Friday, December 20, 2013

Blues News You Can Use

Here's a few items that you might have missed over the past few weeks while trying to get your Christmas shopping list completed.....

To begin, there was terrible news early Thursday morning in Chicago when it was reported that Eric "Guitar" Davis was shot and killed while sitting in his car, one of two victims that were shot and killed within blocks of each other.  As of today, details are murky as to who and why. Davis was 41 years old and was a rising star, having recently signed to Delmark Records, according to his website.  The Windy City blues community is mourning his loss.  Davis was the son of Bobby "Top Hat" Davis, who played drums for Otis Rush and Muddy Waters, and initially got his musical start drumming at the age of 10 behind Junior Wells, B.B. King, and others.  Buddy Guy later turned him on to guitar, teaching him to play his first chord.  Please keep the families of the victims of this absolutely senseless violence in your prayers.

Last week, the Blues Foundation announced the nominees for the 35th Blues Music Awards.  These awards will be presented at the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis, Tennessee on Thursday, May 8, 2014.  I've had the opportunity to listen to many of the nominated albums this year and I'll just go ahead and say that this has been a fantastic year for blues recordings.  It will be really difficult to pick a Top Ten list this year because I can think of about twenty-five albums that I would put in my Top Ten.  

Congratulations to all of this year's BMA nominees, listed below......

Acoustic Album 
There's a Time - Doug MacLeod 
Juba Dance - Guy Davis featuring Fabrizio Poggi 
Soulscape - Harrison Kennedy 
Avalon - Rory Block 
Unleashed - The Hound Kings 

Acoustic Artist 
Doug MacLeod 
Guy Davis 
Harrison Kennedy 
Little G Weevil 
Rory Block 

Get Up! - Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite 
Remembering Little Walter - Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia & James Harman 
Rhythm & Blues - Buddy Guy 
Cotton Mouth Man - James Cotton 
Blues in My Soul - Lurrie Bell 

B.B. King Entertainer 
Bobby Rush 
Buddy Guy 
John Németh 
Kim Wilson 
Rick Estrin 

Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials 
Rick Estrin & the Night Cats 
Tedeschi Trucks Band 
The Mannish Boys 
Trampled Under Foot 

Best New Artist Debut 
Double Crossing Blues - Adrianna Marie and Her Groovecutters 
Rooster - Clay Swafford 
Proof of Love - Gracie Curran & the High Falutin' Band 
What's the Chance... - Paul Gabriel 
Daddy Told Me - Shawn Holt & the Teardrops 
Pushin’ Against a Stone - Valerie June 

Contemporary Blues Album 
Get Up! - Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite 
This Time Another Year - Brandon Santini 
Rhythm & Blues - Buddy Guy 
Magic Honey - Cyril Neville 
Badlands - Trampled Under Foot 

Contemporary Blues Female Artist 
Ana Popovic 
Beth Hart 
Bettye LaVette 
Candye Kane 
Susan Tedeschi 

Contemporary Blues Male Artist 
Buddy Guy 
Gary Clark, Jr. 
Johnny Sansone 
Kim Wilson 
Otis Taylor 

High John Records - Time Brings About a Change (Floyd Dixon)
J&R Adventures - An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House (Joe Bonamassa)
Shake-It-Sugar Records – Live (Murali Coryell)
Ruf Records - Songs from the Road (Royal Southern Brotherhood)
Blue Star Connection - Live at Knuckleheads (The Healers)

The Sun Blues Box (Various Artists) - Bear Family
The Original Honeydripper (Roosevelt Sykes) - Blind Pig Records
The Jewel/Paula Blues Story (Various Artists) - Fuel Records
Death Might Be Your Santa Claus (Various Artists) - Legacy Recordings 
The Complete King/Federal Singles (Freddie King) - Real Gone Music

Bill Stuve 
Bob Stroger 
Danielle Schnebelen 
Larry Taylor 
Patrick Rynn 

Cedric Burnside 
Jimi Bott 
Kenny Smith 
Tom Hambridge 
Tony Braunagel 

Anson Funderburgh 
Gary Clark, Jr. 
Kid Andersen 
Lurrie Bell 
Ronnie Earl 

Brandon Santini 
Charlie Musselwhite 
James Cotton 
Kim Wilson 
Rick Estrin 

Big James Montgomery 
Eddie Shaw 
Jimmy Carpenter 
Sax Gordon 
Terry Hanck 

Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female) 
Diunna Greenleaf 
Lavelle White 
Teeny Tucker 
Trudy Lynn 
Zora Young 

