At the very core of ghoulish rock and roll is Ol’ Black Eyes, Alice Cooper. Behind the icon lies an origin story who featured bandmates Neil Smith, Michael Bruce, Glen Buxton, and Dennis Dunaway. The ones who shaped the sound, songs, persona and staging that ushered in the early 1970s glam rock.
But it was Dennis who was Alice’s first co-collaborator dating back to Cortez High High School, Phoenix. Together they would make up and sing impromptu, spoof rock and roll songs to carry them through track team distance runs. Combined with their shared and endless exploration of surrealism in art class the die was cast.
Photo courtesy of Phillip Solomonson
Decades later, out of the dark shadows, Dennis Dunaway (a.k.a. Dr. Dreary) has been on a new renaissance since the release of his 2015 book, Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! My Adventures in The Alice Cooper Group. Energized by a core fanbase who was just waiting for more from the original bandmates, the interest grew and grew. Superfans just couldn’t get enough.
Dunaway had his own Frankenstein to feed. Thus a string of projects. But one can’t explore Dennis’ creative life without full acknowledgement of his wife Cindy (and drummer Neil Smith’s sister). She is integral every step with wardrobes, make-up, video appearances, stylizing, live shows and more, Cindy had created their costuming since the band’s early breakout success in the seventies. Together, they are a force of nature.
Here for your Halloween enjoyment is his most recent collaboration, a playful and spooky take of The Clovers‘ 1959 single “Love Potion No. 9″ featuring Fiona Silver. It just dropped this Halloween weekend.
For this lockdown fright night, check out Dunaway’s chilling Cold Cold Coffin.
S.G. Goodman Releases Cover of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Lungs’
Missing Piece Group
“Hopefully I added to the story of Townes and my home with this cover, but like I said, it’s hard to put your spin on something you’ve always felt was perfect.”
Today, Kentucky songwriter S.G. Goodman released her cover of Townes Van Zandt‘s “Lungs.” Produced by Matt Ross-Spang, Goodman’s take on the song via Amazon Music is equal parts fired-up garage rock and and haunted Americana-gothic sweep.
Other than being singer/songwriters, what would the great-great-nephew of a Ft. Worth, Texas founder and a farmer’s daughter from the town of Hickman, Kentucky have in common? Would you believe a lemonade stand?
I’m not normally one to do covers, they often scare me. I feel it’s easier to do a cover poorly than to add to something that was already probably perfect. So when the good folks at Amazon Music offered for me to take part in their Amazon Original series, I was honored, but at a loss for what to do. I chose Townes Van Zandt’s “Lungs” because of the odd connection he has to where I live. Like all small towns, we have our legendary stories, and one story from Murray, KY could be found in a little lemonade stand in the middle of town. You’d drive up to Mr. Jimmy Gingles, ask for a Gingler (Fresh squeezed Lemonade, Orange Juice, and Lime) and you would see a picture of Townes hanging over Jimmy’s head while he made your drink.
Mr. Jimmy and Townes were friends and running buddies. He’d often tell you about all the times Townes visited him in Murray and how he’d passed out on that very floor in the lemonade stand. Townes also played a few times in a bar where I cut my teeth as performer. It was a thrill to record this with my band and Matt Ross-Spang at the legendary Fame Studios. Hopefully I added to the story of Townes and my home with this cover, but like I said, it’s hard to put your spin on something you’ve always felt was perfect. – S.G. Goodman
Album Premiere: True Groove Records Celebrates a Decade Of Global Soul With ‘2020 Vision’
American Blues Scene Staff
True Groove Records, NYC’s most prolific Black-owned independent record Label, celebrates a decade Of Global Soul with ‘2020 Vision’
2020 Vision is True Groove Records ‘ audio equivalent of a family holiday newsletter on steroids. But rather than looking back at the past decade in a greatest hits format, all nine tracks on the album are brand new. “The main reason for 2020 Vision is to have everyone in the True Groove family make a definitive music statement about where they are right now,” says label founder Tomás Doncker, who appeared in an ABS feature earlier this month. “I thought it was important we, as a collective, have that moment together. I think a show of unity in the world now, more than ever, can have great impact—and we use music as a powerful example of that.”
Image courtesy of True Groove
“I started True Groove because I realized there was an ever increasing absence of forward-thinking musical voices in the industry. Through the course of my life & career it was always that kind of musical/artistic mindset that inspired me. Not necessarily music that was reactionary, but what was thoughtful, and interesting. As an avid music fan and record collector I was bored with what I was hearing. I realized that subconsciously, I had always been a fan of independent record labels. Going back to being a kid and loving Motown, Stax and Philly International; being very into Stiff and Two-Tone, and, of course, Island. All those labels were launched with a truly independent, free thinking spirit, and their legacies have endured over time.
“The creative teams that supported them were able to make powerful, interesting and, ultimately, commercially viable music; music that could be left of center and still be popular. It was not my intention to run a record label, but I did it because it was obvious to me it was necessary to fill that void. I realized the music I grew up with and the music I love and play is not genre specific, it’s exactly the opposite- genre inclusive. What excites me is music that brings all kinds of seemingly disparate cultures and styles together. A way to erase as many of the “isms” and “schisms” as possible. Music has the unique power to unite and enlighten. That’s how we came up with the term Global Soul, and that’s where we’ve carved our niche.” – Tomás Doncker
The songs on 2020 Vision encompass an array of musical styles, but they all fit into the Global Soul ethos.
True Groove has built a reputation as a truly self-contained music sphere much along the lines of Motown, Stax and Philly International, in that the label has in-house writing and production teams, a house band that plays on almost every release, an in-house engineer (James Dellatacoma) and studio (Bill Laswell’s Orange Music Sound Studios). This mini-universe has allowed for a creative space and given the label the opportunity to flourish, with well over 100 releases in just 10 years.
2020 Vision is available on Spotify below and other streaming platforms.
Greg Sover Band to Release ‘The Parade’ EP October 30th
Greg to perform solo on November 6th for Live From Steel City’s Podcast, an intimate live performance and interview with limited ticketing
Indie, blues and rock outfit Greg Sover Band will release their six song EP, The Parade, on October 30th. The EP features five originals and the band’s interpretation of the Cream classic, “Politician.” In celebration of the release, Greg will be a guest on Steel City Live’s podcast on November 6th performing to a limited audience of twenty guests. With heavier guitars, blazing solos and impactful lyrics, The Parade explores themes of personal evolution, staying true to oneself and perseverance.
Recorded in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, The Parade was co-produced by Garry Lee and Mike Tarsia with Greg. In addition to Greg’s impassioned vocals, pointed songwriting and blistering lead guitarwork, the band features Garry Lee on bass guitar and backing vocals, drummer Tom Walling, guitarist Allen James and keyboardist Wally Smith. Gloria Galante performs harp on select tracks.
The EP kicks off with the hard rocking “Wake Up,” a searing call for the listener to truly grasp what it is like to walk in the shoes of a Black person in contemporary America. Contrastingly, “Feelin Sumthin’” is an uplifting rocker. “I tried to capture the country, blues, rock and gospel in this one with lyrics that make you remember why you are in certain situations to begin with,” Greg says.
“It’s Never Too Late” is a gentle, acoustic tribute to the singer’s late mother who passed away a decade ago this year. “It’s never too late to work things out… We’ve always been together, no, I won’t forget, ” he promises.
Greg pays homage to Cream with his version of “Politician.” The EP finishes up with the driving, “Never Gonna Stop,” a Hendrix inspired rocker that highlights Greg’s wailing lead vocal. “I wrote the riff first and I wanted this one to have a rock sound, but blues feel,” he says. “I speak about leaving behind everything that held you back in any way.”
Greg Sover Band will be performing select dates in support of The Parade. For tickets to Steel City Live’s Podcast on November 6th, click here.
Watch: Drive-By Truckers Share Incendiary Video for ‘The New OK’
“Protesting is an American right, protected by the constitution.
We fully support the right to peaceful protest.
We are steadfastly opposed to white supremacy and bigotry.
We do not condone violence from anyone.
Make your voice heard.
Get out and vote.” – Drive-By Truckers
Drive-By Truckers have released a powerfully compelling video for the title track of their latest album,The New OK. Filmed in Portland, OR during the protests of summer 2020, the clip for “The New OK” mirrors DBT co-founder Patterson Hood‘s intense lyrics that address the period of accelerated dissolution America has entered.
The New OK was released via ATO Records at all DSPs and streaming services on Friday, October 2. The CD and red vinyl edition of the album will arrive on Friday, December 18.
Photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media
The New OK marks the Drive-By Truckers’ 13th studio album and arrives mere months after the release of their highly lauded The Unraveling. Originally conceived as a quarantine EP collecting material recorded in Memphis during sessions for The Unraveling, the project expanded to include new powerful songs written and recorded over what Drive-By Truckers co-founder Patterson Hood describes as “this endless summer of protests, riots, political shenanigans and pandemic horrors.”
Tracks such as Hood’s “The New OK” and “Watching The Orange Clouds” – inspired by the protests following George Floyd’s murder – were exchanged between Hood, co-founding singer/songwriter/guitarist Mike Cooley, bassist Matt Patton, keyboardist Jay Gonzalez, drummer Brad Morgan, and then mixed by longtime DBT producer David Barbe. Bassist Patton offers vocals on The Ramones standard “The KKK Took My Baby Away.” Hood says it’s “a full album that hopefully balances out the darkness of our current situation with a hope for better days and nights ahead.”
“To call these past few months trying would be a dramatic understatement,” Hood continues. “Our lives are intertwined with our work in ways that give us our best songs and performances. It is a life that has often rewarded us beyond our wildest dreams. Speaking for myself, I don’t have hobbies, I have this thing I do. To be sidelined with a brand new album and have to sit idly while so much that I love and hold dear falls apart before my very eyes has been intense, heartbreaking, anger provoking and very depressing. It has gone to the very heart of our livelihoods and threatened near everything that we have spent our lives trying to build. Here’s to the hope that we can make 2021 a better year than this one has been. In the meantime, here’s to THE NEW OK!”
Of the title track, Hood says:
I wrote this song after attending a peaceful protest on July 25th in my adopted hometown of Portland, Oregon.
As I walked home, I couldn’t help but notice the people who were walking in the other direction. They seemed to have a very different intent than the people I had been marching with all evening.
I could hear the sounds of teargas canisters being launched against the protesters and a very different scene starting to take place… The New OK is not OK.
Billy Joe Shaver, Outlaw Country Innovator, Dies Aged 81
American Blues Scene Staff
A true outlaw pioneer has departed
Texas singer-songwriterBilly Joe Shaverhas passed away from a stroke. He was 81.
With just an 8th grade education and three fingers on his left hand, Shaver proved instrumental in the American outlaw country movement. Born in 1939 in Corsicana, Texas, he was raised by his grandmother while his mother worked in a Waco honky-tonk. He joins the Navy on his 17th birthday, and the same year meets Elvis Presley. The rest is history, as they say. Presley later records Shaver’s “You Asked Me To” three times.
Credit: Paradigm Talent Agency
One day in 1968, Shaver appeared in Bobby Bare’s Nashville office, where he convinced Bare to listen to him play. He was given a writing job for $50 a week. Shaver lived in Bare’s publishing office and bathed in a #3 washtub. Bare records more than 20 Shaver songs, including “Ride Me Down Easy,” a #1 hit in Cashbox magazine (Top 5 Billboard) in 1970.
His songs didn’t really see the light of day until they were recorded by the likes of Kris Kristofferson (“Good Christian Soldier”), Tom T. Hall (“Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me”), Bare (“Ride Me Down Easy”), and later, the Allman Brothers (“Sweet Mama”) and Elvis Presley (“You Asked Me To”). Shaver’s own debut album, Old Five and Dimers Like Me, was produced by Kristofferson in 1973.
It was also in 1973 when Shaver saw a real breakthrough — Waylon Jennings recorded Honky Tonk Heroes, an album comprised of mostly Shaver’s songs, arguably the first true “outlaw” album. John Anderson covered “Old Chunk of Coal,” BMI’s most performed song that year, reaching #4 in Billboard. Patty Loveless did a rendition of Shaver’s “When Fallen Angels Fly” in 1994 and reached Gold record status.
