Cajun/Creole Christmas EP Coming December 4

Cajun/Creole Christmas EP Coming December 4

American Blues Scene Staff

Featuring Courtney Granger, Kelli Jones, Chas Justus, members of The Revelers, Sweet Crude, The Daiquiri Queens, Feufollet, and more. Christmas Songs in Cajun and Creole French

This holiday season, at the end of a rocky year, South Louisiana offers up a musical treat with the new EP Joyeux Noël, Bon Chrismeusse. The region has long been home to a resilient, dynamic culture. Two centuries after the territory was purchased by the United States, there are still young Louisianians speaking their grandparents’ language, learning traditional music, and navigating that tricky line between the past and the future. This project is a testament to their efforts.

A Holiday EP from South Louisiana! Louisiana has a long tradition of translating popular music, and this EP continues the tradition with 5 new translations in Louisiana French and Louisiana Creole, alongside a reprise of the Belton Richard classic, “You’re All I Want for Christmas,” originally a Buck Owens/Don Rich tune. Hear a new twist on your favorite Christmas songs and brush up on your language skills at the same time!

The six-track disk reinterprets Christmas classics through a Cajun and Creole lens, translating the songs into Louisiana French and Louisiana Creole – songs like “J’ai vu Mam après becquer Papa Noël” (“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”) and “Papa Nwèl ap vini o vilaj” (“Santa Claus is Coming to Town”). It features musicians from some of the most in-demand groups in the South Louisiana music scene, including the Daiquiri Queens, the Old Fashioned Aces, and Sweet Crude. While linguistically the project stays close to its Acadiana roots, musically the artists aren’t afraid to take a broader view of Louisiana’s sound. Cajun and Zydeco lovers will find the twin fiddles, accordion, and rubboard they love on some tracks, but bluesy horns fill Courtney Granger’s “Joyeux Noel, catin” (“Merry Christmas, Baby”), and “Je reviens chez nous pour Chrismeusse” (“I’ll be Home for Christmas,” sung by Megan Constantin and Kelli Jones) is played like the nostalgic jazz standard it is, not like a classic Cajun ballad.

“As a musician, I wouldn’t say 2020 was a great year,” explains Chas Justus, guitarist and producer of the project, “but the silver lining has been this opportunity to get so many phenomenal musicians in the studio.” The house band includes Justus, bassist Trey Boudreaux, drummer Matt Meyer, and multi-instrumentalist Chris Stafford, who also engineered the record. With touring virtually non-existent due to the COVID19 pandemic, the funding for a musical project could not have come at a better time. Joyeux Noël, Bon Chrismeusse received an Artspark grant, an individual artist stipend supported by the Lafayette Economic Development Authority and administered by the Acadiana Center for the Arts. Financial support was also provided by the West Baton Rouge Museum and La Fondation Louisiane. In a year of changed plans and making the best of things, this project showcases what South Louisiana does best: adapt, transcend, and have fun doing so.

Joyeux Noël, Bon Chrismeusse has a street date of December 4th.

Purchase Joyeux Noël, Bon Chrismeusse via Bandcamp

New Orleans’ World-Renowned Tipitina’s Unveils ‘Tipitina’s Record Club’

New Orleans’ World-Renowned Tipitina’s Unveils ‘Tipitina’s Record Club’

Big Hassle Media

Iconic music venue introduces new subscription service celebrating the music and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South

Tipitina’s, the legendary New Orleans nightclub owned and operated by the band Galactic, has unveiled Tipitina’s Record Club, a new subscription service offering six annual vinyl releases celebrating the music and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South.

Tipitina’s Record Club will present specially curated, bi-monthly releases spanning archival milestones, never-before-heard rarities, out-of-print reissues, and brand new recordings, all on limited edition, 180g custom-colored vinyl exclusive to subscribers. Bi-monthly and annual subscriptions are available now. Free shipping will be included for subscribers in the contiguous United States. In addition, Tipitina’s Record Club members will receive exclusive access to upcoming special events, to be announced soon.

Photo courtesy of Ken Weinstein/Big Hassle Media

Tipitina’s Record Club will officially get underway in February 2021 with the release of Professor Longhair’s FESS AT HOME ’73, a previously unheard recording showcasing the groundbreaking singer-pianist in a uniquely intimate and personal setting. Future TRC releases include The Radiators’ KUNG POW!! LIVE AT TIPITINA’S – 05/01/97, James Booker’s LIVE AT TIPITINA’S, and the 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Galactic’s landmark 1996 debut album, COOLIN’ OFF.

“Being a musician and playing at Tipitina’s, one feels the history and the greatness that has blessed that stage,” says Galactic’s Ben Ellman. “Professor Longhair, Clifton Chenier, James Booker, The Meters, The Neville Brothers and so many more local and national treasures. When Galactic took over ownership, it became our mission to preserve the important role Tipitina’s has played in the culture of New Orleans music and the Gulf South. Creating Tipitina’s Record Club, we get to dig into archives to present never-before-heard recordings, rare reissues, and some amazing new music we know you’ll love. We’re presenting this to everyone on a limited edition piece of art in the form of vinyl. This will make the product and the music something special…just like Tipitina’s.” 

 “Our band has been on both sides of the stage at Tipitina’s,” adds Galactic’s Robert Mercurio. “We all started going there as fans, then our band started playing there often, to now we are the stewards of the ship. We know there is a deep well of musical history associated with the club and thought that this Record Club would be a great way to share part of this history with everyone – and what more fitting then for it to be on vinyl. We have been digging deep into our chest of treasures and have some great performances and super rare reissues planned. ” 

Tipitina’s is of course one of America’s most iconic music venues. Since its opening in 1977, Tipitina’s has stood the test of time by hosting the most talented musicians and groups from New Orleans and the world at large, including the renowned Crescent City-based instrumental outfit, Galactic. In late 2018, Galactic announced their purchase of the internationally famous two-story yellow building on the corner of Tchoupitoulas Street and Napoleon Avenue, promising to both further Tipitina’s rich traditions while also continuing to honor the remarkable musical history of the Gulf South. Galactic’s most recent LP, last year’s acclaimed Already Ready Already, is available now via the band’s own Tchoup-Zilla Records.

Satsang Signs With SideOneDummy Records, Releases Randy Travis Cover

Satsang Signs With SideOneDummy Records, Releases Randy Travis Cover

American Blues Scene Staff

“When recording this cover my mom had made a visit to Montana and I made her agree to sing harmonies on it. The full circle moment of having her finally record a song with me, and it being a Randy Travis song means more than I can express.” – Drew McManus

Singer-songwriter Satsang announces his signing with SideOneDummy Records and releases his powerful rendition of the Randy Travis classic “Forever And Ever, Amen.” As you can hear in the song, Satsang brings a unique blend of soulful Americana and Folk Rock to the label with whom he will release a new album in 2021.

Satsang lead singer and songwriter Drew McManus delivers lyrics that are rooted in the human experience. Growth, change, defeat, and triumph are all present, with hard work at the forefront.

It all started in 2015, during a month-long backpacking trip in the Himalaya Mountains that McManus realized that as part of his recovery from addiction, he must share his life journey in poetry and song to help other lost souls. Songs of surrender, vulnerability and perseverance pour out of him, forming the foundation of Satsang’s 2016 debut The Story of You highlighted by “I Am“, a fan-favorite hymn of self-love that has surpassed 5 million streams on Spotify.

Satsang’s follow up, 2017’s Pyramid(s), quickly hit #1 on the Billboard reggae charts and #2 on the iTunes charts, while In Between Another Blink, a six-song EP released later that year, also cracked the iTunes Top 20 chart. Much of the music on both was written as Satsang toured non-stop in 2016, sometimes before sparse audiences. The songs became a testament to the struggle of sticking to a purpose and believing in the result.

My mother grew up on a ranch outside of Roundup, MT. Her whole family is cattle people from Western Montana. Part of that lifestyle that always stayed with my mom was country music. She was always playing it as far back as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are riding in the car with her and hearing her sing harmonies over the radio with George Strait, Garth Brooks, and of course Randy Travis. Particularly the song “Forever and Ever, Amen.”

She always told me throughout my life that when I was older I would appreciate all the old country music she constantly spun. After a year and a half back in Montana without any touring I became reacquainted with myself, and for some reason a lot of this older country from that era and before my time has played a huge role in providing the soundtrack. And has deeply influenced my writing on the new record. When recording this cover my mom had made a visit to Montana and I made her agree to sing harmonies on it. The full circle moment of having her finally record a song with me, and it being a Randy Travis song means more than I can express. – Drew McManus

“Forever and Ever, Amen” is available everywhere at satsangmovement.com/forever

In 2021, Satsang will begin another chapter in his career with the release of a new album of even more influential songs than ever before.

Satsang
SideOneDummy Records

*Feature image credit Greyson Christian Plate courtesy of Black Box

‘Small Town Saturday Night’ Singer Hal Ketchum Dies Aged 67

‘Small Town Saturday Night’ Singer Hal Ketchum Dies Aged 67

Lauren Leadingham

Hal’s wife revealed last year that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia

After a battle with dementia, country singer/songwriter/drummer Hal Ketchum has passed away at the age of 67. His wife, Andrea, confirmed in a statement today, “With great sadness and grief we announce that Hal passed away peacefully last night at home due to complications of Dementia.” Continuing, “May his music live on forever in your hearts and bring you peace.”

Raised in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York, Ketchum began drumming at age 15. He went to Nashville in 1986 to write songs, and a few years years later released his debut album, Threadbare Alibis.

Ketchum released nine albums for Curb Records. He released his first Curb album, Past the Point of Rescue, in 1991. The first single, “Small Town Saturday Night,” reached number two. The second single, “I Know Where Love Lies,” reached number 13. In 1992, he scored two more hits and released his third album, Sure, Love, which earned three Top 20 hits, including “Hearts Are Gonna Roll.” In 1994, he released his fourth album, Every Little Word, producing two Top 40 hits. That same year he got inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.

“There is an indescribable place on that stage where it feels like you are a part of history, a very fine history, and I really like that a lot. I felt the magic of the Opry the first time, and, so, I came to it in amazement.” – Hal Ketchum

Thank you, Hal❤️ pic.twitter.com/MBIolt6srd

— Grand Ole Opry (@opry) November 24, 2020

Another song, “Stay Forever” (written with Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), reached the country top ten in 1995.

