Kenny Neal Signs To Ruf Records

Kenny Neal Signs To Ruf Records

Devious Planet

In December, Kenny will tour with The B.B. King Experience featuring Claudette King

Kenny Neal is pleased to announce that he has inked a record deal with indie blues giant Ruf Records. The president of the label, Thomas Ruf, has stated, “Kenny is a unique talent, whose accomplishments are incomparable. We are thrilled to have him on the label.” Kenny’s new self-produced album, Straight from the Heart, due out May 6th, was recorded in his studio and mixed at Royal Studios in Memphis with engineer Boo Mitchell.                         

One of the most vital modern proponents of Baton Rouge swamp blues, Kenny Neal is a second-generation southern Louisiana bluesman who is mindful of the region’s venerable blues tradition and imaginative enough to steer it in new directions.

Neal was born on October 14, 1957, in New Orleans. His dad, harpist Raful Neal, was a Baton Rouge blues mainstay whose pals included Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo (the latter gave three-year-old Kenny his first harmonica.) At age 13, Neal was playing in his father’s band, and at 17, he landed a job playing bass for Buddy Guy.

The guitarist recruited some of his talented siblings to form the Neal Brothers Blues Band up in Toronto (brother Noel later played bass behind James Cotton.) In 1987, Kenny Neal cut his debut LP for Florida producer Bob Greenlee, an updated swamp feast initially released by Kingsnake Records as Bio on the Bayou. Alligator Records signed Neal the following year and reissued the debut under Big News from Baton Rouge!! 

Neal’s sizzling guitar work, sturdy harp, and gravelly, aged-beyond-his-years vocals served him well, and he cut four albums for Alligator Records between 1989 and 1994. An acclaimed 1991 stint on Broadway in a production of Mule Bone found him performing acoustic versions of Langston Hughes’ poetry set to music by Taj Mahal.

In 1998, Neal moved from Alligator to Telarc Records, releasing three albums for the label: Blues Fallin’ Down Like Rain (1998), What You Got (2000), and One Step Closer (2001.) In the new millennium, Neal recorded sets for a variety of independent labels, including Easy Meeting (2003,) and Double Take (2004,) a one-shot return to Alligator,) and A Tribute to Slim Harpo and Raful Neal (2005.) A couple of Blind Pig releases followed, Let Life Flow (2008) and Hooked on Your Love (2010).

Kenny’s 2016 release, Bloodline, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album and also won two BMAs (Blues Music Awards); one for Best Contemporary Blues Album and the other for Best Contemporary Male Blues Artist. 

In December, Kenny will tour with The B.B. King Experience featuring Claudette King.


The B.B.King Experience 

featuring Kenny Neal & Claudette King

Dec 4—France

Dec 6-12—Germany

Dec 13—France

Dec 17—UK

Dec 18—Netherlands

Dec 19-20—Germany

Dec 22—Chicago, IL

Dec 31—Reno, NV   

TBA—Puurs, Belgium

Jun 3—TBA

Jun 4—Leeuwarden, Netherlands

Jun 5—Oss, Netherlands

Jun 6—Vorstin

TBA—Burghausen, Germany

Jun 26—Hampton, VA


Connect with Kenny Neal: 

Official | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

New Single From Gaye Adegbalola, ‘Tell Mamala’

New Single From Gaye Adegbalola, ‘Tell Mamala’

American Blues Scene Staff

“Tell Mamala” echoes the need for a phenomenal woman —one who can comfort, but who can inspire with her class and sass, her swagger and stank eye.

VizzTone has released Gaye Adegbalola’s “Tell Mamala,” the first single of her Freedom Song Trilogy.

Social activist and multi-instrumentalist/songwriter/griot Gaye Adegbalola (pronounced AH – DEG – BA – LOLA), is a Blues Music Award (BMA) winner and a founding member of Saffire -The Uppity Blues Women (1984-2009). Gaye has received the Kristen Lems “Social Change Through Music” Award at the National Women’s Music Festival in 2018 and, in 2019 the “Koko Taylor Queen of the Blues Award” for preserving traditional blues from the Jus’ Blues Foundation. Along with her music recognition she is a former Virginia State Teacher of the Year (8th grade science) and has been honored as an OUTstanding Virginian by Equality Virginia. The Library of Virginia has recognized her as one of the 2018 Virginia Women in History Honorees (along with Barbara Kingsolver, Rita Dove and others).

Having penned many blues chestnuts, her songs are known for biting social commentary often cloaked in humor. Saffire recorded exclusively for Alligator Records. Gaye has 6 CDs on her own label, Hot Toddy Music — 3 of those in partnership with the VizzTone Label Group. Her CD about LGBTQ issues, Gaye Without Shame was nominated for a BMA and her children’s CD, Blues in All Flavors won the Parents’ Choice Gold Award.Her 2019 release, The Griot chronicles topical blues for topical times.

2021 ushered in a new spirit for singer/songwriter and activist griot Adegbalola, and that creative spark burst into flames with Gaye’s Freedom Song Trilogy. The first song of this trilogy, “Tell Mamala” echoes the need for a phenomenal woman —one who can comfort, but who can inspire with her class and sass, her swagger and stank eye; one who won’t take abuse but also brings immense joy in pearls and “chucks” and Mary J. The VP was called “Mamala” by nieces and stepchildren and that sweet title spawned this song. (Sorry, Etta James.) Gaye penned the compositions and created her Trilogy with the able assistance of engineer/multi-instrumentalist Jeff Covert of Wally Cleaver’s Studio in Fredericksburg, VA, New Orleans-flavored horn arrangements by Zachary Smith, and Executive Producer Mark Weiss.

Gaye Adegbalola

*Feature image Sylvia De Voss

New Solo Acoustic Blues From Corey Harris ‘Insurrection Blues’

New Solo Acoustic Blues From Corey Harris ‘Insurrection Blues’

American Blues Scene Staff

“I felt there was a duty, a responsibility, to use the craft to say something.” – Corey Harris

Insurrection Blues is Corey Harris’ 20th album overall and first for M.C. Records, continuing a blues journey that began with his debut album Between Midnight and Day in 1995. The songs are full of topical relevance, yet steeped in tradition and informed by his musical explorations over the decades. Recorded in Italy under shutdown conditions, the album returns to the solo acoustic format that’s been his base since his early days as a busker in New Orleans. This marks Corey’s 1st release in over 3 years.

Given his gift of synthesizing many musical strands into a seamless piece of work, it’s no wonder Harris has received many accolades. Among them is being awarded a MacArthur Fellowship — commonly referred to as a “genius award” — from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and an honorary music doctorate from his alma mater, Bates College in Maine. He’s a sought-after collaborator, too. He was featured in the Scorsese film Feel Like Going Home and on the now-classic Mermaid Avenue albums of rediscovered Woody Guthrie songs, for which he wrote some of the music. Corey has collaborated with B.B. King, Tracy Chapman, and Dave Matthews.

In Insurrection Blues Harris brings some necessary commentary into his acoustic universe. Like many of us, he was paying attention to national events during the pandemic lockdown. And when he saw the profoundly disturbing events in Washington DC on January 6th, the path of his next album became clear.

I was on Twitter and probably saw the first video five minutes after it was posted. I play music because I have something to say, and I’m thankful that I can eat because of it. I felt there was a duty, a responsibility, to use the craft to say something.

His feelings about the insurrection made a framework for the album, whether the songs were explicitly connected or not.

As an African American living in America, as a descendant of slaves that built this country, I am looking at the survival mechanisms that have existed for people to persevere in difficult times. And when we think about that, the blues always comes to mind.

It all ties in with Harris’ mission as a modern bluesman with an ear to the ground.

M.C. Records

Pianist, Singer-Songwriter Ben Levin Releases Masterful Album ‘Still Here’ Via Vizztone

Pianist, Singer-Songwriter Ben Levin Releases Masterful Album ‘Still Here’ Via Vizztone

American Blues Scene Staff

Happy ‘Still Here’ release day to Ben Levin!

Today sees the release of blues pianist, vocalist, and songwriter Ben Levin’s third Vizztone album, Still Here. Ben has been playing 100 shows a year since he was 15 years old, embracing the authentic sound of his heroes such as Professor Longhair, Pinetop Perkins, Otis Spann, and Ray Charles.

Piano lessons with world-renowned Cincinnati-based blues/boogie pianist Ricky Nye led Ben into a passion that has not let up since. Ben’s first festival appearance was for his local Cincy Blues Fest at age 13; by age 15 he was the full-time piano player in his father’s band weekend band The Heaters.

“Steady Rollin’” Bob Margolin writes in the liner notes:

Ben Levin, 21, brings vintage style with youthful fire to his piano, singing and songwriting. The songs written by Ben and his father, guitarist Aron Levin, and the well-chosen covers reflect the music and sound of Cincinnati’s historic King Records along with what’s in their hearts today.

Ben’s piano influences are New Orleans greats Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, and Smiley Lewis. From Chicago Blues, he mixes in Otis Spann, Pinetop Perkins and Henry Gray, along with the relentless drive of Cincinnati’s Big Joe Duskin.

Aron Levin contributes deep songwriting and guitar playing that can be only from a family connection. His tone, phrasing, and ability to ride styles with clever originality make for seamless musical and genetic collaboration.

The original songs are organic and homegrown. The stories come from Ben’s and Aron’s lives. Their Blues, perspective and philosophy is brilliantly paced with their danceable, upbeat songs.

A New Orleans stroll in an eight-bar format, the single “Love and Friendship” features Ben’s pounding left hand driving the rhythm behind his agile melodies and a tasty solo from guitarist Aron Levin.

Originally performed by Jimmy Witherspoon, this song showcases the most virtuosic piano playing and singing Ben Levin has recorded to date, with licks that span all 88 keys.


Still Here – Choose Preferred Service

Disability and Inclusion Ambassador Ruth Lyon Releases Sensational Debut EP ‘Nothing’s Perfect’ and Lead Single ‘Motormouth’

Disability and Inclusion Ambassador Ruth Lyon Releases Sensational Debut EP ‘Nothing’s Perfect’ and Lead Single ‘Motormouth’

David Scott

“The title ‘Nothing’s Perfect’ stems from my own life mantra celebrating the beauty in imperfection which has got me through many a rough patch and my own self acceptance.” – Ruth Lyon

There are few recording artists who have successfully merged pop and folk-blues traditions in a collection of self-penned songs with infectious melodies, soulful atmospherics and deeply personal, poetic lyrics. Ruth Lyon achieves this and more on Nothing’s Perfect, each of the five tracks representing a different shade in her multiple musical palette. Ruth’s music comes from the heart and is steeped in life’s experiences good and bad, most recently as a wheelchair user with a chronic illness who is devoted to raising awareness of inclusivity for disability in the arts.

