BB King’s Bluesville Announces 2020 Year End Rack List

BB King’s Bluesville Announces 2020 Year End Rack List

American Blues Scene Staff

Bluesville chooses fifteen songs to match the number of pool balls in a “rack.” It all has to do with Low-Fi’s Bar and Pool Hall in the imaginary community of Bluesville, of which BB King is the perpetual mayor, and the Blues Foundation is the new power-generating station

BB King’s Bluesville on SiriusXM is counting down the best Blues of 2020. It’s the year end Rack List countdown.

The Rack List is the station’s weekly top 15 songs as chosen by fans, staff and the record buying public. The year end Rack List, as its title infers, is a list of  the fifteen finest Blues songs from a less than stellar year. Bluesville chooses fifteen songs to match the number of pool balls in a “rack.” It all has to do with Low-Fi’s Bar and Pool Hall in the imaginary community of Bluesville, of which BB King is the perpetual mayor, and the Blues Foundation is the new power generating station.

The original broadcast was on Saturday, however rebroadcasts are scheduled for Tues 12/29/20 3am EST, Weds 12/30/20 3pm EST, Friday 01/01/20 12:01am EST.

Year End Rack List:

  • This Man – Robert Cray
  • A Conversation with Alice – Joe Bonamassa
  • Clotilda’s On Fire – Shemekia Copeland
  • He May Be Your Man – Rory Block
  • She’s About to Lose Her Mind – Early Times w Popa Chubby
  • Shake It For Me – Bobby Rush
  • Blues Coming On – Joe Louis Walker w Eric Gales
  • All Out of Tears – Walter Trout
  • I Believe (Everything Gonna Be Alright) – Thornetta Davis
  • Blues for the Weepers – Bettye Lavette
  • What the Devil Loves – King Solomon Hicks
  • Ice Cream in Hell – Tinsley Ellis
  • What the Hell? – Elvin Bishop w/ Charlie Musselwhite
  • Boy, Sit Down – Whitney Shay
  • Living in a Burning House – Selwyn Birchwood
  •  

    BB King’s Bluesville on SiriusXM

    Mountain Guitarist Leslie West Has Passed Away At Age 75

    Mountain Guitarist Leslie West Has Passed Away At Age 75

    Steve Karas

    Guitarists across the globe together will unite in sadness as the world says goodbye to a true original

    Leslie West, born Leslie Weinstein, has passed away at the age of 75 from cardiac arrest. The iconic guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and storyteller has left a legacy that to this day is celebrated by peers and fans across the world.

    Weinstein was born in New York City, and first emerged in the scene as a member of The Vagrants. A few years later he and Felix Pappalardi formed Mountain, a band that was amongst the first to pioneer the genre later to become known as Heavy Metal. Hits that include “Mississippi Queen,” “Theme From An Imaginary Western,” and others established an indelible voice and guitar tone that remains legendary to this day. In 1969, West brought his presence to the stage at Woodstock.

    As the decade turned, he formed West, Bruce and Laing with his band-mate from Mountain drummer Corky Laing and Cream’s Jack Bruce. In, 1971 West contributed to The Who’s Who’s Next sessions in the city; performances which can be heard on the 1995 and 2003 reissues of that cornerstone album.

    Alongside his significant contribution to pop culture as the face of Mountain, West appeared in films that include Family Honor (1973) and The Money Pit (1986).  He was a regular guest on the Howard Stern Show, and over the course of decades remained a periodic visitor alongside enjoying a decades-long friendship with the talk show host.

    West was inducted in to the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006, and appeared on dozens of other recordings from a vast universe of artists. Samples of his performances lived a secondary life on the masters of a who’s who of hip-hop and rap stars.

    The guitarist is renowned for helping popularize the Gibson Les Paul Jr. model with P-90 pick-ups to create a tone that is undisputedly his own. More recently, he enjoyed a long relationship with Dean Guitars, releasing several signature models.

    Leslie West is survived by his wife Jenni, whom he married on stage after Mountain’s performance at the Woodstock 40th Anniversary concert in Bethel, NY on August 15, 2009. And, brother Larry and nephew Max.

    From 1964 through today, few artists have left a more significant mark on music as we know it. Guitarists across the globe together will unite in sadness as the world says goodbye to a true original.

    Listen: Al Green Shares First Recording in 10 Years with Freddy Fender’s ‘Before The Next Teardrop Falls’

    Listen: Al Green Shares First Recording in 10 Years with Freddy Fender’s ‘Before The Next Teardrop Falls’

    Lauren Leadingham

    Recorded in 2018, Reverend Al Green’s version of the Freddy Fender classic is now available on other music platforms

    Singer-songwriter and record producer Al Green has released a cover of “Before The Next Teardrop Falls,” most famously recorded by Freddy Fender.

    Reverend Green first recorded the song with Matt Ross-Spang in 2018, ten years after 2008’s Lay It Down. With his signature soul, he reshapes the original (sung bilingually by Mexican-American country singer Fender). Organ player Charles Hodges returns for this track — his first time playing with Al Green since the ’80s.

    “As a lifelong Memphian, I’ve always been a massive fan of Al Green and his producer Willie Mitchell,” Ross-Spang said in 2018. Continuing, “Together they created some of the most enduring soul music. Sonically speaking, Willie and Al also really invented a distinct sound that separated them from Stax or Motown.

    “When Al arrived at the studio he was already incredibly warm and gracious, but he really became animated and enthusiastic when we all started recording the song live in the room,” Ross-Spang said. “His passion and voice are just as strong as when he first found them as a young man.”