Ketchum has acted, appearing in the films Heartbreak Hotel and Maverick. He’s also collaborated with singers Dolly Parton and Shelby Lynne.

*Feature image: Grand Ole Opry’s Twitter

Phoebe Bridgers Releases Charity Holiday Track ‘If We Make It Through December’

Phoebe Bridgers Releases Charity Holiday Track ‘If We Make It Through December’

American Blues Scene Staff

Produced by Tony Berg, Ethan Gruska and Phoebe, and accompanied solely by Ethan on piano, the beautiful, melancholy rendition of Merle Haggard’s 1974 track is a fitting end to a volatile year

In keeping with her annual tradition of releasing a charity track for the holidays, Phoebe Bridgers‘ latest song is a cover of Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December.”

Produced by Tony Berg, Ethan Gruska and Phoebe, and accompanied solely by Ethan on piano, the beautiful, melancholy rendition of Haggard’s 1974 track is a fitting end to a volatile year. Last year, Bridgers’ holiday single benefited Planned Parenthood. This year, proceeds from sales and streams of “If We Make It Through December” will go directly to Downtown Women’s Center, an organization in Los Angeles focused exclusively on serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness and formerly homeless women.

Bridgers released an EP Copycat Killer – a collaboration with Grammy-winning arranger and string player Rob Moose – last week. Punisher, her sophomore solo album, was released in June to universal acclaim and has cemented Bridgers’ reputation as one of the most gifted songwriters of her generation.

Phoebe Bridgers

*Feature image photo credit: Nona Limmen courtesy of Grandstand Media

Keep On Dancing With Bon Bon Vivant!

Keep On Dancing With Bon Bon Vivant!

American Blues Scene Staff

On December 4th at 7pm CST Bon Bon Vivant will perform an outdoor, socially distanced release show at The Broadside in New Orleans AND that show will be livestreamed directly to their Facebook page

Bon Bon Vivant wants to party! The New Orleans-based band is set to release their upcoming album, Dancing In The Darkness, on December 4th. Combining traditional New Orleans jazz, global beats, ska and klezmer, the band is ready to (safely) dance with you.

Keeping with a busy livestream schedule, the band is planning a release show for EVERYONE to safely enjoy. On December 4th at 7pm CST Bon Bon Vivant will perform an outdoor, socially distanced release show at The Broadside in New Orleans AND that show will be livestreamed directly to their Facebook page.

Bon Bon Vivant electrifies audiences across the country with a signature sound reflective of their wild hearts. BBV pays homage to the bawdy New Orleans sound while infusing a mysterious klezmer spark, dark ballads and up- tempo dance rock. BBV’s unique instrumentation, messages of hope and an ability to connect, both through livestreams and in person has proven an inspiring resilience despite our turbulent times. This is a band that leans into life with hope, change, and genre bending original songs that are as fierce as they are heartbreaking- a true celebration of life in minor keys.

On December 4th 2020 BBV will release their new full length studio album Dancing In The Darkness. This collection is a comment on finding celebration in life even when things aren’t easy. This dark yet joyful album shows many sides of the band. “Hell or High Water,” is a declaration that we must stick to our convictions no matter what. While “This Year” is the acknowledgement of losing loved ones along the journey. “Ship Is Sinking” is a vibey song full of horns, gang vocals and shared sentiments. This insightful song encourages us all to find good in the world even as we sing and dance our way to the end. “If This Ship Is Sinking Why Don’t We Go Out Singing.”

Look for Dancing In The Darkness everywhere on December 4th 2020.

Bon Bon Vivant

The Heavy Hours Release New Song ‘Desperate Days’

The Heavy Hours Release New Song ‘Desperate Days’

Big Hassle Media

Adopting the band’s name from a line in William Butler Yeats’ ‘Autobiographies,’ The Heavy Hours emerged, eager to explore a long-standing fascination with time-honored songwriting and production

“Desperate Days” is the third single released by the Cincinnati quartet The Heavy Hours. The new song was produced by Simone Felice (The Lumineers, Jade Bird, Matt Maeson), and produced and mixed by David Baron in the Catskill Mountains. “Desperate Days” follows the release of past two singles, “Ache” and “Don’t Walk Away” (co-written with The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach).

The band issued the following statement:

“Desperate Days” is the light of the sun after a storm; the reward that comes after hope during hard times. It’s a song we wrote during our quarantine experience; it’s all about the silver linings of this strange year. We sent ideas and melodies over the phone to each other, wrote the lyrics to it on a rainy day in Ohio, and then recorded the track on a rainy day in Woodstock NY.

Adopting the band’s name from a line in William Butler Yeats’ Autobiographies, The Heavy Hours emerged, eager to explore a long-standing fascination with time-honored songwriting and production. Their music soon made its way to Dan Auerbach, who invited his fellow Ohioans to visit his Easy Eye Sound headquarters in Nashville for a few days of collaborative songwriting.

The sessions were both productive and a revelation, inspiring the band to strip away some of their previous artifice in order to touch a more universal chord. Armed with a cache of new songs and innumerable ideas, The Heavy Hours traveled to rural Catskills in New York state to record under the aegis of producer Simone Felice. The sessions proved incredibly fruitful, yielding a collection of distinctive new music that serves as an undeniable milestone on The Heavy Hours’ ongoing creative journey.

The Heavy Hours

*Images courtesy of Jim Merlis

Black Friday Release Reveals a Little Richard You Never Knew

Black Friday Release Reveals a Little Richard You Never Knew

Don Wilcock

Little Richard was way more than a novelty, and these releases prove it

If you remember him at all, you probably think of Little Richard as the piano-pounding manic madman behind “Tutti Frutti,” the pompadoured pretty boy who put the rock into roll, screaming his way up the charts in the mid-’50s — challenging Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis to a bar height of excesses they could only dream of reaching.

Southern Child (dropping on Black Friday), along with four other Little Richard retrospective albums already available, will forever change the general view of “the architect of rock and roll.” Southern Child is being released on yellow vinyl. It is an album of country music originals Little Richard recorded for Reprise Records in 1972. Yeah, you read that right. I said country!

Photo courtesy of Omnivore Recordings

The timing is appropriate. Friday, November 27th also happens to be Record Store Day. Southern Child was never released in any form until 2005 and then only in a Reprise Records retrospective. It’s the last of five recent Omnivore Records’ Little Richard reissues and will be available in CD format on December 4th. Already available are The Rill Thing, The Second Coming, King of Rock and Roll and Lifetime Friend. Together they represent a body of work that proves Little Richard was far more than a one trick pony who put white artists like Bill Haley and Gene Vincent on notice that they didn’t start the explosion that set kids dancing on American Bandstand. Little Richard did. “Good Golly Miss Molly” and “Slippin’ and Slidin’” sold the most records, but he moved way beyond those early sounds.

“If we don’t throw stuff into the future, it’s going to take someone like me 100 years from now to rediscover some of these things because I look at it as sort of the digital chasm” says Cheryl Pawelski, the Grammy-winning co-founder of Omnivore Records and the visionary behind these five rereleases. She’s spent 25 years “preserving, curating and championing some of music’s greatest legacies.”

Richard Penniman (his real name) told me in 1986, “I’ve never stopped. If you notice, you constantly see me in the media somewhere because I figure if water falls on a rock long enough, it’ll break it. But it has to be consistent. Consistency counts, you know. I’ve put up an umbrella to catch the water. The water has stopped falling on the rock. The rock was almost broken, but it still prevails.”

Southern Child was never released in any form until 2005 and then only in a Reprise Records retrospective. This last of five recent Omnivore Little Richard reissues will be available in CD format on December 4th.

“You know we went from configuration to configuration (vinyl records, cassettes, eight tracks, CDs, and streaming) in the 20th century, and some stuff was rightfully left behind,” says Pawelski. “And some things were wrongly left behind. If we don’t catch some of those right now, they’re not going to be digitized, and they’re not going to be thrown across this chasm. It’s going to take people a long time to root this stuff out and find it again. So, I’m trying to throw as much of this across as I possibly can.”

The overarching impression I get from listening to all five of these recordings is that Little Richard’s best remembered hits were a tiny fraction of his recorded legacy, that he should be remembered with the same level of awe and respect we accord Ray Charles and that Little Richard’s frequent verbal insistences that he was being minimized by pop music media were warranted.

“I’m not the founder of rhythm and blues,” he told me in 1994. “Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Guitar Slim, John Lee Hooker and Fats Domino was playing blues at the time. But I am the one who took rhythm and blues and made it into rock. Rhythm and blues is the foundation of rock and roll, you understand me? I’m the innovator. I am the emancipator. I am the originator and the architect of rock and roll. I didn’t say nuthin’ about no king and all that. The architect!! You understand me?”

At the time in 1994, Little Richard was touring with a crack band that included the great Travis Wammack, guitar player and songwriter who plays on several of these five new rereleases. “We’re still doing it, and we want everybody to come out and see it,” Little Richard begged. “See history alive! Don’t just read about it. Don’t just hear about it. Come out and see history alive. The originator! The emancipator! The architect! And just see it for yourself and watch this old guy that still looks good walk out on that floor and let go. You can ask for no more.”

These albums prove that his braggadocio was not simply hyperbole. The body of work here, which only represents a fraction of his total recorded output, exhibits not just simple eclecticism but is cumulatively outstanding with aspects that border on genius.

Southern Child recorded in 1972 was produced by Robert “Bumps” Blackwell, the same man who produced Richard’s mid-50s hits on Specialty. He wrote or co-wrote all 14 tracks. Bill Dahl, who wrote the excellent liner notes to all five reissues, says it succinctly: “Unlike his 1950s rock ’n roll pioneer peers who stuck with the tried and true approaches that made them legend in the first place, Little Richard wasn’t scared to take stylistic chances in the slightest.”

The songs here have me flashing back on Ray Charles’ “Georgia on My Mind” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” and the fact that Reprise never issued Southern Child is a glaring example of the corporate record industry’s emphasis on profit over art. This is great work, but how do you sell a black banshee singing mainstream country with a Georgia twang to a market that only knows him as a guy who plays piano with his feet?

Lifetime Friend, released in 1986, also was produced by Blackwell in L.A. with top session musicians. It is loaded with subtle references to religion that had helped Richard in his struggle against drug addiction.

