot. Janeway breaks loose with a strong piano solo with Hart and Brown holding a tight line. Excellent closer. 


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Friday, December 17, 2021

Cleopatra Records: Animals Reimagined: A Tribute To Pink Floyd - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Animals Reimagined: A Tribute To Pink Floyd and it's quite interesting. Opening with Pigs On The Wing, Part 1, Cutting Crew vocalist, Nick Crew is paired with Jethro Tull's Martin Barre for an ethereal acoustic intro that nicely wets the appetite. The first of three major compositions on the release, (17 minute) Dogs, features Rainbow's Graham Bonnet on lead vocal, UFO's Vinnie Moore on guitar, Utopia bassist Kasim Sulton, Dream Theater key player Jordan Rudess and King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto. This is a really cool idea of bringing together contemporary progressive players to reinterpret these masterpieces. We've got a different lineup for the 2nd of the major compositions, (11 and a half minute) Pigs (Three Different Ones) including Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie, Return To Forever and major solo artist Al DiMeola on guitar, Blue Oyster Cult bassist Joe Bouchard, Moody Blues  key player Partick Moraz and session man, Mahavishnu Orchestra and extreme drummer soloist, Billy Cobham. Very cool. The third of the masterworks is (10 and a half minute) Sheep featuring Arthur Brown on lead vocal, Yes and key/synth phenom Rick Wakeman, Focus and major guitar soloist Jan Akkerman, Bahaus bassist David J., and Cactus, Vanilla Fudge, Jeff Beck and solo drummer, Carmine Appice. Extensive soloing on all three compositions are flamboyant, exciting and not overly self indulgent. Wrapping the release is Pigs On The Wing, Part 2 matches Yes vocalist Jon Davison with Eric Clapton and session man, soli guitarist Albert Lee on guitars and Billy Sherwood on acoustic guitar and effects. This was a well conceived project in 1977 and quite enjoyable in 2021.


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Thursday, December 16, 2021

UNHEARD MUSIC BY LEGENDARY “FATHER OF DELTA BLUES” SON HOUSE DISCOVERED, AWAITS MARCH 18, 2022 RELEASE ON EASY EYE SOUND

 

 


 




 

 

UNHEARD MUSIC BY LEGENDARY “FATHER OF DELTA BLUES”

SON HOUSE DISCOVERED,
AWAITS MARCH 18, 2022 RELEASE ON EASY EYE SOUND

 

Forever on My Mind was recorded in the fall of 1964

(ahead of 1965 “rediscovery” album) and never released.

Features first-time-on-record title track “Forever On My Mind,”

plus never-heard recordings of “Death Letter” and “Preachin’ Blues”

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — On the evening of June 23, 1964, a red Volkswagen Beetle bearing three blues enthusiasts arrived in Rochester, N.Y. The young men were following a trail of clues in their search of a legend, and they found him sitting on the steps of an apartment building at 61 Greig Street.

 

 

 

“This is him,” Son House said.

 

Born Eddie James House, Jr. in Lyon, Mississippi in 1902, Son House at that time had not played music for more than two decades. But the re-release of his early work — commercial 78s issued by Paramount Records in 1930 and two field recordings by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress in 1941-42 — by Origin Jazz Library and Folkways Records had excited fresh interest in a growing community of blues aficionados.

 

Within months of his rediscovery by Dick Waterman (who became House’s manager and handler), Nick Perls and Phil Spiro, the once-obscure 62-year-old musician was thrust into the public eye by a story in Newsweek magazine and a series of performances at folk music festivals and college campuses around the country.

 

Forever on My Mind, the new album of previously unreleased Son House recordings from Easy Eye Sound, the independent label operated by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, is the premiere release from Waterman’s personal cache of ’60s recordings by some of the titans of Delta blues. His collection of quarter-inch tapes — which are being restored to remarkable clarity by Easy Eye Sound — have gone unreleased until now. The collection is due out March 18, 2022.

 

Waterman says, “I always knew that I wanted this body of tape that I had to come out together, as The Avalon Collection or The Waterman Tapes, as sort of my legacy. They were just here at my home, on a shelf. I had made a few entrees to record companies, but nothing had really come through. I thought that Dan Auerbach would treat the material with reverence and respect.”

 

Auerbach says, “Easy Eye Sound makes blues records, and not many people make blues records anymore. This record continues where we started off, with our artists Leo Bud Welch and Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes and Robert Finley. It also is part of my history — some of the first blues music I heard was Son House. I was raised on his Columbia LP, Father of Folk Blues. My dad had that album and would play it in the house when I was a kid, so I know all those songs by heart.”

 

Forever on My Mind is the earliest issued full-length House solo performance recorded after his rediscovery, at an appearance captured on November 23, 1964 at Wabash College, a small men’s school in Crawfordsville, Indiana. In terms of power and intensity, it rivals, and in some cases surpasses, the Columbia album, cut five months later in a New York City studio. It also reflects a sharp musical focus that diminished in House’s later concert appearances and recordings.