    *Feature image credit: Philippe Merle/Getty Images

    Ghalia Volt to Release ‘One Woman Band’ on Jan 29th

    Ghalia Volt to Release ‘One Woman Band’ on Jan 29th

    Devious Planet

    Recorded in November at Memphis’s legendary Royal Sound Studios, on the same board where Al Green and Willie Mitchell made history, One Woman Band saw Volt take an equally old-school approach

    Never underestimate the power of a woman with her back against the wall. In March 2020, as Covid blew across the planet, the shutters came down on live venues and recording studios, and the music scene fell suddenly silent, Ghalia Volt faced the same dilemma as every other artist. What now? The answer was One Woman Band.

    For Volt, the rebirth as a solo performer wasn’t a decision made lightly. Since the beginning, she’s been a musician who thrives on the buzz of the hook-up, surrounding herself with the best players and soaking up their vibe. In 2017, the Belgium-born songwriter’s taste for collaboration led her to New Orleans for the meeting with local blues legends Mama’s Boys that became her debut album, Let The Demons Out.

    Two years later, the same spirit lured Volt to the fabled hill country of Coldwater, Mississippi, to hold her own at sessions with musicians like Cody Dickinson, Cedric Burnside, Lightnin’ Malcolm, and Watermelon Slim.

    With the breakout success of 2019’s Mississippi Blend. a record that made the Top 3 in the Billboard Blues Chart on three separate occasions, it seemed the world was Volt’s for the taking — her seven-year transformation from Brussels busker to the adopted daughter of American roots scene. Now, with One Woman Band, the journey takes a thrilling left-turn. and last March, she reconnected with that one-woman philosophy. “I started playing on a real drum kit,” she recalls. “Playing a kick, snare, and hi-hat plus a tambourine with my feet, while playing slide/guitar and singing at the same time.”

    After road-testing the new format at shows across Mississippi, Volt realized that one was the magic number. In August, she committed to the project, embarking on a month-long Amtrak train trip that became an intensive writing session, the shifting landscapes beyond the window, inspiring her to write. “I crossed Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi,” she reflects. “The goal? To write the entire album through my travel. Most of the songs are inspired by the journey and real experiences. Others are from imagination.”

    Recorded in November at Memphis’s legendary Royal Sound Studios, on the same board where Al Green and Willie Mitchell made history, One Woman Band saw Volt take an equally old-school approach. Rejecting the soft option of multi-tracking, she chose to record all the instruments live in real-time, flying solo except for two cameos on bass from Dean Zucchero, and a pair of guest guitar solos from ‘Monster’ Mike Welch. Co-producing the record with Boo Mitchell (Al Green, Buddy Guy), Volt made the bold decision to let the rough edges stay on, prizing atmosphere over perfection and delivering her most groove-driven material to date.

    One Woman Band will be released via Ruf Records on January 29, 2021.

    Ghalia Volt

    *Feature image courtesy of Devious Planet

    “North Star of WFUV’s Sound,” Rita Houston, Dies Aged 59

    “North Star of WFUV’s Sound,” Rita Houston, Dies Aged 59

    Lauren Leadingham

    Rita Houston (September 28, 1961 — December 15, 2020)

    Rita Houston, WFUV program director and iconic DJ to generations of listeners, passed away this morning, December 15. Houston had been battling cancer for six years. “Her courage and resolve were an inspiration,” WFUV General Manager Chuck Singleton said in a statement. “Cancer or no cancer, she gave her all every day — to her dear Laura and their family, to her friends and colleagues, to WFUV and our listeners, and to artists and music lovers everywhere.”

    Rita Houston hosting Billy Bragg/City Winery’s Mother’s Day Special – Screengrab by ABS’s Phil Solomonson

    Continuing, “Rita was the north star of WFUV’s sound and its public service, guiding the station’s musical direction for decades. She was a New York original, a trailblazing woman of exceptional talent who shaped a unique style behind the microphone — informed and informal, intimate, warm, genuine. But also, one of tremendous joy.”

    Houston was recognized by Mayor Bill de Blasio last year when she celebrated her 25th year at WFUV, congratulating her for the “indelible mark” she made on New York as the nexus of creative expression: “bringing joy to listeners throughout the five boroughs, providing a platform for new talent that deserves to be heard, and enriching the cultural vitality of our city.”

    Singleton concluded, “Together, we will remember and celebrate her in the weeks ahead. But right now, Rita, we see you on that stage with Sharon Jones, Bowie, Prince, and especially your beloved John Prine, emceeing the most heavenly edition of Holiday Cheer for FUV.”

    Houston leaves behind wife and WFUV’s Laura Fedele, and her family. Rest in peace, Rita.

    *Feature image credit: Lynda Shenkman for WFUV

    Burt Bacharach and Melody Federer Present New Track ‘The Sun Also Rises’

    Burt Bacharach and Melody Federer Present New Track ‘The Sun Also Rises’

    Big Hassle Media

    The two have teamed up with photographer and filmographer Roger Fishman and Conservation International to help bring awareness to #ClimateChange through their spectacular song

    The songwriting duo of Melody Federer and Burt Bacharach released their new track, The Sun Also Rises,” today. The song, whose title is taken from the Ernest Hemingway novel, is a tale of light and looking toward a new dawn that’s arriving just at the right time to support a great cause.

    “This is a song about hope. Even in the darkest of times, there’s hope,” Federer says of the track. “I thought the book’s title, one of Burt’s favorites, would be a good theme for a lyric especially in these harrowing times. My dad would always say, ‘It’s always darkest before the dawn.’ In these dark winter months at the end of this insane year, it’s a nice quote to hold onto.”

    Photo courtesy of Emily Ginsberg

    In this spirit, they have teamed up with famed photographer and filmographer Roger Fishman and Conservation International to help bring further awareness to global climate change. Fishman filmed and directed the music video, which includes breathtaking visuals of nature captured during his travels in Iceland, Greenland and Antarctica.

    “I photograph and film the most remote places on Earth so that each of us can connect to the ephemeral and eternal beauty of our planet, the importance of our ecosystem, and to share what is at risk and what is worth fighting to protect for ourselves, for future generations and for all life,” Fishman said of the project. “I want to thank Melody and Burt for allowing me to bring their magical song to life through the sublime and eternal beauty of Mother Nature. I also want to thank Ian Imhof for bringing us all together. What a true joy this project has been.”

