Swedish Blues-Rockers Black River Delta to Release New LP ‘Shakin’

Swedish Blues-Rockers Black River Delta to Release New LP ‘Shakin’

American Blues Scene Staff

The band’s gritty blues-rock sound draws from classic blues legends like Robert Johnson, the raw style of R. L. Burnside and modern artists such as The Black Keys, Gary Clark Jr. and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Black River Delta is a blues-rock band originating from Bollnäs, Sweden. The foursome have released two studio albums – Devil on the Loose (2016) and Vol. II (2018), and are poised to drop their latest heavy-hitting full-length effort Shakin’ this spring.

The band’s gritty blues-rock sound draws from classic blues legends like Robert Johnson, the raw style of R. L. Burnside and modern artists such as The Black Keys, Gary Clark Jr. and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Their ability to combine age-old blues with modern rock has taking them on several tours across Europe and North America, and has caught the attention of artists like blues legend Joe Bonamassa, calling Vol. II one of the best albums of 2018 and even inviting the band to perform on his annual cruise festival.

Black River Delta’s new album, Shakin’, will be available this spring via Sofaburn Records.

Black River Delta

*Feature image photo: Daniel Hansson

Allen Ginsberg’s ‘The Fall of America’ – A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute ft. Lee Ranaldo, Thurston Moore, Andrew Bird, etc.

Allen Ginsberg’s ‘The Fall of America’ – A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute ft. Lee Ranaldo, Thurston Moore, Andrew Bird, etc.

Lauren Leadingham

A benefit for Headcount.org and dedicated to Hal Willner, this musical interpretation of Ginsberg’s ‘The Fall of America: Poems of These States 1965-1971’ is out February 5

A tribute album celebrating the 50th anniversary of Beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg‘s The Fall of America: Poems of These States will feature musical interpretations from artists including Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore, Yo La Tengo, Andrew Bird, and more. 

Consisting of new musical versions of Ginsberg’s poetry from The Fall of America, set alongside recordings of Ginsberg recitations, the tribute also benefits voter registration non-partisan organization Headcount. Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America: A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute is set to be released on digital formats on February 5 with CD/vinyl arriving June 4th.

Photo courtesy of Ken Weinstein

“When invited to write a musical setting from The Fall of America, I chose the powerful final 16 lines of ‘Memory Gardens,’ adding some explanatory text at the beginning to make it more vivid. Ahh Allen, Ahh Jack!”

-Ed Sanders, Woodstock, N.Y


“For my Japanese reading, I tried to keep the tone much like the narration at the beginning of a dystopian film, or a parent reading a storybook of old stories to their children.

I am honored to be a part of such a wonderful project.”

-Shintaro Sakamoto, Tokyo


“While most people tend to reflect the brightness of the era, Ginsberg didn’t shy away from the darkness. He writes the scene in all its complexity, the busts of excitements and Dionysian excesses as well as darker images, such as the sculpture of the hanged man. He forces us to recognize the children sleeping in the bed and the police cars parked outside, red lights revolving in the trees.”

-Mickey Hart, California


Fall of America poems — published by City Lights Books in San Francisco — covers the years 1965-1971 when Ginsberg was zig-zagging across the country and narrating into the portable reel to reel Uher that Bob Dylan had gifted him.

“In 1965, Ginsberg began planning an ambitious project, a book of thematically connected poems, a collection that ‘discovered’ America in poetry similar to the way Kerouac’s On the Road had explored the country in prose,” explains editor of The Fall of America Journals Michael Schumacher. “The Vietnam War would be a constant presence overhanging Ginsberg’s travel writings like a darkening shadow affecting daily life in the country. It would be a study of contrasts: natural beauty slammed up against an ugliness that rose out of the tensions of violence. The public’s polarized dialogue over Vietnam and, earlier in the decade, the civil rights movement, convinced Ginsberg that America was teetering on the precipice of a fall.” – Michael Schumacher, from introduction to The Fall of America Journals 1965-1971.

Digital Track Listing:

1)    Scanner – Elegy for Neal Cassidy

2)    Handsome Family – Hiway Poesy Painted Desert into Albuquerque

3)    Shintaro Sakamoto – Manhattan Thirties Flash

4)    Thurston Moore & Lee Ranaldo – Hum Bom

5)    Aliah Rosenthal – War Profit Litany

6)    Ed Sanders (The Fugs) – Memory Gardens

7)    Mickey Hart – Drones Du Jour (First Party at Ken Kesey’s with Hell’s Angels)

8)    ethereal_interface – An Open Window on Chicago

9)    Howie B with Gavin Friday – Death on All Fronts (America is Falling)

10) Disco Pusher – A Prophecy

11) Kaya Project – Wales Visitation

12) Angelique Kidjo – Uluru Song

13) Bill Frisell – Over Laramie

14) Andrew Bird – Easter Sunday

15) Devendra Banhart – Milarepa Taste

16) Yo La Tengo – Bayonne into NYC

17) The Good Ones (Rwanda) – Falling Asleep in America

18) Steven Taylor – Continuation of a Long Poem in These States

19) Lang Lee – Pain on All Fronts

20)  Social Animals – Falling Asleep In America (Roses Smell Sweet)


Vinyl Track Listing Side A

1)    Scanner – Elegy for Neal Cassidy

2)    Shintaro Sakamoto – Manhattan Thirties Flash

3)    Thurston Moore & Lee Ranaldo – Hum Bom

4)    Ed Sanders (The Fugs) – Memory Gardens

5)    Mickey Hart – Drones Du Jour (First Party at Ken Kesey’s)

6)    Howie B with Gavin Friday – Death on All Fronts (America is Falling)

7)    Disco Pusher – A Prophecy

 Side B:

1)    Angelique Kidjo – Uluru Song

2)    Bill Frisell – Over Laramie

3)    Andrew Bird – Easter Sunday

4)    Devendra Banhart – Milarepa Taste

5)    Yo La Tengo – Bayonne into NYC

6)    Lang Lee – Pain on All Fronts

 Bonus download: Youth – Iron Horse (An Epic 32 Minute Auditory Journey)


Pre-order The Fall of America


*Feature image: Ginsberg reading to a crowd in 1966 (credit: Associated Press)

‘The Last Soul Company: The Malaco Records Story’ Celebrates America’s Oldest Independent Label

‘The Last Soul Company: The Malaco Records Story’ Celebrates America’s Oldest Independent Label

Shore Fire Media

“Malaco’s story, by all rights, should never have happened,” says the collection’s author Rob Bowman. That story is one of the greatest, and certainly most improbable, of any independent record company in the history of American music.

Malaco Records announces the March 23 publication of The Last Soul Company: The Malaco Records Story, a gorgeous new retrospective book from Grammy Award-winning author Rob Bowman (Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records) that weaves together the tale of a half century of Malaco productions, exploring the careers and catalog of such seminal Malaco artists as Mississippi Fred McDowell, Bobby Blue Bland, Z.Z. Hill, Johnnie Taylor, Little Milton, James Cleveland, and many more.

Presenting Malaco’s story in almost 200 full-color pages filled with exclusive stories, dozens of never-before-seen photographs, and other ephemera from the label’s illustrious history — and featuring a foreword from legendary music author Peter Guralnick — The Last Soul Company is an invaluable documentation of a unique and essential American music institution.

“Malaco’s story, by all rights, should never have happened,” says the collection’s author Rob Bowman. That story is one of the greatest, and certainly most improbable, of any independent record company in the history of American music. After releasing a string of era-defining soul hits in the 1960s and 70s, the Jackson, Mississippi-based label expanded into the worlds of gospel and blues, and outlasted Motown, Atlantic, Chess, Stax, Sun, Ace and every other indie label releasing African-American music in the process. Having marked its 50th anniversary, Malaco proudly stands as the oldest continuously run independent record label in America, and the biggest and most important gospel label in the world.

And the label remains vital: Not only does it continue to be a major player in the Black gospel world, but when Kanye West, Drake, Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Solange, Snoop Dogg or 2Chainz are digging for soulful, powerful samples to undergird some of the 21st century’s biggest hip-hop albums, time and time again they turn to Malaco’s incredible catalog.

“Just in case we weren’t going to be a successful record company, as a pharmacy graduate, I kept my license current for a few more years, as a fallback insurance policy.” says Malaco co-founder Tommy Couch Sr. of Malaco’s improbable path to success. “We kept making records and releasing them on our own labels and soon we had a Gold album on Z. Z. Hill and we were on our way to become a real record company. We were building content years before we ever heard ‘Content is King.’

“Throughout the years there have been a few constants at Malaco: the music, independent spirit and independent distribution,” says Malaco’s Tommy Couch Jr. “While the music business has undergone tremendous changes in the past 50 years, great music, an independent spirit and independent distribution still remain Malaco’s top priorities.”

Malaco Records

Guitar Legend Steve Cropper Announces ‘Fire It Up,’ Calling It His First Solo Album Since 1969

Guitar Legend Steve Cropper Announces ‘Fire It Up,’ Calling It His First Solo Album Since 1969

Jon Bleicher / Prospect PR

Watch the lyric video for “Far Away”

On April 23rd, guitar legend Steve Cropper will release Fire It Up, which he’s calling his first proper solo album since 1969, after decades of stardom in soul, blues, and rock and roll. “This album is different from everything out there now,” Cropper says, in reference to two vocals albums he released in the 80s – “I haven’t heard myself this way since the 60s.” Cropper announced the album with the release of “Far Away,” a bouncing soul number that draws heavily from classic R&B, featuring Cropper’s signature guitar that’s always in service to the groove. “I’m a rhythm player,” Cropper explains, “I set the groove. I’m always listening to the singer and the rest of band.”

A founding member of the Blues Brothers and one of Stax Records’ main producers, songwriters, and guitarists – as the guitarist in its house band, Booker T. and the M.G.’s –  Cropper reintroduced classic soul to unsuspecting audiences, with Rolling Stone ranking him in the top 40 all-time greatest guitarists. “Midnight Hour” by Wilson Pickett, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding, “Soul Man” and “Hold On I’m Coming” by Sam and Dave — you simply can’t discuss soul music without Steve Cropper. He plays on John Lennon’s Rock N Roll album, Frank Black’s Honeycomb and Fast Man Raider Man albums, and on several albums by Ringo Starr. He’s also produced for John Prine, Jeff Beck, and John Cougar Mellencamp.

But seven decades into his legendary career, Steve sees this record as different: “This is the first Steve Cropper album since 1969,” he says. “It’s made from old grooves, because during a lockdown, you work on stuff that’s been in your head for years.” Rooted in sessions with the Rascals’ Felix Cavaliere and produced with long-time collaborator Jon Tiven, Cropper is both guitarist and a producer on the album, a role he is most comfortable in after years on the scene. “To be a good producer, you’ve got to be able to hear a song finished in your head before there’s much of anything done,” he explains. “..a good production is not accidental. I’m really proud of things that I produce.”

Careful and selective about what he’ll put his name on, you won’t be surprised to find that Fire It Up is an instant classic. From the classic R&B of the title-track, featuring vocalist Roger C. Reale, to the funk of “Bush Hog” and the quiet restraint of “One Good Turn,” the album may have Cropper’s name on it, but it’s still very much a collaborative effort, where solos and prowess are always in service to the larger rhythm. “This isn’t a battle of the bands,” he adds. “..it’s better to enhance the other guy, make him shine.”

In fact, listening to everyone else may be one of the secrets to Cropper’s style. “The Go Getter Is Gone” highlights the album’s collaborative effort. “Roger came up with most of the lyrics here,” he says. “I came up with the rhythms and the grooves and the changes, but I think teamwork is better.” And suddenly a light shines on why Cropper has pursued so few solo records: “When a basketball team wins,” he says, “it’s not the player who made the last three-pointer who wins, it’s the whole team that got him there.”

Fire It Up Track Listing:

Bush Hog Part 1

Fire It Up

One Good Turn

I’m Not Havin’ It

Out of Love

Far Away

Say You Don’t Know Me

She’s So Fine

Two Wrongs

Heartbreak Street

The Go-Getter Is Gone

Bush Hog Part 2

Bush Hog

Pre-order Fire It Up

Cheap Trick Return with New Single ‘Light Up The Fire’

Cheap Trick Return with New Single ‘Light Up The Fire’

Big Hassle Media

‘In Another World’ arrives via BMG on April 9th

The one and only Cheap Trick have announced today’s premiere of their pummeling new single. “Light Up The Fire” is available now at all DSPs and streaming services. The song heralds Cheap Trick’s eagerly anticipated 20th studio album, In Another World, arriving via BMG on Friday, April 9 digitally as well as on standard black vinyl and CD. Limited edition blue and white splattered vinyl will be available at independent record stores nationwide. In addition, a limited edition picture disc will be available exclusively via Target. Pre-orders are available now, with all pre-orders joined by an instant grat download of “Light Up The Fire.”

Photo credit: Martin Thompson

Produced by longtime associate Julian Raymond, In Another World sees Cheap Trick doing what they do better than anyone — crafting indelible rock ‘n’ roll with oversized hooks, mischievous lyrics, and seemingly inexorable energy. Trademark anthems like “Light Up The Fire” and “Boys & Girls & Rock N Roll” are countered by more introspective – but no less exuberant – considerations of times past, present, and unknowable future on such strikingly potent new tracks as “Another World” and “I’ll See You Again.” 