Given that the EP was born out of wanting to experiment and have fun, “Fast Food” appropriately celebrates the joy of new freedoms, Lyon’s tongue in cheek, gritty and energetic vocals oozing wit and absurdity. She possesses the rare skill of maintaining a voice of grace, emotion and clarity while delivering a compelling, entertaining and fun-filled message. Against a backcloth of funky rhythms courtesy of co-producer/percussionist Rhiannon Mair and bassist Tommy Evans, Ruth the consummate wordsmith celebrates her life as a rock and roller doing exactly what she wants to do. 

Fast Food is totally unlike the other tracks I have released and more like a bit of fun, documenting my mind melting over the past year! And a very silly lockdown video to match! We had such a great time making it though. 

Lemon Tree” might sound like an indie-pop love song but it is also a revelation about the end of the world! The lyrics like the vibe are carefree, confessional and evocative: “Lemon tree scent’s all over me/ Intoxicating, nectar drunk I fell asleep/ You color in my dreams/ With broad brush strokes of a memory.”

Despite its upbeat vibes, this is actually an apocalypse anthem! It’s about finding that person in your life that makes you feel so good that even the end of the world couldn’t bring you down. When everything turns to shit and there’s nothing left, meet me where you’ll know I’ll be, under the lemon tree. That’s how I like to envisage the end anyway! 

The bluesy ballad “Paper Aeroplane” showcases Ruth at her most powerful and nostalgic, her classy keyboard and clarinet accompaniment complementing perfectly a truly stunning vocal performance. “A hurricane is howling but I feel safe inside /A storm is breaking but I got a place to hide.”

This is the child inside looking out for us: “In my imagination I found out what I used to know,” and is clearly a song with special significance for Ruth.

On “Motormouth,” with its heavy opening riffs and rapping hip hop vocal style intro, Lyon regrets saying the words “I love you, never met anyone quite like you” and speaking too soon. It is yet another example of her incisive lyricism and storytelling, this one with attitude. The atmospheric synths and echo effects of Ruth’s backing vocals contribute to this mesmeric song’s rich texture. John Martindale’s talented and empathetic production team at Blank Studios achieves an exceptional sound quality. 

I can’t count the amount of times I’ve died of embarrassment opening my mouth too soon – but we’ve all been there, right? I wear my emotions like clothes and I’ve been hurt because of it. But I won’t apologize for it and I’m certainly not going to change at this point.

The finale comes all too soon with “Little Blue,” a dark song about Ruth’s symbiosis with the medications she relies on, epitomized by a little blue pill which makes her ‘lazy’ and ‘hazy.’ From the stark opening piano chords to the sumptuous classical strings of the simpatico ensemble, delicate filigree meets impassioned crescendos courtesy of the tasteful team of musicians.

The exquisite tones of Ceitidh Mac’s cello and multi-instrumentalist Ruth’s violin and viola are just perfect. It is Grammy winner Cameron Craig’s turn to take a bow for his high quality co-production and innovative musical inputs. Lyon explores her psyche to its depths with angst but not anger as she confronts a central impasse in her life with trademark fortitude, “I can’t live like this forever but I wanna live forever.”

While the EP is entitled Nothing’s Perfect, the opposite is true of this pathos infused, introspective, inspiring, and above all, gloriously joyful musical journey. Only a year into her solo career, award-winning campaigner Ruth Lyon’s creativity, positivity and ineffable spirit make her a powerful role model shining a light for her generation.

Little Blue

Little blue you make me lazy

Little blue you make me hazy

Little blue take me away from this room


Mon ami take a trip with me

Mon ami You give me love for free

Mon ami It’s always you and me drifting at sea


Oh sweet Delphinium I’ve found my equilibrium 

I slide down the triptyline

Dead in my tomb but I never left my room

On and on I can’t do this forever


I can’t do this forever, forever


Little blue did I come to too soon

Little blue could I ever cut you loose

Tangled together will be friends forever


Oh sweet Delphinium I’ve found my equilibrium

I slide down the triptyline

Dead in my tomb but I never left my room

On and on I can’t do this forever


I can’t live like this forever 

I can’t live like this forever

But I wanna live forever, forever


I could forget you

but would it make it all better

Or would I fall, would I fall

Back to blue

Feels like I’m sinking

But I don’t believe it

Chalk it down to dreaming, dreaming

I’m deep in my mind


I can’t live like this forever

I can’t live like this forever

I can’t live forever, foreverrrrrrrr


I can’t live like this forever 

I can’t live like this forever

We all wanna live forever


Pink Lane Records 2021 

EP produced by Ruth Lyon and co-producers Cameron Craig, Rhiannon Mair and John Martindale

Engineered by Conrad Bird

Mastered by John Greenham

Photography by Jonny Sabiston

Motormouth Video by Kraken Cinematic with special thanks to Polestar Studios 


Available on Spotify and other major music streaming platforms from October 22nd.


Connect with Ruth Lyon: Official | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook




John Mayall to Release ‘The Sun is Shining Down’ January 28, 2022

John Mayall to Release ‘The Sun is Shining Down’ January 28, 2022

American Blues Scene Staff

“Each of these special guests brings something unique to the album, and our team works so well together. I think you can hear that chemistry in the music.” – John Mayall

On his latest album, The Sun Is Shining Down, out January 28th via Forty Below Records, Blues legend John Mayall teams up with a stellar cast to deliver a funky, soulful affair punctuated by brass, violins, harmonica, and electric ukulele.

Special guests include The Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell, fast-rising roots rocker Marcus King, Americana icon Buddy Miller, Scarlet Rivera of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review, Chicago blues guitar mainstay Melvin Taylor and Hawaiian ukulele star Jake Shimabukuro. Also on hand is Mayall’s longtime dynamic Chicago rhythm section of Greg Rzab on bass guitar and Jay Davenport on drums with Austin’s multi-talented and charismatic Carolyn Wonderland on guitar.

The album was recorded at Strawhorse Studios and also at Robby Krieger’s (The Doors) Horse Latitudes studio with Grammy-nominated Producer Eric Corne, The Sun is Shining Down is Mayall’s 5th studio album for Forty Below Records, a fruitful partnership that began with 2014’s A Special Life.

I couldn’t be happier with the new record. I can’t wait to share it with my fans. Each of these special guests brings something unique to the album, and our team works so well together. I think you can hear that chemistry in the music.

The album explores a range of styles and eclectic instruments. Scarlet Rivera’s violin beautifully compliments two Mayall originals, the timely “Got to Find a Better Way” and a spirited reboot of the Mayall classic “Deep Blue Sea.” Mike Campbell sounds like a natural-born Bluesbreaker on the funky Bernard Allison cut “Chills and Thrills,” and Marcus King sizzles throughout the soulful “Can’t Take No More,” another Mayall original.

Buddy Miller’s baritone tremolo guitar adds a unique and memorable flair to the Bobby Rush composition “I’m as Good as Gone.” At the same time, Jake Shimabukuro’s electric ukulele is nothing short of astonishing on “One Special Lady.” Melvin Taylor proves why he’s been wowing Chicago blues audiences on “Hungry and Ready” and “Driving Wheel” for decades. Finally, Carolyn Wonderland brilliantly concludes the record with a sensitive moving performance on the title track.

As significant as each of these guest turns is, however, they can’t overshadow Mayall’s own spirited vocals, iconic harmonica, and lyrical keyboard work on The Sun is Shining Down. “John shines throughout this album, exuding joy and gratitude that are infectious. We all want to give that back to him,” adds producer Eric Corne.

For over 50 years, John Mayall has served as a pioneer of blues music, rightly earning him the title, “The Godfather of British Blues.” In 2013, John signed with producer Eric Corne’s label, Forty Below Records, and has been experiencing a true artistic and career renaissance, including a Blues Hall of Fame induction in 2015.

John Mayall

Ally Venable to Tour w/ Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jimmie Vaughan & Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Ally Venable to Tour w/ Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jimmie Vaughan & Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

American Blues Scene Staff

Ally used her pandemic vacation wisely, recording fourth album ‘Heart of Fire’ with world-renowned producer Jim Gaines

Ally Venable the badass guitarist from Kilgore, Texas announces that she’ll spend the fall touring with the legendary Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jimmie Vaughn and ascending blues star, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. To launch the tour, she has unveiled a new video, “Hateful Blues.”

Not even a global pandemic could derail her momentum. Working at the Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee with world-renowned producer Jim Gaines, Ally used her pandemic vacation wisely, recording her fourth album with world renowned producer Jim Gaines. Heart of Fire released in Feb 2021, made its debut on the Billboard Blues charts at #2 and held court in the Top 3 for four consecutive weeks. Not bad for a 22 year-old from Kilgore,Texas.

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 lick. “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 is able to take out your flame.”

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 the Bessie Smith classic, “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 grooving lick. And don’t miss the impossibly wistful “Road To Nowhere,” with Southern rocker 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…”


Oct 22        Veterans Memorial Civic Center*    Lima, OH
Oct 24        Salvage Station*                   Asheville, NC
Oct 25        Eddie’s Attic                          Decatur, GA
Oct 27        Maxwell King Center*            Melbourne, FL
Oct 29        Hardrock Casino                    Gary, IND
Nov 5         Des Plaines Theatre***           Des Plaines, IL
Nov 6         Arcada Theatre***                   St Charles, IL
Nov 7         Victory Theatre***                   Evansville, IND
Nov 10        Santander PAC*                    Reading, PA
Nov 12        Scottish Rite Auditorium***    Collingswood, NJ
Nov 13        Colonial Theatre***                Phoenixville, PA
Nov 14        Whitaker***                            Harrisburg, PA
Nov 16        Kodak Center***                    Rochester, NY
Nov 17        The Egg***                            Albany, NY
Nov 18        Sixth & i****                           Washington D.C.
Nov 19        Keswick Theatre ****            Glenside, PA
Nov 20        Town Hall***                         NY, NY
Nov 21        Bullrun Restaurant               Shirley, MA
Dec 4          Hard Rock Casino               Gary IND
Dec 31        Six Springs Tavern              Richardson, TX


*Buddy Guy

**Jimmie Vaughan

***Kenny Wayne Shepherd

****Christone Kingfish Ingram

Ally Venable

‘Nina Simone and Her Friends’ Deluxe Reissue Coming on December 3

‘Nina Simone and Her Friends’ Deluxe Reissue Coming on December 3

American Blues Scene Staff

On deluxe reissue of ‘Nina Simone and Her Friends,’ a brand-new stereo remaster showcases a legend on her ascension to stardom

Originally released by Bethlehem Records in 1959, Nina Simone and Her Friends was a compilation album comprising the few remaining unreleased tracks from the 1957 Little Girl Blue recording session plus songs recorded by two other former Bethlehem artists, the powerhouse jazz vocalist Carmen McRae and the elegant song stylist Chris Connor.

