Soul-Blues Singer/Guitarist Dave Keller Proclaims ‘You Get What You Give’

Soul-Blues Singer/Guitarist Dave Keller Proclaims ‘You Get What You Give’

Mark Pucci

‘You Get What You Give’ a new CD of duets fundraiser for racial justice and equity, out November 20 on Tastee Tone Records

Two-time Blues Music Award nominee Dave Keller is an acclaimed triple-threat: an outstanding singer, an intense guitarist and a talented songwriter. Fueled by his love of deep Southern soul blues and gospel, his performances ring out with passion, integrity, and an ability to break down the barriers between performer and audience.

On his new Tastee Tone Records CD, You Get What You Give, set for release on November 20th, Keller unites with a host of like-minded singers and musicians from the blues, soul and gospel music worlds to create a very special album of songs dedicated to raising funds toward enhancing racial justice and equity. Joining him are Trudy Lynn, Joe Louis Walker, Annika Chambers, Johnny Rawls, Annie Mack, Dawn Tyler Watson, Brother Bob White, Carly Harvey, Toussaint St. Negritude, Katie Henry, Chad Hollister and many more artists who donated their time and talent for the cause.

We’ve already raised over $2,000.00 from pre-orders, all of which will go directly to groups working for racial justice and equity,” says Keller, who also produced the album. “So far, the list of groups includes: NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Know Your Rights Camp, N’COBRA, and Jus’ Blues Foundation.”

Ever since renowned guitarist Ronnie Earl chose Keller to sing on his album Living In The Light, Keller’s star has been on the rise. In just a few short years, he has received two Blues Music Award nominations, won the International Blues Challenge Best Self-Released CD Award, and been chosen for Downbeat‘s Best Recordings of the Year.

A bit of a late bloomer, Keller grew up in Massachusetts, loving music, but not picking up guitar until age 16, and not singing in his first band until age 20. But blessed with mentors including deep soul singer Mighty Sam McClain, mystical soul guitarist Robert Ward, acoustic blues master Paul Rishell and soul/blues man Johnny Rawls, Keller made up for lost time.

Relocating to icy Vermont in 1993, Dave found fertile ground to grow his audience, and has become a household name there. Famous for his live-wire shows, he can often be found fifty feet out in the crowd, teasing fiery licks from his trusty Stratocaster and singing off-mike as the audience sings along.

Keller has performed at some of the biggest festivals in the East, including the North Atlantic Blues Festival, the PA Blues Fest, and the Discover Jazz Festival. He has also performed at the Blues Music Awards ceremony twice, accompanying Ronnie Earl, and Johnny Rawls.

“Back in June, after the murder of George Floyd, I watched this country seething with anger and pain,” relates Keller about the new album’s genesis. “As someone who has built his career performing Black music, and who has received priceless gifts from Black mentors, I asked myself: ‘What can I do to help?’ Due to Covid-19, all my summer gigs had been cancelled, and I had some extra time on my hands. So I thought, ‘What if I record my new originals with some of my friends, and donate the money from album sales to groups working for racial justice and equity?’

“I put the idea out there on social media, and the response was incredible. Within 24 hours I had received hundreds of dollars-worth of pre-orders. Dozens of musicians wanted to participate. Clearly other folks felt the way I did, and wanted to give back in some way.

“The musicians on this album represent a great diversity of styles, backgrounds, ages, genders, and ethnicities. Some are known around the world. Some are known only locally. But most importantly, their music and their ‘soul’ move me. I am proud to call each of these wonderful human beings a friend.”


One More Tear
Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar
Annika Chambers: vocals
Ira Friedman: organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums
Mark Earley: tenor and baritone saxes
Mario Perrett: tenor sax
Tom Palance: trumpet

That Thing We Do
Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar
Carly Harvey: vocals
Ira Friedman: organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums
Mark Earley: tenor sax
Tom Palance: trumpet
Garth Retallack: trombone

You Get What You Give
Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Annie Mack: vocals
Ira Friedman: organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums
Mark Earley: tenor and baritone saxes
Mario Perrett: tenor sax
Tom Palance: trumpet
Katie Sterling: backing vocals and handclaps
Havvah Keller: backing vocals and handclaps
Idalee Keller: backing vocals and handclaps
April Caspari: backing vocals and handclaps
Chad Hollister: backing vocals and handclaps
Johnny Rawls: backing vocals

The Evil That Men Do
Dave Keller: vocals (first and last verses)
Trudy Lynn: vocals (second verse)
Annika Chambers: vocals (third verse)
Annie Mack: vocals (fourth verse)
Johnny Rawls: vocals (fifth verse)
Ira Friedman: piano
Tom Palance: trumpet

Scratchin’ At Your Door
Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar (first solo)
Joe Louis Walker: vocals
Chris Robertson: electric slide guitar (outro solo)
Ira Friedman: organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums
April Caspari: backing vocals

Your Kind Of Fool
Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar
Trudy Lynn: vocals
Ira Friedman: piano, organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums

God Is Love / Love Is Everything
Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar
Dawn Tyler Watson: vocals
Vince Allen: electric guitar (solo)
Ira Friedman: organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums
Mark Earley: tenor and baritone saxes (solo)
Mario Perrett: tenor sax
Tom Palance: trumpet

The Spark
Dave Keller: vocals
Ira Friedman: piano

Make It To Tomorrow
Dave Keller: vocals, acoustic guitar
Chad Hollister: vocals, cajon

Land Of The Lonely
Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar
Johnny Rawls: vocals
Ira Friedman: organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums

Precious Lord, Take My Hand
Brother Bob White: vocals, piano
Dave Keller: electric guitar
Larry Gann: drums

The Kiss I Want
Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar
Katie Henry: vocals
Ira Friedman: organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums
Mark Earley: tenor and baritone saxes
Mario Perrett: tenor sax
Tom Palance: trumpet

I’m Gonna Let It Shine
Toussaint St. Negritude: vocals
Dave Keller: National steel guitar, harmonica

Dave Keller

*Feature image (L-R) Johnny Rawls and Dave Keller Photo Credit: Laura Carbone

Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams Announce New Toto Line-Up and Tour

Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams Announce New Toto Line-Up and Tour

Steve Karas

Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams announce new Toto lineup and plans to bring The Dogz of Oz tour worldwide

Steve Lukather a.k.a. Luke and Joseph Williams are life-long friends since they were kids, and bandmates sharing a deep colorful history that has thrived professionally on a global basis over the past decades. The duo has announced the formation of a new band with world class players. They will continue to tour as Toto and are in motion to bring their Dogz of Oz tour worldwide as the pair looks forward. Planned concerts across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia / New Zealand and other geographical destinations will be staged where the ensemble will perform all the hits, deep cuts, and solo music from Lukather and Williams individual catalogs.


Joining Lukather and Williams for this next chapter in their indelible history are bassist John Pierce (Huey Lewis and The News), drummer Robert “Sput” Searight (Ghost-Note / Snarky Puppy), and keyboardist / background vocalist Steve Maggiora (Elvis, Moms Mabely).  Keyboardist Dominique “Xavier” Taplin (Prince, Ghost-Note) and multi-instrumentalist / vocalist Warren Ham (Ringo Starr) have segued over continuing their tenure in the ensemble alongside Lukather and Williams. This marks the fifteenth incarnation of the Toto line-up in consideration of band members or sidemen who joined or exited.

Luke shares, “We could not be more at peace with this move. There is a refreshing, optimistic enthusiasm to step in to the future. At this moment, Joe and I are the only long-tenured members of the band that want to be on the road continuing to bring music to our multi-generational fan base. I’ve spent almost four and a half decades of my life as the only original member who never missed a show or an album nurturing this legacy while enabling the music to continually exist in the live concert setting. That is something I’ll never stop doing, and the Dogz of Oz global tour offers a rare opportunity to reimagine our personal futures while simultaneously preserving the deep connection that exists with the audience while likewise yielding continual discovery. The hope is to move forward with the planned itinerary for Summer, 2021 that will bring us back to our fans across The World.”  Williams offers, “Luke and I have been through a lot with one another. He’s like a brother to me. Our creative partnership has always enriched our lives. As we look towards what’s to come in unison, there is nothing but anticipation to bring everything in our minds to life. I can’t think of anyone else on Earth I’d rather launch the next chapter with this lifelong, loyal and gifted friend and band mate. We’re the last men standing…The Dogz of Oz!” Luke adds, “Joe and I have been friends since I was 17, and Joe was 14. During the course of this pandemic we’ve been reevaluating our career and how to move forward. People are either not with us anymore or have retired. We still feel like kids who want to be back on the road as soon as possible. It’s where we live. Joe’s growth as a producer, songwriter, engineer, singer and performer is inspiring.  The timing of this move is perfect as Joe is at the top of his game, and he amazes me every day. We are enjoying this collaboration, and could not be more enthusiastic about the future.”

Over the course of five decades Lukather has placed an indelible stamp on pop culture. Alongside his tenure as the only member of Toto to never take a hiatus from the band, he has performed on thousands of albums as a session musician. Among these musical contributions are some of the most successful, influential and enduring records of all-time including Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Additionally, he released a memoir titled The Gospel According To Luke which was a global best-seller. He continues to be Toto’s band leader, a member of Ringo’s All-Starr Band, and a solo artist performing with multiple ensembles which include Nerve Bundle and Toxic Monkey.

At age fifteen, Williams began his career as a radio and television commercial singer. Joseph also achieved success as a television and film composer in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. He fronted Toto as a lead vocalist from 1986 to 1988, and was featured on the albums Fahrenheit (1986) and The Seventh One (1988).  He also appeared on the 2006 release Falling in Between, sharing lead vocals with Luke on “Bottom of Your Soul.”  In 2010 he returned to the band, becoming front man and lead vocalist, a tenure that continues through today.  He has released ten solo albums, and is an Emmy Award nominated film composer. His career as a session vocalist has placed his voice indelibly in pop culture through the dozens of performances in the medium of film, among which is his role as the adult Simba on The Lion King. Williams voice is featured on “Hakuna Matata” alongside “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.”

Toto has enjoyed a celebrated resurgence over the last several years tied to the band’s 40th Anniversary, wherein over a thirty-month period they performed for millions of fans across North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.  The band’s repertoire has been streamed over a billion times, while album sales exceed 40 million copies. Simply, Toto is one of the few 70’s bands that have endured the changing trends and styles, and 45 years in to a career enjoy a multi-generational fan base.

On Saturday, November 21 the new line-up will make their global debut.  The band has planned a one-night only concert event that will broadcast prime time in three geographical regions to super-serve the fans: Asia, Australia / New Zealand; Europe; North America. For more information, tickets, and available bundles click here. Direct links on a territory by territory basis are UK/Europe, Aus/Asia, and US.

In 2021, both Lukather and Williams will release solo albums that feature one another performing on some of the songs featured. The forthcoming titles will be issued globally in partnership with Mascot Label Group. Last month, Luke released “Run To Me” from the upcoming album featuring Williams alongside Ringo Starr and future band mate John Pierce.


New track from Max Gomez – ‘He Was A Friend of Mine’

New track from Max Gomez – ‘He Was A Friend of Mine’

JD Nash

Folk Standard, “He Was A Friend of Mine” re-interpreted by Max Gomez for George Floyd and the BLM Movement

Songwriter Max Gomez has released an updated interpretation of the folk standard “He Was A Friend of Mine.” A traditional folk song first recorded in the 1930s by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, the song has been covered by many legendary artists, including Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and The Byrds. Gomez’s interpretation revises the lyrics as a lament for the life of George Floyd and other icons of the civil rights and Black Lives Matter movement, providing a solemn reflection on historical and contemporary racial and social injustice.



The track was produced by David Kahne (Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Regina Spektor, Lana Del Rey), who imbues the track with sonorous reverb and subtle strings in support of Gomez’s earnest lyrics and guitar.

This re-imagination was born out of necessity. I wanted to sing a protest song set in the year 2020. The time for protest songs is now. – Max Gomez

When he’s not on the road Gomez splits his time between his beloved hometown of Taos and Los Angeles. He received critical acclaim upon the release of his debut album Rule The World (2013, New West Records), and his subsequent EP, Me and Joe (2017, Brigadoon Records).


Max Gomez

*Feature image courtesy of Missing Piece Group

Southern Avenue Signs with BMG’s Renew Records

Southern Avenue Signs with BMG’s Renew Records

American Blues Scene Staff

“Renew Records gets us. They are dedicated to organic, real music which is what Southern Avenue is all about.” – Ori Naftaly

Coming off their 2020 Grammy nomination for “Best Contemporary Blues Album,” Southern Avenue has signed a new record deal with Renew Records/BMG. Currently in their hometown’s analog haven, Memphis Magnetic Recording with multi-Grammy winning producer Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, Susan Tedeschi, The Tragically Hip), the band is busy at work on a new LP with release plans for mid-2021.

Southern Avenue (L-R) Tikyra “TK” Jackson, Evan Sarver, Tierinii Jackson, Jeremy Powell, Ori Naftaly


“We couldn’t be more excited,” said Jonathan Schwartz, long-time manager for Southern Avenue. “To partner with BMG, a well-respected, world renowned company with a massive global reach, coupled with the intimate ‘indie’ vibe of Renew Records, it just feels right.”

Ori Naftaly, founding member and lead guitarist of Southern Avenue expounds further. “Renew Records gets us. They are dedicated to organic, real music which is what Southern Avenue is all about. Couldn’t be happier with this partnership and look forward to great things in 2021 and beyond.”

Since Southern Avenue released their debut album on Stax Records in 2017 (the first Memphis band signed to Stax in over 40 years), the band has proven to be a touring juggernaut. Playing over 150 shows per year and having performed in 15 countries on three continents, they have built a strong international fan base through their soulful brand of roots music, danceable grooves and their universal, heartfelt message of positivity and hope. A fiery festival favorite, Southern Avenue has delivered powerful, uplifting sets at Bonnaroo, Firefly, Electric Forest, Lockn’, Beale Street Music Festival, Waterfront Blues and many, many more.

“To say that this year has been challenging is a gigantic understatement,” acknowledges founding member and lead singer for Southern Avenue, Tierinii Jackson. “We’re so thankful for the team at Renew/BMG for believing in us and our music, now more than ever. We can’t wait to share our best album yet with y’all and hope that it has as strong a healing effect on listeners as it does on us making it.”

“Southern Avenue is the perfect band for Renew, combining roots, blues, soul and that special Memphis flavor. We are thrilled to be working with them on this upcoming release,” adds David Hirshland, BMG EVP.

Southern Avenue

John McLean and Charles Barkatz Join Forces on ‘Shadow Man’

John McLean and Charles Barkatz Join Forces on ‘Shadow Man’

Mark Pucci

John McLean and Charles Barkatz Join Forces to Release New ‘Shadow Man’ CD December 4th via Leaky Shoes Records.