In Another World – which marks Cheap Trick’s first new LP since 2017’s double-header of We’re All Alright! and Christmas Christmas – further showcases Cheap Trick at their most eclectic, touching on a myriad of distinct sounds and song approaches, from the swampy Chicago blues number, “Final Days” (featuring fiery harmonica from GRAMMY® Award-nominated singer and Wet Willie frontman Jimmy Hall) to a timely rendition of John Lennon’s still-relevant “Gimme Some Truth,” originally released for Record Store Day Black Friday 2019 and featuring the instantly recognizable guitar sound of erstwhile Sex Pistol Steve Jones. As irresistible and immediate as anything in their already awesome catalog, In Another World is Cheap Trick at their irrepressible best, infinitely entertaining and utterly unstoppable.

Founded in 1974, Cheap Trick is an indisputable American institution, beloved around the globe for their instantly identifiable, hugely influential, brand of pop-rock ‘n’ roll. The band – Robin Zander (vocals, rhythm guitar), Rick Nielsen (lead guitar), Tom Petersson (bass guitar) – are true pioneers with an unparalleled streak of certifiably classic tunes, from “He’s A Whore,” “California Man” and “Dream Police” to “Surrender,” “I Want You To Want Me,” and the worldwide #1 hit single, “The Flame.” 2016 saw Cheap Trick inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a long-overdue acknowledgment of a nearly five-decade career that has earned them more than 40 international gold and platinum certifications, myriad awards and industry honors, featured appearances on over 20 movie soundtracks, and total record sales well in excess of 20 million.

 Cheap Trick – Zander, Nielsen, Petersson along with drummer Daxx Nielsen – are of course one of rock’s hardest working live acts, lighting it up at arenas, concert halls, and amphitheaters worldwide more than 150 nights each year. Alas, recent events have forced the band off the road for perhaps the longest hiatus of their storied history. Cheap Trick plan to return to the endless highway later as soon as they can, including North American and U.K. tour dates – for updates and pre-sale information, please visit www.cheaptrick.com/tour-dates.html.

 “This band is held together by music,” says Robin Zander. “It’s the super glue that keeps us writing and putting records out. The reason we started the band in the first place was to tour and write songs and put records out. If all that went away, there would be no point then, would there?”

Pre-order In Another World


42nd Blues Music Awards Nominees Announced

42nd Blues Music Awards Nominees Announced

American Blues Scene Staff

Widely recognized as the highest honor bestowed by the blues community, the BMAs applaud the past year’s exceptional achievements in blues music recording, performance, and songwriting, as well as supporting the blues’ rich cultural traditions.

With an expansive list of nominees whose music stretches across genres, The Blues Foundation’s 42nd Annual Blues Music Awards will reflect the widening influence of blues music and blues artists.

Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Elvin Bishop of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Dion are each BMA nominees this year. Silkroad Ensemble Artistic Director and trained opera singer Rhiannon Giddens is contending for the Koko Taylor Award for Traditional Blues Female Artist, while Bernard Purdie, the legendary sideman for James Brown and Aretha Franklin among others, is competing for top drummer honors. The Soul Blues Album category includes That’s What I Heard by Blues Hall of Fame inductee Robert Cray, recipient of the Americana Music Lifetime Achievement Award. The exciting new music presented by these and other BMA nominees reveal the genre’s evolution and vitality.

Topping the nomination chart this year again are Rick Estrin & the Nightcats with five nominations; they also led last year with six nominations. Estrin is up for the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, Instrumentalist Harmonica (which he won last year), and Contemporary Blues Male Artist categories. He is also credited as songwriter with Frank Bey, Kathy Murray, and Nightcats guitarist Kid Andersen for Bey’s Song of the Year entrant “All My Dues Are Paid.” Andersen, additionally, is battling for the best guitarist honors while Nightcats drummer Derrick “D’Mar” Martin ranks among the top drummer contestants.

Five is the lucky number for Sugar Ray & the Bluetones. The group squares off against Estrin & the Nightcats for the Band of the Year award along with Anthony Geraci’s Boston Blues Allstars, John Németh & the Blue Dreamers, and Southern Avenue. Sugar Ray Norcia is competing for Traditional Blues Male Artist and Instrumentalist Vocals honors, while the Bluetones’ Too Far From the Bar is up for Album of the Year and Traditional Blues Album. Furthermore, Bluetones’ Michael “Mudcat” Ward and Anthony Geraci are nominated for Instrumentalist Bassist and Instrumentalist Piano (Pinetop Perkins Piano Player Award); the two, moreover, play together in Geraci’s Boston Blues Allstars.

Challenging Estrin for the highly competitive B.B. King Award are last year’s winner Sugaray Rayford, multi-BMA winner Lil’ Ed Williams, Shemekia Copeland, and Németh. Németh and Copeland also face off in the Contemporary Blues Album category. Németh’s other nods are for Instrumentalist Vocals, Soul Blues Male Artist, and, with the Blue Dreamers, Band of the Year. Copeland is also vying for Contemporary Female Blues Artist, Contemporary Blues Album and Album of the Year.

The 2021 BMA’s 25 categories include a number of well-known acts, both in and out of the blues world. The Blues Rock Album contenders include the long-running band Savoy Brown, while guitar ace Kenny Wayne Shepherd is a Blues Rock Artist award hopeful. Last year’s Blues Hall of Fame inductee Bettye LaVette hopes to hang on to her Soul Blues Female Artist title, and her fellow 2020 Blues Hall of Famer Billy Branch faces Fabulous Thunderbird frontman Kim Wilson in both the Traditional Blues Male Artist and Instrumentalist Harmonica categories. Multi-BMA winner Ruthie Foster is up for Instrumentalist Vocals and Contemporary Blues Female Artist; the latter category contains acclaimed performers Samantha Fish, Sue Foley, Shaun Murphy, and Copeland. Another highly competitive category, Acoustic Blues Artist, features Harrison Kennedy, Dom Flemons, Catfish Keith, Keb’ Mo’ and last year’s victor, Doug MacLeod.

This year’s nominees also illustrate how blues artists traverse generations, with ages spanning seven decades. Ninety-two-year-old Jimmy Johnson’s Every Day of Your Life is among Traditional Blues Album selections. With 150 years between them, Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite have also been nominated in the Traditional Album category with 100 Years of Blues; the album is also up for Album of the Year. Eighty-seven-year-old Bobby Rush received doubled nominations for Rawer Than Raw for Album of the Year and Acoustic Album of the Year, while 81-year-old William Bell is a Soul Blues Male Artist contender. Dion is one of the first-timers along with younger colleagues like Richard Ray Farrell (Acoustic Blues Album); Kat Riggins (Contemporary Blues Album); and Sonny Green (Soul Blues Album). Youth ruled at the 2020 BMAs as 21-year-old Christone “Kingfish” Ingram came away the big winner, taking home five awards. This year, he will hope to be crowned again as top guitarist and Contemporary Blues Male Artist. Andrew Alli, “King” Solomon Hicks, Jose Ramirez, Ryan Perry, and Betty Fox Band comprise a quartet of talented up-and-coming blues stars aspiring to follow in Ingram’s footsteps by winning Best Emerging Artist Album.

Widely recognized as the highest honor bestowed by the blues community, the BMAs applaud the past year’s exceptional achievements in blues music recording, performance, and songwriting, as well as supporting the blues’ rich cultural traditions. The 42nd Annual BMA program will be presented as a virtual event on June 6, 2021 starting at 4 p.m. CT. The world is invited to watch the celebration, which will be live-streamed on The Blues Foundation’s Facebook page and its YouTube channel at no charge.

Only members of The Blues Foundation can vote for the BMAs. Voting opens on January 28 and closes March 12 at 11:59 p.m. CT. Blues Foundation membership costs as little as $25 per year. Visit www.BLUES.org and click on “Join” to learn about membership, donations, and to help keep the blues thriving around the world.

Major funding for the 2021 Blues Music Awards provided by ArtsMemphis, BMI, the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise LLC, Memphis Tourism and the Tennessee Arts Commission. *Confirmed as of January 27, 2021

This year, due to COVID-19 precautions, The Blues Foundation will present the International Blues Challenge (IBC) as an engaging social media experience that combines music, memories and insights unique to IBC. Follow The Blues Foundation on Facebook and Twitter to be part of the virtual IBC that will include musical performances as well as a full calendar of online panel discussions, book talks and workshops for blues artists, industry professional and fans. Additional information will be provided in February.

BB King Entertainer of the Year
Shemekia Copeland
Rick Estrin
John Németh
Sugaray Rayford
Lil’ Ed Williams

Album of the Year
100 Years of Blues, Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite
Rawer Than Raw, Bobby Rush
Rise Up, Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters
Too Far From the Bar, Sugar Ray & The Bluetones featuring Little Charlie
Uncivil War, Shemekia Copeland

Band of the Year
Anthony Geraci & The Boston Blues Allstars
John Németh & The Blue Dreamers
Rick Estrin & The Nightcats
Southern Avenue
Sugar Ray & The Bluetones

Song of the Year
“All My Dues Are Paid” – written by Kathy Murray, Rick Estrin, Frank Bey, Kid Andersen (performed by Frank Bey)
“All Out of Tears” – written by Walter Trout (performed by Walter Trout)
“Blues Comin’ On” – written by Dion DiMucci and Mike Aquilina (performed by Dion Feat. Joe Bonamassa)
“Is It Over” – written by Don Bryant and Scott Bomar (performed by Don Bryant)
“Uncivil War” – written by John Hahn and Will Kimbrough (performed by Shemekia Copeland)

Best Emerging Artist Album
Hard Workin‘ Man, Andrew Alli
Harlem, King Solomon Hicks
Here I Come, Jose Ramirez
High Risk Low Reward, Ryan Perry
Peace In Pieces, Betty Fox Band

Acoustic Blues Album
Dustin Arbuckle & Matt Woods, Dustin Arbuckle & Matt Woods
Prove It On Me, Rory Block
Rawer Than Raw, Bobby Rush
Three Pints of Gin, Richard Ray Farrell
Traveling Man – Live, Watermelon Slim

Blues Rock Album
Ain’t Done Yet, Savoy Brown
Ice Cream In Hell, Tinsley Ellis
Mike Zito and Friends – Rock ‘n’ Roll: A Tribute to Chuck Berry, Mike Zito
Mississippi Suitcase, Peter Parcek
Ordinary Madness, Walter Trout

Contemporary Blues Album
Cry Out, Kat Riggins
My Blues Pathway, Kirk Fletcher
Self-Made Man, Larkin Poe
Stronger Than Strong, John Németh
Uncivil War, Shemekia Copeland

Soul Blues Album
All My Dues Are Paid, Frank Bey
Found! One Soul Singer, Sonny Green
That’s What I Heard, Robert Cray Band
Where Have All The Soul Men Gone, Johnny Rawls
You Make Me Feel, Don Bryant

Traditional Blues Album
100 Years of Blues, Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite
Blueswoman, Nora Jean Wallace
Every Day of Your Life, Jimmy Johnson
Rise Up, Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters
Too Far From the Bar, Sugar Ray & The Bluetones featuring Little Charlie

Acoustic Blues Artist
Dom Flemons
Catfish Keith
Harrison Kennedy
Doug MacLeod
Keb‘ Mo’

Blues Rock Artist
Tinsley Ellis
Reverend Peyton
Ana Popovic
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Mike Zito

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Shemekia Copeland
Samantha Fish
Sue Foley
Ruthie Foster
Shaun Murphy

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Selwyn Birchwood
Chris Cain
Rick Estrin
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
J.P. Soars

Soul Blues Female Arist
Annika Chambers
Thornetta Davis
Bettye LaVette
Dorothy Moore
Terrie Odabi

Soul Blues Male Artist
William Bell
Don Bryant
John Németh
Johnny Rawls
Curtis Salgado

Traditional Blues Female Artist (Koko Taylor Award)
Rory Block
Rhiannon Giddens
Diunna Greenleaf
Trudy Lynn
Teeny Tucker

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Billy Branch
Sugar Ray Norcia
John Primer
Jontavious Willis
Kim Wilson

Instrumentalist Bass
Willie J. Campbell
Larry Fulcher
Danielle Nicole
Patrick Rynn
Michael “Mudcat” Ward

Instrumentalist Drums
Tony Braunagel
June Core
Derrick “D’Mar” Martin
Bernard Purdie
Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith

Instrumentalist Guitar
Christoffer “Kid” Andersen
Chris Cain
Laura Chavez
Kirk Fletcher
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Instrumentalist Harmonica
Billy Branch
Rick Estrin
Dennis Gruenling
Jason Ricci
Kim Wilson

Instrumentalist Horn
Mindi Abair
Jimmy Carpenter
Doug James
Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff
Nancy Wright

Instrumentalist Piano (Pinetop Perkins Piano Player)
Mike Finnigan
Anthony Geraci
Johnny Iguana
Bruce Katz
Jim Pugh

Instrumentalist Vocal
Thornetta Davis
Ruthie Foster
John Németh
Sugar Ray Norcia
Sugaray Rayford

‘Soundman Confidential’ Podcast Launches Season Two with Buddy Guy

‘Soundman Confidential’ Podcast Launches Season Two with Buddy Guy

Devious Planet

Listen to episode seven with Buddy Guy

Frank X. Gallagher, the host of the podcast Soundman Confidential is on a mission to keep the magic of live music in the public’s imagination. Having graduated from roadie to the soundbooth, the legendary soundman mixed the live shows for some of the biggest bands in rock music, running tours, traveling thousands of miles on tour buses, and living the life of rock and roll.

