Liz Jones’ Roller Coaster Ride Continues With New Video/Single Release

Liz Jones’ Roller Coaster Ride Continues With New Video/Single Release

David Scott

“’On The Ride’ is a letter to friends asking them to let us know when they’re in need. It’s a song for tough times.” – Liz Jones

Hot on the heels of a barnstorming, rocking blues extravaganza at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, Liz Jones & Broken Windows premiere a new video and single, “On The Ride.” The song is the final single release from the band’s highly acclaimed Bricks & Martyrs album. 

This track is a timely, highly relevant and reflective narrative about loyalty and friendship emphasizing the need to support each other, especially in the current climate. Liz delivers the message with integrity and empathy, her mellow vocals and intonation reflecting the mood:

It’s not fair that you go through this

Whilst I play my rock and roll

It’s not right that you go through this

After all these years, to go alone

The more familiar, sharper edge to Jones’ voice returns with the impassioned plea:

So show your sadness to me now

Let it all out

Scream and shout

Go on, let me know when your mountain arrives

And I will join you on the ride


The changing moods and evocative lyrics require equally redolent musical backing which the band provides to perfection. Starting with delicate guitar strings, John Bruce sets the scene for what feels like an acoustic vibe.

Liz Jones (Credit: Stuart Stott)

This atmosphere continues with the timely and sensitive interpolations of Jamie Hamilton’s piano keys, underpinned by clever rhythms and percussion from Suzy Cargill and Gary Davidson and the melodic bass lines of Rod Kennard.

The sentiments of this self-penned song come right from Liz’s heart and are rooted in her life’s experience of harder times whilst retaining positivity and staying closely to her loved ones. In the words of Liz, “‘On The Ride’ is a letter to friends asking them to let us know when they’re in need. It’s a song for tough times.’” It is also a virtuosic performance from a talented singer whose star is deservedly in the ascendancy.


Liz Jones Music


Produced by Jen Clark

*Feature image: Liz w/ John and Suzy Cargill (credit: Stuart Stott)  


Listen to Bonnie Raitt’s New Song ‘Made Up Mind’

Listen to Bonnie Raitt’s New Song ‘Made Up Mind’

Lauren Leadingham

50 years after the release of her debut album, Raitt continues to embody the ever-evolving creativity that has defined her career. Listen to her new single and pre-order ‘And Just Like That…’ out April 22!

With Just Like That…, her 21st album and her first new release in more than six years, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bonnie Raitt displays she’s still got her voice and vitality. Teaming up again with distributor ADA globally and new partner Sub Pop for physical product in the United States, Just Like That… is set for release on April 22nd in all formats, including an Indie exclusive Teal LP and immersive audio formats Dolby Atmos and 360 Reality Audio. Raitt’s new single, “Made Up Mind,” is out today.

Just Like That… was recorded in the summer of 2021 in Sausalito, CA. Personnel includes two longtime members of Raitt’s band, bassist James “Hutch” Hutchinson and drummer Ricky Fataar, as well as two new musicians, Canadian Glenn Patscha on keyboards and backing vocals and Nashville guitarist Kenny Greenberg. Her longtime guitarist/songwriting partner George Marinelli plays and sings on “Livin’ for the Ones,” a song they co-wrote. The album once again sees Raitt producing, reuniting with recording and mixing engineer Ryan Freeland for their third collaboration. Respectively, they earned GRAMMYs for the 2012 release, Slipstream. 

50 years after the release of her debut album, Raitt continues to embody the ever-evolving creativity that has defined her career. “On this record, I wanted to stretch,” she says. “I always want to find songs that excite me, and what’s different this time is that I’ve tried some styles and topics I haven’t touched on before.”

Raitt will receive the Billboard Icon Award and perform at this year’s Women in Music Awards on Wednesday, March 2 at the YouTube Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. The annual event recognizes music’s rising and A-List artists, creators, producers, and executives for their contributions to the industry and community. The 2022 Women in Music Awards will stream live on Billboard‘s Twitter.  

Raitt and her band return to the road in April for an eight-month U.S. tour. The tour’s special guests include NRBQ (from April 12—23), followed by Lucinda Williams and Mavis Staples on various dates throughout the run. The full tour schedule, with info on Special Benefit Seat information, is listed at her official site.


Pre-order And Just Like That…


Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse Announce New Album and Release First Single

Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse Announce New Album and Release First Single

American Blues Scene Staff

“’Fill Me Up’ is the perfect way to reintroduce Beaux Gris Gris after being forced into tour cancellations and release setbacks over the last two years. It comes out of the gate at you, and encapsulates the live energy our shows have always had.” – Robin Davey

Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse announced their brand-new album Good Times End Times (due for release on March 25) and their single “Fill Me Up.” The band are also delighted to be returning to their natural habitat: live touring and performance.

Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse could be considered the more grownup musical side of vocalist Greta Valenti and guitarist Robin Davey. Previously their rock band Well Hung Heart toured the States and Europe, sharing stages with The Offspring, Foreigner, Fitz & The Tantrums and 21 Pilots.

This is an altogether more roots rock oriented affair. Infusing influences from Valenti’s music soaked Louisiana upbringing (she started performing onstage at age 4) and Davey’s Blues background (he was the youngest ever inductee into the British Blues Hall of Fame). They are more than happy to let their rock flag fly when called for though, like on first single “Fill Me Up.”

Davey explains, “’Fill Me Up’ is the perfect way to reintroduce Beaux Gris Gris after being forced into tour cancellations and release setbacks over the last two years. It comes out of the gate at you, and encapsulates the live energy our shows have always had.”

Their debut album Love & Murder spawned Top 10 hits in genre charts across Europe. The album’s wide-reaching appeal also earned it a #13 placement in Classic Rock Magazine’s ‘Top 50 Albums of the Year’, with the mag describing it as “A sensual, vibrant blues cocktail that feels worlds away from the blandness and dustiness that the blues (new blues especially) is sometimes accused of.”

For their second album the band were less concerned with being genre specific, instead embracing collaboration and widening their musical horizon. Good Times End Times sees new members Emma Jonson and Stephen Mildwater adding depth to the sound. As a result Drummer Mark Barrett’s versatility and creativity is given more room to breathe. Mix engineer Arkadi, better known for his dance remixes of Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson, brings a modern vibrancy to a classic 5-piece band set up.

More than anything though, this helped let the songwriting take center stage.

Valenti explains, “The collection of songs from this entire album were born out of a time of darkness, isolation, depression, frustration, and pure survival over the past two years. As nothing lasts forever, I knew there would be a release from this state at some point, I wanted ‘Fill Me Up’ to be the keeper of that energy: an explosion, a release, and a true celebration of life and the human connection we all need.”

The end of the world theme runs throughout the album, but it was the light at the end of the tunnel that kept Greta and the band focused. It is this energy, harnessed onstage, that has earned Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse an enviable reputation for their live performances. They’ve headlined festivals across Europe, including Upton Festival (UK), The Great British R&B Festival (UK), Moulin (Netherlands) and Blues Alive (Czech Republic). The band were also nominated for Band of the Year at the European Blues Awards.

They are now delighted to announce their tour which begins in Groesbeek, Netherlands on March 16, continues through the Netherlands, then France, then reaches UK shores. The UK leg of the tour starts with The Muse, Brecon on the 26th of March, then runs until April 1, ending with a gig at Bluefunk Rhythm and Blues Club in Manchester.


Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse


*Feature image photo credit: Kaelin Davis

Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters Deliver a Loud and Clear Shout-Out of ‘Mercy Me’

Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters Deliver a Loud and Clear Shout-Out of ‘Mercy Me’

American Blues Scene Staff

“I titled the album Mercy Me as I was thinking about all the things going on in the world. We need to have more mercy for the world, for other people and for ourselves.” – Ronnie Earl

Ronnie Earl, a four-time Blues Music Award winner as “Guitar Player of the Year,” follows up the critical and commercial success of his last album, Rise Up, with Mercy Me, a new set of wondrous music with his long-time band, The Broadcasters, on  April 15 via Stony Plain Records. Mercy Me will also be released later this summer on vinyl LP.

Mercy Me is Earl’s 14th album in partnership with Stony Plain and his 28th career album. The 12-song Mercy Me features Dave Limina on piano and Hammond B3, Diane Blue on vocals, Forrest Padgett on drums, Paul Kochanski on electric and upright bass, all backing Earl’s amazingly soulful guitar work. Guest musicians include Anthony Geraci, piano; Mark Earley, baritone sax; Mario Perrett, tenor sax; Peter Ward, guitar; and Tess Ferraiolo, vocals. The album was produced by Earl, recorded and mixed by Huck Bennert and mastered at Sound Mirror Studio by Mark Donahue.

I titled the album ‘Mercy Me’ as I was thinking about all the things going on in the world. We need to have more mercy for the world, for other people and for ourselves. I love playing the blues, and the session was so enjoyable. The band was focused, and we came together as one.

Earl has a unique, beautiful, easily identifiable tone that comes from within and not from a piece of equipment, such as a pedal, which he has never used. Music critic Jim Hynes has called Ronnie, “The John Coltrane of the Guitar;” B.B. King referred to Ronnie as one of his sons; and writer Ron Weinstock said of Ronnie that he “is a master of tonal dynamics, phrasing, and solo construction. Earl builds solos like smoldering coals in a charcoal grill that bursts into flames when fat drips down.”

The album’s even-dozen tunes include a diverse mix of originals and unique covers of songs from such legends as Muddy Waters, John Coltrane, Dave Mason and Percy Mayfield.

“Blow Wind Blow” is a little guitar tribute to Muddy Waters; My other love is “Alabama,” which is a tribute to John Coltrane. It’s different from his, but sadly the racism he wrote about in 1963 is still going on today. “Blues for Ruthie Foster” is a nice little acoustic tune with my longtime friend Peter Ward. It’s in the vein of a little bit Robert Johnson, a little bit Robert Junior. I had a chance to sit in with Ruthie Foster this past year and she is astonishing. We did “Soul Searching,” an older tune of mine, first recorded in 1988. I wanted to try it with this band.

It has some horns on it and it came out nicely – with sparse guitar. “Only You Know and I Know” is a famous tune sung by Bonnie Bramlett. We’ve never done it and Diane Blue is great on everything. Many years ago, Levon Helm was playing at BB Kings in Memphis, and he called both Bonnie Bramlett and me up – and we sat in together. I loved playing with her, and this song is a sweet reminder of that day. “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” is one of my wife Donna’s favorite songs. It’s an R&B that Jackie Wilson sang, and I recorded it for Donna.

Earl, born Ronald Horvath, has led a storied music career beginning with his early years in Boston while studying at Boston University. He graduated with a dual degree in Education and Special Education in 1975. Ronnie would teach for a few years while playing guitar at night before joining and touring with John Nicholas and The Rhythm Rockers, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, Roomful of Blues, and finally with his band, The Broadcasters.

Ronnie has shared the stage with B.B. King, Otis Rush, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Albert Collins, Big Mama Thornton, Etta James, Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers, Jimmie Vaughan, Kim Wilson, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Leonard Bernstein, among many others.

An authorized biography of Ronnie’s life, Beautiful Child, is in progress and includes stories from Ronnie as well as one hundred of his friends and colleagues who have walked alongside him.

Perhaps being the son of two Holocaust survivors has given Ronnie Earl a keen insight into the human condition, which has manifested itself in his musical delivery. As Ronnie celebrates more than 30-plus years of sobriety, he’s often quietly devoted his time and donated concert proceeds to help people affected by substance abuse. And as someone who once studied to be a special education teacher, he recalls with particular fondness a 10-year period when he volunteered at LifeLinks Inc., a nonprofit in Chelmsford, Mass. that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Ronnie Earl
Pre-Order Mercy Me


*Feature image photo credit: Tom Hazeltine

VizzTone to Release ‘Established 1972,’ 50th Anniversary Album by The Nighthawks

VizzTone to Release ‘Established 1972,’ 50th Anniversary Album by The Nighthawks

American Blues Scene Staff

‘Established 1972,’ out April 15, is not bound by genre other than the widest range of American Roots Music!

VizzTone is proud to announce the April 15, 2022 release of Established 1972 by The Nighthawks, an album that represents 50 years of Washington DC’s road warriors going strong.

On this landmark anniversary, founder, lead singer and harpmaster Mark Wenner is still at the helm, while drummer Mark Stutso, guitarist Dan Hovey and bassist Paul Pisciotta all share vocals and songwriting, making this lineup one of the strongest ever. Decades of gigs and countless rabid fans have earned them the name “The Best Bar Band In The World.” More than a bar band or blues band, as they’re frequently labeled, this is a band that played with Carl Perkins in addition to Muddy Waters.

