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.

Ali Awan Music
Ali Awan Facebook

Larkin Poe Announce Covers Album, Release Official Video for ‘Nights in White Satin’

Larkin Poe Announce Covers Album, Release Official Video for ‘Nights in White Satin’

Lauren Leadingham

Other artists include Robert Johnson, Elton John, Neil Young, Bo Diddley, Derek & the Dominos, and The Allman Brothers

Larkin Poe are set to release Kindred Spirits, their first tribute album. Out November 20th, the album is a collection of unadorned yet refined versions of songs both old and new. Kindred Spirits follows their fifth studio album, Self Made Man, released this past June on their own Tricki-Woo Records. American Blues Scene’s Don Wilcock called it “a joyous romp that crosses the line between pure bombast and cuttingly authentic delta blues.”

Photo credit: Josh Kranich


About the new album, Larkin Poe made this statement:

Music is a bridge that can connect generations across time. In recording Kindred Spirits, our admiration for the artists who originally wrote and performed the songs blossomed into an even deeper reverence. Coming up in a family of music lovers, a lot of the songs we have always seemed to gravitate towards learning have been with us since childhood.

We started a YouTube series dedicated to paying tribute to our musical heroes in 2015 that unexpectedly took off and when fans began requesting recorded versions of the songs, we started daydreaming about how an interpretive album might take shape. Bringing these old friends into the studio, stripping them back to the bones and recording them live and raw, felt like a ritual. We’re grateful for the experience of making this album and grateful to the Kindred Spirits who have come before us and written the soundtrack of our lives.

Today, Larkin Poe share the first song from Kindred Spirits, the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin,” along with the official video. The sisters have been posting covers to their YouTube channel where they recently performed the Moody Blues classic. The series has gained a considerable following, and their version was praised by Moody Blues frontman Justin Hayward.

"Love it, love them, love them playing it. Thank you Rebecca and Megan." -Justin@LarkinPoe

— The Moody Blues (@MoodyBluesToday) May 20, 2020

Larkin Poe describe the song as a deeply haunting song that transcends genre: “We remember hearing Doc Watson, a true American treasure, sing it late in his career — his beautiful voice soaring through a dark theater, the plaintive lyric unforgettable. It’s hard to believe that Justin Hayward was only 19 years old when he wrote it.”

Accompanying the song is a music video that showcases archived and historically important clips. “When we were brainstorming about creating a visual companion for ‘Nights in White Satin,’ we had a romantic idea that stitching together old footage would evoke a nostalgic feeling that matches the vibe of the song.”


Hellhound On My Trail (Robert Johnson)

Fly Away (Lenny Kravitz)

Rockin’ In The Free World (Neil Young)

(You’re The) Devil In Disguise (Elvis Presley)

In The Air Tonight (Phil Collins)

Nights In White Satin (The Moody Blues)

Who Do You Love (Bo Diddley)

Take What You Want (Post Malone)

Ramblin’ Man (The Allman Brothers)

Bell Bottom Blues (Derek & The Dominos)

Crocodile Rock (Elton John)

The sister act recently announced several live performance screenings via their all new POECAST. The band will be sharing an acoustic show with stories from the road on October 4. The performance will air twice, 2pm ET and then 8pm ET. If fans are unable to watch the show live, they will be able to watch after each airing. During the stream, the full band will be in the chat room interacting with fans. Special guests are expected to make appearances in the chat room as well. Show tickets, VIP passes, limited edition shirts and posters are available now.




While ‘Unemployed Highly Annoyed’ Jeremiah Johnson Releases 2nd Album of the Year

While ‘Unemployed Highly Annoyed’ Jeremiah Johnson Releases 2nd Album of the Year

Devious Planet

Emotionally charged southern blues rock, powered by the common man’s passion for life and all the struggles in-between.

Blues rocker Jeremiah Johnson has announced the release of his second (that’s right second) album this year. Unemployed Highly Annoyed is Johnson’s response to the adverse situation presented by COVID-19. Even after releasing Heavens to Betsy earlier this year, quarantine compelled him to start work on another. The final product is a first-class blues/roots rock record that is packed full of stunning guitar work coupled with soulfully passionate bluesy southern vocals.

Quarantined at home for months, Johnson decided it was time to get creative. “Being forced into unemployment has been beyond frustrating,” Johnson exclaims. “I decided to produce an album of songs inspired by the ‘Covid-19 Pandemic’ and try to turn the roller coaster of emotions into something musical. This is truly a concept album.” Unemployed Highly Annoyed is a striking musical reflection of the times that delivers a message the entire world can relate to.

Johnson blends the sounds of the south, with Mississippi River blues and a touch of country flair. Emotionally charged southern blues rock, powered by the common man’s passion for life and all the struggles in-between. Songs with meaning, a powerfully persuasive voice and master class musicianship. Unemployed Highly Annoyed has caught lightning in a bottle with this masterful snapshot of these difficult times and is truly a testament to his talent. Possibly the best record of Johnson’s career, born from the most challenging time in his life as a musician.

The album was conceived, performed and recorded by 3 musicians: Johnson on guitar and vocals, Tony Antonelli (Devon Allman Project) on drums and Paul Niehaus IV on bass and keys throughout. Niehaus also handled the production and his technique effectively puts the listener in the room with the musicians.

Unemployed Highly Annoyed has a street date of October 30th, 2020 via Ruf Records.

Jeremiah Johnson

Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band Announces ‘Straight To You: Live,’ the Band’s First Live Concert Video

Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band Announces ‘Straight To You: Live,’ the Band’s First Live Concert Video

Jon Bleicher Publicity

Watch the opening track, “Woman Like You”

On November 27th, Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band will release Straight To You: Live, the group’s first-ever live concert video via Provogue. The pre-order goes live next Friday, October 2nd, but today the band is treating fans to a sneak peek of the opening track, “Woman Like You,” available on all DSPs. Straight To You: Live will be released in a variety of formats including DVD+CD, Blu-Ray+CD, 2xLP red transparent vinyl, and digital.

“Woman Like You I think is the perfect opening song for the show, just like I thought it was the perfect opening song for the record. I think you just come out swinging, it sets the mood for the entire show. It’s like, we’re there to rock and we mean business. The whole intention of this set list is that we come out with a lot of energy, get the crowd pumped up. We want get them energized right off the bat,” Sheperd says.


“People have been asking us to do a live concert video forever, for decades,” Shepherd explains. “We’ve been working so much focussing 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 honkey-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 focussed, 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 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)

Kenny Wayne Sheperd

Listen: Tyler Ramsey’s Moving Interpretation of the Pretenders’ ‘Back on the Chain Gang’

Listen: Tyler Ramsey’s Moving Interpretation of the Pretenders’ ‘Back on the Chain Gang’

Lauren Leadingham

Former Band of Horses guitarist to release EP featuring five striking cover songs and one re-imagined original

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Tyler Ramsey has announced the release of his new EP, Found A Picture Of You, out October 16th, 2020 via Fantasy Records. The six-song EP is a unique collection of carefully chosen cover songs, all written and/or made famous by female artists. One such track, delivered in top form, is Ramsey’s acoustic rendering of The Pretenders‘ “Back on the Chain Gang.”


Says Ramsey of the track:

I love Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders; I grew up hearing that unique voice on the radio and got hooked on their records. This song has a line in it that gets me every time: “I found a picture of you/those were the happiest days of my life/like a break in the battle was your part/in the wretched life of a lonely heart.” I was lucky enough to meet Annie Williams at Bill Reynolds’ studio in Nashville and she sang the gorgeous harmonies on this.

Produced by Tyler Ramsey and recorded & mixed by (former Band of Horses bassist) Bill Reynolds at Fleetwood Shack in Nashville, TN, Found A Picture Of You is Tyler’s first release since For The Morning, the North Carolinian’s acclaimed debut for Fantasy in 2019.

 Found A Picture Of You includes Ramsey’s take on The Innocence Mission’s “Tomorrow on the Runway,” with frequent collaborator Thad Cockrell on harmony vocals; Jules Shears’ “All Through the Night,” made famous by Cyndi Lauper’s Top #5 hit in 1984, featuring background vocals from My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel; “Shake Sugaree” by blues/folk legend (and fellow Carolinian) Elizabeth Cotten, with Billy Alletzhauser on electric guitar and supplying harmony vocals alongside Tyler’s daughter Sylvie Opal Ramsey; the Pretenders’ “Back on the Chain Gang,” featuring harmonies by Nashville-based artist Annie Williams; and “When You Go,” a ballad by singer-songwriter Jennie Lowe Stearns featuring Rayna Gellert on fiddle and Broemel on pedal steel and backing vocals.