John McLean and Charles Barkatz announce a December 4th release date for Shadow Man, their new CD which teams them up with producer Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff and a host of Austin all-star musicians for a sound that treads nicely in blues, jazz and roots music territories with an international flair.

My good friend Alex Coke introduced me to his brother, John McLean, in early 2019. John mentioned that he wanted to make a blues record in Austin with his Parisian guitar playing pal Charles Barkatz. I was a bit skeptical at first, not ever having heard of John or Charles in the ‘blues’ world. But as John sent me their demo recordings over the next few months, I began to hear their beautiful and original take on the blues. Not your typical contemporary blues, this material focused on wonderful new poetical lyrics, and songs that created moods ranging from raw deep blues to jazzy almost impressionistic grooves.

Our terrific keyboardist, Nick Connolly, lightheartedly described the music as ‘beatnik blues,’ but there is a hard edge of sorrow and existential desperation to the songs. This is real personal blues coming from their lives and experiences, and it demanded a high level of collaboration among John, Charles, me, all the musicians, and Stuart Sullivan, our recording engineer. We all played together in a big room at Wire Recording. The musical result depended on everyone’s creative and often spontaneous effort, lead by our incredible rhythm section of Derek Obrien on guitar, Chris Maresh on bass and John Chipman on drums.

Because of the uniqueness and freshness of the song material, as producer I was very comfortable with adding instruments not usually present in contemporary blues contexts. So, we welcomed Alex Coke on alto flute and soprano saxophone, and Elaine Barber on harp, on several tunes. The Texas Horns added their punchy tight arrangements. I hope you will hear and enjoy the fun and excitement we all shared in making this music! – “Kaz” Kazanoff

Author and composer John McLean has developed into an eclectic, multi-talented artist who has always followed his passions in theater, cinema and music wherever they might lead:  New York, Paris, and most recently Austin, Texas. Born in Manhattan, New York, he was brought up on a ranch near Dallas, Texas, and studied writing and theater in Boston, which prepared him for his many different pathways in art.

McLean has been cited by the New York Times for his virtuosity in playing flutes and bagpipes with the Menestriers of France at the Metropolitan Museum Concert Hall, and later for his sensitive off-Broadway theater production and direction of Fabrice Rozier’s play about Simone de Beauvoir’s Transatlantic Liaison at the Clurman Theater.

As a jazzman, John has been a leader of several groups in Paris such as the Fairweather Quintet, where he performed at the Petite Journal de Montparnasse and with his duo partner Charles Barkatz at the Duc de Lombards.  He recently appeared in New York at a sold-out evening at  the Cornelia Street Cafe with his group, the John Mclean Quartet, with Ed Howard on bass, Paul Bolenback on guitar and Alex Coke on flute and sax. Now a dynamic 80 years of age, John starts a promising new career as singer and songwriter with the release of his latest album, Shadow Man.

Charles Barkatz was born in Paris in 1959 and began playing the classical guitar at the age of 12 at a conservatory. Very quickly influenced by Muddy Waters, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker and especially Jimi Hendrix, he started learning to play the blues by himself.  Soon afterwards, having the good fortune to see the legendary West Montgomery and Kenny Burrell playing in Paris, he concentrated on learning jazz technique and joined the CIM school, playing as solo guitarist in the student big band.

Barkatz played regularly in duos, trios and in a quartet with the pianist Patt Burter, with whom he discovered the repertory of Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. He met bassist Vincent Naturel and accompanied Cathy Renoir among many other woman vocalists. He started doing studio work with singer Ken Allen and continued his studies of jazz guitar with guitarists Jean-Philippe Bordier and Serge Merlaud and singing with Isabelle Carpentier.

He records and plays regularly in the U.S at the Blue Rooster and at the Five O’clock Club in Sarasota with guitarist/singer Al Fuller and in Tampa with the singer Peter D’Straw. He is the author and composer of several titles of jazz, blues, and folk songs, is preparing an album of Latin music with the pianist Eric Viara and appears regularly in Paris. His CD, So Nice to Come Home To, in collaboration with John McLean was released in 2019.

Leaky Shoes Blues

*Feature image credit: David McClean

Elvis Costello Curates ‘The Complete Armed Forces’ Time Capsule

Elvis Costello Curates ‘The Complete Armed Forces’ Time Capsule

Lauren Leadingham

With ‘The Complete Armed Forces,’ Costello has provided an all-encompassing time capsule that lets us celebrate this timeless album and understand how it came to be

Elvis Costello  & The Attractions’ paradigmatic 1979 album, Armed Forces, will be reissued as a comprehensive box set. Personally curated by Elvis CostelloThe Complete Armed Forces is the definitive statement of the songwriter nonpareil’s essential album, featuring the classic hits “Accidents Will Happen,” “Oliver’s Army” and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding.”

Armed Forces is explored across nine pieces of vinyl (3 12-inch LPs, 3 10-inch LPs and 3 7-inch singles), including a new 2020 remaster of the album, B-sides, alternate versions and outtakes, demos, and a slew of live recordings – including 23 unreleased live tracks taken from three especially riotous concerts. Sparing no effort or detail, this new super deluxe edition vinyl box set is a thorough excavation of Costello’s vault from his early beginnings to the events that led to the making of the album and his success with The Attractions.

Out November 6 via UMeThe Complete Armed Forces will be available in two vinyl versions: 180-gram black vinyl and limited edition 180-gram multi-color opaque vinyl. It will also be available digitally for streaming and download. This ornate box set calls attention to designer Barney Bubbles’ pop-art packaging, including the paint-splattered cover artwork by Bubbles and Bazooka and features a unique origami cover that folds out to display the bold graphics and the six vinyl LPs, rounded out by three 7-inch reissues of the album’s singles: “Oliver’s Army,” “Accidents Will Happen” and Nick Lowe’s “American Squirm” b/w “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?

“Most of this record was written in hotel rooms or on a tour bus, scribbled in a notebook which rarely left my side or failing this, from fragments and phrases scrawled on paper cocktail napkins or hotel notepaper,” Costello writes in the newly updated liner notes. Seven custom notebooks in this treasure trove contain the liners, facsimiles of first-draft, handwritten lyrics, and examples of his songwriting process — as well as rare photos and concert ephemera.

The Complete Armed Forces also includes a print of the vintage grenade and gun poster and the four original postcards of each band member. Costello commissioned acclaimed artist Todd Alcott to create pulp novel book covers of songs from Armed Forces starring himself as the protagonist in a variety of perilous circumstances.

Armed Forces has been newly remastered by Costello and mastering engineer Bob Ludwig from the original analog tapes to match the sonic fidelity of the initial 1979 UK pressing. Striving for the utmost authenticity, they took care to match the feel and intention of the original mastering.

The evolution of the album is documented on the 10-inch, Sketches For Emotional Fascism A.K.A. Armed Forceswhich assembles together B-sides, demos and alternate versions, making many of these songs available on vinyl for the first time in decades. The band’s live expertise is celebrated with several previously unreleased concert recordings that bookended the recording and release of the album.

Along with selections from the band’s legendary 1978 Hollywood High show, the collection includes highlights from Riot At The Regent – Live In Sydney ’78 and  Christmas In The Dominion – Live 24th December ’78 at London’s Dominion Theatre. “Riot At The Regent is a souvenir from our days Down Under and a second snap-shot of the Attractions in action during six months either side of the recording of Armed Forces,” Costello pens. Continuing, “We played right up to Christmas Eve and certainly sound full of cheery spirit on ‘Christmas In The Dominion,’ playing a version of ‘No Dancing’ in an apparently spontaneous arrangement that sounds as if we had just heard Blondie’s ‘Heart Of Glass’ on the radio and decided to re-work my song with a similar approach before closing the stand with the same song with which we had opened it: ‘Peace Love & Understanding.’”

Costello’s full set at PinkPop in The Netherlands in 1979, titled Europe ’79 – Live At Pinkpop showcases a band at the top of their game, playing songs that would end up on 1980’s Get HappyAll of the unreleased live recordings, taken from the original 2″ multitracks, have been remixed by Costello’s longtime producer and mixer Sebastian Krys who recently mixed his forthcoming new album, Hey Clockface, and co-produced his 2018 GRAMMY® Award-winning album, Look Now.

Produced by Nick LoweArmed Forces was Elvis Costello’s third album and his second with The Attractions – Steve Nieve (keyboards), Bruce Thomas (bass) and Pete Thomas (drums). Armed Forces followed on from 1978’s This Year’s Model, an album that completely defied the sophomore slump.

With The Complete Armed Forces, Costello has provided an all-encompassing time capsule that lets us celebrate this timeless album and understand how it came to be. Watch it all get unboxed below.


Armed Forces 12″ LP
1. Accidents Will Happen
2. Senior Service
3. Oliver’s Army
4. Big Boys
5. Green Shirt
6. Party Girl

1. Goon Squad
2. Busy Bodies
3. Sunday’s Best
4. Moods For Moderns
5. Chemistry Class
6. Two Little Hitlers
7. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?

Live at Hollywood High & Elsewhere 1978 12″ LP
1. Accidents Will Happen
2. Mystery Dance
3. Goon Squad
4. Party Girl
5. Stranger In The House

1. Alison
2. Lipstick Vogue
3. Watching The Detectives
4. You Belong To Me
5. Chemistry Class (Live at The Warner Theatre, Washington D.C.)

Europe ’79 – Live At Pinkpop 12″ LP
1. Goon Squad
2. B-Movie
3. Green Shirt
4. (I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea
5. Opportunity
6. So Young
7. High Fidelity

1 Lipstick Vogue
2. Watching The Detectives
3. Big Boys
4. Pump It Up
5. You Belong To Me
6. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?

Sketches for Emotional Fascism 10″ LP
1. Clean Money
2. Talking In The Dark
3. Wednesday Week
4. Tiny Steps

1. Crawling To The U.S.A.
2. Big Boys (Alternate Version)
3. Green Shirt (Demo Version)
4. My Funny Valentine

Riot At The Regent – Live In Sydney ’78 10″ LP
1. Oliver’s Army
2. Waiting For The End Of The World
3. Big Boys

1. This Year’s Girl
2. You Belong To Me
3. Pump It Up

Christmas In The Dominion – Live 24th December ’78 10″ LP
1. (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes
2. No Dancing

1. I Stand Accused
2. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?

“Oliver’s Army” 7″
1. Oliver’s Army

Side B
1. Big Boys (Demo)

“Accidents Will Happen” 7″
1. Accidents Will Happen

Side B
1. Busy Bodies (Alternate)

Nick Lowe & His Sound – “American Squirm” 7″
Side A
1. American Squirm

Side B
2. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?


 Pre-order The Complete Armed Forces

Stevie Wonder Releases Two New Singles: ‘Where Is Our Love Song’ and ‘Can’t Put It in the Hands of Fate’

Stevie Wonder Releases Two New Singles: ‘Where Is Our Love Song’ and ‘Can’t Put It in the Hands of Fate’

Lauren Leadingham

After a four-year hiatus, Stevie is back

Stevie Wonder has released two new singles titled “Where Is Our Love Song” and “Can’t Put It in the Hands of Fate.” The 70-year-old R&B wonder shared the news during a virtual press conference today, October 13, the day of his son Mumtaz Morris’ birthday.

The songs, both written and produced by Wonder, are the first to be released through his own Republic Records imprint, So What The Fuss Music. They will be marketed and distributed by Republic Records, which is part of Universal Music Group. Wonder leaves Motown after nearly 60 years.

“Even though I have left Motown, I never leave Motown,” he said. “That’s Detroit. So I’m sure that we can figure out how we can do some things at Motown.” Wonder was only 11 years old when Motown signed him to a contract in 1961.

 “Where Is Our Love Song” is a track he first started working on at 18 years old. At the time, he wasn’t sure what to make of it. “But then there came this year that we’re dealing with, and there came all of the confusion and all of the hate, and all the east versus west, left versus right, just heartbreak.” And just like that, he was galvanized to finish the song, a collaboration with Gary Clark Jr. Wonder is donating 100 percent of its proceeds to Feeding America.

 “In these times, we are hearing the most poignant wake-up calls and cries for this nation and the world to, please, heed our need for love, peace and unity.”

In his statements today, Wonder also urged Americans to make a voting plan for next month’s presidential election.

Rappers Busta Rhymes, Rapsody, Chika, and Cordae contribute verses to “You Can’t Put It in the Hands of Fate.”

“We can’t put voting in the hands of fate. The universe is watching us. And for me, we’ve got to vote justice in and injustice out. That’s just what time it is. That’s down the ballot by the way, from your local to your state to your national — handle that,” he encouraged.

Listen: Prakash Slim is ‘Living For The Memory’

Listen: Prakash Slim is ‘Living For The Memory’

American Blues Scene Staff

“There are differences in blues and Nepali music but there are many similarities: Economic depression, discrimination, and social issues remain the same.” – Prakash Slim

Prakash Slim Pokharel is a country blues musician, educator, and blues music history researcher. He was born on June, 17th, 1980 in a field during the rainy season in a small village called Lamatar, in the Lalitpur district of Nepal. The village saw its first electric bulb in 1983 and its first motor car in 1995. He was raised by a loving, loyal family that had very limited means. His father passed away at the age of 29, leaving his mother with three children to raise, one elder brother, a sister, and Prakash. What food they could manage to obtain was earned by their mother, who worked in their neighbors’ fields. Every year, he waited for their main festival to be celebrated. Annually, that would be when his uncle would gift him a pair of new clothes. He went to a public school where instead of desks and benches, they had mats made of straw.

When asked what his ambition was when young, Prakash Slim replied, “Ambition was a privilege for rich kids back then. The only ambition I had was sustaining life.”


Photo courtesy of the artist


Prakash has been interested in music since he was a child, when he made music by drumming against a water gallon and singing songs all day.  Music drew him to its world. When it called out to him he couldn’t resist. His most prized possession back then was a bicycle that his sister gifted him after she landed a job. Prakash wanted to learn and play the guitar but he didn’t have the money to buy one. He confesses that he bought his first guitar by selling his bicycle, telling  his family that a friend had taken it for a few days. 

For two years, Prakash gave up everything else to search for a mentor who could teach him everything he needed to know about music theory. He finally found a teacher, a legendary musician named C.B.Chhetri, though he lived 10 kms away from Prakash’s own home. His passion for music was so enormous that he never missed a lesson. Whether it stormed or rained, he always arrived ahead of time and ready to learn.

For years, after learning a working journeyman’s knowledge of the guitar, he accepted his mentor’s offer to join his band and gigged in a circuit of restaurants playing rock music and instrumental. At the same time, he started teaching music in schools and institutions. 

