CD Reviews: 5 Hot Releases Just Made For Summertime

Well the temp hit the 90 degree mark here in balmy Rochester, NY – the official end of winter and unofficial start of summer. With summer comes travel, relaxing, hanging out with old friends and making new ones. With that in mind this I offer a fairly substantial collection of releases that should be on your summer music list. There’s quite a few so take your time and digest them as you will, remember they are always here for your pleasure.
 

Joe Bonamassa: Dust Bowl (J&R Adventures)
http://jbonamassa.com/

With the first cut ‘Slow Train’ Mr. Bonamassa sets the stage for a cloyingly hot and beautifully descriptive release. As the recreated chugging of the train picks up pace and moves down the line, picking up hitchhikers in the form of deep soulful vocals and eloquent guitar work, we chug along to the final stop where we encounter the ‘new world’ of the ‘Dust Bowl’.
Wonderful ‘spaghetti western’ guitar tones announce our arrival – here we are treated to an empty world where all we “get is indecision – the classic run around”. Layers of sound created by hand percussion, keyboard, drums and guitar fills the space with an amazing understanding of the subject matter.

Joe does not do it alone – he features John Hiatt (Tennessee Plates), Vince Gill (Sweet Rowena), and Glenn Hughes (Heartbreaker). His work with Mr. Hiatt is especially joyful, it seems almost at odds to the feel of the release, yet it has it’s place in the overall picture. Fun, rocking and gotta get away feel takes us on the joy ride on this Cadillac with Tennessee plates. ‘Sweet Rowena’ is a solid blues shuffle that Mr.’s Gill and Bonamassa trade vocals and guitar licks that shows both their versatility and urges us to re-think the industry imposed ‘genres’ or categories of music that seem to keep us apart more than bring us together. Glenn Hughes, formerly of Trapeze and Deep Purple, is now part of Black Country Communion, Mr. Bonamassa’s other musical band. They keep alive the heavy guitar, head banging tradition of their roots with a stinging cover of the Paul Rodgers/Free song ‘Heartbreaker’

This is another fine album by Joe and in it he shows his absolute mastery of the guitar. There is not a current style that he cannot get his head and hands around – and make it his own. I wonder why he is seemingly not as well know as some other guitar players. His playing, technique and understanding of the sound and art of his instrument is unparalleled, and I urge you to take another (or first) listen to this young man.

JP Soars: More Bees with Honey (Soars High Productions)
http://www.jpsoars.com/

I firmly believe that the first cut on a release should set the stage for what follows – so it better be a grabber. Mr. Soars understands this, ‘More Bees With Honey’ does just that, featuring Ms. Robin Rogers working the vocal hive with JP in an up-tempo swinging rollick thru the old adage that our parents, no doubt, told us repeatedly.
Mr. Soars vocals are certainly unique. Gritty, coarse but spot on, they hold a certain throw-back feel that the blues has always had, and at times forgets. On ‘So Many Times’ Mr. Soars sings of tears gone dry and the release of a, yet again, unfaithful lover. This is set up in a standard slow blues format featuring some nicely constructed guitar work over the backdrop of Travis Colby’s keyboard work.

JP covers a wide range of styles here, from a funky, wah-wah laced ‘Doggin’ , to a west coast swing, tempo shifting burner ‘Hot Little Woman’, that extols the virtues of this special type of woman. I am not quite sure if the tongue is in the cheek or not, but it’s cool either way !
An interesting cover of Louisiana Red’s ‘Sweet Blood Call’ reminds us that the Blues was created in a less than perfect life, and that some of the lyrics are not as PC as we may like. JP does some nasty guitar work as he drives us around the back roads of the Blues as they used to be. I think this song shows us the link between hip-hop, rap and the Blues quite nicely. Listen to the lyrics, and then maybe listen to some Muddy Waters and others to realize the propinquity of these seemingly unrelated styles. The final cut here is ‘Where’d You Stay Last Night’ a great adaption of ‘Baby Face’ Leroy Foster lyrics, and music by JP. This one takes us home and leaves us wanting more.

On this release Mr. Soars selects from his hive of influences including Johnny Guitar Watson, Guitar Slim, Muddy Waters, Stax and Hill Country Blues – and throw in a little bit of heavy metal for spice. JP is one of the exciting young artists in the Blues. He applies modern touches to classic, traditional blues music and is doing a damn good job of it. Oh yeh, go see him if you get the chance, he won’t disappoint.