In March 2020, with a brand-new recording to promote, The Nighthawks did something previously unthinkable: They stopped in the middle of a Florida tour and drove home. Like so many other people, the band members found themselves out of work as the coronavirus swept the country. Itching to play, The Nighthawks found a couple of spaces large enough to stay apart while woodshedding new material. Previously, the process had been a streamlined one: The band would rough out a dozen new tunes in an afternoon and perform them every night for a year or two before recording. But now there was time, tons of it. Weeks turned into months.

Produced by the Nighthawks and longtime compadre David Earl, they took advantage of the pandemic slowdown to hunker down in Earl’s Severn Sound Studios in Annapolis, Maryland and crank out fourteen new tracks in classic Nighthawks style.

Dan Hovey wrote a very relevant rocker, “You Seem Distant.” Mark Stutso followed with a full blast “Coming and Going.” Florida friend Colin Kenny, a.k.a. Raiford Starke, wrote the soulful “West Memphis” and the band stylistically took it to Memphis. Stutso came up with “Gas Station Chicken” and everyone contributed to bringing in the funk. Hovey added three more: “Houseband,” “Fuss and Fight,” and the acoustic delight “Driving.” In between are British pub rock monster Gariant Watkins’ “Nobody”; Jimmy Reed’s “Take it Easy,” featuring producer David Earl contributing the Eddie Taylor licks on guitar; Eddie Hinton’s version of Sam Cook’s “I’ll Come Running Back”; John Hammond’s version of Mose Allison’s “Ask Me Nice”; a wild version of the reggae classic “Johnny Too Bad”; an outtake rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Ain’t That Lovin’ You”; a Hillbilly interpretation of the Coasters’ “Run Red Run”;  and half a dozen others that fell by the wayside. They’d play, record, rearrange, and re-record til they got them just right.

In the tradition they set forth on Rock and Roll, the band’s debut 1974 recording and mission statement, the material is not bound by genre other than the widest range of American Roots Music. 


Pre-order Established 1972


Croatian Rock/Blues Band Voodoo Ramble Release New Single ‘London Town’

Croatian Rock/Blues Band Voodoo Ramble Release New Single ‘London Town’

American Blues Scene Staff

“I wanted to make this song sound like it came from a Londoner as much as possible. The lyrics describe the city and its vibe so precisely, so I had to follow that feeling.” – Boris Zamba Lead Vocalist/Guitarist of Voodoo Ramble

Leading Croatian rock/blues band Voodoo Ramble, led by vocalist and guitarist Boris Zamba released the new single “London Town” from their forthcoming album  Can’t Write a Pop Song (When You’ve Got the Blues).

“London Town,” the second Voodoo Ramble single from forthcoming album may sound a bit different from their well-known blues rock sound but you still hear that recognisable band groove. “London Town” is a song written by Zamba, with lyrics written by Pete Feenstra.

Zamba said: “I wanted to make this song sound like it came from a Londoner as much as possible. The lyrics describe the city and its vibe so precisely, so I had to follow that feeling. It’s nice to do something with a slightly different approach as I feel I’m somehow ‘connected’ to the city, a homage. It’s the first time I’ve collaborated on the song writing process and it’s given me real focus in delivering what we both had in mind.”

After building up their reputation on the festival and club circuit, Voodoo Ramble gained considerable exposure by playing the 30th International Blues Challenge in Memphis and the 2016 European Blues Challenge in Tuscany, Italy.

Voodoo Ramble was founded in 2010. Throughout the years their repertoire has moved from blues to rock and back to the blues. With a considerable number of live gigs at biker parties, blues festivals and other events, the band has earned a status of a reliable, quality, energetic, live act.

“London Town,” which follows the previous single, “I Know It’s You,” was shaped and mastered by Drago Smokrovic Smokva (aka. The Fig), which reflected the current hardships of the world during Lockdown. It was the perfect vehicle for Boris to reflect on his own difficult experience of suffering from Covid19, but thankfully despite being very ill, finally recovering.


Voodoo Ramble

Trombone Shorty Bottles Explosive Live-Show Energy On New Studio Album ‘Lifted’

Trombone Shorty Bottles Explosive Live-Show Energy On New Studio Album ‘Lifted’

American Blues Scene Staff

“I think ‘Lifted’ is the closest we’ve ever gotten to bottling up the live show and putting it on a record. This time around I told everybody to really cut loose, to perform like they were onstage at a festival.” – Trombone Shorty

Trombone Shorty will release his highly anticipated new studio album Lifted April 29 on Blue Note Records. For his first album in five years, the born-and-bred New Orleans musical icon and ambassador harnesses the raw power and exhilarating grooves of his legendary live shows, over ten tracks recorded at his own Buckjump Studio with producer Chris Seefried (Fitz and the Tantrums, Andra Day). Shorty and his bandmates crash through funk, soul and psychedelic rock with transcendent performances, set to bold songwriting that explores grit and determination in hard times. The album features special guests Gary Clark, Jr., Lauren Daigle, and the New Breed Brass Band.

The Lifted album title and cover photo references the relationship Trombone Shorty had with his mother, Lois Nelson Andrews. In dedicating the album to her memory he says, “She passed recently, but she continued to inspire me right up until she transitioned, and that’s why I put a picture of her holding me up at a second line on the cover of this album. She lifted me up my whole life.”

Shorty continues, “I think Lifted is the closest we’ve ever gotten to bottling up the live show and putting it on a record. This time around I told everybody to really cut loose, to perform like they were onstage at a festival.”

He speaks from experience: Shorty’s live performances have taken him to six continents, the GRAMMY Awards telecast, the White House (multiple times), and major tours with everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to the Rolling Stones. This May he will perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, where he’s taken over the fest’s hallowed final set; during Mardi Gras he will ride on his own float leading the Krewe of Freret parade and perform at the after-party gala dubbed “Shorty Gras.” Shorty will also bring his once-in-a-lifetime Voodoo Threaxdown tour featuring Big Freedia, Tank & the Bangas, George Porter and Dumpstaphunk across the U.S. this summer.

Lifted pulses with performances from an artist and band operating at the peak of their powers. The effervescent “What It Takes” gets profoundly funky as it celebrates the strength and growth that can emerge from times of struggle, while the bittersweet “Forgiveness” leans into the band’s R&B influences as it works to move on from pain and betrayal. The blistering “I’m Standing Here” (which features a mind bending guitar solo from Gary Clark Jr.) rushes headlong into the maelstrom.

The run-up to Lifted kicks off with “Come Back,” an infectious lovelorn plea over a hip-hop beat with hard rock energy. Though it’s a reckoning with loss and regret, “Come Back”—like much of the album—conveys a staunch resilience.

Trombone Shorty (born Troy Andrews) is a native of New Orleans’ Tremé neighborhood and got his start earlier than most, performing at Jazz Fest with Bo Diddley at age four and leading his own brass band at six. Since 2010, he’s released four chart-topping studio albums; collaborated across genres with Pharrell, Bruno Mars, Mark Ronson, Foo Fighters, ZHU, Zac Brown, Normani, Ringo Star and countless others; played Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Newport Folk, Newport Jazz, and nearly every other major festival; appeared on dozens of tv shows, and at the star-studded Sesame Street Gala, where he was honored with his own muppet. The New York Times has called him an “unstoppable force,” who recently made a cameo on The Simpsons, was profiled by Vanity Fair in 2021 and has been featured in campaigns for Crown Royal and Folgers.


Pre-Order Lifted

Eli Paperboy Reed Brings The Sweet Sounds Of Soul Music To The Songbook Of Merle Haggard

Eli Paperboy Reed Brings The Sweet Sounds Of Soul Music To The Songbook Of Merle Haggard

JD Nash

Listen to Eli Paperboy Reed’s take on “I’m Bringing Home The Good News” from Merle Haggard’s 1969 record ‘Pride In What I Am.’

Country and soul might seem worlds apart, but they come powerfully together on the new collection from Eli Paperboy Reed – Down Every Road (out April 29 on Yep Roc Records) – the “inspired and raw” (NPR) musician’s tribute to country legend Merle Haggard.

Best known as a soul shouter and balladeer, Reed returns with a twelve-song album that reveals country roots dating all the way back to his childhood. From those earliest days sifting through his father’s record collection, it was country music that first captivated Reed’s imagination…the voice of George Jones, the attitude of Waylon Jennings and, above all, the songwriting of Merle Haggard.

“It was so aggressively honest and edgy,” Reed remembers of first hearing Haggard. “He could get to the heart of these extraordinarily complicated emotional sentiments in two-and-a-half minutes, and that was something that really stuck with me.” Even years before his world-class education in the juke joints of Mississippi and gospel choirs of Chicago, it was Merle that first set this soulman on a path to becoming the lauded creator, interpreter and curator of American music he is today.

Down Every Road stems from an idea that Reed has contemplated since the earliest days of his career, setting Haggard favorites against the soul music that he’s become best-known for in his own celebrated work. Keeping almost all of the country legend’s original melodies and song structures intact, Reed brings fresh perspective by adding Pops Staples-inspired guitar, FAME production trademarks, Stax horns, ferociously cathartic vocals and organs conjuring Memphis soul. Ultimately, with this deferential but radically-reworked approach, he proves that the heart and guts and truth at the core of Merle Haggard’s songwriting defy genre altogether.

Listen to Reed’s take on “I’m Bringing Home Good News” from the country legend’s 1969 record Pride In What I Am. A tongue-and-cheek breakup anthem (the “good news” is he’s leaving town), Reed keeps the original’s song structure intact while trading Roy Nichols’ country leads for something that lives sonically between Muscle Shoals, Memphis and the South Side of Chicago. Reed hits an apex as a soul screamer vocally and brings the tune’s rapturous bliss to the forefront, especially when juxtaposed against Haggard’s more subdued delivery in the iconic original.

I really don’t think you can say enough about the intersection of country and soul music in American culture. In the 60’s and 70’s in particular, you had covers going both directions and becoming big hits with both black and white audiences, and that was because underneath all the labeling and the marketing, you had songs that spoke to something fundamentally human in all of us.

Developed alongside frequent musical partner Vince Chiarito (Black Pumas, Charles Bradley) and tracked live to tape at Brooklyn’s Hive Mind Recording with his longtime band of Mike Montgomery (bass) and Noah Rubin (drums), Down Every Road bristles with the same “urgent, electric energy” (Uncut) that’s helped Reed establish himself as one of the most compelling and consistent soul men of the 21st century. Alongside Down Every Road, Reed will share multiple additional projects this year that not only honor the past of American music, but also work to foster its future.


Eli Paperboy Reed
Pre-Order Down Every Road


*Feature image photo credit: Roberto Chamorro

Walter Trout Returns To The Road With US and European Tours

Walter Trout Returns To The Road With US and European Tours

American Blues Scene Staff

“It has been a long winter, and we are so looking forward to a new beginning performing our music for you all.” – Walter Trout

Walter Trout will stage several dozen appearances across the U.S. in the coming months. He’ll begin in Atlanta, GA on March 21, and continue for appearances also in May and July. His broader itinerary features several UK shows and many primary European festivals throughout the summer alongside participating in Joe Bonamassa’s Keeping The Blues Alive at Sea II from August 23-28 in the Mediterranean. Joining Walter on all U.S. appearances are Teddy “Zig-Zag” Andreadis on keys, Johnny Griparic on bass, and Michael Leasure on drums.

Photo © Alessandro Solca

It has been a long winter, and we are so looking forward to a new beginning performing our music for you all. I have been playing my guitar every day – preparing for this moment of once again being on stage with my amazing band and seeing you all out there!

Trout has been nothing short of prolific over the course of his seven decades on this Earth.  He has released 29 solo albums over a career that has spanned the globe and delivered notoriety as one of the great purveyors of the Blues and Blues Rock.  Trout’s history is equal parts thriller, romance, suspense and horror. There are musical fireworks, critical acclaim and fists-aloft triumph, offset by wilderness years, brushes with the jaws of narcotic oblivion, and the survival of an organ transplant few come back from.

From 1973, when he left his New Jersey home headed to Los Angeles, he has followed a road that afforded him an opportunity to just play, sharing the stage as a sideman with Jesse Ed Davis, Big Mama Thornton, John Lee Hooker, Lowell Fulson, Joe Tex, and of course the great John Mayall (following a three-year tenure in Canned Heat).

