Hector Anchondo Acoustic Album ‘Let Loose Those Chains’ Out Today

Hector Anchondo Acoustic Album ‘Let Loose Those Chains’ Out Today

American Blues Scene Staff

Hector created a powerful album that delivers insights into emotions across the spectrum…

Hector Anchondo grew up on a Missouri farm, taking in all the influences he could. Old-time blues, bluegrass, roots, and Latino music formed the soundtrack of his life. When his contemporaries were heading off to college, he headed straight to Omaha, Nebraska, diving head first into the music scene. It was an all-or-nothing leap that is paying off in big ways.

Let Loose Those Chains is the acoustic album Hector always wanted to make. Winning First Prize in the solo/duo category of the Blues Foundation’s 2020 International Blues Challenge provided the inspiration, so Hector gathered two acoustic guitars and some favorite personal songs from his past twenty years of writing, and got to work in studio spaces in Bradenton, Florida and Crystal Lakes, Illinois. 

Hector created a powerful album that delivers insights into emotions across the spectrum of love and heartache, the ups and downs of his life so far. The twelve original tracks reflect Anchondo’s many influences, including bluesmen like John Lee Hooker, Taj Mahal, Keb Mo and the Allman Brothers, plus some Folk, Americana, and a touch of Gypsy Jazz. A showcase for his songwriting, expressive singing and versatile guitar work, Let Loose Those Chains is a landmark work for a quickly rising star.

 

Let Loose Those Chains – Choose Music Service

New Dion Album ‘Stomping Ground’ Ft. Mark Knopfler, Keb’ Mo’, Boz Scaggs, Billy Gibbons, More Out November 5

New Dion Album ‘Stomping Ground’ Ft. Mark Knopfler, Keb’ Mo’, Boz Scaggs, Billy Gibbons, More Out November 5

American Blues Scene Staff

“Dion is a star who knows well how to start again, how to keep shining. He looks at his watch every few years. Damn! Let’s make a record.” – Pete Townshend

Dion is following up his critically acclaimed and commercially successful 2020 album release Blues With Friends with Stomping Ground, a new album that finds him collaborating yet again with music greats with whom he shares mutual admiration. Set for release November 5, Stomping Ground was produced by Wayne Hood with Dion and will be released through Joe Bonamassa and Roy Weisman’s KTBA Records.  The album will be available digitally as well as on CD and as a two LP set.  

Most of the album’s songs were written by Dion and his songwriting partner Mike Aquilina.  Guest artists appearing on tracks with Dion include Boz Scaggs, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Patti Scialfa, Bruce Springsteen, Billy F Gibbons, Keb’ Mo’, Sonny Landreth, Joe Menza, Mike Menza, Marcia Ball, Jimmy Vivino, Rickie Lee Jones, Wayne Hood, Joe Bonamassa and G.E. Smith with Pete Townshend’s liner notes which Dion characterizes as “amazing.”

The album’s voluminous notes include an intro by Dion that succinctly summarizes the philosophy behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s latest recorded endeavor:

“When I was young, I was always striving for accolades and admiration. Those were my goals.  But when I reached them, they didn’t satisfy.  I discovered joy when I leaned to stop caring about all that – when I learned to relax and make music with friends… music that would make more friends for us through its joy.  To make music with friends, and to make friends through music: I can’t imagine a better life than this.  I am grateful to my friends who made Stomping Ground with me – and my new friends who are listening.”

The album was preceded last month with the release of “I’ve Got To Get To You,” a track featuring Boz Scaggs along with the father and son guitar team of Joe and Mike Menza.  This week marks the release of “Take It Back,” on which Dion is joined by Joe Bonamassa. Next month (10/13) will see the release of “Angel In The Alleyway” that features Patti Scialfa (vocals) and Bruce Springsteen (guitar and harmonica).

The album’s notes include a foreword by Pete Townshend, which reads, in part:

“Dion, like a circling star that never fades, generates the energy and fire we need to pull ourselves up and start again. Dion is a star who knows well how to start again, how to keep shining. He looks at his watch every few years. Damn! Let’s make a record. Take care. This one will blow those little white things in our ears right into your brain.”

Beyond Townshend’s literary contribution, Dion provides a track-by-track description of all the album’s 14 selections, the sole non-original being “Red House,” the Jimi Hendrix song that has become a blues standard.  On Stomping Ground, Dion is joined by Keb’ Mo’ on that song.  Dion notes, “We had a blast grooving on ‘Red House.’ I’m honored to have him join me on this Jimi Hendrix cover/tribute.  We did it as only we could. I think Jimi would approve!”  It’s worth mentioning that the follow-up single release to Dion’s 1968 smash hit “Abraham, Martin and John” was “Purple Haze,” serving to underscore the connection that Dion has long had with the legacy of Jimi Hendrix.

There’s more Dion news. The Wanderer, a musical based on the life and music of Dion will stage its world pre-Broadway premiere at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ on March 24, 2022.  Michael Wartella (Wicked) stars as Dion, alongside Christy Altomare (Anastasia) as Susan, Dion’s wife. Original New Kids on the Block member Joey McIntyre (Waitress) plays Johnny, Dion’s best friend.  The Wanderer was written by Charles Messina (A Room of My Own) and directed by Kenneth Ferrone (Cruel Intentions) and choreographed by Sarah O’Gleby. Tony Award-winner Beowulf Boritt is the scenic designer. The Wanderer is produced by Paper Mill Playhouse in association with Jill Menza and Charles Messina.  

