Issue 6-51, December 21, 2012
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Cover photo by Marilyn Stringer © 2012 MJStringerPhoto.com
In This Issue
Mark Thompson has our feature interview with Blues slide master, Derek Trucks.
We have 6 music reviews for you! James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews both a new CD from Alvin Lee. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new release from B.B. and the Blues Shacks. Mark Thompson reviews a new release from King Bizkit. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new album from The Muddy Sons. Steve Jones reviews a new CD from Scrapomatic. John Mitchell reviews a new release from Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King. We have the latest in Blues Society news from around the globe. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
From The Editor's Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
Today is the first day of winter and the end of the year is near. Also ending soon are a couple special offers I wanted to remind you about.
First is our Early Bird Advertising Special. Until December 31, we are offering artists labels, festivals and others a special low rate to get the Blues word out to our worldwide audience of 22,000 readers and fans. This advertising rate will be our lowest of the 2013 season so be sure to lock in your 2013 ads at this low rate today. It is an affordable and effective way to advertise your new album, a Blues festival or any Blues product. See our ad directly below for details.
Also I wanted to remind you that we are still offering you some great FREE music downloads as part of our monthly Blues Overdose series. On the last Thursday of each month Blues Blast Magazine features free Blues music downloads from some of the best new artist as part of our Blues Overdose Issue.
Our November 29th Blues Overdose Issue featured FREE music downloads from Teeny Tucker, Jackie Scott, Shaun Murphy, Liz Mandeville, Matthew Curry, Ernie Southern and The Billy Thompson Band. FREE music, no strings attached and nothing to buy. But hurry! Our agreements with artists only allow us to offer this music to you for 30 days and this offer will expire soon. So check it out and get your free music now, CLICK HERE.
Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!
Blues Blast Magazine's Early Bird Special is our lowest pricing of the 2013 year. It offers an affordable & effective way to get the Blues word out!
This 6-week combo ad rate allows you to add significant impact to your Blues advertising and promotion campaign. It is a great way to kick up the visibility of your new album release, Blues event or music product all around the globe! This is perfect for a new album release, an event advertising campaign or any new product.
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Featured Blues Interview - Derek Trucks
Derek Trucks interview – done on Wednesday 10/30/12 off the coast of Martinique
We have all witnessed the sad saga of children achieving stardom at a young age only to later have the star fizzle out. Others manage to maintain some level of attention but never quite capture the public's eye again. Then there are those who take their time, learn their craft and steadily build a career that, on reflection, seems to follow a natural progression with the artist engaging in a never-ending quest for those moments when they finally reach the heights of their personal artistic vision.
Derek Trucks knows all about starting at a young age. “I think the first band I had was called the Little Big Band. There was a guitar player Jacksonville, FL, an amazing player named Bob Lies. He was a big guy, probably pushing 400 pounds and I was about 85 pounds. It was quite a sight! The promo picture is pretty amazing to look at!”
Next came Derek and the Dominators. Trucks isn't sure who came up with the name but in his own defense, he wants people to remember that he was only ten years old at the time.
Playing with veteran musicians several decades older, Trucks learned plenty about what it took to sustain a musical career. He also got a taste of how the attention can intrude on your life. “Those years, thirteen to seventeen, are uncomfortable years for everybody. But all of mine is on film, all the blackmail material. There's no running away from it.”
Trucks credits his fellow band members from that era for opening his ears to Howlin' Wolf, Elmore James, Freddie & Albert King and Little Milton. “I was fortunate because I played with a lot of road dawgs from the very beginning. You realize what it’s about – and you realize that you are probably going to be doing it for life. Also that it's not as glamorous as people think. If you get lucky and things work, that's great but you don't plan on that. You pay your dues and if you can eat plus get to the next gig, it's' a successful day.” Derek knew even at a young age that he was all in.
He appreciates all of the lessons and mentoring that he received. “You learn from everybody you play with, especially if it's for any length of time....You try to take the right steps and take care of everybody along the way.” Being on the road for years, Derek has witnessed bands that get their moment in the spotlight only to crash & burn because they were too full of themselves. “When the momentum stops, no one is there to catch you because no one likes you anymore. You hate to see it but you know its coming. I've learned that lesson many times – you can never believe the hype because it's a hard fall.”
