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

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Posted in blues, Music, Uncategorized

Miss Freddye: Lady of the Blues

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Miss Freddye is best-known around Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, but that is about to change with Miss Freddye: Lady of the Blues. The album is co-produced by Kid Andersen and Andy Santana, who are all over it, providing guitar and harmonica respectively, and Santana also wrote many of the songs. Miss Freddye’s band really cooks, and there is an amazing horn section, too.

From the first sassy notes of “Miss Freddye’s Gonna Fix Ya,” you know you’re in good hands. “Luv Ya Baby” is the first of two duets with John”Blues” Boyd with an irresistible 70’s s sound.

The next three are rocking blues and paint a picture of a woman who might have taken some stuff in the past but isn’t going to anymore. “Lady of the Blues,” “Use the Back Door,” and ‘Home Improvement,’ all follow this theme.

“Doorway to the Blues” proves that she can swing with the best of them, with a jazzy trumpet and Andersen providing a Willie Nelson-like piano solo. while “These Are My Blues” is a more contemplative but still upbeat song with great harmonica. “Freight Train” is another a jazzy, swinging number with a vintage sound.

The album ends with a slow blues, “A Losing Battle,” which is more upbeat about infidelity than you might expect.

Miss Freddye is not breaking any barriers here. She is, as she says, a “lady of the blues.” As such, and with great support from her producers and the band, she provides a very satisfying experience with this album.

Posted in blues, Music, Uncategorized

Victor Wainwright and The Train

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Having established himself firmly in the last few years as a multiple-award winning piano player and entertainer, Victor Wainwright is making some changes. He has a new band,  The Train, a new record label, Ruff and a new album, simply called Victor Wainright and The Train, coming out March 9. I got an early listen and it’s amazing.

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As Victor says on the song “The Train”: “If you wanna boogie get aboard this train/Get yourself a ticket or get out of the way.” With these 12 original songs, this train is going exactly where Wainwright wants it to go, with stops at traditional, rock, ballads, his signature boogie, and even a side trip into psychedelia!

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It all begins with that pounding piano as Wainwright starts us off with “Healing,” a soul extravaganza with horns, organ, piano, and passionate vocals. Next is the new Orleans-flavored tale of poor Peggy and the”Wiltshire Bridge.
This is one of the songs that plays down the piano for the vocals and the organ and horns.

Then here comes the train. This one is going to pick you up and sweep you away! After Victor exhorts the band to get the train started, It goes faster and faster until it hits that ferocious piano and then ends with the horns. Whew! Wipe your forehead and get ready to switch gears for “Dull Your Shine,” with its message that ‘those who mind don’t matter, and those that matter, they don’t mind.” This one features a poignant guitar solo as well as more restrained piano and a persistent drum beat to underscore the uplifting message.

“Money” is a sly, funny soul shuffle with a message we will all recognize. It is followed by a moving and heartfelt tribute to Lucille, BB King’s guitar. It is a highlight of the album and is likely to get a lot of play on blues radio.

“Boogie Depression” is a fast boogie about the power of music to cure depression, with some real piano pyrotechnics to remind you that the man is a piano playing genius. Then the mood slows down for the slow, sweet love song, “Everything I Need.”

Switching moods again, “Righteous”  is a spooky song about “righteous” anger. Listen closely and you will get a chill. “I’ll Start Tomorrow” comes as a relief, with its funny message about procrastination.

It is followed by the entirely different, Eastern-influenced and psychedelic “Sunshine,” which features guitar, horns, and drums and a short, plaintive vocal. It really allows the band to show off their skills, and Wainwright to show that an organ can be psychedelic. Then the album ends with another sweet, slow ballad, “That’s Love To Me” It is a huge compliment in my mind that these slow songs remind me of the great Leon Russell, while still being completely Victor’s own.

Wainwright and The Train take us on one amazing journey here, with still some astounding piano but a whole lot more besides, showing that Wainwright can break out in all sorts of wonderful directions. Be prepared to jump on board, it’s coming your way soon!

Posted in blues, Music

2017 Living Blues Awards

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The Living Blues Awards always are always fascinating, but I am especially pleased that nearly everyone I voted for won in one category or another. Here is the list:

2017 Living Blues Awards


Critics’ Poll

Blues Artist of the Year (Male)         
Bobby Rush

Blues Artist of the Year (Female)    
Rhiannon Giddens

Most Outstanding Blues Singer    
William Bell

Most Outstanding Musician (Guitar)    
Lurrie Bell

Most Outstanding Musician (Harmonica)
Billy Branch

Most Outstanding Musician (Keyboard)
Henry Gray

Most Outstanding Musician (Bass)
Bob Stroger

Most Outstanding Musician (Drums)
Cedric Burnside

Most Outstanding Musician (Horns)
Big Jay McNeely

Most Outstanding Musician (Other)
Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton – Banjo

Best Live Performer 
Bobby Rush

Comeback Artist of the Year    
William Bell

Artist Deserving More Attention
Bruce “Mississippi” Johnson


Best Blues Albums of 2016

Album of the Year
Lurrie Bell – Can’t Shake This Feeling – Delmark

New Recordings / Contemporary Blues
Toronzo Cannon – The Chicago Way – Alligator

New Recordings / Southern Soul
William Bell – This Is Where I Live – Stax

New Recordings / Best Debut
Anthony Sherrod & the Cornlickers – Right on Time – No label

New Recordings / Traditional & Acoustic
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes – It Is What It Is – Blue Front Records

Historical – Pre-war
Washington Phillips – Washington Phillips and His Manzarene Dreams – Dust-to-Digital

Historical – Postwar
B.B. King – The Complete RPM–Kent Recordings Box – P-Vine Records