 The EP concludes with an updated version of Ramsey’s “1000 Black Birds,” which first appeared on his 2011 album, The Valley Wind, featuring background vocals from singer-songwriter Avi Kaplan and Jeremy and Jonathan Lister.

 Watch the “Back on the Chain Gang” visualizer below.

Pre-order Found A Picture Of You
*Feature image by Bill Reynolds

‘What’d I Say’ by Ray Charles: The Accidental Evolution of a Song

‘What’d I Say’ by Ray Charles: The Accidental Evolution of a Song

C.C. Rider

Remembering Ray Charles (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004)

Ray Charles shook up the nation when he took sacred music and made it sexy. There’s one track he wrote that changed everything. It’s a little bit o’ gospel, a little bit of rumba, a little bit of R&B. It’s also a whole lotta sexy. And that combination of carnal and gospel sparked a whole new genre, something called soul. So how’d Brother Ray come up with one of the most important songs in the history of modern music?

Oh, it’s kind of a simple story, we were playing dances in those days, you know, we didn’t play too many concerts like you do now. So anyway, make a long story short, usually we play the first two and a half hours then you have a half hour intermission, then you come back and you play that last hour. So, one night we had, we got back and after intermission I went on the stage and I sang and sang and I, when I’d sung everything I thought I could think of and we still had fifteen minutes to go so I said, “Well, tell you what guys, whatever I play y’all just follow me, girls whatever I say you just say it; and we just started doing “Do papa do, dodoom do wah do, Do papa do, dodoom do wah do.”

And the people started dancing and going crazy and stuff, and so I say “Wow, how exciting this is.” And we did this a couple of nights, you know, and somebody said to me, “Hey man, you guys have a record on that, cause that’s great, man, people love to dance.”  I said, “No it ain’t. There’s no record. It’s just something we do on the stage.”

So I call Ahmet the next day and said “Man, I’d like to come in and record a song because we’re playing this thing out here on the road and the people love it.” And he said, “Well hey, come on in and do, you know. But that song — it was an accident, truly an accident. Because I was just trying to kill time and I got to the “Oohh” and the girls went “Ooh.” And then we just followed each other, and if you listen to the lyrics of “What’d I Say,” I’m sure you know, that the lyrics make — that there is no continuity at all. They’re just lines thrown together, just verses. I mean, there is no story line. There’s nothing makes sense, you know, I’m just saying lines, just rhyming lines, you know. But it worked, and the reason that it worked is not because it’s a great song, but because it had such a great beat. – Ray Charles


Resistance Revival Chorus Announce Debut Album ‘This Joy’

Resistance Revival Chorus Announce Debut Album ‘This Joy’

Grandstand Media

To coincide with the release of their new album, the chorus have released their Geneva Peshka directed video for title track “This Joy.”

The Resistance Revival Chorus, a collective of more than 70 women and non-binary singers have announced their debut album This Joy to be released on October 16th via Righteous Babe Records. The album features original compositions along with protest classics and was recorded in New York City with GRAMMY-nominated producer Tiffany Gouché. The album is 100% created by women, & non-binary artists and features special guests Rhiannon Giddens, Valerie June and Deva Mahal.

The Resistance Revival Chorus join together to breathe joy and song into the resistance, and to uplift and center women’s voices, especially the voices of black women and women of color. Members are touring musicians, film and television actors, Broadway performers, solo recording artists, gospel singers, political activists, educators, filmmakers, artists, and more, representing a multitude of identities, professions, creative backgrounds, and activist causes. The Resistance Revival Chorus was founded in the wake of the 2017 Women’s March and strives to center women in music and address how historically marginalized women have been in the music industry. They’ve backed  Ke$ha at the GRAMMYs, performed on The Tonight Show with Jim James, sung Spanish lullabies to detained migrant children outside a New York holding facility, and been shouted-out on Twitter by hometown hero Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. When they’re not performing on stages like Carnegie Hall and the Apollo, The Resistance Revival Chorus regularly hits the NYC streets, advocating for social justice across the spectrum. From standing in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and calling to defund the police, The Resistance Revival Chorus has been involved in many activist causes including reproductive rights, the anti-muslim ban, Climate Change, LGBTQIA+ rights at PRIDE and attending the March For Our Lives. The RRC brings music to the movement.

This Joy was recorded in New York City over the space of several months, with the chorus working around Covid-quarantine and their BLM protesting activities. “Working with the chorus last year was one of the most healing and rejuvenating experiences I’ve ever had in my life. It was simply love manifested,” says Tiffany Gouché. “You can feel the joy and sincerity in their hearts through each and every record. I am truly blessed and humbled by this experience and look forward to anything that pertains to them.”

To coincide with the release of their new album, the chorus have released their Geneva Peshka directed video for title track “This Joy,” with animation from Jenny Scales, edited by Maximilla Lukacs. The song, composed by Shirley Caesar, produced by Tiffany Gouché and Abena Koomson-Davis – who also takes lead vocal duties – “This Joy” perfectly captures the chorus’ musical manifesto of finding joy through protest.

This Joy Track Listing:
1. #SayHerName – Abby Dobson
2. Ella’s Song – Resistance Revival Chorus
3. Dawn – Treya Lam ft. Resistance Revival Chorus
4. Wild Womxn Pussy Power – Lee Taylor ft. Resistance Revival Chorus
5. Reason I Sing – Valerie June ft. Resistance Revival Chorus
6. Everybody Deserves To Be Free – Deva Mahal ft. Resistance Revival Chorus
7. Love Army – Alba Ponce de León ft. Resistance Revival Chorus
8. Border Song – Resistance Revival Chorus
9. All You Fascists Bound To Lose – Rhiannon Giddens ft. Resistance Revival Chorus
10. I Hope – Meah Pace ft. Resistance Revival Chorus
11. This Joy – Resistance Revival Chorus
12. Rich Man’s House – Resistance Revival Chorus
13. Joy In Resistance – Abena Koomson-Davis ft. Resistance Revival Chorus
14. Woke Up This Morning – Resistance Revival Chorus

Resistance Revival Chorus Facebook

*Feature image by Kisha Bari courtesy of Grandstand Media

Chicago Bluesman Toronzo Cannon Leaving CTA To Play Blues Full Time

Chicago Bluesman Toronzo Cannon Leaving CTA To Play Blues Full Time

Alligator Records

“I’ve put in the time behind the wheel, now it’s my time.”

Award-winning, internationally touring Chicago bluesman Toronzo Cannon — who for the last 28 years has driven a bus for the Chicago Transit Authority by day while performing blues at night, on weekends and every day off — has announced that he is leaving his job with the CTA to devote all his time to playing the blues and focusing on his music. His last day at the CTA will be September 29, 2020. According to Cannon, who is a world-renowned ambassador for Chicago blues, “My enthusiasm for driving is not there like it used to be. Now I can focus on my music more and be with my guitar. I look forward to not having to wake up at 4:30 a.m. anymore.”

Toronzo Cannon Photo by Mike White


In July, Chicago’s Newcity named Cannon the “Musician Of The Moment,” putting him on the cover of their annual music issue. Living Blues says, “Cannon bursts with youthful fire in his guitar work and his tough and deep vocals.” Blues star Gary Clark, Jr says, “Toronzo is a beast. He lights the room up.” Guitar master Joe Bonamassa says, “Cannon is a great guitar player, excellent vocalist with an amazing personality.” American Blues Scene says, “A pinch of Texas blend: a little SRV, some Albert King, a biting wisp of Johnny Winter. A pinch of Sam Cook soul, a big handful of Chicago, a dose of Jimi Hendrix tribute, stir that all around and what comes out? Toronzo Cannon.”

Cannon’s expectation-defying original songs, ranging from wryly sung, slice-of-life tales flavored with humor to burning social commentary, are as broad-shouldered as his boundless blues guitar work, both echoing the sounds of the city. His fervent vocals are filled with personality. “It’s not just about the solos,” Cannon says, “It’s about the songs. People get used to everyday life, so it’s easy to miss the things around them. I write about those things. I know the problems of Chicago, the hardship. But I love and respect the city. I’m proud to be carrying the Chicago blues tradition forward and honoring those blues giants who came here from the south and created the city’s blues sound.”

Upon release of his Alligator Records debut, The Chicago Way, Cannon burst onto the international stage as one of the most electrifying bluesmen to emerge from Chicago in decades. He has played major cities all over the U.S., Canada, and Europe, including stops in the UK, Germany, Spain, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Poland and Japan, delighting and surprising audiences with one unforgettable gig after another. He has played the Chicago Blues Festival on ten separate occasions, initially as a sideman, then as a special guest, a sidestage band leader and finally as a main stage headliner. Using every vacation day and day off and working four ten-hour shifts a week, Cannon would arrange his schedule to gig out of town as much as possible.