When Trout walked away from the Bluesbreakers, he embarked on a solo career that has yielded a catalogue that has established a deep legacy in the world of Blues, Americana, and the realm of revered singer-songwriters. While many would slow down as they approach their 71st birthday, Trout continues to deliver inspired recordings, performances, and a voice that articulates relevant ideology and insights  that inspires his deep perspective. There’s no autopilot emanating from Walter Trout, but a true a sense of growing momentum, elements of surprise, and repertoire that continues to be more compelling with each new creation.


Confirmed US appearances include:


3/21     Atlanta, GA                                                     City Winery

3/24     Durham, NC                                                  Blue Note Grill

3/26     Richmond, VA                                               The Tin Pan

3/27     Annapolis, MD                                              Rams Head On Stage

3/28     Sellersville, PA                                              Sellersville Theater

3/29     New York, NY                                                Sony Hall

3/30     Shirley, MA                                                    The Bull Run – SOLD-OUT

3/31     Pawling, NY                                                    Daryl’s House

4/01     Fairfield, CT                                                   StageOne at FTC

4/02     West Yarmouth, MA                                    The Music Room Gallery & Wine Bar

4/04     Alexandria, VA                                              The Birchmere

4/05     Warrendale, PA                                             Jergel’s Rhythm Grille

4/07     Old Saybrook, CT                                          The Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center

4/08     Northampton, MA                                         Iron Horse Music Hall

4/09     Plymouth, NH                                                The Flying Monkey Performance Center

5/05     Cincinnati, OH                                               The Ludlow Garage

5/06     St. Louis, MO                                                  Old Rock House

5/07     Kansas City, MO                                             Knuckleheads

7/28     Duluth, MN                                                     West Theatre

7/29     Minneapolis, MN                                           Dakota

7/30     Fargo, ND                                                       Fargo Blues Festival


Walter Trout


*Feature image © Alessandro Solca

Trudy Lynn Heralds Her 75th Birthday With ‘Golden Girl’

Trudy Lynn Heralds Her 75th Birthday With ‘Golden Girl’

American Blues Scene Staff

The eleven new tracks of classic R&B, Soul Blues and Torch songs find Lynn full of the fire and sass that first earned her attention and acclaim on the Houston music scene.

The words “powerhouse,” “charismatic,” “Diva” and “Dynamo” are often bandied about when describing talented female vocalists and performers, but few are more deserving of such accolades as thirteen-time Blues Music Award nominee, Trudy Lynn. On the eve of her 75th birthday and 57th year in show business, Lynn is set to release her 18th full length album Golden Girl.

The eleven new tracks of classic R&B, Soul Blues and Torch songs find Lynn full of the fire and sass that first earned her attention and acclaim on the Houston music scene. Lynn teamed up with Grammy nominated producer, songwriter, and original Rhythm Tramp Terry Wilson, for sessions in Houston and L.A. They recruited a set of A list players to flesh out the arrangements including guitarists Anson Funderburgh and Yates McKendree, drummer Brannen Temple, the vaunted Kevin McKendree on keys and horns from Darrel Leonard and Mario Calirewith Wilson himself holding down the bass line. Special guest Teresa James adds her Texas vocal flair to the album and old friend Steve Krase drops in his signature blues harmonica.

The opening track, “Tell Me,” is a rough and ready lo-fi modern funk rocker with gritty guitar from McKendree and Lynn lambasting her lover’s wandering ways. Lynn pokes fun at herself and the prat falls of aging on the shuffling “Golden Girl Blues,” a classic bit of vaudeville punctuated by bawdy horn jabs. The edgy guitar riff on “If The Phone Don’t Ring” has a distinct Albert Collins vibe with layers of horns and haunting harp from Krase. A slippery second line beat from Temple; greasy blues harp and a touch of roadhouse piano punctuates the sage advice from Lynn on “I’m Just saying.” She then explores the emotional depths of her alto on the soul ballad “Is It Cold In Here.” Krase kicks off the blues party “Trouble With Love” that features hot licks from Funderburgh and saucy barbs from Lynn.

The classic number “Take Me Back,” does exactly that, as the horn driven Joe Turner styled swinger hearkens back to early 50’s R&B. Wilson and Teresa James back up Lynn on the contemplative groover “Live With Yourself,” with a Reverend Al Green/Hi Records feel. A bouncy Bo Diddley beat fuels the dynamic examination of love on “Heartache Is A One Way Street,” and more great guitar from Funderburgh propels the Texas Blues “I Just Can’t Say Goodbye.” The slow blues lament “Life Goes On,” closes the set with passion, drama, and classic style.

Born Lee Audrey Nelms in Houston’s Fifth Ward, Trudy Lynn comes from strong musical stock. The late Al “TNT” Braggs, one of Houston’s most electrifying R&B vocalists and a songwriter for Bobby “Blue” Bland was her cousin. Growing up, she and her five siblings would gather on their porch to sing for the neighborhood. By high school, she was a member of the choirs and jazz groups, even joining Archie Bell as one of the Drells before they took off. Albert Collins was the first to get her on the stage while still in high school; after singing “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “Money,” Lynn knew she had found her calling.

After graduating from high school, Lee Audrey went to Lufkin, Texas. Her cousin took her out to a white venue, the Cinderella Club, where she made sure the club owner knew she could sing. When called to fill in for their regular singer, she needed a stage name. She saw the name “Trudy” amidst the other writings on the wall and Gloria Lynne and Barbara Lynn also inspired her new name.

In 1973, Sinett Records issued her debut 45 pairing “Long Live the Blues” and soul ballad “What A Waste,” produced by the late Oscar Perry. Her next entry into the studio was with producer Huey P. Meaux, the now-infamous Crazy Cajun, where they did a recut on the Monkees’ song “I’m A Believer.”

Lynn’s next label association was with Atlanta-based Ichiban Records. After doing a few gigs with her band, guitarist Gary B.B. Coleman, one of Ichiban’s primary artists and producers, recommended her. In 1989, Lynn’s Ichiban debut album Trudy Sings the Blues was released.

After European releases for Ruf and Isabel and Memories of You on Jus Blues in 2002, Lynn entered into another long-standing label relationship with Connor Ray Music. The late Jerry Lightfoot introduced her to label owner, harpist Steve Krase, and she was given the creative freedom to write new music while still recording select vintage covers. Her acclaimed Royal Oaks Blues Cafe (2013) reached #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart.

A thirteen-time Blues Music Award nominee, Lynn received two career-defining awards in 2019: the Living Legend Blues Award from the Houston Blues Society and the Jus’ Blues Music Foundation’s Willie Mitchell Lifetime Artist Award. Now, as her seventy-fifth birthday approaches, Ms. Trudy Lynn celebrates and asserts her position as The Golden Girl.


Trudy Lynn

Colin James Celebrates the ‘Open Road’ on Buddy Guy Tour

Colin James Celebrates the ‘Open Road’ on Buddy Guy Tour

Kevin Wierzbicki

“I’m excited and honored to play in front of such a legend in all of these fantastic venues. My job will be to prime the audience in the best way I can and try to help make it a memorable night of music.”

“Another day, a story told. Every life is an open road…” Those words from the title cut of the new Colin James album, Open Road, aren’t referring to being out on the highway; the song is about the path taken and the scars accrued and the lies endured along the way, and the effort not to repeat them. James couches the song in a somewhat swampy melody with a loping rhythm, playing eerie slide guitar riffs on the break, conjuring thoughts that maybe this particular bit of open road traverses some backwoods bayou.

Metaphor aside, Open Road can also be taken quite literally as James is about to embark on the 17-date Buddy Guy tour as the special guest of the vaunted blues man. Guy and James are not strangers. “I have shots of me and him playing in 1991 although I did my first shows with him before that,” says James. “I’m excited and honored to play in front of such a legend in all of these fantastic venues. My job will be to prime the audience in the best way I can and try to help make it a memorable night of music. I love my job!” 

Like most professional musicians, James had a rough time plying his trade during the worst of the pandemic. “After the shock of everything coming to a standstill so abruptly we started a little YouTube thing called On the Couch where I went through my album catalog and talked about the making of various records over the years,” James explains. “I would play a couple songs as well. We also did a couple of full band livestreams but they left you emptier than when you started. I guess the best thing about those shows was realizing that you could still play as a band after months of inactivity. That was reassuring.”

Also a product of the pandemic, Open Road is the 20th release for the Canadian guitarist and singer. Though James co-wrote a few songs on Open Road, most notably “Open Road” and the high lonesome look at mortality that is “Raging River,” the effort is comprised mostly of a well-chosen set of covers. Tony Joe White’s “As the Crow Flies” opens the record and James also interprets Albert King (the saxophone enhanced guitar fiesta “Can’t You See What You’re Doing to Me,”) Otis Rush (the swinging “It Takes Time”) and John Lee Hooker’s moaning Delta blues, “Bad Boy.” James also turns in a hopped-up cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.”

James recorded Open Road in Vancouver but the album received its final mix at the historic Abbey Road Studios in London. Unfortunately travel restrictions meant that James couldn’t be there in person. “The co-producer of my last three records, Dave Meszaros, lives in London and Abbey Road was a place he always wanted to mix at,” James says. “I sadly had to be there on Zoom alone so I did not experience it like I would have liked. But I was tremendously glad he mixed it at such an inspiring place.”

Photo credit: James O’Mara

The Buddy Guy tour featuring Colin James begins soon. Here are all of the dates:

3/13 The Saban Theater – Beverly Hills, CA

3/15 California Center for the Arts – Escondido, CA

3/16 Chandler Center for the Arts – Chandler, AZ

3/17 Rialto Theater – Tucson, AZ

3/19 House of Blues – Houston, TX

3/20 Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater – Austin, TX

3/22 House of Blues – Dallas, TX

3/25 Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre – Atlanta, GA

3/26 Ryman Auditorium – Nashville, TN            

3/27 Lexington Opera House – Lexington, KY

3/30 Count Basie Center for the Arts -Red Bank, NJ

3/31 Academy Center of the Arts- Lynchburg, VA

4/1 Paramount Arts Center- Ashland, KY

4/3 The Palace Theater- Greensburg, PA

4/6 The Wellmont – Montclair, NJ

4/7 NYCB Theatre – Westbury, NY

4/8 Kodak Center – Rochester, NY


Colin James


*Feature image credit: James O’Mara


Danielia Cotton Shares Cover of Charley Pride’s ‘Roll on Mississippi’

Danielia Cotton Shares Cover of Charley Pride’s ‘Roll on Mississippi’

Lauren Leadingham

New album ‘Good Day’ out March 18!

In celebration of Black History Month, Danielia Cotton honors a song of Pride… Charley that is. The singer-songwriter today released her rendition of Charley’s 1981 classic “Roll on Mississippi.” Charley, who is greatly remembered for his trailblazing spirit, made his Grand Ole Opry debut on January 7, 1967 as the first African-American solo singer to perform on the Opry. He became one of only three African-American members. 

Not that I can really pin down just one, but perhaps the finest example of Pride’s rich, soothing baritone is his performance of “Roll On Mississippi.” I grew up in Fort Basinger, Florida, both an Army military post and a ghost town along the banks of Kissimmee River, so the song always struck a personal chord of emotion. When the world was spinning madly around me, I needed a place to dream. “So I come to your banks, I sit in your shade…” I’d relive the memories and realize I’d been away too long. Often with this very song playing. 

Danielia injects her own brand of indie soul and Americana on her version, while also possessing the late great Charley’s dynamism. Her new album, Good Day, is set for a March 18th release date. Steeped in classic Motown and gritty rock and roll, the album proves Danielia’s versatility. 


Pre-save Good Day


*Feature image credit: Chia Messina 

Robin Trower Announces Album ‘No More Worlds To Conquer’

Robin Trower Announces Album ‘No More Worlds To Conquer’

American Blues Scene Staff

“This album is an evolution. I’m hoping that’s what is always happening with my music.”

The iconic Robin Trower will be releasing his new studio album, No More Worlds To Conquer, on April 29th via Provogue. Few would dispute that the title of Robin Trower’s latest album is a fair summary of the thumbprint he has left on the musical universe. But as he reminds us, it should not be misinterpreted as his mission being accomplished. “I definitely feel like I’m still reaching,” he considers, “with the guitar, and the songs, and everything else.”

For more than six decades, Robin Trower’s career has known no bounds. At the age of 76, the British guitarist can reflect on a journey in which he has planted flags across the musical sphere and played every role imaginable. He’s been the driving force behind Sixties icons Procol Harum. The transatlantic solo star who filled US stadiums with 1974’s Bridge Of Sighs. The collaborator and occasional supergroup member. The elder-statesman songwriter whose late period still crackles with invention.