Shaver made his film debut as a leading character in Robert Duvall’s film The Apostle in 1996. (A Portrait of Billy Joe, produced by Robert Duvall and wife Luciana Pedraza, debuted at the SXSW Film Festival in 2004.)
Shaver was invited to play the Grand Ole Opry in 1999. In 2006, he was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. He recently served as spiritual advisor to Texas independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman. His 2007 album, Everybody’s Brother, was nominated for a GRAMMY, and the Americana Music Association awarded him their Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting.
In 2007 on the same day, Billy Joe surrenders to authorities and is released on bail for his involvement in a shooting during a bar fight AND releases his Greatest Hits album comes out. He also appears at a promotional record-signing event.
Bob Dylan, an artist who rarely covers others, has often played Shaver’s “Old Five And Dimers Like Me” in concert. Johnny Cash called him “my favorite songwriter.”
Listen: Heather Porcaro Shares New Single ‘All Hands on Deck’
Big Hassle Media
An homage to the obstacle of self-acceptance
Heather Porcaro’s latest single, “All Hands on Deck,” is a rallying cry for community and creativity in the face of never ceasing challenges. Porcaro’s clever writing reflects years spent in the works, paying homage to the obstacle of self-acceptance through a lighthearted lens: “I’m not who I once was, I’m kind of on the run,” she sings with unabashed vulnerability. Sultry vocals and layered instrumentals balance a playfulness with Porcaro’s mature perspective, brilliantly reflecting the common desire, young or old, to be seen.
“All Hands on Deck” was written in 2019, as the artist awoke from a spell of health concerns and career distractions that kept her from her music. From a low place, she called upon friends Tim Young and Scott Seiver to pull her out of a musical funk, and help produce what would become the first singles in her professional repertoire. “All Hands on Deck” is inspired by the real-life circumstances of this community- to-the-rescue, and the magical freedom of expression that ensues.
Heather Porcaro is a multi-talented artist, singer, and songwriter. A fourth generation musician, she takes an avant-garde approach to her classical training, with wide and varying influences spanning Pop, Jazz, Folk, and Rock. Her buttery, alto voice embarks listeners on a surreal and poetic journey through the everyday, with quirky lightheartedness and contagious energy. Thematically, her songs explore the bizarre nature of life, temporality, and human emotions.
Jorma Kaukonen and John Hurlbut Release ‘The River Flows’ on RSD Black Friday
American Blues Scene Staff
Coming soon exclusively through Record Store Day’s international independent record stores!
Culture Factory USA will release a vinyl LP deluxe package by Jorma Kaukonen and John Hurlbut, The River Flows, on Record Store Day’s Black Friday Event on November 27, 2020. John Hurlbut sings and plays rhythm guitar and Jorma plays lead guitar on this improvisational acoustic masterpiece. There are eight songs including new takes on some classics and some new heartfelt originals.
“There is no better way to converse than to play music with a good friend! John and I have been talking for almost forty years and we welcome you to sit in on the conversation.” – Jorma Kaukonen
These new recordings from John Hurlbut and Jorma Kaukonen were produced by Jorma at his Fur Peace Ranch in Ohio and engineered and mixed by Justin Guip, three-time Grammy winner for his work with Levon Helm and Hot Tuna drummer. For this special occasion Culture Factory USA has chosen to debut The River Flows on red splatter translucent vinyl. The release comes in a gatefold package with a twelve page booklet that includes a new interview with Jorma & John conducted by Paul Epstein (Owner Twist & Shout Records, Denver, CO).
Here’s a list of most of the fine stores participating in RSD Black Friday. Support your local indie record store by going to the store, ordering on(their)line, or perhaps there’s a drive-by pick-up. Whatever your territory allows, don’t miss out on this new recording, The River Flows.
*Feature image courtesy of Cash Edwards Music Services
Katarina Pejak to Release ‘Outside Looking In’ Nov 20th
Pejak, a blues singer, songwriter, and piano player is best known for her eclectic musical approach – on the crossroads of blues, soul, folk and jazz.
Katarina Pejak is pleased to announce that she will be releasing the Outside Looking In EP on November 20th. In discussing this collection of songs, Katarina says, “I just want people to bask in the romanticism and the melancholy. If there is anything you long for or feel sad about, embrace the sadness and move on, because it’s all a part of the glory of existence.”
Outside Looking In contains compositions created and curated purely by emotions. These are impressionist songs, momentarily reflections on life, beauty, love and frustrations of daily relationships. The tracks were written in the past two years while Pejak’s Ruf Records debut, Roads That Cross, was in preparation. Some were written on the road, and some by the window in her bedroom in Belgrade, Serbia.
About the EP, Katarina muses, “I’ve been living with these songs for a couple of years, playing them at the more low-key gigs, often with my singing partner, Ana Protulipac. The changes that this year has brought have made it very difficult to think far ahead, and in a way, I find that very liberating. Thanks to my dear collaborator, Romain Guillot, I was able to record them in the comfort of my home, which was a learning experience and good fun. This EP is a step outside of the blues box, not too big a step though, since ‘Shoot Me, Baby’ is a bluesy western romantic drama.”
Pejak, a blues singer, songwriter, and piano player is best known for her eclectic musical approach – her style lives on the crossroads of American music genres such as blues, soul, folk and jazz. She started performing in her late teens, playing blues clubs in her hometown of Belgrade, and other cities in Serbia. She put out three albums in her home country, Perfume & Luck, 2010, and First Hand Stories, 2012 and Old, New Borrowed and Blues, 2016, a live mini album recorded in 2015.
Though classically trained at the piano, Pejak found her passion for songwriting and improvised music while in High School. Through her father’s music collection, she discovered her main influences: Otis Spann, Ray Charles, Tom Waits, Nina Simone and Norah Jones, just to name a few.
Katarina graduated with a major in songwriting from Berklee College Of Music in Boston (class of 2014) where she studied with Dave Limina, Pat Pattison, David Maxwell, Lisa Thorson and many other great American musicians and educators. In 2014, the Berklee Songwriting department awarded her the Songwriting Achievement award. After graduating, Katarina moved to Nashville, Tennesse where she lived for a couple of years. In the summer of 2018, Katarina signed with Ruf Records, a German blues label, where she joined the long list of internationally acclaimed artists such as Samantha Fish, Victor Wainwright, Mike Zito, Ana Popovic and Bernard Allison. In 2019, Katarina toured as part of the Blues Caravan 2019, a Ruf records show, performing 60 European concerts.
Her fourth and most recent full-length, Roads That Cross, produced by Mike Zito and featuring guitarist Laura Chavez, came out in February 2019.
Katarina muses that, “In a time when we are advised to stay inside looking out, all we can do is get in touch with our inner selves, and I sincerely hope they find that to be as interesting a journey as any in the physical world. These songs are my offering for a soundtrack for those travels.”
Cory Henry to Perform Livestream Halloween Special
Shore Fire Media
The Halloween performance marks the first show featuring Cory Henry and The Funk Apostles since February when the pandemic forced them off the road.
GRAMMY-winner and organ virtuoso Cory Henry will perform a livestream concert on Saturday, October 31st. Known for his enchanting live performances, which Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon lauded as “phenomenal,” Cory is continuing his longstanding tradition of Halloween specials alongside his band The Funk Apostles.
An internationally renowned artist, composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and keyboard master, Henry started playing the Hammond B3 organ at age two and played his first gig at the Apollo Theater at age six. Since then, Cory has won a GRAMMY and shared the stage with the likes of Ms. Lauryn Hill, Quincy Jones, The Roots and more.
Recorded at Bob Clearmountain’s iconic Apogee Studios, the Halloween performance marks the first show featuring Cory Henry and The Funk Apostles since February when the pandemic forced them off the road. The livestream performance follows the 10/30 release of Cory’s new album Something To Say.
The livestream will take place on Saturday, October 31st @ 3 p.m. PST / 6 p.m. EST / 11 p.m. BST / 7 a.m. JST / 9 a.m. ACT.
Ticket prices are as follows and available on the artist’s website:
– Webcast ticket – $10
– Webcast ticket with one-on-one virtual meet and greet with Cory – $50
World Premiere Track: ‘Christmas in Love’ From Tom Mason’s ‘Under a Mistletoe Sky’
We’re proud to offer the World Premiere of “Christmas in Love”
Gas Station Music has proudly announced the release of singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Tom Mason‘s Under a Mistletoe Sky on November 6, 2020.
Mason’s third holiday album and tenth release, Under a Mistletoe Sky was recorded in Mason’s current hometown of Nashville and produced by Michael Webb. Featuring ten original yuletide roots rock tunes, Under A Mistletoe Sky is a perfect addition to the Christmas music canon, an escape from the well-worn classics while still filling the air with familiar joy. Mason’s previous holiday albums include 2003’s A Slide Guitar Christmas and A Pirate’s Christmas (2013).
Mason was touring the world with his band of pirates, The Blue Buccaneers, when ‘Hurricane Corona’ hit in March of 2020, leaving him marooned on a farm in Iowa (Mason currently splits his time between Nashville and Grinnell, IA). With a six-week tour of the United Kingdom scrapped, his role as Feste the Fool (and composer) for Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s summer-in-the-park production of Twelfth Night postponed for a year, and the string of festivals The Blue Buccaneers return to year after year cancelled, Mason hung up his tricorn hat (for awhile) and set about to make some joyful holiday music.
Mason (Guitar, Dobro, Trombone, Bass, Harmonica, Percussion, Lead Vocals) had begun recording some of the tunes last December with the Blue Buccaneers rhythm section, Jeff Thorneycroft (Bass) and Pete Pulkrabek (Drums/Percussion/BVS), and on Keyboards Mason’s old friend Michael Webb (who’s played on recent recordings by John Prine, Chris Stapleton, and Brandy Clark). When the corn started getting high and America started to take precautions against the pandemic, Mason put on a mask and drove home to Nashville to finish the CD with Michael Webb producing.
“Crazy for Christmas,” one of two songs of the album co-written with Tom Mason’s long-time, long-distance writing partner, Tennessean-turned-Minnesotan Nate Dungan, (whose popular Minneapolis-based country rock band Trailer Trash sell out a series of “Trashy Little Christmas” shows every December), opens the CD. It could be Christmas in the French Quarter, complete with trombones and resonator guitar. If It’s a Wonderful Life were set to rock and roll, George Bailey might have courted Mary to the Stones-y title track, featuring legendary Nashville vocalist Sheila Lawrence. The soulful rumba “Christmas Boogaloo” was written in response to the racial divisions that came to the fore in summer of 2020, and was inspired by the Boogaloo music of the late 60s, which married Afro-Cuban music to R & B, a reminder of the magic that happens when cultures come together, and, as in the song, when we “love everybody.” “Little Elvis, King of the Elves” is a rockabilly tale of a very special elf on the North Pole, and the jazzy “Santa Says Keep it Cool,” the second co-write with Nate Dungan, warns of climate change’s effect on Santa’s workshop. Under A Mistletoe Sky closes with the laid-back blues shuffle “Christmas in Love,” with gentle electric slide guitar and Fawn Larson’s sweet harmony throughout.
Minneapolis native, now Nashville (& Iowa)-based Tom Mason splits his time between solo shows and Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers, his band of pirates who perform their original sea shanties at folk, tall ships, and pirate festivals around the world. As a solo artist, he’s released four CDs, in addition to the five with the Blue Buccaneers.
Mason has also been a sought after lead guitar player since moving to Nashville in 1993, touring most recently with Americana acts Eric Brace’s Last Train Home, Phil Lee, Amelia White, and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ Supe Granda. After a few years in Nashville, Mason felt the pull of the theater, enrolling in acting classes, appearing in films and plays including Richard III with the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and touring with the Broadway show Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash. Whether in a tricorn or a cheap cowboy hat, Mason puts on a show that owes as much to Vaudeville as it does to the singer-songwriters he’s surrounded by in Music City.
We’re proud to offer the World Premiere of “Christmas in Love” from the upcoming Tom Mason release, Under a Mistletoe Sky.
In July of 1965, while nursing a hangover in a New Orleans drunk tank, Walker met a man who would forever change his life – a street performer known only as Bojangles.