Omnivore Recordings

In 1994 he told me that he tried in his career to separate his music from his Christian beliefs: “I love God and I’m just grateful to God. I know without him we can’t do nuthin’. I learned and now I understand that religion is my personal belief in God and my personal faith in God, and I learned rock and roll music is my living. This is my craft. This is my form of art I present to the world, and this is how I make my living, and so its two different things altogether.” Richard had released gospel records between the time he left Specialty Records in 1957where he recorded his biggest hits and 1970 when he joined Reprise.

Lifetime Friend opens with “Great Gosh A’Mighty,” an alternate take on a song from the soundtrack of Down and Out in Beverly Hills, a Richard Dreyfus film in which Little Richard appears as Orvis Goodnight, a character not unlike himself. In this version he clearly sings “Great God a’mighty” while the background singers enunciate, “Great gosh a’mighty.”

Throughout, he presents his religious beliefs “in code” with references like “You know he’s always on time/He’s the man who holds me in his hand/He can change your life” from “Operator” and on the title cut: “I thank you for helping me find my way/You gave your life to set me free/As long as I live you’ll always be a lifetime friend of me.”

The Rill Thing was his first Reprise LP recorded in 1970 live at Rick Hall’s Fame Studios in Muscle Sholes, Alabama, the home of hits by Aretha Franklyn, Joe Tex, Wilson Pickett, and Etta James. The title cut is in a “Shaft” smooth cool mode. The single “Freedom Blues” went to number 47 on the charts. “Greenwood, Mississippi” sounds like Creedence Clearwater Revival. There’s a cover of the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There” and nowhere to be found is the patented pounding piano.

The Second Coming best lives up to the hyperbole of the five LP titles. Blackwell produced the session at the Record Plant in Los Angeles with a sharp group of sessions musicians. Released in 1972, it finds Richard in fine voice even if he sounds nothing like he did on his ’50s hits.

The King of Rock and Roll was recorded with a studio band in L.A. and sounds like it. Produced by H.B. Barnum who wrote the title track, the rest of the album consists of covers including The Stones’ “Brown Sugar,” “Midnight Special, ” the Temptations’ “The Way You Do The Things You Do” and Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” If that sounds like a hodgepodge, it is.

Little Richard was way more than a novelty, and these releases prove it.

Of his touring band in 1994, he said, “I think that if it means you make less money and a better band you should do it to give your audience the best.” The same can be said of his recordings.

“When you’re out there for the money, you just pick up anything. It’s more than that. You’re supposed to love your craft, and you’re dedicated to what you’re doing. I care about what I’m doing, and I think a person should become a perfectionist to make sure that things are perfect with their music. It should be the best that you can give.”

*Feature image: Specialty Records Archives

Selwyn Birchwood To Release ‘Living In a Burning House’

Selwyn Birchwood To Release ‘Living In a Burning House’

Alligator Records

“They say everything is better when it’s made with love,” says Birchwood. “That’s how we play our music and that’s how we made the new album.”

Groundbreaking young blues visionary Selwyn Birchwood will release his highly anticipated third Alligator album, Living In A Burning House, on Friday, January 29, 2021. The rising guitar and lap steel player calls his original music “electric swamp funkin’ blues,” defined by raw and soulful musicianship played with fire-and-brimstone fervor. His gritty, unvarnished vocals draw his audience deep inside his unforgettable tales of love, passion, pain and pleasure. No other band on the current blues scene is built quite like Birchwood’s. In addition to Selwyn’s electrifying guitar and lap steel playing, the other featured instrument is Regi Oliver’s driving baritone sax. The group is rounded out by bass, drums and, for the first time, keyboards.

Wanting to capture the power of the now larger band, Birchwood wrote and arranged 13 new songs, and brought in famed Grammy Award-winning musician Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Susan Tedeschi) to produce. From the rocking opener “I’d Climb Mountains“ to the sweet soul of “She’s A Dime“ and “One More Time” to the hair-raising “Revelation,” Living In A Burning House features some of the most vividly striking writing on today’s blues scene. Birchwood’s voice and vision are clear, his sound is edgy and compelling, and his stories are memorable and lasting.

The title track from Living In A Burning House was released as a single in June 2020.

According to Birchwood, “I tell my stories in my own way, with my own voice. You won’t ever hear me on stage telling someone else’s story. Muddy Waters, B.B. King and John Lee Hooker all told their own stories. That’s what I’m doing.”

Since the 2014 release of his Alligator Records debut, Don’t Call No Ambulance, Birchwood’s meteoric rise from playing small Florida clubs to headlining international festival stages is nothing short of phenomenal. The album received the Blues Music Award and Living Blues Critics’ Award for Best Debut Album Of 2014, and he won the 2015 Blues Blast Rising Star Award.

Birchwood and his band have crisscrossed the U.S. and Europe repeatedly, delivering unforgettable live performances. They have appeared domestically at festivals including The Chicago Blues Festival, Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival, The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, The Tampa Bay Blues Festival, The North Atlantic Blues Festival, The King Biscuit Blues Festival as well as on The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise and Joe Bonamassa’s Keeping The Blues Alive At Sea. Internationally, they have performed at The Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival, Jazz a Vienne in France, the Rawa Blues Festival in Poland, the Moulin Blues Festival in the Netherlands, the Ottawa Blues Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival in Canada, the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, as well as playing concerts in Spain, Norway, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Belgium and Mexico.

“I write and sing what I know,” says Birchwood, whose musical innovations are as expansive as his influences are deep. With Living In A Burning House, Selwyn Birchwood is looking forward to winning over thousands of new fans. “They say everything is better when it’s made with love,” says Birchwood. “That’s how we play our music and that’s how we made the new album. I want my audience to say, ‘I know exactly what that feels like,’ when a song hits them. Because that’s when it stops just being music and starts being medicine. After all, we are all stricken with the condition of being human.”

Selwyn Birchwood

*Feature image credit Rich McKie courtesy of Alligator Records

‘It Was The Music’ Series About Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams ft. Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Lucinda Williams, and More

‘It Was The Music’ Series About Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams ft. Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Lucinda Williams, and More

Big Hassle Media

All-star cast includes Jackson Browne, Rosanne Cash, Shawn Colvin, William Bell, Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, Jorma Kaukonen, Buddy Miller, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Lucinda Williams, and many more!

Red Poppy Films has announced the premiere of It Was The Music, a film in 10 episodes chronicling the lives and love of veteran musicians Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Mark Moskowitz (Stone Reader), It Was The Music premieres Sunday, December 13; new episodes will debut every Sunday (excluding January 3, followed by two episodes available on January 10). 

It Was The Music is both a musical odyssey and deeply personal love story about two musicians who, in search of what they call “music utopia”, step off the tour bus and into the limelight to make it on their own. A 3x GRAMMY® Award-winning multi-instrumentalist, producer, singer-songwriter, and bandleader, Larry Campbell is a true veteran hailed for his defining work with such artists as Levon Helm, Bob Dylan, The Black Crowes, and many more.

Photo courtesy of Jim Merlis

Known for her resonant alto and passion for music “that comes from the dirt,” Teresa Williams is an exceptional singer/actor known for her highly acclaimed roles as Sara Carter in Keep On The Sunny Side and the title role in Always….Patsy Cline as well as her serving as a stellar vocalist for Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Phil Lesh and Friends and Peter Wolf, to name but a few. Having at long last set forth on their own joint musical career, It Was The Music sees the couple packing their bags, guitars, amps, and 30-year marriage into their SUV and setting out across America to sing their own extraordinary songs along with riveting interpretations of beloved gospel, blues, country, and classic rock ‘n’ roll.

It Was The Music is joined today by a stellar soundtrack collecting previously unreleased music from Campbell and Williams, including very special new renditions of songs made famous by The Band, Grateful Dead, Little Feat, Buffalo Springfield, and more, performed alongside such friends as Patty Griffin,  Buddy Miller, Bill Payne, and the late Levon Helm’s world famous Midnight Ramble Band. The first track, “It Ain’t Gonna Be A Good Night, is available today ahead of the December 6 release of the soundtrack. The full album soundtrack can be pre-ordered now.

The film follows Campbell and Williams over 15 months on the road, from its starting point on a Friday afternoon on Williams’ seventh generation farm in Peckerwood Point, TN, to Campbell’s native New York City and the couple’s home in Woodstock, NY, to recording studios, clubs, and theatres across the country. Highlights throughout include exclusive live performances from intimate venues and jam-packed music festivals, culminating in its grand finale with selections from the star-studded “The Last Waltz 40th Anniversary Celebration” presented by Lincoln Center at NYC’s Damrosch Park.

It Was The Music reveals the magic and process of creating and performing music as a couple, often captured off-stage in remarkably private, candid moments – on back porches and backyards, farm fields and kitchens, remote cabins, dressing rooms, and of course, in church. As their journey moves forward, Campbell and Williams are joined by many of their famous friends, fans, and collaborators, who speak to the ongoing power of American music while hearkening back to a halcyon era when rock ‘n’ roll resonated with an entire generation to change the world. Along with the couple’s own personal story, It Was The Music includes exclusive interviews and never-before-seen performances from Jackson Browne, Rosanne Cash, William Bell, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Phil Lesh, Jerry Douglas, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, Garland Jeffreys, Happy Traum, David Bromberg, and many more. But through it all, It Was The Music is first and foremost a love story, as Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams show how love can create the music and how the music can bring us together.

It Was The Music is about what music means to us,” says director Mark Moskowitz, “the way my film, Stone Reader, is about what books means to us, and my upcoming film, Art Stops Here, is about what art means to us. In the end, these films are about us, how people respond to the arts. Not quite documentary, not quite reality, not quite memoir, not quite even story, It Was The Music is referential, memory-like. It’s allusive. Things touch other things…much like a song.”

 

TRACKLISTING

Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams – Samson & Delilah

Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams – Three Days in a Row

Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams – It Ain’t Gonna Be a Good Night

Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams – Did You Love Me At All?

Buddy Miller with The Midnight Ramble Band – Up On Cripple Creek

Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams – The Poor Old Dirt Farmer

Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton – Unlucky Blues

Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams – Big River

Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams (with Bill Payne) – Willin’

Jerry Douglas – On A Monday

Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams – You’ve Got To Righten That Wrong

Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams – Sugaree

Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller with The Midnight Ramble Band – For What It’s Worth

Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams – Your Long Journey

Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams with The Midnight Ramble Band – Chest Fever

 

Larry & Teresa

 

*Feature image courtesy of Larry and Teresa’s Facebook

 

The Late Reverend John Wilkins’ ‘Trouble’ Arrives on Vinyl Tomorrow

The Late Reverend John Wilkins’ ‘Trouble’ Arrives on Vinyl Tomorrow

American Blues Scene Staff

John’s prophetic vision of the world is exquisitely presented

The late, great gospel blues singer-guitarist Reverend John Wilkins‘ last album, Trouble, is out tomorrow on blue and black vinyl via Goner Records. “Trouble is a ray of sunshine in the world’s darkest hour,” says American Blues Scene’s Don Wilcock.

