When a person reaches the age of 91, you know they can’t go on forever, but if you love them, you still hope they will. That is how many Atlanta blues fans felt about Eddie Tigner. And so the news of his death tore a hole in the heart of us all today.
Eddie was a small man with a big smile, sweet and loving toward his fans and, first and foremost, a musician. He began playing piano in the army during WW II and after his discharge, joined one of several groups touring as The Ink Spots, a job that kept him on the road until 1987. After that, he left the road but he never left the music. And it never left him. He played in several groups in Atlanta and was a regular at Northside Tavern and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. He gained the love and respect of so many over the years.
We will never forget you, Eddie. Not your warmth, not your smile, and not your music. I can hear you in my head playing and singing “Route 66” as I write this. Play on on the other side, sweet soul.
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
Darwin’s was crowded Friday night. Some people there to celebrate music lover Ellen Hamby’s birthday, others to see Peter Karp, and many for both. A few were not really familiar with Karp, but before he finished his first song, “Gee Chee Gee Chee Wa Wa” everybody was tuned in and with him. Karp is a skilled performer as well as a masterful songwriter and storyteller. He knows how to work an audience. He has a great rockabilly look, but his music does not easily fit genre types. Like other songwriters like Elvis Costello, Dylan r Jackson Browne his songs can rock or they can slither and slide but they always connect emotionally.
This is a man who can take a tragedy, like the time someone burned down his house, and make that into a rollicking rock song. Or he can take a breakup and use it to create a great song about how “that girl will break her own heart.” He can be honest and vulnerable for “The Turning Point” and “Nobody Knows Me” and absolutely snarky for “That’s How I Like It” and make you laugh and like it.
Karp played all these songs and more from his albums The Arson’s Match, Blue Flame, and Alabama Town. He told stories too, like the true tale of his mobe at age 8 from New Jersey to Alabama and the culture shock he suffered. He moved smoothly from guitar to keyboard and intermittently brought that gorgeous guitar out into the audience so everyone could get a good look at him and it.
In sum, this man put on a fantastic show, the kind you go into a club hoping to see. Peter Kapr is already a well-respected name in blues circles and if you aren’t familiar with him, stream the music, buy the albums and go see him perform. It’s like hanging out with a particularly witty friend if your friend travels with a very good set of backing musicians! Highly recommended.
Truett has just released his second EP, Lies and Lightning, and it may just be five songs but hoe happy your ears are going to be!
It all starts with an irresistible drumbeat, provided by Paul Hammer, leading directly into a thicket of wild guitar riffs and somewhat distorted vocals for “Run Me Down” and “Selfish Lover.” What a wild ride, which gentles to a sweet rocking rhythm for the beautiful “Time To Time,”
But don’t be lulled, because next is the dark, intense, heavily reverbed “Fire. Truett excels at these songs that sound barely controlled, but he also excels at aching, tender ballads like “Coldwater Michigan.” The songwriting on these songs is superb.
Altogether, the EP shows Truett’s amazing flexibility and skill not just as the guitar virtuoso he has been from a young age, but now, in his 20’s, as a artist and performer who delivers blues-rock of the highest quality.
Be forewarned: Lies and Lightning will leave you wanting more. It’s a lot of pleasure packed into a few songs. You can always listen again!
Brooks Mason has just put out his first solo EP., “brooks,” and you really should give it a listen. He’s only 22, but many of us around Atlanta have been hearing him play with his brother for years. The music he really loves is straight blues from the 50s and 60s, guys like Howlin’ Wolf and Freddie King. So he made this EP, using vintage recording techniques to get the sounds he wanted. Brooks plays guitar, bass, drums, and horns on this record and sings, and he does it all well.
The result sounds fiercely authentic and from the very first, the guitar riffs on “Yonders Wall” just snap you awake and make you pay attention! From there on, it’s just straight blues through “New Orleans,” where admittedly the sound rises and falls, to “36th & Main,” where the volume is still a bit unpredictable. In fact, that happens throughout the recording, but that is not much of a price to pay for this fierce authenticity. Brooks is paying tribute to the 50s and 6-s blues he loves and he knows exactly what he is doing.
The fourth track is “Whiskey and Wimmen,” which does not sound very convincing. I think Brooks is too young for women and strong drink to have ruined him yet, and he sounds pretty happy about it. Nevertheless, the song is great fun. A great version of “I’m Worried” wraps it all up.
Brooks’ voice is clear and strong enough not to require harmony and his guitar playing is incredible. He has made the EP available for free on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and YouTube, with donations requested. Here is your chance to show your support for a young blues artist, who is also going to entertain and impress you and make you wish for a full 10 or 12 tracks next time!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.