When asked when he knew it was time to form the Derek Trucks Band, the guitarist commented that he gains inspiration from periodically shedding his musical “skin”. At the ripe old age of fifteen, he was listening to different things and was ready to move on. Trucks doesn't worry about what others think he should be doing or playing. “You can't worry about the outside noise, otherwise you become a caricature. It’s not music, it’s not art, it’s not alive. I wanted to play with people that had that mentality – anything goes! We hit the road hard for sixteen years and I really grew up the guys in that band. It's a big chunk of your life. I couldn't have picked better people to be around. It was an amazing run.”
The band covered a wide range of material from the deep southern soul of O.V. Wright to the jazz of Rahsaan Roland Kirk while incorporating aspects of Middle Eastern and Indian music. Derek was never concerned about connecting with an audience. “I get this from my Dad, who has a zero bullshit tolerance for music. It can be a concern when you are trying to get financing from a record label. I think I had that stubborn chip where I need it – you don't really care. You shed audiences along the way. I remember in the beginning people saying look at the little kid playing Allman Brothers tunes. When you stop doing that, they say how dare you – what is this shit? It’s fine – for me that is fuel for the fire. Clapton went through that like twenty times. The Dominos record was panned. Same with Miles Davis. He had so many different careers within his career. Whether you are ahead of the curve or not, you have to confidence in what you are doing.”
When the music gets stale or if he feels that he has reach a plateau, Trucks finds himself getting restless and looking for a way to blow things up to restart the creative flow. One challenge he accepted was recording with legendary jazz pianist McCoy Tyner. Trucks recalled a night he was scheduled to sit-in with Tyner at a club date. All went well at run-through during the soundcheck but Derek then left to head across town for the soundcheck for his band. Tyner started his set a bit early and had called for the guitarist before Derek had made it back to the club. Tyner did bring Derek to the stage for a trial by fire as he started calling off tunes Derek had never heard before. “It was fully liberating...your ears are so wide open. Gary Bartz was playing sax that night. His solo style had a blues root feel but harmonically can go anywhere. When he would take a chorus, it would spell out the tune to me. Those are the kind of things that give you confidence. It was a highlight.”
Another memorable moment happen a year ago when Derek finally had a chance to sit down with B.B. King. The two guitarists had never sat and played together. Derek loved being able to play a few notes and feel King respond. “That’s more fuel for the fire. It makes you dig in in a different way. Those are things you don’t take lightly.”
Even Derek was surprised at the reaction some people had when he formed the new band with his wife, Susan Tedeschi. “It was a mean angry. If they were fans of my band, Susan was Yoko Ono and had no right to be on-stage. There were people spewing bile on the internet. I use it as fuel. I'd like to see somebody say it to my face (laughs)! But you know if your intention is right. If you feel good about it and it's pure, then you cut it loose and however people receive it, you can't help that.”
The Tedeschi Trucks Band is a work in progress. Both Derek and Susan had developed chemistry with their bands over the years. Derek admits that when you stop that and start something fresh, you won't have the same musical ESP out of the gate. “Just relax. Give it some time and once we get on the road for six months, this ship is going to be just fine. Now it's at a point where the band is playing at such a high level that it's actually great. The talent onstage, the way everybody plays together and listens, their attitude and what everybody gives to it, is so strong that our perception now is take it or leave it.”
While acknowledging that each individual has their own tastes, Trucks is quick to point out that the band should earn a level of respect for accomplishing what they set out to do. When the music gets stale or if he feels that he has reach a plateau, Trucks finds himself getting restless and looking for a way to blow things up to restart the creative flow. He is excited about the possibilities the band presents, stating that they have just scratched the surface in the last two years and if it keeps rolling as hard as it is, the band could go on for a long time.
“With this band, it's not even an option to play a song the same way. Everyone is so comfortable and free the way they play. It is a challenge to constantly feed the beast. It is my duty as a band leader to always shake it up. It's like an NBA team when it is peaking. What is exciting to me about this band is that it would work musically even if we didn't have a great vocalist. But when you throw Susan, one of the greatest vocalists of our generation, up there along with Mike Mattson, Mark River and Saunders Sermons, our trombonist, who sings as good as anybody I've been in a band with. It's a rare thing and makes me think of the great Bobby Bland band where everything was crushing – the rhythm section, the soloists – I don't feel any weak spots!”
“Trucks also mentioned that the band’s two drummers – Jarrod Johnson and Tyler Greenwell – are making magic together, stating that Johnson ”.. can go Al Jackson (drummer for Booker T. & the MGs, Stax Records) like no other drummer I’ve played with. Sometimes the groove is so deep and good that you just start laughing, which is a great place to be. It wears you out.”