Rock Blues Album 
Gone to Texas - Mike Zito & the Wheel 
Made Up Mind - Tedeschi Trucks Band 
Can't Get Enough - The Rides 
John the Conquer Root - Toronzo Cannon 
Luther's Blues - Walter Trout 

Pinetop Perkins Piano Player 
Barrellhouse Chuck 
Dave Keyes 
Marcia Ball 
Mike Finnigan 
Victor Wainwright 

Blues in My Soul” - Lurrie Bell 
He Was There” – James Cotton, Tom Hambridge & Richard Fleming 
That's When the Blues Begins” - James Goode 
The Entitled Few” - Doug MacLeod 
The Night the Pie Factory Burned Down” - Johnny Sansone 

Soul Blues Album 
Down In Louisiana - Bobby Rush 
Soul Changes - Dave Keller 
Soul for Your Blues - Frank Bey & Anthony Paule Band 
Remembering O. V. - Johnny Rawls 
Truth Is (Putting Love Back Into the Music) - Otis Clay 

Soul Blues Female Artist 
Barbara Carr 
Denise LaSalle 
Dorothy Moore 
Irma Thomas 
Sista Monica 

Soul Blues Male Artist 
Bobby Rush 
Frank Bey 
John Nemeth 
Johnny Rawls 
Otis Clay 

Traditional Blues Album 
Driftin' from Town to Town - Barrelhouse Chuck & Kim Wilson's Blues All-Stars 
Remembering Little Walter - Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia, James Harman 
Cotton Mouth Man - James Cotton 
Blues in My Soul - Lurrie Bell 
Black Toppin' - The Cash Box Kings 

Traditional Blues Male Artist 
Anson Funderburgh 
Billy Boy Arnold 
James Cotton 
John Primer 
Lurrie Bell

Also named last week were the recipients of the 2014 Keeping The Blues Alive Awards.  These awards are given to non-performers each year who have made significant contributions to the Blues World, not necessarily for their work in a particular year, but often as a "Lifetime Achievement" award.  Congratulations to all of the winners this year (including a few regular FBF visitors), who will be recognized during the 2014 I.B.C. in January at Memphis.

Affiliated OrganizationCrossroads Blues Society of Illinois – Rockford, Illinois
ArtCristen Craven Barnard – Senatobia, Mississippi
ClubKingston Mines – Chicago, Illinois
EducationTas Cru – Chaumont, New York
Festival (International)Cazorla Blues Festival – Cazorla, Spain
Festival (U.S.)Mississippi Valley Blues Festival – Davenport, Iowa
Film, Television and VideoStefan Grossman – Sparta, New Jersey
Historical Preservation: George Mitchell – Fort Myers, Florida
InternationalThe Royal Mail Hotel – Goodna, Queensland, Australia
JournalismGene Tomko – Lafayette, Louisiana
LiteratureGerard Herzhaft – Lyon, France
ManagerMarcia Weaver – Jackson, Mississippi
PhotographyDick Waterman – Oxford, Mississippi
Producer: Tom Hambridge – Nashville, Tennessee
PromoterMyron Mu – San Francisco, California
PublicistFrank Roszak – North Hills, California
Radio (Commercial)Jerry Schaefer – East Islip, New York
Radio (Public)Larry Lisk – St. Petersburg, Florida
Record LabelStony Plain Records – Edmonton, Alberta
Special Committee AwardBlue Star Connection – Winter Park, Colorado

In 2006, Blues Bytes won a KBA Award in the Blues on the Internet category.  I wasn't able to attend the presentation of the award that year because of prior commitments and I really regret not going and missing out on the opportunity to meet Bill Mitchell, who puts together Blues Bytes every month.  I've been submitting reviews to Blues Bytes since 1999, and have yet to meet Bill in person, but have still managed to forge a great working relationship with him over the past 14 years.  If you've not ever visited the site, stop by and check it out. 

As I said above, 2014 has been a fantastic year for new releases, and the great ones are coming out right down to the wire.  Here's a few brand new releases that have run across my stereo over the past couple of weeks that should appeal to all blues lovers.  You will find more detailed reviews of these discs in the December issue of Blues Bytes.

