Posted in blues, Music

The Atlanta Blues Challenge 2019

Route 66 in Johns Creek was packed for the Atlanta Blues Challenge. It’s a new and impressive club. Everybody kept the bar hopping and the kitchen busy as the contestants delivered what was one of the tightest and best Challenges in recent years!

This was a new venue for the Challenge and it has many positive qualities. It is big with enough room for everyone to sit and also room to dance! The stage is huge and you can see the band from wherever you are sitting. The food and drink are good but pretty expensive and waits for food were long but that may be because they did not expect such a big crowd!

As for the music, it was amazing. We had a brand new Youth Group from middle Georgia, three teenage girls and a boy who played sax.  They call themselves Menagerie. They were very good and show great potential to be even better as they gain experience and confidence. We were then entertained by Sam Chung, The Sawgrass Blues Band, and Mandi Strachota in the Solo/Dup category, and Mandi won.

Competition really heated up as the crowd got larger for the band category, with seven groups, all delivering stellar performances. The Let It Rip Band, The Sweet and Salty Blues Band Red Sugar Blues, The Trouble Tones, The Johnny Scales Band, and Eddie 9V were all fantastic but we had to leave before the last act of the night, The Garrett Collins Project and as it happens, The Garrett Collins Project won! Go figure! But we have seen them many times and know they will represent Atlanta well. Eddie 9V took 2nd place and The Johnny Scales Band took 3rd. These groups were chosen by our judges, all either musicians or musical professionals. Red Sugar Blues took the People’s Choice Award, voted by the attendees.

All of the performers deserve a lot of respect and appreciation for entertaining us so well, and all of them are winners in my eyes. It was a pleasure for us to attend and to volunteer our small part at the Membership table happily signing people up to the tremendous team effort that went into making everything go smoothly! Now it’s on to Memphis in January for GarrettCollins and his band and Mandi Strachota for the International Blues Challenge!

 

 

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Posted in blues, Classic Rock, Music, Rockabilly

Alzheimer’s Music Fest features Rev Horton Heat!

At 6:00 PM on September 21st, 2019, MadLife will host the 8th Annual Alzheimer’s Music Fest for a powerful and moving night of performances. The evening will culminate with a headline concert by The Reverend Horton Heat.” Other performers during the day include Gurufish, Ralph Roddenberry, Zangaro, Mikail Peterson and Donna Hopkins. Tickets are $50-$75 and support this great cause!

Alzheimers music fest

 

Posted in blues, Music, Uncategorized

Billie Williams – Hell To Pay

by Rhetta Akamatsu

Billie Williams’ second album, Hell To Pay, shows that she is is a fantastic soul and blues singer, and like many of the best, she is tuned in to the world around her. So whether it’s political issues in “Hell To Pay” and “Ten Million Sisters” or a bad, bad breakup in “Damn,” she speaks her mind. But she and the fantastic bunch of musicians she has assembled can handle other emotions in marvelous musical style as well, never letting one emotion rule for too long.

Things start out with “Damn.” letting her ex know what she thinks with no messing around and no modest language. The next song continues the theme, in the slightly more restrained but no less emotional, piano-driven “Cold November.” Next is the much more conciliatory “Start All Over,” a soulful and rueful account of bad moves.

Next is the bouncy “You,” about a much brighter and better relationship. Then, Williams is back to angry, but this time on a more socio-political scale with “Hell To Pay,” which starts out quiet and builds to a righteous rant, In my opinion, this is the highlight of the album.

“Hour By Hour” then slows the tempo down again and returns to heartbreak in the pure blues of “Hour by Hour.” “Drink From My Cup” offers something else different with a roguish lilt and a honky-tonk piano and some flirty, sexy words. The rollicking organ will alert you to the 60’s sound of “Lost In The Wilderness,” which is a love song despite the Gospel sounding title. It is followed by another one, “My Everything,” but this one has a Stax feel to it.

The wistful “Take These Dreams” returns us to the sad breakup for a ballad this time. Then it’s back to social justice for the anthem, “Ten Million Sisters,” inspired by Williams’ experience of The Women’s March in Washington in 2017. It is, for me, another of the highlight tracks.

Overall, the album is about half dark and half light but whichever half you prefer, the 11 original tunes show that Billie Williams is an artist full of skill and passion. She is one to be aware of.