Photo courtesy of Pati DeVries

Soundman Confidential finds Gallagher playing host to conversations with some of the biggest players and artists in the music business, opening up about their careers performing live, and how they see the future of live music, post-pandemic. Add to the lineup, celebrities and other artists recalling live music’s importance in their lives. Having graduated from roadie to the soundbooth,

To kick off the Season two, Frank speaks with blues legend Buddy Guy. Buddy’s influence on music is massive. Born in Louisiana in 1936, he headed north to Illinois to become part of the Chicago Blues sound with Muddy Waters and Junior Wells, and touring with B.B. King. Gallagher was Buddy’s tour manager and sound engineer through much of the 1990s. Buddy was remark inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 and performed at the White House for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in 2012.

Photo courtesy of Pati DeVries

On January 27th, Frank will be speaking with Scottish music mogul Alan McGee. McGee has been a record label owner, musician, manager, and music blogger for The Guardian. He co-founded the independent Creation Records label, running it from 1983 until its closure in 1999. He subsequently founded the Poptones label, running it from 1999 to 2007. Alan discovered an amazing collection of bands including Oasis, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, Teenage Fanclub, and a whole bunch more.

Based in Arizona and California, Frank awaits the call to get back on the road with the band. He left his home village, Banknock, in Scotland, as a sixteen-year-old in the mid-1960s and has been taking his gypsy spirit across the world ever since. He hears music, not so much through his ears but his heart. It’s the Celtic in the man.

Season Two:

Jan 13 – Buddy Guy

Jan 20 – Dolette McDonald

Jan 23 – Luke James

Jan 27 – Alan McGee

Feb 3 – Clockworks

Feb 10 – Richard Jobson

Feb 17- Jane Wiedlin & Gine Schock / The Go-Go’s

Feb 24 – Vernon Reid

Mar 3 – Richard Butler


Season One:

Jim Kerr

Tina Weymouth

David Byrne

Chris Frantz

Jerry Harrison

Kate Pierson


Listen to Buddy Guy episode
Listen to all archived podcasts


*Feature image credit: Melissa Miller/Pabst Theater Group

Listen: Shovels & Rope and Sharon Van Etten Cover the Beach Boys’ ‘In My Room’

Listen: Shovels & Rope and Sharon Van Etten Cover the Beach Boys’ ‘In My Room’

Lauren Leadingham

Appearing on Shovels & Rope’s ‘Busted Jukebox Volume 3′ is a cover of the Beach Boys’ “In My Room” with Sharon Van Etten

A new album from Shovels & Rope (featuring artists such as Sharon Van Etten, M. Ward, The Secret Sisters, John Paul White, The War and Treaty) has been announced. Busted Juicebox marks the third installment of the Shovels & Rope’s collaborative record series, Busted Jukebox, which features classic songs covered by the duo and their friends. They have nicknamed the album because of its kid-friendly song choices, ranging from lullabies to R.E.M.

Appearing on this third volume is a cover of the Beach Boys‘ “In My Room” with Sharon Van Etten, who made this statement:

As a mom, there are “go-to” songs that help calm my son down and there are nights where I just sing the same song over and over. This is a song that is so personal to me, as we have listened to a lot of the Beach Boys music with our child and to share a sentiment of calm and exhaustion, sleep and frustration—this cover embodies it all.

Means so much to have been asked by musician parents that are trying to figure it out in all this chaos as well. All we can do is keep doing what we love, sharing optimism and hope and supporting one another during these trying times.

Busted Juicebox Volume 3 is out February 5 via Dualtone.


*Feature image: Cary Ann and Michael (Shovels & Rope), courtesy of Dualtone Music Group

Grammy-Nominated Mickey Guyton Joins Maggie Rose on ‘Salute the Songbird,’ Podcast Highlighting Women in Music

Grammy-Nominated Mickey Guyton Joins Maggie Rose on ‘Salute the Songbird,’ Podcast Highlighting Women in Music

American Blues Scene Staff

“My goal and purpose and hope is that other women in this genre – black, white, whatever you are – can see that and realize that they have a powerful voice, too.” – Mickey Guyton

Osiris Media announces the release of the fourth episode of Salute the Songbird, a new podcast hosted by rock and soul singer Maggie Rose. The episode is out now, featuring Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Mickey Guyton. Salute the Songbird is the latest addition to Osiris Artist Spotlight podcasts and was developed in partnership with Rose and her manager, Austin Marshall of Starstruck Entertainment.

In this episode, Rose and Guyton discuss how Guyton got her start and the epiphany moment she had watching LeAnn Rimes perform the National Anthem that led her on the path to country music. Guyton discusses growing up in an era when women reigned supreme on country radio, the pivotal moment that changed the course of her career, and why she’s determined to create opportunities for others in the music community.

 “My goal and purpose and hope is that other women in this genre – black, white, whatever you are – can see that and realize that they have a powerful voice, too, that they can use not only when it comes to speaking out about this injustice, but within their own personal careers as they’re navigating these writing rooms with majority men who may take over your writing session and say you should write something like this. I hope I can empower women and people to open their mouths and express and say what they want and then therefore they can have lucrative careers that open the doors.” – Mickey Guyton

Guyton was born in Arlington, Texas and moved around the Lone Star state as a child due to her father’s job but found music to be a constant in her nomadic life. She began singing in church and was drawn to a variety of artists with big voices including Dolly Parton, Cece Winans, Whitney Houston and LeAnn Rimes.

She has been featured by CBS This Morning’s Gayle King twice and has performed on ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today Show. She has also been spotlighted in People magazine’s American Voices feature, Billboard magazine as one of Country music’s “female game-changers,” and Entertainment Weekly as one of the “new queens of country music.” She is nominated for Best Country Solo Performance for the song “Black Like Me.”

 At the end of the episode, Rose plays Guyton’s song “Bridges” from her recently released EP of the same name.

Listen to Episode Four with Mickey Guyton

*Feature image courtesy of Ken Weinstein


Joanna Connor Set to Release Album Produced by Joe Bonamassa 2/26

Joanna Connor Set to Release Album Produced by Joe Bonamassa 2/26

Big Hassle Media

Watch music video for new single “I Feel So Good”

Chicago-based slide guitar virtuoso and singer-songwriter Joanna Connor, who is best known as one of the reigning Queens of blues-rock guitar, releases her 14th album 4801 South Indiana Avenue on Joe Bonamassa’s new independent blues record label Keeping The Blues Alive on February 26, 2021.

The new album, the follow up to her critically acclaimed studio album Rise, was produced by Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith at Ocean Way Recording Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.

Joanna, Joe, and the rest of the musicians on the album dug deeply and conjured up an authentic, alive, and kicking non-derivative set of Chicago Blues.

Photo courtesy of Cory Councill

Says Joanna, “We chose the album title ‘4801 South Indiana Avenue’ because it was the actual street address of the hallowed funky blues sanctuary ‘Theresa’s Lounge.’ We want the listener to open that door, walk in, and feel to their core some of the magic that a place like that brought night after night. It was an honor to bring this to you, the listener.”

Joanna has played guitar with the who’s who of blues including the likes of James Cotton, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, and Junior Wells. Debuting at Chicago’s premiere blues club Kingston Mines in the 1980s, she played there three nights a week ever since, in between gigs at larger clubs and festivals, before the spread of the pandemic earlier this year.

An aggressively edgy and highly innovative blues-rock guitarist with a tight groove that encompasses jazz and funk, Joanna’s hailed by many as one of the most powerful and influential female guitarists on the planet.

The new album reflects an entirely new experience from the way Joanna has recorded music in the past. “This album is a homage to the blues school that I attended in Chicago,” says Joanna. “We attempted to capture the spirit of tradition and inject it with raw energy and passion.”

When Joanna was asked how Joe came to produce her album, she remembers it like it was yesterday. “We recorded the album in Nashville. Joe retweeted one of my videos last May and it went viral on his site. I thanked him in a message, gave him my contact info, and he immediately responded.”

“He opened for me years ago at the House of Blues Backporch Stage in Chicago, where I played weekly for years! Joe was totally aware of me for years. He wanted to make an album for me that he felt I needed to make and had never really made.”

Joanna has a reputation in music circles for being a great guitar player. What did she try to achieve with her guitar playing on the new album?

Says Joanna, “We used no effects, lots of cool guitars and vintage amps, which is new for me. We tried to redo it to portray the deep history I have in the blues genre, bring out the thousands of sweaty hours in those blues clubs in Chicago and deliver it to the record.”

On the new album, Joe pushed Joanna which enabled her to deliver a more powerful vocal on every track.

“It was the hardest I’ve ever pushed my voice ever,” says Joanna.

But why did Joe Bonamassa want to produce Joanna’s new album? “I remember asking Joe point-blank, ‘Out of all the guitar players in the world why me?’ He said, “Because you have an intensity about your playing that most people don’t have. As a matter of fact, I wish I had some of that in myself where you just let it go, and you don’t even think about it.”

 The new album features the crème de le crème of musicians. Joanna cites working with them as an unforgettable experience.

 “Playing with Reese Wynans was an honor and a privilege and brought me to tears. Having Josh Smith and Joe playing guitar on every cut and arranging everything was a gift to me. Bassist Calvin Turner was incredibly groovy and solid and was responsible for the horn arrangements. Lemar Carter is one of the hottest drummers on the music scene and plays with Frank Ocean and so many others. He’s a master of time and taste and groove. We recorded every song in a max of three takes. We were all in the same room together, except for Joe who was in the control room playing and producing. Making this album felt like a sweet gig.”

4801 South Indiana Avenue Track Listing:

Destination (3:31)

Come Back Home (4:19)

Bad News (6:26)

I Feel So Good (3:35)

For The Love Of A Man (4:20)

Trouble Trouble (3:40)

Please Help (4:14)

Cut You Loose (4:09)

Part Time Love (5:06)

It’s My Time (4:39)

Pre-order 4801 South Indiana Avenue

Eddie Van Halen Honored With Mural On His Birthday

Eddie Van Halen Honored With Mural On His Birthday

Lauren Leadingham

“Long Live the King” mural being unveiled on Eddie Van Halen’s birthday

To celebrate his life and legacy, artist Robert Vargas is unveiling a new mural outside the Guitar Center in Hollywood today, on what would have been the guitar great’s 66th birthday. The artwork features EVH playing his infamous Frankenstrat and wearing a Van Halen necklace.

“I am beyond excited to create this mural of one of my all-time creative heroes, Eddie Van Halen,” said Vargas when he started the painting he calls “Long Live the King.”

Continuing, “This mural is truly for the fans and a celebration of my favorite rock band, Van Halen’s legacy.”

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A post shared by R O B E R T V A R G A S (@therobertvargas)

Cristina Vane’s 5-Month-Long Tour Across America Inspires Debut Album

Cristina Vane’s 5-Month-Long Tour Across America Inspires Debut Album

American Blues Scene Staff

Check out the video for “Badlands,” the first release from ‘Nowhere Sounds Lovely’

The origins of American music are rife with sounds and styles from all reaches of the globe, but over the last century or so, the roles have somewhat reversed themselves with blues, jazz, and mountain music being re-dispersed and re-interpreted by musicians worldwide. Enter resonator-playing, foot-stomping Cristina Vane.

Born in Italy to a Sicilian-American father and a Guatemalan mother, Vane grew up between England, France, and Italy, and was fluent in four languages by the time she moved to her fathers’ native United States to attend university at 18 years old. Unlike most of her contemporaries in the music industry, Vane has a taste for pre-war American blues from the likes of Skip James, Robert Johnson, and Blind Willie Johnson. Add a splash of slow western waltzes and haunting Appalachian melodies for good measure and she’s tapped in to the very well from which rock and roll sprung.

Vane’s debut full-length album, Nowhere Sounds Lovely, explores the depths of her new home’s musical history from her unique perspective without ever sounding like a re-hashing of old tricks. Out April 2nd, Nowhere Sounds Lovely flows naturally from the album-opening slow-burn blues of “Dreamboy” to the clawhammer banjo driven lament of “Will I Ever Be Satisfied.”

After spending almost four years in Los Angeles, Vane began to feel stagnant, and decided that it was time to take her music on the road. During that time she had built up a solid following on Instagram, so she reached out to her network of fans for help in booking a tour. An outpouring of support ensued, and she was able to book a five month cross-country tour, playing at small bars, breweries, coffee shops, and clubs, in peoples backyards, through these connections. She crashed with friends, kind strangers, or slept in a tent.