    All donations, and a portion of the proceeds from the song, will go to directly supporting Conservation International’s work. When asked about using the song and video to support causes fighting climate change Bacharach said, “My kids, Oliver and Raleigh, are in their 20s. Looking at what their future holds in store for them, with this radical change in climate, the effects that we’re seeing now and what we will see in the future, we must do something now to make it better and change things.” 

    “Climate change requires dramatic action — action that is only possible if the world comes together with a sense of optimism and shared purpose,” said Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International. “I want to thank Melody and Burt for using their legendary talents to so beautifully articulate that purpose. I also want to thank Roger Fishman for underscoring its urgency with such powerful images. We’re proud to partner with all of them on such a hopeful and inspiring message.”

     The video premiered on Conservation International’s YouTube Channel today, and you can stream and download the song now from your preferred service HERE.

    “The Sun Also Rises” is the second collaborative release from Melody Federer & Burt Bacharach, following their single “Bridges” that was released in January 2020. 

    Conservation International works to protect the critical benefits that nature provides to people. Through science, partnerships and fieldwork, Conservation International is driving innovation and investments in nature-based solutions to the climate crisis, supporting protections for critical habitats, and fostering economic development that is grounded in the conservation of nature. Conservation International works in 30 countries around the world, empowering societies at all levels to create a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet. Follow Conservation International’s work on  Conservation News, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube

    *Feature image: GMS Awards

    Joseph ‘Mojo’ Morganfield, Youngest Son of Muddy Waters Dead at 56

    Joseph ‘Mojo’ Morganfield, Youngest Son of Muddy Waters Dead at 56

    JD Nash

    Born in Chicago, Morganfield began his career at a young age, traveling and preforming with his father and growing up in the blues.

    The youngest son of Chicago blues legend Muddy Waters, Joseph “Mojo” Morganfield died Thursday after collapsing in his home in Waukegan, Illinois. He was 56. The announcement came via Morganfield’s publicist Lynn Orman Weiss, and a statement from his producer and longtime supporter Michael Freeman:

    It is with the deepest sadness that we have to announce that our beloved Joseph “Mojo” Morganfield passed away at home this morning after suffering a sudden heart attack. The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this tragic and very difficult time. More details will follow.

    Joseph ‘Mojo’ Morganfield. Publicity photo courtesy of Delmark Records.

     

    Born in Chicago, Morganfield began his career at a young age, traveling and preforming with his father and growing up in the blues. He was taught guitar by his father, and his father’s guitarist Bob Margolin. Raised with the same Mississippi country values to which Muddy held firm, even after decades in Chicago, Mojo’s talent took a backseat while he worked to provide for his own children.

    As a young man, Morganfield played basketball at Westmont High School and then at the University of Northern Iowa after winning a full scholarship. His prowess on the court brought him a great deal of local attention and many accolades. He also had a powerful voice, and in 2018 released the 4-song EP Mojo Risin‘.

    He worked closely with collaborator Terry Abrahamson, and was planning on releasing his first full album this year via the Delmark Records label. COVID had other plans, but Mojo was able to recently release the single, “It’s Good to Be King,” with his band The Mannish Boyz and special guests Ronnie Baker Brooks, Billy Branch, and Brother John Kattke. The Mannish Boyz are made up of Paul Handover, Chris Alexander, Mike Flynn, and his father’s last guitarist, Rick Kreher. The full album was still in the works for a 2021 release.

    In a 2019 interview with American Blues Scene, Morganfield said, “My siblings and I are trying to keep my father’s legacy alive. Big Bill and Mud Morganfield are keeping his legacy alive. We don’t want his legacy to die. We are doing our part.” He also added, “Being Muddy’s son doesn’t mean anything. I am trying to fine tune my craft and work on my vocals. I take vocal lessons and rehearse with my band. I know it’s not going to happen overnight.”

    Mojo has performed with Grammy Award Winners Don Was, Jamey Johnson, and Warren Haynes at The Chicago Theater in The Last Waltz, with his brother Big Bill Morganfield at the Chicago Blues Fest, and in 2019 he opened for Bad Company featuring Paul Rogers. He is an Ambassador, Supporter, and Promoter Inductee in the prestigious Chicago Blues Hall of Fame. Mojo also attended many public events on behalf of his father, keeping the name and the blues legacy alive.

    On September 4th, Morganfield married his wife Deborah. She; his children Joshua, Matthew, Gabrielle, Jordan, Jade, Julissa and Bella; his stepchildren Annaliese and Amelia; brothers Larry and William; sisters Mercy and Rosalind; stepmother Marva Morganfield; grandson Joshuan; nieces, nephews and great-niece survive him.

    Arrangements are pending.

    Joseph “Mojo” Morganfield

    *Feature image Lynn Orman Weiss – Orman Music & Media

    Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Pendulum’ and ‘Mardi Gras’ Set for Half-Speed Mastered 180-Gram Vinyl Reissues

    Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Pendulum’ and ‘Mardi Gras’ Set for Half-Speed Mastered 180-Gram Vinyl Reissues

    American Blues Scene Staff

    CCR’s sixth and seventh studio albums include classic hits “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” “Hey Tonight,” and “Sweet Hitch-Hiker”

    Craft Recordings continues their salute to the enduring musical legacy of Creedence Clearwater Revival with the release of half-speed mastered editions of the band’s two final albums: Pendulum, their closing studio album released 50 years ago, and 1972’s Mardi Gras.

    Pressed on 180-gram vinyl and set for release February 12th, both records were mastered by the award-winning engineer Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios. Available for pre-order now, these audiophile-quality LPs come housed in beautifully crafted jackets (tip-on gatefold for Pendulum and embossed for Mardi Gras), replicating the albums’ original packaging.

