Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sitting in Buddy Guy's darkened blues club, Legends, while enjoying the Big Bayou Blue Plate and checking my notes, various conversations drifted past. It was the night of the IBC regional finals. Only three of the eleven acts would be making the trip to Beale Street in January, including the single youth entry. They were to be judged by an impressive list of "Who's Who in Blues," albeit all male, on "Talent, Vocal, Blues Content, Stage Presence and Originality" according to The Blues Foundation.
Several hours later, I came away with three observations:
- First, anyone from Chicago can be proud of the quality of talented artists that stepped on stage;
- Second, at the risk of sounding sophomoric, after the initial disappointment for those who wouldn't compete, came the realization that the success, was not about who performed best with such close votes on that particular evening;
- And, third, I can't imagine not writing about them in the near future. There were no losers in Legends, at least that performed. The musicians who played on stage are not the future of Chicago Blues. They are indeed the present.
Three acts competed in the solo/duo category, each with a vastly different style from each other. First up was Southsider Diamond Jim Greene, who demonstrated his wonderful storytelling in the tradition of fine Delta Masters. Watching him play his guitars, I became acutely aware of my ignorance, and wondered how I had missed such a talent. I will go see him again. And again. And you should too.
Nigel Mack, was also impressive, managing to play harmonica and guitar at the same time, and maintain an engaging stage presence. He did well with Willie Dixon and Robert Johnson as well as his own original song which will be on his upcoming CD, Chicago Bound. That will make the Christmas list here. Originally from Canada, Nigel has been in the area since 2003. He, too, is on the must see list.
Last, Matt Hendricks with Bill Curtiss on drums, gave an outstandingly solid performance. I usually can place a dialect, but not his. His song Crawdaddy and If You See Me were clearly marks of exceptional songwriting talent. A modest man, he told the crowd after accepting the award, "I'll make you proud in Memphis." I suspect he will do just that. You can spend New Year's Eve with him at Legends, if you want to see him sooner.
I found myself wishing we could send three.
As if deciding between those apples and oranges wasn't hard enough, the bands were even more diverse. The $15 cover charge, which goes to help defray costs to the winners, was well worth the chance to see all of the performers.
First up was Dave Herrero. It was my first time seeing him, and I liked what I saw. Dave had excellent crowd involvement and the air of a true entertainer. Not only did the words, playful and fun describe him, so did, savvy and intuitive. I nearly spit out my sweet tea however, when he educated the crowd on his ethnic composition. I love a musician who can make me laugh. Dave has a couple other things going for him as well. Uncle Felix on the bass, a drummer whose name I didn't catch, and a new CD. Add another to the shopping list. You can catch his Austin to Chicago CD on cdbaby.com. It is described as "A vintage Texas blues sound with a modern twist." But go see him live, you won't be sorry.
Next was Linsey Alexander delivering an interesting set. He is cut from a similar cloth to many of my personal favorites, I enjoyed the set, up until the last song and comment. He ended it doing a cover of The Marshall Tucker Band's "Can't You See?" because there were so many "Caucasion faces in the crowd." I have to ask, if my skin had been darker, would we have got a better song? It certainly isn't one that's listed on his CDs. But, I really can't hold one song choice against him, at least for long. I would hire him, if I could afford him.
Toronzo Cannon was, well I can't reprint my notes, because I used a word that gets censored a lot. But let's just say, he was fricking fantastic. Four members, all energetic, original music, worked the crowd. He is at Blue Chicago on November 27 and 28 with Big Time Sarah. Start a new black friday tradition, his CD My Woman,should fit any blues lover's christmas stocking.
The Alex Wilson Band was one of the most exciting surprises of the night. Matthew and Marc Wilson along with Alex, delivered true "Red, Hot, Smokin' Blues" and yet there was something completely fresh including original songwriting. I had the sense of a new voice in blues, one that would appeal not to just those of the blues rock fervor, but to those of the next generation of blues fans. Look for the "The Moon is Shining" from their Tell Me Why CD. If you want to catch them in Chicago, check them out on 12/12/09 at the Bluegrass and Blues Festival according to their website.
Rockin' Johnny added yet another dimension of blues with a style that blended from folk blues to rockabilly and back. The words "Modern King of the Chicago Westside Blues Guitar" have been coined on such sites as Myspace. Johnny had two CD releases in the late 1990's - Man's Temptation and Straight Out Of Chicago. I want to see him in six months, my guess is, he will be better than he was before taking a break from the scene.
The woman of the night, was Grana Louise. At 56, dressed to the nines, she tossed her shoes early on, and belted out blues as only a true "Mojo Mama" can. Her song, Big Fat Daddy, from her Generations CD brought smiles and laughs to the crowd. Grana also managed to evoke crowd participation, as she moved into an acapella number. She has the ability to wander into soul and gospel territory and back to ribald blues women. Just like the city she will represent,she is diverse, larger than life, and one suspects, has a big heart.