Trouble was recorded at the world famous Royal Studios in Memphis, TN with Grammy-nominated producer Amos Harvey and eminent engineer Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell (Solomon Burke, Al Green, Cody Chesnutt). Rev. Wilkins – who grew up just a few blocks away from the iconic studio – was backed by a stellar lineup of Memphis session giants including guitarist Kevin Cubbins (Beale Street Caravan), keyboardist Rev. Charles Hodges (Al Green, Ann Peebles, North Mississippi Allstars), bassist Jimmy Kinnard (Issac Hayes, Al Green), drummer Steve Potts (Greg Allman, Tony Joe White, Neil Young, Cat Power). In addition, the album has harmonies and call-and-response backing vocals from Wilkins’ three beloved daughters, Tangela Longstreet, Joyce Jones, and Tawana Cunningham.

Sadly, the Reverend passed away Oct 6, 2020 (four days before his 77th birthday) from the after-effects of his battle with COVID-19 but his love and spirit lives on in his music for us all.

 Listen to “You Can’t Hurry God” below.

“A twist on the old saw that God moves in mysterious ways, this song written in 2010 was prescient then and ‘right on time’ now,” Wilcock thoughtfully writes. Continuing, “History is repeating itself. Reverend John Wilkins’ “You Can’t Hurry God” mirrors his father’s message on ‘Prodigal Son,’ in that it’s an anthem with a Biblical message and a back story of hope for a civilization searching for miracles.”

*Feature image credit: Adam Smith

John Mayall Announces New Single Ft. Buddy Miller and Written by Bobby Rush

John Mayall Announces New Single Ft. Buddy Miller and Written by Bobby Rush

Devious Planet

John’s latest studio album is set for a late spring/early summer release

John Mayall is pleased to announce the release of his latest single, “I’m Good As Gone,” out on all platforms, Friday, November 20th via Forty Below Records in honor of his 87th birthday.

The Godfather of British Blues serves up a deep and funky groove for a song about love on the outs. Written by Grammy winner Bobby Rush, the track features Americana legend Buddy Miller on lead baritone guitar with Mayall mixing it up on Hammond B3 organ. Also, on hand are Mayall’s dynamic Chicago rhythm section of Greg Rzab on bass guitar and Jay Davenport on drums, along with Austin’s Carolyn Wonderland on guitar. The track was produced by Eric Corne and John.

John effuses, “as funky as you can get…It’s a feast for all guitar lovers, with Buddy Miller’s powerful baritone guitar leading the way.” And in response, Buddy said that “John gave us the roadmap and blueprint and remains a fearless inspiring soulful pioneer. What an honor to be a small part of a great project.”

*Feature image: David Gomez

Listen: Steve Earle Covers Late Son Justin Townes Earle’s ‘Harlem River Blues’

Listen: Steve Earle Covers Late Son Justin Townes Earle’s ‘Harlem River Blues’

Lauren Leadingham

Steve Earle’s tribute LP is slated to be released on Justin’s birthday

Back in August when we lost Americana artist Justin Townes Earle, musician-father Steve Earle announced shortly afterwards that he would honor his son by recording an album covering his songs. Early next year, Steve will release J.T, which will include 10 of Justin’s songs. The album will also feature one new original song that Steve wrote for Justin called “Last Words.” 100% of the artist advance and royalties will go to a trust for Etta St. James Earle, Justin’s three-year-old daughter.

Photo courtesy of New West Records

“The record is called J.T. because Justin was never called anything else until he was nearly grown,” Steve says in a statement. “Well, when he was little, I called him Cowboy. For better or worse, right or wrong, I loved Justin Townes Earle more than anything else on this earth. That being said, I made this record, like every other record I’ve ever made… for me. It was the only way I knew to say goodbye.”

Today, Steve Earle has shared his rendition of “Harlem River Blues,” the title track from Justin’s 2010 album of the same name. The song was re-recorded by Steve and his band at Electric Lady Studios in New York City. J.T. is due out January 4, 2021 on what would have been Justin’s 39th birthday. While the circumstances surrounding the making of the album are sorrowful, it serves as a beautiful celebration of a life lived passionately and purposefully.

Listen to both versions of “Harlem River Blues” below.

J.T.:

01 I Don’t Care

02 Ain’t Glad I’m Leaving

03 Maria

04 Far Away in Another Town

05 They Killed John Henry

06 Turn Out My Lights

07 Lone Pine Hill

08 Champagne Corolla

09 The Saint of Lost Causes

10 Harlem River Blues

11 Last Words

 

*Feature image credit: Sara Sharpe

Fourth Annual Allman Family Revival Announced in Celebration of Gregg Allman’s Birthday

Fourth Annual Allman Family Revival Announced in Celebration of Gregg Allman’s Birthday

Big Hassle Media

Featuring the Allman Betts Band and special guests Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie), Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), Shannon McNally, Alex Orbison, JD Simo, Patrick Sweany and more to be announced

The Allman Family Revival will be returning for its fourth year in celebration of Gregg Allman‘s birthday. This year the show will take place in Nashville, TN at the iconic Ryman Auditorium. Tickets will be on sale beginning Friday, October 13 at 10am Central. There will be limited and socially distanced in person attendances, as well as streaming ticketing options available. Purchase tickets HERE.

The Allman Family Revival started as a celebration of music and life in honor of what would have been Gregg Allman’s 70th Birthday. It was a party at The Fillmore in San Francisco hosted by his son Devon Allman of Allman Betts Band.

The Allman Family Revival has become a very special year-end tradition for The Allman Betts Band. In 2019 the Revival expanded from San Francisco to Denver and NYC, making the experience even more accessible to fans across the country. The 4+ hour-long shows feature epic jams and guest musicians that have ranged from Robert Randolph, Luther and Cody Dickinson, Marcus King, Samantha Fish, Jimmy Hall, G. Love, Brooklyn Allman, and many, many more.

This year’s show will feature songs from the Allman Betts Band’s 2020 release, Bless Your Heart, and songs from their 2019 debut album, Down To The River. As always, they’ll perform classic Allman Brothers & Gregg Allman songs as well as other fan favorites sprinkled in.

 

*Feature image courtesy of Emily Ginsberg/Big Hassle Media

Johnny & The Mongrels Unveil Heartfelt, Hard-Rockin’ ‘Mama Said’ Today

Johnny & The Mongrels Unveil Heartfelt, Hard-Rockin’ ‘Mama Said’ Today

American Blues Scene Staff

“Mama Said” is the fourth video release from Johnny & The Mongrels’ critically acclaimed album, ‘CREOLE SKIES.’

Johnny & The Mongrels, the fast-rising champions of deep-fried Louisiana music, release their latest video today. Titled “Mama Said,” it celebrates the first lady in all of our lives over a greasy blues guitar lick and the band’s trademark thumping, lowdown groove, as lead singer/songwriter Johnny Ryan soulfully recounts the lessons learned from his mama, including “Sing loud, sing proud, give em all that you got.”

“Mama Said” is the fourth video release from Johnny & The Mongrels’ critically acclaimed album, CREOLE SKIES. Director Jim Mimna shot the video at Ryan’s Colorado ranch, with bassist/singer Jeff Bostic, keyboardist/singer Bill McKay, drummer Eddie Christmas and bass legend Lee Allen Zeno rocking in the studio as kids play, dance and clap along. The music and the visuals remind children and grownups of who inspired them, got them ready for the real world but will welcome them back whenever they need to come home.

It is a minor miracle that one of the greatest advocates for Louisiana music hails from Colorado, where somehow the two founding members, Ryan and bass guitarist/singer Jeff Bostic, got their fingers on the pulse of swamp blues, zydeco, raw soul, Bourbon Street jazz and all the other traditions that have made the Pelican State the fountainhead of American music.

Produced by JoeBaby Michaels (Neville~Jacobs, Shaun Murphy) and Scott Sharrard (Gregg Allman, Levon Helm), CREOLE SKIES is available for download on all major platforms. Critics have lavished praise on its authenticity and musical mastery. In Deep Roots David McGee calls their music “meaningful and built to last … fresh and true to the human experience … a beautiful thing.” In Making A Scene Magazine, Richard Ludmerer describes CREOLE SKIES as “an auspicious debut,” while in Music Matters Magazine Austin Carlyle proclaims it “soulful and funky, with great stories and nonstop jamming … a Top 10 album of the year” and ParcBench’s Greg Victor promises that this “superb” music “will transport you to the Bayou and beyond. Your soul will be grateful for the musical voyage.”

Raves have also run in American Songwriter, Relix, Americana Highways, Fervor Coulee, This Week in Americana, American Blues Scene, Blues Blast Magazine, Living Blues Magazine, Las Vegas Tribune, Digital Journal and Center Stage Magazine. Previous Mongrels videos have run in high rotation on broadcast outlets such as TCN’s Americana playlist, Ditty TV and IndiMusic TV. The band has been heard over WUSB-FM, WWOZ-FM and other major market radio stations. CREOLE SKIES held the number one spot on the AirPlay Direct Americana Chart in both July and August.

Johnny & The Mongrels are a high-powered, New-Orleans-influenced band that has been described as “the perfect combination of a funk-filled heart and a deep Bayou soul.” Its founders, currently based in Fort Collins, Colorado, are singer/songwriter Johnny Ryan and singer/bassist/songwriter Jeff Bostic. The band has played many prominent venues and music festivals nationwide, sharing stages along with way with Scott Sharrard, George Porter Jr., Ivan Neville, Bob Malone (John Fogerty), Deanna Bogart, Shakedown Street, Samantha Fish, Honey Island Swamp Band and Bobby Messano (Steve Winwood).

Johnny & The Mongrels

*Feature image credit: Jim Mimna courtesy of So Much Moore Media

Newport Folk Festival Releases Premium Double Vinyl of ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’

Newport Folk Festival Releases Premium Double Vinyl of ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’

American Blues Scene Staff

Limited to 1,000 hand-numbered copies, each pre-order comes with an immediate free digital download of the recording.