In 2008 he participated in a workshop entitled Teaching Music Effectively, conducted at Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory by the US  Cultural Embassy envoy, Dr. Gene Aitken. It had been fine playing in rock bands all those years. However, Prak’s thirst for musical knowledge and deeper musical experiences couldn’t be quenched. The aching hole in his soul healed when he heard his first BB King recording. Overwhelmed by what he heard, he began researching more and more about blues music and it’s history. He also took much of his existing repertoire and started experimenting by adding blues licks and blues grooves to them. There he gradually learned more expanded theory and a deeper understanding of how chords and progressions are formed both physically and numerically. From 2003 to 2015 he kept busy playing lead and/or rhythm guitar and bass, as well as contributing vocals for various bands throughout Nepal.

In 2015 he received an invitation to attend a musical retreat at Walden School of Music, San Francisco, California, USA. That same year a major earthquake hit Nepal. Buildings crumbled down to dust and Prak’s hopes too were shattered as he was unable to attend the retreat. The devastation hit him hard and personally. For the next several years an insurmountable fear and pain were a constant in his life. The blues became his solace and his very best friend. 

In February, 2017, he fell ill and was advised bed rest. While he was scrolling through his news feed aimlessly, he came across a facebook page named Acoustic Blues Pickers. He was intrigued on seeing a world of blues lovers like himself. There he listened to Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil Blues.” He practiced playing it for a week and shared what he played on the page. A Facebook friend offered to help him and generously sent him a resonator guitar and some slides.

For now, Prakash Slim is not only playing and doing research in blues, but also teaching BITS a.k.a. Blues in the schools. He’s recently finished a Blues exhibition for his school in Nepal. No doubt he’s living by example the axiom “keeping the blues alive.” In Nepal & beyond. He’s now a recognized, internationally affiliated artist and Educator of the Blues with the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund (Executive Director Dr. T. DeWayne Moore) Mississippi, USA since January 2019. Prakash is also active in a Blues mentorship program with T.J. Wheeler, a longtime pioneer, advocate, activist teacher/performer of blues, jazz, and related music. As a member of International Singer and Songwriters Association, Prak’s own original blues compositions are also gaining him further attention.

Listen to “Living For The Memory,” Prakash’s newest release, below.


Duke Robillard & Friends Throw a ‘Blues Bash’ on Stony Plain Records

Duke Robillard & Friends Throw a ‘Blues Bash’ on Stony Plain Records

Mark Pucci

“Frankly, this isn’t an album to read liner notes by. It’s far more suited to moving and grooving, sweating or at least toe tapping, signifying and getting happy…” Dick Shurman

Stony Plain Records announces a November 20 release date for Blues Bash with Duke Robillard & Friends, the new album from two-time Grammy nominee and multiple Blues Music Award-winning guitarist Duke Robillard.

Robillard, himself, declares Blues Bash to be “packed with plenty of bright sounding Fender guitar a la Ike Turner, Lefty Bates, etc. Just a good listening or dancing record like the blues records I bought when I was a kid. It was pretty much a reunion of sorts and I wanted the material to be simple, straight-ahead ‘50s style blues and R&B. Basically it’s a blues party album and that feeling is what I wanted to convey.”

While Duke has admitted that his concept for Blues Bash was to make a straight vintage-style blues album with rhythmic grooves and no hook-laden songs, as always, the music is impeccable, classy and powerful. Two stellar horn sections (including one that reunites him with many members of the original Roomful of Blues horns), searing guitar and organ solos, boogie-woogie piano and guest vocalists Chris Cote and Michelle Willson help to propel the groove. Duke is in his element here, displaying his authority, versatility, passion and virtuosity. Not only is Blues Bash the kind of album that made so many blues fans fall in love with Duke’s music, it’s a career highlight from one of the world’s best.

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. 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. Duke continues to be a sought after side-man and featured guest.

“Considering Duke Robillard’s illustrious and prolific musical contributions over the years (with many of the highlights on Stony Plain), and with such straight-ahead fare, Blues Bash with Duke Robillard & Friends shouldn’t require much exposition,” writes esteemed blues writer/historian Dick Shurman in the album’s liner notes. “But this writer always jumps at any opportunity to extol the many joys of Duke and his music, so we’ll lay out the basics about this bash and throw in a few well-earned superlatives.

“The collective roster spans the full chronicle of Duke’s recording career. Of the two stellar three-horn sections, the all-saxophone Rich Lataille-Greg Piccolo-Doug James lineup present on most songs here takes us back to the early Roomful years; on another song, James, Al Basile and Sax Gordon ably keep the party live and more. Both sections keep their collective foot south of Duke’s shirttail and acquit themselves with their long established distinction when called upon to solo. The rhythm sections also consist of familiar stalwarts: bassists Jesse Williams and Marty Ballou, drummer Mark Teixeira (and Marty Richards on one track), and keyboard player Bruce Bears, who gets a nice organ showcase on the closing ‘Just Chillin’.’Among the other guests, harp player Mark Hummel and pianist Bob Welsh (who has a great feel for gritty Chicago blues) go with Duke toward Jimmy Rogers territory on a remake of Duke’s ‘No Time.’”

“Guest vocalist Chris Cote from Boston works in several bands and can sing anything,” enthuses Duke. “He has a real love for the blues and all his vocals here are live in the studio. Female guest vocalist Michelle ‘Evil Gal’ Willson sings live also and tears up Helen Humes’ ‘You Played On My Piano.’ Boogie pianist deluxe Mark ‘Mr. B.’ Braun is the backbone from start to finish on Smiley Lewis’ ‘Ain’t Gonna Do It.’”

“Saying Duke’s broadly and deeply informed music reflects careful and diligent study is stating the obvious,” adds Shurman. “But in some cases, like this album, not a lot of analysis and reflection are called for. After all these years and accomplishments, he and his cohorts have given us a wonderful reiteration of the continuing greatness of the jumping, swinging jazz-infused blues that brought him and Roomful to prominence. Frankly, this isn’t an album to read liner notes by. It’s far more suited to moving and grooving, sweating or at least toe tapping, signifying and getting happy – all with appropriate facial coverings and social distancing, of course.”

Since starting his musical career in 1967 by founding and fronting Roomful of Blues, Duke Robillard has been at the forefront of Blues, Swing and classic R&B/Jump blues for over 50 years, earning him his legendary status while influencing and inspiring countless legions of musicians and fans worldwide. Leading his own group, Duke has toured non-stop for the past 40-some years, recording more than 30 critically acclaimed CDs under his own name. He has toured as a guitarist with Tom Waits and the Fabulous Thunderbirds and recorded with the likes of Bob Dylan, Ruth Brown, Jay McShann, Pinetop Perkins, Kim Wilson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Rosco Gordon, Maria Muldaur and many more.

Pre-Order Blues Bash
Duke Robillard
Stony Plain Records

*Feature image credit: David Lee Black

Expanded Edition of George Thorogood and The Destroyers’ ‘Live in Boston, 1982’ Set For Reissue

Expanded Edition of George Thorogood and The Destroyers’ ‘Live in Boston, 1982’ Set For Reissue

Craft Recordings

‘Live In Boston, 1982: The Complete Concert’ features 12 unreleased tracks, including fan favorites “Who Do You Love?” and “Bad to the Bone”

Craft Recordings announces a comprehensive reissue of George Thorogood and The DestroyersLive in Boston, 1982. Newly remastered by the GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer Paul Blakemore, the 27-track Live in Boston, 1982: The Complete Concert captures the band’s fiery set in its entirety, including spoken introductions. Plus, the release includes 12 previously unreleased tracks (including performances of “Bad to the Bone,” “Who Do You Love?,” and “Cocaine Blues”) and marks the first time the set will be available on vinyl.

Available to pre-order now, Live in Boston, 1982: The Complete Concert will be available December 4th as a four-LP set on 180-gram vinyl, a two-CD set, and across digital platforms. Complementing the collection are new liner notes by longtime Boston Globe music critic and Berklee College of Music professor, Steve Morse, who spoke with Thorogood about that incredible evening. In addition, a special deluxe edition of the new collection (pressed on red marble vinyl, including an eye-catching poster, and limited to a 1,000 units) will be released exclusively for Record Store Day’s Black Friday event on November 27th. Coinciding with this announcement is the release of the first instant grat track, “Bad to the Bone,” available today to stream or download on all major digital outlets.

George Thorogood and The Destroyers were hometown heroes when they played to a packed audience at Boston’s Bradford Ballroom (now the Royale Nightclub) on November 23, 1982. Hailing from Wilmington, Delaware, Thorogood and his band had settled in Boston in the late ’70s, where they became mainstays in the scene—releasing their 1977 self-titled debut and their 1978 follow-up, Move It on Over, with the then-locally based Rounder Records. By the fall of 1982, the blues rockers were fast-rising stars on a national level. Just one year prior, they scored a supporting slot on The Rolling Stones’ tour, while that October, they appeared on Saturday Night Live, promoting their fifth studio album, Bad to the Bone. As the busy year came to a close, the album’s hard-driving title track—which would become one of Thorogood’s most iconic songs—was getting steady airplay on the radio and its video was a mainstay on the burgeoning MTV.

After a non-stop year, the triumphant band returned to Boston, where they were embraced by their longtime fans. Full of energy, power, and focus, Thorogood and The Destroyers played a blistering set that included original material (“Kids from Philly,” “Bad to the Bone,” and “Miss Luann”) blues classics (John Lee Hooker’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” and Elmore James’ “The Sky Is Crying”), early rock ’n’ roll and R&B covers (Chuck Berry’s “No Particular Place to Go” and Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?”), and a few country tunes that The Destroyers had already made their own (Hank Williams’ “Move It on Over” and T.J. “Red” Arnall’s “Cocaine Blues”). In addition to Thorogood’s legendary guitar riffs, the songs are accentuated by the incendiary Hank Carter, who played saxophone with The Destroyers for 23 years. Luckily for fans, the incredible evening was captured in exquisite clarity by the award-winning engineer Guy Charbonneau, known for his “Le Mobile” remote recording truck.

For his liner notes, Steve Morse also interviewed Scott Billington, a longtime Rounder Records producer who oversaw the original, 2010 edition of Live in Boston, 1982. “It was exciting to revisit the entire show,” Billington told Morse. “Listening back to these recordings also reminded me of how George had taken the original rock ’n’ roll blues aesthetic and brought it back into the mainstream at a time when that was not a particularly popular aspect of rock. Hearing a manifestation of that in the early ’80s was a breath of fresh air.”

Reflecting on Live in Boston, 1982: The Complete Concert, Thorogood says, “1982 was an absolute high-water mark for us. Everything was going our way and it shows in this recording from the Bradford Ballroom. This is George Thorogood and The Destroyers at our best!”

George’s peers also lauded the album. Legendary Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash declared, “George Thorogood has been a hero of mine since I first heard his music in the ’70s. One of the baddest rock ’n’ roll songwriters/electric slide guitar players ever and The Destroyers are a kick-ass, tight rhythm section. This recording proves it!” Blues rocker Jared James Nichols added, “Power, attitude, emotion! I feel the energy and spirit, as if I’m actually at the show. George and band are undeniably at the top of their game this rockin’ night in Boston. Above all, this recording further solidifies the legend that is George Thorogood. Crank it up and get ready to boogie!”

Since forming in 1974, Thorogood and his band—which currently consists of Jeff Simon (drums, percussion), Bill Blough (bass guitar), Jim Suhler (rhythm guitar), and Buddy Leach (saxophone)—have released 16 studio albums, played more than 8,000 ferocious live shows, and sold over 15 million records. For more than two generations, George Thorogood and The Destroyers have remained one of the most consistent—and consistently passionate—progenitors of blues-based rock in pop culture history.

Showing no signs of slowing down, Thorogood returned to Rounder Records to release his solo debut, Party of One, in 2017 and he continues to tour regularly with The Destroyers.

Looking ahead, the band is excited to return to the road with a 27-date global tour, kicking off May 4, 2021 at the Revolution Place in Grande Prairie, AB, Canada.

Pre-Order Live in Boston, 1982
George Thorogood and the Destroyers
*Feature image courtesy of Craft Recordings

‘No Business: The PPX Sessions Vol. 2’ Showcases Early Development of Jimi Hendrix

‘No Business: The PPX Sessions Vol. 2’ Showcases Early Development of Jimi Hendrix

Bob Merlis

1965-1967 recordings feature Jimi Hendrix’s first-ever recorded composition

Dagger Records will release No Business: The PPX Sessions Volume 2 by Curtis Knight & The Squires on CD October 23. The album is a follow-up to Experience Hendrix/Legacy Recordings’ 2015 collection You Can’t Use My Name. The forthcoming release includes October 1965 demo recordings made by the then-unknown Jimi Hendrix, as well as 1967 studio recordings with Hendrix when he was in the midst of his meteoric ascent to stardom. Dagger was founded by Experience Hendrix L.L.C. over two decades ago as an official ‘bootleg’ label to provide Hendrix fans throughout the world with additional live performances, home demos and studio recordings.

Jimi Hendrix was based in Harlem in 1965, working intermittently as an itinerant sideman when he met Curtis Knight in a hotel lobby. Knight invited Hendrix to record with him, booking time at Studio 76, a Manhattan facility run by producer Ed Chalpin. Hendrix joined Knight to record nine demos (tracks 11-19) on or about October 15, 1965.   These demos provide a window into the formation of Hendrix’s creative evolution.  “Two Little Birds” and “Suddenly” presage his playing on future classics, such as  “Little Wing” and “Castles Made of Sand,” while “Working All Day” and “Taking Care Of No Business,” hold the distinction of being the first known recorded Jimi Hendrix compositions.

After the conclusion of this initial demo session, Hendrix was approached by Chalpin to sign what the guitarist thought was a release for his participation. What Chalpin actually had Hendrix unknowingly sign was a contract with his own PPX Enterprises Inc. for $1 and a 1% royalty rate. Hendrix had previously signed an agreement with the Harlem based Sue Records [home to such acts as Ike & Tina Turner) in July 1965 and was unaware that this too was a recording agreement and not a release for a session fee.  Chalpin filed away the agreement and Hendrix continued to lend his guitar to sessions on Knight’s behalf in 1965 and the first half of 1966.   ,

After moving to England in September 1966 and forming the Jimi Hendrix Experience under the management of Animals bassist Chas Chandler, Hendrix’s sudden popularity in Britain and Europe caught Chalpin’s attention.  As Hendrix prepared for his return to the US via the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, Chalpin initiated legal proceedings based upon his one page, October 1965 agreement. Worse still, now that Hendrix was a known commercial commodity, Chalpin was releasing material Hendrix had recorded with Curtis Knight and passing it off as solo material by Jimi. In a failed attempt to placate Chalpin, Hendrix returned to Studio 76 in July and August of 1967 and recorded more music with Curtis Knight with the hopes of being released from his onerous contract. From a business perspective, his plan backfired, but more unique music was created as a result.

In addition to 1966 studio recordings such as “Hornet’s Nest” and “UFO,” No Business also features highlights from the July and August 1967 sessions.  Hendrix’s wah-wah guitar can be heard on “Hush Now” and “Love, Love” while also adding a Hagstrom 8-string bass part on an updated version of “Taking Care Of No Business” and “My Best Friend.”