Who will be found to be the best unsigned blues band at the 26th International Blues Challenge? The band, that garners the most votes, based upon who plays the best from Jan. 20 - 23 in Memphis.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
The International Blues Challenge is one of my favorite events, as it helps to launch many relatively unknown talents, who have worked hard to be recognized. I began taking note of Fiona Boyes when she became an IBC winner in 2003. As a one time listener of ABS internet radio, her upbeat friendly voice could be heard coming to you from Melbourne, Australia. Recently, I had the fortune of seeing Fiona on at least three separate occasions. I also had the unexpected pleasure of having lunch with the finger picking guitarist extraordinaire, and her husband, Steve, The Preacherman, who is ordained and has an interesting story to tell as well. Between the two of them, they make a team that works in the industry.
Her first release was in 1997. Since then, she has put out three more. The third CD, "Cure What Ails Ya," is what launched The Laurie Morvan Band and brought them well deserved recognition in not only the media, but by advancing as a finalist in two separate categories at the 2008 IBC awards in Memphis.
Her newest release, "Fire It Up," promises to be her best. Twelve original songs, written by her, backed by her band, and delivered with the feeling a Midwestern native can evoke. Songs include; Lay Your Hands, Let Me Carry Your Troubles, Come On Over To My BBQ, Livin' in a Mans World, and Cafe Boogaloo, named after a real juke joint. Laurie noted on the cruise, that since there were so many songs dedicated to "Big Legged Women" that she felt Skinny Chicks needed love too,and so was born yet another playful, fun original song on the CD.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Blues comes in all shapes and sizes.
There's blues for good times
and blues for hard times
Electric blues, acoustic blues,
city blues and country blues,
cold blues, hot blues,
pour yourself a shot blues.
(Courtesy of www.midnightflyerblues.com)
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
"Here's a quick and easy little blues riff played by Robert Johnson that you can learn with the help of an mp3 and tab,"exclaims Cross, using Johnson's "Little Queen of Spades" in the above link.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Louisiana Red Still "Plays the blues hard"
His Father was lynched by the Klu-Klux-Klan, his Mother died at a young age. He grew up, into an artist that to this day, uses his emotions and improvises in live performances.It's long been said that you have to live the blues in order to play them. Louisiana Red, born Iverson Minter in Bessemer, Ala., has seen more than his share of the adversity and hard times, and his songs are powerful, passionate reflections of his life.
Beth Hart, Buddy Guy, Shemekia Copeland, Joe Bonamassa, Homemade Jamz, Jools Holland, Cedric Burnside, and Robin Trower, to name but a few, will join with other talented European Blues Artists at the Notodden Blues Festival.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
1 min ago
Robert Korda Found
Noah, his son, has left information on his blog, if you would like further information. http://dirtnap13.livejournal.com/
Anyone who has information about the case is encouraged to contact LAPD's Missing Persons Unit at (213) 485-5381. During off-hours, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247). Callers may also text "Crimes" with a cell phone or log on to www.lapdonline.org and click on Web tips. When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with "LAPD." Tipsters may remain anonymous.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Police and family ask the public's help in finding Robert Alan Korda, who was last seen in Van Nuys. He was to report to work at Gower Studios in Hollywood, and never arrived.
"It's weird," his son Noah Korda said. "My father is a non-drinker, non-gambler, non-smoker...he just completely disappeared."
Noah Korda said there has been no activity on any of his father's banking or credit card accounts since he vanished and there was no reason to believe the man had been upset or distressed about anything.
Korda is white with grey hair and brown eyes and a goatee. He is 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighs about 135 pounds and wears eyeglasses.
He drives a white Geo Metro, California license plate 3GPJ453.
Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts can call the LAPD's Missing Persons Unit at (213) 485-5381 or (877) LAPD-24-7.
Friday, July 10, 2009
News from The Blues Foundation - Blues Notes
You can make a difference. Join with Bonnie and Taj to raise money for every ticket sold, on the BonTaj Roulet Tour. Then go to the above link and vote on what the Action Fund will support.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Most know this powerful American singer, for her 1979 hit, Chuck E's In Love, or her 1989 hit Makin' Whoopee, for which she won a Grammy.
Some know her as Tom Waits' lover from 1977 - 1980. (Or a year according to his biography written by Barney Hoskyns). The boho duo experienced career success at different times. As her career took off, Wait's grew emotionally distant, and the once touted next Joni Mitchell turned to heroin for comfort. Her insecurity, led her to be more dependent, and ultimately Waits made the decision to end the romance.
Drinking, drugs, a self proclaimed two year heroin addiction, and a 6 month cocaine slide after the break up, led to Pirates her second main album of what would eventually be fourteen. The Duchess of Coolsville is her Anthology album, released in 2005.
Influenced by Sarah Vaughn and Nina Simone, among many others, the talented Chicago born, Rickie Lee Jones, sang at President Clinton's Inauguration with Ratt Dog.
Rickie is still delivering original organic blues. It is rumored, Jones expects to release a new album in September. A review of her recent appearance from the Minneapolis Star Journal includes,
Personality, stubbornness, and her refusal to fit into a singular commercial classification of a musical genre, have endeared her to her cultish following, for yet another decade.
"Once she hits the stage, Rickie Lee Jones is fearless. Forget about the manic depression, the heartbreaks, the growing old."