An RSD-Essentials exclusive “emerald-green” limited-edition 180-gram LP will be available, along with CD and digital/streaming versions (high-definition and standard) on December 3, 2021. The reissue features a fresh stereo master done by four-time Grammy winner Michael Graves as well as a vinyl remastering by the renowned Kevin Gray. Grammy winner Cheryl Pawelski produced the set, which includes a new essay by Daphne A. Brooks, author of Liner Notes for the Revolution.

As Brooks explains in her essay, “Bethlehem clustered their work — tracks that had previously appeared on the label’s Girlfriends compilation — together with the younger, upstart Simone’s and essentially offered up a collection of songs that span a range of genres — folk, jazz, pop song staples, and torch song laments, plus a couple of provocative original compositions by McRae and Simone. Each track is a reminder of the clear-eyed independence, verve, and confidence of three artists whose music, taken together, brims with the majesty and the assured talents of the late 1950s women artists who led with conviction and invention as musicians and song interpreters.”

Available today, October 20, as a sneak-peak, “African Mailman” is an instrumental track recorded during the Little Girl Blue sessions, showcasing Nina Simone’s incredible piano playing. At the time, Simone was in her mid-20s and still aspiring to be a classical concert pianist. As Brooks describes it: “A magisterial original composition of Simone’s which, as she recounts it, ‘was made up on the spot in the studio and recorded in one take,’ finds her moving across an Afrodiasporic terrain of percussion, leading at the keyboard, rolling and tumbling, building waves of contrasting chromatic depth and spinning, ethereal flight.”

Nina Simone

‘Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free’ Debuts Globally Today In Honor Of His 71st Birthday

‘Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free’ Debuts Globally Today In Honor Of His 71st Birthday

Lauren Leadingham

“The lesson of ‘Wildflowers’ is that we all belong somewhere we feel free.” Happy birthday to Tom Petty!

After a long time coming, Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free: The Making of Wildflowers sees its release on what would have been the American treasure’s 71st birthday. A one-night global celebration via Trafalgar Releasing, encore screenings will be in select cinemas on October 21. 

The 89-minute documentary was directed by award-winning filmmaker Mary Wharton (Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President, Sam Cooke: Legend, Elvis Lives!, The Beatles Revolution) and won the Audience Award at SXSW 2021 and Best Documentary Film at the Boulder Film Festival. The film also delves deeper into 2020’s critically acclaimed certified gold reissue, Wildflowers & All The Rest, which revealed the second half of the album. 

Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free: The Making of Wildflowers serves as a time capsule as it focuses on the years 1993-1995, when Tom worked with producer Rick Rubin for the first time — also marking a period of intense creativity and accompanying turmoil. Produced by Peter Afterman with executive producers Mary Wharton, Dan Braun and Adria Petty and presented by Warner Music Entertainment and Warner Records, the film features never-before-seen footage drawn from a newly discovered archive of 16mm film. In addition, it will include new interviews with Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench. 

Director Mary Wharton made this statement: 

“In the summer of 2020, I got a call from an old friend that felt like a lifeline. I had recently left my home in New York City, fleeing the terrifying first wave of the pandemic. It broke my heart to leave the city, but it didn’t make sense to stay. It was a strange time, and I really didn’t know where I belonged. The phone call came from Adria Petty, who explained that a treasure trove of archival footage of her father, Tom Petty, had been discovered. There was a documentary to be made, and it needed a director. She and the film’s producer, Peter Afterman, had been talking about me. I hung up and danced with joy, and then spent the next eight months with Tom Petty’s music in my head, 24 hours a day. It was like carrying around a box of sunshine in a dark time.

“The footage of Tom Petty making his Wildflowers album with Rick Rubin, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Howie Epstein, Steve Ferrone and George Drakoulias is truly a treasure. Martyn Atkins, who filmed most of the material, did an amazing job of capturing these events in such a beautifully intimate way, and the camaraderie in the studio is palpable. The editor Mari Keiko Gonzalez and I agreed that we wanted this film to have a loose, classic verité feel. Whereas most major artists these days are only seen in tightly edited and overly polished imagery, here we get a rare, unvarnished view of a master of his craft at work in the creative process. That process sometimes gets messy, and you can see in the film that Tom isn’t always sure of himself. As viewers, we get to watch him find his way into a song, and when he gets there it feels like catching a garden snake in a jar. It’s slippery, beautiful and exciting.

“All of the new footage for the documentary was also shot on 16mm film so that we’d never have to feel the hard, steely edge of digital video. To bring Tom’s voice into the film, we chose to only use interviews from the time of “Wildflowers,” because when we tried more recent soundbites it always became disjointed. The feeling of an older man looking back was conspicuous even when you couldn’t see his face on-screen. It seemed important that his voice remain in that time and place where he felt free. It was a choice that forced us to work harder to get the story right, because we were limited to just a few recordings. But for the most part, the film manages to stay captive to the “Wildflowers” era, like a time capsule meant to be opened in 2021.

“Back in 1994, I was a young associate producer at VH1 when I got to work on a documentary about Tom Petty at the time that he was releasing “Wildflowers.” The interview shoot was in Los Angeles and that was the first time I’d ever been to California. It rained so hard the entire time that I never got to see the California sun. But I got to meet Tom Petty and work with an early mentor, Tom Kaniewski, who taught me how music docs are made. The last words spoken in “Somewhere You Feel Free” come from that 1994 interview, and if you listen closely you can hear the rain in the background. ‘Everybody’s been knocked around a little bit,’ Petty reminds us in the clip, ‘but you’ve got to keep some faith in yourself, and you’ll probably be alright.’

“The lesson of Wildflowers is that we all belong somewhere we feel free. I’ll be forever grateful that Tom Petty came into my life to teach me that, right when I needed it most.”

YouTube Originals’ worldwide release in full 4K resolution on the Tom Petty YouTube Channel is slated for later this year. Watch the first look, featuring “Only A Broken Heart” as well as Rick Rubin, Mike Campbell, and Benmont Tench reflecting on the recording process below.

Tom Petty had a way of giving a certain voice to a certain feeling. Sometimes I reach for particular songs of heartbreak or righteous indignation to help me work through pain. Some feelings awaken upon hearing him, such as uplift and enlightenment. I still to this day struggle with explaining this quality, unique to him, satisfactorily. 

As with a lot of my interviews, Tom Petty comes up in conversation. Most recently: a phone call with folk rock diva Lilli Lewis, who helped me and made me love her even more. She described it in a way I’d not been able to by saying, “It’s the whole range — his complete command of intimacy and command of rock and roll. The kind of person you want to sit on the porch with, but the way he could weave completely relatable stories into utter poetry… Everything hits the way it hits because he understood every word he was singing. He was never just singing the song he was singing… And because I could feel what he was feeling, he gave me a wider emotional vocabulary.”

I said this last year (and maybe a couple times before), but I’ll feel this way for as long as I live: My rock n’ roll hero since day one, Tom defined the good times and made the bad times endurable. Often, and especially on his birthday, I find myself still grieving someone I never got to meet. 

Here’s to Tom and our emotional vocabulary. 


Get Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free Tickets Near You

Scout LaRue Willis Releases New Single, ‘Love Without Possession’

Scout LaRue Willis Releases New Single, ‘Love Without Possession’

American Blues Scene Staff

“I wrote this song in 2016 in the midst of profound heartbreak, hope, confusion, tenderness and growth. It kept me company…” – Scout LaRue Willis

Scout LaRue Willis has released “Love Without Possession,” the first single off of her forthcoming debut solo album, slated for spring of 2022. To mark the occasion Scout has also shared the stunning companion video directed by Julianna Giraffe and Nicky Giraffe of Giraffe Studios. Earlier this month, a remix version of the single was used as the backdrop at Paris Fashion Week’s presentation of Chloé’s Spring / Summer 2022 collection. The single and forthcoming album were co-produced by Scout Willis & Greg Papinia and recorded in Highland Park, CA.

I wrote this song in 2016 in the midst of profound heartbreak, hope, confusion, tenderness and growth. It kept me company, narrating a story I was living in real time and softening the edges of my pain as only art can. Recording this song in 2020, my intention was to share as vulnerably as I could in the hope that this song might keep you company too.

Deeply inspired by Patsy Cline, Scout’s music is unadorned and cinematic. But it’s the modalities of her one-of-a-kind alto and her emotional prowess that give the songs such resonance. It’s those qualities coupled with her confessional lyrics that puts the listener at the center, anyone can imagine themselves as the protagonist in her stories.

Although “Love Without Possession” marks her first effort as a solo artist recording under her own name, she is no stranger to music and performing. She formed her original band Gus + Scout while still studying at Brown University. Together with childhood friend Gus Wenner, they released their self-titled EP and kicked off music careers while barely of drinking age. Life and adulthood brought a wealth of material to Willis, and after working more deeply on her skills as a guitar player she began to write her solo debut. Like the album, “Love Without Possession” is a stark look at Willis’ internal life, a life that took years of practice to lay bare. 

Scout, the daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, was the Captain/Lead Singer of her school choral group, but first made her name as an actress in films including The Scarlet Letter, Bandits, and Moonrise Kingdom.

Scout LaRue Willis

Marcus King Pays Tribute To Neal Casal On ‘No One Above You’

Marcus King Pays Tribute To Neal Casal On ‘No One Above You’

American Blues Scene Staff

“I feel so blessed and honored to have the opportunity to take part in an album celebrating the life and music of a great songwriter and a beautiful soul.” Marcus King

Marcus King‘s rendition of Neal Casal‘s “No One Above You” becomes the sixth single released from Highway Butterfly: The Songs Of Neal Casal, a forthcoming 41-song tribute to the late songwriter and musician who passed away in August 2019. Featuring guitarist Eric Krasno and joined by a band that includes keyboardist Adam MacDougall, additional guitarist Jesse Aycock, bassist Dave Schools and drummer Tony Leone, King turns Casal’s reflective acoustic ballad from his 2001 album Anytime Tomorrow into a soaring southern soul tour-de-force. It’s yet another shining example of Casal’s accomplished songwriting that never received its due in his lifetime.

I feel so blessed and honored to have the opportunity to take part in an album celebrating the life and music of a great songwriter and a beautiful soul. Neal and I met many times over the years on the road and through mutual friend groups. He always had a smile on his face and song to share. I was a fan of Neal’s instrumental music and a fan of his as a guitarist, but it wasn’t until I was asked to be part of this project that I truly dove into his work as a songwriter. I’m thankful for his music and I’m so thrilled for the release of this album. There are so many wonderful friends and musicians I’m humbled to be mentioned among.