Visit DionDimucci.com or KTBArecords.com for more information. 

Read an ABS interview with Dion, honoring Sam Cooke, here.

 

Pre-order Stomping Ground

 

Definitive Karen Dalton Documentary Opens Oct 1

Definitive Karen Dalton Documentary Opens Oct 1

American Blues Scene Staff

“My favorite singer in the place was Karen Dalton…Karen had a voice like Billie Holiday and played the guitar like Jimmy Reed, and went all the way with it.” – Bob Dylan

Greenwich Entertainment announces the release of Karen Dalton: In My Own Time, a brand new documentary that not only honors the long-overlooked legacy and musical impact of the late folk legend, but saves her largely misunderstood story from near devastation. Directed by Robert Yapkowitz and Richard Peete, and executive produced by the multi Academy Award-nominated Wim Wenders, Light in the Attic Records and Delmore Recording Society, the film will open in theaters across the country beginning October 1, 2021, with a premiere at New York City’s Film Forum.

Following a tragic fire in 2018, which destroyed all the remains of Karen Dalton’s personal archive, Yapkowitz and Peete worked closely with her family and estate to capture the vanishing fragments of her life. From troves of newly unearthed material and raw footage, to candid conversations with Dalton’s daughter Abralyn Baird and commentary by loved ones, ex-lovers, collaborators and close friends, Karen Dalton: In My Own Time serves as an essential portrait of her singular voice and indelible influence.

Karen Dalton: In My Own Time also features Dalton’s handwritten poetry and journals read by Angel Olsen, music composed by Julia Holter, plus interviews with fans like Nick Cave and Vanessa Carlton, Woodstock creator and Dalton’s one-time label head Michael Lang, country singer-songwriter Lacy J. Dalton, Peter Walker, Peter Stampfel and more. The film was produced by Traci Carlson and Richard Peete at Neighborhood Watch (Blue Ruin, Low Tide, Super Dark Times), and The Hollywood Reporter says, “As [Karen Dalton: In My Own Time] introduces a one-of-a-kind artist to the uninitiated and celebrates her for aficionados, above all it listens – and invites us to do the same.”

Following its theatrical release, Karen Dalton: In My Own Time will be available on-demand via digital platforms and DVD starting November 16th.

While Dalton’s music has been rediscovered, reissued, and celebrated by the likes of Courtney Barnett, Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, Sharon Van Etten, Vagabon and increasingly newer generations in recent years, to many she remains “the most tragically beautiful folk singer you’ve probably never heard of” (VICE). When she arrived in New York City’s Greenwich Village in the 1960s – an early twenty-something from Oklahoma with two children, two marriages and a whole life behind her – she stunned contemporaries such as Bob Dylan, who once said, “My favorite singer in the place was Karen Dalton…Karen had a voice like Billie Holiday and played the guitar like Jimmy Reed, and went all the way with it.” On her only two albums, 1969’s It’s So Hard to Tell Who’s Going to Love You the Best and 1971’s In My Own Time, her plaintive, affecting and nuanced performances showed how she could inhabit songs and convey meanings that were never apparent to anyone else. But between an apprehension for the music industry and a personal dichotomy of darkness and self-confidence, Karen discarded the traditional trappings of success and led an unconventional, reclusive lifestyle until her untimely death from AIDS in the early 1990s.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Dalton’s 1971 album, In My Own Time, the film’s co-executive producers, Light in the Attic Records, will be presenting a beautifully packaged expanded edition of her masterpiece, featuring unreleased songs, newly remastered audio, and rare photos, along with liner notes and testimonials from Lenny Kaye, Devendra Banhart, and Nick Cave. More info will be available soon at lightintheattic.net.

*Feature image courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment

The Allman Family Revival Unveils Massive 18-City Tour

The Allman Family Revival Unveils Massive 18-City Tour

American Blues Scene Staff

A celebration of Gregg Allman ft. The Allman Betts Band, Robert Randolph, Lilly Hiatt, and many more!

Devon Allman announces the fifth annual Allman Family Revival — a celebration of the life, spirit, and music of Gregg Allman. The event will be hosted by son Devon Allman, and anchored by The Allman Betts Band

On what would have been Gregg Allman’s 70th Birthday (December 8, 2017), Devon decided to gather his talented friends to pay homage musically. Musicians that had toured with Gregg, jammed with Gregg & inspired by Gregg turned up to throw down. Legends like Robin Zander of Cheap Trick, wunderkind Marcus King, and the Orbison’s, all took part in the inaugural performance, laying the groundwork for The Allman Family Revival to be an annual who’s who of musical talent. 

Now it’s a yearly tradition, and it’s grown from an annual celebration in San Fransisco to a full fledged coast to coast tour. Based on the format of “The Last Waltz” concert with The Allman Betts Band as the house band and featuring up to a dozen marquee names in music, it’s an epic 3 hour show unlike any other. This year the touring lineup will include The Allman Betts Band, Robert Randolph, Donavon Frankenreiter, Lilly Hiatt, Cody and Luther Dickinson, Eric Gales, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Jimmy Hall, Lamar Williams Jr. plus many more to be announced.  The Allman Family Revival will also feature Kenny Wayne Shepherd, G. Love, Samantha Fish, Alex Orbison, and Kenny Aronoff in select markets.

“Hard to believe we are in the fifth year of The Allman Family Revival shows! Says Devon, “This year is going to be bonkers! 18 cities, coast to coast in historic theaters with our beautiful, talented friends jamming all night long. Can’t wait!”