 To find out more about Leroy Foster – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leroy_Foster_(musician)

Lightin’ Malcolm (featuring Cameron Kimbrough): Renegade (Ruf Records)
http://lightninmalcolm.net/

Here is another fine young Bluesman, and his aptly named new release ‘Renegade’ pretty much sums up his approach and life. As Malcolm says “The songs on this album are definitely the result of years livin’ the renegade lifestyle. The renegade cuts against the grain, doin’ things his own way on his own terms. I’ve always tried to be a right doin’ person, to help people around me…I follow the laws of the universe, not the laws of man…I know right from wrong. Most times your on your own, movin’ from place to place with your guitar and your music..”at the same time interacting, entertaining, jamming, working, helping, teaching, learning, singing, dancing, sleeping, and living with all the people that come through your life. You are what you’ve done and the legacy you leave behind is the life you live everyday.”
Raw, passionate, straight forward blues is what we have here. This release is basically a guitar and drum duo recording featuring Malcolm and Cameron Kimbrough, grandson of of Junior Kimbrough.

Starting with “Ain’t Even Worried’ we hear the truth spoken over a retro-groove/trance feel that demonstrates the variety of what can be done inside the blues. Title track ‘Renegade’ re-establishes the Blues as a visceral genre. Boldly emerging from years of neglect and gentrification, this cut has the pure power to remind us that the jook joints are still alive and thriving, and that we need to frequent them.
There seems to be a deeper understanding of life contained in this release. ‘Guilty Man’ details the trespasses on the road of life. The addition of horns give this cut a groove without overshadowing it’s baser instincts, a very nice job here. Got to mention ‘My Lyin’ Ass’ - a killer cut, funny yet educational as it refers to the simple truth about – his lyin’ ass !

North Mississippi’ is a homage to where he found his true love for the blues. Featuring a catchy rhythm and punctuated by the horn section it also incorporates a rap vocal overlay by Mr. J Grubbz. I believe Mr. Malcolm has gone a long way to bring the Hill Country music into the twenty-first century, making it vital to a new generation of artists and fans alike. It’s unique, contemporary, minimalist with overtones of surf music but still harkening back to the traditional never losing sight of it’s roots.

Better Off Dead: Girls Guns and Money (GarageLand)
http://www.betteroffdead.com/home.htm

With a release cover that takes me back to the tawdry twenty-five cent detective novels of my childhood, how could I NOT like this release. Well, I still haven’t gotten tired of it, and it’s got 28 cuts on the disc ! Only one cover here, that is ‘God Will‘ by Lyle Lovett, the rest are from the prolific fingers and somewhat bent mind of Mr. V.D. King.

First out of the box we are treated to ‘Twister In A Trailer Park’ which equates love to the headlines that we have come to know and love concerning the usual
occurrences of just that, twisters in a trailer park, one would think that they might build them elsewhere, or maybe it’s cause they are there that the twisters find them???  Next up is ‘Bad Credit’,this Tex-Mex romp paints an all too familiar story of our current dilemma. And so it goes, taking us on a road trip thru American Roots Music from ‘Louisiana Hot Sauce’ and ‘Back To Memphis’ stopping at all points in between. As we ride in their ‘Yellow Cadillac’ and head to ‘San Antone’ only to fall in love with a ‘Porn Star’ and have a ‘Chicken Pickin’ Good Time’. Yet ‘One More Time ‘ we are faced with the eternal question ‘What Happened?’. In the end it’s asked ‘If I Can Quit Drinkin’ (Why Can’t I Quit You)’ yet it’s your ‘Rockin’ Daddy’ that will ‘Never Let You Down’ because ‘I Ain’t Gonna Change’ . Even if they claim to be from a ‘Broken Home’, and scream ‘Kaboodle Cock-A-Lulu’ at inappropriate times just ‘Let Your Heart Be The Judge’ on this fun filled romp that should be on your summer music list.

My apologies to Mr. King for paraphrasing some of his brilliant work here, but why try to recreate perfection, and as is the rules in the Blues copying is bad thing, but stealing is accepted. Peace V.D. !

