Posted in blues

The 2019 Blues Music Award Winners

Here is the complete list of Blues Music Award winners (final)
1. Acoustic Album: Journeys to the Heart of the Blues – Joe Louis Walker/Bruce Katz/Giles Robson
2. Acoustic Artist: Rory Block
3. Album: America’s Child – Shemekia Copeland
4. B.B. King Entertainer: Michael Ledbetter
5. Band: Welch-Ledbetter Connection
6. Best Emerging Artist Album: Free – Amanda Fish
7. Blues Rock Album: The Big Bad Blues – Billy F Gibbons
8. Blues Rock Artist: Eric Gales
9. Contemporary Blues Album: America’s Child – Shemekia Copeland
10. Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Danielle Nicole
11. Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Kenny Neal
12. Instrumentalist-Bass: Danielle Nicole
13. Instrumentalist-Drums: Cedric Burnside
14. Instrumentalist-Guitar: Monster Mike Welch
15. Instrumentalist-Harmonica: Dennis Gruenling
16. Instrumentalist-Horn: Vanessa Collier
17. Instrumentalist- Pinetop Perkins Piano Player: Marcia Ball
18. Instrumentalist-Vocals: Michael Ledbetter
19. Song: “No Mercy In This Land” Written By Ben Harper and Performed by Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite
20. Soul Blues Album: I’m Still Around – Johnny Rawls
21. Soul Blues Female Artist: Annika Chambers
22. Soul Blues Male Artist: Sugaray Rayford
23. Traditional Blues Album: The Blues is Alive and Well – Buddy Guy
24. Koko Taylor Award for Traditional Blues Female Artist: Ruthie Foster
25. Traditional Blues Male Artist: Nick Moss

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Posted in blues, Music, Uncategorized

Ally Venable is true Texas Honey

 

Ally Venable is a powerful young blues singer from Texas with roots that clearly show that proud tradition of blues-rock fostered by Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top, and so many others. Now, at not yet twenty, Venable is releasing her third album, Texas Honey, produced by fellow Texan Mike Zito, a popular performer himself. And it is sweet!

Zito and guest Eric Gale also join Venable on guitar, while Elijah Owings handles drums and percussion and Bobby Wallace provides the bass. Lews Stephens adds some tasty keyboards. All of this gives Venables’ own awesome guitar and voice a solid background.  With each album, she gets even better because she is growing into the blues just by the process of growing up as a touring and recording artist.

The first song on the album, “Nowhere To Run,” opens up with a punchy rhythm and lyrics that walk the line between tough and vulnerable, a recurring motif on this album. “Broken,” for instance, recounts a familiar tale of a bad relationship that went on too long, but you never feel that Venable was just a victim. No, this is a fighter who had to learn when to quit.

“Texas Honey” is a full-throttle statement in which Venable takes her stand and declares both her sweetness and her tenacity.  The slow, dragging guitars and percussion on “Blind To Bad Love” heralds the change of mood and pace of this song, on which Mke Zito matches Venable’s guitar prowess and lends background vocals. But the toughness is back full force in the take-no-prisoners “Come and Take It,” on which Ally is assisted by Eric Gale.  

It cannot be overstated what a guitar phenomenon Venable is, proving it by playing with other masters like Zito and Gale at such a young age. But when she and her band take on SRV’s “Love Struck Baby” it’s pure joy without any help at all! What a trio!

“One-Sided Misunderstanding” returns Ally lyrically to exploring doubt and confusion I like her fighting songs better, but Zito provides some great slide guitar, and even in this song Venable’s voice declares strength. And the blues warrior returns in full for the rocking, stomping, sneering “White Flag.” This may be my favorite track of hers yet!

With its catchy chorus and reverb-filled guitar solos, “Long Way Home: seems made for radio and should be a crowd-pleaser live.  “Runnin’ After You” gets a slightly more country-rock feel while still maintaining its defiant sass. The ending song, a rocking version of the classic “Careless Love,” seems a fitting summation of the lessons this album extols and a great way to show off the skill of everyone involved in this project.