Accompanied in its release with a lyric video  animated by Deren Ney, “No One Above You” was the final song tracked in March 2020 during the original Highway Butterfly recording sessions at co-producer Jim Scott’s PLYRZ Studios in Valencia, CA. The recordings would come to an abrupt halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic, thus leading Scott and Highway Butterfly‘s other producer Dave Schools to begin sourcing additional performances from participating artists’ own studio sessions.

“We were working steadily at the pace of a song a day at PLYRZ Studios recording songs for the tribute record and all of it was fantastic. But things were getting weird out in the world with COVID-19 creating confusion and fear. We had our own little musical bubble going on at Jim Scott‘s studio. Marcus King’s session would be the last recording before we scrapped the rest of the sessions as the world was locking down,” explains Schools. “The band was crackerjack and the tune was just soaring. It felt so soulful and right on time. Marcus delivered big time both vocally and as a guitar hero. He made the song resonate with positivity. We had a giant choir made up of many of the artists who had been participating in the recording sessions that week singing the chorus at the end of the song and it took the track over the top. It felt special and it was a great way to wrap up an already amazing week of recording.”

Highway Butterfly: The Songs Of Neal Casal, is scheduled for release November 12 via The Neal Casal Music Foundation and Royal Potato Family. Available on 5-LP and 3-CD box sets, as well as digital formats, the collection presents performances of Casal’s songs by artists including Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks, Bob Weir, Hiss Golden Messenger, Fruit Bats, Steve Earle & The Dukes, Jonathan Wilson, Billy Strings, Shooter Jennings, Leslie Mendelson, Vetiver, Beachwood Sparks, Jaime Wyatt, Tim BluhmJ Mascis, Dori Freeman, Warren Haynes, Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Cass McCombs, Kenny Roby, Mapache, Aaron Lee Tasjan and Tim Heidecker among others.

All proceeds from sales and streams of Highway Butterfly: The Songs Of Neal Casal will benefit the Neal Casal Music Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit formed in 2020, which provides musical instruments and lessons to students in New Jersey and New York state schools where Casal was born and raised, while also donating proceeds to mental health organizations that support musicians, including MusiCares and Backline.

Pre-Order Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal

*Feature image photo: Kevin Wells

Grammy-Winning Blues-Rock Guitarist Micki Free Unleashes Incendiary New Album ‘Turquoise Blue’

Grammy-Winning Blues-Rock Guitarist Micki Free Unleashes Incendiary New Album ‘Turquoise Blue’

American Blues Scene Staff

“I get my mojo from the classic greats—the masters of blues-rock and even classic rock, but everything I play comes from my own heart…” Micki Free

Heralded by Carlos Santana and Billy Gibbons, among many others, Grammy-winning blues-rock guitarist Micki Free announces a February 4, 2022, release date for his new album, Turquoise Blue, on the Dark Idol Music label, distributed by Burnside Distribution / The Orchard / Sony. Free’s mastery of tone is showcased on the new disc’s 13 originals, plus a scintillating cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic “All Along the Watchtower.” The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Ken Riley at Rio Grande Studios in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Special guests on Turquoise Blue include Gary Clark Jr., Steve Stevens, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram and Cindy Blackman Santana. Free teases the album’s release with his debut single, “Bye 2020,” on November 12, featuring additional guitar pyrotechnics from long-time Billy Idol six-stringer Steve Stevens.

I wrote ‘Turquoise Blue’ over the period of time when Covid first broke out and we were advised to remain at home. Interacting with my peers was just not an option. The songs are a direct testament of how I felt during that crazy time. Take my song, ‘Bye 2020;’ it tells exactly how I felt that year, with the dying, the masks, the quarantine, the protests, the fake news, the misinformation…. I just wanted to say, ‘Bye 2020!’ I enlisted my good buddy Steve Stevens from Billy Idol to lay down the first guitar solo and I did the second solo.

I get my mojo from the classic greats—the masters of blues-rock and even classic rock, but everything I play comes from my own heart, and with ‘Turquoise Blue,’ I feel like I’m really getting to the core of what I do in a way I hope people will connect with, because making music is about a connection so strong that it transcends language.

Free’s resume reads like an almost-mythical backstory to a movie: a protégé and guitar-slinging peer of KISS’s Gene Simmons, Prince, Billy Gibbons, Carlos Santana, and Cheap Trick’s Rick Neilson; glorified in a popular Chappelle’s Show episode of “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories,” as part of Prince’s team in a now-legendary basketball game. A featured member of R&B hitmakers Shalamar, he scored a top 20 hit with “Dancin’ in the Sheets” and won a Grammy in 1985 for the song, “Don’t Get Stopped in Beverly Hills,” from the Beverly Hills Cop film soundtrack.

Free was born in West Texas of mixed blood Cherokee/Comanche Native American and Irish descent. Soon after, his family relocated to Germany, where his father was stationed as a sergeant in the Army. It was there at age 12 that an older sister took him to see Jimi Hendrix.

Jimi just blew my mind. He came out dressed like a gypsy with scarves and a flowing, psychedelic shirt, and his guitar was the most incredible thing I’d ever heard. From that moment on, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

After his family moved to Illinois, Free formed his first rock band, Smokehouse. When Smokehouse opened a concert bill that included the group KISS, Gene Simmons, himself, walked up to Free as his band was coming offstage and declared him “a star.” By that time, Free, had already developed a flair for rock ‘n’ roll fashion and the dynamic stage presence that’s one of his trademarks. Free was 19 years old when Simmons became his first manager. Since then, he’s been in the whirlwind of the music business, having recorded, written songs, and played with Simmons, the Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman, Janet Jackson, Diana Ross, Prince, Little Steven, Sam Moore, Cheap Trick, Billy Gibbons, Carlos Santana, and Jean Beauvior of The Plasmatics.

During his nine years with Shalamar, Free was nominated for Grammy Awards three times.

I loved being part of that band and its success, but as a musician I felt I really couldn’t be myself. I was a blues-rock guitar player and songwriter who just wanted to let it fly and play from my soul.

Once free from the constricts of playing in a commercial R&B format, Free reconnected with his roots in big guitar tones and epic soundscapes, and songs written from the heart and not for the charts. You can hear the exploration that culminates in Turquoise Blue on five previous studio albums, including the critically heralded Tattoo Burn, from 2017, as well as Micki Free—American Horse Live at Hyde Park, which captures a 2010 London concert that featured guest Bill Wyman and Native American dancers.

I’ve grown and matured as a songwriter since my Shalamar days, and brought my blues-rock guitar playing, which has been my passion since I saw my first concert – Jimi Hendrix –  front and center. With this album, I’ve been able to thread every element of my life and my playing together in a way that reflects my entire journey. I’ve kept it honest to the bone, so listeners can feel it, too. This album is, basically, Micki Free.

Another standout track on the new CD is ‘World on Fire,’ a song definitely about the sign of the times. The music for the song started out as sort of homage to my buddy Carlos Santana, who I’ve jammed with many times in the last five years or so. I idolized him and Jimi Hendrix growing up as a boy. The lyrics again were inspired by current events during 2020-2021. I have my old bandmate Cindy Blackman-Santana, wife of Carlos Santana, on drums, Andy Vargas, lead singer of Santana, and Karl P. on percussion. I produced the track and played all the guitars.

An additional highlight is Free’s treatment of the Hendrix/Dylan classic, “All Along the Watchtower.”

After seeing Jimi perform ‘All Along the Watchtower’ in-person, his version was just so haunting to me and I always wanted to cover it…to this day my favorite Jimi Hendrix song…written by Bob Dylan.

Through it all, Free has also embraced his heritage. As a musical activist, he has created the Native Music Rocks program, which gives Native American musicians performance opportunities. He also founded the first Native American record company (Native Music Rocks Records) and is an advocate for the Seminole Tribe of Florida. In addition to his guitar prowess, Free has mastered the Native American flute and has recorded five albums on that instrument, including 2016’s The Native American Flute as Therapy. Next to his Grammy, his accolades thus far include five Native American Music Awards, including Male Artist and Pop Rock Artist.

Micki Free

Feature image photo credit: Marie Gregorio-Oviedo

Allison Russell Covers Tracy Chapman’s ‘Behind The Wall’ for Sounds of Saving

Allison Russell Covers Tracy Chapman’s ‘Behind The Wall’ for Sounds of Saving

American Blues Scene Staff

“It’s hard to imagine an artist who has lived and articulates the message of SoS more than Allison Russell – that music, art and speaking out about even the most horrific of experiences can be pathways out of cycles of trauma and stigma and towards experiencing joy.” – Sounds of Saving

The poet, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and activist Allison Russell has collaborated with with Sounds of Saving (SoS) and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for the release of a new installation of their “Song that Found Me At The Right Time” series. The series interviews artists from across the musical spectrum to discuss the song that helped them most during difficult times. Alongside the Q&A the artist performs their take of the chosen track.

For this release Russell chose Tracy Chapman’s “Behind The Wall.” She shares, “It was the song that made me understand for the first time that I wasn’t alone. Music helped me crawl out of that pit. There was another way. And I learned that there was another way through poetry, through art, through music, through Tracy Chapman’s album that I heard when I was nine years old that was revelatory to me.

“She was telling me a very different story about being a woman, about blackness, about her experience of the world, about her experience of America, a very different story than my adoptive father told me. And I liked her version better….There are these lifelines that we get thrown, maybe therapy will be your lifeline, maybe meeting someone who has had a similar experience to you will be your lifeline. That’s why we have to hang on because you would have no idea what joy awaits you.”

Sounds of Saving note, “It’s hard to imagine an artist who has lived and articulates the message of SoS more than Allison Russell – that music, art and speaking out about even the most horrific of experiences can be pathways out of cycles of trauma and stigma and towards experiencing joy.

“We feel that Allison’s voice – in song and in advocacy – can truly save lives by expressing how healing from abuse is possible and by encouraging others to find support. It was a true pleasure to be in her presence, to hear her story and her take on Tracy Chapman’s song that found her at the right time and arguably saved her life. We feel her debut LP Outside Child is not only one of the best albums of 2021 but one of the most important bodies of musical work ever to express the journey from an unimaginably painful past to cathartic beauty and joy.”

Sounds of Saving created the “Song that Found Me At The Right Time” in 2019 to help promote honest, intimate conversations about mental health. They emphasize the impact of music of all genres on human connection, coping during difficult times and maintaining mental wellbeing.

Engaging with musicians, the series reveals how a song found each artist at the right time, as well as sharing how each artist has managed to cope and even thrive in the face of difficult times and emotional crisis. For every one person that dies by suicide, 316 people think seriously about suicide but go on to live out their lives. These are untold stories that must be shared. During the pandemic approximately 1 in 4 young adults has had suicidal thoughts.