Posted in blues, Music

It’s time for the Atlanta Blues Challenge

Atlanta Blues Challenge
Sunday, August 25, 2019
Time: 1pm-10pm
Route 66 Restaurant & Music Venue
6000 Medlock Bridge Parkway,
Johns Creek, GA 30022

The contestants have all applied and we are busy getting ready for another fabulous Atlanta Blues Challenge.

Atlanta Blues Challenge
Sunday, August 25, 2019
Time: 1pm-10pm
Route 66 Restaurant & Music Venue
6000 Medlock Bridge Parkway,
Johns Creek, GA 30022

The Atlanta Blues Challenge is the Atlanta Blues Society’s competition to select our representatives for the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN.  This year we have a new venue for our event, Route 66 Restaurant & Music Venue in Johns Creek (Duluth) Georgia. Route 66 is also the signature song of one of Atlanta’s blues legend who we recently lost, Eddie Tigner. and as such, this year’s Challenge will be in honor of Mr. Tigner. To help offset costs of the challenge we will be charging $10 for ABS members and $15 for non-members at the door, cash is preferred in order to speed up the entry process.  Food & drink will be available from the venue, there will be plenty of room for everybody and lots of free parking. We have been accepting applications and will have 12 acts competing.

The winners will win the following prize money to help with their trip to Memphis (will be presented to them at our Holiday Party:  • Band $750  • Solo/Duo $400  • Youth $300

There will also be a prize of $250 rewarded for People’s Choice which will be determined by voting of the paying patrons at the event.  Make sure to get a ballot after you pay at the door.  Come on out and root for your favorites and see the best up and coming blues acts in the area.

The Schedule for this year’s Challenge is as follows: We will have some very special raffle items to give away at the Challenge which include:
___A Three-Night Stay at Luxury New Orleans Condo – $15/ticket or 4 for $50
___A “Big Egg” package, worth > $1,000 – $15 per ticket or 4 for $50

The following will be raffled off with our regular raffle tickets: 3 For $5, an arm length for $10:
___Passes & T-Shirts to the WRFG Labor Day Barbecue, September 2, 2019
___VIP Passes to GABBAfest Weekend in Macon, GA, September 20-22, 2019
___Cat Head Vodka
___Assorted Blues Artist CD Packages
___ABS Merch

For questions about the Atlanta Blues Challenge, contact us at:  theatlantabluessociety@gmail.com

This information was provided by The Atlanta Blues Society.  My husband and I (Rhetta) will be at th Membership Table for the first few hours. Come see us!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Tennessee Redemption – “Tennessee Redemption” is Roots and blues Perfection

 

TennesseeRedemption-COVER300x300

Before Tennessee Redemption, the album and the band, Jeff Jensen once played in Santini’s band.  Then, Jensen broke off to start his own solo career and then to form the Jeff Jensen Band with bassist Bill Ruffino and drummer David Green. Both Santini and Jensen built successful careers, while their friendship and respect continued to flourish.

Then the time came when Santini and Jensen decided to join forces again. They kept Bill Ruffino and David Green, of course, as it is hard to think of another bassist and drummer so perfect for their kind of music, and with the addition of versatile guitarist Timo Arthur from Santini’s band,  they had a dream team, as you will discover on this new album.

One of the best things about both Jensen and Santini is their ability to make a real connection with listeners, and that is one of the joys of this first self-titled album. The songs are honest and sound authentic, whether you are listening to one of the 8 original songs or the wonderful covers of Little Walter’s “Watch Yourself” and Tom Waits’ “Come On Up To the House.” Add to that the incredible guitar playing of Jensen, who also did a masterful job of producing the album. Then add the harmonica wizardry of Santini, and the solid backing of Arthur, Ruffino, and Green, and you have, in my opinion, the best album of the year.

Green with a slightly bluesier tint. Then the boys take a Southern rock turn on “Back to Tennessee.”

Jensen adds a touch of mysticism and some dark humor to the mix with “Leave My Body.” This bit of darkness is balanced when we go down to the riverside for the uplifting gospel-blues sound of “Souls In The Water.” “See About Me” and “You Don’t Love Me” continue the high standard of songwriting and performance.

The beautiful cover of “Come on Up To My House” fits perfectly into the originals, while “Watch Yourself” is not only creatively covered but allows Santini to show off that gorgeous harmonica in a song that was meant to let a harmonica player really shine.

The album ends with Jensen’s deeply touching acoustic “Going To Mexico,” one of the songs I am most in love with in a body of work I am in love with altogether.