Ally Venable, it seems, has reached a point where her age is barely relevant and has proved herself as an artist with nothing but years of possibility ahead. With her last album, Puppet Show, and now Texas Honey, she has won me over completely

Posted in blues, Music, Uncategorized

The Blue Ridge Blues and BBQ Festival 2018

The Blue Ridge Blues and BBQ Festival took place on September 15. What a perfect festival it was! It smelled fantastic, the surroundings were beautiful, and the music was great. What more could you want from a festival? Oh, and the BBQ was delicious!

We got there after the first band, The Red, White and Blues Band started, but the two songs we heard were well-done. Unfortunately, we only got photos with our more professional camera, which turned out to not be working.

Luckily, I took pictures with my phone of The Tullie Brae Band because, full disclosure, Tullie is a friend. She is such a dynamic performer, songwriter, and vocalist. She always blows me away.

tulliecollage

Next was The Rolling Bones Band. They put on an entertaining set. We had not yet realized the problem with the camera, though.

Suddenly, during the break between The Rolling Bones and Cradle, the skies opened up. Rain poured down! An army of umbrellas opened up, but we didn’t have one. My friend Kathy came to the rescue and insisted I use hers. I owe her a favor for that!

It did not rain for long, but it did cause some technical problems, particularly for Cradle, who are a large group, eleven members in all. They soldiered on, though, and delighted the audience with classic rock songs we happily sang along to. It was during their set that we realized the camera was not working and started using my phone exclusively. I got these pictures.

cradlecollage

After a short delay, Victor Wainwright and The Train came onstage. The three members of The Tain came out first and did a couple of numbers. At this point, there was no electricity on one side of the stage because of the rain, but they did not let that stop them. They are such a tight group. And then Victor Wainwright came on stage, and The Piano from Savannah proceeded to blow us all away. He played mostly songs from the Victor Wainwright and the Train album and managed to fit quite a lot of magnificent music into a rather brief amount of time allotted to him before the festival ended. But what a fantastic end to the evening.

victorcollage

My friend Alby told me a couple of groups (not Tullie or Victor) annoyed him because they kept attributing songs to the wrong artists. I am not the blues scholar Alby is, but I said I would mention that not every song was done by Little Walter!

Despite that quibble, a good time was had by all! Thanks to Tullie Brae and Jaymie Fallon for the hugs and love and to everyone involved in the festival for a great time! This was our 4th Blue Ridge Festival and it won’t be our last.

Disability notes. It is a challenging venue. There are speed bumps, grassy areas, and railroad tracks. But people are so eager to help! I was in the wheelchair Saturday and Ken was pushing me and if we even wobbled for a second somebody jumped in to help. You can do it if you take it slow, and it is so worth it!

kenrhettablueridge
Rhetta and Ken
Posted in blues, Uncategorized

Jason Ricci and JJ Appleton -“Dirty Memory”

Dirty Memory is as different as possible from Jason Ricci’s Approved By Snakes, so if that is what you are expecting, get it out of your head! Ricci has teamed up with New York City singer/songwriter JJ Appleton to give us something much more laid back. This one is pure blues, ranging from traditional to modern, but always totally acoustic and using just that amazing harmonica, guitar, bass, and vocals. And it is just about perfect.

The chemistry between Ricci and Appleton is obvious from the beginning. The album begins with “Leaning Blues,” with Appleton nailing the vocals while Ricci wails on harp and Appleton’s resonator provides the perfect backbone. Then comes Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” giving the guitar and Appleton’s strong singing a chance to shine, with Ricci adding a charmingly playful harp solo before the end vocal. Ricci starts out “Can’t Believe It’s This Good,” while that resonator dances along with the harp and Appleton delivers the sexy vocal in a blues pop masterpiece that proves you don’t need electricity to rock!