“My favorite part about traveling across the country was reclaiming my American heritage, which was very difficult to figure out.” she explains. “Anywhere I went I had my anthropological hat on, watching how people talk and interact. There were new places that sometimes felt totally familiar and sometimes completely foreign. Each pocket of the country has its unique flavor, and discovering the musical stylings that go along with that really informed this record. I knew virtually nothing about country, old-time, and bluegrass music until I ventured to the American South, but seeing those different musical traditions on a local level was inspiring.”

After completing her successful five-month-long touring campaign, Vane relocated to Nashville where she hoped to find a larger community of like-minded musicians. Working with Grammy-award winning drummer and producer Cactus Moser (Wynonna Judd) on Nowhere Sounds Lovely was assurance enough that she’d come to the right place.

“When it came to the album, I wanted it to be a reflection of who I am, not just of the old music that I’ve come to love”, she explains, “and I’m essentially a rock kid who is obsessed with old music.” Moser also played drums on the record and his style “has some grit and some rock, mixed with these really awesome references to traditional roots music,” says Vane. The album was engineered by Rodney Dawson, and also features bass player Dow Tomlin, fiddle player Nate Leath, and pedal steel player Tommy Hannum. These musicians imbued her blues rock sound with tinges of country and old time for the first time in her career, reflecting the expansion of her own musical palette over a summer of touring.

Vane’s perspective on American music is a decidedly unique one, but absolutely an authentic one; pieced together through sights, sounds, and experiences just like the pioneers of the music she so dearly loves. If Nowhere Sounds Lovely is any indication, Vane’s ability to carry the torch of her forebears is strong—and she’s just getting started.

Cristina Vane

*Feature image courtesy of IVPR

Steve Lukather and The Players Club/Mascot Label Group Present ‘I Found The Sun Again’

Steve Lukather and The Players Club/Mascot Label Group Present ‘I Found The Sun Again’

Steve Karas

“This was the first solo record I have done in many years. I felt free to try a do it old school, like we used to do it – live in the studio. I am very proud of it, and the players I used really brought their very best.”

Steve Lukather and The Players Club/Mascot Label Group present the title track “I Found The Sun Again,” the third and final instant gratification release from Luke’s upcoming new studio album out February 26. The accompanying video presents Luke and his girlfriend Amber, whom is the inspiration for the composition.

In reference to “I Found The Sun Again,” Luke offers, “This was the first solo record I have done in many years. I felt free to try a do it old school, like we used to do it – live in the studio. I am very proud of it, and the players I used really brought their very best.”  Luke and Toto singer Joseph Williams will both release solo albums simultaneously on February 26, 2021.  Both artists 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. Second came, “Serpent Soul.” While the first reveal from Williams’ album titled Denizen Tenant was “Never Saw You Coming,” he then followed with “Liberty Man.” Williams has produced and directed all of these visual works outside of “Serpent Soul.”

Steve Lukather’s solo album 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!” Aportion of the proceeds from this album will be directed to The Ed Asner Family Center for Autism.

The recordings will be available individually on both CD and LP, alongside on all streaming services globally. A limited-edition 4-LP 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 recently staged a global livestream event, and have begun to announce plans for global tour dates in 2021.

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.

Steve Lukather

Quinn Sullivan Marks A New Chapter With ‘All Around The World’

Quinn Sullivan Marks A New Chapter With ‘All Around The World’

Jon Bleicher / Prospect PR

Quinn Sullivan Releases “All Around The World,” Marking A New Chapter for the 21-Year-Old Singer, Songwriter, and Guitarist

With the release of his new single and music video “All Around The World,” 21-year-old singer, songwriter, and guitarist Quinn Sullivan celebrates a new chapter of his already impressive career, which has seen him tour the world and collaborate with rock’s biggest legends. Now, having developed genuinely jaw-dropping skills as a guitar player, Sullivan’s more recent work has been with pen and paper, as he lets the abundant skills of his youth blossom and steer him into new directions of artistry and creativity. It’s the next step for the ambitious musician with a constant view towards the future, marking Sullivan’s evolution into the singer-songwriter genre while still effectively highlighting his guitar mastery.

“I want to stay true to where I come from, and go from there,” says Sullivan. “The artists that inspire me to do that are always hungry for the new. They never repeat themselves. They just grow and become more unique — and that’s what I aim to do as an artist.”

Recorded in Los Angeles with producer/collaborator Oliver Leiber, “All Around The World” will be included on Sullivan’s next full-length album, slated for release later this year. The new music adds potent new arrows to a quiver already brimming with sure-shots, and it showcases the kind of forward motion that separates the artists from the mere players. “I want people to understand who I am as an artist,” explains Quinn. “I think my audience will appreciate the fact that the guitar is still a huge part of who I am, and I can truthfully say all the songs are coming from a very honest place.”

A rare artist who’s always sounded older than his years, Sullivan has been touring the world since he was 11-years-old, playing storied venues such as Madison Square Garden, the Hollywood Bowl and RFK Stadium in Washington D.C., as well as India’s Mahindra Blues Festival, Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival, and three Montreux Jazz Festivals. Quinn has shared the stage with his hero and mentor Buddy Guy, as well as Carlos Santana on several occasions. Quinn’s performance experience includes appearances on leading national television programs Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and CBS This Morning, to name a few.

But as he moves into this new chapter, Sullivan’s constant credo has been growth and learning. “Obviously, as you get older you learn and experience more,” Sullivan says. “Throughout the years I’ve gotten to learn and be around so many amazing, accomplished musicians and people in the music industry, and that’s shaped me into who I am now. I’ve been at this my whole life. It feels like yesterday I was 12 and on tour with Buddy. Back then I never would have thought I’d be here now, releasing my fourth album. It’s really pretty amazing.”

Quinn Sullivan

*Feature image by Chuck Lanza courtesy of the artist

Daptone Records Imprint Penrose Shares Thee Sacred Souls’ ‘It’s Our Love’

Daptone Records Imprint Penrose Shares Thee Sacred Souls’ ‘It’s Our Love’

American Blues Scene Staff

“We wanted to capture candid moments of our time at the Penrose studio and hangin’ with our crew around SD for the video.”

Thee Sacred Souls have entered 2021 on a bright note with the digital release and new video for their song “It’s Our Love.” The track was originally found as the b-side to their recent “Will I See You Again” which was released January 8th, has sold out three times, and is currently on its 4th pressing. The San Diego, CA-based Sweet Soul mavericks will release the song via Penrose Records, the recently launched imprint from the iconic House of Soul, Daptone Records. As the track title alludes to, the song celebrates the love between two people, simply and sweetly. Filmed on Super 8 at the end of 2020, the David Lampley-directed video shows the band exploring their natural environments–hanging out across San Diego and in the studio.

“We wanted to capture candid moments of our time at the Penrose studio and hangin’ with our crew around SD for the video,” the band notes of the video. “We reached out to our friend David Lampley, who specializes in Super 8 analog film. His experimental shooting style along with the visual quality of Super 8 film fit the laidback and dreamy mood we envisioned.”

The new single follows the band’s quick rise as a must-hear group for soul aficionados, following the release of their June 2020 debut single “Can I Call You Rose?” b/w “Weak for Your Love,” correlating with the launch of Penrose. It quickly became one of Daptone Records’ most sought after 45s and the video for “Can I Call You Rose” has been viewed almost a million times — no small feat for a brand new independent artist! “Give Us Justice” followed, written in response to the murder of George Floyd. The proceeds were donated to organizations promoting the freedoms, rights and well being of black people beginning with the Movement for Black Lives, and multi-Grammy nominated band The Black Pumas recently shouted out the track as “The song that will define 2020 for me” via Rolling Stone.

Inspired by the souldies around which they were reared, Alex Garcia and Sal Samano found chemistry when they began cutting bedroom demos of rhythm tracks together. Multi-instrumentalists both, Alex migrated from the guitar to the drums where he discovered the sensitive touch and unique feel that would be the pillowy pulse of the band’s sound, while Sal learned to carve winding bass lines through the deep spidery grooves of their vamps. Though the jams they created together were scintillating, it wasn’t until they connected with vocalist Josh Lane that the real sound of Thee Sacred Souls came into focus. Josh had recently relocated to San Diego from Sacramento where he had studied singing, honing his voice into a weightless vehicle that could carry the Smokey-esque lyrics and Marvin-ous melodies he had bubbling within him. The connection was electric, Josh’s mellifluous poetry floating weightlessly atop Alex and Sal’s rhythms, and Thee Sacred Souls were born.

Stepping off the stage after their very first club date, Josh, Sal and Alex were tugged aside by Daptone Records’ producer and co-founder, Bosco Mann (Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings) whose seasoned ears had been tickled by their set. Backs were patted, hands were shook, and three days later heads were bobbing in Mann’s Riverside studio, Penrose Recorders, as the Souls laid their first notes to tape. With Mann, they knew they also found a like-minded soul who believes in the power of music in physical form as much as they do. They recently told the San Diego Reader, “Our commitment to analog contrasts the quick-fire nature of many other artists within the increasingly digital industry.”

Look for much more from future soul legends Thee Sacred Souls, including their anticipated debut album coming later this year.

Thee Sacred Souls

*Feature image by Gustav Olivares

Ann Wilson Returns With New Single ‘Tender Heart’

Ann Wilson Returns With New Single ‘Tender Heart’

American Blues Scene Staff

Heart’s Ann Wilson is back with powerful new single

Legendary rock singer and songwriter Ann Wilson has announced today’s release of a dynamic  new single. “Tender Heart” is available now at all DSPs and streaming services.


Photo courtesy of Michael Eisele

 “ ‘Tender Heart’ came out of a personal struggle,” says Wilson, “but quickly evolved into a greater, more universal meaning. We as the human race are coming to realize realities we never dreamed we’d have to face – environmentally, culturally, financially, and health-wise. Humanity is coming to terms with uncomfortable, heartbreaking, terrifying truths. This song is for the soul whose heart is blindsided by reality, but is still soft and innocent. I hope people will identify with this song and feel they are not alone.”

 “Tender Heart” was written and originally recorded by Steve Earle, and follows last year’s release of “The Revolution Starts Now” — which features original artwork by renowned American street artist and activist Shepard Fairey.

“The Revolution Starts Now” is also being offered on limited edition signed 7” vinyl, available now for pre-order via AnnWilson.com. The single includes the exclusive B-side, “Rooster,” originally performed by Alice In Chains; a live performance from last year’s “MoPOP Founders Award Honoring Alice In Chains: A Benefit for the Museum of Pop Culture” is streaming now at the official Ann Wilson YouTube channel.

Ann Wilson is a true icon, known far and wide as lead singer and songwriter of the groundbreaking rock band Heart. Led by Wilson’s extraordinary vocal power, Heart has thrilled audiences for more than four decades, earning sales of more than 35 million and well-deserved induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Wilson’s second solo album, 2018’s Immortal, saw her putting her unique stamp on songs made famous by a number of hugely influential artists, including David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty, Amy Winehouse, and more.

Produced by longtime Heart collaborator Mike Flicker, the album earned widespread critical acclaim, with Associated Press declaring it “an exciting, eye-opening look at largely obscure songs by big-name artists” and Goldmine praising Wilson for “her mighty vocal firepower and a far ranging creative spirit.”







*Feature image courtesy of the artist’s site

Valerie June Previews New LP with Video for ‘Call Me A Fool’ ft. Carla Thomas

Valerie June Previews New LP with Video for ‘Call Me A Fool’ ft. Carla Thomas

Lauren Leadingham

“Only a fool tests the water with both feet.”

Today, roots singer-songwriter Valerie June announces her first new album in four years. Produced by Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Alicia Keys, John Legend) and Valerie June, The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers will be released March 12th, 2021 via Fantasy Records. 

Alongside the album announcement, June is sharing new single and music video “Call Me A Fool,” both R&B throwback and Memphis country-soul, featuring horns and a striking performance from Stax legend Carla Thomas.

Photo courtesy of Shore Fire Media

Working at Fresh Young Minds in L.A. and Hit Factory Criteria in Miami June found an ideal collaborator in Splash, who shares her sense of adventure. “For this album I wanted to see how we could bring some modern elements into that band-in-the-room approach I’ve taken with my records in the past,” says June.  

 “With this record, it finally became clear why I have this dream of making music,” says June. “It’s not for earthly reasons of wanting to be awarded or to win anybody’s love—it’s because dreaming keeps me inquisitive and keeps me on that path of learning what I have to share with the world. When we allow ourselves to dream like we did when we were kids, it ignites the light that we all have within us and helps us to have a sort of magic about the way we live.”

 Have you ever been a fool for a dream? It might have been a little dream like a kiss from a lover or a big one like the dream of peace that Dr. King, John Lennon, and so many others have had for humanity. No matter how big or how small your dream may be, keep believing, and let the world call you a fool!

In case you missed it, late last year Valerie released “Stay” / “Meditation” / “You and I,” a riveting three-song suite.

June is set to take part (virtually) in the 34th Annual Tibet House US Benefit Concert, on February 17th performing alongside artists such as Eddie Vedder, Phoebe Bridgers, Brittany Howard, Angelique Kidjo and many more. See details HERE.

