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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Rhetta and Ken
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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, 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

Posted in blues, Uncategorized

The Blues Music Award Winners

Here is a complete list of the BMA winners. For once, people I voted for actually won!

1. Acoustic Album: Break the Chain – Doug MacLeod
2. Acoustic Artist: Taj Mahal
3. Album: TajMo – Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’ 
4. B.B. King Entertainer: Taj Mahal
5. Band: Rick Estrin & the Nightcats
6. Best Emerging Artist Album: Southern Avenue – Southern Avenue
7. Contemporary Blues Album: TajMo – Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’
8. Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Samantha Fish
9. Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Keb’ Mo’
10. Historical: A Legend Never Dies, Essential Recordings 1976-1997 – Luther Allison (Ruf Recordings)
11. Instrumentalist-Vocalist: Beth Hart
12. Instrumentalist-Bass: Michael “Mudcat” Ward
13. Instrumentalist-Drums: Tony Braunagel
14. Instrumentalist-Guitar: Ronnie Earl
15. Instrumentalist-Harmonica: Jason Ricci
16. Instrumentalist-Horn: Trombone Shorty
17. Pinetop Perkins Piano Player (Instrumentalist – Piano): Victor Wainwright
18. Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female): Ruthie Foster
19. Rock Blues Album: We’re All In This Together – Walter Trout
20. Rock Blues Artist: Mike Zito
21. Song: “The Blues Ain’t Going Nowhere” written by Rick Estrin and performed by Rick Estrin
22. Soul Blues Album: Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm – Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
23. Soul Blues Female Artist: Mavis Staples
24. Soul Blues Male Artist: Curtis Salgado
25. Traditional Blues Album: Right Place, Right Time – Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter
26. Traditional Blues Male Artist: Rick Estrin

 

Posted in blues, Music, Uncategorized

‘The Ally Venable Band – “Puppet Show”

 

Puppet Show

Teen blues sensation Ally Venable is about to release her second album, Puppet Show. Not only does she prove herself once again a powerful blues vocalist and an extraordinary guitarist, but she also wrote 8 out of the 10 songs on the album, and they are good. With the help of several guests, she and the band explore some intense emotional territory as Venable asserts her ability to suffer and to overcome.

The first song on the album, “Devil’s Son,” features guest guitarist Gary Hooey on lead guitar, with Venable backing him up. With her confident vocal delivery, they establish that this album can rock and is equally driven by the guitars and Venable’s voice.

The next song, “Bridges To Burn,” also features a guest, Lance Lopez, who plays together with Venable. This time the guitars emphasize the intensity of the song, which resonates just the right amount of bite. Venable then continues the hard rocking and the theme of overcoming adversity in “Cast Their Stones.”

“Back Water Blues” changes the pace and shows that this woman can handle more traditional blues. It features tasty harmonica from guest Steve Krase. Continuing that vein, Venable next delivers a fantastic cover of “She Caught The Katy (And Left Me a Mule To Ride,”) which is one of my favorite tracks just because she does such a delightful job with it.

“Puppet Show” illustrates Venable’s remarkable writing skills. This is a strong declaration of independence from a controlling presence. “Comfort In My Sorrow” is a slower but no less intense song about searching for help. It has a bit of a country blues feel, possibly because Venable’s tone and her ability to sound both strong and vulnerable remind me of Dolly Parton.

“Survive” continues to echo the theme of fighting through hard times through sheer willpower. “Waste it On You” features some excellent guitar solos as it addresses the source of Venable’s disillusionment directly.”Sleeping Through The Storm” gives the drummer a chance to shine along with the guitar in the driving riff as it once again asserts her determination to overcome any storm that comes her way.

Venable may not have reached full maturity yet, but it seems her music has. This is a strong and vibrant album and highly recommended.

Originally published at Making A Scene Magazine

 

Posted in blues, Music, Uncategorized

This weekend: Blues all around Atlanta March 31-April 1

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Happy Easter! That means only two things I know of on Sunday but Friday and Saturday are packed! Check out the listings below!

Friday

The Jess Goggans Band is at Darwin’s and Blind Willie’s celebrates its 32nd Anniversary Weekend with Sparky & Rhonda Rucker, Steve James, and The Shadows. Mudcat and the Atlanta Horns are at Northside Tavern. Big C is at Fat Matt’s and 808 is at Nik’s Place. Ravenshine visits MoonShadow Tavern. Seminole Jackson is at Two Urban Licks. There is an open jam with the Tom Hill Band at Buckeye’s Getaway and The North Mississippi Allstars continue at Eddie’s Attic. Frankie’s Blues Mission is at Maxwell’s Cigar Bar in Woodstock and The Larry Griffith Band is at The Painted Duck.

Saturday

The MuddBuggs & Music Festival takes place at Duluth Town Green, featuring Zydefunk, Trey Dahl & the Jugtime Ragband, and Machine Kid. Wavetree is at Darwin’s and Blind Willie’s continues to celebrate its 32nd Anniversary. Garrett Collins is at Fat Matt’s and Uncle Don’s Band is at MoonShadow Tavern. DynaGroove is at Nik’s Place Seminole Jackson are at Two Urban Licks. SaturDAY Drinking with Fatback Deluxe takes place at 2 pm at DJ Rockin’ Road Trip in Decatur.  David T & Friends are at Smith’s Olde Bar and The Kerry Hill Band is at the Utopia Bar, in John’s Creek.

Sunday

Uncle Sugar is at Northside Tavern.  Bean & Bear and  Hey!Alligator are at Darwin’s.

That’s it! Have fun and keep on bluesin’!