Friday, October 1, 2010

Some New Releases

There have been some outstanding new releases over the past few months.  Here are a few keepers that have hit my mailbox over the past few weeks.  As always, you can find extended reviews of these discs at Blues Bytes.

Eden Brent's previous release, Mississippi Number One, hauled off a boatload of awards, including Acoustic Album of the Year during the 2009 Blues Music Awards.  Well, guess what?  Her latest release, Ain't Got No Troubles, on Yellow Dog Records, is even better.  Ms. Brent decided to do things a little different this time around, so she moved down south to New Orleans to record and also drafted Canadian Roots artist extraordinaire Colin Linden to produce it.  The results are mighty impressive, with plenty of Crescent City flavor mixed in with Brent's boogie woogie piano and husky vocals, thanks to the efforts of hometown favorites like bass player George Porter, Jr. and Jon Cleary on keyboards.  If you've not experienced Eden Brent's music yet, you need to visit Yellow Dog Records' website and give her a listen.  The Greenville native grew up in a musical family and learned her craft under the tutelage of Delta piano man, Abie "Boogaloo" Ames, picking up the name "Little Boogaloo" in the process.  Next week we will be hearing more from Eden Brent here at FBF, but in the meantime, check out this YouTube clip of her from a few years ago, performing a song written by her mother, called "Mississippi Flatland Blues."

I was excited to see that Robert Randolph and the Family Band had a new release earlier this summer and I ordered it on Amazon, along with the new Derek Trucks CD and the new Magic Slim CD.  You might have noticed that I've already discussed both of the others CDs here a few months ago (and at Blues Bytes), but not this one.  I wasn't sure if I liked this one or not, initially.  It's so different from his previous releases, which put Randolph's love for gospel, blues, and R&B in a thoroughly modern setting.  That is still present with We Walk This Road, but it's sort of turned upside down from his previous efforts.  The difference is that Randolph covers more music from other artists, paying tribute to his "roots," if you will.  When Randolph was growing up, he was only allowed to listen to gospel music.  As he grew older, he became exposed to other music, most notably the blues via Stevie Ray Vaughan and other modern masters.  Randolph traced this music back to the source and discovered other artists, like the incredible Blind Willie Johnson, whose "If I Had My Way (I'd Tear This Building Down)" gets an amazing face lift, as Randolph and guest guitarist Ben Harper nearly tear the building down themselves.  There are some other great moments as well, including Bob Dylan's "Shot of Love," Peter Case's "I Still Belong To Jesus," and a really cool take of Prince's "Walk Don't Walk."  So, yeah it's different from his previous releases, but in a good way and I have to admit that I'm still listening to this one after several months and still finding things about it that I like.

Travis "Moonchild" Haddix may be one of the blues' best kept secrets.  Born in the tiny town of Walnut, MS, but now based in Cleveland, OH, Haddix plays guitar like his idol, B. B. King, sings like Bobby Bland, and is one of the most original songwriters you'll ever hear, putting new and interesting spin on long familiar topics.  He started recording for Atlanta's Ichiban Records in the 80's, then started his own label, Wann-Sonn (named for his two daughters), where he recorded consistently great recordings on a regular basis.  Most recently, he's recorded for Earwig Records and now for the new Benevolent Blues label.  His newest CD is called If I'm One, You're One Too and it's loaded with great urban blues with a great mix of Memphis and Chicago blues.  Haddix also offers a pair of excellent acoustic tracks, one of which is a tribute to his father, Chalmus "Rooster" Haddix, who was a Delta guitarist and performer in the Robert Johnson tradition.  If you're a fan of cool urban blues, you'll love Travis "Moonchild" Haddix.  Check out this clip of the title track from his recently released companion DVD.

Bob Corritore wears many hats in the blues industry.  The Chicago native has been a performer with many of Phoenix's top blues acts (Big Pete Pearson, Chico Chism, Janiva Magness), he's hosted "These Lowdown Blues" on Phoenix's KJZZ since 1984, and he's owned the Rhythm Room since 1991, one of Phoenix's foremost blues clubs.  Over time, he has appeared with many great blues artists, either by recording with them, hosting them on his radio show, or by playing with them at the Rhythm Room.  He has previously released several recordings of  these performances with other artists since the late 90's, including a great collection of performances from his radio show a couple of years ago.  His latest release, Harmonica Blues, features 15 performances from some notable blues artists, including Koko Taylor, Little Milton, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Eddie Clearwater, Pinetop Perkins, Dave Riley, Henry Gray, Carol Fran, and Louisiana Red.  Among the notable tracks is Lockwood's only recording of "That's All Right," a song that he claimed to have written many years ago.  Corritore provides some wonderful harmonica backing on all the songs, stepping out front for the instrumental "1815 West Roosevelt," with sax man Eddie Shaw.  It's hard to go wrong with any of Corritore's releases.  You're guaranteed some fantastic music from an outstanding group of musicians.  This is a wonderful addition to his catalog.  Don't miss it. Check out Corritore with his long time running partner, Dave Riley from a 2008 appearance in France.

Joe Louis Walker's latest release on Stony Plain Records called Blues Conspiracy: Live on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise.  It's a sequel of sorts, reprising two of Walker's most acclaimed releases, the two-disc Live At Slim's set from the early 90's, and his Great Guitars release from the mid 90's, which featured JLW with many of the guitar-playing legends of the blues.  Here, you get the best of both worlds, with Walker appearing live at the 2010 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise with some of the biggest names in the genre, including Johnny Winter, Duke Robillard, Tommy Castro, Kenny Neal, Watermelon Slim, Tab Benoit, Kirk Fletcher, Nick Moss, and many, many more.  Walker never disappoints in his performances and is coming off a Blues Music Award for Album of the Year.  He graciously shares the stage with these other artists, who give some impressive performances of their own on a mix of JLW favorites and some choice covers.  If you haven't been on one of the blues cruises, this could be the next best thing to being there.  Enjoy this clip from the 2010 LRBC, and one of the songs from the new disc, featuring JLW with fellow guitarists Duke Robillard and Todd Sharpville performing "Tell Me Why."

Till next week, blues your part to keep these blues alive any way you can.

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