Recorded during the finale of the 2018 Newport Folk Festival, A Change Is Gonna Come was a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between some of our very dear friends. Featuring Jon Batiste, Mavis Staples, Leon Bridges, Gary Clark Jr, Valerie June, Brandi Carlile, Maggie Rogers, Rachael Price, Chris Thile, Bermuda Triangle and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band backed up by the inimitable Dap-Kings.

A Change Is Gonna Come is being issued as a limited edition 2-record set pressed at RTI on premium 180-gram vinyl and housed in a genuine old style tip-on gatefold jacket. Limited to 1,000 hand-numbered copies, each pre-order comes with an immediate free digital download of the recording. Vinyl will ship in early 2021.

Fans can pre-order the album here today. Proceeds will support Newport Festivals Foundation’s ongoing initiatives to support musicians in need and music programs across the country.

“In the Spring of 2018, I was in the famed Studio A of Electric Lady Studios watching Jon Batiste and The Dap-Kings blow the minds of those fortunate to attend one of our first live Newport Festivals Fundraisers. Immediately afterward, sitting with Jon in the control room digesting what we all had just experienced, we both knew this needed to be witnessed by more than just a handful of lucky souls,” says Newport Festivals Executive Producer Jay Sweet. “And so the idea was born to close the 2018 Newport Folk Festival with a set we called ‘A Change Is Going to Come’, a celebration of the festival’s storied history with the civil rights movement.”

“When Jon broke into his captivating version of the Star-Spangled Banner, it became evident we were part of something historic. It was as much a celebration of the past as it was a starting point for the future – a reminder that so often in history, movements begin with music. It’s a small miracle that the audio we captured manages to convey some of the energy of that afternoon – it doesn’t happen often. I hope that after listening to this record you’re filled with the same feeling that I and everyone else at Fort Adams experienced.”

The impact of this year’s cancellation has been felt deeply throughout the community as Newport Festivals Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)3, relies on the money it makes each year at the festivals in order to carry out its work.Thanks to the support of our Newport Folk and Jazz fans, the foundation has been able to support music programs in our own backyard of Newport and all across America. In addition to its year round work, the foundation also created the Newport Festivals Musician Relief Fund to help mitigate financial hardship for musicians with over six figures in donations to date. We encourage fans to consider making a tax-deductible donation (newportfestivals.org/donate). Help us continue the festivals, support year-round music education initiatives, and provide grants to artists in need.

Created by George Wein (now 95) in 1954 and 1959 respectively, The Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals are some of the longest running music festivals in history. Newport Jazz has been home to legendary performances by Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, and Herbie Hancock while Newport Folk has had its stages graced by its co-founder Pete Seeger, Johnny Cash and of course Bob Dylan. Widely considered two of the most treasured cultural institutions in American history, they are known for their once-in-a-lifetime collaborations and more for what’s not announced than what is last year’s folk festival alone saw surprise performances from Dolly Parton, Jim James, James Taylor and even Kermit The Frog.

Newport Festivals Foundation fosters the legacy and expands the impact of its Festivals through educational initiatives that celebrate innovation while preserving the deep traditions inherent in Jazz and Folk music. The Foundation’s goal is to offer opportunity, inspire through exposure and facilitate the collection of resources needed for musicians to celebrate and innovate. The focus on creating unique experiences to spark engagement is accomplished through a variety of initiatives, including instrument donations and performances at schools throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Newport Festivals

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram Gifts Fans With New Holiday Song

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram Gifts Fans With New Holiday Song

Alligator Records

The song features Kingfish playing some of the most emotionally blistering guitar he has yet recorded, and singing with pleading, soulful urgency

On November 12th, 5X Blues Music Award winner and GRAMMY nominee Christone “Kingfish” Ingram premiered his first ever holiday song, “Ghost From Christmas Past.”

The recording was officially released on Friday, November 13, and available on all popular streaming and download services.

“Ghost From Christmas Past” tells a timeless tale of love gone wrong. The song features Kingfish playing some of the most emotionally blistering guitar he has yet recorded, and singing with pleading, soulful urgency. “Ghost From Christmas Past” was written by Tom Hambridge and Richard Fleming, and was recorded in Nashville at famed Ocean Way Studio.

Since the release of his Alligator debut Kingfish, the 21-year-old musician has earned mountains of praise from press, radio and fans alike. In addition to his Grammy nomination, he won five 2020 Blues Music Awards, including Album Of The Year, Best Guitarist and Best Emerging Artist. He also won four Living Blues Awards and two Blues Blast Awards. When not headlining his own tours, Ingram has performed with Buddy Guy, Vampire Weekend and Jason Isbell to name a few.

I’ve always loved the holiday season. Obviously, this year will be a bit different considering what we all have had to manage. But, I’m hoping my first holiday song can bring people a bit of cheer as we kick off the holidays. – Kingfish

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

*Feature image credit: Rory Doyle

Dion Joins Forces With Amy Grant and Joe Bonamassa For Two New Christmas Songs

Dion Joins Forces With Amy Grant and Joe Bonamassa For Two New Christmas Songs

American Blues Scene Staff

Dion’s late career juggernaut continues with “Hello Christmas” featuring Amy Grant and “You Know It’s Christmas” with ‘Blues With Friends’ collaborator Joe Bonamassa

With Thanksgiving looming, Rock Hall of Famer Dion returns yet again, this time with two brand new holiday themed tracks. “Hello Christmas” is out now and “You Know It’s Christmas” is out next Friday through KTBA (Keeping The Blues Alive) Records, the label founded by Joe Bonamassa and his management team. KTBA Records released Dion’s Blues With Friends, a massively successful album that has continued to top the Billboard Blues Chart since its release this past June.

Photo courtesy of Bob Merlis
Photo courtesy of Bob Merlis

As with Blues With Friends, the new tracks find Dion joined by top-flight artists in support of his efforts.  “Hello Christmas” features backing vocals by six-time GRAMMY® winner Amy Grant while Blues Rock Titan Joe Bonamassa joins Dion on “You Know It’s Christmas.” The two sides are reflective of the versality Dion has displayed as a multi-format singer and songwriter over the course of his phenomenal career that has spanned seven decades.

Both of the new songs were written by Dion along with Mike Aquilina who co-wrote many of songs that are heard on Blues With Friends. Dion revealed the impetus for following up that album with “Hello Christmas.”

I was talking with a friend about how the world this year can use a little life-giving love and harmony.  I told him that Christmas was the grace that changed my life and that I was looking forward to a shot of that this year. The next day I got together with Mike and I picked up the guitar, started singing and words started to flow.

Later I was walking with my buddy [and co-writer] Steve Bottari and he started singing along – with some new words.  The song just seemed to write itself, a gift to finish off this challenging year. From the start I heard Amy Grant’s voice on it; she just sounds like Christmas to me.  I sent the track to her and she fell in love with it and added a beautiful counter-melody which makes it really sublime.

Amy Grant commented, “I was so happy to join my old friend Dion on ‘Hello Christmas.’ The song makes me smile every time I hear it.”

As far as “You Know It’s Christmas” is concerned, Dion commented, “Blues is my home and I wanted to write a Christmas song with that feeling.  Mike suggested a ‘brag blues’ [in the tradition of “The Wanderer”] so we thought what would a bluesman brag about at Christmas?  How he bought just the right gift for his girl and how she’s going to love it!  Christmas is all about giving and I think the song catches that vibe perfectly.  Joe Bonamassa gave me a great Christmas present by playing lead on it.”

Bonamassa remarked, “It is always an honor to play alongside Dion, he is a National Treasure!”

Blues With Friends offered thirteen original songs with Dion joined by a wide range of friends and admirers including Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons, Brian Setzer, Sonny Landreth, Samantha Fish, John Hammond Jr., Joe Louis Walker, Rory Block , Jimmy and Jerry Vivino, vintage guitar guru Joe Menza as well as icons Stevie Van Zandt, Patti Scialfa, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Paul Simon and, as mentioned, Joe Bonamassa.

*Feature image courtesy of Dion’s Facebook

Danny Zolli and Friends Release ‘Phoenix’

Danny Zolli and Friends Release ‘Phoenix’

American Blues Scene Staff

Zolli spearheaded this studio project of “Phoenix.” According to him it was “so I could try to stay connected, and to stay creative with a fellowship of incredibly talented pals.”

There are just some voices that stand out in the world. That of Broadway tenor Danny Zolli is among them. From Jesus Christ Superstar to 100 Years of Broadway to the World Rock Symphony Orchestra, Zolli has been winning over audiences worldwide for over 20 years.

Thanks to Covid-19 cancelling the bulk of most performers touring schedules, musicians ultimately found themselves with time on their hands.

Vocalist Zolli spearheaded this studio project of “Phoenix.” According to him it was “so I could try to stay connected, and to stay creative with a fellowship of incredibly talented pals. All of my buddies who played on this song are truly gifted musicians, who all said yes to the project, and all worked remotely, from all over the US & Canada! Incredible!”

Along with Rob Asselstine on piano (World Rock Symphony Orchestra), Jeremy Beck on organ (Bonnie Raitt; Missy Elliott), Rich Levesque on bass (Tom Cochrane; Rik Emmett), Ken Post on drums (World Rock Symphony Orchestra), and Michael J. Wilson on guitar (Tina – The Musical; 50 Years of Rock and Roll), recording began.

Written by Dan Fogelberg and included on his 6th studio album of the same name, “Phoenix” has been covered by other artists including Garth Brooks. Zolli suggested that it stand apart from other versions by having a more rock-oriented approach.

Guitarist Michael J. Wilson, said, “For the guitars specifically, I wanted a lot of different ‘colors’, so there are 2 acoustic guitars, 3 Les Pauls, 2 Stratocasters, 1 Telecaster, and an electric sitar making appearances at various points throughout the song. It was a very rewarding experience for us. The response thus far has been really positive, so we’re currently planning our next project. Stay tuned!”

Find Danny Zolli’s “Phoenix” on iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, and other outlets.

Danny Zolli

Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams to Release Solo Albums Simultaneously on Feb. 26, Toto Livestream Nov. 21

Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams to Release Solo Albums Simultaneously on Feb. 26, Toto Livestream Nov. 21

Steve Karas

Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams announce the Players Club. Mascot Label Group will release solo albums on February 26, 2021.