One of the biggest names in the folk-rock/outlaw country movement, Jerry Jeff Walker died Friday in Austin, Texas from throat cancer. He was 78.
Born Ronald Clyde Crosby on March 16, 1942 in Oneonta, New York, Walker began playing music with a local band around the time he was 15 or so. By the end of high school his wanderlust got the best of him, and after a stint in the National Guard, it led Walker to busking in Florida, then New Orleans, Texas, and other spots.
It was in the Crescent City, penning tunes and singing under the name Jerry Ferris in the French Quarter that he started to make some decent money. He used several aliases in those days, names he says he took from fake IDs that he confiscated while working as a bartender. He had to settle on one name in order to cash the checks that were coming in, so he chose one that he had been using often and had his name legally changed to Jerry Jeff Walker in 1964.
In July of 1965, while nursing a hangover in a New Orleans drunk tank, Walker met a man who would forever change his life – a street performer known only as Bojangles. He took the story of his conversation with his cellmate, and turned it into his greatest songwriting achievement. “Mr. Bojangles,” most notably covered by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, was re-imagined by dozens of artists, from Sammy Davis Jr. and Harry Belafonte to Neil Diamond and Whitney Houston. The tune has become part of the Great American Songbook, and the royalties have helped keep Walker financially solvent for decades.
Always on the journey as a folk singer, Walker traveled to Washington, DC and later to New York City and Key West before landing in Austin, Texas in the early 70s. There he found a gathering of pickers, grinners, hippies and sinners, and the burgeoning Outlaw Country movement in its infancy, with artists such as Willie Nelson and David Allan Coe at the vanguard. Walker’s sensibilities led him to love other red dirt folk artists like Ray Wylie Hubbard, Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, and he showed his love by making their songs hits on his own records. His cover of Clark’s “LA Freeway,” and Hubbard’s “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” were both hits for Walker.
Arguably his most recognized album was recorded in 1973 in a small dance hall known as Terlingua’s in Luckenbach, Texas. ¡Viva Terlingua! recorded by Walker and his Lost Gonzo Band contains the songs “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” “Backslider’s Wine,” and “London Homesick Blues,” the latter of which was the Austin City Limits theme song for several years. You remember it -“I wanna go home with the armadillo…”
By the early 80s, Walker was content with touring and spending time with his family – wife Susan, daughter Jessie, and son Django. But it was in 1986 that Walker took a step unheard of prior. Along with Susan they founded their own label, Tried and True Music, but that wasn’t all. Subsidiaries of Tried and True also handled all of Walker’s bookings, tour promotion, merchandise and publicity. A one stop shop. In a 1994 interview with the Phoenix New Times, Walker said, “We wanted control over what was happening, and this seemed the way to do it.”
Although nearly as notorious as George “No Show” Jones for either missing shows or drunkenly ending them early (I was witness to one of those events but the few bars of “LA Freeway” I did get hear, and the story that still makes me smile was worth the price of admission). There are some things we can thank Walker for: Introducing Jimmy Buffett to Key West for the first time; being an architect of the Outlaw Country movement; throwing the best birthday parties Gruene, Texas ever saw; and teaching us that taking control of your own destiny is the way to go, sharing his story of an itinerant street performer that we all now know as “Mr. Bojangles.”
For those reasons and many more, I’ll tip my hat to Jerry Jeff Walker, drop the needle on my copy of Ridin’ High, and smile through the tears.
Second generation folk-singer Arlo Guthrie announces he is being forced to stop touring due to health concerns.
For over five decades, folk singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Arlo Guthrie has entertained fans of all ages. Now he has announced he has “reached the difficult decision that touring and stage shows are no longer possible.”
A series of strokes have impaired Guthrie’s ability to walk and perform. Therefore, he cancelled all scheduled tour performances for the remainder of this year, and said that will not accept any new offered bookings. His last live performance at Carnegie Hall was on Friday, November 29, 2019, when he ended an annual series of concerts dating back 50 years. His final live touring concert occurred on March 7, 2020, at The Caverns in Pelham, Tennessee.
Guthrie was born on July 10, 1947 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of famed folk singer Woody Guthrie and dancer Marjorie Mazia Guthrie. On November 25, 1965 the 18-year-old Guthrie and his friend Richard Robbins were arrested for illegally dumping on private property in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The 18-1/2 minute walking blues song Guthrie penned about the event became the most popular record of his career as well as a Thanksgiving Day tradition, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.”
Arlo also had hits with Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans,” “Coming into Los Angeles,” and “The Motorcycle Song.” He performed at Woodstock and with such storied artists as Pete Seeger, Emmylou Harris, John Prine and Cyril Neville. Guthrie released 20 studio albums, 9 live albums, and 2 compilations. He also toured extensively, until now.
Guthrie’s announcement came via his Facebook page on Friday, and is offered in its entirety here:
It’s been a great 50+ years of being a working entertainer, but I reached the difficult decision that touring and stage shows are no longer possible. I’ve cancelled the upcoming shows, and am not accepting offers for new ones. That’s the short version. For the longer version continue reading…
As a folksinger, I never really thought much about getting older. It seemed to me that I could just continue year after year, decade after decade, singing and playing as I had done for most of my life. As the years went by, it got more difficult to keep touring, but I did it, mostly because I’d been doing it my entire life. It was the life I knew and loved.
In 2016 on April 1st, April Fools Day, I got really dizzy in the parking lot of the hotel, and started seeing as though I were looking through a kaleidoscope. That evening the show went on as though nothing had happened. I had no idea I’d just encountered a mini stroke until weeks later, when I was told about it. It didn’t appear to affect my performance, or my state of being. I continued touring for the next 4 years.
Then, on Thanksgiving Day 2019 (of all freaking days) it happened again. This time I was on my way to The Church / The Guthrie Center to help out with our annual Thanksgiving Dinner that we hold every year. I had pulled over to fuel up and realized I couldn’t continue to drive safely, as everything was spinning around, sort of like the old days, but without the help of illegal substances. I was taken to the hospital, and was under evaluation, when I broke out. I had an important gig at Carnegie Hall in New York – The end of an annual series I’d been doing for decades and it was Sold Out. I had to be there. It was imperative.
The next morning I left the hospital, took the family and headed for New York. And what a show it was! We wrapped up 50 years with a terrific evening with the entire family on stage. I really enjoyed it.
The following day I flew to my home in Sebastian, FL just as I had done for years, this time with the history of Carnegie Hall behind me. My girlfriend, Marti picked me up at the airport, and we settled into the routine of being on the river I loved. Two nights after arriving home, I awoke in the morning and was lurching from side to side. I knew something was wrong, and went to keep a doctors appointment we’d previously set up. The doc said “You need to go to the hospital – Now.”
So, Marti took me to the hospital nearby in Vero Beach. They kept me there for 3 days, running tests of all kinds, and essentially informed me that I’d suffered a stroke. This time was more serious, as I’d lost some ability to walk, and I wondered if I would be able to play music. I spent about a week in a rehab center to re-learn the basics, like walking. I went home after that, and began a regimen of playing guitar, walking… All the things I would need to continue touring and performing. During the entire time, Marti kept the family and close friends advised as to my progress, and took really great care of me. I needed all the help I could get. And she was there to see it done right.
By the the time our first shows began in 2020, I was at about at 80% and felt like I was improving. Then the pandemic hit. All the shows we had planned for 2020 were at first, postponed, then rescheduled and finally cancelled. My hopes for a gradual recovery onstage came to an abrupt end.
Meanwhile, I’d decided back in 2018 to move from the home in Florida. And just as I’d returned from our last gig in Tennessee, a buyer appeared, and we had a deal on the table to sell The CrabHouse. I wasn’t in any shape to go through the intricacies of selling a guitar pick, let alone a home with 30 years of stuff we’d collected. Marti ended up doing it all. She finalized the deal, and dealt with the stuff that either had to be sold, moved or thrown out. It was quite a lot. But, through garage sales, online markets, movers and friends, she’d pretty much emptied the CrabHouse of everything, and we moved into her place about a mile away.
We were there for a few weeks, before it was safe enough to return to The Farm in Massachusetts. That was in June 2020. Since then we’ve been holed up at The Farm trying to keep out of harms way, and also trying to provide some online entertainment for our friends who were, and continue to be, holed up wherever they are. My band and crew arranged a few short gigs that were filmed at The Church, but when I saw the play-back in the editing room I realized that it was not up to the standards I expected of myself, let alone the expectations that our friends and fans had come to enjoy.
A folksinger’s shelf life may be a lot longer than a dancer or an athlete, but at some point, unless you’re incredibly fortunate or just plain whacko (either one or both) it’s time to hang up the “Gone Fishing” sign. Going from town to town and doing stage shows, remaining on the road is no longer an option.
I don’t remember answering the question on the other side of that piece of paper when I was asked “Kid! Have you rehabilitated yourself?” But, the short answer is now clearly, “No!” In fact, I hope to be a thorn in the side of a new administration pretty soon. Tom Paine once wrote “To argue with a man who has renounced the use … of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead….” In other words, you cannot and should not argue with people who don’t care, or hold the caring of others in contempt. A healthy suspicion of authority, left, right or center has been the hallmark of my career since the beginning, and I will continue to poke fun at cultural, political, or personal absurdities as I see it. I’m actually looking forward to it.
I’m happy, healthy and good to go, even if I’m not going anywhere. I’ve taken back 6-9 months that I used to spend on the road, and enjoying myself with Marti, my family and friends. In short – Gone Fishing.
“I promised BB King before he died, I will honor him and his creative genius. An American Icon.” – Wendell Pierce
We are official. Preparation has begun on a film where I will be honored to play the great, BB King. Humbled.
So read the tweet from actor Wendell Pierce on Monday. The long dormant biopic The Thrill is On was originally titled B.B. King and I when the project was first announced in 2011. The film portrays the relationship between BB King and friend Michael Zanetis, who assisted in getting King his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Pierce was slated to play King even then, although a string of law suits halted production. The project was reborn as early as 2018 but later just vaporized.
The revived film project is expected to be the same one from 2011, with Zanetis producing the movie and co-writing the script with Melora Donoghue. “We’re proud to have an actor of Wendell’s caliber attached to portray this beloved icon,” Zanetis said in a statement. “His dedication to his craft and love of music will combine in what I believe will be a career defining performance.”
Pierce is best known for his performances in The Wire, and HBO’s Treme, in the latter of which he learned to play trombone for the part. Beginning in 2016 Pierce also began appearing on several albums recorded in his hometown of New Orleans, including those by Kermit Ruffins, Irvin Mayfield, Wynton Marsalis, and others.
King, who died in 2015 at the age of 89, spent over 70 years as a professional blues musician, recording 43 albums, winning 15 GRAMMY awards, and was among the first class inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980. His honorary title of “King of the Blues” was well earned.
In a later tweet Pierce added:
I promised BB King before he died, I will honor him and his creative genius. An American Icon.
Listen: George Benson’s New Single ‘Turn Your Love Around’
Jon Bleicher Publicity
Benson’s first new live recording in 30 years captures his intimate 2019 performance at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club
GRAMMY-winning jazz icon George Benson has just released “Turn Your Love Around,” the third and final single from his electrifying new live album, Weekend In London. Out November 13th, Weekend In London is Benson’s first new live recording in 30 years, capturing his 2019 performance at London’s intimate 250-seat Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Only a handful of lucky fans were present as the lights went down that magical night in 2019. But now, Kevin Shirley’s dynamic production is your invitation to slide onto Ronnie Scott’s red velvet banquette and catch the sparks as Benson’s honeyed vocal and fluid licks drive the finest live outfit in modern jazz.
“This was an unusual song, given what I was recording at the time, that was brought to me by Steve Lukather, guitarist from the group Toto,” said Benson. “I instantly fell in love with the song and it shows in the spirit and attitude in the recording.”
“We captured a lot of the atmosphere on Weekend In London,” says Shirley. “It was very crowded, like it always is at Ronnie Scott’s, no matter who’s there. We were almost touching as we were playing, people all up on the bandstand. But I’m always happy to be in those surroundings. A lot of big Benson fans were there – and some of the screaming ladies. It was a fantastic night.”