Davina & The Vagabonds: Black Cloud (Roustabout Records)
http://www.davinaandthevagabonds.com/

Awwrite, I just had to add this to the summer music-fest of love I got going here. This is one dynamic release folks. It recalls a time and place where the guitar was NOT the dominant choice of weapons for the Blues masters. Actually the closet thing to a guitar is the stand up bass played by Michael Carvale (and very nicely too I might add). What we get here is  a channelling of sorts back to the classic sounds of New Orleans horn bands –  think early Louis Armstrong meets Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Well, you could add some touches of jazz, soul, swing and a hint of gospel to the mix – yeh that about covers it.

‘Black Cloud’  is a wonderful mix of Broadway arrangement coupled with 1920’s jazz tinged blues, Ms. Sowers vocals ring true here with just enough gruff and sass to create a wonderful picture of words and music.  ‘Start Runnin’ is a open threat to the other woman who is trying to steal Davinas’ beau.  “You better step up, step out or start runnin” pretty much sums up the feeling expressed here in this up beat, rolling horn symphony of Louis Prima jump swing feel.
Not a one dimensional approach to this mound of sound, we are treated to a wonderfull taste of Ms. Sowers sultry despair in “Let’s Bring It Back’  with Dan Eikmeier blowing some down-right rightous trumpet. We then visit what might be termed a classic pop sounding sound (but way better) in Pocket’ . If this cut wasn’t so good it might have a shot at being popular on the commercial end of pop culture, but it is way too good, and actually has shape and form to it, unlike most of the pop pulp out there today.

For the Blues pureists there is one twelve bar compostion contained here, the lasciviously titled ‘Lipstick and Chrome’ which treats us to some quite unforgettable images courtesy of Ms. Sowers lyrics. The other band members who contribute to the great feel of this release include Darren Sterud on trombone, and Conner McRae on drums.
Black Cloud fits nicely into my summer music extravaganza and I do beleive that you will enjoy it too. These good folk are out onthe road some 300 days a year, so if ya get a chance to see them do it !

So there we have my little summer list of music that I think will go great with our summer fun – whether it be on a surf board, or under a boardwalk, night-clubbing or just sittin’ on the back porch diggin’ it. Any or all of these releases will please ya like a cold one at 11:00 AM on a hot July morning. And no need to check the can to know if they’re cool enough, they are, take my word for it!

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease,
chefjimi
©Blues411.com 2011

photos: courtesy of artists.

CD Reviews: Too Good To Wait On . . . .

Well so there I was working on the next round of CD Reviews, getting them all in place when what should appear but these two very new releases. OK , I will admit to knowing these artists and digging the heck outta them, but that shouldn’t taint my opinion – right ? Anyway, here are two smokers from some dear friends that I know you will enjoy.

 

E.G. Kight: Lip Service (Blue South/Vizztone)
http://www.egkight.com/

This baby will hit the streets June 21, the first day of summer, perfect timing ! EG Kight is also known as the ‘Georgia Songbird’ and has crossed over from pure country to special place on the country side of contemporary Americana Blues. With a surperb voice and a deep tone she has wowed audiances over the world, on this release she ups the ante and adds horns and swings out in an awesome disply of versatilty.
Opening the disc is ‘Sugar Daddies’ which offers up an in-depth view of just how bad the economy and overall times are these days. Ms. Kight has a poignant sense of humor and offers up some research that the mainstream media hasn’t quite figured out. Stating that “…even sugar daddies are cutting back, they’re giving cultured pearls to their uptown girls instead of diamonds and Cadillacs” all to a peacock strutting beat that features some sweet slide work by Tommy Talton and sax work by Cliff Meyers.
Following this is, ‘I’m In It To Win It’ a funky horn drenched soul parade with EG throwing down with some deep-fried soulful vocals testifying the truth and staking her claim in this situation.
‘Lip Service’ is a rousing confessional about how certain kinds of men always seemed to be the ones she would pick, and how she finally got it right.
Savannah’ captures the feel and mood of the very unique city and it’s mysterious side. A haunted Southern city but with a worldly influence, this song allows you to breathe the hot and heavy air, and feel the Spanish moss as it falls around you and takes you to a place that not many have seen.

Ms. Kight dedicated this release to Ms. Koko Taylor, her friend and mentor and offers us ‘Koko’s Song’. A wonderful story about her relationship with Ms. Taylor, and how Koko is now playing with her new band in the promised land. A super song – thank you for sharing it with us.