When Jimi inexplicably appeared at Studio 76 on July 17, 1967, Chalpin was stunned by his good fortune.  In addition to the handful of Curtis Knight recordings featuring the guitarist, he now had Jimi Hendrix music made after his groundbreaking debut album Are You Experienced. Chalpin next scrambled to see what else he could pull together from his stockpiled archive to create a contrived Knight/Hendrix album.  The following day, he dusted off the 1966 master of “How Would You Feel” and had Knight compose new lyrics and add a new vocal.  This alternate version is included here.    He crafted mixes of Ricky Mason’s interpretation of “I Need You Everyday [Sick & Tired]” on which Hendrix had originally appeared the previous year.

On July 31, 1967, Chalpin created an unusual recording drawn from “Suey,” an odd 1966 session in which Jimi had participated.  Chalpin combined some of the on air patter radio disc jockey Douglas “Jocko” Henderson was known for, and intercut this with a recording he had produced with film star Jayne Mansfield.

The need by Chalpin to scrape together existing PPX material for a potential Curtis Knight/Jimi Hendrix album was made considerably easier when Hendrix returned on August 8, 1967.  The highlight of that session was Knight’s “Gloomy Monday”. Jimi provided the song’s propulsive rhythm guitar before he departed.   Needing a solo, Chalpin overdubbed two guitars and even a sitar to try and capitalize on Hendrix’s participation.   On the first volume of these PPX recordings , Hendrix can be clearly heard instructing Chalpin not to use his name on these recordings prior to a take of the song.  The producer disregarded Hendrix’s request and soon thereafter issued Get That Feeling via Capitol Records.  The album featured a cover image of Jimi Hendrix from the recent Monterey Pop Festival and no image of Knight.  The move both embarrassed and infuriated Hendrix.

Since acquiring the rights to all Jimi Hendrix recordings from Chalpin in 2014, Experience Hendrix has made it a mission to release these Curtis Knight & The Squires sessions tastefully, providing proper historic context, free of misleading packaging and without posthumous overdubs. No Business: The PPX Sessions Volume 2 accomplishes this while helping map out the evolution of Jimi Hendrix as a musician and songwriter.

Curtis Knight & The Squires No Business: The PPX Sessions Volume 2


  • UFO
  • No Business
  • Hush Now
  • Gloomy Monday [Alternate]
  • How Would You Feel [Alternate]
  • Love Love
  •   My Best Friend [Takes 3/4/5]
  • Hornet’s Nest [Alternate]
  • I Need You Every Day [Sick & Tired]
  • Suey

  • Taking Care Of No Business
  • Working All Day
  • Two Little Birds
  • Suddenly
  • UFO
  • Better Times Ahead
  • Everybody Knew But Me
  • If You Gonna Make A Fool Of Somebody
  • My Best Friend
  • Order ‘No Business’


    Cory Wong to Release his Eighth Album of 2020, New Single ft. Joe Satriani

    Cory Wong to Release his Eighth Album of 2020, New Single ft. Joe Satriani

    American Blues Scene Staff

    New single, “Massive,” featuring Joe Satriani out now

    Guitarist extraordinaire Cory Wong announces the release of his eighth album of 2020. The Minneapolis, MN-based jazz funk virtuoso’s The Striped Album arrives everywhere on Friday, October 23. The self-produced album finds Wong in typical giddy form. Ever the raconteur, Wong invites a variety of special guests to share in the merriment, including Kimbra, Tom Misch and guitar great Joe Satriani, who is featured on the new single, “Massive,” available now at all DSPs and streaming services.


     “Joe’s one of the nicest and greatest guitar players I’ve ever worked with,” says Wong. “I had been working on putting together material for my upcoming album and had a song that was perfect for him. Most of my music is pretty upbeat and happier major key songs. This song has a heavy minor key groove that feels like watching George Clinton wearing a pair of wet jeans walking through a knee high mud pit. It’s not really my vibe, but I thought it was still really cool and could fit on my album with the right collaborator. Someone who can bring the heavy rock vibe.

     “Joe and I have never met in person. As a matter of fact, we met over Zoom towards the beginning of the lockdown. We stayed in touch and he sent me what has become the most exciting remote tracks anyone has sent over. I loaded his guitar tracks into my ProTools session and just started cracking up. He went SO HARD. I told him the sort of thing I was looking for, and a temp track of me playing some lead guitar lines to outline the melody for him. He came back with the most aggressive and heavy guitar that I’ve ever had on an album. It’s the exact Joe Satriani people think of, and oddly enough, the track ended up being a Cory Wong song that people could expect, but with the heaviest of twists. I had been sitting on this song idea for a couple of years, but couldn’t quite solve the puzzle. As I immediately found out, Joe Satriani was the missing puzzle piece.”

    The Striped Album follows the release of two live albums – The Syncopate & Motivate Tour, Set 1 and Set 2; two contemplative acoustic records – Trail Songs: Dusk and its sister record, Trail Songs: Dawn; an ambient album with Jon Batiste – Meditations; a live album with The Metropole Orkest, Live In Amsterdam; and a jazz-funk album, Elevator Music for an Elevated Mood. As if that weren’t enough, he also began hosting a new podcast, “Wong Notes” with Premier Guitar, created a plug-in for in-studio use and started a new recording vlog.

    Since 2017, Wong has been touring worldwide playing his original music on the biggest stages. Whether being featured as a guest with the house band on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, or as a member of Vulfpeck and the Fearless Flyers, Wong is a restless creator who doesn’t sit still for long. His 2019 album, Motivational Music For The Syncopated Soul, went top 20 on the Billboard Jazz Chart and top 10 on the Contemporary Jazz Chart. His 2020 album, Elevator Music for an Elevated Mood, went top 20 on the Contemporary Jazz Chart and another 2020 album, Live In Amsterdam’ With The Metropole Orkest, went top 10 on the Classical Crossover Albums Chart.


    Design (feat. Kimbra)

    Clickbait (feat. Hornheads)


    Synchronicity (feat. Phoebe Katis)

    Smooth Move (feat. Tom Misch)


    The Pinky Harp (feat. David T. Walker)

    MASSIVE (feat. Joe Satriani)

    Livin’ It Up (feat. Mr. Talkbox)

    The Boardwalk


    Pre-order The Striped Album

    Foo Fighters, Leon Bridges, The Roots, and More to Play Save Our Stages Virtual Festival

    Foo Fighters, Leon Bridges, The Roots, and More to Play Save Our Stages Virtual Festival

    Lauren Leadingham

    Help us #SaveOurStages by telling Congress to ACT NOW!

    The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) is partnering with YouTube for a 3-day virtual music festival to Save Our Stages. #SOSFEST will live stream on NIVA’s official YouTube channel October 16-18 and will feature all new performances. This benefit event aims to generate awareness, advocacy and donations for the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund, directly supporting our most vulnerable venues experiencing catastrophic revenue loss.

    The Late Late Show bandleader/announcer Reggie Watts will host the event, which will boast a diverse lineup including Foo Fighters, Rise Against, Dave Matthews, Leon Bridges, Demi Lovato, Little Big Town, Miley Cyrus, Portugal. The Man, Reba McEntire, The Roots, The Revivalists, Brittany Howard, Brothers Osborne, Finneas, Jason Mraz, The Lumineers, Macklemore, Nathaniel Rateliff and a number of others.

    Each of the performers will be playing at some of the most historically significant music venues in America — venues facing grave difficulties at this time. “The smaller music venues and the ones that are really struggling are not only culturally important, they are emotionally important,” said Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters.

    Other artists confirmed are Adam Melchor, Alec Benjamin, Bea Miller, Black Pumas, Brothers Osborne, Cautious Clay, Dillon Francis, Dizzy Fae, Finneas, Gus Dapperton, Jason Mraz, JP Saxe, Kelsea Ballerini, Leon Bridges, Little Big Town, The Lumineers, Marshmello & Demi Lovato, Macklemore, Major Lazer, Miley Cyrus, Monica, Nathaniel Rateliff, Phoebe Bridgers, Portugal. The Man, Reba McEntire, The Revivalists, Rise Against and Sebastián Yatra. The complete list of venues appears below.

    You can subscribe to the NIVA YouTube channel and set a reminder to tune in Oct. 16-18 and watch the exclusive performances. You can also help spread the word by RSVPing on social media to the Oct. 16, 17 and 18 performances. And most importantly, you can donate to the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund.

    The time is now to help save our beloved independent music venues. The National Independent Venue Association is asking music lovers for a final push of letters to Congress. There won’t be another opportunity. Please help #SaveOurStages now. By filling out a simple form, tell your legislators to support the RESTART act, which would financial aid in various forms to small businesses such as venues.

    Kenny Wayne Shepherd Launches Pre-Order, Releases Trailer For First-Ever Video Release

    Kenny Wayne Shepherd Launches Pre-Order, Releases Trailer For First-Ever Video Release

    Jon Bleicher Publicity

    The release of Straight To You: Live comes at a time when there is no live music and the world looks very different than it did 12 months ago

    Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band has released a new trailer for Straight To You: Live, the group’s first-ever live concert video, out November 27th via Provogue. “People have been asking us to do a live concert video forever, for decades,” Shepherd explains. “We’ve been working so much focusing on studio recordings. But I’ve been hearing the call from the fans for many years now.” As live music has come to a standstill, the band wanted to give fans a taste once again of that experience, and this blistering set shows it to them in full force.

    The Live! In Chicago album, the band’s only other live output, was released a decade ago and earned itself a Grammy nomination, but this time around you get to watch the band in its full glory, in addition to listening. Over the past 10 years, the multi-platinum selling artist has gone from strength to strength, winning countless awards, releasing four studio albums and touring the world over several times – from Brazil to Europe, India to Canada, US to Australia and beyond.

    The band’s last studio album, The Traveler, was released in May of last year, giving the band their eighth #1 on the Billboard Blues Albums chart. The performance captured on Straight To You: Live took place at the famous Leverkusen Jazzstage for the iconic German TV show, Rockpalast on November 25th, 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of The ‘Traveler World Tour.’

    The seven-piece band took the stage and immediately launched into their most-recent hit-single “Woman Like You,” with the honey-soaked powerhouse voice of Noah Hunt blasting “I ain’t looking for a one time girl” backed by the fiery fretwork of Shepherd. It’s the first of four songs from The Traveler featured in the set. “The whole intention of this set-list is that we come out with a lot of energy, get the crowd pumped up. We want to get them energized right off the bat.” It slips into the soul-drenched blues of “Long Time Running,” with Chris Layton’s drums firing through the building horn section as Hunt and Shepherd lock-in on duel vocals, whilst blue and yellow lights spray the stage, catapulting you right to the front row of the audience.

    “We were really fired up,” he continues. “We had expanded the band and brought in the horn section, it was their first time over to Europe with us. So we were glad to have the full ensemble there. It’s always exciting when we’re incorporating a new album into the live performance. Remembering the show, there were several stand out moments. The song off the new record ‘I Want You,’ is a really extended version, and every soloist gets an opportunity to really shine, and everybody brought it 150%.”

    The band never let up, and it’s in a live environment that Shepherd truly lets it rip. The five-time Grammy-nominated guitarist has developed a formidable back catalogue that only someone with road-worn life experience can deliver, and this set is besieged with all of the classics. Shepherd prowls the stage on “Diamonds and Gold,” explodes into honky-tonk revelry on the Elmore James cover “Talk To Me Baby,” and stuns with an 11-minute epic version of “The Heat of The Sun.” “On that the band is really focused, everybody is listening to one another, everybody’s working collectively on the dynamics of the song, bringing it down, building it back up, trying to transcend what’s actually happening on stage and take the music to the next level.”

    The band continues to shift up gears with a 9-minute version of “Shame Shame Shame,” a selection from Shepherd’s 1995 debut. “The reason why the song goes on the way that it does is because everybody is feeling it and there’s a lot of special moments that I’m proud of. Giving the keyboard and horn guys their moments to shine, and standing back and letting those guys do what they do best, made me feel just as proud as any solo that I played that night,” he enthuses.

    While Kenny has had six #1 rock tracks and a slew of top ten songs, no show would be complete without the mega-hit “Blue on Black.” Featured on the band’s second album, the song spent an incredible 42 weeks on the US Billboard Rock Charts, winning Rock Track of the Year, and now has over 25 million streams. “That’s the song that we cannot not walk out onto the stage and play,” says Shepherd. “I’ve been playing that song for more than 20 years, and I still enjoy playing it. As a songwriter it’s the song that you hope you can write. It’s a timeless song that doesn’t really seem to age. A year ago a new version of it came out with the Five Finger Death Punch guys, Brian May, myself and Brantley Gilbert. In the states it went to #1 on the rock charts again. As a songwriter, to have a #1 hit twice with the same song is really rare, and certainly something to be proud of.” The new version of the song has received more than 80 million streams so far.

    Talking about not being able to perform live during the COVID-19 pandemic, Shepherd says; “I miss it. Live concert performances are the essence of what we do best. So, not having that in our life is yeah, this has been an eye-opening experience I think for all musicians. It’s been a personal loss for every performer out there who does what we do. A lot of our lives have been spent pouring our heart and soul into that.”

    The release of Straight To You: Live comes at a time when there is no live music and the world looks very different than it did 12 months ago, but as you watch the seven-piece Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band bow out on a phenomenal finale of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and wave goodbye to the cheering Leverkusen crowd, it reignites the love of live music and the hope that is still to come.

    Straight To You: Live – Out November 27th

    1. Woman Like You (Live)
    2. Mr. Soul (Live)
    3. Long Time Running (Live)
    4. I Want You (Live)
    5. Diamonds & Gold (Live)
    6. Talk To Me Baby (Live)
    7. Heat Of The Sun (Live)
    8. Down For Love (Live)
    9. Shame, Shame, Shame (Live)
    10. Turn To Stone (Live)
    11. Blue On Black (Live)
    12. I’m A King Bee (Live)
    13. Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (Live)

    Pre-Order Straight to You: Live
    Kenny Wayne Shepherd

    *Feature image by Will Byington

    ‘Charles Brown’s Cool Christmas Blues’ Coming to Vinyl Via Craft Recordings

    ‘Charles Brown’s Cool Christmas Blues’ Coming to Vinyl Via Craft Recordings

    Craft Recordings

    Nominated for Best Traditional Blues Album at the 1995 GRAMMY® Awards, Charles Brown’s Cool Christmas Blues offers a warm, laid-back set of primarily original material—including Brown’s modern yuletide classics “Please Come Home for Christmas” and the U.S. Billboard R&B chart Top 10 hit “Merry Christmas Baby.”