Charlie Musselwhite has been pretty busy and pretty successful over the past couple of years.  He earned five Grammy nominations for two different projects...a collaboration with Ben Harper (Get Up!) and the Little Walter tribute album released by Blind Pig (Remembering Little Walter).  He also received five BMA nominations as you can see above.  Not one to rest on his laurels, Musselwhite has also released a new album, Juke Joint Chapel, recorded "live" at the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, MS, teaming the legendary harp man with his superb band.  He mixes covers of songs by many Windy City harp legends (Little Walter, Billy Boy Arnold, Shakey Jake) with a solid set of his own songs.  It's a really inspired set and it continues his hot streak.  

Michael Packer has been a big part of the New York City blues scene for a number of years, but his musical career dates back to the early 1960's.  He recorded for Atlantic, Buddha, and RCA in the late 60's and early 70's with the bands Papa Nebo and Free Beer, performed as part of the Matt Murphy Band, and currently leads the Michael Packer Blues Band.  For many years, Packer battled alcoholism and drug addiction, eventually spending time in prison, but he has rebuilt his life and career over the past couple of decades.  His latest release, "I Am The Blues"  My Story, is a look at his life and career, completely unvarnished.  It mixes Packer's narration with songs from over the span of his career.  The narration portions are stunning in their imagery and their frank tone.....Packer has a good-natured humor about his past, but he pulls no punches and tells it like it is, taking responsibility for his own actions and reactions over the years.  The songs are impressive, too.  In the early part of his career, Packer was told that "White boys can't sing the blues," but he proves those critics wrong with these performances.  Blues fans will find this to be riveting listening.  It's nice that this blues story has a happy ending.

Lou Pride passed away in the Summer of 2012, but he had completed recording what would be his final disc for Severn Records, which the label just released a few weeks ago.  Ain't No More Love In This House is as good a soul/blues album as you will hear this year.  Pride had a warm, gospel-influenced vocal style and the disc, which features the great Severn house band, a sweet horn and string section, and Johnny Moeller on guitar, is a mix of some great Pride originals and well-chosen covers, including a Wayne Newton classic (yes, THAT Wayne Newton).  If you liked the Stax and Hi recordings of the late 60's/early 70's, you will go nuts for this disc.  Pride sounds fantastic and so does the band.  He definitely saved his best for last.  Here's a clip from Pride's reading of a classic 80's pop tune.

Downchild has been a Canadian tradition for over forty years.  The band has played swinging jump blues and their version of the classic Chicago-styled traditional blues since 1969 and have influenced scores of Canadian blues artists during that span, including a young man named Dan Aykroyd, who was inspired to form the Blues Brothers from what he'd seen from Downchild and even recorded several of the band's tunes during the band's brief tenure.  Can You Hear The Music is Downchild's 17th album and longtime fans won't be disappointed because there's plenty of swinging blues here and plenty of founder Donnie "Mr. Downchild" Walsh's tasty guitar work and harmonica present.  It's just a fun disc from start to finish.

I really enjoyed Brad Wilson's latest release, Hands On The Wheel.  The back cover reads that this California guitarist plays "high-octane rocked-up Blues," which should be music to blues-rockers' ears.  A more true description could not be found.  Wilson has guitar chops to burn, but he doesn't bang you over the head with endless meanderings.  He plays what the material calls for and he should know because he wrote all of the songs, which range from hard-charging boogie rockers to jazzy blues to ballads.  There's a cool tribute to boogie master John Lee Hooker that Z.Z. Top probably wishes they had thought of first.  In addition, Wilson is a strong, versatile vocalist and this disc should help him reach a bigger audience if there's any justice in the world.  Click on the song title to check out "Slide On Over" from the new disc, and see Wilson in action below.

In recent years, I've grown to enjoy the music of Eric Bibb.  Though he's rooted in the blues, he incorporates other styles into his music, such as world, soul, and folk music, and always focuses on the positive aspects of life, with a belief that man is basically good and that there is hope for all.  His latest, Jericho Road, is an album of stunning beauty and grace, with Bibb's acoustic and electric guitar work being augmented by various instruments, including a penny whistle, djembe, kora, harmonica, accordion, keyboards, and even a horn section on several tracks.  The music, as always, is upbeat and positive and you'll find yourself revisiting this one for quite awhile.  Jericho Road is the album that Eric Bibb has been working toward for the past few years and should be considered the apex of his musical vision.  

Friday Blues Fix wants to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and hopes everyone has a wonderful holiday season.


Bert Hut said...

Merry Christmas to you and your family and that 2014 will be full of blues and health!

Bert Hut
Fondarella - Spain

Graham said...

Thanks!! Merry Christmas to you and yours, too!! Thanks for stopping by.