Featuring vocals and bass from the late Jim Dewar – along with jaw-dropping guitar work from Trower that has influenced everyone from Steve Lukather to Opeth – the US-gold-selling Bridge Of Sighs is perhaps his flagship album. “With every album, it’s the best I can do at that particular time. I think that’s what it’s about. I set myself goals and each song has to live up to them,” he reflects.

 “What usually happens is that I’m playing the guitar for fun and an idea will suddenly appear,” he continues. “Then you’re looking for a lyric that grows out of the music and enhances the mood. it’s lovely when you’ve gone right the way through from the beginning of the first little guitar idea that grows into a song and eventually you get a track down and finished – and it’s something like how you heard it in your head.”

Turning once again to his trusty toolkit of Fender Stratocaster and Marshall amp, Trower’s guitar work is ageless, whether that’s the tough chop of “Ball Of Fire,” “Losing You and Cloud Across The Sun,” or the slower-burn wah squalls of the title track and “Deadly Kiss.” “Each track has to work as a sound,” he says, “as well as music and everything else. I’m very particular over guitar tones. I drive people mad, but in the end, it’s worth all the aggravation.”

On “Waiting For The Rain To Fall,” Trower’s playing is crystalline as a dew drop, while the aching finale, “I Will Always Be Your Shelter,” offers a solo whose masterful touch is compelling as anything in his catalogue. “That’s a real high point for the playing,” he nods. “And ‘Waiting For The Rain To Fall,’ I think is influenced by Tamla Motown. It’s a bit left-of-centre for me to do a song like that. But I think it’s potent stuff. I’m hoping this album will surprise people.”

Once again, Trower also handles bass duties, but as a lifelong servant of the song over his own ego, he didn’t hesitate to enlist other musicians. “Chris Taggart is on drums,” he explains. “He’s a wonderful drummer, and he’s done the last three or four albums. And I started to realize, after I’d tried to sing these songs myself, that I wasn’t vocally up to it. Richard Watts has done a great job on vocals. He’s got a fantastic instrument – such a soulful singer – and he’s willing to get it exactly how I’m hearing it in my head. The other great thing about having Richard is that there’s quite a few songs on this album that I wouldn’t be able to play and sing live at the same time.”

Yet Trower also addresses the contemporary problems in front of him. “There’s three or four songs there that cover what I’m thinking about. ‘The Razor’s Edge’ and ‘Cloud Across The Sun,’ those are definitely about my dissatisfaction with the politicians of the day, pointing the finger at the ones that don’t keep their promises. But then, with ‘Deadly Kiss,’ the lyric is someone talking to a friend who has become a junkie. There’s broken-hearted songs. There’s love songs. “

“It was difficult, but I’m glad I did it,” he considers. “This album is an evolution. I’m hoping that’s what is always happening with my music. There’s a huge step between ‘Bridge Of Sighs’ and now. It’s like anything. The more you work on it, in theory, the better you should be at it. And I definitely feel like this album is one of the best things I’ve ever done.”


Pre-order No More Worlds To Conquer

Peter Muller Tells Us Why There’s No Such Thing As Time

Peter Muller Tells Us Why There’s No Such Thing As Time

Bill Graham

Pete Muller will be releasing ‘SPACES’ in May and heading on a national tour, as he continues to manage his leading roles with impactful music organizations.

Pete Muller is a singer/songwriter who hails from Santa Barbara, CA. His passion for math is as great as his passion for music. So when he tells us, “There’s no such thing as time” – as he does in his video for “Tin Palace” – you could be forgiven if you expected some kind of marriage of math and music to explain the absence of time. It’s not that kind of marriage.

Pete uses his math skills in his day job guiding the mathematically driven investment fund, Process Driven Trading (PDT). And despite his declaration about the absence of time, he makes sure to create time for his music. His sound has been described as Americana with a rock and soul vibe.

The soft rock “Tin Palace” takes you to a place where time, if it exists at all, stands still. It is a place of pleasant moments, sunshine, gentle breezes, and memorable company. It is a place where sunshine gives way to “raindrops on the rooftop (that) make such a soothing sound.” Then you find yourself “dancing in the kitchen to soulful French music.” You can’t help but to feel mighty fine.

And then there is the memorable company in the person of Wendy. As the rain keeps on falling and the river rises, you sit with her sharing stories and making memories. They will be memories that sustain you and fill you with joy and contentment when you sit at a sidewalk café, drinking coffee, and taking a reminiscent trip back to the Tin Palace.

“Tin Palace” is the first single from Pete Muller’s latest album SPACES. Set to be released on May 20, it will be his fifth solo album and first since 2019’s Dissolve. He also released an album of covers in 2021 with The Kindred Spirits entitled The Sound. It featured such classics as “For What It’s Worth,” “I’m On Fire,” and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Video aside, the pleasure in his voice is unmistakable as he recalls of those most memorable of moments.

It has us hoping time won’t pass too slowly before the album debuts.

As a board member of The Live Music Society he has supported independent venues struggling in Covid times, and he’s partnered with the Berklee School of Music to save the legendary Power Station recording studio in NYC, which has hosted the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, David Bowie, and Bob Dylan.


Pete Muller

‘Ann Peebles + High Rhythm Live in Memphis’ To Be Released

‘Ann Peebles + High Rhythm Live in Memphis’ To Be Released

American Blues Scene Staff

‘Ann Peebles & the Hi-Rhythm Section Live in Memphis’ set for April 29th release

A stellar live performance by soul queen Ann Peebles, backed by many of the same musicians with whom she recorded the jewels of her catalog, was captured thirty years ago and is at last set for release. Memphis International Records presents Ann Peebles & the Hi Rhythm Section Live in Memphis on vinyl LP, CD and digital formats on April 29.  

The album, produced by David Less, is the only known live recording of Peebles and Hi Rhythm, the ensemble numbering a total of nine players behind Peebles as she offered her best known repertoire on the night of February 7, 1992 on a program billed “An Evening of Classic Soul.” 

Ann Peebles & the Hi Rhythm Section Live in Memphis includes such hits as “Part Time Love,” “Straight From The Heart,” “(You Keep Me) Hangin’ On,” “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down” and her pop crossover hit “I Can’t Stand The Rain,” among others.  

Peebles, now 75, recalled that evening. “It’s always great to perform in front of an audience; you build excitement as you go.” She notes that she, along with husband Don Bryant, had a hand in writing three of the album’s selections: “If I Can’t See You,” “Let Your Lovelight Shine” and “I Can’t Stand The Rain.” She remembers when Willie Mitchell, the legendary Hi Records producer first heard the song in 1973. “He said, ‘That’s a hit!’ and proceeded to record it almost immediately.” Numerous topflight artists including Tina Turner, Lowell George and Eruption went on to cover it over the years and it went on to make Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. “I Can’t Stand The Rain” was called “the best song ever” by John Lennon. It was heavily sampled by producer Timbaland for Missy Elliott’s debut 1997 single “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” illustrating Peebles’ impact on the hip-hop generation.    

Among those who played on the original session and others that Mitchell produced at Hi were Howard Grimes (drums), Leroy Hodges (bass) and Charles Hodges (keyboard). Those same musicians, as well as Thomas Bingham (guitar), David J. Hudson (background vocals), Tina Crawford (background vocals), John Sangster (saxophone), Anthony Royal (trumpet) and Dennis Bates (trombone), are heard on Ann Peebles & the Hi Rhythm Section Live in Memphis. This unique circumstance makes the forthcoming album a truly compelling audio document for the ages. 

Peebles, originally from St. Louis, has made her home in Memphis since those early Hi Records sessions and spoke of the thrill of performing before a hometown audience. Of “I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home,” one of the key tracks on the new album, she confides, “I got into it as if a movie was playing in my head.” Similarly, she spoke of “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down,” which was later covered by Paul Young, with whom she has a mutual admiration. “He told me, ‘I thought it was too haunting for me to do’,” but Ann, who thinks of herself as something of an actress, had no problem with it when she recorded it earlier. “You put yourself in the role, imagine how you would act in that kind of situation,” she notes. It’s a very convincing portrayal, as is the totality of Ann Peebles & the Hi Rhythm Section Live in Memphis.


*Feature image credit: © Center for Southern Folklore Archives, by Robert Jones

Genre-Blending Musician Shaboozey Strikes a New Chord With ‘Tall Boy’

Genre-Blending Musician Shaboozey Strikes a New Chord With ‘Tall Boy’

American Blues Scene Staff

“The ‘Tall Boy’ video was all about creating authentic moments and energy that match the song.” – Shaboozey

Virginia-bred, genre-blending (alt-country, americana, hip-hop, classic rock) artist Shaboozey shared the visuals for his latest single “Tall Boy.”

The music video follows Shaboozey entering a bar for a night of drinking and billiards that eventually turns into a rumbustious gathering. Beyond the surface, Shaboozey seamlessly injects his own morals and ideologies into his music as well. “Tall Boy” traverses topics of gender inequality, while masterfully mixing country and rap with memorable melodic choruses.

The ‘Tall Boy’ video was all about creating authentic moments and energy that match the song. We were able to shoot at Springwater in Nashville, the oldest bar in Tennessee, and flew in director of photography Mitchell Overton from Seattle to collaborate on the project.

To keep moments natural we pre-lit our scenes and ran long takes on steadicam in the middle of the action so the viewer felt like an attendee rather than a spectator. The video and song speak to working Americans, enduring the challenges life throws at them. At the end of the day, no matter how difficult things get, we could all use some Booze.

Rising multi-media artist Shaboozey intends to build his own world. Determined to carve his own lane in the Alt-Country / Hip-Hop space; he crafts a sound that pays homage to a cast of traditional Western influences, such as Bob Dylan, Lead Belly, Johnny Cash, and Leonard Cohen, while looking into the future of what the two genres have yet to introduce.

Remaining true to his Virginia roots, Shaboozey hopes to continue the region’s long-standing tradition of producing some of the most prolific creatives of the new millennium. This time through elevating the scope of contemporary hip-hop and introducing a modern Americana culture to a global audience.


*Feature image courtesy of Shore Fire Media

New Video of Unreleased Son House Song

New Video of Unreleased Son House Song

American Blues Scene Staff

“Upon hearing it, I was haunted by this particular Son House song and lyrics and thought about rumination, being a trace of one’s self lost in the eroded and overgrown lands of the past.” – Video Director Robert Schober

In December we reported the news of a new Son House album of previously unreleased tracks.

Forever On My Mind, from Easy Eye Sound, the independent label operated by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, is the premiere release from Dick 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.

Today, Easy Eye Sound released a video of the title track, a previously not-on-record song from the pre-World War II blues originator, Son House. Directed by Robert Schober, the video combines stark images with ghostly orbs and apparitions to make for a haunting visual.

Auerbach says:

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard the song.  To find out it was an unreleased song, it was a dream come true.  I’m still pinching myself.

Schober adds:

Upon hearing it, I was haunted by this particular Son House song and lyrics and thought about rumination, being a trace of one’s self lost in the eroded and overgrown lands of the past.

Edward James “Son” House Jr. (March 21, 1902 – October 19, 1988) was influenced by Charley Patton and actually preceded Robert Johnson, Skip James and Bukka White in helping define the Mississippi Delta blues.

“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. 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.

Forever On My Mind is scheduled for release on March 18th.

Justin Golden Bridges Blues, Soul, Americana on Debut Album

Justin Golden Bridges Blues, Soul, Americana on Debut Album

American Blues Scene Staff

Across twelve tracks, Justin Golden lays out a caution: be wary when things start going too well.

Blues isn’t just twelve bars and a hard luck story. On his debut record, Hard Times and a Woman (coming April 15, 2022), guitarist and songwriter Justin Golden showcases the full breadth of the genre and its downstream influences, everything from country blues to Americana, soul, indie roots and beyond.

Golden was raised on the Virginia coast and is steeped in the distinctive, fingerpicked Piedmont blues of the central part of the state. He’s studied country blues and can name any number of influences from Blind Boy Fuller to Taj Mahal, but his key inspirations have always come from the indie guitar realm, specifically friends like Phil Cook and Jo Roddy Walston, with a little Hiss Golden Messenger, Daniel Norgren, and Bon Iver mixed in and maybe a hint of James Taylor.

Recording his new album in the midst of the vibrant Richmond, VA scene, producer Chip Hale helped craft lush arrangements with Richmond artists around Golden’s classic Americana songwriting sensibilities. Fuzzed out guitar, keys, and harmonica meld with his deft fingerpicking and slow burning grooves.