    Craft Recordings announces the reissue of Charles Brown’s Cool Christmas Blues on vinyl. Due out November 13th and available to pre-order today, this pressing marks the very first vinyl release for the blues titan’s 1994 Christmas album. In addition to the wide release, Craft’s online store will offer an exclusive white and blue marble vinyl variant, limited to 350 copies worldwide. Lacquers were cut by George Horn and Anne-Marie Suenram at Fantasy Studios, while the vinyl was pressed at Noiseland Industries.

    Nominated for Best Traditional Blues Album at the 1995 GRAMMY® Awards, Charles Brown’s Cool Christmas Blues offers a warm, laid-back set of primarily original material—including Brown’s modern yuletide classics “Please Come Home for Christmas” and the U.S. Billboard R&B chart Top 10 hit “Merry Christmas Baby.” The artist also performs lesser-known gems like “Santa’s Blues” and “To Someone That I Love,” while he puts his own stellar twist on “Silent Night.”

    Recorded in San Francisco, the session features Brown on vocals, piano and celeste, with Clifford Solomon on tenor saxophone, Dannon Caron on guitar, Ruth Davies on acoustic bass and Gaylord Birch on drums. BB King’s longtime sideman Bobby Forte also makes a special appearance on tenor saxophone, while the “Godfather of Rhythm and Blues” Johnny Otis jumps in on the vibes.

    Brown also revisits two of his most famous songs, including “Merry Christmas Baby.” While the tune is credited to Lou Baxter and Brown’s bandmate, Johnny Moore, it has long been noted that Brown was instrumental in co-writing the classic track. Although the true story behind the composition has never been confirmed, it was Brown, unmistakably, who made the song a hit when he recorded it alongside Moore with the Three Blazers in 1947. Released in November, “Merry Christmas Baby” added a wink and a romantic twist to the standard holiday fare—and America loved it. That season, the song went to No.3 on the Billboard R&B Juke Box chart, while it would become a holiday cannon over the decades. It has since been covered by many of music’s greats, including Elvis Presley, Bonnie Raitt, John Legend and, perhaps most famously, Otis Redding.

    The artist followed with “Please Come Home for Christmas” in 1960. The song, written and recorded by Brown, reentered the charts year-over-year—for nine seasons total—eventually hitting the top of Billboard’s Christmas Singles in 1972. Like its predecessor, the tune has become a holiday staple. It was notably covered by the Eagles in 1978 (their version hit the Top 20—a rare occurrence for a holiday track at that time) and by Bon Jovi in 1992. The song has also been popularly covered by the likes of Willie Nelson, Martina McBride and Kelly Clarkson, among many others.

    West Coast blues pioneer Charles Brown (1922–1999) was an influential singer, songwriter and pianist, known for his soft, laid-back stylings. The classically trained, Texas-born artist relocated to Los Angeles in the early ’40s, where he soon found success as the singer and pianist in Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers. The group, which followed the popular jazz-influenced blues-club style of the time, scored their first R&B hit with “Drifting Blues.” The trio continued to chart throughout the decade, with songs like “Sunny Road,” “So Long,” “New Orleans Blues” and, of course, “Merry Christmas Baby.”

    Brown embarked on a prolific solo career in 1949, leading his own band and releasing a steady stream of R&B hits throughout the ’50s, including “Get Yourself Another Fool,” “Trouble Blues,” “Black Night” and “Please Come Home for Christmas.”

    While his career slowed in the ’70s, Brown enjoyed a major career resurgence in the ’80s and ’90s, gaining a new generation of fans. In his mid-60s, he embarked on the road with Bonnie Raitt and released a slew of new albums, including One More for the Road (1986), as well as the GRAMMY®-nominated titles All My Life (1990) and Someone to Love (1992). His later work was also widely recognized by his peers, garnering him three Blues Music Awards and 17 nominations. Brown’s body of work and artistic impact was celebrated throughout his final decade. The artist, who influenced many of the biggest names in R&B and blues—including Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Sam Cooke and Chuck Berry—was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1996 and, just months after his passing, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. Perhaps his crowning achievement, however, was becoming a recipient of the National Heritage Fellowship in 1997. Presented by the National Endowment for the Arts, the fellowship marks the highest honor that can be bestowed upon traditional and folk artists in the U.S.

    While his career slowed in the ’70s, Brown enjoyed a major career resurgence in the ’80s and ’90s, gaining a new generation of fans. In his mid-60s, he embarked on the road with Bonnie Raitt and released a slew of new albums, including One More for the Road (1986), as well as the GRAMMY®-nominated titles All My Life (1990) and Someone to Love (1992). His later work was also widely recognized by his peers, garnering him three Blues Music Awards and 17 nominations. Brown’s body of work and artistic impact was celebrated throughout his final decade. The artist, who influenced many of the biggest names in R&B and blues—including Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Sam Cooke and Chuck Berry—was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1996 and, just months after his passing, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. Perhaps his crowning achievement, however, was becoming a recipient of the National Heritage Fellowship in 1997. Presented by the National Endowment for the Arts, the fellowship marks the highest honor that can be bestowed upon traditional and folk artists in the U.S.

    Craft Recordings

    ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ Singer-Songwriter Johnny Nash Dead at 80

    ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ Singer-Songwriter Johnny Nash Dead at 80

    JD Nash

    Marketed as a rival to Johnny Mathis, he made his major label debut in 1957 on the ABC-Paramount label with the single “A Teenager Sings the Blues.” Nash had his first chart hit in early 1958 with a cover of Doris Day’s “A Very Special Love.”

    Pop/R&B-turned Reggae singer-songwriter Johnny Nash died on Tuesday. The death was confirmed by Nash’s son, John Nash III, who stated Johnny was at home when he passed away of natural causes. No word on cause of death yet has been released at this time. Nash was 80.

    Born John Lester Nash, Jr. on August 19th, 1940 in Houston, Texas, he sang in the choir at Progressive New Hope Baptist Church in South Central Houston as a child. Beginning in 1953, Nash sang covers of R&B hits on Matinee, a local variety show on KPRC-TV; and from 1956 he sang on Arthur Godfrey’s radio and television programs for a seven-year period. He also enjoyed success as an actor early in his career appearing in the screen version of playwright Louis S. Peterson’s Take a Giant Step, for which he won a Silver Sail Award for his performance from the Locarno International Film Festival.

    Marketed as a rival to Johnny Mathis, he made his major label debut in 1957 on the ABC-Paramount label with the single “A Teenager Sings the Blues.” Nash had his first chart hit in early 1958 with a cover of Doris Day’s “A Very Special Love.”

    Far from being just another great voice, Nash was also a label owner, forming the JoDa Records label in New York with Danny Sims in 1965. One of the top groups in their stable was The Cowsills.

    Besides “I Can See Clearly Now,” his Billboard #1 hit, Nash recorded several hits in Jamaica, where he traveled in early 1968, as his girlfriend had family links with local TV and radio host and novel writer Neville Willoughby. Nash planned to try breaking the local rocksteady sound into the United States. Willoughby introduced him to a local struggling vocal group, The Wailers. Members Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh introduced him to the local scene. Nash signed all three to an exclusive publishing and recording contract with his newly formed JAD label and financed some of their recordings, some with Byron Lee’s Dragonaires and some with other local musicians such as Jackie Jackson and Lynn Taitt. None of the Marley and Tosh songs he produced were successful. Only two singles were released at the time: “Bend Down Low” (JAD 1968) and “Reggae on Broadway” (Columbia, 1972), which was recorded in London in 1972 on the same sessions that produced “I Can See Clearly Now.” It sold over one million copies, and was certified gold  by the R.I.A.A. in November 1972. The I Can See Clearly Now album includes four original Marley compositions published by JAD: “Guava Jelly”, “Comma Comma”, “You Poured Sugar On Me” and the follow-up hit “Stir It Up”. “There Are More Questions Than Answers” was a third hit single taken from the album.

    JAD Records ceased to exist in 1971, but it was revived in 1997 by American Marley specialist Roger Steffens and French musician and producer Bruno Blum for the Complete Bob Marley & the Wailers 1967-1972 ten-album series for which several of the Nash-produced Marley and Tosh tracks were mixed or remixed by Blum for release. Nash’s biggest hits were the early reggae (rocksteady) tunes “Hold Me Tight” (a #5 hit in the US and the UK, the tune used more than a year earlier in Score commercials) and “Stir It Up”, the latter written by Bob Marley prior to Marley’s international success. In the UK, his biggest hit was with the song “Tears On My Pillow” which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart in July 1975 for one week.

    After a hit version of Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World” and “Let’s Go Dancing” in 1979, for many years he seemed to have dropped out of sight, with the exception of a brief resurgence in the mid-1980s with the album Here Again (1986), which was preceded by the minor UK hit, “Rock Me Baby”; however, in May 2006 he was singing again at SugarHill Recording Studios and at Tierra Studios in his native Houston. Working with SugarHill chief engineer Andy Bradley and Tierra Studios’ GRAMMY-winning Randy Miller, he began the work of transferring analog tapes of his songs from the 1970s and 1980s to Pro Tools digital format. Younger audiences were introduced to Nash’s music with the appearance of Jimmy Cliff’s cover of “I Can See Clearly Now” in Disney’s 1993 hit film Cool Runnings.

    In all Johnny Nash had 23 singles on the Billboard charts. “I Can See Clearly Now,” was his most popular hitting the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 4, 1972, remaining there for four weeks. The song also made him one of the first non-Jamaicans to record reggae music on the island. His long-time partner Danny Sims told the Houston Chronicle in 2012, “Johnny loved reggae. And he loved Bob [Marley] and the guys. He taught Bob how to sing on the mic, and they taught Johnny how to play the reggae rhythm.”

    Reactions came from across the globe, including from British reggae band UB40:

    RIP Johnny Nash

    Another legend lost, one of the first non Jamaicans to have a Reggae hit!

    Thanks for pathing the way.

    Big Love

    Along with his son, Nash is also survived by daughter, Monica, and wife, Carli Nash.

    Johnny Nash

    *Feature image from the artists website.

    Guitarist Eddie Van Halen Dies Aged 65

    Guitarist Eddie Van Halen Dies Aged 65

    Lauren Leadingham

    Rest in peace, guitar god and groundbreaker

    Eddie Van Halen, main songwriter, guitarist and founding member of his namesake band Van Halen, has died after a lengthy battle with throat cancer. His son, Wolfgang Van Halen, confirmed today on Twitter. He was 65 years old.

    — Wolf Van Halen (@WolfVanHalen) October 6, 2020

    Edward Van Halen was born on January 26, 1955, in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and moved with his family to California in the early 1960s. While growing up in Pasadena, Eddie and his brother, Alex, took classical piano lessons. By the time he was a teenager, he was proving to be an exceptional musician and had switched to guitar, Alex to drums.

    The brothers formed Van Halen in 1974 with vocalist David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony. Within just a few years, the band became wildly influential on the Los Angeles scene, in large part due to Eddie’s signature guitar sound.

    In 1977, Kiss bassist Gene Simmons discovered them at a local club and footed the bill for their first recording session. Subsequently, Van Halen signed with Warner Bros. In 1978 the band released its eponymous debut album, featuring the smash hit “Runnin’ With The Devil.”

    Van Halen followed with a prolific string of multi-platinum albums: 1979’s Van Halen II, 1980’s Women and Children First, 1981’s Fair Warning and 1982’s Diver Down. And in 1984, the band’s career catapulted into the stratosphere with 1984, which included “Jump,” “Hot for Teacher,” and “Jump,” MTV running a constant loop of the three videos.

    Roth left the band in 1985 after recording his own solo album and was replaced with Sammy Hagar. Van Halen continued on in their success and put out several albums with Hagar as frontman. By the mid-90s, Eddie and Hagar clashed as Van Halen was sober and the new frontman was unapologetically not. Hagar recorded his last album with Van Halen in 1995. In 2004, he returned for a greatest hits release and tour.

    Following Hagar’s departure, Roth also returned for a Van Halen reunion. After recording two songs and making an MTV Music Awards appearance, he left again and was then replaced by Gary Cherone of Extreme. In 2012, Roth was back again, and the band released A Different Kind of Truth, their first record with Roth since 1984. In May 2015, Van Halen opened the Billboard Music Awards with Roth, performing their classic “Panama.”

    Van Halen was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

    Rest in peace, guitar god and groundbreaker.

    *Feature image: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images



    John Lee Hooker ‘Live At Montreux 1983 & 1990’ on Multiple Formats November 6

    John Lee Hooker ‘Live At Montreux 1983 & 1990’ on Multiple Formats November 6

    Carol Kaye

    Known to music fans around the world as the “King of the Boogie,” John Lee Hooker endures as one of the true superstars of the blues genre, the ultimate beholder of cool

    On November 6th, The John Lee Hooker Estate and Eagle Rock Entertainment will release John Lee Hooker Live at Montreux 1983 & 1990 as a 2-LP set, digital video & digital audio.

    Four-time Grammy® Award winner and Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award recipient John Lee Hooker will forever be hailed as a legend of the blues genre. His storied career continues its impact on modern music even today – with fans spanning generations and transcending borders. Hooker was responsible for molding the blues into a sound that was entirely his own, dispensing with 12-bar blues in favor of an intensely deep, funky groove.

    Located in Switzerland, the Montreux Jazz Festival is one of the world’s biggest and longest-running jazz festivals. Live at Montreux witnesses John Lee Hooker deliver two blistering performances filmed at the festival in 1983 and 1990. He was joined by The Coast to Coast Blues Band, covering an impressive set of hits from across his storied career including “Boom Boom”, “Crawlin’ King Snake” and his very first single “Boogie Chillen” – the latter expanded to an epic 13-person jam on the 1983 set, featuring guitarist Luther Allison, harmonica legend Sugar Blue, and a horn section. For his triumphant return to Montreux in 1990, Hooker added an additional guitar and sax to the line-up, as well as female vocalist Vala Cupp. “The Hook” infuses his set with songs from his 1989 Grammy® winning album, The Healer, including the hypnotic title track.

    John Lee Hooker’s first single, “Boogie Chillen’’ rose to #1 on the R&B chart in 1949, selling over a million copies. Hooker was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. In 2008, “Boogie Chillen” was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library Of Congress as a song that is “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform(s) or reflect(s) life in the United States.” “Boogie Chillen’’ and “Boom Boom” were both inducted into the Grammy® Hall Of Fame and both songs are also included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of The 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

    Known to music fans around the world as the “King of the Boogie,” John Lee Hooker endures as one of the true superstars of the blues genre, the ultimate beholder of cool. His work is widely recognized for its impact on modern music – his simple, yet deeply effective songs transcend borders and languages around the globe. Each decade of Hooker’s long career brought a new generation of fans and fresh opportunities for the ever-evolving artist. He never slowed down either: As John Lee Hooker entered his 70s, he suddenly found himself in the most successful era of his career – reinvented yet again, and energized as ever, touring and recording up until his passing in 2001.