As for leaving his bus driving job behind, Cannon says, “I’ll miss seeing the daily hustle of life, having somewhere to be, and the camaraderie with my coworkers. I’ve known some of them for over 20 years. I won’t miss the traffic or the carelessness of other cars and drivers. I’ve put in the time behind the wheel, now it’s my time.”

Toronzo Cannon

*Feature image by Mike White courtesy of Alligator Records

Dawes Take on Mental health and Survival in New Song and Video

Dawes Take on Mental health and Survival in New Song and Video

Big Hassle Media

‘Good Luck With Whatever’ arrives via Rounder Records on Friday, October 2

Good Luck With Whatever marks Dawes’ first release on their new label, Rounder Records, and follows a series of acclaimed self-released albums including 2013’s Stories Don’t End, 2015’s All Your Favorite Bands, 2016’s We’re All Gonna Die, and 2018’s Passwords.

Credit: Clara Balzary

From its first downbeat, Good Luck With Whatever sees Goldsmith grappling with the expectations of adulthood on a remarkable cycle of new songs fueled by many of the same elements that first earned the band worldwide attention and applause – graceful melodies with kinetic riffs and intricate musical interplay. Throughout the album, Dawes once again prove incredibly adept at pushing the emotional limits of the classically structured rock song, a testament to their tightly honed yet imaginative musicianship and the gripping specificity of Goldsmith’s songwriting. A culmination of their entire catalogue and decade-long career all wrapped up in nine glorious tracks, Good Luck with Whatever reclaims the rugged urgency and easy confidence of Dawes’ early work while tapping into the veteran band’s intense musical connection more effectively than ever before.

“In the past, I’ve definitely been more precious about the way I wanted the songs to sound, but that’s never as fun,” Goldsmith says. “The music we make is everyone’s mode of expression, and the other guys all have chops that I don’t have and never will. The fact that we’re able to lean on each other and celebrate each other as individuals just makes us so much more excited about getting to play together in this band.”

Dawes have released a deeply thoughtful and insightful new song and video about mental health and personal survival. “Didn’t Fix Me,” available now at all DSPs and streaming services, is the fourth song from the Los Angeles-based band’s eagerly awaited seventh studio LP, Good Luck With Whatever. Produced by 6x GRAMMY® Award-winner Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit) at Nashville’s famed RCA Studio A, the album arrives via Rounder Records on Friday, October 2; pre-orders are available now.

Watch “Didn’t Fix Me” below.


Dawes is: Taylor Goldsmith (guitars, vocals), Griffin Goldsmith (drums), Wylie Gelber (bass), Lee Pardini (keys).


Still Feel Like A Kid

Good Luck With Whatever

Between The Zero and The One

None Of My Business

St. Augustine At Night

Who Do You Think You’re Talking To?

Didn’t Fix Me

Free As We Want To Be

Me Especially

Pre-order ‘Good Luck With Whatever’

Joe Bonamassa to Livestream Concert From Ryman Auditorium September 20

Joe Bonamassa to Livestream Concert From Ryman Auditorium September 20

Big Hassle Media

Each ticket purchased includes a donation to the Keeping The Blues Alive Foundation for Joe’s Fueling Musicians Program to help musicians in need during the pandemic

Joe Bonamassa is set to perform a special live stream pay-per-view concert from the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee on September 20th. This concert will feature the songs from his new album, Royal Tea, before the official release on October 23rd. Pre-order the album here. Joe has never performed a full, unreleased album for audiences like this before, giving fans from around the world the opportunity to come together for an unforgettable night of blues-rock music. Along with Royal Tea he’ll perform classic remixes from his 20th anniversary album A New Day Now. The evening will continue with a one hour “After-Party Showcase” featuring several live performances from an array of some of the hottest rising stars in blues-rock music.

The live stream pay per view tickets and packages for “Joe Bonamassa Live in Concert Worldwide” presented by Keeping The Blues Alive are available for purchase.

Photo credit: Robert Sutton

There are a variety of pricing levels available for fans worldwide to be a part of this special “audience.” Tickets to the live stream pay per view event starts at $20. Fans may also purchase a $35 ALL-ACCESS PASS which includes access to the live stream pay per view event on September 20th, the Royal Tea digital album available on October 23rd, and a 1-year all pass for Bonamassa’s on-demand service which includes 17+ concert releases from Joe Bonamassa, Black Country Communion, and Rock Candy Funk Party – available at any time on most devices.

 As part of this unique concert event, fans also have the option to purchase a Commemorative VIP ticket giving them an experience they will never forget. VIP ticket holders will have their photo printed out and placed in a seat at the legendary Ryman Auditorium as part of Joe’s audience for that special night. VIPs will also get a picture of Joe with his “audience” which will be sent to them via email to keep. The VIP ticket holder’s name will also be included in the credits at the end of the live stream pay per view event, as well as being included in the upcoming DVD credits for this performance!

 This one-of-a-kind concert is presented by Bonamassa’s non-profit, Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation (KTBA) (more info on KTBA here). Each ticket purchase will include a $1 donation to Joe’s Fueling Musicians Program, which to date has raised over $300,000 and has supported more than 163 musicians in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic (more info on Fueling Musicians here).

 While much of the applause Bonamassa receives should be credited to his sheer talent, some part of his success needs to be attributed to Joe and his business partner for having the foresight and ability to become some of music’s savviest entrepreneurs. Bonamassa now 43, and his partner Roy Weisman have together devised a 360-degree independent business model that has survived and thrived during one of the music industry’s most uncertain eras, particularly considering the challenges created by the current pandemic.

 Joe BonamassaYouTube: /JoeBonamassaTVFacebook: @JoeBonamassaTwitter: @JBONAMASSAInstagram: @joebonamassa

New Single From Nigel Barker – “I Curse The Sun For Coming Up Today”

New Single From Nigel Barker – “I Curse The Sun For Coming Up Today”

JD Nash

“I Curse The Sun For Coming Up Today” is the third single to be released from Barker’s much anticipated forthcoming album, ‘FIVE,’ due out 9th October 2020.

Rapidly making a name for himself as one of the most exciting blues/rock artists in the UK today, Nigel Barker has released his new single, “I Curse The Sun For Coming Up Today.” The track, which is out on all major digital platforms dropped on September 11th, and is far from run of the mill. It’s innovative, original and genuinely different.

“I Curse The Sun For Coming Up Today” is the third single to be released from Barker’s much anticipated forthcoming album, FIVE,  due out on October 9th, 2020.

Barker’s music is lyric-oriented, with strong melodies and often experimental musical arrangements which keep things interesting.

Nigel had a bad car accident when he was 23 and lost the use of his left hand. For the young guitar player that was devastating. He switched to training as a recording engineer at AIR Studios and eventually went on to become a film editor and then an international award winning film director and writer. His 2003 film The Refuge, won him a Director’s Award at the 2006 Cinequest Film Festival, as well as a Best Screenplay award at the Napa Sonoma Film Festival in California- but he turned his back on film directing, “It was too hard getting money for films and too hard making them. I went back to simple film editing,” he says.

In the meantime the films bought him a Harley Davidson, and after a number of years using the heavy clutch on the bike, his hand came back to life. Nigel explains, “I was excited to be playing again, I went out and bought the guitar I had had when I was eighteen, a Les Paul, and started all over again. Four albums later, I have my own studio and twenty six guitars as well as a dining room that converts into a small film studio.”

Of the new single, Barker says:

Why release “I Curse The Sun For Coming Up Today” as a single? Well if you had managed to combine a blues rock guitar and orchestral strings and horns, with dubstep and a killer harmonica, I think you would want to show it off to the world.

This is the third release from my album FIVE and in this instance I’m not out to make pop music. I’m out to make something that’s a little out of the ordinary and this is a little out of the ordinary.

Nothing is allowed to lapse into being ordinary in this track. The drum kit includes clanging bits of metal. There’s stand up bass, growling cellos and a banjo riff. Banjo? Yeah I squeezed one of them in too. Love it or loathe it, you can’t ignore it.

If your taste is a little off wack sometimes, this three minute tracks is just for you. Nuff said!

Nigel Barker

*Feature image courtesy of New Outlaw

Award-Winning Bluesman Steve Strongman Signs With Linus Entertainment

Award-Winning Bluesman Steve Strongman Signs With Linus Entertainment

Mark Pucci

Strongman has been delighting audiences around the world with his take on the blues for decades.