Allison Russell
Sounds of Saving

Matthew Skoller Launches New Blues Podcast

Matthew Skoller Launches New Blues Podcast

American Blues Scene Staff

Skoller will draw upon his 40 years of relationship building within the community, knowledge of Blues history and familiarity with today’s Blues scene and industry to create an essential dialogue about the Blues today.

On October 11, 2021 the preview/inaugural episode of the new podcast, Blues and World Report with Matthew Skoller, was launched.

For this new podcast, harmonica player/songwriter/festival curator Matthew Skoller will interview some of the most powerful voices in Blues Music today and explore, through the lens of Blues artists and other artists whose work has been influenced and shaped by the Blues, what Blues music is, where it came from and who and what it has influenced. He will also focus on the artists’ process, history and take on what is happening in the turbulent times we are living through.

Skoller will draw upon his 40 years of relationship building within the community, knowledge of Blues history and familiarity with today’s Blues scene and industry to create an essential dialogue about the Blues today.

Skoller will reminisce with some of the living heroes/sheroes of Blues music about experiences, projects and tours they shared together as well as talking to great poets, playwrights, actors, dancers and producers whose work has been inspired and informed by Blues music. He will also be meeting the ‘new kids on the Blues block’ and initiating new relationships through the podcast.

Tune in to the first episode of BWR and hear Skoller’s interview with legendary Blues Diva, Chicago’s very own Deitra Farr! This singer/songwriter/journalist/painter/community activist talks about her life from the very beginning as a little girl growing up on the Southside of Chicago.

Episode 1 with Deitra Farr

This episode will be followed by a special edition of Blues and World Report that will be recorded at The Logan Center Bluesfest at The Logan Center for the Arts (University of Chicago) where Skoller is the curator for the festival. In this special edition Matthew will be interviewing 25 year old Blues phenom Jontavious “Quon” Willis.

Blues and World Report with Matthew Skoller

Omar Coleman & Eddie Roberts Collaborate on New Single ‘You’ve Been Cheatin’

Omar Coleman & Eddie Roberts Collaborate on New Single ‘You’ve Been Cheatin’

American Blues Scene Staff

When you put “You’ve Been Cheatin’” in a musical centrifuge, you extract a multitude of depth within classic blues themes.

The New Mastersounds’ guitarist, bandleader, and producer Eddie Roberts, has joined forces with Chicago’s West Side soul sensation, Omar Coleman, to release Eddie Roberts Presents Omar Coleman: Strange Times via his record label and music platform Color Red. When Chicago-based producer David Vandenberg brought The New Mastersounds to the US for their first time to open for Greyboy All-Stars in 2004, little did he know nearly two decades later there would be full-circle energy tied into that first night out in Chicago and working with Omar Coleman, an icon-clad staple in the city heralded as ‘Home of the Blues.’ Coleman has released the third single, “You’ve Been Cheatin’,” on Roberts’ imprint.

When you put “You’ve Been Cheatin’” in a musical centrifuge, you extract a multitude of depth within classic blues themes. With Roberts producing the track, there are extracted elements of Daptone-esque horn lines, guitar riffs and organ stabs tastefully placed throughout, and a viscous layer of strings pads to contrast the rhythmic particles present throughout the composition.

Coleman’s harmonica wails and tell-it-like-it-is vocals call out a lover’s infidelity and demand the truth be told in a precursor to his full-length album ’Strange Times,’ coming out via Color Red in early 2022. Joining Coleman on the track are Dan Africano (Ghost Light) on bass, Chris Spies (Matador! Soul Sounds) on keys, Cole Rudy (Dragondeer) on guitar, Carl Sorensen (Dragondeer) on drums, Eric “Benny” Bloom (Lettuce) on trumpet and Nick Gerlach (Michal Menert) on saxophone.

Color Red · Omar Coleman – You’ve Been Cheatin’ | Color Red Music

Whether dating back to picking up a harmonica at his local music shop to pass downtime as a barber or deep diving into instructional books on leathersmithing, a now 10-year side hustle of Coleman’s, curiosity and refusal to be confined to a singular scene have proven to be pillars of longevity in Coleman’s career. After cutting his teeth at Eddy Clearwater’s Sunday jam, he took the plunge to become a full-fledged professional touring musician in 2010. He’d embark on month-long tours in Brazil twice a year, make frequent appearances in Japan, and perform over 30 dates in Europe both solo and with as the lead vocalist/harmonica player in the award-winning Sean Carney Band, a group that has won the International Blues Challenge. He’s had notable plays as the headliner for  “Blues for a Cure” benefit in Columbus Ohio for 3 years straight; Spain Blues Fest; San Francisco Blues Festival, and more and has been featured on the all-star compilation Diamonds in the Rough: Chicago Harmonica Project.

Coleman’s debut single and title track “Strange Times” is reflective of the modern state of the world while the bulk of the rest of the album will unveil classic blues themes and uncanny coincidences dating back to that first meeting of Roberts and David Vandenberg (who also produced Coleman’s 2017 album West Side Soul) in the early 00s. On Roberts’ very first night in Chicago, Vandenberg took him to Rosa’s, a legendary blues club on the West Side of town, a club that Coleman had been playing for decades. While laying down his original tune “Old Man Teaser,” Coleman explained it was a story about the lady behind the bar at Rosa’s teasing all the older blues musicians.

An instance like that goes beyond coincidence and demonstrates the ripple effect of Color Red’s collaborative spirit and the minuscule degrees of separation in their musical network. As for the album’s title, it’s an ode to The New Mastersounds’ 2001 debut record, Keb Darge Presents: The New Mastersounds, that was championed by the iconic Scottish DJ and curator launching the band into a 20+ year career and nine more records to boot. Now, the baton is passed to Roberts as a leading voice in the modern funk and soul revival era with notable producer and bandleader accolades and the launch of Color Red that curates top-notch musical talent from all over the globe.


Omar Coleman

Chickenbone Slim Shares Boogie Blues Single, ‘Wild Eyed Woman’

Chickenbone Slim Shares Boogie Blues Single, ‘Wild Eyed Woman’

American Blues Scene Staff

The first single from ‘Serve It To Me Hot’ releases today!

Vizztone has recently signed San Diego blues singer, guitarist, and songwriter Chickenbone Slim (AKA Larry Teves). His Vizztone debut, Serve It To Me Hot, is set for release on November 19, 2021.

Since forming his band in 2012, Chickenbone has created a reputation for pleasing crowds  and impressing critics by mixing traditional Blues with West Coast swing, Americana and Rockabily in a distinctive way.

Serve It To Me Hot was recorded at Christoffer “Kid” Andersen’s  Greaseland Studios in San Jose, California, and features Slim’s current band: internationally  acclaimed guitarist Laura Chavez (2020 BMA Best Guitarist nominee), drummer Marty Dodson (Fabulous Thunderbirds) and longtime bassist Andrew Crane. Andersen guests on piano, organ, and  choice guitar licks, his wife Lisa adds background vocals, and harmonica player Aki Kumar guests on  a track.The album is a collection of all original material Chickenbone calls Roots Rock —an eclectic  mix of short stories with danceable grooves. 

The album is a collection of all original material including the title track,  “Serve It To Me Hot,” cowritten with Andrea Ryan. Chickenbone calls the album Roots Rock — an eclectic mix of short stories with danceable grooves. Slim states, “From my core I’m a blues guy: T-Bone Walker, John Lee Hooker… somewhere between Hound Dog Taylor and  Dave Edmonds. I want people to listen to the  songwriting.”

The first single from Serve It To Me Hot releases today! Built on the driving boogie groove of Magic Sam’s “Lookin’ Good,” “Wild Eyed Woman” tells the story of Chickenbone Slim’s unstoppable voodoo woman. Impeccable guitarist Laura Chavez holds down the tight rhythm part until drummer Marty Dodson explodes on the turnarounds, launching her into perfect, stinging lead lines.

VizzTone label group · Chickenbone Slim – 02 – Wild Eyed Woman

Chickenbone Slim
“Wild Eyed Woman” – Choose Preferred Service

Sol Roots With Guest Ron Holloway Perform for Clarendon Concert Series

Sol Roots With Guest Ron Holloway Perform for Clarendon Concert Series

American Blues Scene Staff

On Wednesday Oct 13, the Sol Roots band with guest Ron Holloway (of Gov’t Mule, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Little Feat) perform for Clarendon Concert Series in Arlington, Virginia!

A fantastic free outdoor concert is coming up on Wednesday, October 13 in Arlington, Virginia. The Sol Roots band with special guest, world-renowned saxophonist Ron Holloway, will be performing for the Clarendon Concert Series. The band creates a blend of energetic rock, deep blues, raw funk, greasy soul, and hypnotic rhythms.

Photo credits: Josh Brick Graphics and Chris Gamber Photography

Sol Roots is a fierce guitarist and soulful vocalist who has toured with many musical legends around the world. Sol has an incredible roster of musicians that he also brings in as special guests to add to the band’s versatile and exciting performances. The band have shared the stage with acts such as Jon Cleary, Victor Wainwright, Eric Lindell, New Orleans Suspects, Booker T Jones, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Shemekia Copeland, Sonny Landreth and more.

Paying homage to the greats, and with a love of Universal Music as the guiding light, Sol brings together a powerful and unique group of talented musicians. He is an official Home Grown Music Network artist and a “Next Generation” Music Maker Relief Foundation artist.

World renowned master saxophonist Ron Holloway has worked with groups such as Little Feat, Gov’t Mule, Warren Haynes, Dizzy Gillespie and many more.

Ron Holloway is one of the busiest tenor saxophonists on today’s music scene in any genre! Recently, Ron toured extensively with The Warren Haynes Band, in support of two critically acclaimed releases on the Stax Records label. Holloway is a frequent guest of Gov’t Mule, Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Allman Brothers Band, and many others. Over the years, he has been a member of an eclectic roster of groups, including; the Susan Tedeschi Band, the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, Gil Scott-Heron and Root Boy Slim.

This free outdoor concert will be held on Wednesday October 13 from 5:30pm until 7:30pm at the Clarendon Central Park in Arlington, Virginia. This wonderful, community enriching concert series, Music By The Metro, is presented by Clarendon Alliance in partnership with Arlington Arts.


Sol Roots Music
Ron Holloway



Glenn Alexander’s Sixth Annual Pig Gig To Feature Southside Johnny

Glenn Alexander’s Sixth Annual Pig Gig To Feature Southside Johnny

Lauren Leadingham

American Blues Scene is proud to be one of the sponsors for this pig roast with a purpose

Organized by Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes guitarist Glenn Alexander, the sixth annual Pig Gig returns on Sun., Oct. 24 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Italian American Club in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. 