Band-Mates and Long-Time Collaborators Both Perform On One Another’s Recordings

Steve Lukather aka “Luke” and Joseph Williams will release individual solo albums on February 26, 2021 via The Players Club / Mascot Label Group.  Both artists have made significant contributions to the other’s album. Earlier this year, the label presented “Run To Me” from Luke’s forthcoming release I Found The Sun Again, which can be screened here. Today, the first reveal from Williams’ album titled Denizen Tenant has hit streaming platforms globally.

Williams shares, “’Never Saw You Coming’ is my first opportunity in ages to show my true sound.  Although my album is an eclectic collection of songs, this one tells you what you need to know to get a real sense of the whole. You can see where I’m going vocally for sure. It all starts with ‘Never Saw You Coming,’ plus I thought it was time we had a cool sexy song about death! Enjoy…”

Steve Lukather’s solo album titled I Found The Sun Again was co-produced by Ken Freeman, who also both engineered and mixed the new collection of repertoire.  The players feature many dignitaries that have been in Luke’s life for decades. Amongst those are drummer Gregg Bissonette, keyboardist Jeff Babko, and bassists Jorgen Carlsson and John Pierce. Life-long friend and Toto band-mate David Paich performs piano and organ across the album, while Joseph Williams sang on multiple tracks alongside writing string and horn arrangements and tracking keys on the aforementioned “Run To Me.”  Both Paich and Williams co-wrote that specific composition, while friend and band leader of the All-Starrs, Ringo Starr makes a special appearance on the recording and in the video.  Other co-writers include Stan Lynch, Jeff Babko, and of course Joseph Williams.

Luke shares, “Never had so much fun recording in my life. Painless, fun and easy – and it just flowed.” The repertoire features five new original compositions, and three covers personally selected by Luke. Those are Traffic’s “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” Joe Walsh’s “Welcome To The Club,” and Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs.”  Lukather offers in the liner notes, “ALL these tracks were cut LIVE – no clix – no fix – No rehearsal – one run thru – and record and the whole record was take 2. I did double a few guitar parts and ‘produced up’ a few tunes that are obvious but in the same time frame. I recorded the lead vocal right after we got the take same day. One song a day. Joe took it home and did some BG vocals but that’s it. I wanted to make as honest a record as I could in 2020 with 1970’s inspiration, and recording values, and techniques with a modern sound. Ken did that!” A portion of the proceeds from this album will be directed to The Ed Asner Family Center for Autism. For more information please visit https://www.edasnerfamilycenter.org/.

Joseph Williams’ Denizen Tenant was self-produced outside of the compositions “Black Dahlia” and “No Lessons” which were arranged and produced by Jay Gruska and mixed by Dave Way. The musicians and singers who made contributions in the studio reads like a who’s who of players that have been in the artist’s life over the past four decades. Amongst these contributors are band-mates from Toto David Paich and Steve Lukather. Simon Phillips, Leland Sklar, Lenny Castro, Nathan East, all of whom enjoyed tenures in Toto are also featured players on the album. Additional contributions include performances by Oscar Bugarin, Jay Gruska, Mike Landau, Barbara Gruska, Steve Overton, Dylan Ronan, Hannah Ruick, Steve Tavaloni, Weston Wilson, Ray Williams, and Mark T. Williams.  The album was produced and mixed at Digbyroad Studios, Sherman Oaks, CA.

Denizen Tenant features a dozen new recordings. Amongst these are a cover of The Beatles “If I Fell,” which Williams cites as the one specific song that taught him about the power of harmonies and vocal arrangements. On Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up,” a very special guest performance is featured in his daughter Hannah laying down a vocal track. Across the recorded repertoire, there is a consistent presence of performances by guitarists Steve Lukather and Mike Landau alongside percussionist Lenny Castro.  Williams reflects, “Mike Landau has been playing on my music since I was a teenager and he just knows what to do. His parts always inspire me. They help move me to the next step in the writing process. Steve Lukather is like this as well.” In reference to Lenny, he offers, “He knows exactly what is needed and he will give me so many choices. I always get what I want. Like Mike Landau I’ve been working with Lenny since I was a kid.” The record is a part of the continual, on-going collaboration of the triumvirate of Lukather/Paich/Williams. Williams co-wrote “Liberty Man” with Paich, while the keyboardist performed Hammond B3 on “Black Dahlia,” and shares, “I love writing with Dave. On this tune, like many others, we spent hours talking about history, religion, music, literature, movies etc. Always leading us like excited kids to a subject or concept for the song. Then we start throwing out phrases, collecting and discarding ideas. Shaping and reshaping melodies along the way.”  There are so many contributors with deep connections and history with the artist, all of whom have a significant footprint on Denizen Tenant. For a complete overview, click here: https://joeswill.com/liner-notes/.

The recordings will be available individually on both CD and LP, alongside on all streaming services globally. A limited-edition deluxe edition is available with the two titles bundled together. The pre-order is now live and available here: https://smarturl.it/Steve-Lukather and https://smarturl.it/JosephWilliams. Luke and Williams hope these albums present an enjoyable experience when listened to on shuffle.

Toto will stage a global livestream event on November 21. For details, visit www.totoofficial.com or link.dice.fm/toto.

Over the course of five decades Steve 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. Amongst 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.

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.

Vancouver’s ‘Motorhead of Rockabilly’ to Release ‘Let’s Go’

Vancouver’s ‘Motorhead of Rockabilly’ to Release ‘Let’s Go’

Sarah French

Digital release set for November 26th, 2020

Ready to get your motor running? Well, buckle your seatbelt and prepare for a wild ride with Canada’s premier hillbilly rockers, Cousin Harley!

Photo courtesy of Sarah French

This, their seventh release, harkens back to their roots as a hard-hitting, virtuosic power trio that’s not afraid to genre smash everything from Django Reinhardt to Motorhead with no apologies. Cousin Harley can explode like an active volcano, swing like the Basie Band, and holler like a lonesome hillbilly in the backwoods of Appalachia, all at the same time! As a result, they have achieved a cult-like following, toured extensively, and, have been featured in music publications worldwide.

Let’s Go! was recorded at Afterlife Studios in Vancouver, Canada, in the early spring of 2020. When the pandemic hit Canada and all but shut down the music business, it didn’t stop Paul Pigat, Jesse Cahill, and Keith Picot from finishing another world-class recording. What people need now is music. Fun music! And they are here to provide!

Vancouver’s Cousin Harley is the rocking hillbilly persona of Gretsch endorsee Paul Pigat – multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, producer, and guitarist of epic proportions. Having shared the stage with such legendary artists as Brian Setzer, Jeff Beck, James Burton and, Jakob Dylan, to name a few, he has a hard-earned reputation for delivering the goods and never disappointing.

Called the “Motorhead of Rockabilly” by a delirious fan after a particularly raucous show in Holland, there’s nothing tentative about Cousin Harley’s pedal to the metal approach to this stripped-down form of rock and roll. As Pigat notes, “Cousin Harley’s been my main project for 12 or 13 years now, and people think it’s easy to play rockabilly, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Everyone has to be on board from the first note or it just doesn’t work.” And judging from the people who drove or flew hundreds of miles to attend shows on his last European jaunt, everything’s working just fine.

Let’s Go! will be released on Nov 26th, 2020. It will be available worldwide through Burnside Distribution, iTunes, CD Baby and all other download and streaming services, or directly from paulpigat.com. Cousin Harley is an unstoppable rock ’n’ roll wrecking crew with a blistering, not-to-be-missed live show (whenever that’s allowed again)!

*Feature image courtesy of artist’s Facebook

 

The Lumineers’ Wesley Schultz Announces Livestream on November 15

The Lumineers’ Wesley Schultz Announces Livestream on November 15

American Blues Scene Staff

The Lumineers’ frontman to play show in support of his debut solo covers album, ‘Vignettes’

Wesley Schultz has announced a livestream concert this Sunday, November 15 at 8:00 PM EST. The concert is in support of his recently released debut solo album Vignettes. Tickets are available for purchase through Moment House here.

Vignettes sees the 2x GRAMMY® Award-nominated singer-songwriter-guitarist and co-founder of The Lumineers exploring his myriad influences and early inspirations with a series of starkly beautiful cover versions spanning such legendary artists as the aforementioned Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Sheryl Crow, Jim Croce, Derek and the Dominos, and Warren Zevon.

The album was produced by longtime collaborator, Simone Felice (whose work includes The Lumineers’ Cleopatra and III), at Sun Mountain Studios in Boiceville, NY over five breakneck sessions last month. The album features Schultz on guitar and vocals, backed by engineer/pianist David Baron and special guests including famed backing singer Cindy Mizelle (Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews Band), The Felice Brothers’ James Felice on accordion and harmony vocals, the UK-based vocal duo, The Webb Sisters (Tom Petty, Leonard Cohen), and acclaimed singer-songwriter Diana DeMuth, the latter featured on a stellar duet rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather.”

 The November 15 show is the only livestream that Schultz has planned.

The Lumineers
Wesley Schultz Instagram
Wesley Schultz Twitter

*Feature image credit: Danny Clinch

GA-20 to Release a Cover of Otis Rush’s ‘Sit Down Baby’ via Karma Chief Records

GA-20 to Release a Cover of Otis Rush’s ‘Sit Down Baby’ via Karma Chief Records

American Blues Scene Staff

GA-20’s new single “Sit Down Baby” will be available on digital/streaming platforms November 17th via Karma Chief Records

Following the recent release of their Billboard chart-topping EP Live Vol.1, the Boston-based blues trio GA-20 are dropping a brand new digital/streaming single next week. This gritty blues track is a cover of Otis Rush‘s great 1956 single “Sit Down Baby.”

Guitarist Matthew Stubbs says of the song, “We love Otis Rush! In my opinion he was one of the most soulful Blues artists of all time. This was one of the first songs we covered when we started GA-20 back in 2018 and we still include it in the set on almost all our live shows.”

GA-20 was formed by friends Pat Faherty and Matthew Stubbs in Boston, MA in 2018. The project was born out of their mutual love of heavy traditional Blues, R&B, and Rock & Roll of the late ’50s and early ’60s. Faherty and Stubbs bonded over legendary artists like Lazy Lester, J.B. Lenoir, Earl Hooker, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush and Junior Wells. Feeling a void in current music, the duo have set out to write, record and perform a modern version of this beloved art form. Live, GA-20 is a trio of two guitars, vocals and drums courtesy of Tim Carman. Raw, passionate and honest performance – both on stage and in the studio – is the only goal.