Award-winning bluesman Steve Strongman has joined forces with Linus Entertainment in a multi-faceted deal that sees the Canadian-based company globally representing his music publishing catalog, and the distribution of his sound recording catalog, as well as future recordings and songwriting.

“Songwriting has always held a special place in my career, Strongman says about the new deal. “It’s always evolving for me, and it’s something that I continue to work at. I’m very excited that I have an opportunity to focus on developing further as a songwriter in this affiliation with Linus Entertainment.”

Strongman has been delighting audiences around the world with his take on the blues for decades, liberally applying swampy swagger and sweetness to shuffles, ballads, and four-on-the-floor chuggers alike. Now seven albums deep, Strongman is already well-known as a solo artist within the blues community.

“I believe Steve has what it takes to be a world-class creative force in the blues scene,” shares Geoff Kulawick, President of Linus Entertainment. “We will be utilizing his strength as a songwriter, introducing him as a producer, collaborator and co-writer to our Stony Plain Records affiliated artists as well as artists on other labels.”

“One thing that we bring to the table are connections,” says Rob Brown, Linus Entertainment’s Manager of Music Publishing. “We see an opportunity for Steve to work with the world’s best blues and roots artists, many who we already happen to be doing business with. We’re eager to see what opening those doors will lead to.”

A new album from Strongman is in the works and will be released alongside his back catalog on the Linus affiliated roots and blues label, Stony Plain Records.

Steve Strongman

Keep B.B. King’s Grave Clean

Keep B.B. King’s Grave Clean

Don Wilcock

Editorial note: Honoring the late, great B.B. King on his birthday with a 2008 interview originally published by ABS back in April of this year

I wonder what B.B. King would think about the situation we’re in right now? In 2008 he said to me, “I used to hear when I was a boy that people shouldn’t cry and sob so when they lose someone. They should do that with the incoming. When a baby’s born, they should cry. Sob for that baby because the person that just died don’t have to go through life again as a lot of us have had to go through.”

B.B. was an orphan at age 10 living on a plantation in Indianola, Mississippi.

You probably won’t believe what I’m about to tell you, but I never thought of it as a situation. I was just alone and lonely, and when a person has one child, you are alone when you lose that parent if you only have one. I was lonely and lonesome, yes. But there was a little we called it a little thicket, a lot of trees, not big trees. Small trees where a lot of animals like squirrels, rabbits and stuff like that, birds, a lot of birds, and after my mom died, I used to go down and sit down.

There’s a little spring down there, a spring that’s still running today. I was down there a few years ago, and I used to sit down and drink the water. I would be sitting on it sometimes, and I would have peanuts and food like that, corn and stuff, and animals I guess trusted me for some reason. They would come up and almost eat out of my hand. And they were my friends. I’ve had a lot of fans and a lot of acquaintances through the years, but I haven’t had a lot of friends. I don’t think it’s because I haven’t been friendly, but it’s just something about me. I don’t know what it is, but that is true. Even squirrels and rabbits and something like that.

B.B. had just released an album called One Kind Favor, the title taken from a line in the Blind Lemon Jefferson song “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.” In 2015, B. B. was buried at his museum in Indianola.

“I was down to my hometown all last week,” he told me in 2008, “and I found the gravesite that I’d like to be buried in, and I hope they’ll remember that. Keep my grave clean. I’d love for people that love me or think well of me to be able to come to Indianola, Mississippi and see it. A long time ago I thought about being cremated. Then, I thought about that some more and said, ‘Oh, no. If there’s any such thing about coming back again, I want all my parts with me.

Yeah, I ain’t gonna take that chance. So, bury me. Put it all together. I don’t wanna be missing some of the vital parts. We have a word in this business about pushing up daisies. Well, I wouldn’t mind having that job at all because I think daisies are beautiful flowers, and the pretty daisies I’ve seen while living I’d like to be able to push them up, too. So, I think, though, that I went to this grave site right in my hometown, and I have some relatives buried out there. So, I think I’d like to be there.

Then, they got the museum that’s gonna open in September, and people will be coming to see it. So, those that love me and care about me I would like for them to come out and people keep my grave kept clean, so people can see my name and see where I’m laid out. I’d like to be available. I’d like to be able to go out to where I’ve heard where Blind Lemon is buried and I’ve heard where Robert Johnson is buried, but I’ve never seen ’em. So, I’d like to be available to the people that have kept me all these years. I’d just love to be available for them.

My old friend Robert Lockwood Jr — I don’t know where he’s buried either. So, there’s so many I don’t know. So, I feel a lot of people don’t either. So, I’d like to be somewhere where people that love me could see me and the ones that are inquisitive could find me. That’s what I’d like, and song that Blind Lemon sang, ‘Please See that My Grave Be Kept Clean,’ I believe that kind of hits me pretty good.

Yes, I’ve felt blessed, sir. I have heard it said by Native Americans that the great spirit some people call God and Allah, whatever it’s called, but whomever and whatever that great spirit that have kept me alive, I’m grateful. And my prayers I guess ain’t too good, but don’t only say ’em when I’m in trouble and need something, but I stops now and then and say thank you. Now and then, I say thank you.

I’m gonna tell you something I told my son a few days ago, that’s not a very sad subject to me. I’m 82 now, and I think people have been so good. My bad days I had in the early days. I practically throw ’em in the back of my mind and don’t think about ’em. I only think of the good things and the way things have been.

I believe all people are good. Some just do bad things, but I think God has been good to me, whatever people call it, and you know, I’m I won’t say ready because I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to die. Too crazy about looking at these pretty women, but oh, yeah, I’m old, boy. I made a slip the other night on stage, but I was tellin’ the truth. I said, ‘I think all women are beautiful,’ and I do, and I love all of them, and I do, and I said, ‘but I don’t want to sleep with all of them,’ which is the truth, but I slipped and said, ‘but I’d like to sleep with as many as I can.’ (Laugh) I said that the other night. People laughed. So, I hope they don’t hold it against me, but it’s true. Thank God for Dr. Viagra and Cialis.

Later in our interview he summed up by saying, “Today I’m not alone. I have a lot of children. I have a lot of acquaintances and friends. People seem to care for me. It’s a good feeling.”

I often wonder if B. B. was just being humble, or did he really not realize how many millions of friends and admirers he had. I count myself as one!

BB King

*Feature image Timothy W Willis

Billy Strings Announces Video Stream Access of Sold Out Shows

Billy Strings Announces Video Stream Access of Sold Out Shows

Big Hassle Media

Billy Strings Livestream September 16 & 17 via TourGigs

Billy Strings kicked off his “Meet Me At The Drive-In Tour” this past weekend with three shows in Wilkes-Barre, PA at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The band has just announced a partnership with TourGigs that will give fans access to video stream the sold out Sept 16 and 17 performances from the McHenry Outdoor Theater in McHenry, IL, located just outside of Chicago.


 Fans may purchase live video streams for the shows individually:

Sept 16 –

Sept 17 –

 The “Meet Me At The Drive-In Tour” will conclude with two nights at the Expo Gardens on Sept 18 and 19 in Peoria, IL. Tickets are available via

 All CDC and local guidelines will be followed. The Billy Strings band and crew are working closely with local promoters and government to ensure this event meets or exceeds all recommended standards.

  • Vehicles will be spaced to accommodate social distancing.
  • Patrons may only leave their vehicles to use their tailgating space adjacent to their vehicle, restrooms
  • or to obtain concessions.
  • Masks/Face coverings must be worn by any patrons traveling to and from restrooms, concessions areas.
  • Safe social distancing will be strictly enforced.



September 16 @ McHenry Outdoor Theater | McHenry, IL – SOLD OUT

September 17 @ McHenry Outdoor Theater | McHenry, IL – SOLD OUT

September 18 @ Expo Gardens | Peoria, IL – LIMITED TICKETS LEFT

September 19 @ Expo Gardens | Peoria, IL – SOLD OUT


Billy Strings has been hailed as the future of bluegrass, transcending tradition and genre with his high velocity, flat-picking guitar technique, and intense, confessional songwriting. HOME (Rounder Records), Strings’ remarkable second studio album, is undoubtedly the Michigan-born, Nashville-based artist’s bravest excursion thus far, completely rewiring bluegrass with elements of punk, country, folk rock, and genuine psychedelic exploration to fashion something altogether his own.

Strings has infused the aesthetic with his own experiences and inspirations, adopting traditional sonic and lyrical idioms to confront contemporary social truths. With guest appearances from the likes of Jerry Douglas and Molly Tuttle and produced by Glenn Brown (Greensky Bluegrass, Marcus Miller), HOME marks a landmark on Billy Strings’ ongoing creative journey, its fearless songs and freewheeling approach recasting string-based American music in his own inimitable image.