Pig Gig 6 is a benefit with all profits going to the The Fibrolamellar Cancer Foundation in honor of Glenn’s nephew, Jay, who lost his battle to the disease in 2011. Fibrolamellar carcinoma is a rare cancer of the liver that typically grows in teens and adults under 40 years old. Sadly, no one has ever survived it.

Glenn, who has also played with Bruce Springsteen and Conan O’ Brien’s band, will be performing this year with both Shadowland and Blue Americana. Other acts include The Lonesome Pines, James Maddock, The Weeklings, and none other than Southside Johnny! 

All attendees must be vaccinated. Tickets can be purchased at this here.

American Blues Scene is proud to be one of the sponsors for this pig roast with a purpose. Other sponsors include:

Scotch Plains Police PBA Local 87, Ace Brothers Service Center, Bill’s Ineffable Automobile Rehabilitation, Cioffi’s Convenience Corner, Danny Clinch Photography/Transparent Clinch Gallery, Craig R. Stock Landscape Design, Custom Construction MDH, East Coast Emergency Lighting, Father John Paladino, Grano Italian Tavern, Grillestone, Green Village Packing Co./Swine Time, Health and Fitness Professionals, JVD Towing, Joe Nizzardo, K9 Resorts Luxury Pet Hotel, Lawn-Gevity, Lou’s Automotive, Mountain Deli, neuNERDesign, NJ, RBC Wealth Management, Romano Landscaping, Roosterspin, Rossi Funeral Home, Silverstein Works, Scotch Plains Fanwood UNICO, Westfield Local NJ, and TAPintoScotch Plains-Fanwood.


Six-Time Grammy Nominee Maria Muldaur Declares ‘I’m Vaccinated & I’m Ready for Love!’

Six-Time Grammy Nominee Maria Muldaur Declares ‘I’m Vaccinated & I’m Ready for Love!’

American Blues Scene Staff

“As I drove away from receiving my second vaccination shot, I was immediately overwhelmed with an immense feeling of Liberation, Exhilaration, Lightness and Joy.” – Maria Muldaur

Six-time Grammy nominee Maria Muldaur — who’s been dubbed “The First Lady of Roots Music” for previous albums touching on her wide-ranging influences from blues, country, folk, jazz and jug band music — releases  new single “I’m Vaccinated & I’m Ready for Love!” on Stony Plain Records.

“As I drove away from receiving my second vaccination shot, I was immediately overwhelmed with an immense feeling of Liberation, Exhilaration, Lightness and Joy,” Maria recalls as the inspiration for her new song. “It was a beautiful Spring day, so I rolled back my sunroof to enjoy the ride, and before I knew it I spontaneously started singing ’Vaccinated and I’m ready for love’ at the top of my lungs all the way home! I sort of chuckled to myself and forgot about it, but the next day the refrain returned and I found myself singing it throughout the day!

“I realized this was a pretty catchy refrain that wouldn’t go away, so I called my guitar player Craig Caffal and told him, ‘I’ve got the title and I’ve got the hook – help me write the song!’ “He did and we recorded it, and made a video to go with it. It is my hope that it will be a useful message in convincing vaccination reluctant folks of yet another good reason to get vaccinated. If all the other good and common sense reasons of protecting loved ones, children, the elderly, etc., didn’t do it, perhaps the thought of being liberated to safely resume/pursue a happy active love life will be the motivation that does the trick!”

Muldaur’s current album, Let’s Get Happy Together, was released in May and is an excursion into the vintage jazz and blues sounds of the 1920s/’30s, which features her collaborating with acclaimed New Orleans street band Tuba Skinny.

Maria Muldaur

Robert Finley Announces Fall 2021 Tour, Premieres ‘I Can Feel Your Pain’

Robert Finley Announces Fall 2021 Tour, Premieres ‘I Can Feel Your Pain’

American Blues Scene Staff

“’I Can Feel Your Pain’ relates really to what is going on today. From people losing loved ones to the pandemic, all the marches going on, people being slaughtered by the police…this song is for them.” – Robert Finley

Robert Finley has announced additional upcoming fall tour dates that will include headline shows at venues across the US, including New York’s Mercury Lounge on October 18 and Philadelphia’s City Winery on October 19. Finley will also make a two-day festival appearance at Lancaster Roots & Blues Festival on October 16 & 17.

Finley also premiered a music video for “I Can Feel Your Pain,” a powerful soul ballad from his celebrated album Sharecropper’s Son, produced by Dan Auerbach and released earlier this year.

Speaking about the song, Finley commented, “‘I Can Feel Your Pain’ relates really to what is going on today. From people losing loved ones to the pandemic, all the marches going on, people being slaughtered by the police. Even if you don’t really know about the situation from a personal perspective you feel sympathy for that person who had to go through those things and this song is for them.”

Sharecroppers Son showcases Finley’s formidable vocals, which take center stage and encapsulate his remarkable life story and reflect on his childhood during the Jim Crow era south. Rooted in the classic sounds of southern soul, country and rhythm & blues, it features songwriting by Finley, Auerbach, Bobby Wood, and contributions from respected country songwriter, Pat McLaughlin. The album features an all-star band including guitar expertise from Auerbach himself, Kenny Brown, Russ Pahl and Billy Sanford. They are joined by other notables: Bobby Wood, Gene Chrisman, Nick Movshon, Eric Deaton, Dave Roe and Sam Bacco.


Robert Finley


*Feature image credit: Alysse Gafkjen

Hanna PK Releases First Single, ‘Bad Woman’

Hanna PK Releases First Single, ‘Bad Woman’

American Blues Scene Staff

‘Blues All Over My Shoes’ out via Vizztone November 12!

Hanna PK is a solid pianist, soulful vocalist, and vibrant performer, born and raised in South Korea, currently residing in  Rochester, NY. She plays a wide variety of the blues & swing, old school folk, and boogie-woogie. She has a  dynamic songwriting style ranging – from a funky tune with socially conscious lyrics to a mournful slow blues,  from a pop-edged ballad to an uplifting swinging number, and from barrelhouse boogie to jazz. Her first Booga Music/VizzTone release, a full length album produced by internationally known bluesman Kenny Neal, presents what has been developed and honed over years in the woodshed and nights  gigging with her band. 

When meeting Hanna, it’s not uncommon to wonder how a young woman born and raised in Korea stepped into the  Blues. But her music makes it clear she is not only touched by it, but also dedicated to this great art form. Hearing  her strong left hand bass rocking steady with her swinging right hand on the piano, one cannot deny she has done  her homework and is carrying on the tradition. Her original songs also prove her to be a creative artist who will  continue to build her fans in a wide range of ages and backgrounds. 

On stage, her warm personality invites the audience right to her heart — she is a soulful singer who can accompany  herself on a piano, with an impeccably steady and strong left hand bass, and a swinging and shuffling right hand freely cascading over it. She also plays the guitar and a few other instruments. This all-in-one package allows her  the flexibility of being able to play as a solo act or in any ensemble small or big.  


She’s releasing her debut album on the Booga Music label of internationally-known bluesman Kenny Neal in  cooperation with VizzTone Label Group in November 2021. Though Kenny had met her in Memphis during IBC  2019, and during his tour in upstate New York, what got his attention to sign her to his label was a video of hanna’s  performance on a Curtis Jones’ tune that she’s recorded in her U-Haul storage room.  

“My first impression of Hanna is that she was very interested in music itself, the blues itself. I mean  there wasn’t something else, like jumping on the band wagon. Instead, it was something sincere,  like from the heart.” – Kenny Neal 

For her first major outing, she’s packed the album with 10 originals, with just one cover song – yet no two songs are  alike. World blues fans, especially piano blues fans, will get their fill from this smogasbord. Kenny Neal really  wanted to focus this album on PK and her songs, showcasing her ability to lead a band with her roaring keyboard  along with her resonating voice. But he also performs on a few track which is a special treat.  

“I think this album is not only a blues album but also catches Hanna’s style. She got her own ideas, and I think this album is catching that, and that’s what I like about it.” – Kenny Neal 

But words, and even recorded samples, cannot fully convey the essence of Hanna’s music — to really understand it  and feel it, you have to hear her perform live. Her music continues to evolve and reflects the very moment she is  living in — the happenings and vibe in the room, the reactions of her listeners, the musical contributions of each  band member, and even the events of the week in the world, all combine to inspire a new and different performance of each song. As is the case with all true blues performers, she works from and in the tradition of the music while  bringing her own stamp of creativity and originality to it. Her music tells a story, sometimes an age-old one, but she  tells it in her way from her perspective, which in turn informs and expands our experience. 



Bad Woman” – Choose Preferred Service

Dave Specter To Release ‘Six String Soul, 30 Years on Delmark’ October 22

Dave Specter To Release ‘Six String Soul, 30 Years on Delmark’ October 22

American Blues Scene Staff

Double album celebrating Dave’s 30 years on Delmark Records — with a stellar line-up of guests including Otis Clay, Jorma Kaukonen, Lurrie Bell, Billy Branch, Jack McDuff, Ronnie Earl, etc.

Dave Specter has earned an international reputation as one of the premier talents on the Chicago music scene. Since 1985 Specter has performed regularly at top Chicago venues in addition to clubs, festivals and concert halls throughout the USA. International performances include: Argentina, Brazil, England, Northern Ireland, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, Luxembourg, Israel, Canada and Mexico. Specter celebrates 30 years of prolific releases for Delmark Records with a 2-CD retrospective titled Six String Soul, 30 Years on Delmark Records, featuring a myriad of special guests he has collaborated with over the years.

Specter’s career has been interwined with the deepest roots of Chicago blues and Delmark’s rich musical history. This double CD release constitutes a definitive testimony to one of today’s most tasteful and versatile blues artists, featuring Specter in a wide variety of styles. Specter’s single, “The Ballad Of George Floyd,” is now showcased at the Woody Guthrie Center as part of the Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom exhibit in Tulsa alongside Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics. Specter spoke to Rolling Stone about his dark period in songwriting and why he was inspired to write it.

Before forming his own band in 1989, Specter toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe behind such blues greats as Son Seals, The Legendary Blues Band, Hubert Sumlin, Sam Lay and Steve Freund. Specter has also performed and/or recorded with such artists as Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Jimmy Rogers, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Jimmy Johnson, Jack McDuff, Johnny Adams, Snooky Pryor, Kim Wilson, Tad Robinson, John Primer, Johnny Littlejohn, B.B. Odom, Mighty Joe Young, Magic Slim, Lonnie Brooks, Ronnie Earl, Otis Clay, Floyd McDaniel, Pinetop Perkins and Jorma Kaukonen. Dave has performed for the President of the United States, the Governor of Illinois and the Mayor of Chicago.