Public on-sale begins 9/17. For tickets and all up to date information, visit allmanfamilyrevival.com.

 

2021 Allman Family Revival

11/27 @ The Factory | St. Louis, MO

11/29 @ Majestic Theater | Dallas, TX

11/30 @ ACL Live at The Moody Theater | Austin, TX

12/1 @ Saenger Theater | New Orleans, LA

12/2 @ Coca-Cola Roxy | Atlanta, GA

12/3 @ Van Wezel PAC | Sarasota, FL

12/5 @ The Paramount | Huntington, NY

12/7 @ Orpheum Theater | Boston, MA

12/8 @ Beacon Theater | New York, NY

12/9 @ The Met | Philadelphia, PA 

12/10 @ Fillmore | Silver Springs, MD

12/11 @ Michigan Theater | Ann Arbor, MI 

12/12 @ Chicago Theater | Chicago, IL 

12/14 @ Brady Theater | Tulsa, OK

12/16 @ Arizona Federal Theatre | Phoenix, AZ

12/17 @ Theater at Virgin Hotels | Las Vegas, NV

12/18 @ The Fillmore | San Francisco, CA

12/19 @ The Wiltern | Los Angeles, CA

 

*Feature image credit: ABS’s Rick Scuteri

 

Eric Clapton ‘The Lady in the Balcony: Lockdown Sessions’

Eric Clapton ‘The Lady in the Balcony: Lockdown Sessions’

American Blues Scene Staff

The project was initiated as the result of the forced cancellation of Eric Clapton’s concerts scheduled for May 2021 at the Royal Albert Hall due to the continued disruption caused by the pandemic.

Eric Clapton returns with a remarkable new release, The Lady In The Balcony: Lockdown Sessions on November 12. Available via Mercury Studios on multiple formats, the 17 songs find Clapton and longtime bandmates Nathan East (Bass and Vocals), Steve Gadd (Drums) and Chris Stainton (Keyboards) performing acoustic renditions of Clapton standards and an assortment of other numbers encompassing blues, country and rarified originals.

Overseen by Clapton’s legendary longtime Grammy-winning producer Russ Titelman (James Taylor, George Harrison, Brian Wilson, Randy Newman, Rickie Lee Jones) and recorded live at Cowdray House in West Sussex, England, the performance finds Clapton and company revisiting such timeless classics as “After Midnight,” “Layla,” “Bell Bottom Blues,” “Tears in Heaven,” “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” and “Key to the Highway.” In addition to revisiting some of Eric’s best-loved selections from his own extensive repertoire, Clapton and crew also offer their own versions of songs that had a profound effect on his career and those of his contemporaries including the Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac tracks “Black Magic Woman” and “Man of the World.”

The project was initiated as the result of the forced cancellation of Eric Clapton’s concerts scheduled for May 2021 at the Royal Albert Hall due to the continued disruption caused by the pandemic. Looking for a viable alternative and hoping to keep his options open, he reconvened with his band to the English countryside and staged a concert in the presence of only the participants themselves while letting the cameras roll. (Clapton’s wife Melia, the sole outside observer inspired the Sessions title.) The mostly acoustic set was envisioned to be like an Eric Clapton Unplugged II, but not quite, as three songs are played with electric guitars. The result became far more than simply a sequence of greatest hits. Rather, it’s one of the most intimate and authentic performances of Clapton’s entire career, an offering flush with real insight into the make-up of his indelible catalogue.

After his time with the Yardbirds in 1963, Clapton began a career as a professional musician that has seen numerous bands, an abundance of albums, countless worldwide sold out shows, an impressive array of accolades, unwavering critical acclaim and his consistent display of legendary guitar work.

The Lady in the Balcony: Lockdown Sessions will be available on DVD+CD, Blu-ray+CD, 4K UHD+Blu-ray, 2 LPs pressed on yellow vinyl, and a Deluxe Edition containing the DVD, Blu-ray & CD packaged in a 40 page 12” x 12” hardback photo book, digital video & digital audio. In addition, a CD-only version will be available exclusively at Target.

Track Listing:

Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out

Golden Ring

Black Magic Woman

Man of the World

Kerry

After Midnight

Bell Bottom Blues

Key to the Highway

River of Tears

Rock Me Baby

Believe in Life

Going Down Slow

Layla

Tears in Heaven

Long Distance Call

Bad Boy

Got My Mojo Working

 

Pre-Order The Lady in the Balcony: Lockdown Sessions

Mo Lowda & The Humble Share New Single ‘Snowbird’

Mo Lowda & The Humble Share New Single ‘Snowbird’

Mixtape Media

“The ‘Snowbird’ itself being the figure in our lives who helps us through the winter blues.”

Indie rock’s cinematic and lyrically driven, Mo Lowda & The Humble release their first single of 2021 with “Snowbird” as they embark on a fall tour that will take them through the United States before returning to their hometown’s Union Transfer on November 19th. “Snowbird” follows the critically acclaimed release of frontman Jordan Caiola’s Only Real When Shared and the band’s 2020 LP, Ready Coat.

Of the band’s new single, Caiola shares, “Snowbird’ deals with themes of seasonal depression, and being fortunate enough to have someone who helps you through it. Instrumentally, the driving acoustic guitars provide the most glaring departure from our previous material. Locking in with the featured electric guitar riff, the bass and drums bump throughout. The song actually started with a four-year-old voice memo/demo that I dug up and revisited. It was labeled ‘Brownie Groove’ and was essentially just a loop of that sort of cyclical intro riff and it lacked a strong lyrical direction. After some time tinkering around with it again, the verse chords were written and the lyrical content soon followed.”