Across twelve tracks, Golden lays out a caution: be wary when things start going too well. The lyrics of Hard Times and a Woman reference winning (and then losing) it all, heartbreak, and the harsh realities of being Black in America.

First picking up the guitar at age 19, Justin did what came naturally and let the music flow through him. With an extremely diverse musical palette, he aims to bring some new ideas to traditional blues forms.

Check out the first single from Hard Times and a Woman, “Ain’t Just Luck.”

The main phrase of this track is something I started saying to myself years ago as sort of a mantra to push through the hard times. Every time I felt like I was taking a step forward something knocked me back two, but ‘it ain’t just luck’ that I made it this far.

This track is basically my letter to myself acknowledging that I’m in some rough water, but I’m building towards something that will be worthwhile and that I wouldn’t let ‘the man’ or my feelings of impostor syndrome derail me. The line ‘I sold my soul for a slice of the life / Now I’m comin’ back round for another piece of the pie/ Feels like the devil’s the only one on my side’ is one of my favorites on the record. I did everything I could in order to make it this far, maybe even make a deal with the devil.

In addition to his work as a recording and performing artist, Golden maintains a busy teaching schedule and works with the non-profit The Rhapsody Project to provide community enrichment through anti-racist cultural heritage programs.


Justin Golden
Pre-Order Hard Times and a Woman


*Feature image photo credit: Joey Wharton

Stew Cutler Releases New Album, ‘The Blues From Another Angle’

Stew Cutler Releases New Album, ‘The Blues From Another Angle’

American Blues Scene Staff

“The blues is a beautiful form and there are so many flavors. It’s what makes American music sound American.” – Stew Cutler

We all live the blues, but some of us live for playing the blues. That would be Stew Cutler, a well-seasoned guitarist and composer who has spent the better part of four decades channeling the blues through his magical fingers. In fact, Cutler’s talent is so engulfing that he easily incorporates jazz, gospel, and R&B in his repertoire.

But the blues, well, the blues always take center stage. Cutler’s upcoming seventh studio album, cleverly titled The Blues From Another Angle, proves his immense dexterity for the revered musical genre. Throughout 11 tracks, Cutler and a cast of talented singers and players weave an intoxicating aura that immerses the listener from the first note.

The Blues From Another Angle, to be released April 22, was recorded at Hobo Sound in Hoboken, New Jersey during the early part of 2020. Produced by Stewart Lerman and engineered by Lerman and James Frazee, The Blues From Another Angle showcases a room full of top-notch musicians including drummer Bill McClellan, keyboardist Tom Wilson, bassist Booker King, saxophonist Steve Elson, and vocalists Bobby Harden and Mary Jean Cutler, Stew’s wife. Also showcasing their prowess on the album are guest artists Mike Stern blazing through a guitar solo on “Blews” and James Montgomery making the harmonica sing on “Say What You Mean.”

Among the many highlights on The Blues From Another Angle, most of which were written or co-written by Cutler, are: the scorching “Night Shift Blues,” which also features Cutler on lead vocals; a fiery cover of Tyrone Davis’ mega-hit “Can I Change My Mind,” featuring Bobby Harden on the microphone; the deliciously rhythmic “Get It While You Can,” featuring Mary Jean Cutler on lead vocals; a soulful instrumental, “The Passing of RR Moore,” that pays tribute to the late comedian-actor-singer Rudy Ray Moore; and the jazzy album-closer “Shine or Rain.”

Yet a Stew Cutler album is so much more than a collection of songs. This man has soaked up so many musical experiences that it’s head-spinning. Cutler has shared stages and recording studios with luminaries Z.Z. Hill (Cutler was only 19 at the time), Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett, Fontella Bass, Earl King, Jimmy Castor, David Sanborn, Bill Frisell, Meat Loaf, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Sweet Georgia Brown, and many more.

Through it all, Cutler has honored the blues.

The blues is a beautiful form and there are so many flavors. It’s what makes American music sound American.

Movies and television are also innately American, and Cutler has done both. He’s on the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s 2019 film, The Irishman, performing “How High the Moon.” That same year Cutler began his association with the Emmy Award-winning Amazon TV series, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Cutler is on the Maisel soundtrack for seasons 2 and 3, plus he’s on camera during an upcoming episode for season 4.

Cutler is part of the house band during a burlesque club scene. But in typical Hollywood fashion, his on-camera experience was not as eye-opening as you might think. “Unfortunately,” he says, “where I was sitting, I could never actually see any of the routines!”

Hey, it’s all good. Cutler brings the blues to the world one guitar lick at a time. The rest of us are here to soak it all in.

For a taste of Cutler in action check out his video for “Before I Go.”


Stew Cutler

Bobby Darin’s ‘Love Songs’ Compilation Out Now

Bobby Darin’s ‘Love Songs’ Compilation Out Now

American Blues Scene Staff

Bobby Darin left an indelible mark on the music industry and world of entertainment in his brief 37 years.

Today, Universal Music releases Bobby Darin’s Love Songs. The album is a digital compilation featuring recordings from Darin’s years with Capitol Records and Motown Records in the early 1960s, including “More” and “Call Me Irresponsible,” which was recently featured in the hit HBO show Euphoria.

Dodd Darin, son of singer and actor Bobby Darin and Hollywood Sweetheart Sandra Dee, also announces that he’s engaged the services of Brian Schwartz and Amy Abrams of Denver’s 7S Management for Estate representation. 

Of the arrangement, Dodd Darin says, “I’m very excited to be working with Amy Abrams and Brian Schwartz at 7S Management. They are young, super creative, and are always thinking outside the box. I feel they are a perfect fit to represent my Dad’s legacy going forward. They bring a very unique blend of experience and innovation from their representation of both legacy artists and current-day talent. They understand quite well the workings of the current day music industry and I think this will result in my Dad’s music and image finding its way to younger audiences around the world. There are some interesting things already in the works and I very much look forward to what’s just around the corner.”

Amy Abrams of 7S Management says, “Bobby Darin was a pioneer in early rock and roll who wrote his own songs when many artists didn’t, had the smarts to have ownership in his own publishing and master recordings, and tried his hand at all musical styles that interested him, evading the ‘crooner’ label that stuck with his early contemporaries.”

Bobby Darin left an indelible mark on the music industry and world of entertainment in his brief 37 years. From his early rock and roll hits, to his swinging interpretations of the great American Songbook, to his later forays into folk and country; he did it all and did it with conviction and passion. Darin was born Walden Robert Cassotto on May 14th, 1936 in the Bronx to a family of very modest means. At an early age, he developed rheumatic fever, which damaged the valves of his heart. He was a frail and sickly boy, and normal stickball in the streets or roughhousing with other kids his age was just not possible for him. One day he overheard the family doctor say to his mother Polly that “even with the best medical treatment and luck the boy probably won’t live to see age 20.” Friends and family later theorized that this medical revelation was what fueled the brash, arrogant, and intensely driven Darin to never suffer fools gladly or to waste a single moment. He was on borrowed time and he knew it.

Darin began to write songs and sing demos and hung around the famous Brill Building, which was the epicenter of music and creativity in New York City at that time. After a rough beginning to his recording career, the legendary Ahmet Ertegun gave Darin a chance at Atco Records. Darin’s song ”Splish Splash,” written in 15 minutes after a half-joking dare, would go to #3 on the charts. Other hits soon followed such as “Queen of the Hop,” and the beautiful Latin-flavored tune “Dream Lover,” which sold over a million copies and went to #2 on the charts. With regular appearances on the Dick Clark and Ed Sullivan Shows and regular touring gigs, Darin was beginning to fulfill his big dreams.

The 1959 album That’ s All launched Bobby Darin into another level of artistry, global fame, and critical acclaim. “Mack the Knife” reached #1 and stayed there for 10 weeks and sold over two million copies. “Beyond the Sea” reached #6 and may be the most well-known Darin song ever due to its constant usage in movies, ads, documentaries, and TV shows. Darin won a 1959 Record of the Year Grammy Award for “Mack the Knife” and a Grammy for best new artist. The album also put Darin into the adult/swing genre audience that helped elevate him from just a rock and roll singer. The early ’60s saw Darin perform to sellout crowds at the most prestigious nightclubs in the country, from the Copa in New York to the Flamingo in Las Vegas.

Darin began acting in film and met his future wife Sandra Dee on the film Come September in 1960. A seven-picture deal with Paramount showcased what a fine actor he was. His gritty performance with Sidney Poitier in the film Pressure Point brought critical acclaim. His role in the 1963 film “ Captain Newman M.D.” with Gregory Peck garnered him a best supporting Oscar nomination. Musically he ventured into folk/country music with songs he wrote such as “Things,” “You’re the Reason I’m Living,” and “18 Yellow Roses.” By 1964 Bobby Darin was at the pinnacle of the entertainment industry and had achieved many of the goals he had set out for himself. 

By 1968, Darin had become close with Senator Robert F. Kennedy and campaigned for him actively. He was with the Senator the day before he was killed in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968. This stunned Bobby to the core but an even more painful chapter was about to be revealed. RFK had spoken at length with Darin about his running for political office. Darin was serious about it and when his “sister” Nina heard about it she feared that if Darin got into politics the press would uncover a hidden bombshell. His beloved Polly, whom he so revered, was not his biological mother but actually his grandmother. Nina, whom he had known as his sister his entire life, was actually his biological mother. This revelation emotionally scarred Darin for the rest of his life. He was angry with Nina and he felt that his whole life had been a lie.

In the wake of a totally changed musical landscape, the death of RFK, and the revelation about his family, Bobby Darin sold all his possessions and moved into a trailer in Big Sur in northern California to reevaluate his life. He read voraciously, spent time with his son, and debated politics with friends who lived on the property with him. In 1968-69 he wrote and recorded two albums that covered issues such as civil rights, poverty, the Vietnam War, and the death of RFK. Gone were the super-polished Vegas act and the hipster swagger of a consummate showman. What replaced it was a man who was writing and singing about the issues the country was facing and what he personally was facing; turmoil. One of the songs from this period is one of Darin’s finest compositions, “Simple Song of Freedom.” The tune’s lyrics insightfully spoke of a country at war with itself. Singer Tim Hardin recorded it as well and had a nice hit with it. 

On December 20th, 1973 Darin underwent exploratory open-heart surgery. The doctors found a massive infection in his heart and he died hours after the surgery. He left his body to medical research in the hope he could help other people. He was 37 years old.

Darin was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1999 and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. Because Darin ventured into so many different genres, critics and sometimes the public had a hard time defining him or fully appreciating his talent. However, his work may best be understood in this quote from Neil Young given to LA Times journalist Robert Hilburn in 1990 “I used to get so mad and frustrated with Darin because he kept changing his musical style. Only later did I realize what a genius he was.”

The length of a man’s life is not what is important but rather what he leaves behind. Bobby Darin left us an amazing body of work that has stood the test of time and will be enjoyed forever.

Love Songs

Naked Gypsy Queens Release Debut EP ‘Georgiana’

Naked Gypsy Queens Release Debut EP ‘Georgiana’

American Blues Scene Staff

“I knew we could make music that drew in other people our age, while still appealing to those who grew up with this kind of music.” – Bo Howard, Naked Gypsy Queens bassist.

Staking their claim as the new heavyweights of rock & roll’s modern-day renaissance, the Tennessee quartet Naked Gypsy Queens have just released Georgiana, their debut EP, out now via Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group. Rooted in amplified blues, hard-charging grooves, and dual lead guitars, the band builds upon the larger-than-life sound of their heroes from the 1960s and ’70s, keeping the flame burning for old-school hard rock while using their own 21st century fuel.

“Georgiana is our first introduction into the world and it was important to us to recreate a raw live experience with this record,” commented drummer Landon Herring. “We feel these songs say everything you need to know about NGQ and we’re so excited to share them with the fans.”

Formed while all four members were still in high school, Naked Gypsy Queens built their audience the blue-collar way: by plugging in, turning up, and playing out. They cut their teeth on the classics — the Rolling Stones, MC5, the Allman Brothers, and Pink Floyd — and funneled those influences into their own songs, creating an original sound that was loud, aggressive, and filled with supersized hooks. After developing a loyal following in their hometown of Franklin, TN, they set their sights on Nashville, quickly becoming one of the city’s premiere rock acts before any of the bandmates had turned 20 years old.

“Our goal was to become the baddest live band around,” says frontman Chris Attigliato, who shares guitar duties with Cade Pickering. “We were loud. We were a band you had to see onstage. It started to become a cult thing, with lines forming around the block at some venues. We weren’t trying to achieve the highest number of digital streams; we were just doing what we wanted to do, and making the music we wanted to make. As it turned out, we were pushing some buttons, too.”