    John Lee Hooker

    GRAMMY-Winning Guitarist Lee Ritenour Announces First Album in Five Years

    GRAMMY-Winning Guitarist Lee Ritenour Announces First Album in Five Years

    Jon Bleicher Publicity

    Both by necessity and design, this latest album represents music in its purest form: one man, channeling his headspace and the history unfolding around him, using the instrument that has sustained him all these years

    On December 4th, GRAMMY-winning guitarist Lee Ritenour will release Dreamcatcher, his first studio album in five years. Weaving tapestries of instrumental guitar and conjuring eclectic moods, the 12 tracks of Dreamcatcher rank amongst the most melodic and tinglingly beautiful in Ritenour’s catalogue. But there’s a power and purpose here, too, hinting at the darker circumstances that sparked this new record. “Our house and my studio in Malibu, California burnt down in 2018,” Ritenour recalls. “About 100 of my guitars went up in the fire, plus 40 amps, lots of music, the history of my whole career, pretty much. A week after the fire, I went to the hospital, which I’d never had to do before, for surgery to replace an aortic valve. So those incidents and the support from my family and friends absolutely went into this music. Making this record was a life-saver for me.”

    For Ritenour, there aren’t many ‘firsts’ left to achieve. During his dazzling five-decade career, the fabled LA guitarist has taken his music to the outer limits, alighting on every genre and occupying every position in the rock ‘n’ roll firmament. He’s been an enfant terrible of ’70s fusion, a crossover star of the ’80s pop chart, an honorary exponent of Brazilian jazz, and the fingers behind ’90s supergroup, Fourplay. Ritenour’s accolades include: 45 albums,16 Grammy nominations, Alumnus of the year at USC, Los Angeles’ Jazz Society Honoree (2019), plus thousands of sessions with legends such as Frank Sinatra, Pink Floyd, B.B. King, Tony Bennett, among others.

    And yet, when he checks the rear-view mirror, the 68-year-old acknowledges he’s never made a record like Dreamcatcher. “People have been telling me for years: ‘Rit, you gotta make a solo guitar record.’ In the past, I’ve always been the band guy, the ensemble guy, the collaborative-guitar-player guy. So this was the one project I hadn’t done. And this year, I knew it was time.”

    Dreamcatcher might have been born from personal challenges, but the record took shape against the global tragedy of COVID-19. Ritenour had already written several key tracks before shutdown. But as he settled into the makeshift studio at his new home in Marina Del Rey, equipped with little more than seven guitars, a computer interface and good intentions, the guitarist let the context flood into the music he was tracking. “It was an important album for me,” he notes. “Especially now, with everything going on in the world.”

    Even without lyrics, every track tells a story. Take the molten blues licks of “Abbot Kinney,” named for the fabled boulevard in Venice, California. “One day when everything was shut down,” says Ritenour, “I drove my bike there and was just devastated to find it completely empty. But then I heard this rock guitar start up. I don’t know if it was a kid, but somebody nearby had just turned it up to 10 and said, ‘Fuck it, I’m gonna have some fun.’ It brought a huge smile to my face and inspired me to write that song on my Les Paul.”

    Likewise, anyone living through the age of COVID-19 will feel a deep affinity with “2020”: a three-part symphony in which Ritenour takes the pulse of the times. “The three parts were a reflection of what was going on this year,” he nods, “when all of a sudden everybody’s life shut down. I was thinking about the young musicians that were out of work – and people in every walk of life.”

    Elsewhere Dreamcatcher delves beyond the pandemic. While Ritenour strived to switch up musical styles – from the title track’s dovetailing classical guitars to the Taylor baritone that drives “Starlight’s” tumbling folk, and the mad scientist multi-tracking of “Couldn’t Help Myself” – he also ran the gamut of mood. “Because even I get tired,” he reasons, “of solo guitar albums when it pretty much all sounds the same.”

    As such, “For DG” salutes the harmonic sensibilities of the great producer, pianist, and long-time comrade, Dave Grusin. But it couldn’t be further from “Charleston”, whose mellow slink is laced with bittersweet thoughts on the ebb and flow of US race relations. “A few years ago, I played in Charleston, South Carolina,” recalls Ritenour, “and it was charming and the people were warm, and it was a very mixed, soulful audience. Charleston has a history of the beginnings of slavery, but this was modern day Charleston, y’know? But then, a few years later, I’m writing this tune while watching the continuation of the struggle. As musicians who travel all over the world, we go, ‘What? This shit is still going on in the US?’ So it was appropriate to dedicate that song to Black Lives Matter.”

    Dreamcatcher not only confronts the here-and-now: it also slips back into Ritenour’s rich history. Long-standing fans will recognize “Morning Glory Jam” as a rework of the guitarist’s classic 1977 tune. “On 2015’s A Twist Of Rit, I had revisited a lot of older material, so I wanted to keep this record fresh. But one day, I remembered when I did sessions for Barry White and how there had been four or five guitar players all playing these incredible rhythm parts. That’s the kind of groove I had in my head for this new version of Morning Glory.”

    Collaboration might be a constant, but in a career full of left-turns, Dreamcatcher is another thrilling detour for Lee Ritenour. Both by necessity and design, this latest album represents music in its purest form: one man, channeling his headspace and the history unfolding around him, using the instrument that has sustained him all these years. There is a first time for everything and there has never been a better time for Dreamcatcher. “I’ve never done anything like this before and it’s an important missing piece in my guitar history. It was inspiring and it was meant to happen this year, in these times – after a lifetime of playing the guitar,” he considers, “this project reaffirmed just how much I love the guitar.”

    Lee Ritenour

    Holly Bowling Returns With ‘Seeking All That’s Still Unsung,’ Feat. Piano Renditions of the Grateful Dead

    Holly Bowling Returns With ‘Seeking All That’s Still Unsung,’ Feat. Piano Renditions of the Grateful Dead

    Big Hassle Media

    Currently on groundbreaking virtual Wilderness concert tour

    Piano virtuoso Holly Bowling is proud to announce a beautiful new album featuring solo piano renditions of the music of the Grateful Dead. Seeking All That’s Still Unsung arrives everywhere on Friday, November 20. The evocative collection features nine instrumental piano interpretations of songs spanning the Grateful Dead’s extensive catalog — both classics and deep tracks — and is heralded by the release of “St. Stephen,” available on all DSPs and streaming services.

    “With this being my second album of solo piano Grateful Dead music, there was a sense of trying to look for what I hadn’t said on the last album,” says Bowling. “After a few more years of exploring these songs in the solo piano context, I felt free to take more liberties with how I approach the arrangements and improvisation. The album keeps the exploratory energy of a live performance but accomplishes things that would be impossible outside of the studio, including the use of overdubs and exploring piano-on-piano improvisation as a conversation with my own playing.”

    September saw Bowling embark on a groundbreaking virtual concert tour, featuring extraordinary solo performances filmed at some of America’s most spectacular natural locations. The Wilderness Tour has featured performances from California’s glistening Lake Tahoe, Idaho’s epic Bruneau Canyon and Utah’s extraterrestrial Salt Flats. The first leg of the tour will conclude at South Dakota’s rugged Badlands on Thursday, October 8.

    There’s plenty of time to do something different,” says Bowling. And I desperately wanted to get outside – that’s where I’ve been feeling most okay during all this. So we’re taking this crazy road trip in a self-contained little camper van and driving my gear out to these wild places and setting up and playing in settings I never in a million years thought I’d get to play music in.”

    All performances will continue to be broadcasted for free via Bowling’s official Facebook page and Youtube channel every Thursday at 5:30pm PT / 8:30pm ET; viewers are invited to contribute to the San Francisco-based pianist’s Virtual Tip Jar. Stay tuned for the second leg of the Wilderness Tour, which will be announced soon.

    Watch Holly’s Bruneau Canyon set below.


    St. Stephen

    The Eleven

    China Cat Sunflower

    I Know You Rider

    Sage And Spirit

    Lost Sailor

    Saint Of Circumstance

    Weather Report Suite Prelude, Part I, Part II (Let It Grow)

    Stella Blue


    Holly Bowling
    Pre-order Seeking All That’s Still Unsung


    *Feature image by Jesse Bell


    Robert Plant’s ‘Digging Deep: Subterranea’ Out Now

    Robert Plant’s ‘Digging Deep: Subterranea’ Out Now

    Lauren Leadingham

    New compilation celebrates third season premiere of the acclaimed podcast

    Robert Plant has released his 2-CD set, Digging Deep: Subterranea, spanning his four-decade career in 30 tracks. The limited edition collection, available for streaming and digital download, also includes three previously unreleased new songs.

    Digging Deep features landmark tracks from each of the 8x GRAMMY® Award-winner’s 11 solo albums, including a number of songs featured on Digging Deep with Robert Plant. Highlights include the #1 rock hit, “Hurting Kind,” and the GRAMMY® Award-nominated “Shine It All Around,” alongside the previously unreleased exclusives, “Nothing Takes the Place of You” (written by New Orleans musician Toussaint McCall and recorded for the acclaimed 2013 film, Winter In The Blood), “Charlie Patton Highway (Turn It Up – Part 1),” taken from the soon-to-be-released album Band of Joy Volume 2 and a spectacular duet rendition of Charley Feathers’ rockabilly classic, “Too Much Alike” featuring Patty Griffin.

    Plant is accompanied throughout Digging Deep by a tenured lineup of musicians: Jimmy Page, Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin, Phil Collins, Nigel Kennedy, Richard Thompson, and brothers Strange Sensation/The Sensational Space Shifters.

    Plant’s popular podcast, Digging Deep with Robert Plant, is currently in the middle of its third season, all episodes recorded earlier this year with BBC 6 Music’s Matt Everitt before a live audience at London’s Rough Trade East.

    Robert Plant’s music is the product of a lifetime of journeys exploring the music from the Welsh Borders to Nashville, and those experiences can be heard in his songs. Digging Deep with Robert Plant finds him delving into his back catalogue to revisit songs while also telling stories of inspiration, collaboration, and intervention.

    Order Digging Deep: Subterranea

    *Feature image by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

    Watch: Tom Petty’s Official Video for ‘Leave Virginia Alone’ from ‘Wildflowers’ Reissue

    Watch: Tom Petty’s Official Video for ‘Leave Virginia Alone’ from ‘Wildflowers’ Reissue

    Lauren Leadingham

    Remembering Tom Petty (October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017). In our rock and roll hearts, you will always be.

    Leave Virginia Alone,” the lead single and another previously unreleased song from Tom Petty’s long-awaited second half of Wildflowers – a collection he named All The Rest – is out now. Tom wrote “Leave Virginia Alone” in January 1993, in the inchoate stage of Wildflowers.

    The song debuts alongside a video co-directed by Mark Seliger and Tom’s daughter Adria Petty. The video stars actress Casimere Jollette (Netflix’s upcoming Tiny Pretty Things) and was shot around Connecticut, as well as in and around Seliger’s studio in New York City.

    In speaking with David Fricke yesterday on SiriusXM’s Tom Petty Radio, Adria notes, “We were very resourceful about trying to create a character that could be assigned to anyone. That’s why Virginia in this video is very mysterious but she has her little glimpses of characters. We really worked to cast someone authentic—that felt like they were really feeling their feelings and someone that you could believe. We wanted the song do the heavy lifting in this video, and sort of step out of the way and just give it something to breathe with.” Seliger adds, “The one idea that kept coming back to both of us is that we really want Tom to be narrating the story. We really want to hear his voice as he runs you through this journey that this woman is having.”

    Watch the official video for “Leave Virginia Alone.”

    Pre-order ‘Wildflowers & All the Rest’

    *Images courtesy of artist’s site

    Documentary Film ‘Herb Alpert Is…’ World Premiere Today

    Documentary Film ‘Herb Alpert Is…’ World Premiere Today

    Grandstand Media

    “Herb is a true artist who did things the right way, achieved success on his own terms, and brought much joy to the world in the process.” – John Scheinfeld

    Today, preeminent global theatrical distributor Abramorama will host the world premiere of the documentary Herb Alpert Is…. The global LIVE event will feature a Q&A with Herb Alpert and director John Scheinfeld moderated by the Grammy Museum’s Artistic Director Scott Goldman immediately following the film. Fans can tune in at 5PM PST/ 8PM EST on October 1st via Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter and and those that join the live premiere will be treated to a pre-show with some of Herb’s illustrious friends. On October 2nd, the film will then be available via a nationwide Watch Now @ Home cinema release and globally on demand through Amazon, iTunes and other video-on-demand providers. The film will also be available via manufacturing on demand on DVD on Amazon and other retailers. Blu-Ray to be available later next month. A companion box set of the same name. Herb Alpert Is… will also be available on October 2nd, digitally, in LP format featuring a coffee table book and a five-piece 180 gram vinyl set, and on CD as a 3-disc set. Both physical formats will feature 63 songs spanning 5 decades, 180 pages of vintage photos, liner notes and an essay from music journalist Bud Scoppa. The box set is available for preorder today here.

    One of the most accomplished artists in the music industry, Alpert has sold over 72 million records and co-founded A&M Records, one of the most successful independent music labels in history and home to such artists as Janet Jackson, The Police, Cat Stevens and Peter Frampton. Herb Alpert Is… celebrates the life and work of Herb Alpert and the impact he has had on American culture. His latest album, Over the Rainbow was released in October 2019 and debuted at #1 on the Billboard Jazz and Contemporary Jazz album charts.

    Filmmaker John Scheinfeld’s (Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, The US vs John Lennon) documentary Herb Alpert Is… a passionate and inspiring exploration of Alpert’s personal and creative journey that reveals the critical events, experiences and challenges that have shaped an extraordinary life and instilled deep within the Grammy-winning trumpeter the desire to make a difference each and every day. Colleagues ranging from Questlove to Sting to Bill Moyers bring their unique voices and perspectives to telling this remarkable story.

    In all, Herb Alpert has earned 15 gold and 14 platinum records; won nine Grammys between 1966 and 2014 and received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama in 2012. In 1962 Herb co-founded the indie label, A & M Records (with Jerry Moss) which recorded artists as varied as Carole King, Cat Stevens, The Carpenters, Janet Jackson, Peter Frampton, Quincy Jones, Sergio Mendes, and The Police. A&M would go on to become one of the most successful independent labels in history. Less known is his striking work as an abstract painter and sculptor. Mostly below-the-radar is his significant philanthropic support of educational programs in the arts nationwide, from the Harlem School of the Arts and Los Angeles City College to CalArts and UCLA.

    Says Scheinfeld, “Herb is a true artist who did things the right way, achieved success on his own terms, and brought much joy to the world in the process. I wanted to make a documentary that would reflect this and, most importantly, to be a “Feel Good” film that will uplift, inspire and bring audiences together exactly as does Herb’s music.”

    In 2010 Herb Alpert and his foundation came to the rescue of the Harlem School For The Arts as the doors were about to be closed for good. Now, with a new board of directors and management, the school is a flourishing beacon for kids all around the NY area. “If you want to see a feel good program,” says Alpert, “check it out.”