The members of the Tedeschi Trucks Band tend to be very animated on stage. That is just fine with Derek as he has never had the urge to cut loose on stage other than through his guitar. “One of the beauties of this band is that no one is bitching any more about the band being visually boring. People can forget I’m here and I’m fine with that.”
Trying to juggle the ABB along with his own group meant Trucks was never home for long stretches. That was fine with Derek but once he married Susan and the children arrived, the allure of the road faded. Family life is of paramount importance to the both parents. In the beginning, often one of them would be on tour while the other was home with the two kids. “The ABB thing is winding down and our new band doesn’t tour as much as our other bands did. But we still have to tour a lot to support the eleven piece band, which is almost impossible because with a band this big you have to work!” After a tour with Eric Clapton, Trucks used his pay to build a world-class recording studio in his backyard. That allows for a normal family life as Derek and Susan can work but still have their children close by.
When asked about the Gibson SG guitar that he uses for slide playing, Derek says that Duane Allman was his first big influence. He once saw a picture of Derek playing an SG. “It was mythical picture someone gave me as a kid and I just loved the look of that guitar!’ Once Trucks saved enough for his first non-pawnshop instrument, he bought his first SG, which worked better than a Les Paul model for the youthful Trucks due to the SG’s lighter weight. “For slide, you can get way up on the neck of the SG. For me, once you get comfortable with an instrument its second nature. Even if I fall in love with another guitar, after a while I notice that I am back to playing the SG.”
Photos by Marilyn Stringer © 2012 MJStringerPhoto.com
Interview conducted by Mark Thompson, who wants to thank Derek Trucks and the band’s tour manager, Chris King, for scheduling this interview during the recent Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. .
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Blues Want Ad
Blues Blast Magazine Seeks Volunteer Music Reviewers
Blues Blast Magazine is looking for persons with a solid Blues background interested in helping us review the large number of CDs we receive from Blues artists all over the globe. We need reviewers to write clear concise 400 to 800 word reviews. Must be willing to review a minimum of 2 CDs a month. The reviewer keeps the CDs for doing the review.
Featured Blues Reviews 1 of 6
Alvin Lee - Still on the Road to Freedom
Rainman Records RM 12012
13 songs; 43:02 minutes; Suggested
Styles: Modern Electric Blues, Acoustic Country Blues, Blues Rock, Rock and Roll, and more
How many times have you viewed the “Woodstock 1969” film? The Woodstock concert was over before I even knew about it. But, as soon as the film was released, I attended. I have lost count of how many times I have seen it. By now, I own several versions including the “Ultimate Collector’s Edition/Director’s Cut” DVDs that came out in 2009 to commemorate the 40th anniversary. And, 43 years later, the performance that still thrills like the first time is England’s Alvin Lee and Ten Years After playing their original song (to quote Alvin) “’I’m Going Home’….by helicopter” (heli being the only way in or out).
Now, Alvin, as singer, songwriter, guitarist, and multi-instrumentalist, has released his 41st album since 1967. Enter the title, in 1972, Lee took the “Road to Freedom” rather than continue to be at the mercy of “music industrialists, managers, agents, lawyers – those who only saw him and the band as a money making commodity. [He sought] Freedom from being responsible for satisfying other people’s greed.” What Lee gained was “freedom to make music of [his] own choice without worrying about what other people thought or expected… freedom from undue interference and freedom from the many pressures of the rock & roll circus.”
All 13 original songs on this album were taken from songs Lee wrote over the last four years. The material is varied with many styles and types of music. It embraces Lee’s love of roots music with everything from Rock and Roll to Blues to Funk to Rockabilly – all led by his still incredible guitar work. Recorded at Space Studios 3 in Spain, the CD is mainly Alvin playing all instruments plus spot help from longtime band members bassist Pete Pritchard and drummer Richard Newman, along with keyboardist Tim Hinkley.
First to be played on our Friends of the Blues Radio Show will, understandably, just have to be the second track, “Listen to Your Radio Station.” You’ll hear a Bluesy tune that is an instrumental except for a few scant lyrics, including, “Listen to your radio station/Coolest music across the nation.” This song is an interesting mix of Blues with Alvin on both electric and acoustic guitars. It also includes tribal African drums in a sample loop from the late Ian Wallace.