The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers


“Stay Meditation”

“You And I”


“Stardust Scattering”

“African Proverb Read By Carla Thomas”

“Call Me A Fool” Featuring Carla Thomas



“Within You”

“Two Roads”

“Why The Bright Stars Glow”

“Home Inside”

“Starlight Ethereal Silence”

Pre-order The Moon and Stars: Prescription for Dreamers

*Feature image credit: Renata Raksha

Second Volume of Ann Savoy’s ‘Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People’ Out Next Month

Second Volume of Ann Savoy’s ‘Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People’ Out Next Month

Bob Merlis

Bluebird Press will publish Cajun Music A Reflection of a People Volume II on February 17

In 1985 Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People Volume I, a sumptuous 444-page book which had been published the previous year, was described in the Washington Post as “perhaps the most comprehensive stunning portrait of this music ever written.” Now, more than thirty-six years later, author Ann Savoy is set to publish Cajun Music A Reflection of a People Volume II, the 456-page companion to her earlier effort. The two books document the music and music makers that are central to a rich cultural tradition that dates back more than 350 years.  

While she had intended to publish a second volume of Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People, the planning for which preceded publication of the first, things did not work out quite as she had envisioned. As Cajun Music A Reflection of a People Volume 1 went on to become the standard reference for Cajun, Creole and Zydeco music and win the American Folklore Society’s Botkin Book Award, Savoy got busy and couldn’t find the time to complete the follow-up she always had in mind.

In the intervening decades she, along with husband and master musician and accordion maker Marc Savoy, raised four children and toured the world. Later they included their musically minded offspring in The Savoy Family Band and collaborated with Beausoleil’s Michael Doucet in the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band. Ann would also form The Magnolia Sisters, an all-female Cajun band and join forces with Linda Ronstadt as the Zozo Sisters whose album Adieu False Heart was Grammy-nominated, one of four such nominations she’s received to date, Along the way, she performed and recorded with her gypsy jazz ensemble Ann Savoy and Her Sleepless Nights.  

She also produced Evangeline Made: A Tribute to Cajun Music that featured performances of classic Cajun repertoire by Ronstadt, Linda Thompson, John Fogerty, Richard Thompson, Nick Lowe, Patty Griffin, Maria McKee, David Johansen and Rodney Crowell.  She went on to produce Creole Bred: A Tribute To Creole & Zydeco that included tracks by Cyndi Lauper, Taj Mahal, Tom Tom Club, David Hidalgo, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Zydeco & Zydeco Cha-Chas, Michelle Shocked, Keith Frank, Ed Poullard, Darick Cambell, Keith Frank and Ed Poullard.  Albums on which she appeared were released by the Rounder, Vanguard, Arhoolie, Valcourt and Memphis International labels.  She worked with T Bone Burnett on two films — appearing as a musician in “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” and on the soundtrack for All The King’s Men. 

Ann Savoy recalls, “Before I finished ‘Book One,’ I had already started on ‘Book Two.’ The book was already massive and there was no way I could fit everything I had into it but I ultimately I put it all in a big box and thought, ‘Maybe my children will complete this.’ “

As it happened, the stay-at-home constraints of the pandemic kept Ann off the road last year and she was finally able to realize the vision herself.

Bluebird Press will publish Cajun Music A Reflection of a People Volume II on February 17.  Like its predecessor, the new book is lushly illustrated with historic and recent photographs, transcriptions of thirty-five English and Cajun French interviews and biographies and more than 100 songs with French translations and phonetics and musical notation.

The book is not only a reference resource but also is, itself, a repository of cultural artifacts that document an idiosyncratic music and way of life focusing on such artists as Boozoo Chavis, Happy Fats, Harry Choates, Nathan Abshire, Octa Clark, Chester “Pee Wee” Broussard, Wilfred Latour, and many others from the entire spectrum of Cajun and Zydeco music.  As an adjunct to the books, the Arhoolie Foundation’s website will host the Ann Savoy Collection, an aggregation of audio assets, almost 200 interviews that are part of the books, as well as interviews with Cajun, Creole and zydeco artists that were conducted over the past 60 years by Arhoolie Records founder Chris Strachwitz.

Over the course of her performing career, Savoy found that audiences wanted to know more about the music —  what the songs were about, what Cajun music is, what Zydeco is —  so she decided to compile a songbook of the repertoire of her favorite musicians. This simple idea of a songbook was quickly pushed aside when she began talking to and exploring the Cajun and Creole artists who made the music. During her interviews with them, their spouses would bring out boxes of beautiful old photographs that told their stories better than any words could express.

Ann borrowed those photographic gems, taking her own photos as she went from house to house. She developed the negatives in her darkroom, printed her own photos, even pasted up the book on story boards in those pre-computer times.  In a way, she was doing what folklorist Alan Lomax had done decades before when he travelled the south collecting song and producing field recordings that would serve to document a people and their culture.  It was the same for Ann though she broke new ground as a woman who wasn’t backed by the Library of Congress and did what she did with babies in tow.

Writing in Country Roads Magazine, Jourdan Lahaye Fontenot shared the experience of Cajun Music A Reflection of a People Volume II: “Holding so very much, these pages use the power of oral and written histories to engage their readers in memories both quiet and monumental, building our culture’s musical icons into know-able people. And though so many of them are gone now, we can still know their music.”

Order Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People Vol. II

Dumpstaphunk, Cut Chemist Release ‘Justice 2020’ Remix

Dumpstaphunk, Cut Chemist Release ‘Justice 2020’ Remix

Jon Bleicher / Prospect PR

“Justice 2020” will be featured on Dumpstaphunk’s new album, ‘Where Do We Go From Here,’ out April 23 via Mascot Label Group/Funk Garage.

New Orleans’ Dumpstaphunk have just released a Cut Chemist remix of their latest single “Justice 2020,” featuring Chali 2na and Trombone Shorty, available now on all digital platforms. “Justice 2020” will be featured on the band’s upcoming album, Where Do We Go from Here.

Remixed by legendary DJ turntablist Cut Chemist (Jurassic 5/Ozomatli), along with Grammy nominated mixer Andy Kravitz and Fishbone bass player Norwood Fisher, the track takes on new life and continued relevance during an unprecedented political climate in America. The song’s lyrics boast a mantra that recognizes that as humans, even with our differences and all of the injustices, “we can change it together if we all stand tall” and that “we are all beautiful.”

Where Do We Go From Here, the band’s upcoming album, is set to be released on April 23, 2021 (via Mascot Label Group / The Funk Garage). Where Do We Go From Here marks the band’s first full-length album in seven years, and undeniably the most powerful and politically pointed of their career. Previously released singles include “Justice 2020,” and the contemplative title-track “Where Do We Go From Here.” The record is a sharply relevant statement, even more-so than the group anticipated, writing and recording the album just prior to the unprecedented events of the past year.

When New Orleans roots-funk Dumpstaphunk first released their single “Justice” in January 2017, the group viewed the song as an important, if delicate, funk-blues anthem that spoke to their country’s turbulent times.

Over its past 17 years, Dumpstaphunk have earned their reputation as the most well-regarded next-generation New Orleans live powerhouse, the type of band whose live shows attract sit-ins from legends like Carlos Santana, Bob Weir and Trombone Shorty. Alongside Tony Hall, Nick Daniels, Alex Wasily, Ryan Nyther and drummer Devin Trusclair, cousins Ivan and Ian Neville have built upon their family’s iconic NOLA legacy as they’ve transformed Dumpstaphunk into the city’s pre-eminent 21st-century funk-fusion export, resulting in recent career highlights like their July 2019 opening gig for the Rolling Stones on their home turf at the Superdome.

The album is now available to pre-order on double vinyl, CD and digital platforms HERE.


Alligator Records Joins Forces With Exceleration Music

Alligator Records Joins Forces With Exceleration Music

Alligator Records

Partnership Between Legendary Blues/Roots Label Alligator Records And Exceleration Music To Create Global Growth Opportunities

Alligator Records, the acclaimed independent blues and roots label currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, has announced it is joining forces with Exceleration Music. Exceleration Music is a newly established company founded by Glen Barros (former CEO of Concord Music Group) along with four other world-renowned industry veterans, dedicated to enhancing the future of independent labels and artists.

Bruce Iglauer (Alligator Records) Glen Barros (Exceleration Music)


Alligator founder Bruce Iglauer‘s partnership with Exceleration will strengthen the label by creating opportunities for expanded promotion and marketing along with providing resources enabling Alligator to sign more established blues and roots artists. Iglauer remains at Alligator’s helm, just as he has been for the last 50 years. He and his Chicago-based team will continue to handle artist signings, A&R, new release production, project marketing, publicity, and promotion for an aggressive lineup of new recordings by the label’s existing roster as well as by newly-signed artists. Alligator will also continue to market and promote its catalog of over 350 releases. Exceleration will handle financial, operational, and administrative functions for the label. Both partners will also collaborate on marketing initiatives designed to build on Alligator’s great legacy.

According to Iglauer, “I’m very excited to ally Alligator with Exceleration. I have tremendous respect for the vision, intelligence, industry expertise and professional ethics of the Exceleration team. I’m confident that this partnership will grow the worldwide audience for Alligator’s records and artists. It’s a win-win for all of us.”

In addition to its partnership with Alligator, Exceleration has also entered into an alliance with The Ray Charles Foundation, by which they will jointly issue special releases from the Ray Charles vaults, most of which have not been widely available on digital music services for the past decade. In January 2020, Exceleration acquired the venerable but mostly dormant jazz label Candid Records, with plans to relaunch the label later in 2021.

Exceleration Music was formed by five of the independent music industry’s most influential executives. Started by Glen Barros (former CEO of Concord Music Group), Exceleration Music has developed into a partnership of global music industry leaders who will be investing in the future of independent labels from a wide range of culturally important genres. In addition to Barros, Exceleration is led by Dave Hansen (Executive Chairman of Merlin, the digital licensing partner for independents, and previous GM of Epitaph Records), Charles Caldas (CEO of Merlin for 12 years, during which time the organization grew to over 20,000 independent label and distributor members), Amy Dietz (previously GM of independent music distribution leader Ingrooves) and John Burk (Grammy-winning producer and former President of Concord Records).

Backed by substantial investment capital and based on core founding values of integrity, fairness, openness, humility and excellence, Exceleration plans to leverage its partners’ extensive expertise and deep understanding of the independent music culture to make tailored investments in independent music rights and the individuals that create them.

According to Barros, “When I started the company, I decided to go with a ‘first who, then what’ strategy. With our industry becoming more and more commoditized, I wanted to put people first – people who care about independent music and share similar values. Quite frankly, I am completely amazed and truly blessed by how this strategy has developed. To have partners like John, Amy, Charles and Dave is truly a dream come true. But it goes beyond this, to the great investors we’re working with, the team we’re assembling, our professional advisors, and now the opportunity to work with Bruce Iglauer at Alligator Records. With a dedicated group like this, I know we’re going to do great things for the indie community and have a lot of fun along the way.”

In The Dog House With Harpdog Brown

In The Dog House With Harpdog Brown

Sarah French

New nine-part Sunday Brunch series with special guests debuts January 24th

Faced with travel restrictions, venue closures and other limitations due to the global pandemic, blues artist Harpdog Brown has been displaced from his touring life and is temporarily riding out the pandemic in Alberta.

Harpdog and his team had planned to film more music videos for the 2019 release For Love & Money. Unfortunately, those plans were thwarted along with all the tour cancellations. Thankfully FACTOR, Canada’s private radio broadcasters, allowed us to rethink our plans and come up with a solution that still met the funding criteria.

Photo courtesy of Sarah French

Through reconnecting with former bandmates from his former band The Bloodhounds (1990s) they were able to safely congregate at DanLyn Studios in Sherwood Park Alberta, just outside of Edmonton. It was a magical reunion that led to some outstanding musical performances.

“Many years ago I had a radio show on CJSR, broadcasting from an old bank vault in the basement of the University of Alberta campus. It was a fun project and a great vehicle to share music and a forum to delve into the blues” said Harpdog Brown. “Then my manager and I got to talking about that TV show Daryl’s House that Daryl Hall used to host. And we thought, hey wouldn’t it be fun and entertaining to do something like that?

“The rest fell into place. The band is fantastic. These guys are top-shelf. Some of the best blues players in Alberta. DanLyn Studios was the perfect location. It’s a beautiful studio and plenty of room to ensure all safety protocols would be followed. We lit it like a stage to give a live performance feel. They even have their own pub so that became the Dog House Pub where we shot all the interview segments. The only thing missing was a live audience.”

To tie it all together, each episode features the new band doing a remake of a song from  For Love & Money.

In The Dog House Episodes

#1 JAN 24, 2021 – Bill Bourne

#2 JAN 31, 2021 – Peter North

#3 FEB 7, 2021 – Jack de Keyser

#4 FEB 14, 2021 – Cam Hayden

#5 FEB 21, 2021 – Aki Kumar

#6 FEB 28, 2021 – Kid Andersen

#7 MAR 7, 2021 – John Nemeth

#8 MAR 14, 2021 – Holger Petersen

#9 MAR 21, 2021 – Tim Williams

Harpdog Brown has grown a reputation as a real-deal purveyor of classic electric blues true to the sound of the old Chess Records and Sun Records of the late ’40s and early ‘50s. Until recently, he’s been touring as Harpdog Brown & the Uptown Blues Band – a vintage New Orleans Blues sound that is piano-driven and at any given show could feature slide trombone, sax, clarinet, trumpet and more. Still a vintage vibe, just a different vintage! They perform mostly originals yet they often include great songs of the masters from that era. Think Louis Jordan, Satchmo, Sonny Boy Williamson, Wynonie Harris, even Duke Ellington.