With Georgiana, the band confidently steps into the international spotlight. These songs mix southern-fried swagger, electrified stomp, and sharp songwriting into five unique anthems, showcasing the chemistry between Attigliato, Pickering, bassist Bo Howard, and drummer Landon Herring. “Georgiana,” released earlier this year, is a barn-burning anthem punctuated by slide guitar and thundering drums. Rounded out by the dynamic power ballad, “If Your Name is New York (Then Mine’s Amsterdam),” the riff-based single “Down to the Devil,” and the thumping “Strawberry Blonde #24,” Georgiana shows the full range of Naked Gypsy Queens’ reach. It’s a snapshot of a band on the rise.

“We’ve got an older sound, mixed with something new,” says Howard, who remembers stumbling across Attigliato and Herring in the basement of the boys’ Tennessee high school, bashing their way through Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” with beyond-their-years skill. “From the first time I met these guys, I knew I had to play with them. I knew we could make music that drew in other people our age, while still appealing to those who grew up with this kind of music.”

Watch the visualizer for the latest single “Wolves,” a guitar-driven blast of minor-key bombast.

With a sound that reaches across generations, Naked Gypsy Queens bridge the divide between the genre’s past and future, creating timeless rock & roll for the modern world. Led not only by Chris’ soulful howl, but also the sonic punch of a taught rhythm section and the interlocked riffs of two lead guitarists, Naked Gypsy Queens are royalty in the making.

Georgiana is available in LP and digital formats. The digital version includes a live bonus performance of the title track.


Naked Gypsy Queens

Memphis Groove Master Howard Grimes Dead at 80

Memphis Groove Master Howard Grimes Dead at 80

JD Nash

The laundry list of soul/blues luminaries for whom Howard Grimes played reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of Memphis celebrities.

Legendary Memphis drummer Howard Grimes died on Saturday, February 12th, of kidney failure at Saint Francis Hospital in Memphis. His death was confirmed by his Bo-Keys bandmate, Scott Bomar.

Born at home in Memphis on August 22nd, 1941, Grimes’ mother was only 16, and he never knew his father. The neighborhood where he grew up, New Chicago in North Memphis had dirt roads, but folks gathered in the parks on weekends, unafraid. His masonic grandfather, and a man named Leroy Grimes who gave Howard his name had a lot to do with his early upbringing, as did his Aunties who watched over him since birth.

Grimes’ uncle Chris had a cafe in the neighborhood, just down the street from Fat Man’s Cafe where BB King and Bobby “Blue” Bland would come to play. A bit further down was a club owned by Mr. Eli where Big Joe Turner, Little Richard and Ray Charles would hold musical court. Music was everywhere, and that music was the blues.

Howard first heard the rhythm from a local high school band drumline, then later in the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church where the sound of people rocking their feet blended with the organ. It wasn’t long before his cousin’s boyfriend, who drove a taxi during the day and played drums on Beale Street at night, was teaching him the beat. Grimes joined a local drum and bugle corps, and later learned more from the Manassas band director, Mr. Able.

His cousins would sneak young Howard into the local clubs so he could watch the drummers. He absorbed everything he saw and heard like a sponge, but always keeping Mr. Able’s instruction, “no showing off, keep it tight,” in his mind. He played his first gig at the Rivermont Club, which his uncle managed, at age 12.

Howard went to high school with Isaac Hayes, who introduced him to Jim Stewart, founder of Satellite Records, which would later become Stax. The first track he recorded there was the hit song “Cause I Love You,” by Rufus and Carla Thomas with Booker T. Jones on baritone sax. That was the beginning of a career that lasted the rest of his life, and put Howard Grimes in the mix with the biggest names in blues and soul.


The laundry list of soul/blues luminaries for whom Grimes played reads like a Who’s Who of Memphis celebrities. Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, William Bell, Marvin Gaye, Bo Diddley, Willie Mitchell, Ann Peebles, Al Green, Syl Johnson, Denise LaSalle, Otis Clay, Slim Harpo, Robert Cray, and Grimes’ personal favorite, O.V. Wright, are just a handful of folks for whom Howard laid down beats that were so tight, and so in-the-pocket, that Mitchell gave him the nickname “Bulldog,” because he would just clamp down on it.

In his 2021 autobiography, Timekeeper – My Life in Rhythm, Grimes tells the story of being the first black artist ever to perform at the coliseum in Montgomery, Alabama while on tour with Paul Revere and the Raiders; much to the chagrin of then Governor George Wallace. There were corrupt label practices that left him broke and living with his mother even while playing on million-selling records. There was the night when he was hit on by Faye Dunaway after playing a gig at the Troubador, and the near-fatal accident that left Grimes OK, but rumors of his, and the band’s deaths beat them back to Memphis. He was in the studio recording with Al Green when they received the news that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated just blocks away.

On July 21st of last year, Grimes was honored at the Stax Museum to celebrate his autobiography, and his life. Museum Executive Director Jeff Kollath said, “He is such an instrumental part of the history, not just of this place, not just of Royal Studios… but Memphis music in general,” before presenting Howard with a mayoral proclamation declaring July 21, 2021, as Howard Lee Grimes Day in Memphis and Shelby County.

Some of his most memorable appearances include “A Nickel and a Nail and Ace of Spades,” with O.V. Wright; “Let’s Stay Together,” with Al Green; “Part Time Love,” with Anne Peebles; “Diamond in the Rough,” with Syl Johnson; “Hope You Love Me like You Say You Do,” with Otis Clay; “Trapped By a Thing Called Love,” with Denise LaSalle; and Cyndi Lauper’s 2010 smash hit album, Memphis Blues.

Howard Grimes was the literal back-beat of Memphis, if not the city’s backbone. His music touched the lives of millions. Howard probably said it best:

My beat is the backbone of the Memphis sound. The rhythm of this city runs through my heart. I’m connected to the music in this city. The old masters I played with, that I came up under, they told me to listen to them, to tell what’s happened and remember. They told me to tell the truth for them after they’ve gone.

*Feature image: Michael Kerr

Big Al & The Heavyweights Release Album ‘Love One Another,’ Share Title Track Video

Big Al & The Heavyweights Release Album ‘Love One Another,’ Share Title Track Video

American Blues Scene Staff

‘Love One Another’ is released today via Vizztone!

New Orleans based drummer Al Lauro joined the touring band of Southern Rock star David Allan Coe in the late 70s. During his six years with Coe he acquired the nickname Big Al, and became good friends with the band’s guitarist, Warren Haynes. He and Warren started a side project called the Unknown Blues Band, which played off and on for a few years, after which Big Al decided to form his own band, Big Al and the Heavyweights.

Big Al and the Heavyweights became an acclaimed touring band and released six albums since 1998. The Heavyweights currently include Al Lauro on drums, Louisiana Music Hall of Fame piano player/vocalist Wayne Lohr, guitarist/vocalist extraordinaire Marcel Anton, and rock solid bassist/vocalist Mark Parsons.

Their new album, Love One Another, was recorded at Suite Mix Studios in Slidell, Louisiana, and produced by the band and George Curreau, noted for his work with the Funky Meters, and features special guests guitarist Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars) and blues harmonica virtuoso, former bandmate Jason Ricci.

From beginning to end, this album represents the band’s most adventurous and eclectic recording, full of blues and a little country, well-crafted songs and dynamic performances. Check out the video for the title track!

Order Love One Another

The Blues Foundation Announces 43rd Blues Music Award Nominees

The Blues Foundation Announces 43rd Blues Music Award Nominees

American Blues Scene Staff

The BMAs honor the past year’s exceptional achievements in blues music recording, performance, and songwriting, as well as supporting the blues rich cultural traditions.

An impressive assembly of blues music masters, ranging from Blues Hall of Famers to rising stars, will gather in Memphis on Thursday, May 5th, for the 43rd Annual Blues Music Awards. Presented by The Blues Foundation, the BMAs honor the past year’s exceptional achievements in blues music recording, performance, and songwriting, as well as supporting the blues rich cultural traditions. This celebratory evening is recognized internationally as the blues world’s premier event brings nominees to town and many on stage to perform.

Blues Music Award Trophies Photo: J Skolnick

The event takes place at Memphis’ Renasant Convention Center, (255 North Main Street), where a Blue Carpet will lead to the theater. The Blue Carpet pre-show commences at 5pm. Tickets range from individual seats for $150 to Premium tables (seats 10) for $1800.

Topping the list of talented BMA contenders is Tommy Castro, with five nominations, B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year, Band of the Year (with The Painkillers), Contemporary Blues Album, and Blues Rock Artist. Castro previously won Band of the Year (2010), B.B. King Entertainer of the Year (2008 & 2010), was a two-time winner for Contemporary Blues Album (2010, 2008), as well as winning Contemporary Blues Male Artist (2010). This is Castro’s fourth nomination for the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award and his first nomination for Album of the Year.

And behind Tommy Castro in the nomination count is Tom Hambridge and Chris Cain, each receiving four nominations. Hambridge is up for Instrumentalist – Guitar, and has three entries for Song of the Year, a win he previously captured with a track co-written with Buddy Guy. Finishing the quadruplet nominations is Cain, with nods in both Contemporary categories (Male Artist and Blues Album). Further, this is Cain’s third nomination for Instrumental – Guitar and first nomination for Album of the Year (Raisin’ Cain).

Some of the past winners hoping to reclaim awards are Sugaray Rayford (B.B. King Entertainer of the Year), Eric Bibb (Acoustic Blues Artist), Mike Zito (Blues Rock Album), Kingfish (Contemporary Blues Album), Keb’ Mo’ (Acoustic Blues Artist), Ruthie Foster (Contemporary Blues Female Artist), Kim Wilson (Instrument – Harmonica), Danielle Nicole (Instrumentalist – Bass), and Kenny Neal (Contemporary Blues Male Artist).

Mike Finnigan, who passed away last August, was posthumously nominated for the Pinetop Perkins Player Award (Instrumentalist – Piano). In addition, Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra have been nominated for Album of the Year and Soul Blues Album for Not In My Lifetime. Walker passed in 2019 just three days after finishing the album’s recording session.

The International Blues Challenge (IBC), taking place this year from May 6-9, has proved to be a fertile breeding ground for up-and-coming blues artists. Previous IBC winners nominated for this year’s Blues Music Awards include Altered Five Blues Band, Selwyn Birchwood, Eden Brent, Kevin Burt, Zac Harmon, Diunna Greenleaf, Dave Keller, Dave Keyes, Mr. Sipp, J.P. Soars, Gabe Stillman, GA-20’s Matt Stubbs, and Jontavious Willis. Freshman BMA nominees who once competed as IBC Solo/Duo Challengers are Veronica Lewis and Memphissippi Sounds. Lewis is also the youngest nominee this year at just 18 years old.

The night before the BMAs, The Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony takes place Wednesday, May 4, 2022, at Memphis’ Halloran Centre at the Orpheum (225 South Main Street). Following a 5:30pm cocktail reception, the inductions begin at the Halloran Theater. Tickets, which include ceremony and reception admission, begin at $75 each and, as with any other musical event or charitable donation, they are non-refundable. The 2022 class of inductees will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Blues Foundation enlists a group of approximately 100 blues nominators who work extensively in all areas of the blues industry. This includes individuals with blues expertise as producers, engineers, radio DJs, journalists, academics, club owners, promoters and others with a deep knowledge of blues music. The identity of the nominators is not made public in order to protect them from outside influences. Nominators must recuse themselves from any categories in which they have a conflict of interest.

The nominators work through two rounds in order to come up with between four and six final nominees in each category. During the first round, each nominator distributes 6 total points to their top choices within each category, with no more than 2 total points given to any single entry. The top entries in each category move into Round 2. The Blues Foundation does not publicize which recordings and/or artists move to Round 2. The nominators then repeat the point distribution for each category in a second round ballot and those artists and recordings receiving the most total points in each category become the final Nominees for Blues Music Awards.

The complete list of Blues Music Award nominees can be found below. The ballot will be open for voting to current Blues Foundation members only until 11:59 pm CST on Friday, March 18th. To become a Blues Foundation member, visit Upon membership confirmation, new and renewing members will be sent instructions on how to access the 2022 Blues Music Awards Ballot.