I will admit that until now I thought the Jeff Jensen Band was the perfect blues-rock band. Now I know that all they were missing was a great harmonica and another skillful guitar! Since Santini and Jensen are both excellent vocalists as well and I am convinced the rest of the group can do anything they could ever be asked to do, I am convinced. On this first album, Tennessee Redemption is roots and blues perfection.

This song is not from the album, but is a fantastic look at the whole band!

Posted in Uncategorized

Seth James – The Good Life

by Rhetta Akamatsu

Seth James has a new album, The Good Life, and it brims with honesty and an overall positive vibe.

sethjames

James was born in Foth Worth, Texas, and grew up on a ranch. He looks like the cowboy he is, but he grew up listening to guys he later shared a stage with, like Percy Sledge, Delbert McClinton, and ZZ Top. You can definitely hear rock, country and soul influences on this album, all fused with the blues.

The first song, “Brother,” is pure blues-rock, with a rocking honky-tonk piano and some really solid advice about the importance of friendship. The nest one is a cheerful strut about working hard for what you want. It leads us to the title track, “The Good Life,” with a country-soul feel about learning what it takes to be happy.

“Little Angel” is a sweet, sweet love song, on which you can strongly hear the Percy Sledge influence. It is a real stand-out track. Next, “Ain’t What You Eat But How You Chew It,” is about finally learning to get over a bad romance. It is followed by a slow, soulful blues about starting over, “From Way Behind.”

Then “The Time I Love You The Most,” is a familiar lesson about how you sometimes have to lose in order to know what you had. It has a very vintage blues-rock sound, similar to early Clapton.

“I’m Coming Home” returns to that soul sound, with great organ enhancing the emotion and fantastic background singers. “Get Outside”  celebrates the healing powers of nature, appropriate advice from a man who grew up in wide-open spaces. Then “Medicine Men” picks up the pace again to tell us “You can’t get something for nothing,” the theme of this album as a whole.

One song that breaks the cheerful feeling of this album is the true but bitter “Third Generation,” aimed at those people who are born to wealth and lose it all through their own lack of effort. It’s a powerful song, which is followed by the pure acoustic blues os “I Am The Storm,” a compelling nod to the forces of nature.

Seth James says a lot in this album of original songs, two of which were co-written with Kevin McKendree, who also produced and mixed the album (“The Good Life,” also with Bob Britt, and “I’m Coming Home.”) With the exception of the last two, which are impressive in their own way, they talk about life lessons without being preachy, because you know he had to learn these lessons himself. The songs are a grand blend of styles and this album is completely enjoyable from start to finish.

Previously posted u in Making A Scene Magazine

 

atlantablueschallenge

Posted in blues, Music, Uncategorized

Eliza Neals – Sweet or Mean

Eliza Neals comes out swinging on her new EP, Sweet or Mean! She found a real match when she teamed up with notorious guitarist, vocalist, and producer Ted Horowitz, better known as Poppa Chubby, who can be just as rough and tough as Neals herself can. Poppa Chubby also arranged all six of Neals’ original compositions for the EP.

Other great artists who lend their talents on the recording are Dave Keyes on piano and Hammond organ, Chris Gambaro-Vega on bass and John Madieros Jr. on drums. The horn section includes saxophonist Ian Hendrickson-Smith from Jimmy Fallon’s band and Michael Leonhart on trumpet.

But even with all this firepower backing her up, it is Eliza who burns the brightest. While you know you’re in for something special from the first notes of Poppa Chubby’s slide guitar on “Pawn Shop Blues,” it is that barrelhouse voice of Neals’ that grabs you and won’t let go! This is followed by “Blackish Gray,” full-on blues in reality, with more fantastic instrumental work perfectly showcasing Neals’ raw, deeply emotional voice.

eliza press1

Things get confessional on” Bitten By The Blues,” about a “rock ‘n roll girl who’s been bitten by the blues.” It has Poppa Chubby channeling vintage blues-rock gods on guitar and excellent keyboards by Dave Keyes. Then we get the not and humorous “Livin With Yo Mama.” Lordy, how they all do wail!

“Knock, Knock, Knock,” hits the rock side of blues-rock with some really tasty guitar and a less frantic shuffle rhythm for its sly, witty vocal. Then we end up full circle with a rousing roadhouse version of “Pawn Shop Blues,” quite different from the first but just as entertaining.

This EP offers a solid rush of music that is as satisfying as many full albums. If there is a modern successor to Janis Joplin, this may convince you that Eliza Neals is it. If you’re looking for something to get a party started or blast out your car windows, or just dance to with abandon in your living room, Sweet or Mean is what you’re looking for!