The 2019 show that became Weekend In London was another fabled night to go down in the club’s folklore. This hard-bitten jazzman might prefer spontaneity to setlists, but this latest live album nods to many of his countless career peaks, whether he’s opening with the deathless groove of 1980’s US #4 smash “Give Me The Night,” revisiting fan favorites like “Love X Love” and “In Your Eyes,” or breathing fresh mojo into classic covers like Dave Bartholomew’s “I Hear You Knocking” and Donny Hathaway’s “The Ghetto.” “We don’t plan the show out in advance,” explains Benson. “But we know there’s things we gotta play, and if you leave too many out, you’re in for a troubled night. We know what people have come to hear. So I’ve got half the battle won.”
For jazz fans, of course, part of the appeal lies in the improvisation – and Weekend In London furthers Benson’s reputation as the best in the business. “Basically, the whole show is improvised except the melody itself and the ensemble playing,” he explains. “We play the arrangements, to remind the audience what song they’re listening to, but then we can go crazy and do all the improvisation.”
As an all-time icon and Grammy-winning giant of jazz, we have grown used to seeing George Benson on the stages that befit his sky-high status. During a six-decade career marked by awards, acclaim and Billboard-topping output, the Pittsburgh, Hill District-born veteran has earned his place in both the history books and the biggest venues around the world. So it’s a rare treat – and a whole different thrill – to find this megastar going nose-to-nose with the breathless 250-capacity crowd at London’s most prestigious bolthole. “I like that kind of intimacy,” says Benson. “I can feel the love when it’s up close and personal.”
If Benson sounds utterly at home on Ronnie Scott’s cramped stage, that’s because it’s how he started out, all those years ago, before fame came calling. From the age of seven, the kid with the golden voice known as Little Georgie Benson was a regular fixture at the street corners, drug stores, jazz joints and R&B houses of his native Pittsburgh. Yet the young man swiftly rose up the rankings, taking requests from punters to cutting his first sides with RCA, still aged just ten. As Benson’s ageless career has crossed over the decades, he’s walked a perfect tightrope, still commanding a fierce respect amongst the most discerning jazz audiences, while firing off hit singles that are loved the world over. His most recent release, ‘Walking To New Orleans’ – his first on Mascot Label Group – masterfully reinterprets the hits of Chuck Berry and Fats Domino.
It’s been a long and winding road from the juke-joints of Pittsburgh to the beating heart of the London jazz scene, and George Benson has been great company every step of the way. Now, on Weekend In London, the same club that hosted that young hotshot back in the early ’70s welcomes back the older, wiser legend to burn down the house. Perhaps the compère says it best: “You don’t get stars this big in rooms this small very often, ladies and gentlemen. Please be prepared to be dazzled… Mr. George Benson!”
Weekend In London – George Benson
1. Give Me The Night
2. Turn Your Love Around
3. Love X Love
4. In Your Eyes
5. I Hear You Knocking
6. Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You
7. Feel Like Makin’ Love
8. Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
9. The Ghetto
10. Moody’s Mood
11. Love Ballad
12. Never Give Up On A Good Thing
14. Cruise Control
Paul McCartney to Release New Album ‘McCartney III’
American Blues Scene Staff
‘McCartney III’ was made entirely alone during lockdown
Paul McCartney has announced the release of his latest album, McCartney III. The solo effort follows 2018’s Egypt Station and is the third in a trilogy of eponymous albums (1970’s McCartney and 1980’s McCartney II). Like the first two albums, McCartney III was written, produced, and performed entirely by Paul and recorded in his home studio.
“I was living lockdown life on my farm with my family and I would go to my studio every day,” says McCartney. “I had to do a little bit of work on some film music and that turned into the opening track and then when it was done I thought what will I do next?
According to a press release, Paul hadn’t planned to release an album in 2020, but in the isolation of “Rockdown,” he soon found himself fleshing out some existing musical sketches and creating even more new ones. Before long an eclectic collection of spontaneous songs would become McCartney III: a stripped back, self-produced and, quite literally, solo work marking the opening of a new decade.
Recorded earlier this year in Sussex, McCartney III is mostly built from live takes of Paul on vocals and guitar or piano, overdubbing his bass playing, drumming, etc. atop that foundation. The process first sparked when Paul returned to an unreleased track from the early ’90s, “When Winter Comes” (co-produced by George Martin). Paul crafted a new passage for the song, giving rise to album opener, “Long Tailed Winter Bird” — while “When Winter Comes,” featuring new intro “Winter Bird,” became the new album’s grand finale.
“I had some stuff I’d worked on over the years but sometimes time would run out and it would be left half-finished so I started thinking about what I had. Each day I’d start recording with the instrument I wrote the song on and then gradually layer it all up, it was a lot of fun. It was about making music for yourself rather than making music that has to do a job. So, I just did stuff I fancied doing. I had no idea this would end up as an album,” McCartney said of the sessions.
Pre-order McCartney III, out on December 11 through Capitol Records.
Soul-Blues Singer/Guitarist Dave Keller Proclaims ‘You Get What You Give’
‘You Get What You Give’ a new CD of duets fundraiser for racial justice and equity, out November 20 on Tastee Tone Records
Two-time Blues Music Award nominee Dave Keller is an acclaimed triple-threat: an outstanding singer, an intense guitarist and a talented songwriter. Fueled by his love of deep Southern soul blues and gospel, his performances ring out with passion, integrity, and an ability to break down the barriers between performer and audience.
On his new Tastee Tone Records CD, You Get What You Give, set for release on November 20th, Keller unites with a host of like-minded singers and musicians from the blues, soul and gospel music worlds to create a very special album of songs dedicated to raising funds toward enhancing racial justice and equity. Joining him are Trudy Lynn, Joe Louis Walker, Annika Chambers, Johnny Rawls, Annie Mack, Dawn Tyler Watson, Brother Bob White, Carly Harvey, Toussaint St. Negritude, Katie Henry, Chad Hollister and many more artists who donated their time and talent for the cause.
“We’ve already raised over $2,000.00 from pre-orders, all of which will go directly to groups working for racial justice and equity,” says Keller, who also produced the album. “So far, the list of groups includes: NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Know Your Rights Camp, N’COBRA, and Jus’ Blues Foundation.”
Ever since renowned guitarist Ronnie Earl chose Keller to sing on his album Living In The Light, Keller’s star has been on the rise. In just a few short years, he has received two Blues Music Award nominations, won the International Blues Challenge Best Self-Released CD Award, and been chosen for Downbeat‘s Best Recordings of the Year.
A bit of a late bloomer, Keller grew up in Massachusetts, loving music, but not picking up guitar until age 16, and not singing in his first band until age 20. But blessed with mentors including deep soul singer Mighty Sam McClain, mystical soul guitarist Robert Ward, acoustic blues master Paul Rishell and soul/blues man Johnny Rawls, Keller made up for lost time.
Relocating to icy Vermont in 1993, Dave found fertile ground to grow his audience, and has become a household name there. Famous for his live-wire shows, he can often be found fifty feet out in the crowd, teasing fiery licks from his trusty Stratocaster and singing off-mike as the audience sings along.
Keller has performed at some of the biggest festivals in the East, including the North Atlantic Blues Festival, the PA Blues Fest, and the Discover Jazz Festival. He has also performed at the Blues Music Awards ceremony twice, accompanying Ronnie Earl, and Johnny Rawls.
“Back in June, after the murder of George Floyd, I watched this country seething with anger and pain,” relates Keller about the new album’s genesis. “As someone who has built his career performing Black music, and who has received priceless gifts from Black mentors, I asked myself: ‘What can I do to help?’ Due to Covid-19, all my summer gigs had been cancelled, and I had some extra time on my hands. So I thought, ‘What if I record my new originals with some of my friends, and donate the money from album sales to groups working for racial justice and equity?’
“I put the idea out there on social media, and the response was incredible. Within 24 hours I had received hundreds of dollars-worth of pre-orders. Dozens of musicians wanted to participate. Clearly other folks felt the way I did, and wanted to give back in some way.
“The musicians on this album represent a great diversity of styles, backgrounds, ages, genders, and ethnicities. Some are known around the world. Some are known only locally. But most importantly, their music and their ‘soul’ move me. I am proud to call each of these wonderful human beings a friend.”
TRACK LISTING & CREDITS
One More Tear Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar
Annika Chambers: vocals
Ira Friedman: organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums
Mark Earley: tenor and baritone saxes
Mario Perrett: tenor sax
Tom Palance: trumpet
That Thing We Do Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar
Carly Harvey: vocals
Ira Friedman: organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums
Mark Earley: tenor sax
Tom Palance: trumpet
Garth Retallack: trombone
You Get What You Give Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Annie Mack: vocals
Ira Friedman: organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums
Mark Earley: tenor and baritone saxes
Mario Perrett: tenor sax
Tom Palance: trumpet
Katie Sterling: backing vocals and handclaps
Havvah Keller: backing vocals and handclaps
Idalee Keller: backing vocals and handclaps
April Caspari: backing vocals and handclaps
Chad Hollister: backing vocals and handclaps
Johnny Rawls: backing vocals
The Evil That Men Do Dave Keller: vocals (first and last verses)
Trudy Lynn: vocals (second verse)
Annika Chambers: vocals (third verse)
Annie Mack: vocals (fourth verse)
Johnny Rawls: vocals (fifth verse)
Ira Friedman: piano
Tom Palance: trumpet
Scratchin’ At Your Door Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar (first solo)
Joe Louis Walker: vocals
Chris Robertson: electric slide guitar (outro solo)
Ira Friedman: organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums
April Caspari: backing vocals
Your Kind Of Fool Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar
Trudy Lynn: vocals
Ira Friedman: piano, organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums
God Is Love / Love Is Everything Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar
Dawn Tyler Watson: vocals
Vince Allen: electric guitar (solo)
Ira Friedman: organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums
Mark Earley: tenor and baritone saxes (solo)
Mario Perrett: tenor sax
Tom Palance: trumpet
The Spark Dave Keller: vocals
Ira Friedman: piano
Make It To Tomorrow Dave Keller: vocals, acoustic guitar
Chad Hollister: vocals, cajon
Land Of The Lonely Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar
Johnny Rawls: vocals
Ira Friedman: organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums
Precious Lord, Take My Hand Brother Bob White: vocals, piano
Dave Keller: electric guitar
Larry Gann: drums
The Kiss I Want Dave Keller: vocals, electric guitar
Katie Henry: vocals
Ira Friedman: organ
Alex Budney: bass
Jay Gleason: drums
Mark Earley: tenor and baritone saxes
Mario Perrett: tenor sax
Tom Palance: trumpet
I’m Gonna Let It Shine Toussaint St. Negritude: vocals
Dave Keller: National steel guitar, harmonica
Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams Announce New Toto Line-Up and Tour
Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams announce new Toto lineup and plans to bring The Dogz of Oz tour worldwide
Steve Lukather a.k.a. Luke and Joseph Williams are life-long friends since they were kids, and bandmates sharing a deep colorful history that has thrived professionally on a global basis over the past decades. The duo has announced the formation of a new band with world class players. They will continue to tour as Toto and are in motion to bring their Dogz of Oz tour worldwide as the pair looks forward. Planned concerts across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia / New Zealand and other geographical destinations will be staged where the ensemble will perform all the hits, deep cuts, and solo music from Lukather and Williams individual catalogs.
Joining Lukather and Williams for this next chapter in their indelible history are bassist John Pierce (Huey Lewis and The News), drummer Robert “Sput” Searight (Ghost-Note / Snarky Puppy), and keyboardist / background vocalist Steve Maggiora (Elvis, Moms Mabely). Keyboardist Dominique “Xavier” Taplin (Prince, Ghost-Note) and multi-instrumentalist / vocalist Warren Ham (Ringo Starr) have segued over continuing their tenure in the ensemble alongside Lukather and Williams. This marks the fifteenth incarnation of the Toto line-up in consideration of band members or sidemen who joined or exited.