“That falsetto hook was the first thing to come out of my mouth while I was just strumming the chords and trying to find melodies,” he continues. “I really loved that imagery, so I structured the rest of the narrative around it. The ‘Snowbird’ itself being the figure in our lives who helps us through the winter blues. The entire outro/bridge was written in-studio during the recording process and made this seemingly short song into a journey that moves quite a bit from beginning to end, which we loved about it. Plus, the drop out really highlights the acoustic guitar that pushes the song throughout.”

Mo Lowda & The Humble will be touring throughout the US this fall with more dates to be announced for 2022.

September 18th                              Isle of Palms, SC

September 22nd                              Atlanta, GA

September 23rd                               Athens, GA

September 24th                               Charlotte, NC

September 25th                               Richmond, VA

September 30th                               Boston, MA

October 1st                                      Brooklyn, NY

October 2nd                                     Pittsburgh, PA

October 3rd                                     Columbus, OH

October 5th                                     Newport, KY

October 7th                                     Louisville, KY

October 8th                                     Chicago, IL

October 9th                                     Appleton, WI

October 10th                                   Appleton, WI

October 12th                                   Madison, WI

October 13th                                   Omaha, NE

October 14th                                   Greely, CO

October 15th                                   Denver, CO

October 17th                                   Steamboat Springs, CO

October 21st                                    Amarillo, TX

October 22nd                                   Dallas, TX

October 23rd                                   Austin, TX

October 26th                                   Baton Rouge, LA

October 27th                                   New Orleans, LA

October 28th                                   Mobile, AL

October 30th                                   Bluffton, SC

November 18th                                Washington, DC

November 19th                                Philadelphia, PA

 

Mo Lowda & The Humble is Jordan Caiola, Shane Woods, Jeff Lucci and Kirby Sybert. The band produces all of its own music and with the release of this new single, they continue to expand their sound and explore new sonic territory.

 

Connect with Mo Lowda & The Humble online:

Official | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music

 

Zac Harmon Says, ‘Long As I Got My Guitar’

Zac Harmon Says, ‘Long As I Got My Guitar’

American Blues Scene Staff

“After a year of picking up my guitar and then putting it down, I finally realize that as long as I got my guitar, all is good with my soul.” – Zac Harmon

Catfood Records announces an October 1st release date for Long As I Got My Guitar, the new album from Texas-based award-winning blues singer/guitarist Zac Harmon. Produced by Grammy-winner Jim Gaines (Santana, Steve Ray Vaughan, and Journey) and recorded at Sonic Ranch in, Tornillo, Texas, Long As I Got My Guitar features 10 songs performed in Harmon’s inimitable funky, soul-blues sound.

Backing Zac’s lead guitar and vocals on most of the tracks are The Rays: Bob Trenchard – bass; Richy Puga – drums; Johnny McGhee – guitar; Dan Ferguson – keyboards; plus SueAnn Carwell and Corey Lacey – background vocals; with Harmon’s regular touring band on additional tracks. Catfood Records released his 2019 label debut, Mississippi Bar BQ, also produced by Jim Gaines, to rave critical acclaim and extensive radio airplay.

The songs on Long As I Got My Guitar include a number of tunes co-penned by Harmon and Catfood Records owner Bob Trenchard. The album’s repertoire runs the gamut of the blues experience: from the uptown sound of “Soul Land” and “Love for You Baby;” to the gritty “Deal with the Devil,” “People Been Talking,” “Waiting to Be Free,” “New Year’s Day” and the title track, the latter two especially distinguished by Harmon’s stinging blues guitar attack. Dan Ferguson’s accordion playing on “Crying Shame,” even adds a little Zydeco touch to that track.

This probably is the most memorable record of my career. Bob Trenchard and I were so much on the same page with all that we went through in 2020 that it spawned some incredibly emotional song testimonials, such as ‘Scatter My Ashes to the Wind.’ Great songs, great musicians and a great producer have once again created a great musical presentation.  – Zac Harmon

Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Harmon is a true embodiment of the music that emanated from the city’s historic Farish Street district, home of blues legend Elmore James. Given that Zac was exposed to a lot of music in his home, neighborhood, and local culture, it’s not surprising that he turned out a blues musician. His mom played piano, and his dad, the city’s first state registered black pharmacist, played harmonica and tended to the needs of artists such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner, Albert King, and Little Milton.

Zac started his professional career at age 16, playing guitar with Sam Myers, a friend of his father’s. Two years later he was playing with Dorothy Moore, Z.Z. Hill and other well-known blues artists who were passing through on regional tours.

At age 21, he moved to Los Angeles and worked as a studio musician at first, eventually establishing a very successful career as a songwriter and producer. Zac worked on major films, television shows and well-known national commercials, even being hired at one point by Michael Jackson as a staff writer for his publishing company, ATV Music. Harmon wrote songs for the likes of Troop, Karyn White, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Freddie Jackson, The Whispers and The O’Jays, among others. He also produced songs for reggae band Black Uhuru’s Grammy-nominated Mystical Truth album in 1994.

After composing and performing some blues songs for a movie score, Harmon felt compelled to pursue his longtime dream of returning to his roots and recording his first blues project. The result in 2003 was Live at Babe & Ricky’s Inn, an electrifying testimony to Mississippi blues, which showcased the sound at its best and introduced Harmon as a true torchbearer for the “next generation of the Blues.”  In 2004, Harmon and his band, the Mid South Blues Revue, sponsored by the Southern California Blues Society, traveled to Memphis and won the Blues Foundation’s prestigious International Blues Challenge title of “Best Unsigned Band.”