He’s been called a Blues Evangelist, and that’s a very fitting moniker. “I speak the blues like it’s the truth, and it is”, he was recently quoted. “I do feel like I’m a servant of the people. A missionary if you will. Music can heal people if they pay attention to the messages in these songs.” He delivers those messages with a vintage sound. “Blues is a beautiful celebration of our perfectly flawed lives. We help people forget about their issues of the moment and when they realize that we all have our issues, it’s OK.”

 Listen/Purchase For Love & Money

Not a YouTuber? All episodes can be watched on his website.

*Feature image credit: Mark Maryanovich

Parker Millsap is Back With ‘Be Here Instead’

Parker Millsap is Back With ‘Be Here Instead’

Big Hassle Media

Watch the official video for the first single, “The Real Thing”

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Parker Millsap has announced the release of his new album. Be Here Instead arrives via his own Okrahoma Records and Thirty Tigers on Friday, April 9. Produced by the legendary John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth, Waxahatchee), Be Here Instead is heralded by the premiere of the luminous new single, “The Real Thing.” The song – which features guest vocals from Nashville singer Erin Rae – is joined by an official companion video.

“It’s a song whose meaning has revealed new layers to me over time,” Millsap says. “At first it was about being on the road and missing my wife, then it was about my general distaste for internet communication, and then the pandemic hit, and it became about having to depend on that type of communication and being starved for physical closeness. The thesis of the song is: Facetime ain’t shit.

“For the video, without any prior input from me, Jacq Justice came up with a concept that perfectly framed these new themes the song was revealing to me,” Millsap continues. “What is the “real” connection? How do we find it and foster it these days? Is technology allowing us to stay in touch when we couldn’t otherwise, but hindering the quality of communication? ARE WE TRAPPED IN OUR OWN REFLECTION?!”

Millsap’s fifth studio LP and first new album in close to three years, Be Here Instead marks a stylistic shift from the gritty and high-energy folk of the Oklahoma-bred, Nashville-based artist’s previous output. Mainly recorded live with Millsap’s full band, the album sees a departure from the guitar-and-notebook-based approach to songwriting that shaped his earlier work. Instead, Millsap has followed his curiosity to countless other modes of expression, experimenting with everything from piano to effects pedals to old school drum machines (a fascination partly inspired by the early-’70s innovations of Sly Stone and J.J. Cale).

In another creative breakthrough, Be Here Instead forgoes the character-driven storytelling of his past in favor of a more introspective and endlessly revelatory form of lyricism, an element he traces back to the charmed nature of his songwriting process. “Because the lyrics were appearing seemingly out of nowhere and with no prior intent, some of them started to feel like transmissions from my subconscious, rather than the preconceived linear stories or waking thoughts of my earlier songs,” says Millsap. “They feel like words I needed to hear from myself and not just things I wanted to say to someone else.

“My wife’s grandfather was an artist who did watercolor paintings,” Millsap continues, “and a few years ago I decided I wanted to try it. I very quickly found out that watercolors are really hard to work with – you have to embrace your mistakes, and then let them guide you along. It’s made me think about how when you mess up, you’re basically revealing your humanity, which is what music’s all about. When I listen to records, I love when Ray Charles’s voice cracks, or when you hear the squeaking of the kick-drum pedal on a Led Zeppelin song. Anything that shows the living, breathing quality of the whole thing, that’s always wonderful. That’s what we’re here for. So don’t be afraid to let it happen.”

Though Be Here Instead sees Millsap broadening his already ambitious musical vision, the album remains firmly grounded in the sophisticated musicianship he began honing while growing up in the small town of Purcell, Oklahoma. Inspired by Texas singer-songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Millsap started writing songs on acoustic guitar in his early teens before making his official debut at the age of 19 with 2012’s Palisade.

Millsap has also made his name as a captivating live act, sharing stages with the likes of Jason Isbell, Patty Griffin, and Lucinda Williams and lighting up such major festivals as Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, and Newport Folk. In a particularly memorable turn of events, a 2016 show in Atlanta alongside fellow singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz drew raves from none other than Sir Elton John, who declared the performance to be “one of the best concerts I have ever seen…it restored my faith in music.”

With Be Here Instead, Millsap has created a uniquely powerful piece of work touched with both unbridled imagination and lucid insight into the search for presence in a chaotic world.

Be Here Instead is available for pre-order now.

Ally Venable to Release ‘Heart of Fire’ Feb 26

Ally Venable to Release ‘Heart of Fire’ Feb 26

Devious Planet

The pandemic might have silenced the music scene, shuttered the live circuit, and kept artists from their fans. But with ‘Heart Of Fire,’ Ally Venable is coming off the ropes swinging.

Ally Venable, the 21 year-old guitarist from Kilgore, Texas, is pleased to announce the release of her 4th long player, Heart of Fire via Ruf Records on February 26, 2021.

The pandemic might have silenced the music scene, shuttered the live circuit, and kept artists from their fans. But with Heart Of Fire, Ally Venable, is coming off the ropes swinging. Defying dark times and rolling up the amps, this fourth release from the acclaimed singer-songwriter is a record to rattle your speakers and signpost better times ahead. “My vision was to spread a positive message of love,” says Venable. “The world needs that right now.”

If Heart Of Fire finds Venable giving the globe some much-needed love, then the feeling is entirely mutual. Still, in her early twenties, Ally’s two decades have moved as fast as her fingers, her path winding from childhood church choirs to the teenage influence of local heroes like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Miranda Lambert. Thus far, Ally has released four albums; No Glass Shoes (2016) and Puppet Show (2018) earned her international fans, Top 10 charting, and ETX Awards, but it was 2019’s #2 Billboard-charting Texas Honey and house-rocking sets on that year’s Blues Caravan tour that sent her to the next level. Now, with Venable’s fanbase snaking further around the block every time she blows into town, Texas roots icon Mike Zito has no doubts, “Ally is the future of blues and the crossover music of American roots-rock.”

Not even a global pandemic could derail her momentum. Working at the Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee last February with world-renowned producer Jim Gaines, Heart of Fire finds Venable laser-focused on her songcraft, challenging herself to write unguarded honesty, even if it hurts. “On this album, I wanted to create a tone of overcoming struggles and persevering,” she explains.

Like any battle, this record gets loud. Anyone who has left an Ally Venable show with ringing ears will come expecting rip-it-up guitar work, and Heart Of Fire is a lovely way to burn. In a world of electronic pop, this old-soul gunslinger riffs up a storm on the Led Zeppelin-worthy sting of “Hard Change” and “Do It In Heels,” revs up the slinky hook of “Sad Situation” and drives the title track’s intro with a heavy-booted wah Leah ick. “That song is about being in a state of sadness,” she explains, “and someone comes along and brings you out of it, and then nobody can snuff out your flame.”

The only player who could follow her fretwork is special guest Kenny Wayne Shepherd, who tears up “Bring On The Pain.” As Venable says: “That song is about loving someone, staying true to yourself during the bad times and saying, ‘No matter what’s going on, my love won’t change’. Kenny is one of my heroes, so I’m very honored he said yes to be a part of the song.”

While nobody is better at squeezing fresh juice from the blues-rock genre, Venable’s songwriting frequently forks into left field. There’s the chain-gang stomp of “Hateful Blues,” its lyric cursing a cruel lover. There’s the pace-changing cover of Bill Withers’ classic “Use Me,” reborn here with congas, rubberband bass, and a groovin’ lick. And don’t miss the impossibly wistful “Road To Nowhere,” featuring Devon Allman dovetailing with Venable on the chorus harmonies. “Devon jumped right into the song, elevated it, and brought it to life,” she remembers. “His vision for the song aligned perfectly with mine, and I’m so happy with how it turned out.”

The same could be said for Heart Of Fire. Defiant, passionate, honest, and raw, this is the record these times demand from an artist who refuses to wait for the storm to pass but prefers to dance in the rain. “My goal for this album was to give an outlet for people,” Venable considers. “That’s really where the core of these songs comes from…”

Ally Venable

Alligator Records 50th Anniversary Online Streaming Concert Premieres March 13

Alligator Records 50th Anniversary Online Streaming Concert Premieres March 13

Alligator Records

“Sweet Home Chicago — An Online Blues Celebration” To Feature Blues Stars Billy Branch & The Sons Of Blues, Shemekia Copeland, Lil’ Ed Williams, Toronzo Cannon In Concert At University’s Center For Performing Arts.

Governors State University (GSU) Center for Performing Arts (the Center) will celebrate Chicago blues and Chicago-based Alligator Records’ 50th anniversary by presenting an online streaming video concert starring four of the label’s most popular artists. “Sweet Home Chicago – An Online Blues Celebration” will feature a performance by legendary harmonica player Billy Branch with his all-star band, The Sons Of Blues, with three special guests — Grammy-nominated vocalist Shemekia Copeland, slide guitar master Lil’ Ed Williams and beloved Chicago blues guitarist and songwriter Toronzo Cannon. Alligator Records founder and president Bruce Iglauer will serve as emcee.

The once-in-a-lifetime event will be recorded on the Center’s stage to its empty 1171 seat house. This concert is part of the Center’s 25th anniversary celebration. The show will debut as a ticketed streaming event at 7:00PM Central time on March 13, 2021, and will be available to watch on demand through April 11. The event will stream on the Center’s YouTube channel.

Alligator Records, founded in 1971 by Bruce Iglauer, is home to some of the world’s foremost blues and roots rock talent and is regarded by fans and the media alike as the top contemporary blues record label in the world. From classic Windy City artists like Hound Dog Taylor and “Queen Of The Blues” Koko Taylor, to next generation legends Lil’ Ed Williams and Billy Branch to contemporary stars including Toronzo Cannon and Shemekia Copeland, Alligator’s discography reads like a who’s who in modern blues history. Legendary artists including Lonnie Brooks, Luther Allison, Johnny Winter, Albert Collins, James Cotton, Rick Estrin, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Michael “Iron Man” Burks, The Holmes Brothers, Mavis Staples, Marcia Ball and rising stars Selwyn Birchwood and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram are just some of the blues immortals who have recorded groundbreaking music for the label. Now, at 50 years old, Alligator is still committed to discovering great new talent, proving that the passion, soul and redemptive power of blues and roots music is alive and well.

Blues giant Billy Branch is hailed internationally as one of today’s greatest harmonica players. The New York Times says, “Branch has a warm, open vocal style and a full command of the blues harp, from wailing notes to chugging rhythms.” With his inventive, deeply rooted playing and gritty, soulful vocals, Branch carries on the Chicago blues tradition that he learned first-hand from icons including Big Walter Horton, James Cotton, Junior Wells, Carey Bell, Willie Dixon and many others. With his instantly recognizable sound and his band, The Sons of Blues, Branch has traveled the world, delivering his signature brand of Chicago blues for over four decades. Branch’s latest album is 2019’s Roots & Branches: The Songs of Little Walter. The album finds Branch and his band boldly reimagining the renowned songs of Little Walter Jacobs. Jacobs was one of the principal architects of the Chicago blues sound and one of the most influential blues harmonica players who ever lived. Living Blues says, “Billy Branch has cemented his place among the kings. Chugging, incessant blues and R&B…greasy, funky, howlin’ harp attack that really burns. Wonderful, bold and surprising.” This concert marks Branch’s third appearance at the Center.

When Shemekia Copeland first broke on the scene with her groundbreaking Alligator Records debut CD Turn the Heat Up in 1998, she instantly became a blues and R&B force to be reckoned with. The Chicago Tribune says, “Shemekia Copeland is the greatest female blues singer working today.” News outlets from The New York Times to CNN have praised Copeland’s talent, larger-than-life personality, dynamic, authoritative voice and true star power. Shemekia has earned three Grammy Award nominations, 12 Blues Music Awards and a host of Living Blues Awards, including being named the 2020 Female Blues Artist of the Year. With her recent albums, Shemekia broadened her musical vision, melding blues with more rootsy, Americana sounds. Her new album, the soulful and uncompromising Uncivil War, tackles the problems of contemporary American life head on, with nuance, understanding, and a demand for change. It also brings Copeland’s fierce, sultry R&B fire to songs more personal than political. NPR’s All Things Considered says, “Copeland embodies the blues with her powerful vocal chops and fearless look at social issues.” No Depression declares, “Copeland pierces your soul. This is how you do it, and nobody does it better than Shemekia Copeland.”