Blues Book of the Year
Martin Hawkins – Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge – LSU Press


DVD of the Year
Sherman Robertson – Takin’ You to Texas – JSP Records


Producer of the Year : New Recording
Scott Billington – Bobby Rush – Porcupine Meat – Rounder Records

Producer of the Year: Historical Recording
Michael Corcoran, April G. Ledbetter and Steven Lance Ledbetter – Washington Phillips and His Manzarene Dreams – Dust-to-Digital



Readers’ Poll

Blues Artist of the Year (Male)
Buddy Guy

Blues Artist of the Year (Female)
Shemekia Copeland

Most Outstanding Musician (Guitar)
Buddy Guy

Most Outstanding Musician (Harmonica)
Charlie Musselwhite

Most Outstanding Musician (Keyboard)
Marcia Ball

Best Live Performer
Buddy Guy

Most Outstanding Blues Singer
Buddy Guy

Best Blues Album of 2016 (New Release)
Toronzo Cannon – The Chicago Way – Alligator

Best Blues Album of 2016 (Historical Recording)
B.B. King – The Complete RPM–Kent Recordings Box – P-Vine Records

Best Blues DVD of 2016
David “Honeyboy” Edwards – I’m Gonna Tell You Somethin’ That I Know – R.B.I. Media / Pro Sho Bidness

Best Blues Book of 2016
Alan Harper – Waiting for Buddy Guy: Chicago Blues at the Crossroads – University of Illinois Press

 

Posted in blues, Music

The Atlanta Blues Challenge 2016

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The Atlanta Blues Society Press Release

What: 2016 Atlanta Blues Challenge
When: Sunday, August 21, 2016, 1 pm – 8:30pm
Where: Hard Rock Cafe, Atlanta, GA

The Atlanta Blues Challenge is the Atlanta Blues Society’s competition to select our representatives for the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN.  To help offset costs of the challenge we will be charging $10 for ABS members and $15 for non-members at the door, cash only.  Parking on Sundays is at a reduced rate at specified lots close to the Hard Rock.

We have been accepting applications and will have 12 acts competing.  The Youth acts will perform first, then the Solo/Duo acts, then the Bands.  We will be in the Hard Rock’s state of the art music room and servers will be taking orders for food & drink and a full bar is in the same room.  The winners will win the following prize money to help with their trip to Memphis:

  • Band – $750
  • Solo/Duo – $300
  • Youth – $400

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 when 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.

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

Visit our website for more information about The Atlanta Blues Society and the Atlanta Blues Challenge:

 

http://atlantabluessociety.org/

https://www.facebook.com/events/1244492125562336/

 

Posted in blues, Music, Uncategorized

This weekend: Love and blues all around Atlanta


This weekend is all about love with Valentines Day on Sunday, and the blues have a whole lot to say about love, good, bad and potential. The re are a whole lot of options for taking your loved ones out to hear the blues, too. If you don’t have a sweetheart, show some love for your friends or love yourself and take yourself out to hear one of these great shows!

Aside from our always awesome locals, my recommendations for this week are Anders Osborne at Center Stage and The Scissormen at Darwin’s. Yes, I know they are on the same night in different places. You have to figure that one out. I;m going to see The Scissormen but I love Anders Osborne too

Friday

George Hughley is at Blind Willie’s and Dark buy i loe Water Rising is at Darwin’s in Marietta. Sole Traelers are at Fat Matt’s and The Larry Griffith Band is at The Martini Bar in  WOodstock. Escape Velocity is at Moon Shadow Tavern in Tucker and Mike Veal appears at Napoleon’s Grill in Decatur. Ralph Ellis joins THe Breeze Kings at Northside Tavern and Barry Richman is at Subourbon Social Club and Bar in Kennesaw.

Saturday

Ted Drokowski’s Scissormen are at Darwin’s and Sandra Hall is at Blind Willie’s. Seminole Jackson is at Fat Matt’s and Tribute is taThe Alamo in Newnan. .Anders Osborne appears at Center Stage with Amy Helm and he Handsome Strangers.. The Breeze Kings are at Durango Wood Fire Grill in Duluth and Garrett Collins & Brooks Mason are at Monkey’s Uncle in Griffin. The Rainmen are at Napoleon’s grill and Ike Stubblefield & rriends are at Northside Tavern. The Larry Griffith Band is at The Painted Pin .Roger “Hurricane” Wilson is at Subourbon Bar in Kennesaw from 5 to 8 pm and The Retro-Rockets are at the VFW in Lawrenceville. The Vintage Boogie Band has a Valentine’s party at Red’s Timbers in Smyrna.

Sunday

Diane Durrett & Junebug Massey are at acoustics at Oaks End, whch is taking place at The Amerrican Legion Post 160 in Smyrna.  The Billy George Duo hosts the blues brunch at Cypress Street Pint & Plate. and Stephen “Blues Dude” Duncan is at Fat Matt’s. Uncle Sugar is at Northside Tavern and Highlands Bar & Grill has a blues jam in Marietta.

That’s it! Happy Valentine’s Day, I love you, and keep on bluesin’!

P.S. If you would like to show me a little love, my new book Southern Crossroads: Georgia Blues is available on Amazon and for Kinle or ask me about it if you see me around town!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Voo Davis – “Midnight Mist”

Voo Davis was born in Alabama and moved to Chicago as a child. Although he is based in Chicago now, the South obviously has filled a huge part of his soul. His voice evokes Joe Cocker and other growly-voiced rockers and the sound may have a bit of Chicago grit but it has large doses of classic Southern rock and blues. Add evocative lyrics that make you see and feel that midnight mist and hear and experience the sounds and sights of Clarkesdale, Mississippi and the Cajun country of Louisiana and the Alabama coast and you have a fantastic musical journey

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