While a good deal of these songs are horn driven and funky, Ms. Kight does not ignore her vocal strengths and showcases it on several cuts. One quite outstanding ballad is her work with Mr. John Nemeth, ‘Somewhere Down Deep’. The combination of these two fantastic voices is like a mint julep on a hot summer day – perfect ! One other fine ‘old style’ ballad is ‘It’s Gonna Rain All Night’ is a simply constructed smokey barroom torch song that speaks to us of desperation, loneliness and loss.
The final cut is ‘I’m Happy With the One I Got Now’ is a stripped down slide guitar blues number takes us home with the re-affirmation of a solid relationship and the security it gives us. A fine release from a fine artist, be sure to get yourself one so you can kick back and enjoy some fine summer listening.
Please take a moment to send some good vibes out to Ms. EG, as she has been ‘under the weather’ and is home recovering from some issues. Get better darling !
 

 

Tommy Castro presents The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue (Alligator Records)
http://www.tommycastro.com/ 

This release comes out of Tommy’s work on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise over the last few years. He has hosted late night jams, and shared the stage with other Blues musicians in many forms and formations. He has decided to re-create the jams that occur on the LRBC, but with a nod to the old time traveling Blues Revues, by taking a group of some of the very best musicians today on the road and playing at festivals and shows around the country.

With the opening riff from ‘Wake Up Call’ we get a good taste of what we are in store for on this release. The splendid, yeoman type work from Tommy’s band featuring Keith Crossan and Tom Poole on those sparkling horns, to the funky bass lines of Scot Sutherland, add a heaping shot of keyboards from Tony Stead and top it off with Ronnie Smith on drums as they work with various guest artists., as well as Tommy singing and playing some of the finest guitar I have heard him play.

So what makes these so special is the guests Mr. Castro features on these revues. We start with the ‘Iron Man’, Mr. Michael Burks just scorching our ears on ‘Voodoo Spell’. Mr. Burks is one of the strongest players out there, and this cut showcases his ample talent very nicely. Next up is Mr. Joe Louis Walker, working with the TC Band doing a funky hip-shaking version of ‘It’s Shame’.

It’s not all guitar based rock-tinged Blues here folks, this is a Revue so we get to sample some other styles and forms out there. On ‘Never Say Never’ we are treated to Sister Monica Parkers’ full treatment of a slow blues torch song – and some super keyboard work by aforementioned Tony Stead.  One of my all time favorite songs is ‘My Next Ex-Wife’ written and performed by Mr. Rick Estrin, whose harp gyrations and vocal treatment is first class.

One of the hottest up and coming bands, Trampled Under Foot (Danielle, Nick and Chris Schnebelen) go down the alley with ‘Fog’ . Danielle’s vocals tear at our heart strings and the trio create such a large sound that we can just listen and shake our heads at the power and fullness of their sound.  ‘Think’ features the deep sultry vocals of Ms. Janiva Magness and the TC Band, just getting too funky with this hip-shaking, head bopping number featuring Tommy on guitar. Speaking of funky, we are treated to the legendary Mr. Theodis Ealey, the ‘stand up in it’ man. In his composition ‘This Time I Know’ he serves us up some real fine southern soul stew, with just the right amount of heat provided by his vocals and an extra helping of sauce with the help of Tom Poole & Keith Crossan on horns. 

The final guest is …. what can I say Ms. Debbie Davies. Listen to those first few notes that she rings from her guitar, ‘All I Found’ is one killer cut. Slow blues at it’s best with Ms. Davies vocals setting us up for the knock out punch provided by her untouchable guitar work. YIKES !

Mr. Castro, while providing us with the opportunity to (see) hear these various artists, does a solid job of laying down some fine music on his own. A funkified ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’ couples Mr. Castro’s fine vocals and guitar work with the punctuating rhythm of the horns and nasty back line of Scot and Ronnie keeping everyone on course on this hard driven cut.
If you haven’t had the chance to see the LRBR live – get yourself this release, it will keep you in the right frame of mind and if you are feeling down it will pick you up. Then you will have to go see them.

For more on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, please visit: http://bluescruise.com/ 

Until Next Time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
chefjimi

photos courtesy of artists
©Blues411.com 2011

Eden Brent: Lil’ Boogaloo, Big Talent

A dynamo whether on piano or vocally, Ms. Eden Brent has taken the Blues world by storm over the last few years. A fan favorite on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise where she holds court at the piano bar, or is trading licks and schmoozing it up with other keyboardists at piano showcases. But her relaxed self-effacing posture hides what is a truly talented musician and deeply interesting lady of the Blues. This is an interview originally done for BluesBlast Magazine and I thank them for allowing me to run it here. It has been edited from it’s original form.