    Photo courtesy of Aaron Feterl/Chummy Press

    Pendulum, which marked CCR’s second release of 1970—following Cosmo’s Factory—was a unique title in the band’s catalog for several reasons. First, the album was the group’s sole LP to feature all original material. Typically, CCR sprinkled covers of blues songs, traditional material, and rock ‘n’ roll standards into each of their albums, putting their own spin on classic favorites. Pendulum also found the guitar-heavy group expanding their sonic palate—experimenting with new sounds (including the use of saxophones, vocal choirs, and keyboards) and even venturing into psychedelia.

    The quartet’s musical explorations paid off. Not only was Pendulum a critical success, but it also spawned two global Top Ten hits: the reflective “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and the upbeat “Hey Tonight.” The singles, released as a double A-side in 1971, peaked at No.8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Other highlights included the stomper “Molina,” the bluesy “Pagan’s Groove” and the twangy “Sailor’s Lament.”

    Recently, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” gained renewed popularity with the 2018 launch of a new official music video featuring Sasha Frolova, Jack Quaid, and Erin Moriarty (the latter two also featuring in Amazon’s smash hit series, The Boys), introducing the song to a new generation. To date, the video—available on the official CCR YouTube channel—has received over 61 million plays.

    Creedence Clearwater Revival’s seventh and final studio album, 1972’s Mardi Gras, followed the departure of founding member and rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty. The album, however, found the remaining trio of musicians taking a more collaborative approach to songwriting. Prior to Mardi Gras, frontman John Fogerty was the band’s creative leader—writing, arranging, and producing the majority of every album.

    For Mardi Gras, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford not only penned many of the tracks (including Cook’s hard-driving “Door to Door,” and Clifford’s rollicking “Tearin’ Up the Country”) but also sang on them. Other highlights off the album include a cover of the rockabilly classic “Hello Mary Lou,” as well as the Fogerty-penned rocker “Sweet Hitch-Hiker”—a Top Ten hit in the US, Australia, Canada, and across Europe. The poignant “Someday Never Comes,” meanwhile, marked the group’s final single.

    While the band members went their separate ways after Mardi Gras, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s legacy only continued to grow. Today, CCR remains one of the best-selling groups of all time, thanks to their trove of generation-defining hits and their singular, roots-rock sound.

    Roughly half a century later, CCR fans can enjoy a new vibrancy when they revisit Pendulum and Mardi Gras, thanks to the exacting process of half-speed mastering. Using high-res transfers from the original analog tapes, the process involves playing back the audio at half its recorded speed while the cutting lathe is also turned to half the desired playback speed. The technique allows more time to cut a micro-precise groove, resulting in more accuracy with frequency extremes and dynamic contrasts. The result on the turntables is an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch.

     Both of these special pressings were previously released only as part of Creedence’s collectible, seven-LP The Studio Albums Collection box set, and follow standalone reissues of the band’s first five albums—available here.

     Earlier this year, the three surviving members of CCR spoke with Uncut and reflected on their time in the band. “We didn’t get to where we got just falling off a log,” said John Fogerty, as he spoke of the band’s tireless work ethic. “It’s a wonderful thing to have a goal and then to attain it, more or less.”

     Stu Cook compared the band’s rise to “a rocket ride, we went up so fast. We burned until we burned out, in three-and-a-half years from start to finish.” But, while brief, those years together brought the group unparalleled creative achievement and global success. “We had a magic band,” recalled Doug Clifford. “We got high playing the music.” Fogerty added that he was “humbly pleased” knowing that, 50 years later, CCR’s music “is still relevant, that people still care about it. That’s just so satisfying.”

     Pre-order Pendulum or Mardi Gras half-speed masters, with special bundles offered via the Craft Recordings store. A limited gold vinyl edition of Pendulum is also available exclusively via Vinyl, Me Please.

     

    Tracklist – Pendulum:

     Side A:

  • Pagan Baby
  • Sailor’s Lament
  • Chameleon
  • Have You Ever Seen the Rain
  • (Wish I Could) Hideaway
  • Side B:

  • Born to Move
  • Hey Tonight
  • It’s Just a Thought
  • Molina
  • Rude Awakening #2
  • Tracklist – Mardi Gras:

    Side A:

  • Lookin’ for a Reason
  • Take It Like a Friend
  • Need Someone to Hold
  • Tearin’ Up the Country
  • Someday Never Comes
  • Side B:

  • What Are You Going to Do
  • Sail Away
  • Hello Mary Lou
  • Door to Door
  • Sweet Hitch-Hiker
  • The Wood Brothers to Reissue ‘The Muse’ on 2-LP Vinyl

    The Wood Brothers to Reissue ‘The Muse’ on 2-LP Vinyl

    American Blues Scene Staff

    A Webcast Featuring A Recently Filmed Performance Of ‘The Muse’ In Its Entirety + Archival Footage From Album Recording Sessions To Premiere December 18, On The Wood Brothers’ YouTube Channel

    The Wood Brothers have announced a double-LP vinyl reissue of their modern classic, The Muse, will be released on March 5, 2021 through the band’s own Honey Jar Records. Originally issued October 1, 2013 via Zac Brown’s Southern Ground label, the 11-track collection was produced by Nashville music legend Buddy Miller and contains many of The Wood Brothers most celebrated songs that remain staples of their live performances to this day, including “Wastin’ My Mind,” “Sing About It,” “Neon Tombstone,” “Keep Me Around” and “I Got Loaded.” An initial vinyl pressing of The Muse sold out years ago and has been in high demand by The Wood Brothers’ fanbase ever since.