“New Man” features sly lyrics delivered with proper attitude by Appleton with perfectly blended guitar and harp. Ricci really breaks out on the instrumental part and shows why he is a wizard on the harmonica, in my opinion, the best there is. “Jason Solo” is just that, and it is sublime, while “Just Enough” is a cool, rambling number that really illustrates the communication between the singer and the harp player.

Next, “At the Wheel Again” lets Ricci wail while Appleton delivers the vocals with the necessary urgency to match him. Then comes one of the highlights of the album. the Rolling Stones’ “Black Limousine.” Appleton delivers the vocal with plenty of swagger while Ricci’s harp complements his vocal perfectly. There’s some really nice resonator work as well. “Demon Lover” is a hypnotic swampy blues unlike anything else on the album, which leads into the crisp pop-soul of Gary US Bonds’ “It Ain’t No Use.” The album ends with the comfortable “Come On Over, Come On By,” which lets Appleton show his skill with the resonator.

For an acoustic album to work, the musicians have to sound as though they fit together. Jason Ricci and JJ Appleton fit. Aside from that, everything else works as well, with perfect song choices and superb sound quality. This is probably as near a perfect acoustic blues album as you will find this year.

Posted in blues, Music

JP Soars – “Southbound I-95”

JP Soars | Southbound I-95 JP  Soars always delivers quaility music, spanning blues, soul, and gypsy jazz, and in this 4th album he adds a beachy, Florida feel as well to several of the songs. add bass on other tracks

Band member Chris Peet shows his versatility by playing drums as usual but also handling bass on a number of tracks.as well  Guests add bass on other tracks, plus guitar parts, horns, and other assorted instruments and background vocals. There are 18 musicians in total. JP says they are people he has played with and admired over the years. They certainly do an admirable job on this album.

“Ain’t No Dania Beach,”an homage to Soars’ South Floruda home, is an appropriately breezy, beachy song to start things off.

Then the mood turns tough and funky for “Sure as Hell Ain’t Fooling Me.” “Southbound on I-95” is a road song as only Soars could deliver it, with an aggresve surf sound.

The mood changes drastically for “Shining Through The Dark,” a feel-good song that has great Southern-rock guitar and fantastic sax from Terry Hanck. The tenor and baritone sac combination works great with the honky tonk-style piano on the rocking “The Grass Ain’t Always Greener.” JP then reaches back to his roots for a lively acoustic instrumemtal, and a bonus track has a bit of banter thrown in. That is followed by “Satisfy My Soul,” a soulful number with very effective use of the horns.

We get a bit of Soars’ life story in “Born in California,” and we also get some masterful electric cigarbox guitar from Soars as well  He then moves to pure blues with a cover, Albert King’s”When You Walk Out That Door,” with Jimmy Thackery playing guitar as well and taking the first solo. This is followed by another cover, Muddy Waters’ ‘Deep Down in Florida,” with special guest Albert Castiglia, who takes hfirst guitar solo and sings the 3rd and 4th verses. This song is a perfect fit for these musicians and this album,.

“Across the Desert” is next, an instrumental that has a gypsy jazz feel and which features Soars on a Portugese folk guitar and Lee  Oskar on harmonica. “Dog Catcher” has a classic rockabilly sound while “troubled Waters” has some solid advice for these times and features a sitar among the instruments, played by  Reza Filsoofi.’

The album ends with “Go With the Flow,” another gypsy jazz instrumental. That makes 14 fabulous songs,  most of them with Soars’ distinctive vocals. i think you will love this album from start to finish.

Posted in blues, Music, Uncategorized

Markey Blue Ric Latina Project – “Raised in Muddy Water”

Markey Blue and Ric Latina are a true performing and songwriting team, and recently changed the name of their group from just Markey Blue to Markey Blue Ric Latina Project to reflect that. They also recently signed with EllerSole Records, and on April 20 they will release their newest album, “Raised in Muddy Water.” This album is a winner from start to finish.