Luke shares, “We could not be more at peace with this move. There is a refreshing, optimistic enthusiasm to step in to the future. At this moment, Joe and I are the only long-tenured members of the band that want to be on the road continuing to bring music to our multi-generational fan base. I’ve spent almost four and a half decades of my life as the only original member who never missed a show or an album nurturing this legacy while enabling the music to continually exist in the live concert setting. That is something I’ll never stop doing, and the Dogz of Oz global tour offers a rare opportunity to reimagine our personal futures while simultaneously preserving the deep connection that exists with the audience while likewise yielding continual discovery. The hope is to move forward with the planned itinerary for Summer, 2021 that will bring us back to our fans across The World.” Williams offers, “Luke and I have been through a lot with one another. He’s like a brother to me. Our creative partnership has always enriched our lives. As we look towards what’s to come in unison, there is nothing but anticipation to bring everything in our minds to life. I can’t think of anyone else on Earth I’d rather launch the next chapter with this lifelong, loyal and gifted friend and band mate. We’re the last men standing…The Dogz of Oz!” Luke adds, “Joe and I have been friends since I was 17, and Joe was 14. During the course of this pandemic we’ve been reevaluating our career and how to move forward. People are either not with us anymore or have retired. We still feel like kids who want to be back on the road as soon as possible. It’s where we live. Joe’s growth as a producer, songwriter, engineer, singer and performer is inspiring. The timing of this move is perfect as Joe is at the top of his game, and he amazes me every day. We are enjoying this collaboration, and could not be more enthusiastic about the future.”
Over the course of five decades Lukather has placed an indelible stamp on pop culture. Alongside his tenure as the only member of Toto to never take a hiatus from the band, he has performed on thousands of albums as a session musician. Among these musical contributions are some of the most successful, influential and enduring records of all-time including Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Additionally, he released a memoir titled The Gospel According To Luke which was a global best-seller. He continues to be Toto’s band leader, a member of Ringo’s All-Starr Band, and a solo artist performing with multiple ensembles which include Nerve Bundle and Toxic Monkey.
At age fifteen, Williams began his career as a radio and television commercial singer. Joseph also achieved success as a television and film composer in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. He fronted Toto as a lead vocalist from 1986 to 1988, and was featured on the albums Fahrenheit (1986) and The Seventh One (1988). He also appeared on the 2006 release Falling in Between, sharing lead vocals with Luke on “Bottom of Your Soul.” In 2010 he returned to the band, becoming front man and lead vocalist, a tenure that continues through today. He has released ten solo albums, and is an Emmy Award nominated film composer. His career as a session vocalist has placed his voice indelibly in pop culture through the dozens of performances in the medium of film, among which is his role as the adult Simba on The Lion King. Williams voice is featured on “Hakuna Matata” alongside “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.”
Toto has enjoyed a celebrated resurgence over the last several years tied to the band’s 40th Anniversary, wherein over a thirty-month period they performed for millions of fans across North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia. The band’s repertoire has been streamed over a billion times, while album sales exceed 40 million copies. Simply, Toto is one of the few 70’s bands that have endured the changing trends and styles, and 45 years in to a career enjoy a multi-generational fan base.
On Saturday, November 21 the new line-up will make their global debut. The band has planned a one-night only concert event that will broadcast prime time in three geographical regions to super-serve the fans: Asia, Australia / New Zealand; Europe; North America. For more information, tickets, and available bundles click here. Direct links on a territory by territory basis are UK/Europe, Aus/Asia, and US.
In 2021, both Lukather and Williams will release solo albums that feature one another performing on some of the songs featured. The forthcoming titles will be issued globally in partnership with Mascot Label Group. Last month, Luke released “Run To Me” from the upcoming album featuring Williams alongside Ringo Starr and future band mate John Pierce.
New track from Max Gomez – ‘He Was A Friend of Mine’
Folk Standard, “He Was A Friend of Mine” re-interpreted by Max Gomez for George Floyd and the BLM Movement
Songwriter Max Gomez has released an updated interpretation of the folk standard “He Was A Friend of Mine.” A traditional folk song first recorded in the 1930s by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, the song has been covered by many legendary artists, including Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and The Byrds. Gomez’s interpretation revises the lyrics as a lament for the life of George Floyd and other icons of the civil rights and Black Lives Matter movement, providing a solemn reflection on historical and contemporary racial and social injustice.
The track was produced by David Kahne (Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Regina Spektor, Lana Del Rey), who imbues the track with sonorous reverb and subtle strings in support of Gomez’s earnest lyrics and guitar.
This re-imagination was born out of necessity. I wanted to sing a protest song set in the year 2020. The time for protest songs is now. – Max Gomez
When he’s not on the road Gomez splits his time between his beloved hometown of Taos and Los Angeles. He received critical acclaim upon the release of his debut album Rule The World (2013, New West Records), and his subsequent EP, Me and Joe (2017, Brigadoon Records).
“Renew Records gets us. They are dedicated to organic, real music which is what Southern Avenue is all about.” – Ori Naftaly
Coming off their 2020 Grammy nomination for “Best Contemporary Blues Album,” Southern Avenue has signed a new record deal with Renew Records/BMG. Currently in their hometown’s analog haven, Memphis Magnetic Recording with multi-Grammy winning producer Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, Susan Tedeschi, The Tragically Hip), the band is busy at work on a new LP with release plans for mid-2021.
Southern Avenue (L-R) Tikyra “TK” Jackson, Evan Sarver, Tierinii Jackson, Jeremy Powell, Ori Naftaly
“We couldn’t be more excited,” said Jonathan Schwartz, long-time manager for Southern Avenue. “To partner with BMG, a well-respected, world renowned company with a massive global reach, coupled with the intimate ‘indie’ vibe of Renew Records, it just feels right.”
Ori Naftaly, founding member and lead guitarist of Southern Avenue expounds further. “Renew Records gets us. They are dedicated to organic, real music which is what Southern Avenue is all about. Couldn’t be happier with this partnership and look forward to great things in 2021 and beyond.”
Since Southern Avenue released their debut album on Stax Records in 2017 (the first Memphis band signed to Stax in over 40 years), the band has proven to be a touring juggernaut. Playing over 150 shows per year and having performed in 15 countries on three continents, they have built a strong international fan base through their soulful brand of roots music, danceable grooves and their universal, heartfelt message of positivity and hope. A fiery festival favorite, Southern Avenue has delivered powerful, uplifting sets at Bonnaroo, Firefly, Electric Forest, Lockn’, Beale Street Music Festival, Waterfront Blues and many, many more.
“To say that this year has been challenging is a gigantic understatement,” acknowledges founding member and lead singer for Southern Avenue, Tierinii Jackson. “We’re so thankful for the team at Renew/BMG for believing in us and our music, now more than ever. We can’t wait to share our best album yet with y’all and hope that it has as strong a healing effect on listeners as it does on us making it.”
“Southern Avenue is the perfect band for Renew, combining roots, blues, soul and that special Memphis flavor. We are thrilled to be working with them on this upcoming release,” adds David Hirshland, BMG EVP.
John McLean and Charles Barkatz Join Forces on ‘Shadow Man’
John McLean and Charles Barkatz Join Forces to Release New ‘Shadow Man’ CD December 4th via Leaky Shoes Records.
John McLean and Charles Barkatz announce a December 4th release date for Shadow Man, their new CD which teams them up with producer Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff and a host of Austin all-star musicians for a sound that treads nicely in blues, jazz and roots music territories with an international flair.
My good friend Alex Coke introduced me to his brother, John McLean, in early 2019. John mentioned that he wanted to make a blues record in Austin with his Parisian guitar playing pal Charles Barkatz. I was a bit skeptical at first, not ever having heard of John or Charles in the ‘blues’ world. But as John sent me their demo recordings over the next few months, I began to hear their beautiful and original take on the blues. Not your typical contemporary blues, this material focused on wonderful new poetical lyrics, and songs that created moods ranging from raw deep blues to jazzy almost impressionistic grooves.
Our terrific keyboardist, Nick Connolly, lightheartedly described the music as ‘beatnik blues,’ but there is a hard edge of sorrow and existential desperation to the songs. This is real personal blues coming from their lives and experiences, and it demanded a high level of collaboration among John, Charles, me, all the musicians, and Stuart Sullivan, our recording engineer. We all played together in a big room at Wire Recording. The musical result depended on everyone’s creative and often spontaneous effort, lead by our incredible rhythm section of Derek Obrien on guitar, Chris Maresh on bass and John Chipman on drums.
Because of the uniqueness and freshness of the song material, as producer I was very comfortable with adding instruments not usually present in contemporary blues contexts. So, we welcomed Alex Coke on alto flute and soprano saxophone, and Elaine Barber on harp, on several tunes. The Texas Horns added their punchy tight arrangements. I hope you will hear and enjoy the fun and excitement we all shared in making this music! – “Kaz” Kazanoff
Author and composer John McLean has developed into an eclectic, multi-talented artist who has always followed his passions in theater, cinema and music wherever they might lead: New York, Paris, and most recently Austin, Texas. Born in Manhattan, New York, he was brought up on a ranch near Dallas, Texas, and studied writing and theater in Boston, which prepared him for his many different pathways in art.
McLean has been cited by the New York Times for his virtuosity in playing flutes and bagpipes with the Menestriers of France at the Metropolitan Museum Concert Hall, and later for his sensitive off-Broadway theater production and direction of Fabrice Rozier’s play about Simone de Beauvoir’s Transatlantic Liaison at the Clurman Theater.
As a jazzman, John has been a leader of several groups in Paris such as the Fairweather Quintet, where he performed at the Petite Journal de Montparnasse and with his duo partner Charles Barkatz at the Duc de Lombards. He recently appeared in New York at a sold-out evening at the Cornelia Street Cafe with his group, the John Mclean Quartet, with Ed Howard on bass, Paul Bolenback on guitar and Alex Coke on flute and sax. Now a dynamic 80 years of age, John starts a promising new career as singer and songwriter with the release of his latest album, Shadow Man.
Charles Barkatz was born in Paris in 1959 and began playing the classical guitar at the age of 12 at a conservatory. Very quickly influenced by Muddy Waters, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker and especially Jimi Hendrix, he started learning to play the blues by himself. Soon afterwards, having the good fortune to see the legendary West Montgomery and Kenny Burrell playing in Paris, he concentrated on learning jazz technique and joined the CIM school, playing as solo guitarist in the student big band.
Barkatz played regularly in duos, trios and in a quartet with the pianist Patt Burter, with whom he discovered the repertory of Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. He met bassist Vincent Naturel and accompanied Cathy Renoir among many other woman vocalists. He started doing studio work with singer Ken Allen and continued his studies of jazz guitar with guitarists Jean-Philippe Bordier and Serge Merlaud and singing with Isabelle Carpentier.
He records and plays regularly in the U.S at the Blue Rooster and at the Five O’clock Club in Sarasota with guitarist/singer Al Fuller and in Tampa with the singer Peter D’Straw. He is the author and composer of several titles of jazz, blues, and folk songs, is preparing an album of Latin music with the pianist Eric Viara and appears regularly in Paris. His CD, So Nice to Come Home To, in collaboration with John McLean was released in 2019.
Elvis Costello Curates ‘The Complete Armed Forces’ Time Capsule
With ‘The Complete Armed Forces,’ Costello has provided an all-encompassing time capsule that lets us celebrate this timeless album and understand how it came to be
Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ paradigmatic 1979 album, Armed Forces, will be reissued as a comprehensive box set. Personally curated by Elvis Costello, The Complete Armed Forces is the definitive statement of the songwriter nonpareil’s essential album, featuring the classic hits “Accidents Will Happen,” “Oliver’s Army” and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding.”
Armed Forces is explored across nine pieces of vinyl (3 12-inch LPs, 3 10-inch LPs and 3 7-inch singles), including a new 2020 remaster of the album, B-sides, alternate versions and outtakes, demos, and a slew of live recordings – including 23 unreleased live tracks taken from three especially riotous concerts. Sparing no effort or detail, this new super deluxe edition vinyl box set is a thorough excavation of Costello’s vault from his early beginnings to the events that led to the making of the album and his success with The Attractions.