To start with, tell us about Boogaloo Ames and your relationship with him. You,  a white girl of privilege, and him, the classic black musician. How did you meet?
EB: Boogaloo had been living in the Mississippi Delta since the mid-1960’s but moved to Greenville, my hometown in about 1980. As a young teenager, I heard Boogaloo at parties and restaurants. When I was fifteen, he played my boat christening party. A year later he played my older sister’s wedding reception, and a few years after that, he played a celebration honoring my father as the King of the Queen of Hearts Ball, a kind of Mardi Gras type celebration here in my hometown. So I had seen Boogaloo play many times, and he was sort of a fixture all over the Delta. Everybody in the Mississippi Delta knew Boogaloo, and he normally entertained the white, wealthy social class there. All of the wealthier folks loved him because he could play anything, all the old jazz standards, popular country songs like “Release Me” and popular rock and roll songs like the Beatles’ “Yesterday.” He could play it all and he was very charming and charismatic. They all respected him, and I never heard him say “Yes Ma’m” to anybody like I had been brought up to do and some of the older folks from his generation customarily do. He drank with the white, wealthy, social class and visited with them and entertained them.

What was it that drew you in, to want to learn at his side?
EB: I always admired him but didn’t consider asking him to teach me until I enrolled at University of North Texas. Before that, I had planned on being a rock star. I had played in a couple of rock bands as a junior high and high school student, but usually the guys didn’t really want me or maybe even any chick in the band. They only needed me to play stuff like the piano solo in “Freebird” or the synthesizer solo in The Cars’ s song “Just What I Needed” or that cool opening synth sound and solo in Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”. As a freshman in music college at UNT, I was not making much progress learning how to play, really. I was learning a lot about music theory but having a hard time putting a practical application to the jazz harmonies and jazz concepts that were introduced. I would go to hear Boogaloo on college breaks and request certain tunes, and Boogaloo and I developed a kind of friendship. He knew my parents of course, but we were developing a friendship of our own. On college break sometime in 1984, I asked him if he would teach me. He taught me during my college breaks, nearly every time I came back to Mississippi. I even took a break from UNT for about nine months, moved home and worked as a commodities broker in training briefly, then attended classes at Delta State University. Boogaloo taught me during this time, too. I returned to North Texas to complete my bachelor’s degree in music theory. Throughout it all Boogaloo was providing the practical education that I really valued and the very thing I was not getting in music school. His style was magical. I watched people light up when they were near him and when they were listening to him play. He made everybody laugh and smile and dance and tap their feet. Everybody loved Boogaloo, and I wanted to learn to give people that kind of joy. After I graduated college, I studied with Boogaloo more regularly, and we applied for and received a Folk Arts Apprenticeship Grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission. The MAC paid Boogaloo to teach me twice weekly for a period of three months. I learned more in those three months than in any other single year that we worked together. I took it very seriously because we were required to submit a final report, and I wanted to make sure that I exhibited adequate progress so that he would get final payment. Boogaloo taught me throughout our friendship, but our teacher and student relationship developed into a performing duo and a lifelong friendship which continued until his death February 4, 2002.  Boogaloo taught me the importance of a strong, rhythmic bass line in solo playing and some wonderful piano licks, but he also taught me how to dress properly and be gracious to the audience.

With Pinetops’ passing, where does that leave the state of piano blues?
EB: Pinetop was the eldest, celebrated living blues piano player from his era, so many of his contemporaries are many years departed. He also lived long enough to be a role model for another three generations of piano players, at least. So, he has influenced a lot of pianists that will continue to share his style with the world. During the Pinetop Perkins Foundation Workshop in Clarksdale last year, I saw the faces of students of all ages light up when Pinetop came around. He had a way of inspiring people with his presence. He had such a gentle demeanor, and even though he won so many countless awards, he always carried his fame with tremendous grace and was happy to give anybody the time of day. He never lost his connection to his humble roots, and that humility communicated to the folks around him. He made time for anybody from Senators to laborers to the unemployed and never let his fame overshadow the compassionate human being that he was. He seemed to take it all in stride, the fact that he had worked very hard as a laborer himself, that he had to quit playing guitar after he got stabbed in the arm, and all of his fame and recognition, too. He took all in stride. He seemed proud but not the least bit prideful. He set such a fine example for the rest of us to follow, and I think all of us will honor that and strive to be as generous a musician as he was. His influence on blues piano will be heard for generations to come, and his influence cannot be overstated. Piano blues will be in the capable hands of those that Pinetop inspired who will continue his legacy and pass it on to future blues pianists. And thankfully we have some fine recordings to help continue his legacy.