His next release, in 2005, was The Blues According to Zacariah, which garnered major national airplay, including XM, Sirius and the American Blues Network.  XM listeners voted Harmon “Best New Blues Artist” in the inaugural XM Nation Awards in 2005.  In 2006, Harmon won the coveted Blues Music Award for “Best New Artist Debut” for The Blues According to Zacariah.  Later that year, he was featured in Blues Revue magazine as one of the 10 artists that “represent the future of the blues,” calling him a “latter-day Eric Clapton or Robert Cray with shades of Luther Allison and BB King.”

Harmon entertained U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait in 2008 as one the stars of Bluzapalooza and while headlining “The Pizza & Pyramid Tour” of Sicily, Italy and Cairo, Egypt in late 2009, Zac and company made history with a rare performance on the site of the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx, making the ensemble only the second roots act to do so; Louis Armstrong being the first.

In 2009, Zac was honored for his career achievements in his beloved hometown at the Jackson Music Awards, and weeks later in Memphis, the Jus’ Blues Music Foundation bestowed the “Little Milton” Guitar Award for “Outstanding Guitar Player” upon him.  That same year Harmon branched out into acting, with a major role in the independent feature film, Black and Blue, released in 2010.

Zac was a featured performer for the 2010 “Mississippi Celebrates its Grammy Legacy” celebration, hosted by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, where he was presented with a Peavey Award, which honors the state’s Grammy winners and nominees as well as individuals who have played a significant role in developing and furthering Mississippi’s musical heritage.

Since then he’s been on a roll, becoming one of the blues’ strongest live performers, thrilling fans everywhere from Memphis to Mumbai.  His live performances combine elements of everything that influenced him: soul-blues, gospel, reggae, and modern blues-rock.

 

Zac Harmon

Tributes Flood In Following Death Of British Folk And Blues Genius Michael Chapman

Tributes Flood In Following Death Of British Folk And Blues Genius Michael Chapman

David Scott

“On a rainy night in 1966 I went into a pub in Cornwall but I couldn’t afford to pay to go in. I said, I don’t want to stay outside in the rain, I’ll play the guitar for half an hour for you. They offered me a job for the rest of the summer and I’ve been at it ever since.”

The great British singer, songwriter and guitarist Michael Chapman passed away last Friday at the age of 80. His family led the tributes: 

“It is with regret and indescribable sadness that we must tell all of his friends that Michael died earlier today at home. Please raise a glass or two to a gentleman, a musician, a husband, a force of nature, a legend and the most fully qualified survivor.”

Credit: Andy Craig

Michael contributed to and produced the iconic 2018 album, If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous for Americana musician Sarah McQuaid, whose forthcoming release St Buryan Sessions includes a cover of Chapman’s “Rabbit Hills.” This song now takes on a new meaning and poignancy for a man she calls her dear friend. In Sarah’s words, “I was absolutely devastated by the news that Michael has left this world, he was a real musical mentor to me.

“I wouldn’t have ever started playing electric guitar if he hadn’t handed me his Ibanez Artist and said ‘Play this.’ My heart goes out to his wife Andru; she and Michael have both been such good friends to me. I can’t express how sad it makes me to know that I won’t see him again.”

As a student in the late 1960s I watched Michael, the self-confessed “white blues guy,” perform as often as possible around the pubs in his native West Yorkshire. I shared his love for the blues greats who had influenced him such as Big Bill Broonzy and Leadbelly. I last saw Chapman at a gig in Rothbury, Northumberland nearly 10 years ago, the septuagenarian playing with that same energy, enjoyment and enthusiasm and still attracting fans from all over the country. 

In my review I wrote, “The set opened with a medley of his train song guitar compositions, including, ‘The Last Polish Breakfast,’ ‘Little Molly’s Dream’ and ‘Flahey’s Flag.’ Chapman used his brilliant slide technique to sail effortlessly across the strings, complemented by intricate finger picking, his thumb providing a deep, steady bass. Somehow Michael also added innovative riffs and solos, producing tone which put the audience in a trance, the subtleties in the notes and the spaces in between giving the listener time to reflect upon the music. Not surprisingly, John Fahey is right in your head, but so is Kelly Joe Phelps and Mississippi John Hurt; above all Michael Chapman is unique.”

As Charles Shaar Murray explains, Chapman’s music grows from, “The gritty solidity of the blues, from fields to factories, from Delta electric slide to chugging overdriven funky electric, deeply rooted in struggle, sensuality and hard work.” 

Chapman was the consummate storyteller and a superb lyricist. In “Just Another Story,” a song about a truck stop waitress, he comes up with the immortal line, “ With her ponytail and pickup truck, she’s high on her heels but down on her luck.” 

One of my favorite Chapman stories was his reminiscence of writing “The Mallard” on a cold, wet platform at York station and his wry reflection on how “It’s the glamour that gets you down!” Well, his existence may not have always seemed glamorous to him but it is a glorious one for those who were privileged to see and hear one of the best English guitarists, singers and songwriters of his generation.

A frequent encore for Michael was “La Madrugada,” a haunting, echoing, spellbound instrumental inspired by visits to churches in northern Italy and Spain, usually followed by his confession to the audience, “I played to God in case there is one!”