Slide guitar-playing blues master Lil’ Ed Williams, leader of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, comes to the blues naturally. His uncle, Chicago slide guitar king and master songwriter J.B. Hutto, taught him how to feel, not just play the blues. Living Blues says, “Lil’ Ed plays rough and ready blues with unmitigated intensity…swirling, snarling, riveting slide…scorching and soulful, joyous and stomping.” With nine albums and thousands of performances under his belt, Lil’ Ed is now universally hailed as a giant of the genre. The Associated Press says, “Williams fills Chicago’s biggest shoes with more life and heat than anyone on stage today.” With his latest album, 2016’s The Big Sound Of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, Lil’ Ed continues to bring his blistering Chicago blues to fans new and old. His infectious energy, joyful showmanship and masterful playing have been honed to a razor’s edge. The Chicago Tribune says, “Electrifying, raucous, pure Chicago blues….Lil’ Ed is a guitarist extraordinaire…slashing slide and flamboyant stage persona.”

Upon release of his Alligator Records debut, The Chicago Way in 2016, Toronzo Cannon burst onto the international stage as one of the most electrifying bluesmen to emerge from Chicago in decades. The Chicago Reader said, “Bluesman Toronzo Cannon is one of Chicago’s finest string-bending storytellers.” He has played major cities all over the U.S., Canada, and Europe, including stops in the UK, Germany, Spain, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Poland and Japan, delighting and surprising audiences with one unforgettable gig after another. He has played the Chicago Blues Festival on ten separate occasions. UK tastemaker music magazine MOJO named his latest album, 2019’s The Preacher, The Politician Or The Pimp, the #2 Best Blues Album Of 2019. Chicago’s Newcity and Reader both named Cannon among the city’s greatest musicians. Blues Music Magazine says, “Cannon has all the fire and spontaneity of the Chicago legends. His songwriting is a timely and original look at the world, and his assertive voice is the perfect vehicle to deliver the message.”

Throughout its 25-year history, many blues artists have graced the Center for Performing Arts’ stage: Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Eddie Clearwater, Jimmy Burn, Eddie Shaw, Zora Young, Demetria Taylor, Jamiah Rogers, Tail Dragger, Billy Branch, Howard Levy, Sugar Blue, Corky Sigel, Melody Angel, Lurrie Bell, Chicago Ladies Sing the Blues collective, and more.

The seed of “Sweet Home Chicago – An Online Blues Celebration” sprouted pre-COVID at an Andersonville diner in Chicago, when the Center’s Director Lana Rogachevskaya and Iglauer explored how to celebrate their upcoming institutional birthdays and share their passion for the blues with a larger Chicago community. This conversation reemerged in 2020 with an additional goal of employing Chicago artists, while serving blues fans from all over the globe.

Rogachevskaya says, “Blues is a feeling. A musical genre with origins in American slavery and Jim Crow, its continued popularity is in its universal appeal. Communally held and lived through, blues uplifts, nourishes, and sustains the human soul.  Sweet Home Chicago Blues participants will feel the healing power of blues sounds and stories while being together.”

According to Iglauer, “Chicago Blues is the famous musical signature of the city. This exhilarating music — music that grew up on the city’s South and West Sides — has become Chicago’s most vibrant and honored cultural export, reaching a worldwide audience. This concert will be a celebration of the city’s heritage, featuring some of the most talented and exciting blues artists in the world.”

For tickets and more information, click here.

Jimbo Mathus & Andrew Bird Announce ‘These 13,’ New Album Out March 5 via Thirty Tigers

Jimbo Mathus & Andrew Bird Announce ‘These 13,’ New Album Out March 5 via Thirty Tigers

Shore Fire Media

Watch the video for “Sweet Oblivion,” the lead single

For the first time in decades, Jimbo Mathus and Andrew Bird have come together to announce a brand new album. Out March 5th on Thirty Tigers, These 13 is about the special type of human connection that can survive any distance of time or geography.

As former collaborators in Squirrel Nut Zippers, Mathus and Bird’s friendship dates back 25 years, but at the turn of the century their career paths diverged. Both became highly accomplished, acclaimed and prolific solo artists, and though they remained close friends, they did not return to musical collaboration until 2018, when they started exchanging the fragments that grew into this set of 13 songs.

Photo courtesy of Greg Jakubik

Jimbo Mathus and Andrew Bird co-wrote all of These 13, sharing voice memos, finishing each other’s musical thoughts. Across the album they reveal themselves to one another again, and the conversation that unfolds is personal and profound. Produced by Mike Viola, the first half of the album was recorded in early 2019, and the second half was finished in early 2020. Every song was recorded live to analog tape, with Mathus and Bird singing and playing on opposite sides of a lone RCA 44 microphone.

 On reconnecting with Jimbo for These 13, Andrew Bird says:

 “Up until meeting Jimbo, all my musical heroes were dead. Jimbo was anything but and just oozed musicality of a kind I thought was extinct. Had I not met Jimbo, who knows, but I think my music would have gone on a much more cerebral, complex trajectory. He is an enigma, a walking contradiction: wild yet refined, worldly yet colloquial. He represents his own branch of the American musical tree. It’s been my dream for years now to make this record with Jimbo. Just guitar, fiddle and our very different voices. I wanted to make sure you can really hear him as if for the first time.”

 On the roots of his relationship with Andrew, Jimbo Mathus adds:

“Musically speaking, Andrew challenged me early on. As I had the deep south rural musical upbringing but had yearned to know more of the Chicago and New York scenes of those early days of American popular music. Bird had schooled himself on that, absorbing the European strains of American music and theater, as well as the Chicago-based indigenous albeit transplanted African American musical heritage. It was a true mutual benefit society and we both pursued those goals to a final conclusion. At some point after Andrew had been on the road as ‘Bowl of Fire,’ he began mutating his music and creating an entirely new form. In other words, he started to become the artist he needed to be at that time and so did I.”


Photo credit: Reuben Cox

In reflecting on the album, the award-winning author Michael Farris Smith writes:

 “These 13 is a little bit folk, a little bit gospel, a little bit bluesy, a little bit Hank, a little bit hill country, but most emphatically, it is all heart. Andrew Bird and Jimbo Mathus have climbed the height of their creative ladders in this collection of soul-strung songs, both lyrically and musically, a synchronicity between the two that feels joined in some special imaginative place that can only be visited by the best of songwriters.”

Watch Mathus and Bird perform “Sweet Oblivion” outside the mountains of Ojai, CA in the official music video below.

These 13 Track List:

Poor Lost Souls

Sweet Oblivion

Encircle My Love

Beat Still My Heart

Red Velvet Rope

High John

Stonewall (1863)

Bright Sunny South

Bell Witch

Dig Up the Hatchet

Jack O’ Diamonds

Burn the Honky Tonk

Three White Horses and a Golden Chain

Pre-order These 13

*Feature image: Screengrab of video


LA Soul Singer Chris Pierce Channels Richie Havens/Bob Dylan With 2021 Protest Album

LA Soul Singer Chris Pierce Channels Richie Havens/Bob Dylan With 2021 Protest Album

American Blues Scene Staff

The self produced album was recorded during a socially distanced session at Boulevard Recording in Los Angeles, California with only Pierce and the studio owner/engineer Clay Blair in attendance

Internationally acclaimed singer/songwriter Chris Pierce stands by the notion that music can cut through the isolated and static feelings for those of us worn down by the chaos of everyday life. He calls out to unite us under one sonic roof to speak up, sing out, rise up and resist with the offering of his new 21st century Americana freedom and justice album titled American Silence to be released on February 26, 2021. On the forthcoming LP, Pierce channels legendary justice and freedom songwriters. With sparse acoustic instrumentation and unmistakable soulfully passionate vocals, Pierce creates an authentic sound all his own removed from time or trend.

The full-length LP American Silence soulfully spins original songs about a wide range of issues including justice, oppression, homelessness, black self-love, racism, mass incarceration, Immigrant Transcontinental Railroad workforce, Native American boarding schools, and a tribute to the American statesman and civil rights leader, John Lewis. The self produced album was recorded during a socially distanced session at Boulevard Recording in Los Angeles, California with only Pierce and the studio owner/engineer Clay Blair in attendance. Lead vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica and background choir parts on the album were performed by Pierce.

Pierce recently gained national prominence with “We Can Always Come Back To This.” His hit co-write aired on multiple episodes of the #1 NBC prime time series This Is Us, then went on to peak at #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart, #12 on iTunes Top 100, and garner nominations for “Best Song/Recording Created for Television” from The Guild of Music Supervisors and The Jerry Goldsmith Awards. In 2020, Pierce’s collaboration with artist Sunny War in Americana duo WAR & PIERCE yielded the hit single “Amen.” “Amen” was featured on NPR’s World Cafe, aired on 250 AAA / NonComm stations and has racked up over 500K spins on Spotify. Look for modern soul man Chris Pierce to impact many of the same strong influencers with American Silence in 2021.

At age 15, Pierce developed a rare hearing disorder called Otosclerosis that led to the loss of hearing in one ear and partial deafness in the other, a setback that would deter many young musicians forever. The reality, however, fueled Chris’ passion and determination all the more, forcing him to re-learn almost everything he had known prior to his condition. To Chris, music was, and still is, an unconditional companion.

Chris has done multiple headlining tours and has also performed on stage with or opened worldwide tours for: Seal, Cold War Kids, B.B. King, Al Green, Sara Bareilles, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Jill Scott, Toots and the Maytals, Colbie Caillat, Buddy Guy, Keb’Mo’, Blind Boys of Alabama, Aaron Neville, Jamie Cullum and others. His voice and music have been heard in film and television shows including: This is Us, True Blood, Soundtrack, Crash, Rosewood, Soul Men, Brothers & Sisters, Single Ladies, Eli Stone, In Plain Sight, Dawson’s Creek, Army Wives, as well as in national ad campaigns for Lexus and Banana Republic. He also guest appears on a wide range of album recordings as a vocalist, harmonicist and guitarist. He’s confirmed for BottleRock Fest in Sept. 2021.

Chris Pierce

Jonny Lang Cancels All Confirmed Appearances

Jonny Lang Cancels All Confirmed Appearances

Steve Karas

Lang is thankful for the support of his fans over the past two plus decades, and hopes to be in the position to return to the stage should he retain the ability to perform at a level his global audience has enjoyed night in and night out

Per doctor’s orders, Jonny Lang will be canceling all confirmed appearances. Over the course of the past year, medical challenges with his voice have not improved. There is hope for a natural recovery at some point in the future, but until progress is witnessed no future plans will be initiated.

Lang began canceling performances in December of 2019 when the challenges he faced with his voice would not allow him to continue. From the start of his career he has always aimed to never miss a confirmed show, and personally offered a sincere apology to all fans impacted by doctor’s orders which came in January of 2020 that he needed more time to heal his voice.

Since the release of his debut album, Grammy-winning Lang has built a reputation as one of the best live performers and guitarists of his generation. The path Lang has been on has brought him the opportunity to support or perform with some of the most respected legends in music. He has shared the stage with everyone from The Rolling Stones, B.B. King, Aerosmith and Buddy Guy.

In February of 2020, Lang took part in an all-star tribute to Peter Green at the London Palladium. Put on by Mick Fleetwood, the concert also included Billy Gibbons, David Gilmour, John Mayall, Christine McVie, Steven Tyler, Bill Wyman, Pete Townshend, Kirk Hammett and many more. The concert film of this joyous celebration will be exclusively in cinemas in March 2021.

Lang is thankful for the support of his fans over the past two plus decades, and hopes to be in the position to return to the stage should he retain the ability to perform at a level his global audience has enjoyed night in and night out. As he navigates these challenges, further guidance will be offered at an appropriate time in the future. Until then, all ticket holders will be refunded. Guidance will be forthcoming from individual promoters imminently.

Jonny Lang

Lost Horizons Share New Video ‘In Quiet Moments’ Ft. Ural Thomas

Lost Horizons Share New Video ‘In Quiet Moments’ Ft. Ural Thomas

JD Nash

“When I first heard the song, I thought it was such a wonderful thing, both open and calm, with that steady, insistent groove. The chords go from looming to embracing then back again, like a sad, friendly giant.” – Ural Thomas

Lost Horizons – the project of Cocteau Twins’ Simon Raymonde & Richie Thomas of Dif Juz – released part one of its new album In Quiet Moments at the end of 2020 and is set to release part two, as well as the physical of the double album, on February 26th via Bella Union. Every track on the album features a guest vocalist, and today’s new single “In Quiet Moments” features Ural Thomas, an 82-year old Portland-based singer who learned to sing in church and went on to perform with the likes of Etta James, Otis Redding, James Brown and Stevie Wonder.

Of the track, Simon Raymonde of Lost Horizons says: “Sometimes you just have a clear vision for a song and then try as you might, it doesn’t quite hit the mark and other times, you’re not quite sure where it’s going and then all of sudden it’s like The Matrix and you’re buzzing! I’d been talking to Ural and his team since I heard about him earlier that year, and they were all working on a new Ural Thomas and The Pain album, but just as I finished the bass part on our piece, which Richie had started at a session in London, my inner voice was screaming “ASK URAL TO SING!” Scott and Brent who are his producers and write with Ural and in his band too, responded very positively to my enquiry and said Ural was into it, and it looked like they could do it all at their studio in Portland , AND film him at the same time as they were making a documentary about him! I couldn’t believe my luck. After he was done with the first half of the song I asked if he could make the ending spoken-word in the style of Gil Scott-Heron and he did something ad-libbed which I loved. I then asked Wendi Rose who sings with Spiritualized to add some of her beautiful vocals and I think this took it all to the next level. Paul Gregory and Jonathan Wilson also played some delicious guitar parts which were the fairy dust on top!”

