Office Music: What’s Playing In the Blues411 Workspace These Days

No, it’s not all work and no play here in the world headquarters of Blues411, we try to keep a blusifying attitude and to help with that modus operandi we put the iPod on random and it cranks out the tunes that keep us movin’ & bluesin’ while we work for y’all.

These releases have been set into the favorites play list and hope some of ya’s check them out and add them to your collection too. Remember ‘Office Music’ is just a quick look at what’s playing and not an in-depth review but should certainly peek your interest and maybe you can check them out in a really significant way.

Vasti Jackson: Stimulus Man

This cat is a throw down blues boogie man, always entertaining live and this record captures that feel inside a studio setting. Opening with “Blues Booty” this track sets the stage for a good ol’ time. This feel continues thru the release featuring “Stimulus Man” a very smart twist on the old theme of double entrandre’ set in a fabulous current theme. Not just a one-trick pony, Vasti can melt your heart with such slow tempo blues burners such as “I’ll Dry Your Tears” and “No Pay Day” which captures the current work and economic situation. High and wide is his style and you will not be disappointed in his body of work.
Vasti always has his hand on the pulse of real music for real people and you should check this cat out.

Mary Bridget Davies: Wanna Feel Somethin’

Hottdamn, the title track – “Wanna Feel Somethin’ – is about as funky as you wanna get. Often when some artists try to do ‘funk’ they come up just short of the real deal. Ms. Davies and the band certainly hit the mark here, and it usually disrupts the work pattern when its cranking on the system. Ms. Davies has many influences musically and vocally but what she puts down is totally herself, and that is a good thing.
Tripping into the soul sound of the 70’s but with a solid repositioning into the current soul revival scene we get “Real Thing”. A nice twist on the Eagles hit, “Take It To The Limit” shows us the gospel side of the song and Ms. Davies’ vocal abilities.

You might not know this lady’s name or music but I can assure you that if ya check this out – you won’t forget her.

Earl & Them: Special Blend

Earl Cate heads up this band along with some help from Jimmy Thackery on the release. These cats are nothing short of scorching tail-shakin’ music makers.
With the opening notes from a funky wah-wah treatment “Puttin’ Out Fires” sets the stage for some serious groove tunes that keep coming through the entire release. “Loved By You” is a throw back visit to wailing wall of Soul, with a nice laid back style that might just give ya a crick in yer neck from the bobbing and weaving you will be doing.
They choose their covers with a keen eye to their abilities and their talent for interpretative skills. Case in point the Neville Brothers classic, “Yellow Moon”, “The Shape I’m In” and one of my favorite Band tunes “Ophelia”.
Not a barn burner, heavy guitar styled release that you might associate with a Jimmy Thackery appearance but a soulful, tasty bit of southern soul & swamp boogie from down in Arkansas, check it out.

Beth McKee: Next To Nowhere

American Roots Music at it’s best, to hell with genres and classifications, Ms. McKee comes straight out of the chute and wins us over with the Cajun spiced title track “Next To Nowhere”. Accordion ablaze and just a touch of good ol’ guitar pickin’ makes this a super introductory song to her music.
With vocal influences ranging from Tracy Nelson, Janiva Magness, and Lou Ann Barton, Ms. McKee knows how to utilize her voice and tonal quality in a wide variety of song styles. “Shoulda Kept On Walkin’” is a nice horn aided funky step up song that speaks of inner focus and how sometimes we wished we woulda kept on walkin’, like we never been there huh ?

“Same Dog’s Tail” is a sweet visit to that Cajun/Louisiana land of wit and proverbs that are so aptly spoken, or in this case sung. Words to remember for sure. A strong release of original songs Ms. McKee certainly captures our ear and deserves a serious listening session with us all.

Suzanne & The Blues Church: The Cost Of Love

WHOA – check this lady out. With the opening track “Cheatin’ On Me” she had me hooked. I had no idea who was spinning on the iPod but when I heard the hook and the lyrics, I headed straight over there to see who it was.
Suzanne has the street cred to play anything she wants to. Check out her story at her website to see what I’m putting out here. “Pay Day Loan” speaks of the eternal problem of those who inhabit the ever growing fringe of society who need to engage in these usury loans to make ends meet but that road always seems to lead back to the line. As she says ‘\”I still got my guitar” oh yeh, you surely do and she plays it with such feel and style that you will plead her not to sell it.

“Mr. Bailey” is an homage to her mentor, Mr.Ray Bailey, who has had his own share of Blues in his lifetime. Evoking aural images of Robert Johnson and crossroads she tells the story of her quest to learn to play like Mr. Bailey.
With her roots in the church, her vocals based in the Bettye LeVette, Etta James styled voicing, and guitar hearkening to Ernie Isley, Prince, with a good measure of Rosetta Tharpe, Suzanne will please almost anyone with a soul and ear for the Blues.