Saturday, April 25, 2009
3 min ago
16 Hours of Free Virtual Blues Today
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Bell's name is popping up everywhere lately. As I checked through several news feeds this weekend, I also saw he is featured on The new release of Chicago Blues: A Living History (Raisin 2009) which lays down 21 tracks of authentic style Chicago Blues.
Lurrie Bell, is a second generation Chicago Blues Artist, his Father Carey Bell, was a well respected Harmonica player. This child of the blues, without a doubt, is one of our greatest guitar players of his generation. If you are in the MidWest, you can see him on Beale Street in May, and at the Chicago Blues Fest in June. He has many credits to his name. Lurrie has made the cover of Living Blues, been nominated for several awards, and they just keep coming, but my favorite memory of him, is playing with Koko Taylor.
Those are all good reasons to be a fan of Lurrie, and even check out his MySpace and peek at www.lurie.com, but beyond the mundane, is a blues artist, who knows what life is in all it's extremes. It has never been better demonstrated than in this current version of Lurrie, that makes me absolutely love him. In his new CD, Let's Talk About Love, you can hear the depth and breath of emotion as played only by a man who has felt it personally. Unfortunately, that emotion came at great cost, losing his beloved partner Susan and his Father within a three and a half month period.
Lurrie's life has not been easy. He has had great loss and sorrow and knows what it is to struggle with Mental Illness. And yet, he serves as a source of great inspiration and even courage to many, who take the time to learn his story.
His official biography, contains the following: "Music has the power to heal, to restore and empower, not only the artist but the listener as well." All I can say to that, is Amen.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
A woman once said, “Don’t threaten me with love, baby. Let’s just go walking in the rain.” Her name was Eleanora Fagan Gough and today was her birthday.
Her tale is not a new story, teenagers, having babies, and a father leaving. Trials and tribulations of single parents in poverty are well known. And no one is really surprised to find out, a child born into that scenario could have been sentenced to a Catholic Reform School at age 10. It is a plot as old as time, and continues with a move to “The Big City” to become a prostitute, and later arrested for drug possession. Perhaps a plot twist you never see coming is a benefit concert for the Associated Communist Clubs of Harlem in May of ’44, earning her an FBI file and presumed censorship regarding an anti war song. Below is her mug shot from 1947.
Of course you can guess the ending, Eleanora Fagan Gough died broke and much too soon at age 44, a heroin addict, and finally succumbing to cirrhosis of the liver. The name most recognize is Billie Holiday. What makes her story different from the thousands of similar stories is what she did between those dates of life and death; however, finding reliable sources to document that mystery is some what of a challenge. Her autobiography, “Lady Sings the Blues” contains distorted facts and tales.
What is known of Eleanora is that she sang in local
Unlike many Jazz artists of the day, Billie Holiday sang with emotional intensity, showing the influence of Blues singers, Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. Her unique sound was also influenced by her friend, “Pres” (Lester Young)as well as Louis Armstrong, whom she reportedly called “Pops.”
I owe Eleanora for changing my perceptions on music. As a teenager, I first encountered Porgy and Bess at the local community theater. I was fairly certain that anyone named George and Ira Gershwin would not have music I would like. I was wrong, “Summertime” and “Porgy” resonated with me no matter what style it was called. “Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)” and “Strange Fruit” both won Grammy recognition. The singer defied labels.
Billie’s talents also included a gift for songwriting.
- "Billie's Blues" (1936)
- "Don't Explain" (1944)
- "Everything Happens For The Best" (1939)
- "Fine and Mellow" (1939)
- "God Bless the Child" (1941)
- "Lady Sings the Blues" (1956)
- "Long Gone Blues" (1939)
- "Now or Never" (1949)
- "Our Love Is Different" (1939)
- "Stormy Blues" (1954)
Billie took it as a compliment that she was hard to classify. “Certainly, her music was rooted in the blues tradition,” observes Angela Y. Davis, author of Blues Legacies and Black Feminism.
Her accomplishments and tributes include: A Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987; A Billie Holiday postage stamp in 1994; Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000; Immortalized in 1959 by The Poet, Frank O’Hara, in ‘The Day Lady Died;” and lastly, U2’s 1988 release of Angel in Harlem, was inspired by Lady Day, as seen in the lyrics, “Lady Day’s got diamond eyes, she sees the truth behind the lies…Angel in the devils shoes, salvation in the blues.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0s-S5bLMz0
Like many creative, artistic temperaments, Billie suffered from addiction and depression. She also had her share of abusive relationships, which started at a young age. Like most great Blues Artists, her songs resonated with experience, not the “Tin Pan Ally”sound she so detested. Lady Day, took the inner strength of those experiences, and used it to transform and improvise lyrics and sounds to match the emotion of a song, common by Blues singers, uncommon for Jazz.
“Don’t threaten me with love, baby. Let’s just go walking in the rain.”
Sources: Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday (Paperback) by Angela Y. Davis, You Tube, Wikipedia, elyrics.net, ladyday.net, brainyquote.com, www.cmgww.com, Malaspina Great Books, www.findingdulcinea.com/features/profiles/h/billie-holiday.html