Michael Chapman 1/24/1941- 9/10/2021 – RIP

Days pass so slowly

In the valley of my time

The trees sway so gently

There is something on my mind

Like a fly that buzzes ‘round

There’s nothing I can do

I guess it’s just

The memory of you

 

From Michael’s stunning anthem to loss and regret, “In The Valley.” 

 

Duo Debut ‘Lindsay Beaver & Brad Stivers’ Out Today Via Vizztone

Duo Debut ‘Lindsay Beaver & Brad Stivers’ Out Today Via Vizztone

American Blues Scene Staff

Happy release day to Lindsay Beaver and Brad Stivers!

Today sees the release of Lindsay Beaver and Brad Stivers‘ eponymous album! Two of the hottest young singers and musicians coming out of the Austin, Texas music scene, Lindsay is known for her intense, fearless vocals and drumming, and Brad for his ferocious guitar playing and signature vocal style. 

Beaver hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Stivers made his mark in Colorado before they both were drawn to Austin where their exceptional musical chemistry came together. 

Brad released his VizzTone debut in 2017 and Lindsay’s Alligator album dropped in 2018. In 2020 Brad released an EP and Lindsay did a single with old friend Jimmie Vaughan. For their self-titled duo debut they went to the Halifax studio of Garrett Mason, one of Canada’s premier blues musicians, along with Joe Murphy and Barry Cooke, plus guest guitarists Kirk Fletcher and Zach Zunis. The 12 powerful tracks, including 11 originals, showcase their musical depth in blues, Americana, soul, and Texas R&B.

Recently, ABS premiered the single “One Condition” — a taste of hard-driving Texas soul, featuring guest guitarist Kirk Fletcher and perfectly matched harmony vocals from Lindsay and Brad. Listen below!

VizzTone label group · One Condition Ft. Kirk Fletcher

Lindsay Beaver & Brad Stivers – Choose Preferred Service

 

Listen: Steve Tyrell Salutes Ray Charles with New Recording of Ballad ‘You Don’t Know Me’

Listen: Steve Tyrell Salutes Ray Charles with New Recording of Ballad ‘You Don’t Know Me’

American Blues Scene Staff

Tour kicks off September 9th with stops In Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas, Atlanta

Producer, singer, songwriter and legendary raconteur Steve Tyrell shares a beautiful rendition of “You Don’t Know Me” off his new album, Shades of Ray. The entire collection is a celebration of his lifelong inspiration, Mr. Ray Charles.  Tyrell’s tour begins tomorrow, and his version of “You Don’t Know Me” is available today.  The album’s release on September 24th via Arts Music is timed to salute what would have been Ray Charles’ 90th year.  Fans can pre-save Shades of Ray here and here.

“You Don’t Know Me” is a deeply romantic version of the beloved Ray Charles chart-topper. The timeless  ballad was written by Cindy Walker  who is hailed as one of the finest composers in country music history. The song has been covered by dozens of artists but it’s Ray’s version that reached not only the top of the charts but touched depths of listeners’ hearts. Tyrell shares, “Even when I was singing the standards, I always came from a bluesier place than some of the other artists I loved and respected… and that’s because of Ray. I remember listening to his records early on and thinking, ‘If I ever made an album, that’s the way I’d want to do it.’”

The original track combines the passion of gospel with the rawness of the blues — earning Ray Charles his very first gold record and transforming his life — for the rest of his career he closed every concert with the song.  Tyrell’s interpretation of “What’d I Say” adds a sexy and cool retro vibe to the tune. “Ray’s versions of these songs are so timeless that there’s no point in trying to copy him,” Tyrell explains. “What I tried to do is take the influence he’s had on me over the years and let that inspire performances straight from my heart.”

Tyrell spent the past year hunkering down at home during the COVID-19 pandemic and playing Charles’ records on repeat as he put the finishing touches on what will become his thirteenth studio album, Shades of Ray.

Recorded in New York and LA, the collection honors the late soul icon’s towering legacy. Tyrell’s interpretations of the classics are both deeply reverent and boldly original, with sweeping, cinematic arrangements that land somewhere between the lush orchestration of the Great American Songbook and the old school rhythm and blues the Houston native cut his teeth on growing up. The result is a singular, wide-ranging take on one of the most revelatory artists of the 20th century, a joyful, exuberant celebration not only of Charles’ well-established place in the American pantheon, but of his profoundly personal impact on Tyrell’s own life and work. 

Tyrell’s honest, intimate approach proves to be an ideal lens through which to explore Charles’ wonderfully diverse catalog, and the Shades of Ray tracklist runs the full emotional and stylistic gamut, from punchy, horn-fueled funk (“I Got A Woman”) and big band swing (“Hallelujah I Love Her So”) to tender torch songs (“I Can’t Stop Loving You”) and romantic ballads (“You Don’t Know Me”) plus a few other surprises. It’s impossible not to feel the appreciation and respect flowing through these tracks, to sense the genuine admiration and gratitude behind each performance. In the end, Shades of Ray isn’t just an homage to Ray Charles, it’s a heartfelt thank you for a lifetime of joy and inspiration.

Tyrell looks forward to performing these songs live when he begins a series of dates starting in Los Angeles on September 9th, with more to be announced soon.