Stubbs has spent the past 11 years as guitarist for Blues legend Charlie Musselwhite. During that time he has also backed up and toured with such Blues giants as John Hammond, James Cotton, Junior Watson and James Harman. Stubbs also leads his own original instrumental psych-rock band, The Antiguas.

 

GA-20
Purchase Live Vol. 1

Diane Warren Drops Triumphant New Single ‘Times Like This’ Feat. Darius Rucker

Diane Warren Drops Triumphant New Single ‘Times Like This’ Feat. Darius Rucker

Shore Fire Media

“Times Like This” is released in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project to commemorate Veteran’s Day

Diane Warren’s much-anticipated debut album Diane Warren: The Cave Sessions Vol. 1 (via BMG) will drop in early 2021, but on Tuesday the iconic songwriter delivered the first single “Times Like This”, a soaring ode to perseverance sung by Darius Rucker that feels both emotionally timeless and incredibly timely in the current state of the world.

The video, which was filmed at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, captures the triumphant spirit of the track. Of the video, Warren said “I know it’s a difficult time right now but it all can be fixed with some love and some kindness, in times like this. You believe every frame just like you believe every note sung by Darius.”

Darius Rucker – Photo Credit: David McClister

“I wrote ‘Times Like This’ thinking about what so many people are going through right now,” said Warren. “These are very challenging times for so many of us. What was so important is that this song also be about hope, about how we will all get through this. There was only one artist I could imagine for it and that was Darius Rucker. When he agreed to do it, I was ecstatic and when I heard his vocal for the first time I could not believe what I was hearing. It is one of those once in a lifetime moments when the perfect song finds the perfect voice it was meant for. So proud to have it be my first single!”

Of the song, Rucker says, “Diane is such a legend, so I was absolutely honored when she called saying that she had me in mind for a song. It’s one of those things that just being asked to be part of her record — and especially such a great song like this — is just amazing. Then to actually go through the process with a legend like her and to see it all come to life has been a really cool experience.”

 

To commemorate Veterans Day, BMG is proud to partner with Wounded Warrior Project on the release of “Times Like This.”

“Wounded Warrior Project is proud to partner with BMG, Diane Warren, and Darius Rucker on the release of, ‘Times Like This.’ The song is one of hope and that’s ultimately what our organization provides the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed for us all,” said Gary Corless, Chief Development Officer of Wounded Warrior Project.

In addition to “Times Like This”, the new collection will also feature an all-star line-up of talent who will bring her songwriting and storytelling to life, including John Legend, Celine Dion, Mary J. Blige, Jason Derulo, Ty Dolla $ign, Jhené Aiko, LP, and more.

The new track continues Warren’s momentum throughout 2020 that also includes her new anthem “The Change” performed by JoJo. This year her original songs in films include “Free” performed by Charlie Puth from Disney’s The One and Only Ivan and “lo Si (Seen)” performed by Laura Pausini from Netflix’s The Life Ahead starring Sophia Loren.

The songs on Diane Warren: The Cave Sessions Vol. 1 will join a beyond-impressive songwriting resume that includes countless staples of modern music history including “Because You Loved Me” (Celine Dion), “Can’t Fight The Moonlight” (LeAnn Rimes), “How Do I Live” (by both LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood), “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” (Whitney Houston), “I Learned From The Best” (Whitney Houston), “Love Can Move Mountains” (Celine Dion), “Can’t Take That Away” (Mariah Carey), “Look Away” (Chicago), “Have You Ever” (Brandy), “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” (Aerosmith), and dozens more.

The list of legends and icons Warren has written for, from Aretha Franklin to Willie Nelson to Cher, is jaw-dropping. But she also continues to work with many of today’s most popular acts, including Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Christina Aguilera, Snoop Dogg, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Andra Day, Demi Lovato, Common, Janelle Monáe, Zendaya, Emeli Sandé and Mickey Guyton. She’s penned nine #1, and thirty-two top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, and is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame. She has earned 11 Academy Award nominations, is a Grammy, Emmy and Golden Globe award winner whose songs have been featured in more than 100 motion pictures, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her independent spirit has also made her a pioneer in the entertainment business: She is the sole owner of her publishing company Realsongs, the most successful female-owned and -operated business in the music industry.

Realsongs

*Feature image credit: Nick Spanos

Third Man Books Announces ‘It Came From Memphis: Updated & Revised’ Available Now

Third Man Books Announces ‘It Came From Memphis: Updated & Revised’ Available Now

American Blues Scene Staff

Updated and revised 25th anniversary edition of Robert Gordon’s celebrated Memphis music history features new foreword by Hanif Abdurraqib, more than 80 new photographs, updated text, new chapters, and more!

Third Man Books is excited to announce the 25th Anniversary edition of It Came From Memphis, Robert Gordon‘s celebrated history of Memphis music. The updated and revised 25th Anniversary edition features more than 80 new photos and a new layout, an updated text featuring more voices, a new foreword by Hanif Abdurraqib, afterword and updated buying recommendations from the author.

Photo courtesy of Zack Kraimer / Big Hassle Media

Like no other music history, It Came From Memphis: Updated and Revised dishes its tuneful tale with a full context of social issues. From institutional racism to cowboy movies, from manic disc jockeys to Quaalude motorcycle gangs, this story is as unvarnished a history of rock and roll as ever has been written. Stars pass through— Elvis, Aretha, Jerry Lee—but the emphasis is more on the singular achievements of artists like Alex Chilton, Jim Dickinson, Furry Lewis and wrestler Sputnik Monroe. This is a book about the weirdos, winos and midget wrestlers who forged the rock and roll spirit.

Between the 1950s and the 1970s, Memphis changed the fabric of American society and popular culture. It Came From Memphis burrows deep into the practicalities of those changes telling the story of the weirdos, winos, and midget wrestlers who forged the original rock and roll spirit. Music liberated that Memphis audience, and the world followed. A storyteller’s storyteller, Robert Gordon puts you in the shotgun seat, riding with the old coots and the young rebels as they pass a bottle and a blunt.

 Watch a trailer featuring Robert Gordon himself.

Robert Gordon is a native Memphian who has been exporting the city’s authentic weirdness since long before It Came From Memphis (1995). He’s been nominated for six Grammys; his win was for the liner notes to the Big Star box set Keep an Eye on the Sky. His Emmy was for Best of Enemies, the 2015 documentary about Gore Vidal, William Buckley, and the demise of civil discourse in America. He’s not the rockabilly singer, he’s not the author of Deep Blues, and he’s not the university in Scotland. He lives in Memphis.

Order It Came From Memphis

*Feature image: Screengrab of trailer

Zydeco Star Corey Ledet Releasing His 14th Album

Zydeco Star Corey Ledet Releasing His 14th Album

American Blues Scene Staff

Corey’s rise to Zydeco royalty in the 21st century was a fait accompli

The self-titled album Corey Ledet Zydeco is this Zydeco star’s 14th album since releasing his full-length debut in 2004, 3 Years 2 Late. His 2012 release, Nothin’ But The Best, was nominated for a Grammy in 2013. Corey Ledet Zydeco is being released by Arnaudville, Louisiana’s Nouveau Electric Records January 15, 2021 via CD, digital download and on streaming platforms.

Photo courtesy of Howlin’ Wuelf Media

Corey Ledet Zydeco was produced by Ledet and Louis Michot, recorded at Dockside Studios, Maurice, Louisiana, June 2019 with Justin Tocket engineering and mixing. It was mastered by Mark Bingham at Nina Hwy Studio, nearby in Henderson. Corey is featured on lead, harmony and background vocals, accordion, drums and washboard. He was joined in the studio by Cecil Green on Hammond B3 organ, bassist Lee Allen Zeno, harmonica player Grant Dermody, Julian Primeaux on rhythm and lead guitar and backing vocals, and Gerard Delafose on drums and washboard.

 Zydeco pays homage to Ledet’s family and musical heritage which are inextricably combined. His great-grandfather, Gabriel Ledet, played professionally with the colorful early Jazz legend Bunk Johnson as an upright bassist. Grandfather, Buchanan played drums with Clifton Chenier and Rockin’ Dopsie, as Zydeco’s first drummer and invented the twice-pumped bass drumming pattern called “double clutching” that’s been an integral part of the genre ever since. Numerous members of this extended French speaking Creole family followed in their footsteps, playing professionally and non-professionally in the decades that followed. Corey’s rise to Zydeco royalty in the 21st century was a fait accompli.

 Working towards promoting the cultural heritage of his family’s hometown of Parks, Louisiana, he studied and incorporated Kouri-Vini, a regional dialect spoken by family members into songs on this album.

 Ledet always studied a broad range of different musical genres owing to the love for all music deep in his soul. When he started to research his family’s genealogical roots, he found out that their musical roots dated back to late 1800s. They performed in a variety of the outfits that played Ragtime, early Jazz, Be-Bop, Zydeco, Creole and Blues. Learning this brought Corey a deep connection with his ancestors; and he realized that his interest in such a wide variety of music had hallowed precedent.

Corey Ledet was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and spent his Summers with relatives in small-town Parks, where he was exposed to their Kouri-Veni language and Creole traditions. This molded and shaped Corey’s world in a profound way. This culture has its roots in Louisiana, but eventually spread across the country, including into neighboring Texas. When he returned home after summer, Corey was able to remain immersed in the Creole culture he learned to love.

He learned everything he could about Creole culture – the traditions, the food, and most importantly, the music — so that he could incorporate it into all aspects of his life.

His love for Creole/Zydeco music was instant and hard to ignore. Ledet studied the originators of the music like Clifton Chenier, John Delafose, and Boozoo Chavis. His studies branched out to include any (and all) Zydeco artists. At the age of 10, Corey started picking up shows as drummer for Houston’s Wilbert Thibodeaux and the Zydeco Rascals and slowly learned his way around the main instrument of the style – accordion. He came to truly love every type of accordion: the single-note, triple-note and piano key … as well as still more exotic species! He worked at building his skills and coming to know knew each one intimately.

By the time he graduated from high school, Ledet was certain that music would be the focus of his future. Eventually, he moved to Louisiana to be fully immersed in his beloved Creole culture.

 To this day, Corey Ledet remains true to his family and cultural roots and looks for ways to incorporate them in his musical work and style of living. He’s created his own unique style out of the diverse influences of the many musicians he’s studied, blending old and new styles of Zydeco, and more!