    The Muse was remastered for vinyl by the album’s original mixing engineer Mike Poole at High Quality Recording in Nashville. Along with gatefold packaging and complete lyrics, this latest edition includes a set of musical interludes and studio outtakes that were only featured on the initial LP format. Recorded at Southern Ground Studios in Nashville, The Muse showcases The Wood Brothers’ high-lonesome harmonies, Chris’ virtuosic standup bass and Oliver’s gritty acoustic guitars and warrior poet lyrics. It also marks the official debut of new “brother” Jano Rix to the fold on drums, shuitar, percussion, melodica, piano and background vocals.

    ‘The Muse’ is the first album we recorded with our amazingly talented drummer/vocalist/keyboard player Jano Rix. It was the birth of The Wood Brothers as a trio and the great Nashville producer/musician Buddy Miller was the midwife. It includes some of our most popular songs and Buddy made sure they were beautifully recorded. – Chris Wood

    We’re excited to reissue our album, ‘The Muse,’ on double-LP remastered vinyl! This was a real breakthrough record for us, and we’ve had a lot of folks requesting it since it went out of print last year. The vinyl version is special because it includes lyrics, extra songs, outtakes, and interludes that you can’t find on the CD and digital formats. – Oliver Wood

    At the time of the album’s release in 2013, Relix Magazine wrote, “you’d be hard-pressed to find any other trio working in roots music right now that could match their limber, musical wit,” while No Depression declared, “‘The Muse’ is beautifully intimate and authentic, an amalgamation of the brothers’ diverse influences.”

    To celebrate the reissue of The Muse, the band has filmed a performance of the album in its entirety, which will premiere December 18 on their YouTube channel. In addition to fresh interpretations of the album’s 11 songs, the webcast will feature archival footage from the original recording sessions. The performance of The Muse marks only the second time The Wood Brothers have performed publicly since the pandemic began in March, following their October livestream presentation, Musical Squares.

    Pre-order The Muse today at: https://www.hellomerch.com/collections/the-wood-brothers

    The Wood Brothers

    ‘BILLIE’ – A New Documentary Film About the Life and Genius of Billie Holiday

    ‘BILLIE’ – A New Documentary Film About the Life and Genius of Billie Holiday

    Shore Fire Media

    ‘BILLIE’ is an arresting and powerful tale of one of the greatest singers who ever lived, and of the journalist who would sacrifice her life in trying to tell it

    In the late 1960’s, journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl set out to write the definitive biography of Billie Holiday. Over the next decade, she tracked down and tape-recorded hundreds of hours of interviews with the extraordinary characters that populated the iconic singer’s short, tumultuous life. These incredible testimonies reveal Holiday’s life in intimate fashion, but Lipnack Kuehl suspiciously died in 1978 and the tapes remained unplayed – until now.

    BILLIE – a “fascinating” new documentary film about the life and genius of Holiday – is out now and has been met with tremendous raves in the US and the UK with a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Billie Holiday’s story has been told, but never quite like this. The film – directed by James Erskine and distributed by Greenwich Entertainment, in conjunction with the Estate of Billie Holiday – features rare performance footage painstakingly restored and exquisitely colorized, plus extraordinary, unheard interviews with musical greats like Charles Mingus, Tony Bennett, Count Basie, Sylvia Syms, along with Holiday’s family and childhood friends, pimps, club owners, even the FBI agents who trailed and arrested her. BILLIE is in select theaters and available to stream on all major TVOD platforms now (including Apple TV and Amazon). A DVD release will follow on February 9.

    Known as one of the greatest voices of all time, Billie Holiday was a woman of breath-taking talent and global popularity. Her well known love songs were matched with eye opening subject matters such as the notable “Strange Fruit,” which exposed the realities of Black life in America and earned her powerful enemies. The film looks at the duality of the late singer and unveils the raw, emotional and brutally honest aspects of her life.

    With unprecedented and exclusive access to an astonishing 200 hours of never-before-heard interviews, BILLIE showcases an American legend, capturing her depths and complexity through those who knew her best. It’s an arresting and powerful tale of one of the greatest singers who ever lived, and of the journalist who would sacrifice her life in trying to tell it.

    The soundtrack is available via Verve on Digital and vinyl.

    BILLIE
    Billie Holiday

    Musicians Unite to Energize Georgia Electorate Ahead of January Runoff

    Musicians Unite to Energize Georgia Electorate Ahead of January Runoff

    Jon Bleicher Publicity

    Watch the video for “Georgia on my Mind”

    With the voter registration deadline for the Georgia runoff election approaching this Monday, December 7th, a diverse group of musicians have joined forces to energize the voting public that turned Georgia “Blue” for the first time since 1992, releasing a powerful reinterpretation of “Georgia On My Mind,” made famous by Ray Charles.

    Enlisted by volunteers with the DNC, who worked closely with Stacey Abrams during the 2020 General Election, the group includes Spin Doctors’ drummer Aaron Comess, keyboardist Ben Stivers, rock/soul singer Danielia Cotton, and up-and-coming rapper Mickey Factz, performing new lyrics that touch on systemic racism, voter suppression, and the importance of the black vote. The accompanying music video incorporates archival news footage from the past few 60 years to illustrate the importance of the black vote in US political history.

    “I refuse to be inactive in this moment or any other moment like this,” said Danielia. “To be able to use my voice to educate and make others aware of what’s at stake seems natural and the right thing to do.”

    “All my career, I have been involved in politically using my voice,” added Mickey. “My platform is meant to encourage people and this record is no different. Plus I just moved to Atlanta, which gives me more credence to speak out.”

    The outcome of Georgia’s runoff election will determine control of the United States Senate, impacting President-Elect Joe Biden’s ability to carry out his policy agenda. With key legislative initiatives like health care, stimulus, and Supreme Court nominees on the line, the results will impact everyone in the United States, and even around the world.

    To register to vote in Georgia’s January 5th runoff election, click here.