You are equally adept at the many different ranges within Blues music, from soft heartfelt ballads, to melancholy tunes, to shout and stomp jook joint boogie, both on piano and vocally. Do you have a favorite within these styles?
EB:
I am very blessed to have an eclectic taste in music so I enjoy performing and appreciate lots of styles. I really enjoy entertaining and have always considered myself a better entertainer than a recording artist. I try to tackle various styles so that my shows can have a beginning, middle and end, just like a sonata or a stage play would have. In order to try to keep the audience’s interest, I try to incorporate boogies and ballads and shuffles and slow blues and soul songs and even some comedy, at least with funny songs. I work to keep the show interesting for everybody. Boogie is about the most fun to play, but I like to vary the rhythms and moods of the songs so that the show flows. When I sing a mournful ballad, I sometimes start to cry, and while I want to move the audience, I don’t really want to make them sad. So I try to offer happy songs and funny songs to give a little comic relief. I do love to sing ballads, like “Leave Me Alone”. I want the audience to feel something, to forget their troubles, to hopefully transcend the moment and leave the show with the feeling that they’re glad they came.

Besides Boogaloo, and Pinetop – who were your influences for you piano playing?
EB: Boogaloo was overwhelmingly my major piano influence, but I have listened to lots of pianists and have been influenced or at least impressed by most of them. I studied the jazz styles of Art Tatum, Errol Garner, Horace Silver, Nat King Cole, Bill Evans and other greats. I also studied blues piano records like Memphis Slim and Floyd Dixon, but I was most drawn to the women who sing and play, like Julia Lee, Camille Howard and Katie Webster. Boogaloo didn’t mention a lot of contemporary piano players, so it wasn’t until some years after we got together that I learned about contemporary greats like Marcia Ball. She and I actually know each other now, and it knocks me out that I am friendly with somebody whose music and career inspired mine. One of my newer inspirations is the best kept secret in blues music, Memphis pianist and singer Di Anne Price who delivers a song with as much charisma as anyone on the planet ever has.

Let’s see, in 2006 you won the IBC’s, in 2009 you walked away with 2 BMA’s, and in 2010 the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player Award, dang, that’s not bad !
EB: My career progress before becoming a member of my local blues society versus afterwards is remarkable. The Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola sponsored me at the 2006 IBC which introduced me to The Blues Foundation, and the rest has been like a blues fairytale. I know that “blues fairytale” sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s the best way I can describe it. Apparently, I had the proper tools for a greater success, but The Blues Foundation and its membership introduced me to a worldwide audience that enjoyed my music. Since Boogaloo’s passing, the most important relationship that I have developed in his absence has been that with The Blues Foundation which changed my life exponentially. 

Where does Eden Brent go now ?
EB: I’m headed to the top of course, but that doesn’t mean I won’t have to crawl back up from the bottom! The great thing about music is that the sky is the limit. In other words, there are no limits. I continue to strive towards developing my musicianship, style and performance. In music or any other art form, the blessing is the curse, since the artist’s pursuit is endless. Every success is satisfying, but no success is truly satisfactory. Every success celebrated, of course, but only tentatively because the drive toward progress is so strong. It is a blessing to always have something to strive for, but likewise, it is a curse to always have to strive for something.

I want to continue to write songs that folks relate to, make albums that people respond to and perform shows that audiences connect with, but I want to do these things with increasing perfection. Perfection can’t ever be reached, naturally, but the pursuit of it is relentless. I would be delighted to win awards, stay on the charts, and get great reviews, but pleasing myself and satisfying audiences are very personal and enduring rewards. As I’ve said before, while trophies, charts, reviews and other accolades validate one’s music to some extent, the musical pursuit is ongoing and very personally rewarding. I love connecting with people and visiting new places. Very often I am humbled by the kindness and generosity of music fans from all over the world.