Corey Ledet

*Feature image courtesy of the artist’s Facebook

‘Tired of Talkin,’ Latest Album from Award-winning Bluesman Steve Strongman, Gets Reissue

‘Tired of Talkin,’ Latest Album from Award-winning Bluesman Steve Strongman, Gets Reissue

Mark Pucci

Steve Strongman’s 2019 release, Tired of Talkin’ is now benefiting from a global reissue with the promotional attention this album deserves.

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

This deal includes being signed to Stony Plain Records, and Steve Strongman’s 2019 release, Tired of Talkin,’ is now benefiting from a global reissue with the promotional attention this album deserves. As an established Canadian artist building awareness across the US, Strongman has been earning rave reviews as an emerging talent on the scene. Beyond Strongman’s skills as a songwriter, guitarist and front man is his ability to engage his audience and deliver an outstanding performance at every live show.

Recorded in Hamilton, Ontario, and Nashville, Tired of Talkin’ is Strongman’s 7th studio recording, and is destined to further establish the guitar slinger’s reputation as one of the most exciting artists on the International Blues scene. Strongman’s impressive resume includes stints opening for guitar legends B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and Johnny Winter. The performer’s breakthrough 2012 release, A Natural Fact, was hailed as a standout, earning Maple Blues Awards for Recording, Songwriter, and Guitarist of the Year as well as a 2013 Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy) for Blues Recording of the Year.

Tired of Talkin’, available on both CD and vinyl formats, is chock-full of maximum blues, headlined by Strongman’s massive vocals and muscular guitar licks (he also plays acoustic guitar, dobro and harmonica), and backed by a sympathetic band that includes Dave King – drums, backing vocals; Colin Lapsley – bass, backing vocals (Hamilton sessions); Jesse O’Brien – piano; Pat Sansone – keyboards, piano, acoustic guitar tracks (Nashville sessions); Audley Freed – electric guitar (Nashville sessions); James Haggerty – bass (Nashville sessions); with additional background vocals by Ella and Scarlett Strongman.

The title track opens the album in killer form, with a blistering attack that rocks the blues right out of the speakers. Tired of Talkin’ showcases 11 original songs that highlight Strongman’s compositional skills, as well as a beautifully-soulful version of the Al Green classic, “Let’s Stay Together,” that closes the album in grand fashion.

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

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

Steve Strongman

*Feature image photo credit Brent Perniac

Heather Trost Reflects on Loss in New Song ‘Tracks to Nowhere’

Heather Trost Reflects on Loss in New Song ‘Tracks to Nowhere’

American Blues Scene Staff

‘Petrichor’ marks the latest installment of Trost’s wildly impressive catalog, much of it created in collaboration with Barnes, known for his work as a member of the band Neutral Milk Hotel and many other projects

Acclaimed singer, songwriter, and composer Heather Trost has just released her new song, “Tracks to Nowhere,” originally an instrumental written by Jeremy Barnes. “Tracks to Nowhere” is from Trost’s new album, Petrichor, due to arrive via Third Man Records today, Friday, November 6. Pre-orders for digital, black vinyl and CD are still available. Limited edition “sand” colored vinyl will be available at select indie stores on release day.

Photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media

Petrichor was heralded last month by the album’s first single, “Love It Grows.” It was joined by an official music video streaming now at YouTube. She also released her version of the Harry Nilsson classic “Jump Into The Fire.” An official music video for the song takes you on a psychedelic road trip through the American southwest complete with vintage cars and gear.

Trost’s second solo full-length is fresh and unique, as experimental as it is accessible. Recorded between 2018 and 2019 by Trost and her husband Jeremy Barnes at their New Mexico home studio, these seven lush, beautiful songs defy easy categorization, gleefully mixing elements from multiple genres to create a strikingly modern psychedelic pop, futuristic and shimmering and smart.

“Even though shit had yet to hit the fan when I wrote these songs,” Trost says, “2019 also felt like such a crazy year in terms of what was happening in the world, I felt like I needed to remind myself to have joy and love in my heart. It’s something I meditate on a lot, especially when it seems like the world is ending.”

Petrichor marks the latest installment of Trost’s wildly impressive catalog, much of it created in collaboration with Barnes, known for his work as a member of the band Neutral Milk Hotel and many other projects. The two are community activists, urban gardeners, co-founders of their own Living Music Dupli-Cation label, and full-time musicians – including, of course, their dazzling and impossible-to-categorize, Eastern European folk-influenced band, A Hawk And A Hacksaw. A multi-talented singer and instrumentalist – including violin, autoharp, keyboards, and others – Trost has spent much of the past two decades touring and recording with dozens of artists, including Josephine Foster, Thor & Friends, Claire Cronin, and Swans.

 Listen to “Tracks to Nowhere.”

Let It In

Love It Grows

Tracks To Nowhere

I’ll Think Of You

Jump Into The Fire

VK09

Sunrise

Heather Trost

Countdown to ‘Conundrum’ – The New Release From Guitarist Michael Schatte

Countdown to ‘Conundrum’ – The New Release From Guitarist Michael Schatte

Sarah French

Fifteen stunning new tracks from the songwriter, guitarist, singer and producer/engineer

A jaw-dropping electric guitarist. A virtuoso acoustic fingerstylist. A singer with vocals as polished as his picking. A literate and witty songwriter. These are just a few phrases culled from recent critical praise that describe musician Michael Schatte, and are fully demonstrated on the multi-faceted Canadian’s new album Conundrum.

Photo courtesy of Sarah French Publicity

He calls his original blend of rock, blues, celtic and other styles Eclectic Electric Roots Music. To be sure, these fifteen new tracks are nothing if not diverse and electrifying. Produced and engineered by Schatte (pronounced SHAW-tee) with a keen ear for organic yet punchy production, this collection promises to further Michael’s long track record of great reviews and deep listener appreciation.

Conundrum puts Schatte’s world-class musicianship and unforgettable lyrics on full display. This album exposes lust ready to boil over (“Water In the Kettle”) and an historic tale of Scottish assassination-by-explosive (“Dry Black Powder”). It tells of humorous sibling rivalry (“Please Don’t Dance With My Brother”) and tense sexual rivalry (“Genevieve,” “Daria,” “The Upper Hand”). It is peppered with existential whimsy (“Conundrum,” “In the Cold Hard Here and Now”) and searing blues boogie (“Longtime Lover,” “Come On Down”). It features blistering Celtic instrumental riffery (“Good King Richard”) and poetry inspired by the ancients (“Bread, Water, Love”). And finally, the new record shines a revealing light on our darker human impulses (“Silly Old Man,” “The Candy Aisle,” “A Mind A Mess”).

To sum it up, Conundrum is an artistic tour de force that will richly reward a close listen.

Pre-order Conundrum

*Feature image courtesy of the artist’s Facebook

VizzTone Presents Bob Corritore’s ‘From the Vaults’ Series

VizzTone Presents Bob Corritore’s ‘From the Vaults’ Series

JD Nash

The albums being released in this series include historic recordings, unreleased tracks, and original cuts, with some of the biggest names in the blues

VizzTone Label Group has announced they are releasing a series of recordings from harp master Bob Corritore. The series, entitled From the Vaults is a collection of historic, previously unavailable, and unreleased gems from Corritore’s vast master tape archives.

Henry Gray and Bob Corritore performing live in Las Vegas. Photo credit: Marilyn Stringer

 

Corritore was born in Chicago in 1956, and after hearing Muddy Waters on the radio at the age of 12, began teaching himself harmonica. He collected blues albums and playing tips from the biggest names in the Windy City before moving to Arizona in 1981. Once there he became a member of an early incarnation of Janiva Magness’ band, began hosting a Sunday night blues program on KJZZ radio which he still hosts today, and eventually opened his own club, The Rhythm Room, in Phoenix. His talents have earned him a Blues Music Award, a Keeping the Blues Alive award, a GRAMMY nominations and a spot in the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame, and that just skims the surface.

The most astonishing thing about Bob, is the scores of top bluesmen he has produced, supported and played alongside over the years. Folks like Bo Diddley, Pinetop Perkins, Ike Turner and Eddy Clearwater to name just a few. Corritore is recognized as one of the top traditional blues blues harmonica players in the world.

The albums being released in this series include historic recordings, unreleased tracks, and original cuts, with some of the biggest names in the blues world.

First up is Dave Riley & Bob Corritore – Travelin’ the Dirt Road. The Mississippi-meets-Chicago team of Riley and Corritore was widely received. They met in 2004 at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, and released the BMA and BBMA-nominated album Travelin’ The Dirt Road on Blue Witch Records in 2007. Their sound demonstrates a natural musical chemistry and friendship, and is pure down-home blues. This release contains the 2007 album in its entirety, plus unreleased tracks from the vault. Travelin’ the Dirt Road is available now.

Kid Ramos and Corritore collaborated on 4 powerful studio recording sessions in Phoenix from the late 1990’s to early 2000’s. These sessions were built around some great vocalists: Henry Gray, Nappy Brown, Big Pete Pearson, and Chief Schabuttie Gilliame. The Kid / Corritore combination would seamlessly interweave their characteristic musical backing around each singer’s style and each song’s assignment. Compiled for the first time as a focused reflection, it was presented as 10 examples of some very heartfelt blues played with a masterful touch. On each of these sessions, legendary blues drummer Chico Chism laid down his classic Chicago beat and Johnny Rapp provided some amazing support guitar work. Phoenix Blues Sessions has a street date of November, 13th, 2020.

Legendary blues piano master Henry Gray started teaming up with Corritore in 1996. Each year Bob would invite Henry to perform at The Rhythm Room, and while in town participate in a recording session. These sessions continued until 2018 when Gray was no longer able to fly (due to doctor’s orders). Gray, a native of Kenner, Louisiana, left this world on February 17th, 2020 at the age of 95, already having been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Henry Gray & Bob Corritore Sessions Vol. 2 Cold Chills contains 14 tracks, some previously unreleased and features artists including, John Brim, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Bob Margolin, Eddie Taylor, Jr., Tail Dragger, Jimi “Primetime” Smith, Chief Schabuttie Gilliam, Johnny Rapp, Illinois Slim, Johnny Burgin, Chris James, Kirk Fletcher, Chico Chism, Brian Fahey, Steve Cushing, Marty Dodson, Bob Stroger, Troy Sandow, Paul Thomas, Patrick Rynn, Pops McFarlane, and Mario Moreno. The street date for this release is December 4th, 2020.

Bob Corritore
VizzTone Label Group

*Feature image credit: Jeff Fasano