    *Feature image: Screengrab of “Georgia on my Mind” 

    Andy Timmons Presents ‘A.T. Plays Sgt. Pepper’ in Two-Part Livestream Event This Saturday, December 5

    Andy Timmons Presents ‘A.T. Plays Sgt. Pepper’ in Two-Part Livestream Event This Saturday, December 5

    Steve Karas

    Andy Timmons presents ‘A.T. Plays Sgt. Pepper’ livestream event via StageIt on December 5 at noon and 6pm Pacific

    Andy Timmons has staged 65 Livestream performance via StageIt since the global pandemic began earlier this year. This coming Saturday on December 5, he looks back on his 2011 album release Andy Timmons Band Plays Sgt. Pepper, revisiting the repertoire and presenting the programming with Side 1 airing at Noon Pacific, followed by Side 2 at 6:00 P.M. Pacific.

    Timmons will intersperse stories abut the arranging and recording process of his release a decade ago with new performances.  To attend click here. The top supporter of each broadcast will receive a one hour Skype lesson with Timmons, while the next five top supporters will be provided with a signed CD of their choice from his catalog.

    Photo: Andy Timmons’ Facebook

    Amongst the StageIt livestream events, Timmons continually looks back and forward when isolating the repertoire for these two shows every Saturday.  None carry a deeper connection to him personally than his love of The Beatles. A decade or so ago, he began recording instrumental renditions of these songs, inevitably recording an album, to which a global love for the performances followed. He shares, “Well, this goes pretty deep. I have a literally lifelong love of the Beatles from the cradle onward. I was born in ’63 and my oldest brother bought every single Beatles record along the way. Most of my earliest musical memories are Beatles related and to this day their body of work is like a security blanket in my life. Still comforting, still beautiful, still inspiring!”

    Timmons has become an attraction over the course of the sixty-five StageIt shows performed. He offers, “The StageIt shows have been a blast for me as well as a tremendous challenge! I’ve essentially been producing two shows every Saturday, with many folks attending both shows. I feel a responsibility to make each show different with as little repetition as possible. In addition to revisiting my entire catalog as well as new, unreleased material, I’ve also done some “covers’ or tribute acoustic/vocal shows honoring the Beatles, Tom Petty and John Lennon.

    “I suppose I consider my interpretation of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper record as a high point in my career.  It embodies everything I’ve learned about the guitar and how it can express great melody and structure in a linear performance. I’m very proud of how I was able to combine my love, reverence and understanding of the Beatles’ music with my passion for the guitar. It seems to transcend beyond the normal instrumental guitar-centric listener base to a broader music loving audience.”

    On a tour in Italy in the late 2000’s, Timmons was playing an instrumental version of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and it went over like gangbusters every night. The promoter took notice of this and suggested, “next tour, you should do a whole night of Beatles!” After an initial negative instinctual reply thinking there’s no way anyone could pull that off, it did get the wheels turning in his head.  He reflects, “I started experimenting with various tunes like ‘In My Life,’ ‘Help,’ and it became a hobby. My previous record Resolution was a landmark for me in that the record was recorded without overdubs. Just ONE guitar performance, bass and drums. I literally re-invented how I approached recording and playing the guitar (all this based on a comment from Vai…but that’s another story).

    “So, now with this experience (and new-found inspiration) I was writing and arranging more in this style. Almost like a solo jazz guitarist like Joe Pass would play the melody supported by the harmony simultaneously. A bit more challenging in the rock guitar idiom as distortion is limiting with the amount of chord extensions you can include…but the sound is amazing when properly presented. The next track that fell under my fingers was ‘Lucy In The Sky’ where the keyboard intro laid beautifully on the guitar.

    “Then the fleeting thought in my mind, ‘What if I could play the whole Sgt. Pepper record top to bottom on solo guitar?’ Over the next couple of years, Timmons would add slowly to the repertoire, painting from memory. His approach was to make the arrangements as personal and representative as possible of the original work, with arrangements emanating from memory. His mind would lead the direction, driven by a keen sense of the most noticeable and important element at any given point in the song whether guitar, a vocal, strings or simply a sound effect.  It became a really fun game for the guitarist as he approached attempting to capture the essence of the song in one linear performance.”

    He goes on to share, “I should also point out that I wasn’t thinking of any commercial opportunities or even considering making a record…it was just the sheer joy of working on the arrangements. In 2009, the ATB went into the studio to record what would be the follow-up to 2006’s Resolution. Towards the end of the sessions, our engineer mentioned that due to a schedule change he had two extra days available, asking if we had any more songs to record. We had recorded everything, but drummer Mitch Marine suggested, ‘What about those Beatles arrangements you’ve been working on?’ And so, over the course of 2 1/2 days we knocked out the entire Pepper record!

    “I kept about half of my live takes, and re-recorded the other half over the course of the next year. I nearly bailed on the project multiple times along way thinking it was not really working, and that it was an impossibility to capture what was in my mind.  I mean, this is freaking Hallowed Ground! And as a Beatles fanatic, I don’t always like Beatle covers. I didn’t take any of it lightly. Fortunately, I hung in there. And again, I wasn’t really concerned about any potential commercial success, I just really wanted the people to hear it…my fellow Beatles fans, especially my peers and heroes, because I just knew they would hear and appreciate every little nuance and detail I was able to capture.

    “This music is in our DNA! The response was overwhelmingly gratifying. (Particularly Steve Lukather a.k.a. Luke’s response…he IS my biggest influence!) An odd response where comments I would get like “I’m not really a Beatles fan, but I dig this record!  It took a while to realize…” oh shit, not everybody is a Beatles fan!!” The bottom line, I could never have approached making a record like this in my earlier career. It took a lifetime of growth and maturity on the instrument to be able to capture these songs in the way that I did. I’m really proud of it.”

     

    Andy Timmons

     

    *Feature image courtesy of SKH Music

    Rufus Wainwright Announces Rufus-Retro-Wainwright-Spective! 2021

    Rufus Wainwright Announces Rufus-Retro-Wainwright-Spective! 2021

    American Blues Scene Staff

    New Rufus Wainwright livestream concerts for Spring 2021!