New Track From Ella Fitzgerald – “Taking a Chance on Love” from ‘The Lost Berlin Tapes’

New Track From Ella Fitzgerald – “Taking a Chance on Love” from ‘The Lost Berlin Tapes’

Lauren Leadingham

Ella Fitzgerald’s “Taking A Chance On Love” will teleport you back to Berlin 1962

A never-before-heard live recording from the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald, has surfaced. The Lost Berlin Tapes will be released on Verve Records on October 2, 2020.

The Lost Berlin Tapes were recorded in stereo at Berlin’s Sportpalast on March 25, 1962 and finds Ella at the top of her game with a trio led by pianist Paul Smith, Wilfred Middlebrooks on bass, and Stan Levey on drums. Fitzgerald played Berlin two years prior, where she famously turned forgotten lyrics into absolutely sensational improvisation — ad-libbing lyrics while channeling her best Louis Armstrong.

Listen to the second single of the Berlin Tapes, “Taking a Chance on Love.”

The Lost Berlin Tapes tracklist:

1. Cheek To Cheek
2. He’s My Kind Of Boy
3. Cry Me A River
4. I Won’t Dance
5. Someone To Watch Over Me
6. Jersey Bounce
7. Angel Eyes
8. Clap Hands, Here Come Charlie
9. Taking A Chance On Love
10. C’est Magnifique
11. Good Morning Heartache
12. Hallelujah, I Love Him So
13. Hallelujah, I Love Him So (Reprise)
14. Summertime
15. Mr. Paganini
16. Mack The Knife
17. Wee Baby Blues

Pre-order ‘Ella Fitzgerald: The Lost Berlin Tapes’

*Gif image courtesy of Verve Records

Patricia Wilson Aden Named New President & CEO of The Blues Foundation

Patricia Wilson Aden Named New President & CEO of The Blues Foundation

Cary Baker / Conqueroo

Aden, President and CEO of the African American Museum in Philadelphia and former Executive Director of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation to succeed Barbara Newman, who will be retiring.

Patricia Wilson Aden, New President & CEO, The Blues Foundation


The Blues Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Patricia Wilson Aden as its next President & CEO. Aden brings more than three decades of non-profit management experience to the Foundation, with a specialization in the preservation and celebration of African American cultural resources. Her most recent experience as President & CEO of the African American Museum in Philadelphia and her earlier role as Executive Director of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation make her uniquely qualified to lead The Blues Foundation and its Blues Hall of Fame. Aden stated, “I am genuinely excited to join The Blues Foundation and the Blues community in celebrating the Blues and the artists who have made it America’s original musical genre.”

Aden will join the Foundation’s staff on October 1, 2020.


Barbara Newman, retiring President & CEO, The Blues Foundation

  Aden succeeds Barbara Newman, who will begin her retirement September 30th. Under Newman’s leadership, The Blues Foundation saw marked growth in engagement and reach in all facets of the organization’s operations. She embraced technology to offer greater access to and programming of major Blues Foundation events, including The International Blues Challenge and Blues Music Awards, forged new industry alliances, and amplified awareness of organizational activities in fulfilling The Blues Foundation’s mission to preserve, celebrate, and expand awareness of the Blues genre.

 Most recently, she led the charge to develop a relief fund to provide financial support for basic living necessities to Blues musicians whose income streams have evaporated in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the first of April, that fund has raised over $250,000 and assisted close to 250 musicians. Throughout her tenure, she has prioritized strong fiscal management and is leaving The Blues Foundation well-situated to further advance its mission under Aden’s leadership.

Michael Freeman, Chairman of The Blues Foundation’s Board of Directors, added, “On behalf of the global Blues community we wish Barbara Newman the very best for a wonderful retirement and with the greatest appreciation for her tireless dedication to The Blues Foundation as its President & CEO. Thanks to her vision and leadership we are well positioned to welcome Patty Aden as our new President & CEO to continue the forward movement of the organization. We are thrilled to have found such an experienced and well-respected leader and look forward to welcoming her on October 1st.”

Based in Memphis, Tenn., the home of the blues, The Blues Foundation is world-renowned as THE organization with a mission to preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recording and performance, expand worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form. With approximately 4,000 individual members and more than 170 affiliated local blues societies, it represents hundreds of thousands of blues fans and professionals around the world.

In addition to the Blues Music Awards, the Foundation’s other signature honors and events include the Blues Hall of Fame, Keeping the Blues Alive Awards, and the International Blues Challenge. Its HART Fund provides the blues community with medical assistance and advocacy for blues musicians in need, while Generation Blues scholarships and Blues in the Schools programming expose new generations to blues music.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, The Blues Foundation has recently established the COVID-19 Blues Musician Emergency Relief Fund to provide financial support for basic necessities such as housing and utilities to blues musicians negatively impacted by the pandemic. The Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame, opened more than five years ago, adds the opportunity for music lovers of all ages to interact with the music and the history. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the worldwide blues community with answers, information, and news.

The Blues Foundation

Neil Young to Release Live Album and Movie with Promise of the Real

Neil Young to Release Live Album and Movie with Promise of the Real

Lauren Leadingham

‘Noise and Flowers’ is due in early 2021

Neil Young and has announced a live double album and a film titled Noise and Flowers, scheduled to arrive early 2021, chronicling his 2019 European summer tour with Promise of the Real. The band has recorded two studio albums with Young, The Monsanto Years (2015) and The Visitor (2017); a soundtrack album, Paradox (2018); and a live album, Earth (2016).

YouTube screenshot of Neil Young + Promise Of The Real – “Peace Trail”


The 2019 tour closely followed the death of Young’s longtime manager, Elliot Roberts.

“[Daryl Hannah] and I were on the bus, on our way to New York to catch a plane to Europe, when we got the call. After returning to the funeral for our beloved Elliot, we got on the plane and left for the tour,” writes Young about Roberts in the Neil Young Archives.

He continues, “During the tour, we had a poster of Elliot on a road case, right where he always stood during our shows. Everyone who was with us felt that this tour was amazing for its great vibe. The Real and I delivered for Elliot. [Noise and Flowers] is truly a great collection, dripping with the soul of our band as we played for our fallen leader.”

The tracklist for Noise and Flowers is to be announced.

‘Music, Money, Madness… Jimi Hendrix in Maui’ Documentary and ‘Live in Maui’ Album Due November 20

‘Music, Money, Madness… Jimi Hendrix in Maui’ Documentary and ‘Live in Maui’ Album Due November 20

Bob Merlis

Film about Hendrix’s legendary 1970 Maui performances includes previously unseen footage/audio available as Blu-ray With 2CD Or 3LP

Experience Hendrix L.L.C. in partnership with Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, are releasing the brand new feature length documentary Music, Money, Madness . . . Jimi Hendrix In Maui, as well as the accompanying album Live In Maui on November 20. The film chronicles the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s storied visit to Maui and how they became ensnared with the ill-fated Rainbow Bridge movie produced by their controversial manager Michael Jeffery.

The Blu-ray will include the full documentary as well as bonus features featuring all of the existing 16mm color film shot of the two performances that afternoon mixed in both stereo and  5.1 surround sound. Included in the package will be Live In Maui – both of the aforementioned sets spread across 2 CDs or 3 vinyl LPs, newly restored and mixed by longtime Jimi Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer, and mastered by Bernie Grundman.

“Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” from this historic concert is available now on streaming services; those who pre-order the package will receive a digital download of the track. In addition, there will be various Maui merchandise designs and music bundles available exclusively at the authentic Hendrix store.


Credit: Bob Merlis


View the Jimi Hendrix Experience performing “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” on July 30, 1970, and pre-order Music, Money, Madness . . . Jimi Hendrix Live In Maui documentary/Live In Maui album.

By the middle of 1970, Jimi Hendrix was working on a follow up album to Electric Ladyland with his bandmates Mitch Mitchell (drums) and Billy Cox (bass), headlining festivals and arenas across the U.S. and building Electric Lady Studios in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Completing this state-of-the-art recording facility was proving to be a costly endeavor, so his manager Michael Jeffery procured a $500,000 advance from Warner Bros. to fund the remaining construction required to complete the studio. At those same meetings, Jeffery convinced Warner Bros. executives to finance a film called Rainbow Bridge that was to be shot in Maui, in exchange for rights to its soundtrack album consisting of new Jimi Hendrix studio recordings.