So that’s what getting ‘air’ play here at Blues411, it’s always very rewarding to just let the music play, we often find stuff that we would not have otherwise. So check out these artists, and maybe step outside your comfort zone and see what you can find.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2012
photos: courtesy of artists


Photo Gallery/Performance Review: Joe Louis Walker with Steve Grills

With St. Patrick’s Day barely erased from my mind, it was time to switch gears and catch some outstanding Blues in Rochester, NY. Yeh, Rochester the one time home to Son House, current home of Joe Beard, and the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Fest, hopefully one day will embrace the Blues heritage it possesses.

Opening for Joe Louis was local Rochester Bluesman, Mr. Steve Grills. With his band The Roadmasters they feature old school Blues that harkens back to the days when sound, not power were the rulers of the guitar blues.  Straight-up shuffles to slow burning desirous pleas, from Freddie King and Earl Hooker influenced riffs with strong vocals Steve Grills is the real deal and Rochester is blessed to have him here. There is not a band here who would have been a better choice to open for Joe Louis Walker.

Joe Louis Walker marries rock and blues together and produces a beautiful child of substance that is at one older than the years yet as new as each dawn. A flawless guitar master, Mr. Walker can give you what you want with out you knowing that you want it. His is equally adept at the T-Bone Walker jump blues, to rocking out with a Stones inspired “Black Girls”, and all points in between.

His version of “I Don’t Sing For Free” brought gospel feeling to what has become the anthem for musicians everywhere. Setting up the song with vocal harmonies from Bertha Blades and other band members  they took the song to church and made believers of us all. Ms. Blades is a stunning vocalist, powerful, energized and engaging she provides the counter point to Mr. Walker’s somewhat laid back style, plus they work so well off each others energy that it is contagious.

Mr. Walker was both professional, friendly and gracious as he allowed Mr. Blades to front the band on two numbers which showcased her  ability to sing and deliver a song. Mr. walker did the same for his guitar partner Mr. Murali Coryell. Murali is the son of one of the most influential guitar players ever, Mr. Larry Coryell. Murali brought us tot he house of funk with his “A Minor Funk” from his latest release “Sugar Lips” and then switched gears with a slow deeply emotional “I Could’ve of Had You”. Thank you Joe for allowing us to see these fine artists in their own right, it is a tribute to your excellence that they play alongside of you.

It was the band’s last night of the tour in support of Joe ‘s new release “Hellfire” and they were relaxed and in a fine state of mind. Bertha’s family came to the show and it was great to see them support her as well as the rest of the band. Joe took the time to meet and greet them after the show giving hugs all around, love was in the air and we were thrilled to be part of it all.



Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2012
photos: Leslie K. Joseph

Marshall Fridge – I Want One, Don’t You?

Marshall signature products have long been at the forefront of the amplification segment, providing musicians with the amps needed to get their strums heard by a group of 10 people, to a crowd of thousands. If that wasn’t enough, the brand is expanding their product offerings to include a dorm-fitting mini fridge that does a beautiful job as camouflage to a beer stash you might want to keep hidden from your thirsty roommates.

The unit has authentic Marshall facing exterior, control knobs that go to 11, 4.4 cu ft. of space, and is Energy Star, RoHS and UL compliant.  click on the link for a chance to win one of these baaad muthas,, and good luck. 

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2012
photos: Courtesy of Marshall Amps

Photo Gallery/Performance Review: Debbie Davies Holding Court at the Dinosaur BBQ

 It is always good to catch up with artists that we have met on the LRBC – they seem to become instant friends and are always glad to see us in the audience. Such was the case when Ms. Debbie Davies came to Rochester, NY for a repeat offender visit to the Dinosaur BBQ the day after Springs’ springing.

Assisting her in the blues attack were tow of the best pocket men anywhere, Scot Hornick (bass) and Don Castagno (drums). As always these cats did it up just right and many were amazed at how they blended so well with Debbie and her music. Oh yeh, Scot is a proud new papa – so congrats are in order.

Ms. Davies hit a home run, as she touched all the bases in her round trip of the blues. From rockon’ blues, to Albert Collins inspired ice cold leads. Her singing was exceptional as she has grown more and more comfortable and has found her natural voice and it works well with her playing.

Wait who says people can;t dance to the Blues?  Well the folks at the Dino were out in force (it was 70 degrees at night) and danced thru almost all of her songs, slow, fast, rumba and swinging styles.
For me and a few other lucky ones, we had in attendance the best air-drummer/guitar playing little girl. Mekhi (Mah-Kai) and her dad, Michael went strait to the front and she just grooved on the whole set. She was incredibly accurate with the beat and her smile lit up the room (including Debbie). I had to include a picture of her just cos !

Debbie is a road warrior queen. her music is timeless and well-steeped in tradition for is always colored by her interpretations and voicings. An amazing guitarist, active stage presence and keeper of the burning flame of the Blues. Be sure to step on out and see her when she comes to your town




Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2012
photos: Blues411