Dave appears on over 50 albums and DVDs as a guitarist, bandleader and/or producer, with 12 albums as a leader or co-leader on Delmark Records. Specter appears on compilation albums with artists such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, T-Bone Walker, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and Mike Bloomfield. Dave was inducted into The Chicago Blues Hall of Fame in 2018.

Dave is also partner at one of the Chicago area’s most acclaimed music venues, Evanston SPACE, where the album release party will be held on Tuesday, November 2 at 8:00 pm CDT. He also hosts the podcast, Blues From The Inside Out.

For more information visit and

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Share New Song, ‘High and Lonesome’

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Share New Song, ‘High and Lonesome’

Lauren Leadingham

‘Raise The Roof’ out November 19 on Rounder Records!

Today sees the release of a new song from Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, “High and Lonesome,” from their upcoming album. Out November 19 via Rounder Records, Raise The Roof is the pair’s first offering in 14 years. 2007’s Raising Sand earned six Grammys, including Album and Record of the Year.

Raise The Roof honors their folk, blues, country and soul influences with refreshing renditions. “High and Lonesome” is the collection’s original written by Plant and T Bone Burnett, who makes his return as album’s producer. The remainder of the album contains deep cuts by Merle Haggard, Allen Toussaint, The Everly Brothers, Anne Briggs, Geeshie Wiley, Bert Jansch, Calexico, and more. Recorded at Nashville’s Sound Emporium Studios, sessions for Raise The Roof began in late 2019 and finished just weeks before lockdown. 

“High and Lonesome” is the second preview, following lead single “Can’t Let Go” — a take on the Randy Weeks/Lucinda Williams song.

Listen to Plant, Burnett, and Krauss in harmony and backed by drummer Jay Bellerose, bassist Dennis Crouch, guitarist Marc Ribot, and pedal steel player Russel Pahl. In addition, Viktor Krauss on mellotron, Jeff Taylor on bass accordion, and Burnett on electric guitar and mellotron.


Pre-order Raise The Roof

St. Paul & The Broken Bones Return With ‘The Alien Coast’

St. Paul & The Broken Bones Return With ‘The Alien Coast’

American Blues Scene Staff

“When the settlers—or invaders, really—first came to the Gulf Coast they couldn’t figure out what it was, and started referring to it as the Alien Coast. That term really stuck with me, partly because it feels almost apocalyptic.” – Paul Janeway

St. Paul & The Broken Bones have announced their new album The Alien Coast will be released January 28, 2022 on ATO Records. Produced by Matt Ross-Spang, and featuring eleven new, original songs, The Alien Coast is the first SPATBB album tracked in the band’s hometown of Birmingham, AL. The arrangement allowed the octet to spend more time and tap a broader creative community than ever before, resulting in their most ambitious work to date.

Led by singer and lyricist Paul Janeway – a former bank teller and preacher-in-training who learned to sing in his church choir – the octet explore thrilling new territory on The Alien Coast, a fever dream convergence of soul and psychedelia, stoner metal and funk, animated by the very “fire and brimstone” which Janeway invokes in the album’s opening line. Unlimited studio-time allowed individual members of the band to experiment with synths and samples on The Alien Coast, and even collaborate with Birmingham beatmaker and hip-hop artist Randall Turner.

Janeway cites a similarly disparate range of influences that wove their way into the writing for The Alien Coast, from Greek mythology and dystopian sci-fi, to works of art like Bartolomé Bermejo’s Saint Michael Triumphs over the Devil and 17th-century Italian sculpture, to colonial-period history books. “The title actually came from reading about the history of the Gulf of Mexico, which is home for us,” he recalls. “When the settlers—or invaders, really—first came to the Gulf Coast they couldn’t figure out what it was, and started referring to it as the Alien Coast. That term really stuck with me, partly because it feels almost apocalyptic.”

Lead single “The Last Dance” has been released with a video directed by Machete Bang Bang (Coldplay, Jeff Goldblum, Evan Rachel Wood). The primary dancer featured in the video is Liv Mai, whose credits include Euphoria, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Transparent.

The juxtaposition of dancing while facing certain doom is what “Last Dance” is all about. Like dancing through a Mad Max scene. So naturally the video had to be a dance video. It was a pleasure to work with Machete Bang Bang and all the folks involved on this. I hope y’all enjoy – Paul Janeway.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones is Janeway, Jesse Phillips (bass), Browan Lollar (guitar), Kevin Leon (drums), Al Gamble (keyboards), Allen Branstetter (trumpet), Chad Fisher (trombone), and Amari Ansari (saxophone). International tour dates from this fall into next year have been announced, with more being revealed soon. The band will kick off their album release with a short in-store tour of the southeastern US, hitting some of their favorite record shops and selling an exclusive vinyl version only available at these performances.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones has reached incredible heights since breaking out with their first album in 2014. Their previous three albums each debuted in the Billboard 200, their legendary NPR Tiny Desk has over 7 million views, they’ve opened for the Rolling Stones, shared the stage with Elton John, and appeared on several television shows including Jimmy Kimmel Live, Austin City Limits and more. They were also the first-ever musical performance on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show.


St. Paul & The Broken Bones
Pre-Order The Alien Coast


*Feature image photo credit: Bobbi Rich

Steve Martin Banjo Prize Announces 2021 Winners

Steve Martin Banjo Prize Announces 2021 Winners

American Blues Scene Staff

Banjo prize winners will be featured on Deering Live on October 6

Steve Martin and the board of The Steve Martin Banjo Prize have announced two winners for the 2nd annual edition of the Prize. Building on the board’s mission to recognize excellence across the spectrum of banjo styles, this year’s winners embody the best of both 5-string bluegrass and 4-string jazz traditions. Each of the winners will receive an unrestricted check for $25,000.

“I am so proud to have my name on the new, expanded Banjo prize, with its wider scope and broader considerations,” says Martin. “The world of the banjo is expanding and our goal is to bring it under one roof.”

 On October 6th at 3:30 PM PT / 6:30 PM ET, Martin will introduce viewers to each of the winners on the Deering Banjo Company’s livestream channel, Deering Live, to be followed by a video feature of each winner together with interviews and live performance, as well as remarks from Wynton Marsalis and Sam Bush. Deering Live will also be available to view on the Facebook pages of the following co-sponsors and friends of the prize: The FreshGrass Festival, Compass Records, No Depression, Folk Alley and The International Bluegrass Music Association. Viewers can click HERE to watch.

 The 2021 winners are:

Alan Munde: One of the true titans of the 5-string banjo, Munde launched his professional career in the late 1960s playing with bluegrass legend Jimmy Martin. He went on to join the Flying Burrito Brothers, and later, The Country Gazette, whose members included fiddler Byron Berline.

A master of both traditional and melodic styles with a discography of over 20 recordings, Munde has influenced generations of bluegrass banjo players, including progressive stylists Béla Fleck, Alison Brown and Noam Pikelny, and has been pivotal in reimagining the possibilities for the 5-string banjo. 

Don Vappie: 4-string banjo maestro, Creole cultural expert, and jazzman extraordinaire, Don Vappie is a living embodiment of 300 years of New Orleans music. Vappie began playing at Preservation Hall in the late ’80s and for over 25 years has appeared regularly with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

He has presented educational programs for Carnegie Hall, NPR, and the Smithsonian Institution, recorded eight albums, and composed music for film and television, including Treme and American Creole: New Orleans Reunion, a PBS documentary which he co-produced and in which he was also featured.

Originally conceived of and launched in 2010 by comedy legend and banjo player Steve Martin, the Steve Martin Banjo Prize for Excellence in Banjo & Bluegrass put half a million dollars into the banjo community over the course of a decade with an unrestricted $50K award given annually to a master bluegrass or old-time banjo player.

Winners included some of the instrument’s brightest stars: Rhiannon Giddens, Noam Pikelny, Jens Kruger and Kristin Scott Benson. At the end of 2019, having fulfilled its initial mission of giving ten awards, Martin and the board determined that the Banjo Prize needed a new vision and infrastructure to move forward. Sponsored by The FreshGrass Foundation, The Steve Martin Charitable Foundation and The Compass Records Group, the new Steve Martin Banjo Prize recognizes outstanding achievement across all styles of 5 and 4 string banjo with an unrestricted cash award.

Current board members include Steve Martin, Alison Brown, Béla Fleck, Noam Pikelny, Anne Stringfield, Tony Trischka, Pete Wernick, Johnny Baier, Kristin Scott Benson, Roger Brown, Jaime Deering, Dom Flemons, Paul Schiminger, Chris Wadsworth and Garry West. Please visit, Steve Martin Banjo Prize.

Billy Bragg Is ‘Mid-Century Modern’ On New Single

Billy Bragg Is ‘Mid-Century Modern’ On New Single

Lauren Leadingham

Watch the video for “Mid-Century Modern”

Today, Billy Bragg releases an introspective, wall-of-sound single about turning over a new leaf. “Mid-Century Modern” is from his forthcoming tenth studio album, The Million Things That Never Happened, which has been rescheduled to October 29th (with Vinyl LPs releasing on November 12th in the US).

The accompanying performance video is from a streamed concert, originally streamed last month via Stabal. You can access the concert until October 10. 

Elaborating on the meaning of the song, Bragg remarks, “As a mid century modern geezer, I’m aware that my notions of personal relationships were formed almost fifty years ago, likewise my politics. To cling to that and imagine that you’ve nothing to learn from younger generations, you’re in danger of becoming a dinosaur. Kids have got new priorities and new ideas. Thatcher’s dead. The world has moved on. I’m trying to respond to the things I’m hearing now, rather than reminding folk of ‘the good old days.’”

The musicians featured on the track are Billy Bragg (electric guitar & vocals), Romeo Stodart (acoustic gtr, bass, piano), Dave Izumi (Hammond organ), Joe Harvey Whyte (pedal steel, lap steel), and Darren Beckett (drums).

In addition to recording artist, live performer, and singer-songwriter/activist, Bragg is also a best-selling author/musicologist. In 2017 he released Roots, Radicals & Rockers – How Skiffle Changed the World and, more recently, The Three Dimensions of Freedom.