Tour dates:

09/09 – Hollywood, CA @ Catalina Bar & Grill

09/10 – Hollywood, CA @ Catalina Bar & Grill

09/11 – Hollywood, CA @ Catalina Bar & Grill

09/12 – Hollywood, CA @ Catalina Bar & Grill

10/07 –  Portsmouth, NH @ Jimmy’s Jazz and Blues Club

10/08 – Boston, MA @ Sculler’s Jazz Club

10/09 – Boston, MA @ Sculler’s Jazz Club

10/10 – Westhampton Beach, NY @ Westhampton Beach PAC 

10/29 – Charlotte, NC @ Middle C Jazz Club

10/30 – Charlotte, NC @ Middle C Jazz Club

10/31 – Charlotte, NC @ Middle C Jazz Club

11/02 – Newberry, SC @ Newberry Opera House

11/03 – Atlanta, GA @ City Winery

11/05 – Edmond, OK @ Jazz Lab, University of Central OK

11/06 – Dallas, TX @ Arlington Music Hall

11/20 – Costa Mesa, CA @ Segerstrom Center

11/28 – Annapolis, MD @ Rams Head On Stage

11/29 – Alexandria, VA @ The Birchmere

 

 

Connect with Steve Tyrell:

Official |  Facebook |  YouTube |  Twitter |  Instagram

 

*Feature image credit: Paul Moore

 

 

 

The Twangtown Paramours Are Ready to ‘Double Down on a Bad Thing’

The Twangtown Paramours Are Ready to ‘Double Down on a Bad Thing’

Mark Pucci

Full album of roots, rock and blues Set for Release February 4, 2022 — new singles coming September 17 and October 15 via Spotify and other digital platforms

MaryBeth Zamer and Mike T. Lewis – aka the Twangtown Paramours – announce the upcoming launch of their new singles to Spotify and other digital platforms. The singles “Talk about Peace” and “Double Down on a Bad Thing” will be released as a prelude to their new full-length album, Double Down on a Bad Thing (out February 4, 2022 on Inside Edge Records). The Nashville-based duo will additionally release a special Christmas single, “My Gingerbread Man,” on November 12 to all digital outlets, which will also be included on the new album. 

The Twangtown Paramours are an award-winning husband and wife duo who are three-time Kerrville Folk Festival finalists and winners of Texas’s Wildflower Contest. The team of Lewis and Zamer are excited to release a project that represents a new and energetic musical direction for them. In contrast to their earlier acoustic work, Double Down on a Bad Thing is electric, rhythmic, and band-centric.  This full band album is mostly uptempo and upbeat. 

 The core group on Double Down on a Bad Thing consists of MaryBeth on vocals, Mike on guitars and bass, and Shawn Pelton of the Saturday Night Live band, Shawn Colvin and Roseanne Cash fame on drums and percussion.  Some of the other featured musicians on the album include Dave Keyes, who is a two-time Blues Music Awards Pinetop Perkins pianist nominee; Rave Tesar, music director of the band Renaissance; Steve Conn, pianist for Sonny Landreth; New York session piano player and organist, Ed Alstrom; and horn players Dan Nigro and Vinnie Cutro from Smokey Joe’s Café.

“‘Talk About Peace’ is a song with a clear message,” says Mike T. Lewis about the first single. “We live in a society that is set against itself. We all know how to fix it, but we haven’t so far. Every major religion tells us what to do: think of others before you act, love thy neighbor as thyself, don’t let ego and greed get in the way, be kind, and forgive. This song is an anthemic plea for action instead of lip service.”

“Our second single, ‘Double Down on a Bad Thing,’ is the title track and goes right to the heart of what the album is about – a retro early 1960s sound, a great catchy melody, a hard hitting groove, and a lot of fun,” volunteers MaryBeth Zamer. “The tune features Dan Nigro and Vinnie Cutro in a Memphis-sounding horn section.”  

Lead singer, MaryBeth Zamer was a fixture in the Washington, D.C. club circuit for many years. She performed with the band Ignition and sang background vocals for Eva Cassidy in the band Method Actor. She is also the main author of the some of the most meaningful songs in The Twangtown Paramours’ catalog. 

Mike T. Lewis is a session musician, producer, and hit songwriter. He is the author of a #1 platinum pop tune in Korea, “A Heartbeat Away,” which is ranked as the second biggest-selling female ballad of all time in that country. He also sometimes plays upright bass for Jimmie Dale Gilmore and does a little TV acting. He has appeared on the Investigative Discovery Channel and as a background actor on CMT’s “Nashville.” Mike is the main writer of the tunes on Double Down on a Bad Thing.

In their exciting, hard-hitting, largely retro, and often whimsical album, Double Down on a Bad Thing, the Twangtown Paramours ask their audience to recall when catchy pop melodies and great blues-influenced grooves ruled the world, when dynamic Beatlesesque chord progressions served as the soundtrack of a confident and evolving society, and when music inspired forward thinking and action.  If the positive feel and energy of a past musical era can help change people’s mindsets to one of positivity and hope, this is the album to do it. If not, it will at least cheer folks up while they are listening.

Double Down on a Bad Thing is the third album by The Twangtown Paramours. Their first two acoustic albums went to #11 and #2 on the folk charts and received accolades for singing, songwriting and performance. Songs from those projects tackled serious subjects and have been featured in holocaust museums across the world, at a Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire memorial in NYC, and are now being recorded by other artists such as the Price Sisters on Rebel Records.

“It’s our hope that while listening to this record, people will smile and dance around their living rooms like nobody’s watching,” MaryBeth Zamer declares. “We may be living in difficult and divisive times, but if a good groove and musical energy can help change people’s mindsets to one of positivity and hope, this is the album to do it.”

Adds Mike T. Lewis: “Influences of the Beatles and Memphis blues are prominent, but those sounds are re-interpreted and combined to form something new. This is the kind of record we’ve wanted to make for a long time and we plan to follow it up with live band touring.”