Next play is a nod to 12 bar Country-Blues, embodied by Alvin's harmonica on “Save My Stuff.” Lee reports in the publicity press release, “I was a big fan of Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.” The lyrics find the narrator riding the train home to the woman he loves: “I'm gonna save my stuff for the woman I love.” Soon to follow will be the Delta stomp “Blues Got Me So Bad.” And, for fans of Lee’s trademark piercing electric guitar solos, the old intensity is there deftly on the title track.
When Hour 2 arrives, we like to play up-tempo numbers; here “I'm A Lucky Man” will fit nicely. A Rockabilly tune with a definite 1950s guitar and vocal style, it finds Lee flat out smoking on fretboard. When an instrumental is needed, Tex-Mex rhythms in “Song of the Red Rock Mountain” will win hearts. It’s a short song he made up on the spot while testing a microphone and wasn't able to improve. For a longer Rock and Roll number, it’s “Love Like a Man 2,” a remake of the song on the band's 1970 album “Cricklewood Green,” inspired, according to Lee, by New Orleans R&B player Smiley Lewis' "I Hear You Knocking," with a nod towards Chuck Berry influence.
The only thing I’d change is in the title: swap “to” for “of” because Lee continues on the road of freedom. He has freely made a solid, entertaining, eclectic album that fans will enjoy. When “ten years after” becomes “43 years later,” we gratefully find Alvin Lee still making inspired music, as he continues “Going Home.”
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Featured Blues Review 2 of 6
B.B. and the Blues Shacks - Come Along
16 songs; 58:08 minutes
Styles: Jazz-Influenced Blues, R&B
From the name of their band, and the sounds of their voices, blues fans might never guess that B.B. and the Blues Shacks hail from “Deutschland” (note the “.de” tag on their website address). However, Michael Arlt and the other members of this quirky quintet prove that the blues is alive - around the world! They were founded more than twenty years ago in the city of Hildesheim in northern Germany. Originally devoted to original R&B and early electric blues, they soon incorporated jump blues and the music of seminal masters such as T-Bone Walker and Little Walter. Michael Arlt on vocals and harmonica, Andreas Arlt on guitar, pianist/organist Dennis Koeckstadt, bassist Henning Houerken, and drummer Bernard Egger invite listeners to “Come Along” and enjoy their sixth album. Released this year, it features sixteen striking originals that mix pure blues with solid R&B and a dash of jazz. Which three will blues fans consider as satisfying as Oktoberfest? This reviewer presents some top picks:
Track 04: “If I Should Ever Lose Your Love”--Blues and romance intermingle in this heartfelt serenade from the Shacks. Its most beautiful feature is the multiple-part harmonic vocals. Michael Arlt’s own pipes are showcased to best effect here, smoothly coinciding with Tom Müller on alto and baritone sax, and Stefan Gössinger on trumpet. Arlt laments: “Up and down the road I preach, ‘cause I can’t stand to have you way out of my reach.” His ‘sermon’ (my term) is a plea for forgiveness to his sweetheart, not yet estranged but possibly to be so. Smooth and seductive, this is the perfect slow-dance number.
Track 05: “Get My Stuff Together”--This gritty, stompin’ shuffle’s title is a metaphorical explanation of what our narrator has to do during hard times. “Man, I’ve been working all day from nine to five. There’s never enough pay for all my struggle and strive…Every month I’m worried about my rent. If things don’t get better, I got to sleep in a tent!” Houerken’s bass and Michael Arlt’s harmonica blast the truth relentlessly beside Andreas’s tasty guitar licks.
Track 11: “Doesn’t Matter Anymore”--Infidelity can ruin even the strongest relationships, as this accusatory tango proves. A surprisingly-evocative image will flash in listeners’ minds during the third verse: “We wanted to grow old on our porch. Where once was my heart, now there’s a scorch. And everything we’ve been longing for now don’t matter anymore.” The blazing saxophone and harmonica solos in the middle accentuate its fiery ferocity.
Included with this beautiful CD package is a twenty-page booklet of color photos and lyrics, a great help to listeners who want to catch every nuance of the Shacks’ blues narration. “Come Along” with them as they give their considerable all to top quality styling in American R&B, proving once again the international appeal of blues!
Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 33 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Blues Society News
Maximum of 175 words in a Text or MS Word document format.
Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford/Northern Illinois
On Sunday, January 27th Crossroads is holding a fund raiser for Hurricane Sandy and the Blues Hall of Fame. It will be at 3 PM in the American Legion Hall, 116 N Union St, Byron, IL. This will be a fun day of music, auctions, raffles and fun. Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys along with Westside Andy Linderman will be performing. $10 suggested donation to get in. Come support the hurricane relief and HOF.
Then on Monday January 28th, Reverend Raven and Westside Andy will be performing for two area schools as part of Crossroads Blues In The Schools program. They will spend and hour at each of two schools in the AM and PM. For more info see www.crossroadsbluessociety.com.
DC Blues Society - Washington, DC
Upcoming DC Blues Society events include a spectacular New Year’s Eve Party with Linwood Taylor and band on Monday, December 31 from 8:30 PM – 12:30 AM at American Legion Post No. 268, 11225 Fern St. Wheaton, MD 20902. Great music, dancing, food, champagne, cash prizes & more. Advance purchase guarantees a seat. $30 member (advance)/$35 (door) ~ $35 non-member (advance)/$40 (door).
Keep your dancing shoes handy because ObamaRama II: The Final 4 takes place on Saturday, January 19 at 8 PM at American Legion Post 41, 905 Sligo Ave. Silver Spring, MD 20910 (entrance on Fenton by public parking garage). Our red, white & Blues pre-inaugural blow-out features Fast Eddie & the Slowpokes (DCBS' 2013 IBC entrant), the DC Blues Society Band and special guests. Tickets: $10 members (advance)/$12 (door) ~ $12 non-member (advance)/$15 (door). Proceeds help defray travel expenses to IBC for Fast Eddie & The Slowpokes. Info & tickets: www.dcblues.org or call 301-322-4808.
The River City Blues Society - Pekin, IL
The River City Blues Society presents Rob Williams and The Soggy Bottom Blues Band with opening act Chris Stevens: Friday December 21st from 7:30 pm – 11:00 pm at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St. Pekin, Illinois. Admission: $5.00 general public or $3.00 Society Members.
Also on Wednesday January 9th The River City Blues Society presents James Armstrong from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St. Pekin, Illinois. Admission: $5.00 general public or $3.00 Society Members. For more info visit: www.rivercityblues.com or call 309-648-8510
The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society - Champaign-Urbana IL
Prairie Crossroads Blues Society welcomes legendary Soul Blues performer Johnny Rawls to the High Dive, 51 East Main Street in Champaign, Illinois on Friday December 21 for a 9:00 p.m. show.
Born in Columbia, Mississippi Rawls began performing when he was still in high school. He is a multi-nominated artist whose career spans more than four decades and includes the release of several CDs including “Soul Survivor,” his latest on Catfood Records.
Known as one of the hardest working entertainers around, Rawls routinely does as many as 200 shows each year and has performed at some of the biggest festivals around including the Chicago Blues Festival and The Portland Waterfront Festival.
Rawls is honored with a Blues Trail Marker in his home state of Mississippi which he shares with the likes of two other famous Soul Blues performers Little Milton and Tyrone Davis.
The Sugar Prophets will open for Rawls at 7 p.m. Admission to the show is $8 before 8:00 p.m. and $10 after. For more information, www.prairiecrossroadsblues.org
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
The Illinois Central Blues Club presents "Blue Monday" every Monday night for the last 25 years - BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:00pm $3 cover. December 23 - Blue Sunday With The Blue Suns, December 30 - Blue Sunday With Mojo Cats And Tombstone Bullet Open Jam, January 7 - Magic Matthew, January 14 - Kilborn Alley, January 21 - Groove Daddies, January 28 - Alex Jenkins, Feburary 4 - Robert Sampson & Blues Gumbo, Feburary 11 - Victor Wainwright, Feburary 18 - Hurricane Ruth, Feburary 28 - Lionel Young, March 4 - Brandon Santini, March 11 - Eddie Snow Birthday Tribute w/ Bill Evans, March 18 - TBA, March 25 - JP Soars. More info available at icbluesclub.org
Featured Blues Review 3 of 6
King Bizkit - Selling My Soul
King Bizkit Records
In the midst of the numerous pages of material in the press kit for this project, there is a disclaimer requesting that everyone refrain from referring to King Bizkit as a “blues” band. It goes on to state that singer Richard Everitt (aka King Bizkit) stopped playing blues in the mid-1990's and considers his music to be in a heavy soul vein.