Inspired by Easy Rider and directed by Warhol acolyte Chuck Wein, Jeffery’s film centered around the idea of a “rainbow bridge” between the unenlightened and enlightened worlds. It was envisioned to feature everything from surfing and yoga to meditation and Tai-Chi and filmed without the aid of a script or professional actors. It proved to be a rambling assemblage of hippie excess and Jeffery grew concerned that his investment was being squandered. The Experience were already booked to perform a concert in Honolulu at the H.I.C. Arena on August 1, 1970. Chuck Wein, desperate to feature Hendrix in some capacity within the film, devised a plan to film a free ‘color/sound vibratory experiment’ on the lower slope of the dormant Haleakala volcano. Word of mouth about a free Jimi Hendrix concert led a few hundred curious Maui locals to the Baldwin cattle ranch in Olinda where a makeshift stage was constructed and the audience was arranged by their astrological signs.  The performance was a success – the trio was at the height of its powers and played two sets flawlessly against a stunning natural backdrop.

In the aftermath of his performance on Maui, Hendrix would return to New York and his work at Electric Lady Studios. He had no further involvement in Rainbow Bridge. He left for Europe at the end of August to headline the massive Isle Of Wight festival and begin a European tour. Tragically, he would die in London on September 18, 1970.

Credit: Daniel Teheney/Authentic Hendrix LLC


The Cry Of Love, the first album of posthumous Jimi Hendrix recordings, was issued in 1971 to wide commercial and critical acclaim. Jeffery readied Rainbow Bridge and its accompanying soundtrack to be the next release. Despite its Hendrix association, the film was a commercial flop. Rainbow Bridge confused moviegoers, many of whom were under the impression they were going to see a concert film. A scant 17 minutes of haphazardly edited Hendrix concert footage was used in the final cut, and it proved to be the film’s saving grace. Due to technical problems inherent in the original recording of the Maui performances, Mitch Mitchell had to overdub his drum tracks at Electric Lady Studios in 1971 just so those performances could be featured.

Eddie Kramer recalls, “Mitch did a tremendous amount of work on the overdubs. If he didn’t get it in one take, he certainly did in the second one and I was so blown away by his ability to duplicate the parts he had already played! He was determined to fix what suffered on the recordings due to the 50 mile an hour winds because they were playing on the side of a bloody volcano! After Jimi died it took a while before I was able to go back to the closet with all the tapes. Mitch was a trooper with a can do British attitude. It’s all very well to overdub drums, but to do it so you can’t tell, that’s the magic. He knew the material extremely well and it’s a tribute to his sensitivity as a great musician and an equal and willing partner of Jimi’s.”

The posthumously released Rainbow Bridge soundtrack album, prepared by Mitch Mitchell, Eddie Kramer and John Jansen, was first rate and featured classics such as “Dolly Dagger” and “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun).” The album, however, did not include audio from the Maui concert, which may have also added to consumer confusion.

Directed by John McDermott  and produced by Janie Hendrix, George Scott and McDermott, Music, Money, Madness . . . Jimi Hendrix In Maui incorporates never before released original footage and new interviews with firsthand participants and key players such as Billy Cox, Eddie Kramer, Warner Bros. executives and several Rainbow Bridge cast members, as well as its director Chuck Wein. Their fascinating account tells the definitive story about one of the most controversial independent films ever made.

The documentary sets the proverbial stage for Live In Maui – the two full Jimi Hendrix Experience sets, including breathtaking renditions of crowd favorites like “Foxey Lady,” “Purple Haze” and Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” as well as then-unreleased songs like “Dolly Dagger” and “Freedom” that showcased the new direction Hendrix was moving toward.

“Jimi loved adventure and there was certainly no shortage of it during his time in Hawaii, a place he also loved,” said Janie Hendrix. “The back story of Rainbow Bridge and these recordings paint a picture of Jimi’s uncanny ability to turn the bizarre into something amazing! We’re excited about this release because it gives the world a closer look at Jimi’s genius.”

Watch the trailer for Music, Money, Madness… Jimi Hendrix in Maui below.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Live In Maui CD tracklist



Chuck Wein Introduction

Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)

In From The Storm

Foxey Lady

Hear My Train A-Comin’

Voodoo Child (Slight Return)


Purple Haze

Spanish Castle Magic

Lover Man

Message to Love




Dolly Dagger

Villanova Junction

Ezy Ryder

Red House


Jam Back at the House

Straight Ahead

Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)/Midnight Lightning

Stone Free

Toots and the Maytals’ Toots Hibbert, Roots Reggae Trailblazer, Dies Aged 77

Toots and the Maytals’ Toots Hibbert, Roots Reggae Trailblazer, Dies Aged 77

Lauren Leadingham

We will never forget Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert (December 8, 1942 – September 11, 2020)

Toots Hibbert, founder of the Maytals and father of Jamaican ska/reggae, has sadly passed away at the age of 77 — just weeks after releasing his latest album, Got to Be Tough. Hibbert had recently been in a medically-induced coma after being admitted to a hospital in St. Andrew, Jamaica. According to family, he died on Friday night, cause undisclosed.

It is with the heaviest of hearts to announce that Frederick Nathaniel "Toots" Hibbert passed away peacefully tonight, surrounded by his family at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica…

— Toots & The Maytals (@tootsmaytals) September 12, 2020

The youngest of seven children, born on December, 8, 1942 in May Pen, singing was in Hibbert’s blood from an early age as he grew up singing in church. In 1962, he formed the Maytals as a vocal trio with Henry “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” Mathias in Kingston. His soulful vocal style would immediately establish him “The Otis Redding of Reggae.”

Getty Images

The Maytals had a trifecta of hit singles with “Bam Bam,” “Fever,” and “Sweet and Dandy.” In 1967, Hibbert was arrested for marijuana possession, serving nine months behind bars. This holdup prompted what would become one of the Maytals’ most crowd-pleasing songs, “54-46 Was My Number,” which references his prison number.

Hibbert literally coined the word “Reggae” as a musical term in 1968 with the Maytals’ “Do the Reggay.” He has been sampled or covered by KRS-One, Keith Richards, the Clash, Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds, Sublime, The Specials, etc.

Toots achieved the most soulful treatment of the civil rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome.” And in the same year the last legislation was enacted during the civil rights era, he sang, “I know, oh yes, I know, yeah / I’m going to live to see everyone free, free, free, free” in  “I Shall Be Free.” Always a man of well-timed hopefulness at a time of social upheaval, from the ’60s to present day, the influence and import of his music will continue to sustain through times of civil rights struggles.

Rest in power, Toots. We will never forget you.


Listen: Tom Petty’s “Confusion Wheel” from Upcoming ‘Wildflowers & All the Rest’

Listen: Tom Petty’s “Confusion Wheel” from Upcoming ‘Wildflowers & All the Rest’

Lauren Leadingham

Petty wrote “Confusion Wheel” during the 1994 ‘Wildflowers’ sessions

“Confusion Wheel,” the first song available from Tom Petty’s long-awaited Wildflowers & All The Rest box set, hit streaming services yesterday. The expanded collection of previously unheard tracks, solo demos, and live performances is slated for an October 16 release via Warner Records. Written in 1994, “Confusion Wheel” navigates emotional turmoil and uncertainty, as if he earmarked the song for 2020. But Tom also signifies hope and new life:

One of these days my old friend

You and I will walk through that door

One of these days we’ll drive away

Drive away singing a brand-new song

We’ll wake up singing a brand-new song

Wildflowers & All The Rest will be released in multiple formats. Wildflowers & All The Rest—Deluxe Edition features 15 recordings made by Tom in his home studio as he was writing the album. The Deluxe Edition culminates with 14 live performances of songs from Wildflowers, recorded on tours from 1995 to 2017. Wildflowers & All The Rest—Super Deluxe is a Direct to Consumer Limited Edition set featuring Finding Wildflowers—16 studio recordings of alternate takes of Wildflowers songs as Tom, band members and Rick Rubin honed in on the final album.

Watch the visualizer featuring artwork by Blaze Ben Brooks below.

Pre-order Wildflowers & All the Rest


Shemekia Copeland Releases New Album ‘Uncivil War’ on October 23

Shemekia Copeland Releases New Album ‘Uncivil War’ on October 23

Press Release

The soulful and uncompromising Uncivil War tackles the problems of contemporary American life head on, with nuance, understanding, and a demand for change.

Alligator Records is pleased to announce the October 23, 2020 release of Uncivil War, the riveting new album by recently-named 2020 Living Blues Female Artist Of The Year and multi-Grammy Award nominee Shemekia Copeland. Uncivil War builds on the musically and lyrically adventurous territory she’s been exploring for over a decade, blending blues, R&B and Americana into a sound that is now hers alone.