 

Twangtown Paramours

 

Billy Bragg’s Single ‘Pass It On’ Out Today

Billy Bragg’s Single ‘Pass It On’ Out Today

Lauren Leadingham

‘The Million Things That Never Happened’ is out October 8!

Today Billy Bragg releases a new single, “Pass It On,” from his tenth studio album. The Million Things That Never Happened, produced by Romeo Stodart and Dave Izumi, is due out October 8 via the Cooking Vinyl label. 

Yet another example of the raw and refined songwriting talents of Bragg, “Pass It On” is a warm reflection on ancestry and its historical interconnectedness. “I read somewhere that the second most googled thing after pornography is ancestry,” says Bragg. “People want to know where they come from, why they were born, where they were born. You can get facts from the web, but details are priceless and can often only be learned orally from relatives. Yet too many of us rue the fact that we are left to piece together family stories from fragments we recall because we never asked our elders those questions.”

On Thursday September 9th, Billy Bragg on…, an online concert experience, will be streamed on the Stabal platform. The show will explore both The Million Things That Never Happened and his unparalleled catalogue. 

Billy Bragg on… will also offer on-demand passes with bonus features that will include extra encore performances, exclusive interviews, a look at his new album, an in-depth songwriting discussion with Billy and Romeo, plus a behind-the-scenes look into the making of the concert. Get tickets here. Latest tour dates can be found here.

 

The Million Things That Never Happened

 

*Feature image credit: Jill Furmanovsky

Springsteen-Produced Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers’ ‘American Babylon 25th Anniversary Edition’ Out This Fall

Springsteen-Produced Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers’ ‘American Babylon 25th Anniversary Edition’ Out This Fall

American Blues Scene Staff

Springsteen is heard on eight of the album’s tracks and his voice is heard on “Light of Day,” his own song, as well as on the Chuck Berry version of “Down The Road Apiece.”

This fall will see Cleveland International Records start to issue a slate of archive album releases that underscore the iconoclastic label’s rich and eclectic heritage.  A very special expanded 25th Anniversary edition of Joe Grushecky and The HouserockersAmerican Babylon is set for digital and streaming release on October 29 with a vinyl LP set to follow early in 2022. Long a fixture on the Pittsburgh music scene, originally fronting the Iron City Houserockers, Grushecky is the son of a coal miner whose “day job” is in special education. He has become a legend among heartland rockers. His loyal following is testimony to his down-to-earth approach and honesty as a songwriter, bandleader and performer since the 1970s.

American Babylon, first issued in 1995, was produced by Bruce Springsteen whose friendship with Grushecky predates the album’s sessions and has endured in the intervening decades.  The new American Babylon2 CD set offers 27 tracks including the album’s original 12 selections among which are “Chain Smokin’,” “Only Lovers Left Alive,” “What Did You Do In The War” as well as “Homestead” and “Dark and Bloody Ground,” the latter two co-written with Springsteen.  Original demo recordings of “Chain Smokin’,” “Never Be Enough Time” and “Only Lovers Left Alive, never previously released, round out the first disc.   A 13-track companion disc documents live performances recorded at Nick’s Fat City in Pittsburgh during the Houserockers’ legendary “October Assault” tour that launched the album that month in 1995. Joe and the band performed not only in Grushecky’s hometown but also in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago and Asbury Park as well.  

Springsteen is heard on eight of the album’s tracks and his voice is heard on “Light of Day,” his own song, as well as on the Chuck Berry version of “Down The Road Apiece,” the album’s closer. One track featured on the live disc that is not part of the American Babylon tune stack is “Pumping Iron,” a fan favorite from The Iron City Houserockers’ 1980 Have A Good Time But Get Out Alive album.

On the topic of collaborative songwriting, Grushecky commented to Rolling Stone, “It’s a great thing for me to write with a talent like Bruce who is obviously one of the greats. I think that in a quiet way it sort of says something about my writing ability.”   Rolling Stone’s Andy Greene chronicled the relationship between Joe and American Babylon’s recently:  “As the leader of the Pittsburgh-based Iron City Houserockers, Joe Grushecky hammered out four heartland rock albums in the late 1970s and early 1980s. These won over more critics than fans, so he became a special education teacher to support his family. Still, he maintained a close friendship with Bruce Springsteen, and in 1995, they teamed up for American Babylon. The two remain tight and play together at least once a year, but this album remains their greatest joint accomplishment.”

The collaboration was not pre-planned and came about quite organically.  Joe recalled, “I was thinking about making a new record and had a couple songs written. My wife suggested ‘Why don’t you ask Bruce to play?’ I hemmed and hawed for a while and finally we got in touch. It sort of just took on a life of its own. It was fun working with Bruce; he added little twists and turns that I wouldn’t have come up with on my own which made the record a lot of fun to do musically. Once we got together, it just seemed like we were real sure of what we were doing. There wasn’t a lot of second guessing and pulling your hair thinking, ‘Is this good?” We just sort of went in and did it in a very relaxed atmosphere, so it was fun.”

The 25th anniversary edition of American Babylon was preceded by the August 27 release of the live version of “American Babylon” (title song) as well as the demo for “Only Lovers Left Alive.” Stream/download “American Babylon” (live) and “Only Lovers Left Alive” demo.

 

Pre-order American Babylon 25th Anniversary Edition

 

*Feature image: Wonder Bar w/ Bruce Springsteen / Credit: John Cavanaugh