One listen to this project quickly confirms that Everitt is indeed a compelling vocalist who is comfortable in a variety of settings. The foot-stomping opener, “Together Again”, features his hardy performance along with biting guitar and a brawny horn section. The notes aren't clear on whether it is Adam Clarkson or Laurie Wisefield who deserve credit for the dynamic guitar playing. Tim Ainslie is credited for his equally fine guitar work on the organ-drenched shuffle, “Leaving Time”.
voice blends nicely with the backing vocals of Ira Jones and Claire
Edwards over a swinging beat from drummer Kendrick Rowe on “Don't Quit
Me Baby”, with Pete Long's baritone sax solo adding a jolt of energy.
Drummer John Lingford's driving beat powers “Fast One”, with the full
weight of the horn section brought to bear in support of the leader's
gritty vocal. Ian Gibbon's organ solo brings a bit of relief before a
sizzling guitar solo closes the cut in fine style.
The high point of the disc is a soul-wrenching take of “...Or Die Trying”, as Everitt taps deep into the wellspring of emotions surrounding unrequited love. The horn section provides a counterpoint to his dramatic rendering, as does Jones with his mournful cries. The title cut takes a couple of minutes to get going but once Everitt is joined by the band, the track steadily builds in intensity and, despite weak lyrical content, provides a spirited closing centered around more taut fretwork.
Other musicians include Lisa Hall on flute, Lisa Graham on tenor & alto sax, Mike Owen on tenor sax, Claude Deppa and Henry Lowther on trumpet and Reg Webb on keyboards. Most of the musicians on the disc are veterans who have toured with some of the biggest names in the business, both in England and internationally.
No matter what label Everitt chooses to attach to his music, there is a strong presence of blues influences throughout the disc. It is one element in a hearty mixture that blends outstanding horn charts, blazing guitars and strong material around the veteran singer in a package that holds up over repeated listens. If you prefer a large dose of rock & soul in your music, you'll find plenty to enjoy on this one.
Reviewer Mark Thompson retired after twelve years as president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. and moved to Florida. He has been listening to music of all kinds for over fifty years. Favorite musicians include Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Magic Slim, Magic Sam, Charles Mingus and Count Basie.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Featured Blues Review 4 of 6
The Muddy Sons – Pushed On Down The Road
What in Sam Hell Productions
Record Company Web Site
10 tracks / 48:09
Sometimes you look at an album cover, band name or title and know exactly what you are in for when you listen to the music. When I got The Muddy Sons’ Pushed On Down The Road CD with a photo of smirking guitarist and drummer on the cover, I instantly had thoughts of raw blues and down and dirty rock and roll. Thank goodness that is exactly what I got!
The Muddy sons are a duo from the Pacific Northwest, with Portland’s Madman Sam on vocals and guitars and Jeff “Drummerboy” Hayes of Seattle on the skins. This is their debut album together, but that does not mean that these guys are new to the music business. Sam has put out four albums of his own, and Hayes has appeared on dozens of releases for various artists over the years. It turns out that they are a match made in heaven, or hell if you prefer your blues from the old school.
This album only took seven days to create and has ten original tracks that were written by Sam, and not a single Howlin’ Wolf cover in sight. Some of these songs that previously appeared on his solo acoustic albums include “I Can’t Take It Anymore,” “Two Cigarettes and a Half-Pint,” and “Like That’s Gonna Stop Me.” Sam produced the project as well as doing the editing, mastering, art layout and participating in the mixing. He is a busy guy, it seems. Sam and Hayes performed all of the music and there are no keyboard or bass parts; no other musicians are heard on this release.
“I’ll Be Satisfied” is the opening track and is quite an eye-opening experience. This song is as raw as blues gets, with nasty and dirty guitar sounds, a howling voice and a slowly boiling drum line. Here you will hear the Muddy Sons’ expression of their love for Delta Blues, with a little of the Chicago sound mixed in. One way to describe their music is to say that it is what the old acoustic delta guys would have played if they had gnarly distorted electric guitars to mess around with.
Despite the lack of other instruments, there is not really anything missing from this recording, as all of the songs sound right just the way they are. After the seven-minute opener, the guys treat us to shorter high-tempo tune, “I Can’t Take it Anymore.” Hayes’ kick drum takes the place of a bass guitar in this one and Madman’s guitar is on fire, filling up every spare sonic moment. This song made the transition from its previous acoustic version with aplomb.