The soulful and uncompromising Uncivil War tackles the problems of contemporary American life head on, with nuance, understanding, and a demand for change. It also brings Copeland’s fiercely independent, sultry R&B fire to songs more personal than political.

Uncivil War—recorded in Nashville with award-winning producer and musician Will Kimbrough at the helm—is a career-defining album for Copeland. Among the most striking songs on the album are the true, torn-from-history story of the last slave ship to reach America, “Clotilda’s On Fire,” and the topical title track, a courageous plea for unity in a time of disunion. With songs addressing gun violence (“Apple Pie And A .45”), civil rights (the Staple Singers-esque message song, “Walk Until I Ride”), lost friends (the Dr. John tribute “Dirty Saint”), bad love (Junior Parker’s “In The Dark”) as well as good (“Love Song,” by her father, legendary bluesman Johnny Clyde Copeland), Uncivil War is far-reaching, soul-searching and timeless. Guests on Uncivil War include Americana superstar Jason Isbell, legendary guitarist Steve Cropper, Grammy-nominated young guitar star Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, rocker Webb Wilder, rock icon Duane Eddy, mandolin wizard Sam Bush, dobro master Jerry Douglas, and The Orphan Brigade providing background vocals.

Of the new album Copeland says:

I’m trying to put the ‘united’ back in the United States. Like many people, I miss the days when we treated each other better. For me, this country’s all about people with differences coming together to be part of something we all love. That’s what really makes America beautiful.

When Shemekia first broke on the scene with her jaw-dropping Alligator Records debut CD Turn The Heat Up, she instantly became a blues and R&B force to be reckoned with. With each subsequent release — Uncivil War is her ninth album — Copeland’s music has evolved. She continues to broaden her musical vision, melding blues with more rootsy, Americana sounds, and singing about the world around her, shining light in dark places with confidence and well-timed humor. Her recordings have won her worldwide acclaim and dozens of awards. Her previous album, America’s Child, featuring a duet with John Prine and accompaniment from Mary Gauthier and Rhiannon Giddens (among others), was named by MOJO magazine as the #1 blues release of 2018. In addition to her three Grammy nominations, Copeland has won a total of 12 Blues Music Awards and more than 20 Living Blues Awards over the course of her career.

Copeland has performed thousands of gigs at clubs, festivals and concert halls all over the world, and has appeared in films, on national television, NPR, and in magazine and newspapers. She’s sung with Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, Dr. John, James Cotton and many others. She opened for The Rolling Stones and entertained U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait. Jeff Beck calls her “amazing.” Santana says, “She’s incandescent…a diamond.” In 2012, she performed with B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Buddy Guy, Trombone Shorty, Gary Clark, Jr. and others at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama. She has performed on PBS’s Austin City Limits and was recently the subject of a six-minute feature on the PBS News Hour. Currently, Copeland can be heard hosting her own popular daily blues radio show on SiriusXM’s Bluesville.

Pre-Order Uncivil War
Shemekia Copeland

*Feature image photo © Marilyn Stringer

Dave Specter and Billy Branch Sing “The Ballad of George Floyd”

Dave Specter and Billy Branch Sing “The Ballad of George Floyd”

Lauren Leadingham

“If it hadn’t been for music, the civil rights movement would’ve been like a bird without wings.” – Rep. John Lewis

Chicago-based musician/producer Dave Specter has written a new song titled “The Ballad of George Floyd,” sung as a duo with Billy Branch (heir apparent to the Chicago blues harmonica throne). Also joining the track are Brother John Kattke on organ, and Danny Shaffer on acoustic guitar. The single has been released digitally by Delmark, with a 12″ 45rpm special edition single to follow in the fall.

Specter wrote these haunting lyrics of sorrow concerning centuries of injustice and bigotry, mere days after the murder of George Floyd. He reminds us that the knee is the new noose, and that it’s past time we bring about a change. “Blind men in power pouring gasoline on a burning fire.” The words, harp, and organ themselves burn together slowly but fiercely. The names of Garner, Rice, McDonald, Arbery, and Brown are recited in the song to also remind that they didn’t die in vain. Say their names.

Of the powerful new single, Specter shares:

I wrote the song a few days after George Floyd was murdered, and the lyrics pretty much wrote themselves. George Floyd didn’t die in vain. He helped spark a worldwide movement for justice and change. I’m proud to collaborate with the great Chicago bluesman Billy Branch on this tune. We share the same vision and are inspired by the words of John Lewis: “If it hadn’t been for music, the civil rights movement would’ve been like a bird without wings.”

Order the latest ‘Blues From The Inside Out’

*Feature image credit: Peter Hurley

Nora Jean Wallace Deals Straight Chicago Blues on New CD ‘Blueswoman’

Nora Jean Wallace Deals Straight Chicago Blues on New CD ‘Blueswoman’

Mark Pucci

Singer Nora Jean Wallace Deals Straight Chicago Blues on New ‘Blueswoman’ CD Coming October 30 from Severn Records.

Severn Records announces an October 30 release date for Blueswoman, the new CD from Blues Music Award-nominated singer Nora Jean Wallace. The new album was produced by Severn label head David Earl (who also plays guitar on four tracks) and recorded at Severn Studios in Annapolis, MD. Backing Wallace’s powerhouse vocals are Severn’s A-list team of musicians, including Johnny Moeller – guitars; Steve Gomes – bass; Kevin Anker – organ; Steve Guyger – harmonica; Stanley Banks – keyboards; and Robb Stupka – drums. Multi-Blues Music Award-winner Kim Wilson is a special guest on harmonica on one track.

Nora Jean Wallace (formally Bruso) returns after 16 years since her 2004 BMA-nominated and critically-acclaimed release, Going Back to Mississippi. Blueswoman shows why Nora was born to sing the blues. A staple of the Chicago Blues scene, Nora Jean pours her heart into eight originals including the Koko Taylor inspired title track, “I’m a Blues Woman,” and “Rag and Bucket” written with co-writer, Stanley Banks. The Syl Johnson classic, “I Can’t Stop,” and George Jackson’s “Evidence” are great canvases for Nora’s powerful gift. No wonder The Chicago Sun-Times called her performance at the Chicago Blues Festival “show-stopping,” and the legendary Koko Taylor is quoted as saying, “Nora Jean sounds just like I did when I was her age!” This is a must for all fans of real-deal blues.

During a very low period in my career, a friend reminded me that the Bible says your gifts will make room for you. When I gave serious thought to that which I already knew, I never looked back. Slowly but surely my gifts indeed have made, and continue to make, room for me and this project is living proof of that.

I left the blues scene to take care of my mom who was sick at the time (she has since passed). From the cotton fields of Mississippi to the bright and steamy windows of Chicago blues, she always supported me. I think a part of her felt guilty because I had to leave what I loved doing the most to take care of her. And although she’s gone, she’s still with me. I thank God for all she instilled me. She always told me to put God first, never quit and everything else will fall in place.

Here I am in 2020 embarking on a renewed career in blues. The gifts that have made room for me have come in the form of creative people who’ve helped me pave a new path in the blues. I believe God had a hand in it all and has placed people in my life to make me better, stronger and more determined to do what I love best…sing the blues. – Nora Jean Wallace

Wallace is a Chicago Blues singer with deep Delta roots. Like so many blues greats that hail from the Delta of Mississippi, Nora was born and raised in Greenwood, a town in the heart of this blues-rich region. From birth her father, Bobby Lee Wallace, a professional blues singer and sharecropper, and her Uncle, Henry “Son” Wallace, a blues singer and guitar player, infused the blues in her soul. Also contributing to her musical education was her mother, Ida Lee Wallace, a gospel singer, and her grandmother, Mary, who ran a juke house. As a child, Nora would sneak down to her grandmother’s place on Friday and Saturday nights and listen to her relatives sing blues classics. It was during these years that Nora developed a love for the music of Howlin’ Wolf that has continued to the present day.

Nora’s singing career in Chicago began in 1976 when her Aunt Rose heard her sing at home and brought her to several clubs she was promoting. It was at the Majestic on the West Side of Chicago that Nora sat in with Scottie and the Oasis. She was invited to join the band and spent several years with them before Scottie’s unfortunate passing. During this time many local Chicago musicians, most notably Mary Lane and Joe Barr, encouraged Nora and taught her the finer points of her craft.

Nora’s big break came in 1985 when Jimmy Dawkins saw her perform at a local Chicago club and invited her to join his band. For the next seven years Nora toured and recorded with Jimmy and his band and appeared on two of his CDs, Feel the Blues (JSP, 1985 & 2002 with a bonus NJB track) and Can’t Shake These Blues (Earwig, 1991). She also released a single, “Untrue Lover” (Leric, 1982) and her first solo release in 2002, Nora Jean Bruso Sings the Blues (Red Hurricane).