 

“As he toured in ’65 and ’66 and ’67,” Waterman notes, “he developed stories — they were self-deprecating stories, with humor and things like that. So, he became sort of an entertainer. But these first shows in ’64 were the plain, naked, raw Son House. This was just the man and his performance. He didn’t have any stories or anything to go with it.”

 

In the wake of his rediscovery in Rochester, House — who had labored as a foundry worker, railroad porter and cook, among other jobs, after moving from Mississippi to New York in 1943 — decided to make a return to music at the urging of his enthusiastic young fans. Waterman explains, “He had been living in a [retirement] home with his wife, and they weren’t doing anything but living on Social Security. So, it was the opportunity to make some money that put us out on tour.”

 

House was outfitted with a new steel-bodied National resonator guitar, the instrument he had played on his early recordings, and Al Wilson, later famous as the guitarist and singer of the Los Angeles blues-rock band Canned Heat, gave the sexagenarian musician a refresher course in his own music.

 

“Son and Al would play knee to knee with the guitar,” Waterman says. “Al would say, ‘This is what you called “My Black Mama” in 1930,’ and would play it for him. And then he would say, ‘This is what you called “My Black Woman” for Lomax 12 years later,’ and he would play that, and Son would play along with him until the two of them were really rollicking along. And Son would say, ‘I got my recollection now, I got my recollection now.’”

 

House, who to date had only performed before Black audiences in Southern juke houses, would now be introduced to a young and entirely new group of listeners. Waterman says, “He hadn’t played in front of white people at all.”

 

After some initial appearances that summer at the Unicorn coffeehouse in Cambridge, Massachusetts, then a center of the American folk music renaissance of the ’60s, and an August 1964 set at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, House and Waterman set off on a modest tour of Midwestern campuses in November in the manager’s new Ford Mustang.

 

The manager recalls, “I wrote letters to [university] student activities committees, one after the other after the other. So we went out, and the first date, I remember, was at Antioch in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and then Wabash was one of the first ones after that.”

 

The college engagements included Oberlin College in Ohio, Shimer College in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, and the University of Chicago, where local blues fan Norman Dayron recorded at least part of the November 21, 1964, show; a single track later surfaced on the 1980 Takoma Records LP Rare Blues. But the Wabash College appearance two days later was caught on tape in full.

 

“Wabash did the taping, and then they later gave me the reel-to-reel tape,” Waterman remembers. “The show was held in kind of an assembly hall. There were a few dozen [in the audience] — there may have been up to 50 people, something like that. They were quiet and polite during the performance … There were no barriers, there were no filters between him and the audience. He was just giving them the plain, unvarnished Delta material, as he knew it and as he sang it.”

 

Five of the eight songs heard on Forever on My Mind were later released in studio versions on House’s Columbia LP. Another two songs that he played at Wabash College, renditions of his Delta contemporary Charley Patton’s “Pony Blues” and the gospel blues standard “Motherless Children,” were recorded by the label but went unreleased until 1992.

 

The eighth number heard on the Easy Eye Sound release, the titular “Forever on My Mind,” was never attempted in a recording studio, but it would be essayed from time to time in House’s concert performances; there is film footage of him playing it at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival. On the present album, the song, which contains snatches of his friend Willie Brown’s classic “Future Blues” and his own “Louise McGhee,” serves as a living lesson in the improvisatory Delta blues tradition.

 

“There are certain songs that he would play, go into an open G tuning,” Waterman says, “and just play things in a certain meter. And some of these songs borrowed verses from each other.”

 

House’s 1964-65 live appearances and his Columbia album placed him in the pantheon of such other great, recently rediscovered Delta blues musicians as Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, Bukka White, and Rev. Robert Wilkins. Forever on My Mind now re-introduces House at the height of his renewed powers in an essential, previously unheard document of unique force and sonic clarity.

 

Says Auerbach, “He sounds like he’s in a trance, and his singing is so nuanced here. He’s very playful with his phrasing, just right on the money with his singing and playing. It sounds so right to me — top form Son House.”

 

“The late-’64 stuff is as good as it’s going to get,” Waterman says. “I have great love and great respect for Mr. House, and I hope that this legacy stands up, for all that he meant to me and all that he meant to the music.”

 

For more information on House and his music, see Preachin’ the Blues: The Life and Times of Son House by Daniel Beaumont (Oxford University Press).

Robert Thurman - Red Clay Diaries - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Red Clay Diaries, from Robert Thurman and it's a vital blues rocker as stripped as it gets. Opening with Never Ending Sky, Robert Thurman on vocal accompanies himself on acoustic guitar. His vocal style is basic and his guitar work spartan but the feeling is all there. Cool opener. Thurman's approach on Might As Well Say Alright puts me in mind of Lou Reed's approach on some of his early work. Minimalist but focused. Acoustic guitar and vocal. My favorite track on the release is American Jesus Blues with it's driving acoustic guitar rhythm and Thurman's wry sense of humor. Wrapping the release is Small Town Blues. This is a cool melodic track with a fat slice or reality. Very cool. 


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