“Two Cigarettes and a Half Pint” also does well in its electrified version, with slide guitar galore and some seriously stomping drums. The lyrics of this energized southern rocker are not terribly deep, but from the title you probably already figured out that they would not be. The dynamic duo drops straight back into hard-core blues with “No Longer Qualified,” where Sam laments that now that he found a good woman he is no longer qualified to sing the blues. Of course this is not true, because he howls this one out with plenty of heart and soul, but it is a great play on words and his tale lets us hear what a great storyteller he is.
After a few more tracks with great titles such as “Stainless Steel Toilet,” and “Sorry As You Gonna Be,” the album finishes up with “She Talks Too Much.” I am kind of embarrassed to admit that I got the giggles when I heard the gloriously politically incorrect lyrics to this song. But there is more to this tune than its misogynistic leanings, as the Madman manages to cram more clever words and phrases into one song than should be allowed. Drummerboy keeps an arrow-straight beat throughout, and if you have ever been in a band you would be jealous that Sam managed to hook up with him.
The Muddy Sons are a hoot to listen to and they did a heck of a job putting together this album. Those that like nasty rock or blues will find plenty here to entertain them, and the fainthearted may want to take a test-listen before buying. By the way, I have heard that their live show is something to behold, so be sure to check them out if they are playing near you.
Reviewer Rex Bartholomew is a Los Angeles-based writer and musician. His blog can be found at rexbass.blogspot.com.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Featured Blues Review 5 of 6
Scrapomatic - I’m A Stranger (And I Love the Night)
Scrapomatic features one of my favorite current day singers and song writers, a wicked guitar player who also is a damn fine singer, and now another darn good guitar player along with a big time rhythm section. These are all original songs that blend blues, country and folky rock into a splendid stew of delightful music. I’m A Stranger (And I Love the Night) is a thoughtful, musical, and intriguing album that will give listeners their money’s worth and then some.
I am speaking of vocalist Mike Mattison of Derek Trucks Band/Tedeschi-Trucks Band fame. Suave, cool, controlled, emotive, seductive, understated, gutsy, impressive; these are just a few of the adjectives and adverbs describing the prowess of the man’s ability to spin a vocal tale. His Scrapomatic partner of many years is Paul Olsen who writes along with Mike, plays guitar and also fronts the band. His voice lends more towards the country rock side of vocals, and he is able to hold his own substance-wise with Mattison’s evocative voice. Dave Yoke is a more recent addition to the band, adding his guitar punch to the mix. Dave Pecchio on bass and Tyler Greenwell on drums are a solid backline to this great ensemble.
The CD opens with “Alligator Love Cry,” an Olsen tune with Mattison singing. It starts with a powerful set of chords on guitar and Mattison giving a guttural performance of a jilted lover shot gunning down his girl and the guy she cheated on him with. He and the guitar trade off on this driving and dark tale of love gone wrong. Olsen follows on the title track that he also wrote where he tells a tale of the girl he left behind for New York City. This is a very cool country ballad with a strong lead guitar line and some intriguing lyrics. Mattison’s “Rat Trap” Is up next. The tempo is hot, the drummer pounds out a driving and no-holds barred beat, Mattison bares his soul and sings of the woman that a “satisfied man wouldn’t choose what you put me through.” The two teamed up and wrote “Night Trains, Distant Whistles,” where Mattison sings of a fulfilled love this time, a nice little song that is more rock than blues but it is a very cool cut with a good guitar solo to boot.
“Don’t Fall Apart On Me Baby” features Olsen singing a song he wrote about working his way back home. A little acoustic guitar is thrown in here nicely. He continues on another of his songs, “I Surrender,” another country-styled ballad, but this time with dual guitars picking out his laments. After this pair of down tempo tracks Mattison blasts off with “The Mother of My Wolf,” a hotly told tale of his women who drove him to his wild side. It’s a searing cut with a really interesting set of lyrics and a flaming beat. Mattison wrote this and “Crime Fighter,” another thoughtful down tempo number where he squeals out an intriguing falsetto. Solid, slow blues delivered up in a very interesting way. Nice work!