While touring Europe, Canada, and the United States, Nora refined her performing skills and developed an international fan base. She appeared on many major festivals including the King Biscuit Blues Festival, AK, the Chicago Blues Festival and the Pocono Blues Festival.

Nora has lived a life full of passion and pain, triumph and despair, and with it has come a wisdom out of which art is born. Living involves pain but offers redemption as well. That is what the blues is all about.

Seems like this day would never come, but through it all Severn Records has been steadfast in making sure this project would be a success. With their support, I’ve been able to once again share my voice with fans and the blues community that I’ve grown to love. Big, big shout out to Stanley Banks who put pen to paper to write some incredible songs for this project as well as share his talent. – Nora Jean Wallace

Nora Jean Wallace Facebook

*Feature image photo credit: Donna Grass DGPhotoDesigns courtesy of Mark Pucci Media

Louis Armstrong House Museum Names Regina Bain as New Executive Director

Louis Armstrong House Museum Names Regina Bain as New Executive Director

Press Release

September 17 Virtual Gala will honor Armstrong’s legacy of social justice
Regina Bain

The Louis Armstrong House Museum, the National Historic Landmark dedicated to the cultural, historical and humanitarian legacy of Louis Armstrong, announces Regina Bain as its new Executive Director. Bain is an artist, leader, facilitator and program designer with close to two decades of experience working in nonprofit organizations.

Regina is currently the co-chair of Culture @3’s anti-racism subcommittee, and serves on the national advisory council of Urban Bush Women (UBW), a dance company that galvanizes artists, activists and audiences through performances, artists development and community involvement. She produces The Drama Podcast, leads the Yale Black Alumni Association and serves on the Yale Board of Governors.

Previously, Regina served as Associate Vice President of the Posse Foundation, a national leadership and college access program which helps to send teams of students or “Posses” to top colleges and universities. She was deputy to the COO, helping to onboard and provide oversight for Executive Directors in Posse’s 10 site offices. As the organization developed, she helped to establish the offices in Atlanta, New Orleans and Miami and double Posse’s STEM initiative. She also helmed Posse’s Training and Evaluation department which works with human resources to onboard all new staff, provide skill training and professional development, and design curriculum. Regina’s efforts helped to increase Posse’s national student graduation rates for four consecutive years.

Ms. Bain earned her BA in African-American Studies and Theater from Yale University and her MFA from the Yale School of Drama.

“Globally famous Louis Armstrong chose to live in Corona, Queens, because he craved its sense of community and its diversity,” says Queens College President Frank H. Wu.“A musician and international ambassador like no other, he left us an enduring and vital legacy that we are honored to uphold. In Regina Bain, the new director of the Louis Armstrong House Museum, we have found a leader who possesses the depth and breadth of skill — spanning arts management, community engagement, administration and mentorship — needed to make Armstrong’s legacy even more accessible at a time when it is most needed. It is my pleasure to extend to Ms. Bain a warm Queens College welcome.”

“As a member of the Search Committee I asked myself what is the most important criteria for selecting our new director,” Board Chair of the Louis Armstrong House Museum Jerry Chazen says. “I ultimately realized it was ‘is this the person Louis Armstrong would have picked to run this organization?’ Regina was the one who best fit that bill. Her desire to interpret Louis’s legacy as an artist and humanitarian will pave the way for new generations to discover his genius and contributions to our history.”

The announcement comes at the time when the Louis Armstrong House Museum is focusing more than ever on how to engage with the community through its unique family-friendly blend of arts and education – a vision that Bain will help grow and steer. This vision includes putting into motion several long-in-the-works initiatives, including the restoration of the House Museum this fall and launching the virtual “Armstrong Now!” program. Bain will also help develop new programs and activities focusing on community engagement, as well as ensuring that the House Museum continues to be a sustainable and accessible environment amid COVID-19.

I am so proud to join this community dedicated to celebrating the legacy of Louis Armstrong. The House Museum is a crown jewel in American culture. Mr. Armstrong’s archives is among the most significant Black archival collections, and one of the most substantial of any jazz musician.

The health, economic and racial pandemics afflicting America have had a profound effect on the House, but like Louis Armstrong, we see opportunity within challenges. With the opening of the new Louis Armstrong Center in Spring 2021, the House Museum is poised to grow exponentially. The expanded campus will become a new, international destination celebrating Armstrong’s preeminent place in our culture and living out his values of artistic excellence, global ambassadorship, youth leadership and service to community. – Regina Bain

The museum will honor Armstrong’s legacy of social justice during its virtual gala webcast held on September 17th. This is the same day that, in 1957, Armstrong during an interview called out President Eisenhower who was slow to intervene when Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus used the National Guard to bar nine students from entering Little Rock’s Central High School because they were Black.

Louis Armstrong remains an icon to this day, with the museum becoming a destination for fans new and longtime, including Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts (who visited the museum last fall) and Paul McCartney, who just performed at a benefit playing Louis’ trumpet – which is kept safe at the Museum.

Louis Armstrong House Museum

Philly Music Fest Announces Virtual Livestream 2020 Festival

Philly Music Fest Announces Virtual Livestream 2020 Festival

Mixtape Media

Philly Music Fest benefits the musicians living and making music in Philadelphia and local music education programs that are educating the next generation about the importance of music.

Philly Music Fest will hold an all-virtual LIVEstream music festival on September 24 and September 25, with performers actually performing LIVE ON STAGE and featuring nationally acclaimed bands – Japanese BreakfastMt. JoyLanghorne SlimThe Districts and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The annual festival—which usually takes place over four nights at three independent Philadelphia music venues, selling out all four nights the last two years—will still exclusively feature local musicians. Proceeds will be donated to Philadelphia-based music education programs and seed another round of Philly Music Fest grants for local musicians struggling due to COVID-19.

Unlike other virtual music festivals that feature performances pre-recorded in living rooms and bedrooms, all of Philly Music Fest’s headlining and direct support sets will be performed live and the performances will be on a stage. Bands will perform at the Ardmore Music Hall, which is outfitted with a cutting-edge, four-camera HD audio and streaming video capability, powered by In order to allow venue staff to sanitize the stage and replace microphones, stands, and cords, the festival will feature pre-recorded sets from emerging artists and messages from the charities that Philly Music Fest has supported in the past, which will be shown in-between the live sets.

Normally featuring two dozen local bands, the 2020 edition of Philly Music Fest is a shorter lineup, featuring Japanese Breakfast, The DistrictsMt. Joy, Arnetta Johnson and SUNNYLanghorne SlimClap Your Hands Say Yeah and emerging artists, Arthur Thomas and the Funkitorium and Zeek Burse. These artists represent the diversity of the Philadelphia music scene, drawing from rock, folk, hip hop, indie, jazz and funk.

“One of the most beautiful things about Philly Music Fest is the community coming together to celebrate our local music scene, while simultaneously raising money for the next generation of musicians in our city—we think of it as a cycle,” said Founder and Producer Greg Seltzer. “A streamed festival is far from perfect, but it will still showcase the live talent of our city’s many musicians while raising money for kids’ music charities and supporting local musicians.”

Philly Music Fest’s livestream will broadcast live on WXPN, and the video of the performances will be available at NPR Music Live Sessions. The livestream can also be accessed through the Philly Music Fest website and Ardmore Music Hall’s website.

“XPN has supported Philly Music Fest since it started,” said Bruce Warren of WXPN. “This year, in particular, the lineup is outstanding. Between air play support on XPN and with the support of our local music website, The Key, our commitment to showcasing incredible local music and working more closely with Greg allows us together to expand on showcasing Philly to a larger audience, and supporting musicians and organizations in our community.”

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, Philly Music Fest will donate all festival proceeds, which in 2020, will come from in-stream donations by viewers. Last year, it donated $40,000 to music education programs such as Rock to the Future, Girls Rock Philly, Settlement Music School, Musicopia, Live Connections, and Play on Philly. Earlier in 2020, Philly Music Fest established a Micro-Grant Program and deployed more than 330 micro-grants to artists struggling with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the last few years, musicians have flocked to Philadelphia in search of affordable real estate and studio time, talented session musicians, and a network of small venues. The COVID-19 shutdown has left huge numbers of these musicians struggling to pay rent and buy groceries. While Philly Music Fest typically only donates to music education programs, which are in dire need of funding given the stress on virtual learning, this year, a portion of the proceeds will also be used to seed another round of micro-grants.

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