    After last week’s exciting news that Rufus Wainwright has received his second GRAMMY® Award nomination in his career for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for his Unfollow The Rules,  the singer-songwriter announces Rufus-Retro-Wainwright-Spective! 2021 the virtual live-stream tour through all nine of his groundbreaking studio albums.

    The tour will see the albums performed in chronological order with one album side performed for each date. Wainwright shares the dates for the last four albums, starting on Friday, January 8 with Wainwright performing the first side of his much-lauded album Release the Stars. More dates will be announced for the winter at a later time. Tickets for individual shows are $20.00 in advance and $25.00 day of show, and 4 show bundles are also available. Bundles come with the opportunity for fans to participate in intimate Q&A’s with Wainwright and other surprises. Purchase tickets here.

    Photo courtesy of Jim Merlis

    Wainwright was on the forefront of live-streaming with his IGTV Quarantunes Robe Recital series where each day he performed a song a day while playing in his bathrobe at his home. In June he upped the production with a performance of his new album Unfollow The Rules in a session at the old Hollywood Paramour mansion. Now with Rufus-Retro-Spective he takes a step further playing 45 minute concerts highlighting albums from his illustrious catalogue. Guitarist Brian Green and keyboardist/pianist Jacob Mann will accompany Wainwright in these concerts and fans will be treated to songs he has not played in many years with exciting new arrangements. On top of the songs from the albums, Wainwright will sprinkle in cover songs that fans can vote from over 100 that he has performed in the past, or has wanted to perform in concert.  

    Each album features a special guest as Wainwright’s micro-audience. The 2020 concerts featured an eclectic Hollywood mix of people ranging from Jamie Lee Curtis and Chris Guest to Darren Chris and Joel McHale. The 2021 shows will continue featuring a special guest per album.

    Says Wainwright of this exciting tour, “I did not expect to have so much fun redoing my first 4 albums with Brian and Jacob on guitar and piano in October and November. So many songs I had not performed live in decades as I always thought they needed a large band but they actually hold up quite well in this very intimate living room setting. 

     I wasn’t sure how fans would react and whether anyone would buy tickets. Well, my fans have and I am incredibly grateful for their support and for the opportunity to go all the way on this road to my last album. I am so excited that Unfollow the Rules was just nominated for a Grammy and I would love to to actually end this retrospective as a Grammy winner. But even without I feel I have won a lot through this experience.”

    Below are the dates for A RUFUS-RETRO-WAINWRIGHT-SPECTIVE 2021! 

    January 8 – Release the Stars (Side 1)

    January 15 – Release the Stars (Side 2) + Fireside Chat

    January 22 – All Days are Nights: Songs for Lulu (Side 1)

    January 29 – All Days are Nights: Songs for Lulu (Side 2) + Fireside Chat

    February 5 – Out of the Game (Side 1)

    February 12 – Out of the Game (Side 2) + Fireside Chat

    February 19 – Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets

    February 26 – Rufus at the Movies (Soundtrack Songs) + Fireside Chat

    March 4 – Unfollow the Rules (Side 1)

    March 12 – Unfollow the Rules (Side 2) + Fireside Chat

     

     January 8 – Release the Stars: “From Do I Disappoint” You to “Rules and Regulations”

    Release the Stars is the first album I self-produced. It was a milestone for me and I think set me up for writing my first opera and orchestrating it as I did a lot of the orchestrations myself on this album. A lot of it was recorded in Berlin in one of the most beautiful rooms in a former East Berlin recording studio. Berlin is a broken city that proved to be healing for me. I don’t even know how we are going to do “Do I Disappoint You” with our small band but I promise not to disappoint you. “Going to a Town” is probably the closest I come to writing a political song in the tradition of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan or any of the great musicians from the 60s and 70s who were such an integral part to the civil rights movement. It is sad that writing political songs is so out of fashion these days where our freedom is in danger more than ever. 

    January 15 — Release the Stars: From “Not Ready to Love” to “Release the Stars”

     I wrote “Not Ready to Love” a few weeks before I met my future husband. Writing songs is very therapeutic and once you get them right and poured the emotion into melodies and harmonies, you can release them and move on. I am so happy that I wrote that song when I did. “Tiergarten” from the previous show is the first song that is about him and he appears on “Sanssouci” which is part of this show.

    January 22 — All Days are Nights: Songs for Lulu: From “Who Are You New York?” to “Sonnet 43”

     I know this is maybe my most challenging album and quite a shock after the Want albums and Unfollow the Rules. They were in technicolor and Songs for Lulu is black and white not to say “bleak and white”. The songs are etchings whereas my previous albums were collections of multi-layered oil paintings. I worked on the piano arrangements over months and practiced the piano every day for hours to master them. It was around this time that my mother died and this was one of these moments where art and life truly are meant to run alongside each other for maybe longer than I had wished. I was alone on stage for this tour in a black dress with feathers and a long train (same dress as in the “Devils And Angels” video) with white, blue and black makeup. I was just as alone emotionally having lost my mother. There were shows on tour where I cried for the entire duration of the first half.

    January 29 — All Days are Nights: Songs for Lulu: From “Sonnet 20” to “Zebulon”

    I won’t be attempting to play these arrangements again myself. I have asked a friend and wonderful pianist to accompany me on these songs. This is really how they are intended to be performed like “Lieder” with an accompanist and vocalist. It would take me too long to get them back into my fingers. “The Dream” is almost impossible for me to play just as it is impossible for dreams to become reality but then again, they do if you work hard enough. I am excited about singing these songs and not have to worry about hitting the wrong keys. These might be the most exciting shows of the whole retrospective for myself artistically.