The album opens with the title tune, “Raised In Muddy Water,” a rousing number which explains the very roots of the blues. Then the band pays homage to a couple of their heroes, with “Corina Shine (Taj Mahal Tribute)” and “A Little More I Die (Ode to John Prine.” Both of these songs feature some superb songwriting, with “Corrina SHine” being a sweet, singable song and “A Little More I Die” an exquisite answer to “Angel From Montgomery.”

Next comes my favorite track,  “Red Room,” which has the same theme as “Hotel California” but as a swampy blues. It has just the right amount of spookiness, enhanced by guest Ronnie Owens on harmonica. ” Then” Mississippi Soul” delivers just what it promises and “Walking Over This Line” rings with fervent emotion.

Special guest Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater duets delightfully with Markey and trades delicious licks with Latina on “I Like It Like This,” a sweetly sexy, teasing song. It is followed by the beautiful, socially conscious ballad, “Tears All Over the World,” and another gorgeous ballad, “When I Close My Eyes.”

Delbert McClinton is another band hero, and he inspired the Markey-Latina duo to write “Come and Go(Delbert McClinton Tribute,) a Southern rock number worthy of the man himself.

The CD ends with a live (and lively) bonus track, “Drowning in His Ocean,” with guest musicians Brian Allen on bass and Wes Little on drums from Robben Ford’s rhythm section and Charlie Daniel’s keyboardist, Shannon Wickline.

The level of songwriting on this album cannot be stressed too much, nor can the ability to deliver the message of each song both musically and vocally. Markey’s voice sounds in top form and Ric’s guitar playing is spot-on as always. There is not a throwaway track in the bunch. Because so far I have loved everything they have done, I hesitate to say that this is the best yet, but it just may be. Listen and see for yourself.

Originally published in Making A Scene by Rhetta

Posted in blues, Music, Uncategorized

Jeff Jensen – “Wisdom and Decay”

Jeff Jensen’s new album. Wisdom and Decay is a marvel. It seems impossible that it can be better than his previous albums, and yet I believe it is. The production, certainly, is the best yet. That, too, is done by Jensen. The work of his band, Bill Ruffino on bass and David Green on drums, is perfect and Jensen’s vocals are heartfelt and his guitar playing masterful. The band is joined by a number of special guests as well.

It all starts out with a Little Milton song, “Living ‘off the Love You Give,” a fast, cheerful tribute to a band favorite. Then comes a haunting original, “2000 Days,” about struggling with and overcoming addiction, emerging scarred yet triumphant. “Pretend Forevers” is an emotionally charged song about being in love and wanting it to last forever, yet knowing at some point it must end. It should touch the heart of anybody who loves anybody. The song features a string quartet and was recorded at Sam Phillips Recording Studio in Memphis, further emphasizing the band’s strong ties o hat city and its musical heritage.

“Good Woman Back Home” is a happy celebration of love with horns and great background vocals for emphasis. It is especially meaningful in light of Jensen’s recent marriage.

“Downtown” is a gritty song about the uglier side of any city, given more menace through Jeff’s distorted vocals. “Luck Is Gonna Change,” on the other hand, is a cheerful, gospel style song about misplaced optimism: making bad choices and expecting good results. Despite the clear message, it sounds like everyone in the studio had a great time on this one.

“What We Used to Be”is a political message, presented in a vaudeville-style number and using a comedic touch to say something true about where we stand today. It is followed by a fantastic version of one of my favorite Dylan songs, “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You.” Jeff sings it with great sincerity and only Dylan’s original version could equal it.

The album ends with “Something in the Water,” which lets Jensen shoe off his creativity and skill as a guitarist in a mellow style, and “The Water Jam,” which lets the whole band shine energetically.

Every album The Jeff Jensen Band has done so far has made an indelible mark on this listener and many others. This one already has, too. Everything ..the writing, singing, playing arranging and production.even the cover art, was done with skill and love, and that is why this album makes you feel so good. Is it his best? Maybe. Listen and see what you think.

originally published by Rherra at /Making A Scene