    The Herb Alpert Foundation envisions a world in which all young people are blessed with opportunities that allow them to reach their potential and lead productive and fulfilling lives. Over the past few years the Foundation has focused on core areas such as “The Arts,” a broad category that includes arts education, a focus on jazz, and support to professionals. This also includes programs that seek to use the arts to help meet the needs of under served youth and to build competencies that will enable them to become successful adults. The other area is “Compassion and Well-Being,” which celebrates the positive aspects of human psychology and seeks to bring more empathy and compassionate behavior into our society.

    The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, a program of The Herb Alpert Foundation, is an unrestricted prize of $75,000 given annually to five risk-taking, mid-career artists working in the fields of dance, film/video, music, theatre and the visual arts. The prize was initiated and funded by the Herb Alpert Foundation and has been administered by the California Institute Of The Arts since 1994. The Award honors and supports artists respected for their creativity, ingenuity and bodies of work, at a moment in their lives when they are poised to propel their art in new unpredictable directions.

    Herb Alpert
    Herb Alpert Is…

    *Feature image courtesy of the artist

    Surprise Release Album: Drive-By Truckers Are Ready For ‘The New OK’

    Surprise Release Album: Drive-By Truckers Are Ready For ‘The New OK’

    Lauren Leadingham

    Second new album of 2020 due just in time for the election

    Drive-By Truckers have announced the release of their second album of 2020. The band’s new full-length second LP of this year, The New Ok, arrives via ATO Records at all DSPs and streaming services this Friday, October 2. CD and red vinyl arrive on Friday, December 18. The New OK is preceded by today’s premiere of the new title track.

    The New OK marks the Drive-By Truckers’ 13th studio album and arrives mere months after the release of their highly lauded The Unraveling. Originally conceived as a quarantine EP collecting material recorded in Memphis during sessions for The Unraveling, the project expanded to include new powerful songs written and recorded over what Drive-By Truckers co-founder Patterson Hood describes as “this endless summer of protests, riots, political shenanigans and pandemic horrors.”

    Tracks such as Hood’s “The New OK” and “Watching The Orange Clouds” – inspired by the protests following George Floyd’s murder – were exchanged between Hood, co-founding singer/songwriter/guitarist Mike Cooley, bassist Matt Patton, keyboardist Jay Gonzalez, drummer Brad Morgan, and then mixed by longtime DBT producer David Barbe. Bassist Patton offers vocals on The Ramones standard “The KKK Took My Baby Away.” Hood says it’s “a full album that hopefully balances out the darkness of our current situation with a hope for better days and nights ahead.” 

    “To call these past few months trying would be a dramatic understatement,” Hood continues. “Our lives are intertwined with our work in ways that give us our best songs and performances. It is a life that has often rewarded us beyond our wildest dreams. Speaking for myself, I don’t have hobbies, I have this thing I do. To be sidelined with a brand new album and have to sit idly while so much that I love and hold dear falls apart before my very eyes has been intense, heartbreaking, anger provoking and very depressing. It has gone to the very heart of our livelihoods and threatened near everything that we have spent our lives trying to build. Here’s to the hope that we can make 2021 a better year than this one has been. In the meantime, here’s to THE NEW OK!”

    Listen to the title track.


    The New Ok

    Tough To Let Go

    The Unraveling

    The Perilous Night

    Sarah’s Flame

    Sea Island Lonely

    The Distance

    Watching The Orange Clouds

    The KKK Took My Baby Away

    Hood, DBT co-founder Mike Cooley, and guitarist/keyboardist Jay Gonzalez will all be performing solo shows on through the end of the year and beyond at 6p PT/9p ET. The performances will be available for 72 hours after each live broadcast. The scheduled dates are below: 

    September 30 – Patterson Hood

    October 7 – Mike Cooley

    October 14 – Patterson Hood

    October 21 – Mike Cooley

    October 24 – Jay Gonzalez

    October 28 – Patterson Hood

    November 7 – Jay Gonzalez

    November 11 – Mike Cooley

    November 18 – Patterson Hood

    November 25 – Thanksgiving Filter – DBT Variety Show (featuring all 5 members)


    *Feature image by Jason Thrasher

    Chicago Soul/Blues Artist Devin B. Thompson to Release ‘Tales of the Soul’

    Chicago Soul/Blues Artist Devin B. Thompson to Release ‘Tales of the Soul’

    Cary Baker / Conqueroo

    The recording of the album’s leadoff tracks — Bobby Blue Bland’s “Love to See You Smile,” Little Milton’s “I’m Gonna Cry a River,” and Joe Simon’s “Something You Can Do Today” — set the deep soul template for the eight original numbers that fill out the record.

    Soul music is a deep well, and the mercury-voiced Devin B. Thompson plumbs the form to its depths in Tales of the Soul, the Chicago-based singer-songwriter’s striking Severn Records bow, which arrives October 30, 2020.

    Co-produced by Thompson, Severn founder David Earl, and pianist-musical director Kevin Anker, the 11-track release was recorded at the label’s Annapolis, Maryland, studio. The collection features the company’s ace house band — Anker, guitarist Johnny Moeller, organist Benjie Porecki, bassist Steve Gomes, and drummer Robb Stupka. The group’s earthy yet silken sound is augmented by a four-piece horn section, a hip-pocket chorus of background vocalists, and storied guitarist Robben Ford , who guests on two tracks.

    Tales of the Soul is the culmination of a musical career that began in Thompson’s early teens in the city of Joliet, just southwest of the Windy City. He was the product of a musical family, and, like many a soul great, he has a church background: His father was a choir singer whose voice attracted the attention of the famed producer Thom Bell, and his sister also led a choir.

    “I was playing trumpet and singing background in my older brother’s band,” Thompson recalls. “We started getting paid to play in variety shows when I was 14 or 15 years old, in Joliet. We’d play at places like the Ebony Terrace, the Sheraton Hotel, lounges.”

    He increasingly segued into singing as the group played shows around the Midwest. “Because I was a horn player,” he says, “at first I didn’t really look to vocalists as any kind of inspiration. I was looking at instrumentalists — Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Guitar Watson. Those were the people I gravitated towards. Later on it was Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, the Staples, Donny Hathaway. Then I was introduced to the music of Joe Williams, the jazz singer, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett. I didn’t become interested in songwriting until I heard Prince, who became my favorite artist.”

    Ultimately, the performer who would have the greatest impact on Thompson’s style and career was someone he knew personally.

    “Willie Newsome was a huge influence,” he says. “I knew this man all my life. It’s a funny thing. I had a record player in my room, and I would go through all my dad’s old 45s. I threw one on and went, ‘Man, this is great. Who is this, Dad?’ The label said Frankie Newsome, and I didn’t know anybody named Frankie Newsome. He said, ‘Man, that’s Willie!’ He had a lot of records under different monikers — Little Willie Parker, Willie Parker, and Frankie Newsome.”

    Thompson and Newsome eventually worked together in a Chicago-based society band, the Georgia Francis Orchestra. In 2015, some of Newsome’s highly prized singles for small Windy City labels attracted the attention of an English promoter, who featured him on a major Northern Soul festival in Manchester.

    “This was one of my mentors,” Thompson says, “and I started trying to figure out how I could get this guy some more gigs, so I started phone calling some people, just to see what was going on. Tad Robinson, the singer, was on Severn Records, and he sent some of Willie’s old records to David Earl at Severn. David immediately said, ‘Is this guy still around? Is he alive? Where is he at? We’ve gotta have him.’”

    Thompson accompanied Newsome to Maryland when sessions began for the older vocalist’s new album, and Earl was impressed. “Unbeknownst to me, they were saying, ‘We should try to work with him as well,’” he says. “And when we were leaving, they said to me, ‘Hey, man, we would like to work with you at some point, too.’”

    Further work was scheduled on Newsome’s record, but completion of the project proved impossible, as he was stricken with cancer. (He ultimately succumbed to the disease in September 2019.) As fate would have it, Thompson ended up stepping in.

    “Everything that they would normally do when they would cut a record was in place,” Thompson says. “So they asked me to come — not in his place — but they said, ‘Why don’t you come and do a record?’”

    The sound and attack of what became Tales of the Soul was determined in the first days of sessions in Annapolis. Thompson remembers, “When I got to Maryland, we started listening to some records. David Earl asked me what I liked. He has incredible ears, so there wasn’t going to be too much of anything that I didn’t like. The first three songs are interpretations of other people’s tunes.”

    The recording of the album’s leadoff tracks — Bobby Blue Bland’s “Love to See You Smile,” Little Milton’s “I’m Gonna Cry a River,” and Joe Simon’s “Something You Can Do Today” — set the deep soul template for the eight original numbers that fill out the record.

    “We got into that pocket,” says Thompson, “and then I felt comfortable introducing some tunes that I already had. Some of them had to be reinvented, like ‘I Ain’t No Good.’ It was originally like a Beatles tune — I was trying to do a soulful Beatles tune. And David said, ‘We can’t do that — let’s try this.’”

    The brilliant veteran Ford stepped in to light a fire under “I’m Gonna Cry a River” and “Read Your Mind.” Thompson says with a chuckle, “Every time I tell guitar players, ‘Yeah, Robben Ford’s on my album,’ they say, ‘What?’ They freak out.”

    Tales of the Soul is bursting with tunes that offer a vital new take on the music’s ballad and dance traditions. But its most striking track, and certainly its most prescient, is the set-closing “Tell Me.” A pointed meditation on race in the style of Curtis Mayfield’s “We People Who Are Darker Than Blue” and Syl Johnson’s “Is It Because I’m Black,” it was written long before demonstrations began to roil the nation this summer.

    “It’s just about the experience of being a Black man in America,” says Thompson. “The first thing I started with was, ‘Tell me what it is about my skin that you don’t like.’ It’s a real question — people who claim white supremacy can’t tell me why they don’t like me. But then it became a lot more real when Colin Kaepernick was going through some of the things that he was going through. The song is about challenging people to have empathy. In America, people seem to lack the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes.”

    Though it was created half a continent away from his Midwestern stomping grounds, Devin B. Thompson’s Severn debut proved a surprising and rewarding experience for the musician, as it will for listeners.

    “I feel great about Tales of the Soul,” he says. “I am totally pleased with it. Sometimes God takes you out of your comfort zone, so then He can actually use you better. You need to get away from everything that you know, and all the trappings of home, so that you can be free and allow the process to work. It worked, and it came out like it was supposed to.”

    ‘Love to See you Smile’ was a song chosen by Davis Earl (co-producer on the album). I believe he wanted to ease me in as this was the first song we recorded. I was happy to sing this song because I love Bobby Bland! I hope in heaven he’s proud. – Devin B. Thompson

    Severn Records · Love To See You Smile


    Devin B. Thompson Facebook

    Rick Shea’s ‘Love & Desperation’ Puts a Homegrown Spin On Americana

    Rick Shea’s ‘Love & Desperation’ Puts a Homegrown Spin On Americana

    Cary Baker / Conqueroo

    World Premiere Track: “I first heard ‘Blues Stop Knockin’ At My Door’ from Lazy Lester and I think I love his version maybe as much as the original by Al Ferrier, both great artists from the southern Louisiana area.” – Rick Shea

    If Rick Shea’s new record Love & Desperation had a motto, it would likely be, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” The Southern California Americana artist’s 12th album — due from Anaheim, CA-based Tres Pescadores Records on Oct. 23rd as a physical and digital release — is the product of unique recordings sessions that were the product of the unique challenges facing musicians in the year 2020.

    Singer-songwriter-guitarist Shea is of course no stranger to the studio. In addition to the work he had produced under his own name, he has compiled a formidable résumé that dates back to the ‘80s. His instrumental and vocal talents have been employed in the late Chris Gaffney’s Cold Hard Facts and Dave Alvin’s Guilty Men, and he has worked with singer-songwriter Katy Moffatt and rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson.

    He began sessions for a new record in the spring of 2019 at his home studio Casa de Calora in Covina, employing top-flight talent such as drummer Shawn Nourse (Dwight Yoakam, I See Hawks in L.A.) bassist Jeff Turmes (Mavis Staples), and his longtime collaborator Dave Hall. Work had progressed when the coronavirus pandemic brought the country to a standstill in early 2020. So Shea and his collaborators went the digital route, in their own backyards.

    Thus, Nourse ended up cutting new drum parts at his own home studio Nourse by Northwest; accordionist/organist Phil Parlapiano of Dead Rock West tracked at his Electricdog Studio; Skip Edwards, best known as Dwight Yoakam’s longtime keyboardist, worked at his Studio 401; and accordionist David Jackson laid down his parts at (where else) StudioDave.  Shea says, “The natural sound of this record is a testament to how good these guys are. I think they did just a wonderful job.” But he admits that the old ways are still preferable: “More and more, it’s easier to move in this direction. But it’s hard to beat getting a group of guys into a room together.”

    Kicking off with “Blues Stop Knockin’ at My Door,” a rockabilly number by swamp rocker Al Ferrier that was covered by bluesman Lazy Lester, Love & Desperation deploys every imaginable roots style, ranging from country and folk to Norteño and Cajun two-steps. But the blues dominates much of the proceedings this time around.

    “I got a lot of my musical education, for better or worse, in the bars and honky tonks in San Bernardino where I grew up, and ‘Blues at Midnight’ is a pretty good reflection of that. ‘(Down at the Bar at) Gypsy Sally’s’ borrows its title from Townes Van Zandt’s song ‘Tecumseh Valley.’ The scene is what I imagined some nights in some of the places I played and having some fun with it. It’s about the characters I looked at in those joints for years. That was their life – hanging out in bars, and having their little scene, their little hustle going.

    “That’s kind of the way the album progressed,” Shea says, “and it’s also the product of these times that we’re living in. To me, blues is what popular music is based on, or at least the popular music that I pay attention to, artistically speaking. In the words of the great Townes Van Zandt ‘there’s two kinds of music, the blues and everything else is just Zippity Do Dah.’”

    Some of the songs have a definite autobiographical bent, the musician says: “‘Love & Desperation’ is a bit of family history, dramatized for folk song effect –my folks were not great at being parents, but I was kind of a wild kid, so I never held it against them. ‘Juanita’ takes its title from the name of my wife Susie’s mom; the song is how I imagined it might have been between her and her husband Johnny, Susie’s dad, when they were just dating.”

    Regarding the sweetly romantic “A Tenderhearted Love,” Shea says, “I owed my wife a love song. Being married to a musician is not always easy.”

    Recorded as it was amid the tumult of an extraordinary year, Love & Desperation features a pair of songs with suitably apocalyptic lyrics. Shea describes “Big Rain is Comin’ Mama” as “a nice country two-step about impending doom.” He says of “The World’s Gone Crazy,” “Things have been upside down for a while now. I wrote this after watching a particularly harrowing episode of The Rachel Maddow Show.”