“Malibu (That’s Where it Starts)” was penned by the two band members and Mattison delivers another fine performance. The chorus here is especially good; a fine slow blues rock ballad. Olsen’s “How Unfortunate For Me” is up next. He goes really old school here, almost vaudevillian. Kevin Hyde’s trombone wah-wah’s along with Olsen’s crooning and crowing and the guitar just smoothly flows from note to note. Interesting! “The Party’s Over” is Olsen showing us another interesting song with Mattison delivering the goods. Mike moans and wails about one last fling and the guitar wails with him in a vibrant solo. They close with “Gentrification Blues” where Mattison writes and Olsen leads the vocals. They sing the song of the plight of many a great city where we traded slums and barrios for expensive gentrified neighborhoods that all look and feel the same. This could be a modern day Dylan song, where Reagan’s bull is shouted down, class warfare is in progress, and cities became something new and shiny but less over all. Very, very cool stuff.
Folky, rocking, twanging, and bluesing all rolled into one. If you are looking for straight up, old style Chicago blues then don’t stop here. But if you are looking for modern, thought provoking, barrier breaking songs delivered with great gusto then this is an album for you. DTB fans will eat this up- it is very well done stuff. I loved the CD and found Scrapomatic to be a fine band with a very cool sound! I look forward to digging into more of their work!
Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.
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Featured Blues Review 6 of 6
Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King – Close To The Bone
14 tracks; 57.26 minutes
Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King have been around for a long time making great Texas roadhouse music, characterised by the interplay between their different guitar styles, Bnois being more of a jazz-inflected player than Joe’s fiery blues style. Moving to a new label seems to have inspired them to go for a real change of style with an acoustic album, something of a throwback to the craze for ‘unplugged’ albums in the 90s. The material chosen is predominantly original and the acoustic format allows us to appreciate both Bnois’ distinctive vocals and the lyrics. Both frontmen play guitars (helpfully separated on left and right channels) and a fair spread of Delta Groove talent is on hand to assist: harmonica players Randy Chortkoff and Bob Corritore play on two cuts each, Lynwood Slim and Big Pete on a single cut each (although three play on “Keep Her Around”); Fred Kaplan’s piano is added to one track, Willie J Campbell’s bass to three, Jimi Bott’s drums to four, Jeff Scott Fleenor’s suitcase drum to one and, if two acoustic guitars were not enough, Paul Size also plays on two cuts, Kirk Fletcher on six and Shawn Pittman plays National Steel on one – phew!
Album opener “Poor Boy Blues” is one of the few covers, written by Willard Thomas, and sets out the duo’s stall from the start with some fine, sweeping playing, just the duo on this track. Drums and additional guitars add to “Can’t Let Go”, making the track very catchy, Kirk Fletcher playing a nice solo. “My Best Friend” is just Joe and Bnois and has some very delicate picking with a trace of Mexican styling and an emotional lyric about growing up too fast and ignoring sensible advice from an older counsellor. The multi-harp track “Keep Her Around” is a great uptempo romp with the multiple harp players each getting a separate channel! “Get Out There And Get It” is a call to action for those in hard times and takes the riff from Little Milton’s “More And More” as a starting point while “Yankin’ My Chain” has more of a down home feel to it.
“Drowning In Red Ink” has the Mannish Boys rhythm section and Fred Kaplan’s piano on a soulful tune in which Bnois’ gritty vocal tells of the working man’s struggles in hard times: “they’re cutting back on everybody’s pay, all but the boss, you know he got a raise.” Bnois’ solo is beautifully set against Joe’s slide playing and Kirk’s acoustic. “My Hat’s Off To You” is back to the duo format before “No Good Could Come Of This” adds Bob Corritore’s exceptional harp to enliven a cautionary tale of a chance meeting with a tattooed lady in a bar – will the singer end up with her or resist temptation? You’ll have to listen to the track to find out!
“Ordinary Man” is a trio of acoustic guitars on a very bluesy tune which sounds like it might well be revamped in live electric shows in the future. “She Got Rid Of Me” is just the duo and more fine picking on a sad tale of how the girl dumped his guy as soon as she had completed her education! “Jump The Moon” has the suitcase drum and recounts how young musicians start out on the road, tales of bright lights and fortunes to be made in towns like Memphis and Chicago. The second cover on the album is Alger Alexander’s “Mama’s Bad Luck Child” on which Lynwood Slim’s lonesome harp adds to the desolate feel of the song. The album closes with “Baby You’re The One”, another quiet song which is musically rather downbeat but contains a positive message about their relationship.
This album is a dramatic change for the Kubek/King combination but it works well, emphasising the songs and the delicate interplay between the guitarists and their collaborators. Fans of the electric band should give this CD a listen and hear another side to these two players.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.
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