B.B. King Entertainer of the Year
Tommy Castro
Eric Gales
Mr. Sipp
J.P. Soars
Sugaray Rayford

Album of the Year
Holler If You Hear Me, Altered Five Blues Band
Not In My Lifetime, Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra
Pinky’s Blues, Sue Foley
Raisin’ Cain, Chris Cain
Tommy Castro Presents A Bluesman Came To Town, Tommy Castro

Band of the Year
Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra
J.P. Soars and the Red Hots
Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials
Sugaray Rayford Band
Tommy Castro & The Painkillers

Song of the Year
“Fragile Peace and Certain War,” Written & Performed by Carolyn Wonderland
“Holler If You Hear Me,” written by Jeff Schroedl & Mark Solveson (performed by Altered Five Blues Band)
“I’d Climb Mountains,” Written & performed by Selwyn Birchwood
“Real Good Lie,” written by Christine Vitale, Larry Batiste & Anthony Paule (performed by Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra)
“Somewhere,” written by Tommy Castro & Tom Hambridge (performed by Tommy Castro & The Painkillers)

Best Emerging Artist Album
GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It… You Might Like It!, GA-20
Just Say The Word, Gabe Stillman
Live On Beale Street: A Tribute To Bobby “Blue” Bland, Rodd Bland and the Members Only Band
Welcome To The Land, Memphissippi Sounds
You Ain’t Unlucky, Veronica Lewis

Acoustic Blues Album
Dear America, Eric Bibb
Land of the Sky, Catfish Keith
Let’s Get Happy Together, Maria Muldaur
Let Loose These Chains, Hector Anchondo
The Trio Sessions, EG Kight

Blues Rock Album
Alafia Moon, Damon Fowler
Dance Songs For Hard Times, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
Resurrection, Mike Zito
Tinfoil Hat, Popa Chubby
Unemployed Highly Annoyed, Jeremiah Johnson

Contemporary Blues Album
662, Kingfish
Damage Control, Curtis Salgado
Holler If You Hear Me, Altered Five Blues Band
Raisin’ Cain, Chris Cain
Tommy Castro Presents A Bluesman Came To Town, Tommy Castro

Soul Blues Album
Let’s Have A Party, Gerald McClendon
Long As I Got My Guitar, Zac Harmon
Not In My Lifetime, Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra
You Get What You Give: Duets, Dave Keller
You Gotta Have It, Tia Carroll

Traditional Blues Album
Be Ready When I Call You, Guy Davis
Bob Corritore & Friends: Spider In My Stew, Bob Corritore
Boogie w/ R.L. Boyce (Live), R.L. Boyce
Little Black Flies, Eddie 9V
Pinky’s Blues, Sue Foley

Acoustic Blues Artist
Eric Bibb
Kevin Burt
Guy Davis
Doug MacLeod
Keb’ Mo’

Blues Rock Artist
Albert Castiglia
Tommy Castro
Tinsley Ellis
Ana Popovic
Joanne Shaw Taylor

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Vanessa Collier
Thornetta Davis
Ruthie Foster
Danielle Nicole
Carolyn Wonderland

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Selwyn Birchwood
Chris Cain
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Kenny Neal
Mr. Sipp

Soul Blues Female Artist
Annika Chambers
Trudy Lynn
Terrie Odabi
Kat Riggins
Vaneese Thomas

Soul Blues Male Artist
William Bell
Don Bryant
John Nemeth
Johnny Rawls
Curtis Salgado

Traditional Blues Female Artist
Rory Block
Sue Foley
Rhiannon Giddens
Diunna Greenleaf
EG Kight

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Cedric Burnside
Super Chikan
Taj Mahal
Sugar Ray Norcia
Jontavious Willis

Instrumentalist – Bass
Willie J. Campbell
Larry Fulcher
Jerry Jemmott
Scot Sutherland
Danielle Nicole

Instrumentalist – Drums
Danny Banks
June Core
Tom Hambridge
Derrick D’Mar Martin
Chris Peet

Instrumentalist – Guitar
Christoffer “Kid” Andersen
Chris Cain
Laura Chavez
Anson Funderburgh
Eric Gales
J.P. Soars

Instrumentalist – Harmonica
Billy Branch
Bob Corritore
Jason Ricci
Brandon Santini
Kim Wilson

Instrumentalist – Horn
Mindi Abair
Jimmy Carpenter
Marc Franklin
Regi Oliver
Nancy Wright

Instrumentalist – Piano
Eden Brent
Mike Finnigan
Dave Keyes
Veronica Lewis
Jim Pugh

Instrumentalist – Vocals
Thornetta Davis
Ruthie Foster
John NemethTomm
Sugaray Rayford
Curtis Salgado

Major funding for the 43rd Blues Music Awards is provided by ArtsMemphis, Tennessee Arts Commission, and Memphis Tourism. Special thanks to partners Memphis Airport Authority and DittyTV.

Ticket sales are now open and can be purchased by clicking here.


The Blues Foundation

Funk Queen Betty Davis (July 26, 1944 – February 9, 2022)

Funk Queen Betty Davis (July 26, 1944 – February 9, 2022)

American Blues Scene Staff

Her raw and revelatory style defied any notions that women can’t be visionaries in the music world

At 4:40 a.m. EST on February 9, 2022, visionary singer, songwriter, producer, and fashion icon Betty Mabry Davis began her eternal rest. 

Connie Portis, Davis’ friend of 65 years, says, “It is with great sadness that I share the news of the passing of Betty Davis, a multi-talented music influencer and pioneer rock star, singer, songwriter, and fashion icon. Most of all, Betty was a friend, aunt, niece, and beloved member of her community of Homestead, Pennsylvania, and of the worldwide community of friends and fans. At a time to be announced, we will pay tribute to her beautiful, bold, and brash persona. Today we cherish her memory as the sweet, thoughtful, and reflective person she was…There is no other.” 

One can hardly imagine Prince, Erykah Badu, or Outkast without the influence of Betty Davis. Her style of raw and revelatory punk-funk defies any notions that women can’t be visionaries in the worlds of rock and pop. In recent years, rappers from Ice Cube to Talib Kweli have rhymed over her intensely strong but sensual music. Davis penned the song “Uptown (to Harlem)” for The Chambers Brothers and wrote the tunes that got The Commodores signed to Motown. The Detroit label soon came calling, pitching a Motown songwriting deal, which Davis turned down. Motown wanted to own everything. Heading to the U.K., Marc Bolan of T. Rex urged the creative dynamo to start writing for herself. 

Credit: Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

A common thread throughout Davis’ career was her unbending DIY ethic, which made her quickly turn down anyone who didn’t fit with the vision. She would eventually say no to Eric Clapton as her album producer, seeing him as too banal. In 1968, she married Miles Davis and quickly influenced him on the magic of psychedelic rock along with introducing him to Jimi Hendrix—personally inspiring the classic album, Bitches Brew. She left the marriage, determined to carve her own path in the music industry. A pioneer as a music producer, songwriter and vocalist, Davis’ album credits include Betty Davis, They Say I’m Different, Nasty Gal, Is This Love or Desire and Crashin’ From Passion

Davis died in Homestead, Pennsylvania, where she had lived since the age of ten. Davis participated in talent shows at the Homestead Community Center, attended Park Place AME Church, and graduated from Homestead High School before embarking on dual careers in modeling and the music business. After graduating from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Davis worked as a model for Wilhelmina. She was one of the first Black models to be featured in Glamour and Seventeen, and she worked for designers Halston, Betsey Johnson, Norma Kamali, and Stephen Burrows. Off the runway, Davis defied genre and gender by pushing her voice to extremes and embracing the erotic. She articulated a kind of pre-punk, funk-blues fusion that had yet to be normalized in mainstream music – a style that few musicians have come close to replicating. As one of the first Black women to write, arrange, and produce her own albums, Davis was raw, unapologetic, and in full control, a visionary who disregarded industry boundaries and constraints.

In the 2000s, Davis was rediscovered by a new generation of fans, including John Ballon, who was instrumental in reviving her catalog of music via reissues on Light in the Attic Records, a project that received Davis’ full support. She also inspired a new generation of artists. Afrofuturist singer/actor Janelle Monae credits Davis as “one of the godmothers of redefining how Black women in music can be viewed,” noting that “she’s opened up a lot of doors for artists like myself.” Peaches describes Davis as “the original – in control, a sexual powerhouse and a vocal inspiration.” Erykah Badu adds, “We just grains of sand in her Bettyness.” 

More recently, Davis’ music was featured in television series such as Orange Is the New Black, Girlboss, Mixed-ish, and High Fidelity. Davis herself was the subject of a 2017 documentary film, Betty: They Say I’m Different. “Uptown (to Harlem),” her initial songwriting coup, was featured in Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s 2021 Academy Award-nominated documentary Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised). In late 2022, Light in the Attic will reissue Davis’ final, and personal favorite, studio album Crashin’ From Passion.  

Light in the Attic’s Matt Sullivan says, “Our hearts are incredibly heavy today. Betty has been the guiding light in everything we do at Light in the Attic. Her unbending DIY ethic and groundbreaking spirit will live on forever. We are going to miss her so much.”


*Feature image credit: Robert Brenner


Fantastic Negrito Announces New Album & Film ‘White Jesus Black Problems’

Fantastic Negrito Announces New Album & Film ‘White Jesus Black Problems’

American Blues Scene Staff

3x GRAMMY winner Fantastic Negrito embarks on ancestral journey and uncovers unlikely love story on most ambitious project to date, ‘White Jesus Black Problems,’ studio album and film out June 3

Three-time Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, musician and activist Fantastic Negrito (neé Xavier Dphrepaulezz) announces his most ambitious project to date, White Jesus Black Problems, out June 3 via his own label, Storefront Records.

To accompany the full-length studio album, Fantastic Negrito created an entire companion film set to the music. White Jesus Black Problems was written, recorded, and filmed in Oakland, where the artist grew up and currently resides.

The multi-media work is based on the true story of Negrito’s seventh generation white Scottish grandmother (Grandma Gallamore), an indentured servant, living in a common law marriage with his seventh generation African American enslaved grandfather (Grandfather Courage); in open defiance of the racist, separatist, laws of 1750s colonial Virginia.

The album and film’s first official single “Highest Bidder” is a confluence of so much, tackling themes of racism, capitalism, and the very meaning of freedom itself in a provocative fashion. Ranging from African rhythms to Delta blues, the new track traverses genres, all while examining the inner workings of society, where any and everything is up for sale.

The music video follows Fantastic Negrito – wearing one of his signature eccentric outfits – as he displays the wants of human nature and what people will pay to acquire them; whether it be the best cars, the best weapons, the best food, the best servants or the best sex, everything goes to the “Highest Bidder.”

That song’s as true today as it’s ever been. The Egyptians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Americans, everything goes to the highest bidder. It’s human nature. People always want to have the best.

It’s all predicated on extracting the most out of other people for the least. In this country, we worship billionaires while parts of some cities look like what we’d call the third world. I’m trying to convey what I see when I walk down the street here in Oakland.

Over the course of a little more than a year, Negrito wrote nearly 50 tracks inspired by Gallamore and Grandfather Courage, eventually whittling the collection down to a mix of 13 songs and interludes that captured the struggle and triumph of the couple’s story. For the first time ever, he recorded the core of each song live in the studio with his drummer, James Small (who also plays Grandfather Courage in the film), before later layering up additional instruments on his own and bringing in outside collaborators like bassist Cornelius Mims, guitarist Masa Kohama, keyboardist Lionel LJ Holoman, and cellist Mia Pixley.

Fantastic Negrito broke onto the national radar by winning the inaugural NPR Tiny Desk Contest in 2015. Since then, he has gone on to win the Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy-Award for each of the three albums he has released: The Last Days of Oakland (2017), Please Don’t Be Dead (2019), and Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? (2020).

Fantastic Negrito has a truly enthralling story rooted in struggle and strife: from the highs of a million-dollar record deal to the lows of a near fatal car accident that left him in a coma, permanently damaging his guitar playing hand and changing his outlook on life. Outside of music, Xavier puts his socially progressive lyrics into action. He created Storefront Market, a marketplace free of charge to the public, featuring vendors representing the community of West Oakland and surrounding neighborhoods. He runs his own urban farm Revolution Plantation, where he teaches the surrounding community to garden – an effort to pass on practices that can sustain local neighborhoods and our planet alike, while connecting with his newly discovered Free Negro Farmer ancestors.

Over the summer, Fantastic Negrito released single “Rolling Through California,” a “twangy, country-soul groove” (New York Times) rallying cry that calls for solidarity and collective action in the wake of drought, water management challenges, accelerating climate change, and the growing calamity of California’s annual fire season. Recorded at his own Storefront Records studio in Oakland, the track features a powerful backing vocal performance from fellow Bay-Area artist Miko Marks.