    The collection also includes “She Sang of the Earth,” a ballad collaboration with Kim Ringer, daughter of the late, respected singer-songwriter Jim Ringer; the cautionary tale “Nashville Blues”; the instrumental “Mystic Canyon,” which shows off Shea’s guitar chops; and the album-closing noir narrative “Texas Lawyer.”

    Shea says of the latter number, which was inspired by the work of hardboiled novelist Elmore Leonard, “This is the third time the song has appeared on a record. It was on my very first CD, and I released a live solo version as well. I’m very attached to the first version because Chris Gaffney sings and plays accordion on it, but I didn’t feel the rest of it did the song justice.”

    Looking back on the challenging experience of making Love & Desperation and the long road of his career, Shea says, “Every album feels like sort of milestone or a marker for where you are at that time, musically and in life in general. I feel very fortunate to have been able to play music for most of my life, I am beginning to think of things I’d like to be remembered for, and this album would be one of them.”

    We’re excited to bring you the world premiere of the opening track, “Blues Stop Knockin’ at My Door.”

    I first heard ‘Blues Stop Knockin’ At My Door’ from Lazy Lester and I think I love his version maybe as much as the original by Al Ferrier, both great artists from the southern Louisiana area. I’ve been to New Orleans a number of times but my trips the last few years have been my favorites. I’ve been able to stay a few days, playing some shows of my own and sitting in with my friends The Iguanas. I’m still trying to get a grasp on the deep rich musical history there; it feels like it might take another lifetime. – Rick Shea

    Rick Shea · Blues Stop Knockin’ At My Door – Rick Shea – Love & DesperationRick Shea

    *Feature image by Ruth Kaiser


    Deep Gratitude and Revelry on Leyla McCalla’s ‘Mèsi Bondye’

    Deep Gratitude and Revelry on Leyla McCalla’s ‘Mèsi Bondye’

    Lauren Leadingham

    Listen to “Mèsi Bondye” from the re-release of ‘Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes’

    Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Leyla McCalla (known for last year’s Songs of Our Native Daughters) has released her new single “Mèsi Bondye,” off of the upcoming re-release of 2014’s Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes, due out October 16 through the graces of Smithsonian Folkways. Featuring poems by Langston Hughes set to music, the album also includes original compositions and traditional Haitian folk songs.

    “All of these songs are manifestos of my life as a Black, Haitian-American woman and the daughter of Haitian immigrants, and an homage to the humanity and creative spirit of Langston Hughes,” McCalla says.

    Following her conservatory training and her time playing with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, McCalla found she connected Hughes’ poems to music. While reading “Vari-Colored Song,” she was forever transmogrified by the rhythm, imagery, and melody of his words. Setting Hughes’ lyrical realism to music — juxtaposing his works with folk arrangements from Haiti (the first independent Black nation and homeland of her parents) — seemed like the most natural progression.

    Sung in Haitian Kreyòl, and accompanied with ambient pedal steel guitar and an enchanting banjo vamp, the English translates to:

    Thank you, Lord
    See how our misery has ended
    See all that nature has brought usThe rain is falling, the corn is growing
    All the hungry children will eatLet’s dance
    Our Father in heaven says the misery is over
    Our Father in heaven says the misery is over for us

    Along with collaborators Rhiannon Giddens, Luke Winslow King, Hubby Jenkins, Yah Supreme, and more, McCalla’s Haitian influences richly intersect with American folk music, just as Hughes unified Black speech with stunning poetry.

    Pre-order Vari-Colored Songs

    Josh Abbott Band To Release New Album ‘The Highway Kind’

    Josh Abbott Band To Release New Album ‘The Highway Kind’

    Shore Fire Media

    The Highway Kind finds lead singer Josh Abbott embracing life as a loving husband and doting father of two after 12 years as a road warrior and frontman of his country band

    Josh Abbott Band will release their new album The Highway Kind on November 13, 2020. The follow-up to 2017’s string and horn-infused Until My Voice Goes Out, the uplifting 10-track album was recorded at Sonic Ranch in El Paso and produced by Marshall Altman (Marc Broussard, Frankie Ballard, Aaron Watson).

    The Highway Kind finds lead singer Josh Abbott embracing life as a loving husband and doting father of two after 12 years as a road warrior and frontman of his country band. The music reflects Abbott’s his newfound purpose as a father and a husband. While making the record, Abbott and his wife relocated from Austin to Nashville for three months where he embraced the collaborative songwriting scene. Abbott dubs the new album “the first real, true band album experience” that they have recorded. The band hunkered down at the famed Texas studio for two weeks in mid-2019 where their musicianship evolved as they worked closely with Altman.

    Abbott adds, “The Highway Kind is the album I wish we had put out seven years ago. The lyrics, the melodies, the subtle touches; this album is the very best effort from our group. These songs were brought to life and curated to reflect where my life is now: happy, fulfilled, blessed. From love songs to songs about friendship, from ballads to bangers, this album has it all.  They’re true-life songs. I hope people listen to this record and go, ‘Man, Josh is in a really good place around now.’”

    Songs like tender ballad “Settle Me Down,” about a partner who always has your back, and the hopeful “The Luckiest,” the namesake of his son Luck, exemplify this undeniable happiness. Infectious lead single “Little More You,” previously featured on 2019’s Catching Fire EP and penned by Troy Cartwright, Benjy Davis and Neil Medley, exemplifies a tried-and-true relationship while highlighting JAB’s ace musicianship. Memorable album closer “Old Men & Rain” and the vivid “Women & Wishes,” which Abbott penned about his wife for an upcoming event they plan to host together annually to raise money for female entrepreneurs, further exemplify JAB’s “true-life songs.” Meanwhile, “Old Men & Rain” was inspired while spending time with his wife’s grandfather at a sale barn and observing the conversation between older farmers and ranchers over lunch following the auction.

    In addition to the heartfelt ballads of love, Josh Abbott Band’s energetic live show is highlighted throughout The Highway Kind. The feel-good honky tonk song “One More Two Step” is about keeping the party going in your living room long after last call while the Jon Pardi-penned barn burner “24-7-365” ups the ante and the rowdiness for a memorable throwdown. Having spent countless nights on the road together for over a decade, “The Highway Kind” best describes JAB and where the group is headed. Penned by Erik Dylan, Jon Randall and Troy Cartwright, the song came into play at the 11th hour in the studio when several other songs weren’t working. Scrolling through some outside cuts on his phone, Abbott came upon the song that Dylan had sent him weeks prior and Altman immediately agreed that was the song they needed to record.

    A staple in the Texas music scene since forming in 2006 at Lubbock’s Texas Tech University, Josh Abbott Band have weathered many storms together including divorces, burying their fathers, the Route 91 Harvest shooting and a pandemic. Country fans have been singing JAB songs for more than a decade already. The seven-piece group’s relentless on-stage attitude quickly made it a successful touring act, building out from a Texas band to a regional act to a national crew with a devoted following from coast to coast. Concurrently, JAB developed its own label, Pretty Damn Tough Records, before that was an accepted practice in country circles. Two of their projects, Small Town Family Dream and Front Row Seat, scored top 10 debuts on the Billboard country albums chart, while five titles cracked the Billboard country singles lists, including a pair – “Oh, Tonight” with Kacey Musgraves; and “Wasn’t That Drunk,” with Carly Pearce – that represented their first chart appearances. Led by the true-to-life cycles in Abbott’s life, he ambitiously documented the dissolution of  first marriage in Front Row Seat. And the expansive Until My Voice Goes Out, recorded as Abbott tended to an ailing father, mixed elegant strings and a Memphis-tipped horn sound.  In 2019 JAB released a four track EP, Catching Fire.

    Josh Abbott Band is Josh Abbott (vocals, guitar), Preston Wait (fiddle, electric guitar), Edward Villanueva (drums), James Hertless (bass), Caleb Keeter (electric guitar), Austin Davis (banjo), David Fralin (Keyboard).

    Josh Abbott Band

    *Feature image by Joseph Llanes courtesy of Shorefire Media

    The Staple Singers ‘Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection’

    The Staple Singers ‘Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection’

    Craft Recordings

    Acclaimed collection celebrates The Staple Singers’ Stax years, including all of their studio albums on the iconic label, plus live recordings and rarities. Out November 13th on Craft Recordings.

    Craft Recordings is thrilled to announce a deluxe CD edition of Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection. The acclaimed box set, which was previously released on vinyl and digital formats, celebrates one of music’s greatest gospel and soul groups, The Staple Singers. Set for a November 13th release, Come Go With Me presents all of the group’s studio albums released on the iconic Memphis label, spanning 1968–1974, and features the Staples’ biggest hits, including “I’ll Take You There,” “Respect Yourself” and “If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me).” Each album was remastered from the original analog masters by Jeff Powell at Take Out Vinyl, while the seventh disc offers rarities, non-album singles and live recordings from the legendary 1972 Wattstax music festival. Housed in a slipcase, the seven-disc collection also includes a booklet with archival photos and liner notes from American music specialist and curator Levon Williams (formerly of the Stax Museum and the National Museum of African American Music), and folklorist, ethnomusicologist and writer Dr. Langston Wilkins.

    Released on vinyl and digital platforms earlier this year (in February), Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection received strong praise from such outlets as Uncut, Mojo and Paste, the latter of which wrote, “this marvelous run of records sound brand new in these new all-analog pressings, with the earthy tang of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and the Bar-Kays horn section ripping out of the speakers with hip-shaking fervor… This is a milestone of American musical history, treated with the appropriate levels of respect and reverence.” All six of the Staple Singers’ albums with Stax were also made available in hi-res 24-bit/192 kHz and 24-bit/96 kHz formats for the first time.

    By the time that the Staple Singers signed to Stax in 1968, the family quartet—helmed by patriarch Roebuck “Pops” Staples, with daughters Cleotha and Mavis, and son Pervis (later replaced by his sister Yvonne)—had long graduated from the gospel circuit. The Chicago group had become well known in the counterculture and folk scenes and were performing alongside major rock acts like Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Grateful Dead. The Staples had also become formidable voices in the Civil Rights movement, and many of their songs preached a message of empowerment and racial equality.

    In the fall of ’68, the group went into the studio to record their first album for Stax, Soul Folk in Action, working with producer Steve Cropper and songwriter Homer Banks. The sessions were set against a backdrop of social and political turmoil, which climaxed with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis. The Staple Singers were known for writing politically charged “message songs,” and the year’s events certainly inspired many of the tracks on this album, including “Long Walk to D.C.” and “The Ghetto.” In their liner notes, Levon Williams and Langston Wilkins write that both of these songs “Truly tapped into the experiences and emotions of Black America at the close of the ’60s. The former is a tribute to the 1963 March on Washington told from the perspective of a poor yet hopeful African American person willing to use their last dimes to make it to the rally … Conversely, the somber and haunting ‘The Ghetto’ takes listeners deep into the isolation and despair of inner-city life.” Also notable to this album are stunning covers of The Band’s “The Weight” and Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” recorded in tribute to the fallen Stax star, who died tragically just a year earlier in a plane crash. The Staple Singers returned to the studio with Cropper the following year to record We’ll Get Over (1970). Highlights include the standout message song “When Will We Be Paid,” as well as covers of tracks like Sly & the Family Stone’s “Everyday People” and Gladys Knight & the Pips’ “The End of the Road.”

    Though both Soul Folk in Action and We’ll Get Over carried powerful messages and tight-knit harmonies, neither had commercial success. And so, for the band’s third album, Stax co-president Al Bell (who signed the band) took the helm as producer. Williams and Wilkins note that “As a long-time DJ, Bell’s ear for what moves Black listeners, both literally and metaphorically, had been keenly crafted over several years. Bell hosted shows that had both sacred and secular followings and had amassed a wealth of experience from watching, noting and deeply understanding the impact music has on varied audiences. His ear was essentially priceless.”

    Photo Courtesy of Stax Archives. (L-R) Al Bell, Jim Stewart, Pops Staples.


    With support from the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (also known as “The Swampers”), the Staple Singers found a winning team with Bell, and the resulting album, 1971’s The Staple Swingers, would be their first charting record, peaking at No. 9 on Billboard’s top R&B albums. The LP offered a funkier sound from the group, with high-energy singles like “Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)” and the Smokey Robinson cover “You’ve Got to Earn It.”

    The group reunited with the Swampers and Bell for 1972’s Be Altitude: Respect Yourself, an album that transformed the Staple Singers into mainstream stars. Peaking at No. 19 on the Billboard 200, the groove-filled album featured the Staples’ first No. 1 hit—the infectious “I’ll Take You There,” and “Respect Yourself,” a song which Williams and Wilkins declare “encapsulates the Staple Singers’ entire career.” The powerful message song not only resonated with African Americans but also with many women across the country as they, too, fought for equal opportunity.

    The group’s 1973 follow-up, Be What You Are, featured the Top Ten hit “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me),” popular single “Touch a Hand, Make a Friend” and the sweetly harmonized “Love Comes in All Colors,” while the Staple Singers’ final album with Stax—1974’s City in the Sky—includes such highlights as the politically charged “Washington We’re Watching You,” “Back Road into Town” and “Who Made the Man,” which marked a return to the group’s gospel roots.

    The final disc in Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection offers a selection of live tracks from the Staple Singers’ energetic performance at Wattstax, as well as B-sides like “Stay With Us,” non-album singles like “Oh La De Da” and rarities that include “Walking in Water Over Our Head” and “Trippin’ on Your Love.”

    Following their time at Stax, the Staple Singers continued to tour and record throughout the ’70s and early ’80s. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and received a GRAMMY® Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. In recent years, Mavis Staples has been back in the spotlight—headlining tours and reaching a new generation of fans with her solo records. In 2016, she was the subject of a documentary (Mavis!) and ended the year as a Kennedy Center Honoree.

    Click here to pre-order the 7-CD set Come Go With Me: The Stax CollectionSpecial exclusive bundles, including a Stax t-shirt, available via the Stax Store*Feature image courtesy of Stax Archives. (L-R) Pops, Cleotha, Pervis, and Mavis Staples.

    Exclusive Premiere Track: ‘Cherry Pits’ by Ali Awan

    Exclusive Premiere Track: ‘Cherry Pits’ by Ali Awan

    Lauren Leadingham

    “Cherry Pits” is a song about reflection minus nostalgia

    Indie singer/songwriter Ali Awan was born to an immigrant father and first-generation mother just outside of Philadelphia, spending most of his early life in transit. That upbringing, coupled with an innate love for sound and expression, made a life in music second nature to him.

    Today, Awan premieres “Cherry Pits.” Of the track, he shares with American Blues Scene:

    For me, “Cherry Pits” was an attempt at coming to grips with the conflict of COVID-induced agoraphobia, and the urge to leave the house before summer was over. I wrote the song in my van named Pickle over a few blurry weekends and recorded all the tracks in it besides bass and drums through an apple headphone mic. I think the compression is kinda nice on them. “Cherry Pits” is a song about reflection minus nostalgia.

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