Out November 6 via UMe, The Complete Armed Forces will be available in two vinyl versions: 180-gram black vinyl and limited edition 180-gram multi-color opaque vinyl. It will also be available digitally for streaming and download. This ornate box set calls attention to designer Barney Bubbles’ pop-art packaging, including the paint-splattered cover artwork by Bubbles and Bazooka and features a unique origami cover that folds out to display the bold graphics and the six vinyl LPs, rounded out by three 7-inch reissues of the album’s singles: “Oliver’s Army,” “Accidents Will Happen” and Nick Lowe’s “American Squirm” b/w “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?”
“Most of this record was written in hotel rooms or on a tour bus, scribbled in a notebook which rarely left my side or failing this, from fragments and phrases scrawled on paper cocktail napkins or hotel notepaper,” Costello writes in the newly updated liner notes. Seven custom notebooks in this treasure trove contain the liners, facsimiles of first-draft, handwritten lyrics, and examples of his songwriting process — as well as rare photos and concert ephemera.
The Complete Armed Forces also includes a print of the vintage grenade and gun poster and the four original postcards of each band member. Costello commissioned acclaimed artist Todd Alcott to create pulp novel book covers of songs from Armed Forces starring himself as the protagonist in a variety of perilous circumstances.
Armed Forces has been newly remastered by Costello and mastering engineer Bob Ludwig from the original analog tapes to match the sonic fidelity of the initial 1979 UK pressing. Striving for the utmost authenticity, they took care to match the feel and intention of the original mastering.
The evolution of the album is documented on the 10-inch, Sketches For Emotional Fascism A.K.A. Armed Forces, which assembles together B-sides, demos and alternate versions, making many of these songs available on vinyl for the first time in decades. The band’s live expertise is celebrated with several previously unreleased concert recordings that bookended the recording and release of the album.
Along with selections from the band’s legendary 1978 Hollywood High show, the collection includes highlights from Riot At The Regent – Live In Sydney ’78 and Christmas In The Dominion – Live 24th December ’78 at London’s Dominion Theatre. “Riot At The Regent is a souvenir from our days Down Under and a second snap-shot of the Attractions in action during six months either side of the recording of Armed Forces,” Costello pens. Continuing, “We played right up to Christmas Eve and certainly sound full of cheery spirit on ‘Christmas In The Dominion,’ playing a version of ‘No Dancing’ in an apparently spontaneous arrangement that sounds as if we had just heard Blondie’s ‘Heart Of Glass’ on the radio and decided to re-work my song with a similar approach before closing the stand with the same song with which we had opened it: ‘Peace Love & Understanding.’”
Costello’s full set at PinkPop in The Netherlands in 1979, titled Europe ’79 – Live At Pinkpop showcases a band at the top of their game, playing songs that would end up on 1980’s Get Happy. All of the unreleased live recordings, taken from the original 2″ multitracks, have been remixed by Costello’s longtime producer and mixer Sebastian Krys who recently mixed his forthcoming new album, Hey Clockface, and co-produced his 2018 GRAMMY® Award-winning album, Look Now.
Produced by Nick Lowe, Armed Forces was Elvis Costello’s third album and his second with The Attractions – Steve Nieve (keyboards), Bruce Thomas (bass) and Pete Thomas (drums). Armed Forces followed on from 1978’s This Year’s Model, an album that completely defied the sophomore slump.
With The Complete Armed Forces, Costello has provided an all-encompassing time capsule that lets us celebrate this timeless album and understand how it came to be. Watch it all get unboxed below.
THE COMPLETE ARMED FORCES TRACKLISTING
Armed Forces 12″ LP SIDE A 1. Accidents Will Happen 2. Senior Service 3. Oliver’s Army 4. Big Boys 5. Green Shirt 6. Party Girl
SIDE B 1. Goon Squad 2. Busy Bodies 3. Sunday’s Best 4. Moods For Moderns 5. Chemistry Class 6. Two Little Hitlers 7. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?
Live at Hollywood High & Elsewhere 1978 12″ LP SIDE A 1. Accidents Will Happen 2. Mystery Dance 3. Goon Squad 4. Party Girl 5. Stranger In The House
SIDE B 1. Alison 2. Lipstick Vogue 3. Watching The Detectives 4. You Belong To Me 5. Chemistry Class (Live at The Warner Theatre, Washington D.C.)
Europe ’79 – Live At Pinkpop 12″ LP SIDE A 1. Goon Squad 2. B-Movie 3. Green Shirt 4. (I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea 5. Opportunity 6. So Young 7. High Fidelity
SIDE B 1 Lipstick Vogue 2. Watching The Detectives 3. Big Boys 4. Pump It Up 5. You Belong To Me 6. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?
Sketches for Emotional Fascism 10″ LP SIDE A 1. Clean Money 2. Talking In The Dark 3. Wednesday Week 4. Tiny Steps
SIDE B 1. Crawling To The U.S.A. 2. Big Boys (Alternate Version) 3. Green Shirt (Demo Version) 4. My Funny Valentine
Riot At The Regent – Live In Sydney ’78 10″ LP SIDE A 1. Oliver’s Army 2. Waiting For The End Of The World 3. Big Boys
SIDE B 1. This Year’s Girl 2. You Belong To Me 3. Pump It Up
Christmas In The Dominion – Live 24th December ’78 10″ LP SIDE A 1. (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes 2. No Dancing
SIDE B 1. I Stand Accused 2. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?
“Oliver’s Army” 7″ SIDE A 1. Oliver’s Army
Side B 1. Big Boys (Demo)
“Accidents Will Happen” 7″ SIDE A 1. Accidents Will Happen
Side B 1. Busy Bodies (Alternate)
Nick Lowe & His Sound – “American Squirm” 7″ Side A 1. American Squirm
Side B 2. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?
Stevie Wonder Releases Two New Singles: ‘Where Is Our Love Song’ and ‘Can’t Put It in the Hands of Fate’
After a four-year hiatus, Stevie is back
Stevie Wonder has released two new singles titled “Where Is Our Love Song” and “Can’t Put It in the Hands of Fate.” The 70-year-old R&B wonder shared the news during a virtual press conference today, October 13, the day of his son Mumtaz Morris’ birthday.
The songs, both written and produced by Wonder, are the first to be released through his own Republic Records imprint, So What The Fuss Music. They will be marketed and distributed by Republic Records, which is part of Universal Music Group. Wonder leaves Motown after nearly 60 years.
“Even though I have left Motown, I never leave Motown,” he said. “That’s Detroit. So I’m sure that we can figure out how we can do some things at Motown.” Wonder was only 11 years old when Motown signed him to a contract in 1961.
“Where Is Our Love Song” is a track he first started working on at 18 years old. At the time, he wasn’t sure what to make of it. “But then there came this year that we’re dealing with, and there came all of the confusion and all of the hate, and all the east versus west, left versus right, just heartbreak.” And just like that, he was galvanized to finish the song, a collaboration with Gary Clark Jr. Wonder is donating 100 percent of its proceeds to Feeding America.
“In these times, we are hearing the most poignant wake-up calls and cries for this nation and the world to, please, heed our need for love, peace and unity.”
In his statements today, Wonder also urged Americans to make a voting plan for next month’s presidential election.
“We can’t put voting in the hands of fate. The universe is watching us. And for me, we’ve got to vote justice in and injustice out. That’s just what time it is. That’s down the ballot by the way, from your local to your state to your national — handle that,” he encouraged.
“There are differences in blues and Nepali music but there are many similarities: Economic depression, discrimination, and social issues remain the same.” – Prakash Slim
Prakash Slim Pokharel is a country blues musician, educator, and blues music history researcher. He was born on June, 17th, 1980 in a field during the rainy season in a small village called Lamatar, in the Lalitpur district of Nepal. The village saw its first electric bulb in 1983 and its first motor car in 1995. He was raised by a loving, loyal family that had very limited means. His father passed away at the age of 29, leaving his mother with three children to raise, one elder brother, a sister, and Prakash. What food they could manage to obtain was earned by their mother, who worked in their neighbors’ fields. Every year, he waited for their main festival to be celebrated. Annually, that would be when his uncle would gift him a pair of new clothes. He went to a public school where instead of desks and benches, they had mats made of straw.
When asked what his ambition was when young, Prakash Slim replied, “Ambition was a privilege for rich kids back then. The only ambition I had was sustaining life.”
Photo courtesy of the artist
Prakash has been interested in music since he was a child, when he made music by drumming against a water gallon and singing songs all day. Music drew him to its world. When it called out to him he couldn’t resist. His most prized possession back then was a bicycle that his sister gifted him after she landed a job. Prakash wanted to learn and play the guitar but he didn’t have the money to buy one. He confesses that he bought his first guitar by selling his bicycle, telling his family that a friend had taken it for a few days.
For two years, Prakash gave up everything else to search for a mentor who could teach him everything he needed to know about music theory. He finally found a teacher, a legendary musician named C.B.Chhetri, though he lived 10 kms away from Prakash’s own home. His passion for music was so enormous that he never missed a lesson. Whether it stormed or rained, he always arrived ahead of time and ready to learn.
For years, after learning a working journeyman’s knowledge of the guitar, he accepted his mentor’s offer to join his band and gigged in a circuit of restaurants playing rock music and instrumental. At the same time, he started teaching music in schools and institutions.
In 2008 he participated in a workshop entitled Teaching Music Effectively, conducted at Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory by the US Cultural Embassy envoy, Dr. Gene Aitken. It had been fine playing in rock bands all those years. However, Prak’s thirst for musical knowledge and deeper musical experiences couldn’t be quenched. The aching hole in his soul healed when he heard his first BB King recording. Overwhelmed by what he heard, he began researching more and more about blues music and it’s history. He also took much of his existing repertoire and started experimenting by adding blues licks and blues grooves to them. There he gradually learned more expanded theory and a deeper understanding of how chords and progressions are formed both physically and numerically. From 2003 to 2015 he kept busy playing lead and/or rhythm guitar and bass, as well as contributing vocals for various bands throughout Nepal.
In 2015 he received an invitation to attend a musical retreat at Walden School of Music, San Francisco, California, USA. That same year a major earthquake hit Nepal. Buildings crumbled down to dust and Prak’s hopes too were shattered as he was unable to attend the retreat. The devastation hit him hard and personally. For the next several years an insurmountable fear and pain were a constant in his life. The blues became his solace and his very best friend.
In February, 2017, he fell ill and was advised bed rest. While he was scrolling through his news feed aimlessly, he came across a facebook page named Acoustic Blues Pickers. He was intrigued on seeing a world of blues lovers like himself. There he listened to Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil Blues.” He practiced playing it for a week and shared what he played on the page. A Facebook friend offered to help him and generously sent him a resonator guitar and some slides.
For now, Prakash Slim is not only playing and doing research in blues, but also teaching BITS a.k.a. Blues in the schools. He’s recently finished a Blues exhibition for his school in Nepal. No doubt he’s living by example the axiom “keeping the blues alive.” In Nepal & beyond. He’s now a recognized, internationally affiliated artist and Educator of the Blues with the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund (Executive Director Dr. T. DeWayne Moore) Mississippi, USA since January 2019. Prakash is also active in a Blues mentorship program with T.J. Wheeler, a longtime pioneer, advocate, activist teacher/performer of blues, jazz, and related music. As a member of International Singer and Songwriters Association, Prak’s own original blues compositions are also gaining him further attention.
Listen to “Living For The Memory,” Prakash’s newest release, below.
Duke Robillard & Friends Throw a ‘Blues Bash’ on Stony Plain Records
“Frankly, this isn’t an album to read liner notes by. It’s far more suited to moving and grooving, sweating or at least toe tapping, signifying and getting happy…” Dick Shurman
Stony Plain Records announces a November 20 release date for Blues Bash with Duke Robillard & Friends, the new album from two-time Grammy nominee and multiple Blues Music Award-winning guitarist Duke Robillard.
Robillard, himself, declares Blues Bash to be“packed with plenty of bright sounding Fender guitar a la Ike Turner, Lefty Bates, etc. Just a good listening or dancing record like the blues records I bought when I was a kid. It was pretty much a reunion of sorts and I wanted the material to be simple, straight-ahead ‘50s style blues and R&B. Basically it’s a blues party album and that feeling is what I wanted to convey.”