What are you up to these days ?
EB: Last year was crazy busy with recording Ain’t Got No Troubles then promoting and releasing it. Lately my schedule has been slower than I enjoy. I am glad I got some time to rest, reflect and get myself together after a busy year, but now I’m getting a bit restless. My touring schedule picks up later this summer, but this year has had an unusually slow start. I am using the idle time to plan and develop the concept for my next album. I am still not sure exactly which direction this album will take me, but having the leisure time to knock around new ideas is kind of a luxury, and I’m enjoying that creative process at the Mississippi Delta pace. I’m writing some new songs and developing songs from an ongoing collection of song ideas that I maintain. I’m also practicing licks and bass lines and grooves that I should have mastered years ago, and I’m learning some new classic songs that I’ve always wanted to add to my repertoire.

Again, I want my next album to do be fresh and different. I don’t want to make Ain’t Got No Troubles II either. Ain’t Got No Troubles came to me by way of the title song just a week before I went into the studio with Colin Linden, so sometimes the perfect ideas come together at just the right time, but in their own time. I look at each album as a new adventure and a way to continue my musical journey. I want to grow and develop as a musician and songwriter and hope that each new album will show progress.  I don’t have any idea how some recording and touring artists are able to record, promote, release and tour a new album nearly every year. That pace amazes but would exhaust me. After all, I’m from the Delta, and we don’t get in too much of a hurry around here! I’m still developing my songwriting abilities, and that craft requires practice. Music is an art form, but it’s also a business, and making an album is a great way to continue to promote and market your business. Perhaps I will even hone my business and marketing craft. I am hopeful that someday I might learn to be a more organized and better businesswoman. The only problem with all that is that if I had actually wanted a business career, then I would have likely chosen something a little more lucrative than a career in blues music, but guaranteed, it wouldn’t have been nearly this much fun or this rewarding!
I guess that’s the blues for sure!

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease,
chefjimi

photos: courtesy of  Leslie K. Joseph, Dan Creed.

***The Pinetop Foundation will carry on Pinetop’s legacy through the annual workshops. The second annual workshop is scheduled for June 15 – June 17, 2011 in Clarksdale. Scholarships are available for students under the age of 21, but students of all ages are encouraged to participate. Ann Rabson will once again lead the piano classes, and this year’s workshop features the addition of a guitar workshop, led by Bob Margolin. More information can be found at http://pinetopperkinsfoundation.org/ 

To view BluesBlast Magazine (and subscribe free) visit: http://www.thebluesblast.com/bbnow.htm 
To learn even more and keep up with Ms. Eden Brent visit her web site at: http://www.edenbrent.com/ 

Blues 411 Office Music: Post Holiday Edition

With the first official three-day weekend of Summer 2011 in the rear view mirror, I did what a lot of people do – hang with friends, old friends and some new ones, but tended to gravitate towards the reliable ones that have been around awhile. Oh yeh and did the same with the music in the somewhat busier than expected office.
Good thing I hung around and got some of it done before the weekend cos this boy got slapped upside his head by his body and was down for the count and just got back on track last week.
So here’s what mostly I was listening to while working then recovering . . . .

Chris Gill & D’Mar: Real Good Friend (self released)
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/dmargill

This is one of those ‘sleeper’ releases that people need to seek out and listen to. It expands the boundaries of current Blues releases by (reintroducing ?) incorporating a strong African feel with a hybrid drum kit from D’Mar, over top of some slick National steel guitar and effective vocals by Mr. Gill.
This ten cut release features one cover “My Babe’ with Derrick Martin (D’Mar) doing the vocals. The other nine are Chris Gill original tunes with Mr. Gill taking lead vocals with a pleasantly laid back vocal style that suits his swampy guitar work.
D’Mar is an exceptional drummer from Little Richard’s band, his self designed drum kit includes congas, kick and hi-hat. What he weaves within the framework of the songs (and release) makes it so organic and sensual it seems to be rooted in what may very well have been the very originals of the Blues. Combine this with Mr. Gill’s exemplary guitar work and we get the overall feel of rural American Blues meets it granddaddy from the old country over a still of good ol’ likker on a moonlit night – not too loud, not too laid back, but just at that point where you know it’s right.
Oh yeh if y’all are going to the Chicago Blues Festival they are playing on Friday, June 10, 1:30PM on the Mississippi Swamp Stage. Stop by and give a listen, and tell them I sent ya ! Really.