Fantastic Negrito
Pre-Order White Jesus Black Problems


*Feature image courtesy of Shore Fire Media

Watch: Buddy Guy Shares Trailer for Upcoming Documentary, ‘The Torch’

Watch: Buddy Guy Shares Trailer for Upcoming Documentary, ‘The Torch’

Lauren Leadingham

“He’s the one who created a certain frequency, a certain vocabulary.” – Carlos Santana on Buddy Guy

An upcoming documentary about blues phenom Buddy Guy, The Torch, will highlight his remarkable career and his role as mentor to younger generations of musicians. The film will open in select theaters on March 18th. Director Jim Farrell told Rolling Stone that The Torch was inspired by a pact Guy made with one of his own mentors, Muddy Waters: “Last man standing, don’t let the blues die.”

The Torch indeed delves into his biography and his fruitful mentoring relationships with Quinn Sullivan and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, as Muddy and Howlin’ Wolf had with him. “Our aim in The Torch was to showcase Buddy’s brilliance and collaborative generosity onstage, while also achieving a fly on the wall intimacy for those backstage moments where he shares his vast life experiences,” Farrell continued. 

Quinn Sullivan first played guitar on stage with Buddy at age seven. “He never told Quinn what to play or how to play it. He simply shared his stage and audience and gave Quinn enough leash to figure it out on his own. A lot of artists promote the younger generation, and Buddy has done it with other artists, but I’d never heard of anyone doing it to this level. He brought Quinn around the world for more than 10 years and put him on some of the biggest stages, without any expectation of payback.” 

In an interview with Sullivan, he told ABS:

Buddy taught me to give 110% of everything you have on stage every night. He never said those words to me, but just playing with him for years, that just became apparent, and I’ve seen him do that every night. There were nights when he may not have been feeling well. He was tired or whatever that was, but when he hit the stage, all that goes away.

And he just turns into Buddy Guy, the showman, and the guitar player everybody loves. And yeah, that’s sort of what rubbed off on me, and every time I go on stage, I think about that, you know? And it’s just something I hold close to me. So, I think you just want to give it the best you’ve got every time.

Also appearing on the The Torch is “The Long, Hard Road,” which came to be after Farrell asked producer Tom Hambridge if Buddy could create a song that “captures the spirit of their relationship” as well as the lessons he imparts. A snippet can be heard in the trailer below.

*Feature image credit: ABS’s Phil Solomonson / Philamonjaro Studio

Listen: Singer-Songwriter and Guitarist David Owen Previews New Album With ‘Stella Marie’

Listen: Singer-Songwriter and Guitarist David Owen Previews New Album With ‘Stella Marie’

Sarah French

‘Oh Suzana Blues,’ due out April 15, is produced by guitarist extraordinaire and blues legend Colin Linden.

Recorded in Nashville, David Owen’s latest and best yet recording, Oh Suzana Blues, celebrates the popular entertainer and respected acoustic-blues veteran’s triumphant return after a horrific tragedy and self-imposed exile.

David, who accompanies himself on guitar and blues harp, was last heard from in 2015 with Livin’ Life — a recording that created real blues-world buzz. (“This is a well-done, good-sounding and tasteful album,” commented one industry insider, Bruce Iglauer, proprietor of Alligator Records.)

The Ottawa-born troubadour’s life-long musical quest died four summers later, sadly, when the police showed up at his door to inform him that his wife and mother of their three children, Suzana, had been in a boating accident at Lake Joseph, in the Muskokas. David rushed his children to a hospital in Sudbury to be informed of her passing and allow the children to say their goodbyes.  It would take months for the singer-songwriter, who had been estranged from his wife, to write the goodbye song to his lost love, however.

“Oh Suzana Blues,” along with “Stella Marie” — a song specifically about Suzana’s death — are the heart and soul of David’s latest album.

“Oh Suzana our time went oh so fast/ I wish I could have slowed it down and made it last.”

Oh Suzana Blues is produced by guitarist extraordinaire and blues legend Colin Linden, who has played and recorded with Keb Mo, Lucinda Williams and Bob Dylan, and many others. Joining David and Colin on this recording are Dominic Davies and Fats Kaplin.

Before tragedy and the pandemic struck, Dave’s career had been steadily building in Ottawa, Toronto and other parts of Canada since the ‘80s. In addition to headlining his own shows, the gifted singer-guitarist-songwriter has opened for the immortal Bobby “Blue” Bland, Muddy Waters’ boy, Big Bill Morganfield, Sue Foley and many others.

He continues to live in Uxbridge, Ontario, where earlier this winter he fashioned a “rink of dreams” for he and Suzana’s three young children.

David Owen


Duke Robillard to Release ‘They Called it Rhythm & Blues’

Duke Robillard to Release ‘They Called it Rhythm & Blues’

American Blues Scene Staff

“I have to say, I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of the sessions for this album. It’s just a damn good representation of my band, the guest artists and the music we chose to record.” – Duke Robillard

Stony Plain Records announces a March 18 release date for They Called It Rhythm & Blues, the exciting new CD from two-time Grammy nominee and multiple Blues Music Award-winning guitarist Duke Robillard. The new album will also be released as a vinyl LP on August 5th. Joining the guitar maestro (who also produced) on They Called It Rhythm & Blues is an all-star cast of special guests, including John Hammond, Kim Wilson, Sue Foley, Sugar Ray Norcia, Michelle Willson, Chris Cote, Bruce Bears, Marty Ballou, Mark Teixeira, Doug James, Mike Flanigin, Mark Earley, Doug Woolverton and Matt McCabe.

Duke Robillard has been defined as not merely a great artist, but also a true historian, scholar and curator who is adept at electric and acoustic blues, jazz, jump, swing, ballads and standards. He proves that with the fluency he demonstrates on this album that visits the music that defined what came to be called “Rhythm & Blues.” Grammy-nominated and a five-time winner of the Blues Music Award as best guitarist, over his 50 plus year career Duke has been a prolific songwriter and is considered a blues guitar master.

Robillard is effusive in his praise for his special guests on They Called It Rhythm & Blues and the magic they helped create in the studio. “I have to say, I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of the sessions for this album. It’s just a damn good representation of my band, the guest artists and the music we chose to record. I threw in a few of my own tunes written for the occasion also, and it makes a pretty well-rounded package I believe.

“Chris Cote, who has taken over most of the vocals in my band since our Blues Bash CD, has been a great band addition. He’s a powerhouse vocalist who can literally sing anything. His six spirited vocals here give the album a pretty high bar to start with. And on top of that he’s a great guitarist also!

“I have worked with Doug James from the early seventies on and off and he has spent quite a few years as a DRB member. On many of the tunes here, Doug is the whole horn section. He did an extraordinary job and with engineer Graham Mellor’s use of the right ribbon mic on him, Mister Low’s sound was captured like it’s never been captured before.

“Mark Earley and Doug Woolverton also added great depth to the tunes they played sax and trumpet on, also. As for the guest vocalists, I was lucky to get help from so many great artists. John Hammond, who I’ve called my friend since the 1970s and toured with many times and recorded with and co-produced his Found True Love album. Recording with John is always a pleasure. On this session, once we had sounds, it was play live and kill it in a take or two. Part of the reason to do more than one take was to prolong the joyous experience. John is always on and always an extreme pleasure to play with.

“There was a tune by Mickey and Sylvia I always wanted to do called ‘No Good Lover,’ and Sue Foley was quick to OK the tune and idea of recording it with me. I wrote an instrumental as a tribute Bill Jennings, Billy Butler, Bill Doggett and Wild Bill Davis and both Sue and Mike Flanigin agreed to recording both tunes long distance down in Austin, Texas. I’m really psyched about how they came out and ‘No Good Lover’ will be our first video for the album!

“Old band mate from my Thunderbird days Kim Wilson was up for being a guest and we chose two of his early tunes he originally recorded with the T-Birds. I’m pretty damn happy with the results personally! Kim kills both tunes the way he always does – of course. Matt McCabe plays piano on ‘Tell Me Why.’

“Michelle Willson, AKA ‘The Evil Gal,’ gladly added her expertise to two tracks that show her rockin’ R&B side with ‘Champagne Mind’ and her very deep blues side with her amazing reading of ‘Trouble in Mind.

“I’ve known Sugar Ray Norcia for too many decades to count and anyone who is a true fan of deep Chicago and also Jumpin’ R&B knows he is one of the heaviest cats as a vocalist and as a blues harmonica giant. Ray’s rendition of Tampa Red’s ‘Rambler Blues,’ which originally had Big Walter Horton on harp, was the perfect vehicle for Ray to pay tribute to his old friend Big Walter. Ray suggested Jimmy Nelson’s ‘She’s My Baby,’ which I wasn’t familiar with, but it sure was a great choice! Again, Ray found a way for his harp to perfectly fit the tune and again, there are echoes of the great Big Walter here, but at the same time it’s pure Sugar Ray!”

The Duke Robillard Band is made up of Robillard on guitar and vocals, Chris Cote (vocals), Bruce Bears (piano, organ), Marty Ballou (acoustic and electric bass), Mark Teixeira (drums), and Doug James (baritone and tenor sax).

The band will celebrate the release of the new album with two special shows in March: The Narrows in Fall River, Mass. On March 25th and The Center for the Arts in Natick, Mass. on March 26th.

Pre-Order They Called it Rhythm & Blues


Blues Hall of Famer Syl Johnson Dead at 85

Blues Hall of Famer Syl Johnson Dead at 85

JD Nash

Born Sylvester Thompson on July 1st, 1936 in Holly Springs, Mississippi, he moved with his family to Chicago in 1950.

One of the most soulful and most sampled artists in the game, Syl Johnson died today. He was 85.

Photo from artist Facebook

The post made by his family on Facebook reads:

It is with extreme sadness that our family announces the passing of Soul & Blues Hall of Fame Legend, Grammy-Nominated Singer, Syl Johnson (born Sylvester Thompson in Holly Springs, MS). Dad, Brother, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, Uncle, Friend & Artist, he lived his life as a singer, musician, and entrepreneur who loved black music.

One of the most sampled artists of our time, his music served as the soundtrack for some of our most poignant moments in history.

A fiery, fierce, fighter, always standing for the pursuit of justice as it related to his music and sound, he will truly be missed by all who crossed his path. His catalog and legacy will be remembered as impeccable and a historical blueprint to all who experience it.

To his fans around the world, he loved you all. A lover of music and a Chicago icon, Syl Johnson lived his life unapologetically.

With the passing of his brother, Jimmy Johnson (Blues Hall of Famer) a few days ago, our Dad has gone on to heaven to be with him and many of his loved ones and fellow musicians who have passed as well. The world has lost two musical giants.

At this time, we ask for your prayers for our family, his friends, and fans, and we ask that you continue to play his music and share the remarkable legacy he’s made in music.

Psalm 23

Born Sylvester Thompson on July 1st, 1936 in Holly Springs, Mississippi, he moved with his family to Chicago in in 1950. Fortuitously they lived right next door to West Side Chicago blues guitarist Magic Sam allowing Syl to help teach Sam blues and boogie woogie elements on the guitar. Syl came up playing with Sam, Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells and Howlin’ Wolf.

In 1959 he recorded with Jimmy Reed and released his first solo record, “Teardrops,” backed by Freddie King on guitar.

In 1967 Syl had his first hits, “Come On Sock It To Me,” and “Different Strokes.” The latter became one of the most sampled tracks in hip-hop history, used by Wu-Tang Clan, Kanye West and Jay-Z, De La Soul, Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim, and dozens more. Another heavily sampled track from Johnson’s repertoire was “Is It Because I’m Black,” which went to number 11 on the Billboard R&B Charts in 1969.

Inarguably, his greatest hit was the Willie Mitchell produced, “Take Me to the River.” Written by Al Green and Tabon “Teenie” Hodges, Johnson’s version came via a Hi Records single in 1975 and shot to number 7 on the Billboard R&B Charts.

Johnson wrote songs exploring themes of African-American identity and social problems. Retiring in the late 1980s, he made a comeback in 1994 with Back in the Game, again featuring the Hi Rhythm Section as well as his youngest daughter Syleena Johnson.

Johnson had a total of  19 charting singles from 1967 to 1982, and even though his music was sampled by artists from Wu-Tang Clan to Kid Rock, Syl often found himself with no credit for samples, and no money from the record sales.

Syl was inducted in the Blues Hall of Fame in 2020.

Syl Johnson’s death comes just 6 days after the passing of his brother, fellow Blues Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson.

*Feature image photo credit: Sumori