While Duke has admitted that his concept for Blues Bash was to make a straight vintage-style blues album with rhythmic grooves and no hook-laden songs, as always, the music is impeccable, classy and powerful. Two stellar horn sections (including one that reunites him with many members of the original Roomful of Blues horns), searing guitar and organ solos, boogie-woogie piano and guest vocalists Chris Cote and Michelle Willson help to propel the groove. Duke is in his element here, displaying his authority, versatility, passion and virtuosity. Not only is Blues Bash the kind of album that made so many blues fans fall in love with Duke’s music, it’s a career highlight from one of the world’s best.
Robillard has been defined as not merely a great artist, but also a true historian, scholar and curator who is adept at electric and acoustic blues, jazz, jump, swing, ballads and standards. Grammy-nominated and a five-time winner of the Blues Music Award as best guitarist, over his 50 plus year career Duke has been a prolific songwriter and is considered a blues guitar master. Duke continues to be a sought after side-man and featured guest.
“Considering Duke Robillard’s illustrious and prolific musical contributions over the years (with many of the highlights on Stony Plain), and with such straight-ahead fare, Blues Bash with Duke Robillard & Friends shouldn’t require much exposition,” writes esteemed blues writer/historian Dick Shurman in the album’s liner notes. “But this writer always jumps at any opportunity to extol the many joys of Duke and his music, so we’ll lay out the basics about this bash and throw in a few well-earned superlatives.
“The collective roster spans the full chronicle of Duke’s recording career. Of the two stellar three-horn sections, the all-saxophone Rich Lataille-Greg Piccolo-Doug James lineup present on most songs here takes us back to the early Roomful years; on another song, James, Al Basile and Sax Gordon ably keep the party live and more. Both sections keep their collective foot south of Duke’s shirttail and acquit themselves with their long established distinction when called upon to solo. The rhythm sections also consist of familiar stalwarts: bassists Jesse Williams and Marty Ballou, drummer Mark Teixeira (and Marty Richards on one track), and keyboard player Bruce Bears, who gets a nice organ showcase on the closing ‘Just Chillin’.’Among the other guests, harp player Mark Hummel and pianist Bob Welsh (who has a great feel for gritty Chicago blues) go with Duke toward Jimmy Rogers territory on a remake of Duke’s ‘No Time.’”
“Guest vocalist Chris Cote from Boston works in several bands and can sing anything,” enthuses Duke. “He has a real love for the blues and all his vocals here are live in the studio. Female guest vocalist Michelle ‘Evil Gal’ Willson sings live also and tears up Helen Humes’ ‘You Played On My Piano.’ Boogie pianist deluxe Mark ‘Mr. B.’ Braun is the backbone from start to finish on Smiley Lewis’ ‘Ain’t Gonna Do It.’”
“Saying Duke’s broadly and deeply informed music reflects careful and diligent study is stating the obvious,” adds Shurman. “But in some cases, like this album, not a lot of analysis and reflection are called for. After all these years and accomplishments, he and his cohorts have given us a wonderful reiteration of the continuing greatness of the jumping, swinging jazz-infused blues that brought him and Roomful to prominence. Frankly, this isn’t an album to read liner notes by. It’s far more suited to moving and grooving, sweating or at least toe tapping, signifying and getting happy – all with appropriate facial coverings and social distancing, of course.”
Since starting his musical career in 1967 by founding and fronting Roomful of Blues, Duke Robillard has been at the forefront of Blues, Swing and classic R&B/Jump blues for over 50 years, earning him his legendary status while influencing and inspiring countless legions of musicians and fans worldwide. Leading his own group, Duke has toured non-stop for the past 40-some years, recording more than 30 critically acclaimed CDs under his own name. He has toured as a guitarist with Tom Waits and the Fabulous Thunderbirds and recorded with the likes of Bob Dylan, Ruth Brown, Jay McShann, Pinetop Perkins, Kim Wilson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Rosco Gordon, Maria Muldaur and many more.
Expanded Edition of George Thorogood and The Destroyers’ ‘Live in Boston, 1982’ Set For Reissue
‘Live In Boston, 1982: The Complete Concert’ features 12 unreleased tracks, including fan favorites “Who Do You Love?” and “Bad to the Bone”
Craft Recordings announces a comprehensive reissue of George Thorogood and The Destroyers’ Live in Boston, 1982. Newly remastered by the GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer Paul Blakemore, the 27-track Live in Boston, 1982: The Complete Concert captures the band’s fiery set in its entirety, including spoken introductions. Plus, the release includes 12 previously unreleased tracks (including performances of “Bad to the Bone,” “Who Do You Love?,” and “Cocaine Blues”) and marks the first time the set will be available on vinyl.
Available to pre-order now, Live in Boston, 1982: The Complete Concert will be available December 4th as a four-LP set on 180-gram vinyl, a two-CD set, and across digital platforms. Complementing the collection are new liner notes by longtime Boston Globe music critic and Berklee College of Music professor, Steve Morse, who spoke with Thorogood about that incredible evening. In addition, a special deluxe edition of the new collection (pressed on red marble vinyl, including an eye-catching poster, and limited to a 1,000 units) will be released exclusively for Record Store Day’s Black Friday event on November 27th. Coinciding with this announcement is the release of the first instant grat track, “Bad to the Bone,” available today to stream or download on all major digital outlets.
George Thorogood and The Destroyers were hometown heroes when they played to a packed audience at Boston’s Bradford Ballroom (now the Royale Nightclub) on November 23, 1982. Hailing from Wilmington, Delaware, Thorogood and his band had settled in Boston in the late ’70s, where they became mainstays in the scene—releasing their 1977 self-titled debut and their 1978 follow-up, Move It on Over, with the then-locally based Rounder Records. By the fall of 1982, the blues rockers were fast-rising stars on a national level. Just one year prior, they scored a supporting slot on The Rolling Stones’ tour, while that October, they appeared on Saturday Night Live, promoting their fifth studio album, Bad to the Bone. As the busy year came to a close, the album’s hard-driving title track—which would become one of Thorogood’s most iconic songs—was getting steady airplay on the radio and its video was a mainstay on the burgeoning MTV.
After a non-stop year, the triumphant band returned to Boston, where they were embraced by their longtime fans. Full of energy, power, and focus, Thorogood and The Destroyers played a blistering set that included original material (“Kids from Philly,” “Bad to the Bone,” and “Miss Luann”) blues classics (John Lee Hooker’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” and Elmore James’ “The Sky Is Crying”), early rock ’n’ roll and R&B covers (Chuck Berry’s “No Particular Place to Go” and Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?”), and a few country tunes that The Destroyers had already made their own (Hank Williams’ “Move It on Over” and T.J. “Red” Arnall’s “Cocaine Blues”). In addition to Thorogood’s legendary guitar riffs, the songs are accentuated by the incendiary Hank Carter, who played saxophone with The Destroyers for 23 years. Luckily for fans, the incredible evening was captured in exquisite clarity by the award-winning engineer Guy Charbonneau, known for his “Le Mobile” remote recording truck.
For his liner notes, Steve Morse also interviewed Scott Billington, a longtime Rounder Records producer who oversaw the original, 2010 edition of Live in Boston, 1982. “It was exciting to revisit the entire show,” Billington told Morse. “Listening back to these recordings also reminded me of how George had taken the original rock ’n’ roll blues aesthetic and brought it back into the mainstream at a time when that was not a particularly popular aspect of rock. Hearing a manifestation of that in the early ’80s was a breath of fresh air.”
Reflecting on Live in Boston, 1982: The Complete Concert, Thorogood says, “1982 was an absolute high-water mark for us. Everything was going our way and it shows in this recording from the Bradford Ballroom. This is George Thorogood and The Destroyers at our best!”
George’s peers also lauded the album. Legendary Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash declared, “George Thorogood has been a hero of mine since I first heard his music in the ’70s. One of the baddest rock ’n’ roll songwriters/electric slide guitar players ever and The Destroyers are a kick-ass, tight rhythm section. This recording proves it!” Blues rocker Jared James Nichols added, “Power, attitude, emotion! I feel the energy and spirit, as if I’m actually at the show. George and band are undeniably at the top of their game this rockin’ night in Boston. Above all, this recording further solidifies the legend that is George Thorogood. Crank it up and get ready to boogie!”
Since forming in 1974, Thorogood and his band—which currently consists of Jeff Simon (drums, percussion), Bill Blough (bass guitar), Jim Suhler (rhythm guitar), and Buddy Leach (saxophone)—have released 16 studio albums, played more than 8,000 ferocious live shows, and sold over 15 million records. For more than two generations, George Thorogood and The Destroyers have remained one of the most consistent—and consistently passionate—progenitors of blues-based rock in pop culture history.
Showing no signs of slowing down, Thorogood returned to Rounder Records to release his solo debut, Party of One, in 2017 and he continues to tour regularly with The Destroyers.
Looking ahead, the band is excited to return to the road with a 27-date global tour, kicking off May 4, 2021 at the Revolution Place in Grande Prairie, AB, Canada.
‘No Business: The PPX Sessions Vol. 2’ Showcases Early Development of Jimi Hendrix
1965-1967 recordings feature Jimi Hendrix’s first-ever recorded composition
Dagger Records will release No Business: The PPX Sessions Volume 2 by Curtis Knight & The Squires on CD October 23. The album is a follow-up to Experience Hendrix/Legacy Recordings’ 2015 collection You Can’t Use My Name. The forthcoming release includes October 1965 demo recordings made by the then-unknown Jimi Hendrix, as well as 1967 studio recordings with Hendrix when he was in the midst of his meteoric ascent to stardom. Dagger was founded by Experience Hendrix L.L.C. over two decades ago as an official ‘bootleg’ label to provide Hendrix fans throughout the world with additional live performances, home demos and studio recordings.
Jimi Hendrix was based in Harlem in 1965, working intermittently as an itinerant sideman when he met Curtis Knight in a hotel lobby. Knight invited Hendrix to record with him, booking time at Studio 76, a Manhattan facility run by producer Ed Chalpin. Hendrix joined Knight to record nine demos (tracks 11-19) on or about October 15, 1965. These demos provide a window into the formation of Hendrix’s creative evolution. “Two Little Birds” and “Suddenly” presage his playing on future classics, such as “Little Wing” and “Castles Made of Sand,” while “Working All Day” and “Taking Care Of No Business,” hold the distinction of being the first known recorded Jimi Hendrix compositions.
After the conclusion of this initial demo session, Hendrix was approached by Chalpin to sign what the guitarist thought was a release for his participation. What Chalpin actually had Hendrix unknowingly sign was a contract with his own PPX Enterprises Inc. for $1 and a 1% royalty rate. Hendrix had previously signed an agreement with the Harlem based Sue Records [home to such acts as Ike & Tina Turner) in July 1965 and was unaware that this too was a recording agreement and not a release for a session fee. Chalpin filed away the agreement and Hendrix continued to lend his guitar to sessions on Knight’s behalf in 1965 and the first half of 1966. ,
After moving to England in September 1966 and forming the Jimi Hendrix Experience under the management of Animals bassist Chas Chandler, Hendrix’s sudden popularity in Britain and Europe caught Chalpin’s attention. As Hendrix prepared for his return to the US via the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, Chalpin initiated legal proceedings based upon his one page, October 1965 agreement. Worse still, now that Hendrix was a known commercial commodity, Chalpin was releasing material Hendrix had recorded with Curtis Knight and passing it off as solo material by Jimi. In a failed attempt to placate Chalpin, Hendrix returned to Studio 76 in July and August of 1967 and recorded more music with Curtis Knight with the hopes of being released from his onerous contract. From a business perspective, his plan backfired, but more unique music was created as a result.
In addition to 1966 studio recordings such as “Hornet’s Nest” and “UFO,” No Business also features highlights from the July and August 1967 sessions. Hendrix’s wah-wah guitar can be heard on “Hush Now” and “Love, Love” while also adding a Hagstrom 8-string bass part on an updated version of “Taking Care Of No Business” and “My Best Friend.”