    February 5 – Out of the Game: From “Out of the Game” to “Montauk”

     I probably did not have more fun recording an album than ‘Out of the Game.’ I worked with Mark Ronson and felt like the next big pop star. Guess what, the big breakthrough didn’t happen. I realized I was already somewhere where maybe all these people who are breaking through will never get. I have been in this business consistently for over 20 years. I am still in this ocean of song and business but I am swimming and keeping afloat where a lot of others have drowned over the years already. This album is sort of a reminder for myself that the game is always continuing and you got to keep inventing your own rules. “Montauk” is the song that mentions my daughter for the first time and it is one of her favorite songs so it will be special to sing that now that she lives half her time with us.

    February 12 – Out of the Game: From “Bitter Tears” to “Candles”

     “Candles” is the song that really deals with the death of my mom. Lulu was the album that accompanied her death but it takes a long time for emotions to pour into music and this is the song that helped me through her death the most and was written in response to it where the Lulu songs were written long before she passed. On the recording my entire family plays an instrument or sings from Lucy to Martha, Loudon to Anna McGarrigle. Most songs in this show are very much about male desire and love but it certainly takes a very different turn in the end. Give them what they want and then take it away is something I have always enjoyed doing.

    February 19 – Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets: From “When Most I Wink” to “Farewell”

    Lyrics are the hardest for me to write, they definitely take the longest. Melodies come much easier. Writing songs to Shakespeare Sonnets was amazing as Shakespeare’s lyrics are just perfect. Not really able to do all these songs though as they were originally written for the Berliner Ensemble a German language theater company where Brecht/Weill’s Threepenny Opera premiered. Some of them are in German and some of them were written for the entire cast so need a chorus to perform them and I have not been able to clone myself just yet. I will keep on trying but I feel that musically I have really achieved inhabiting and expressing multiple personas with. But you will hear some of the Sonnets here that I hardly ever perform solo and in different arrangements than the ones that are on Songs for Lulu.

    February 26 – Rufus at the Movies (Soundtrack Songs): From “Hallelujah” to “One More Chance”

    Technically this show is not really part of the album retrospective but with every rule, there is a rule that it needs to be broken. Some of these songs have actually probably become my biggest songs and many people today know me as the guy who sang “Hallelujah” on the ‘Shrek’ soundtrack. But I also wrote songs for Disney, Brokeback Mountain and other mainstream and indie films so here is a bit of a buffet.

    March 4 – Unfollow the Rules: From “Trouble in Paradise” to “Peaceful Afternoon”

    This is the third version of these songs from my latest album. The record “Unfollow the Rules” is a condensed retrospective of my entire catalogue in itself. It brings back all the themes and presents them in a more concentrated, more essential way. The album is lush but if you would take one piece away the entire construction of the songs would collapse. This show ends with “Peaceful Afternoon” which for me is really the center song of this album finding peace and happiness at home, being content with where you are and of course it also sings about the place from which you will hear and see all of these 18 shows.

    March 12 – Unfollow the Rules: From “Only the People that Love” to “Alone Time”

    There is the full studio version of these songs on the album and a live version with string quartet from the Paramour Session, and now an even more stripped-down version of these songs. I love constantly changing the way these songs are heard and performed. Every great painter makes studies for their paintings and this is one of these studies that hopefully contains everything that the mature songs have. Hear song-writing and producing in the making. Our living room is where most of these songs were written. Where on my first and second album, I was yearning to transform into Icarus, to travel to Grey Gardens, to escape to Barcelona, to wander on 5th avenue in flip flops, with “Unfollow the Rules” I have arrived home, artistically and physically in a space that gives peace. After 18 shows I feel we all have a bit of a right to say that we came “home.” I hope you enjoyed the journey and feel it was a homecoming for you as well.

    CONNECT WITH RUFUS WAINWRIGHT

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    *Feature image credit: © Philamonjaro

    George Harrison’s Seminal 1970 Solo Album ‘All Things Must Pass’ Celebrated With New Stereo Mix

    George Harrison’s Seminal 1970 Solo Album ‘All Things Must Pass’ Celebrated With New Stereo Mix

    American Blues Scene Staff

    The release of All Things Must Pass (2020 Mix) marks the beginning of celebrations for this historic album

    In celebration of the 50th anniversary of George Harrison‘s classic solo album, All Things Must Pass, the George Harrison Estate has released a new 2020 stereo mix of the LP’s title song as a prelude of what’s to come.

    Photo courtesy of Jim Merlis/Big Hassle Media

    The new stereo mix of the seminal album’s title track was overseen by multi- GRAMMY® Award winner Paul Hicks, known for his work with the Harrison Estate, The Beatles and this year’s chart-topping albums by The Rolling Stones (Goat’s Head Soup) and John Lennon (Gimme Some Truth).

     Dhani Harrison states:

     The new stereo mix of the album’s title track is just a taste of more things to come in 2021 as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of my father’s legendary All Things Must Pass album. We’ve been digging through mountains of tapes, and they just kept coming – boxes and boxes of them.

     Making this album sound clearer was always one of my dad’s greatest wishes and it was something we were working on together right up until he passed. But with the help of new technology and the work of Paul Hicks on this project, we are now able to make that happen. We can’t wait for you all to hear everything we’ve been working on and your patience will be rewarded next year.

     Originally released fifty years ago, All Things Must Pass, the triple LP produced by Phil Spector, includes “My Sweet Lord,” the first number one single by a solo Beatle. It was critically acclaimed and topped both the UK and US album charts, with Rolling Stone calling it “the War and Peace of rock and roll” and “an intensely personal statement and a grandiose gesture.”

     Over time the influence of the album has only grown as subsequent generations have discovered it. The album has been inducted into the GRAMMY® Hall Of Fame, included in Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 albums of all time, as well as The Times of London’s 100 best albums.

     The release of All Things Must Pass (2020 Mix) marks the beginning of celebrations for this historic album. Stay tuned for more All Things Must Pass 50th anniversary release details beginning in 2021.

     

    All Things Must Pass (2020 Mix)