The Million Things That Never Happened track listing:

  • Should Have Seen It Coming
  • Mid-Century Modern
  • Lonesome Ocean
  • Good Days And Bad Days
  • Freedom Doesn’t Come For Free
  • Reflections On The Mirth Of Creativity
  • The Million Things That Never Happened
  • The Buck Doesn’t Stop Here No More
  • I Believe In You
  • Pass It On
  • I Will Be Your Shield
  • Ten Mysterious Photos That Can’t Be Explained

    Billy Bragg 
    The Million Things That Never Happened – Choose music service


    *Feature image credit: American Blues Scene’s Phil Solomonson / Philamonjaro



    Guitar Stylist Steve Hill Takes On Robert Johnson’s ‘Hellhound On My Trail’

    Guitar Stylist Steve Hill Takes On Robert Johnson’s ‘Hellhound On My Trail’

    Sarah French

    “It’s pretty deep — one I couldn’t have sung as a younger man.” – Steve Hill

    Steve Hill is back with a new single, Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound On My Trail.”

    Widely considered one of Canada’s most prolific guitarists, Steve Hill has never stopped delivering wildly ambitious performances and satisfying original albums. Heralded wherever he goes, the guitarist, singer, drummer, harmonica player, songwriter and accomplished producer is a musical force to be reckoned with.

    Forget the fact that he has won a Juno award, played concertos with Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphonic Orchestra, won enough Blues awards to fill a bathtub and walked the boards of too many stages to count throughout his 27-year career, when you stop to hear his music you know you’re listening to the real deal.

    A guitar stylist with a wide musical vocabulary, he has performed over 2,500 concerts in many configurations. For the past 8 years he has toured extensively throughout Canada and Europe in support of his critically acclaimed Solo Recordings albums trilogy and one man band show. Steve got his start as an 18-year-old sideman in 1993 and released his first album in 1997. Since then he has shared the stage with many of his heroes, like Ray Charles, B.B. King and ZZ Top, to name a few, and has played at some of Canada’s biggest music festivals. With 11 albums of original songs to his name, he has explored everything from Rock, Country, Folk, and all kinds of music, while continuing to fuse it all with his first love, the Blues.

    ‘It’s a very special song,” says Hill. “I’ve been into his music for over 30 years, covered a lot of his songs over the years but I used to stay away from that one. It’s pretty deep — one I couldn’t have sung as a younger man. I wanted to pay homage to the master, as well as make my own version of it.”

    Steve Hill Music

    Johnny Cash Covers Bob Dylan on Grateful Dead Soundman’s Never Released Live Recording

    Johnny Cash Covers Bob Dylan on Grateful Dead Soundman’s Never Released Live Recording

    American Blues Scene Staff

    In never-released collision of musical worlds, Johnny Cash covers Bob Dylan in recording from Grateful Dead’s sound wizard Owsley “Bear” Stanley

    While Johnny Cash had covered Bob Dylan throughout the 1960s leading up to his 4/24/68 show at San Francisco’s Carousel Ballroom, his performance of “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” from that evening takes on a special level of significance due to the show’s audio engineer: Grateful Dead sonic innovator and “Wall Of Sound” architect Owsley “Bear” Stanley. As Cash and his Tennessee Three infuse the folk anthem with signature “boom-chicka-boom” flair, Stanley’s recording is similarly rich in sonic experimentation and filled with the idiosyncrasies of his own corners of the musical universe.

    Each bringing their own distinctive touch to the cover, Cash and Stanley simultaneously bring the impacts of Sun Studios and Haight-Ashbury to a Greenwich Village classic; marking a rare and early confluence of perhaps the 20th century’s most important musical movements. Today, Stanley’s recording of the Cash cover has officially been released, making it public for the first time beyond just the 700 or so audience members who heard it live. “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” is one of two Dylan covers which Cash played and Stanley recorded at the Carousel that evening, joined in the set – and on the new album – by his first-known performance of “One Too Many Mornings.”

    At The Carousel Ballroom will be released widely on all digital formats by Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, and also be available on CD/2LP from Renew Records/BMG. It will feature new essays by Johnny and June Carter Cash’s son John Carter Cash, Starfinder Stanley, The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, and Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools, as well as new art by Susan Archie, and a reproduction of the original Carousel Ballroom concert poster by Steve Catron. This release marks the latest entry in the Owsley Stanley Foundation’s Bear’s Sonic Journals series, which has previously included Stanley’s live recordings of The Allman Brothers Band, Tim Buckley, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, Doc & Merle Watson and many more.

    Pre-order the full album Bear’s Sonic Journals: Johnny Cash, At The Carousel Ballroom, April 24 1968 here before its October 29 release.

    *Feature image courtesy of the John R Cash Trust

    Bobby Rush Celebrates 50 Years of ‘Chicken Heads’

    Bobby Rush Celebrates 50 Years of ‘Chicken Heads’

    American Blues Scene Staff

    In 2021-22 Rush and his compilation co-producer (and longtime manager) Jeff DeLia embarked on a project that would honor the legacy of his breakthrough composition/recording. They sought to create four new versions from the artist himself and a group of his high-profile friends.

    In 1971, Bobby Rush released Chicken Heads” on Galaxy Records (later sold to Fantasy Records and Concord Music) and in the subsequent months it inched up the Billboard R&B chart, marking his first career hit. The B-side was a track called “Mary Jane.”

    The song’s 50th anniversary is this year. And on Record Store Day/Black Friday (November 26, 2021), Rush will celebrate with new duet versions featuring three blues giants: Buddy Guy, Gov’t Mule, and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. A limited-edition 2,000-unit pressing of a 12″ vinyl will be released exclusively in independent record stores across the United States and Europe on Bobby Rush’s own Deep Rush Records, distributed via Nashville’s Thirty Tigers and The Orchard.

    Over the years “Chicken Heads” has been a staple of Rush’s live performance, whether with his full Southern soul band and two booty dancers or stripped down acoustic and solo, with Rush sharing the story of how the record deal came to be with the aid of his colleague, A&R man/producer/songwriter Calvin Carter.

    Since 1971, the song has been utilized in film and television, leading to its second emergence on a Billboard chart as part of the soundtrack for Black Snake Moan, the 2006 release starring Samuel L. Jackson and Justin Timberlake. It also appeared in HBO’s Ballers (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), The Deuces on HBO2 (James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal), and several other shows. In 2015, “Chicken Heads,” “Mary Jane” and 72 other gems from the Bobby Rush catalog were packaged into a 50-year career retrospective box set (Blues Music Award and Living Blues Award winning) titled Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History of Bobby Rush on Omnivore Recordings.

    “Chicken Heads” topped the soul charts in Chicago and many other markets. Its laid-back, rhythm guitar-driven style stood in stark contrast to the sounds of the Dramatics, 100 Proof Aged in Soul, the Spinners, and Jerry Butler— all of whom were mainstays of soul radio at that time.

    In the course of the last half century, Bobby Rush has established himself as a consummate entertainer, prolific songwriter, successful recording artist, mentor, independent artist, and businessman, leading to an induction in the Blues Hall of Fame, two GRAMMY® Awards among six nominations, 14 Blues Music Awards among 54 nominations, the Crossroads of American Music Awards presented by the Grammy Museum Mississippi, the keys to 14 U.S. cities, the first performance of a blues artist at the Great Wall of China (leading to the title from China “Ambassador of the Blues”), and hundreds of other awards and honors.

    In 2021-22 Rush and his compilation co-producer (and longtime manager) Jeff DeLia embarked on a project that would honor the legacy of his breakthrough composition/recording. They sought to create four new versions from the artist himself and a group of his high-profile friends.

    The result: “Chicken Heads” reimagined in the unique styles of iconic multi-GRAMMY® winner Buddy Guy, jamband Gov’t Mule (which features Allman Bros. alum Warren Haynes), and rising blues star Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, with Rush featured on each track, plus Rush’s own new take made in Mississippi in the downhome Southern soul style that his band has been playing it in for these last several decades. The recordings were laid down in various studios across the U.S.: Gov’t Mule in Connecticut and L.A., produced by Gov’t Mule; Christone “Kingfish” at Royal Studios in Memphis, produced by Nick Goldston, engineered by Boo Mitchell (GRAMMY winning Engineer of “Uptown Funk”); and Buddy Guy in Nashville, produced by multi-GRAMMY winner Tom Hambridge.

    These are artists close to Rush’s heart: Buddy Guy has included a version of the song at his concerts for years and the two are dear friends. Gov’t Mule has long performed another Rush song in their shows. Rush and Warren Haynes got reacquainted at the B.B. King Tribute in early 2020, which sparked a new friendship. Christone “Kingfish” Ingram is a rising star, longtime friend and mentee of Bobby Rush, and also a resident of Mississippi. Kingfish has gone on record stating that Bobby Rush was one of his early influences.

    Bobby Rush was born Emmett Ellis Jr. in Homer, La., on November 10, 1933. The son of a guitar- and harmonica-playing pastor father, he moved throughout the South before settling in Chicago in 1953. Backing the likes of Muddy Waters and Little Walter, he was soon making his own recordings for Checker, ABC, and Salem before “Chicken Heads” put him on the map. Since then, he has released 27 studio albums and countless singles on labels such as Jewel, Philadelphia International and Warner Bros. After settling back in the South in Jackson, Miss. in the ’80s, he recorded for LaJam, Urgent, Malaco/Waldoxy and his own Deep Rush Records.


    Bobby Rush
    Record Store Day/Stores

    Guy King Premieres Autobiographical Title Track, ‘Joy Is Coming’

    Guy King Premieres Autobiographical Title Track, ‘Joy Is Coming’

    American Blues Scene Staff

    ‘Joy Is Coming’ is available now! Listen to the title track!

    Blues and jazz singer-guitarist Guy King is more than just his distinctive guitar techniques, which have been likened to another blues King (Albert, that is). On his new album, Joy Is Coming, King realizes an artistic breakthrough and sings soulful songs from the heart.  

    Seven of the tracks were co-written with author/songwriter David Ritz, whose first song ever written was Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.” Joy is Coming is the product of their longtime collaborative chemistry that comes natural, as they write in the moment about real experiences and real feelings. With creative string arrangements and masterful guitar and vocals, this is an album everyone should add to their collection. Both lyrically and musically, Joy Is Coming marks a chapter of King’s autobiography. Each song expresses a deeply personal story and connection. 

    Recently, King released the singles “Devil’s Toy” (featuring the great Joe Bonamassa), “Choices,” and “Sanity.”  Today, ABS is proud to present the title track from Joy Is Coming.

    Of the track which King considers to be a fusion of rock, soul and R&B, he shares with ABS:

    I wrote the song when my wife was pregnant with our first born daughter Rahel (she is the “Joy” I’m referring to in the song). I wrote it with legendary songwriter David Ritz, and the song also talks about the positivity and the good that is in all of us.

    Joy is Coming, available on vinyl, CD, and download, was produced by Guy King and co-produced by guitar great Josh Smith. For the vinyl lovers, the vinyl is a “deluxe” edition that comes with a mp3 download card and an insert with song lyrics and poster.


    Guy King