When Jimi inexplicably appeared at Studio 76 on July 17, 1967, Chalpin was stunned by his good fortune. In addition to the handful of Curtis Knight recordings featuring the guitarist, he now had Jimi Hendrix music made after his groundbreaking debut album Are You Experienced. Chalpin next scrambled to see what else he could pull together from his stockpiled archive to create a contrived Knight/Hendrix album. The following day, he dusted off the 1966 master of “How Would You Feel” and had Knight compose new lyrics and add a new vocal. This alternate version is included here. He crafted mixes of Ricky Mason’s interpretation of “I Need You Everyday [Sick & Tired]” on which Hendrix had originally appeared the previous year.
On July 31, 1967, Chalpin created an unusual recording drawn from “Suey,” an odd 1966 session in which Jimi had participated. Chalpin combined some of the on air patter radio disc jockey Douglas “Jocko” Henderson was known for, and intercut this with a recording he had produced with film star Jayne Mansfield.
The need by Chalpin to scrape together existing PPX material for a potential Curtis Knight/Jimi Hendrix album was made considerably easier when Hendrix returned on August 8, 1967. The highlight of that session was Knight’s “Gloomy Monday”. Jimi provided the song’s propulsive rhythm guitar before he departed. Needing a solo, Chalpin overdubbed two guitars and even a sitar to try and capitalize on Hendrix’s participation. On the first volume of these PPX recordings , Hendrix can be clearly heard instructing Chalpin not to use his name on these recordings prior to a take of the song. The producer disregarded Hendrix’s request and soon thereafter issued Get That Feeling via Capitol Records. The album featured a cover image of Jimi Hendrix from the recent Monterey Pop Festival and no image of Knight. The move both embarrassed and infuriated Hendrix.
Since acquiring the rights to all Jimi Hendrix recordings from Chalpin in 2014, Experience Hendrix has made it a mission to release these Curtis Knight & The Squires sessions tastefully, providing proper historic context, free of misleading packaging and without posthumous overdubs. No Business: The PPX Sessions Volume 2 accomplishes this while helping map out the evolution of Jimi Hendrix as a musician and songwriter.
Curtis Knight & The Squires No Business: The PPX Sessions Volume 2
Cory Wong to Release his Eighth Album of 2020, New Single ft. Joe Satriani
American Blues Scene Staff
New single, “Massive,” featuring Joe Satriani out now
Guitarist extraordinaire Cory Wong announces the release of his eighth album of 2020. The Minneapolis, MN-based jazz funk virtuoso’s The Striped Album arrives everywhere on Friday, October 23. The self-produced album finds Wong in typical giddy form. Ever the raconteur, Wong invites a variety of special guests to share in the merriment, including Kimbra, Tom Misch and guitar great Joe Satriani, who is featured on the new single, “Massive,” available now at all DSPs and streaming services.
“Joe’s one of the nicest and greatest guitar players I’ve ever worked with,” says Wong. “I had been working on putting together material for my upcoming album and had a song that was perfect for him. Most of my music is pretty upbeat and happier major key songs. This song has a heavy minor key groove that feels like watching George Clinton wearing a pair of wet jeans walking through a knee high mud pit. It’s not really my vibe, but I thought it was still really cool and could fit on my album with the right collaborator. Someone who can bring the heavy rock vibe.
“Joe and I have never met in person. As a matter of fact, we met over Zoom towards the beginning of the lockdown. We stayed in touch and he sent me what has become the most exciting remote tracks anyone has sent over. I loaded his guitar tracks into my ProTools session and just started cracking up. He went SO HARD. I told him the sort of thing I was looking for, and a temp track of me playing some lead guitar lines to outline the melody for him. He came back with the most aggressive and heavy guitar that I’ve ever had on an album. It’s the exact Joe Satriani people think of, and oddly enough, the track ended up being a Cory Wong song that people could expect, but with the heaviest of twists. I had been sitting on this song idea for a couple of years, but couldn’t quite solve the puzzle. As I immediately found out, Joe Satriani was the missing puzzle piece.”
The Striped Album follows the release of two live albums – The Syncopate & Motivate Tour, Set 1 and Set 2; two contemplative acoustic records – Trail Songs: Dusk and its sister record, Trail Songs: Dawn; an ambient album with Jon Batiste – Meditations; a live album with The Metropole Orkest, Live In Amsterdam; and a jazz-funk album, Elevator Music for an Elevated Mood. As if that weren’t enough, he also began hosting a new podcast, “Wong Notes” with Premier Guitar, created a plug-in for in-studio use and started a new recording vlog.
Since 2017, Wong has been touring worldwide playing his original music on the biggest stages. Whether being featured as a guest with the house band on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, or as a member of Vulfpeck and the Fearless Flyers, Wong is a restless creator who doesn’t sit still for long. His 2019 album, Motivational Music For The Syncopated Soul, went top 20 on the Billboard Jazz Chart and top 10 on the Contemporary Jazz Chart. His 2020 album, Elevator Music for an Elevated Mood, went top 20 on the Contemporary Jazz Chart and another 2020 album, Live In Amsterdam’ With The Metropole Orkest, went top 10 on the Classical Crossover Albums Chart.
Foo Fighters, Leon Bridges, The Roots, and More to Play Save Our Stages Virtual Festival
Help us #SaveOurStages by telling Congress to ACT NOW!
The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) is partnering with YouTube for a 3-day virtual music festival to Save Our Stages. #SOSFEST will live stream on NIVA’s official YouTube channel October 16-18 and will feature all new performances. This benefit event aims to generate awareness, advocacy and donations for the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund, directly supporting our most vulnerable venues experiencing catastrophic revenue loss.
The Late Late Show bandleader/announcer Reggie Watts will host the event, which will boast a diverse lineup including Foo Fighters, Rise Against, Dave Matthews, Leon Bridges, Demi Lovato, Little Big Town, Miley Cyrus, Portugal. The Man, Reba McEntire, The Roots, The Revivalists, Brittany Howard, Brothers Osborne, Finneas, Jason Mraz, The Lumineers, Macklemore, Nathaniel Rateliff and a number of others.
Each of the performers will be playing at some of the most historically significant music venues in America — venues facing grave difficulties at this time. “The smaller music venues and the ones that are really struggling are not only culturally important, they are emotionally important,” said Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters.
Other artists confirmed are Adam Melchor, Alec Benjamin, Bea Miller, Black Pumas, Brothers Osborne, Cautious Clay, Dillon Francis, Dizzy Fae, Finneas, Gus Dapperton, Jason Mraz, JP Saxe, Kelsea Ballerini, Leon Bridges, Little Big Town, The Lumineers, Marshmello & Demi Lovato, Macklemore, Major Lazer, Miley Cyrus, Monica, Nathaniel Rateliff, Phoebe Bridgers, Portugal. The Man, Reba McEntire, The Revivalists, Rise Against and Sebastián Yatra. The complete list of venues appears below.
You can subscribe to the NIVA YouTube channel and set a reminder to tune in Oct. 16-18 and watch the exclusive performances. You can also help spread the word by RSVPing on social media to the Oct. 16,17 and 18 performances. And most importantly, you can donate to the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund.
The time is now to help save our beloved independent music venues. The National Independent Venue Association is asking music lovers for a final push of letters to Congress. There won’t be another opportunity. Please help #SaveOurStages now. By filling out a simple form, tell your legislators to support the RESTART act, which would financial aid in various forms to small businesses such as venues.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Launches Pre-Order, Releases Trailer For First-Ever Video Release
Jon Bleicher Publicity
The release of Straight To You: Live comes at a time when there is no live music and the world looks very different than it did 12 months ago
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band has released a new trailer for Straight To You: Live, the group’s first-ever live concert video, out November 27th via Provogue. “People have been asking us to do a live concert video forever, for decades,” Shepherd explains. “We’ve been working so much focusing on studio recordings. But I’ve been hearing the call from the fans for many years now.” As live music has come to a standstill, the band wanted to give fans a taste once again of that experience, and this blistering set shows it to them in full force.
The Live! In Chicago album, the band’s only other live output, was released a decade ago and earned itself a Grammy nomination, but this time around you get to watch the band in its full glory, in addition to listening. Over the past 10 years, the multi-platinum selling artist has gone from strength to strength, winning countless awards, releasing four studio albums and touring the world over several times – from Brazil to Europe, India to Canada, US to Australia and beyond.
The band’s last studio album, The Traveler, was released in May of last year, giving the band their eighth #1 on the Billboard Blues Albums chart. The performance captured on Straight To You: Live took place at the famous Leverkusen Jazzstage for the iconic German TV show, Rockpalast on November 25th, 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of The ‘Traveler World Tour.’
The seven-piece band took the stage and immediately launched into their most-recent hit-single “Woman Like You,” with the honey-soaked powerhouse voice of Noah Hunt blasting “I ain’t looking for a one time girl” backed by the fiery fretwork of Shepherd. It’s the first of four songs from The Traveler featured in the set. “The whole intention of this set-list is that we come out with a lot of energy, get the crowd pumped up. We want to get them energized right off the bat.” It slips into the soul-drenched blues of “Long Time Running,” with Chris Layton’s drums firing through the building horn section as Hunt and Shepherd lock-in on duel vocals, whilst blue and yellow lights spray the stage, catapulting you right to the front row of the audience.
“We were really fired up,” he continues. “We had expanded the band and brought in the horn section, it was their first time over to Europe with us. So we were glad to have the full ensemble there. It’s always exciting when we’re incorporating a new album into the live performance. Remembering the show, there were several stand out moments. The song off the new record ‘I Want You,’ is a really extended version, and every soloist gets an opportunity to really shine, and everybody brought it 150%.”
The band never let up, and it’s in a live environment that Shepherd truly lets it rip. The five-time Grammy-nominated guitarist has developed a formidable back catalogue that only someone with road-worn life experience can deliver, and this set is besieged with all of the classics. Shepherd prowls the stage on “Diamonds and Gold,” explodes into honky-tonk revelry on the Elmore James cover “Talk To Me Baby,” and stuns with an 11-minute epic version of “The Heat of The Sun.” “On that the band is really focused, everybody is listening to one another, everybody’s working collectively on the dynamics of the song, bringing it down, building it back up, trying to transcend what’s actually happening on stage and take the music to the next level.”
The band continues to shift up gears with a 9-minute version of “Shame Shame Shame,” a selection from Shepherd’s 1995 debut. “The reason why the song goes on the way that it does is because everybody is feeling it and there’s a lot of special moments that I’m proud of. Giving the keyboard and horn guys their moments to shine, and standing back and letting those guys do what they do best, made me feel just as proud as any solo that I played that night,” he enthuses.
While Kenny has had six #1 rock tracks and a slew of top ten songs, no show would be complete without the mega-hit “Blue on Black.” Featured on the band’s second album, the song spent an incredible 42 weeks on the US Billboard Rock Charts, winning Rock Track of the Year, and now has over 25 million streams. “That’s the song that we cannot not walk out onto the stage and play,” says Shepherd. “I’ve been playing that song for more than 20 years, and I still enjoy playing it. As a songwriter it’s the song that you hope you can write. It’s a timeless song that doesn’t really seem to age. A year ago a new version of it came out with the Five Finger Death Punch guys, Brian May, myself and Brantley Gilbert. In the states it went to #1 on the rock charts again. As a songwriter, to have a #1 hit twice with the same song is really rare, and certainly something to be proud of.” The new version of the song has received more than 80 million streams so far.
Talking about not being able to perform live during the COVID-19 pandemic, Shepherd says; “I miss it. Live concert performances are the essence of what we do best. So, not having that in our life is yeah, this has been an eye-opening experience I think for all musicians. It’s been a personal loss for every performer out there who does what we do. A lot of our lives have been spent pouring our heart and soul into that.”
The release of Straight To You: Live comes at a time when there is no live music and the world looks very different than it did 12 months ago, but as you watch the seven-piece Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band bow out on a phenomenal finale of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and wave goodbye to the cheering Leverkusen crowd, it reignites the love of live music and the hope that is still to come.
Straight To You: Live – Out November 27th
1. Woman Like You (Live)
2. Mr. Soul (Live)
3. Long Time Running (Live)
4. I Want You (Live)
5. Diamonds & Gold (Live)
6. Talk To Me Baby (Live)
7. Heat Of The Sun (Live)
8. Down For Love (Live)
9. Shame, Shame, Shame (Live)
10. Turn To Stone (Live)
11. Blue On Black (Live)
12. I’m A King Bee (Live)
13. Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (Live)