Gary Sellers Band: Soul Apparatus (Self Released)
http://www.garysellers.com/

Gary hails from Long Island, that’s like near NYC, but not quite. He didn’t pick up a guitar till he was seventeen, which led him to discover the Blues scene on ‘the Island’ – no chuckles, it’s always been pretty active. Loaded with his little black and white marbled note book, jotting down this and that, Gary worked the clubs learning like a sponge. Finally legendary LI blues man, Sam Taylor decided that the ‘boy with the book’ needed somew real Blues mentoring. This brings us to Gary’s second release.
Chewin’ Ice’ is a tune Gary and Sam wrote and it’s a killah track. Funky, super lyrics and Gary sets up behind the groove and gives us a super track to start us off. Interesting to me this has a Tommy Castro feel to it.
His treatment of the Stevie Wonder hit ‘Living For The City’ turns it from the keyboard driven, funky familiar tune to a jazzy slow-burner complete with background vocals. It’s always cool to see a young guy take on a classic and really put his stamp on it, Gary accomplishes this without a doubt.
One other big fav of mine is ‘Sideshow Blues’, you have to check out the lyrics and the way he treats this Todd Snider composition.
Gary is a highly skilled local Long Island musician, we need to keep supporting honest, hard playing guys like him (and others whom we all know) who have talent and drive and might just need a break, he is enjoyable and a promising young player.

Todd Sharpville: Porchlight 2CD’s (String Commander)
http://www.toddsharpville.com/

I have known Todd for awhile, he is one of the most affable chaps ever. Always quick with a quip, to buy a pint or to talk endlessly about the Blues. It hit me pretty hard when I listed to this release, because of the depth of darkness and personal tragedy that formed the basis for this release.
This is a very personal album, not that it isn’t approachable – it is very approachable, and enjoyable. With the humorously-titled ‘Lousy Husband but a Real Good Dad‘, to the deep blues ‘Misery‘, Todd shows off his impeccibly tasteful guitar work – from deep greasy blues (think fish and chips grease on the newspaper wrapping) to well thought out runs that excite and incite the listener.
On this release he features his close friends Joe Louis Walker, Duke Robillard, and Kim Wilson – Ok so if these guys think enough of Todd’s work so should we.

Rich DelGrosso & Jonn Del Toro Richardson : Time Slips On By ( )
http://www.mandolinblues.com/

Individually I absolutly adore these two guys. Rich is such a bad assed mandolin player, and Jonn is an exquisite guitarist (with Diunna Greenleaf) the thought of these two getting together just blew my mind. Each takes a turn in featured song, and they in turn compliment each others efforts seemlessly. The title cut is just one of the best cuts I have heard in quite some time. Covering American Roots Music in all it’s wide open ranges this is truly an American album to be played all summer long. These two Houston based masters know how to get it together and put it down.
Oh yeh ‘Summertime Is Here’ has earned a spot on my all-time summer songs list.
Folks,  you gots to check this one out, trust me.

Lloyd Jones: Highway Bound (Underworld Records)
http://www.lloydjonesmusic.com/

I always have had a love for the acoustic guitar, it’s the first one I played; it doesn’t lie, it speaks the truth from its fabulously female form. Lloyd Jones understands this. With this 16 song release he treats us to modern interpretations of some classic blues/roots tunes.
‘Careless Love’ is dynamically presented as a up tempo shuffle, his work on walking bass lines and chordal harmony is not to be missed. Mr. Jones offers another look at ‘Key To The Highway’ a fast-paced almost running version as if this was more autobiographical than he would like us to know.
Lloyd has some fab guest artists in Curtis Salgado & Charlie Musselwhite blowing harp for one track each.
With other gems like “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl’ , ‘Make Me a Pallet On Your Floor’ and ‘Goodnight Irene’ Mr. Jones proves that he is aware of the traditions of the culture that he carries in his head and hands. In doing so establishes himself as a vital link between historic past and present. Our past is safe and future is certainly bright.

Please folks hit these artists up on their site or on Facebook, give them a listen. Yeh, it may not resonate with ya, not everything is for everyone but there is no denying that these artists are seriously talented and deserve a listen; who knows, maybe in another week you WILL like them enough to throw down some change for their release, or better yet go see them and say hi.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease,
chefjimi

photos: courtesy of  artists.