Ural Thomas added: “When I first heard the song, I thought it was such a wonderful thing, both open and calm, with that steady, insistent groove. The chords go from looming to embracing then back again, like a sad, friendly giant. It took a quiet moment to go over it in my mind and then we were off and running with the tune. At times I feel strong and one with the world.  At other times I feel tiny and solitary.  In a way they’re two parts of the same feeling. That sense of being closed in and defined by walls became more real just a short while after we worked on the song.  But we’re all those other things, too—connected, hopeful, with a long arc that will go beyond this time.”

Ural Thomas Photo by Ric Walters

Ural Thomas was born in Louisiana in 1939, learning to sing in church. The seventh of sixteen children, his family relocated to Portland, Oregon when he was a young child. Thomas became a professional singer as a young man in the 1950s, with over forty performances at the Apollo Theatre in Manhattan, New York. He worked with or opened for musicians such as Etta James, Otis Redding, James Brown and Stevie Wonder. Thomas moved back to Portland in 1968. After this not much is known, until the early 2010s when Scott Magee, a Portland-based soul DJ, learned via the owner of Mississippi Records that Thomas – whose early records he spun – still lived in Portland. Despite having weekly jam sessions in his home, a tradition started in the 1970s, Thomas seldom played live shows. Together, Thomas and Magee created Ural Thomas and the Pain, an eight-piece backing band for Thomas’s vocals. The group has released two full length albums: 2016’s self-titled release and 2018’s The Right Time.

In 2017, Simon Raymonde and Richie Thomas had both abstained from making music for 20 years until they united as Lost Horizons and released a stunning debut album, Ojalá – the Spanish word for “hopefully” or “God willing.”

“These days, we need hope more than ever, for a better world.” Thomas said at the time. “And this album has given me a lot of hope. To reconnect with music…. And the hope for another Lost Horizons record!”

Thomas’ hopes had a mixed response. On the plus side, the new Lost Horizons album In Quiet Moments is an even stronger successor to Ojalá with another distinguished cast of guest singers and a handful of supporting instrumentalists embellishing the core duo’s gorgeously free-flowing and loose-limbed blueprint that one writer astutely labelled, “melancholy-delia.”

On the minus side, any hope for a better world, as Earth continues to freefall toward political and social meltdown. Then, to make matters worse, as Raymonde and Thomas buckled down to create the improvised bedrock that Lost Horizons is built on, the former’s mother died. At least Raymonde had a way to channel his grief. “The way improvisation works,” he says, “it’s just what’s going on with your body at the time, to let it out.”

Raymonde (bass, guitar, keyboards, production) and Thomas (drums, occasional keys and guitar) forged ahead, creating 16 instrumental tracks to send to prospective guests. When he did, Raymonde suggested a guiding theme for their lyrics: “Death and rebirth. Of loved ones, of ideals, at an age when many artists that have inspired us are also dead, and the planet isn’t far behind. But I also said, ‘The most important part is to just do your own thing, and have fun.”

And then Covid-19 hit. Half of In Quiet Moments’ lyrics were written after lockdown, but Raymonde saw a silver lining: people were slowing down and taking stock of their lives. Hearing a lyric written by veteran singer Ural Thomas, known as “Portland’s Pillar of Soul”, who fronts the title track, Raymonde singled out the phrase “in quiet moments” and made it the album title. “It just made sense,” he says. “This moment of contemplation in life is really beautiful. The title also went with the album cover, a photograph by Jacques-Henri Lartigue from the 1940s of a woman and dog on a beach, captured as if in flight.”

Lost Horizons’ melancholy-delia also feels buoyed aloft by airy currents, informed in part by Raymonde and Thomas’ former respective bands: the legendary Cocteau Twins and Dif Juz. Their former bands were labelmates on 4AD in the mid-80s, which is how they first met.

In Quiet Moments has its pockets of loss but – aligned to the concept of ‘hope’ – the album is more about rebirth than death. “I think it’s more joyous than Ojalá,” says Thomas. “But both albums have a great energy about them.”

Those energy levels undulate across a dazzling array of moods and voices; as broad as the name Lost Horizons sounds. Take the first three tracks: the melting rapture of “Halcyon” featuring Jack Wolter of Bella Union signings Penelope Isles, the simmering urban-soulful “I Woke Up With An Open Heart” featuring Nubiya Brandon of The Hempolics and the quintessentially melancholy-delic “Grey Tower” featuring a returning Tim Smith.

Also returning from Ojalá are Gemma Dunleavy, Karen Peris (the innocence mission), Cameron Neal (Horse Thief) and Marissa Nadler. The last three are all Bella Union family members; likewise, John Grant (the lush, choral “Cordelia”, etched by David Rothon’s pedal steel and Fiona Brice’s elegant strings) and Ren Harvieu (a sultry “Unravelling In Slow Motion”), and new signing Laura Groves (the jazz-tinged “Blue Soul”), all making their Lost Horizons debuts.

Dana Margolin of the hugely acclaimed Porridge Radio lends the rampant “One For Regret’’ her trademark bristling energy; at the other end of the spectrum, ‘Flutter’ features Rosie Blair (of former Bella Union signing Ballet School) adding exquisite blue notes to a stark palate of Thomas’ piano and Fiona Brice’s strings. Deploying his A&R acumen, Raymonde called on new Swedish discovery Kavi Kwai for the Cocteaus-evoking “Every Beat That Passed” (“You can’t make music for as long as I have and drop all your influences and habits overnight,” says Raymonde). Also present are Lily Wolter (of Penelope Isles) under her solo pseudonym KookieLou, and C Duncan. A richer and more varied cast list would be very hard to find.

“I think In Quiet Moments is more in the direction of where we’re going,” Thomas concludes. “People have retreated into their lives and, in those quiet moments, reflected on the world, how we fit in and who we trust. Maybe the next album will be about rebellion! But the road is long and winding. We just need to express ourselves in how we feel at the time.”

Lost Horizons
Ural Thomas and the Pain

*Feature image courtesy of the artist

Curtis Salgado To Release ‘Damage Control’ On Feb 26

Curtis Salgado To Release ‘Damage Control’ On Feb 26

Alligator Records

With ‘Damage Control,’ Salgado has created what he calls “a rock ’n’ roll record with lyrics that hit.”

Award-winning vocalist, instrumentalist and songwriter Curtis Salgado, the man NPR calls “an icon” with “a huge voice,” will release his new Alligator Records album, Damage Control, on Friday, February 26, 2021. Produced by Salgado, Damage Control is his first full band album in four years, and it’s packed with passionate, insightful, original songs.

With over 40 years of recording, performing, touring and songwriting under his belt, Salgado is revered worldwide for his ability to wring every ounce of soul out of every song he performs. He is famed not only for his powerhouse live shows and ten previous albums, but also for his songwriting. In 2018 he won the Blues Music Award for Song Of The Year for “Walk A Mile In My Blues” from The Beautiful Lowdown. In total, he has won nine Blues Music Awards, including the B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year.

With Damage Control, Salgado has created what he calls “a rock ’n’ roll record with lyrics that hit.” The album was produced by Salgado and recorded in studios in Tennessee and California with three different groups of world-class, road-tested blues and roots musicians. The 13 songs—12 originals and a raucous cover of Larry Williams’ “Slow Down“ (famously covered by The Beatles)—will surprise and delight longtime Salgado fans. Salgado has crafted a soul-searching, street-smart collection of vividly detailed, instantly memorable songs. His vocals weave, bob and soar, at times jabbing with nuance, and then striking with unlimited power. Of the title track, he says, “Life is all about damage control…trouble and then some. It’s about dealing with what gets thrown at you and saying, ‘I ain’t finished yet.’”

The album’s defiant opening song, “The Longer That I Live“ was originally released as a digital-only single in June 2020. Listen to the song and watch Salgado’s captivating music video.

Born in Eugene, Oregon, Salgado found his calling early on. By his 20s he was already making a name for himself in Eugene’s bar scene with his band The Nighthawks, and later as co-leader of The Robert Cray Band, where he found himself sharing stages with many of his heroes, including Muddy Waters, Bobby Bland, Albert Collins and Bonnie Raitt. After Salgado and Cray parted ways in 1982, Curtis fronted Roomful Of Blues, singing and touring with them from 1984 through 1986. In 1995 he spent the summer touring as vocalist for Santana. He released the first of his 11 solo albums in 1991.

Salgado’s Alligator Records debut, Soul Shot, was released in 2012 to widespread critical acclaim. He followed up with The Beautiful Lowdown in 2016 and Rough Cut, the stripped-down acoustic album (with guitarist Alan Hager) in 2018.

Salgado has performed at Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival, The Chicago Blues Festival, The Tampa Bay Blues Festival, The San Francisco Blues Festival, Memphis’ Beale Street Music Festival, Denver’s Mile High Blues Festival as well as on The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. Internationally he’s toured in Saipan, Guam, Canada, England, throughout Europe, Brazil, Chile, Panama, The Philippines, Thailand, and Hong Kong.

Salgado has always lived life to the fullest, but he’s also faced adversity, overcoming multiple health challenges. Both of these things inform Damage Control. He battled back from liver cancer in 2006 and lung cancer in 2008 and 2012. In March 2017 he underwent quadruple bypass surgery. He’s not only come back stronger each time, he’s also become a prolific songwriter, going from writing a few songs per album to writing or co-writing full albums of original songs.

“You can dance to them,” Salgado says of his songs, “but the words have to carry the weight.”

Curtis Salgado

*Feature image by Jessica Keaveny

Blues/Roots Musician Randy McAllister Offers Up ‘Paperbag Salvation’

Blues/Roots Musician Randy McAllister Offers Up ‘Paperbag Salvation’

Mark Pucci

Randy McAllister has been flying in the face of convention his whole career; no smoke, no mirrors, no choreography, no industry machines.

“Roustabout, maverick, spiritual, gritty, amazing, genius, wild, bad-ass, soulful:” these are some of the words used to describe East Texas-born bona fide blue blood, Randy McAllister, who will release his new CD, Paperbag Salvation, April 23rd on Reaction Records.

Now based in Hermosa, South Dakota, McAllister is revered and critically-acclaimed true blues/roots original. An award-winning artist who plays driving drums and a world-class harmonica, he writes incredible songs and sings in a powerfully soul-drenched voice.

Paperbag Salvation showcases all of McAllister’s singing, songwriting and performing skills on ten original songs that also highlight his stellar band: Brandon Hudspeth – guitar on all tracks; Howard Mahan- guitar on track 2; Paul Greenlease- bass; Adam Hagerman- drums; and Heather Newman- background vocals.

McAllister has a knack for keen wordplay in both his songs and their titles, and he shared his thoughts on several of them from the new album. “ ‘You’re Like Mashed Potatoes’ was based on building around that line with the sentiment of how a kid might say how much he loves something. Like a lot of 50s and 60s soul numbers where many songs were sung by kids coming from a kids perspective. ‘Ain’t no need to make this complicated, some things are so good they can’t be overstated,’ says a line from the song.

“ ‘Most Irritating Person in the World’ was also originally just based on a line that I thought would be funny to do something with. Then I had a day where someone was asking me questions and then talking over me when I would answer, all the while I was backing up because they were so close they were spitting on me. The more I backed up the closer they got. I also had someone park their car so close to my driver’s side door that I had to get through the passenger side. Seemed like a good day to start writing. ‘I take one step back, you take two steps up, I ‘m trying to make some space but you won’t let me get enough,’ I sing in that song.

“ ‘No Conductor’ was originally recorded as an aggressive soul rocker. I eventually decided to frame the lyrics in a ballad form. I like the contrast of lyrics that seem to say something different than the music.

“In ‘Personal Piñata,’ I thought it would be fun to write a song where all the rejection and heartache someone felt while pursuing someone was equal to being a piñata being whacked with a stick. But all the while keeping a positive attitude knowing that if you can keep hanging in there they’ll eventually see how good the insides are. ‘Take a few whacks until I crack, spill my insides but I keep coming back.’ ”

Randy McAllister has been flying in the face of convention his whole career; no smoke, no mirrors, no choreography, no industry machines. Just a much deserved reputation built on hard work, years of developing his craft and bringing his one-of-a kind show to every corner of the map.

Raised in the small Texas town of Novice, McAllister is a sixth generation Texan. Following in his father’s footsteps, Randy started on drums at age nine. He discovered the harmonica in his early 20s while stationed in Massachusetts as a member of the USAF, taking cues from blues legend “Earring George” Mayweather, a Boston resident and harmonica master. McAllister moved to Alaska in 1989, where he spent the next three years playing in various bands. By the time he returned to Texas in 1992, he had developed into a strong, talented harp player who was also establishing a reputation as a skilled vocalist and songwriter. In 1997, McAllister signed with JSP Records, releasing three highly acclaimed CDs before going on to issue recordings on Severn Records (with Mike Morgan) and on Reaction Records.

Randy McCallister

*Feature image by Misty McAllister