Posted by: Raymond Docherty | March 10, 2010

Out of the Past Comes “Valleys of Neptune”

On Tuesday March 9th, 2010, Jimi Hendrix released a new CD. 42 years after his 3rd studio record the demo version of what would probably have been his 4th studio recording arrived. The music was created mostly in 1969, the year after “Electric Ladyland” was put out. Hendrix was experimenting with sounds as usual and was even playing around with some of his well known classics.

The new cd contains some re-interpretations of well know Hendrix tunes such as “Fire”, “Stone Free” and “Red House”. There is also an instrumental cover of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” While they all are unique versions of these tunes for me “Red House” is the only song that equals the originals. The others, while interesting are missing something and feel incomplete.

The title track “Valleys of Neptune” sounds like a finished Hendrix tune that was waiting to be placed on an album. This one is classic Hendrix and wouldn’t have seemed out of place on any of his previous collections.

There is quite a strong bluesy feel to the music on “Valleys.” From the extended jam of “Red House” to Elmore James’ “Bleeding Heart” to “Hear My Train A Comin'”, Hendrix proved himself to be quite fluent with blues. In fact, Hendrix was a huge fan of Buddy Guy who was doing the feedback thing long before Hendrix ever thought about it and also he was influenced greatly by Guitar Shorty who was married to Jimi’s aunt and lived in Tacoma near the Hendrix’s. These men are both ultimate showmen and a lot of Jimi’s stage antics can be traced directly to both of them.

Unlike many posthumous releases where the music is not up to par, the sound quality is bad and the only idea is capitalising on the name of the deceased artist there is some really great music here. Some that is rough copy of unfinished ideas of what may have been and some that just isn’t up to Hendrix’s legendary status. This is to be expected, as if it had been a finished work it would have been released way back when. Having said that though, stating something isn’t up to Jimi’s incredible standard is like comparing one of Da Vinci’s unfinished paintings to the Mona Lisa. This is a look into the process of Hendrix building songs for an unrealised record.

This is better than many of the records coming out these days and the fact that it won’t be considered Jimi’s best doesn’t make it not worth owning. There is enough here to please anyone that enjoys good music and for Hendrix fans it is an absolute no-brainer.

Posted by: Raymond Docherty | March 9, 2010

Some Notable New Blues Releases For March 2010

Every new month brings some great new blues music. The fact that we have so many potential great releases each month goes a long way to proving the genre is not only still alive but very healthy. This month is no exception.

There are always some new artists that come along and surprise but this post will just highlight some well known artists with new cd’s arriving this month.

Black Rock

First up we have Joe Bonamassa with a new record called “Black Rock” named after the studio in Greece where it was recorded. The record contains a guest appearance by BB King on Willie Nelson’s “Night Life”, covers from song writers such as John Hiatt, Leonard Cohen, Jeff beck, Otis Rush and Blind Boy Fuller, with the rest of the tunes being originals. Bonamassa said: “It’s the kind of record Kevin (Kevin Shirley, producer) and I wanted to make.  We needed to rock again a bit like on my first album”.  The cd release date is March 23rd.

Bare Knuckle

Showman Guitar Shorty, who was known for many stage theatrics such as doing flips and standing on his head while playing the guitar when he was younger, will be putting out “Bare Knuckles” this month too. Shorty (nee David Kearney) is back with his usual muscular riffs and passionate vocals  on a batch hard-rocking tunes, that address everything from the stimulus package for the economy to Iraq War veterans. Available now.

I Want It All Back

With Keb Mo producing and guest appearances by Rod Piazza and his wife Honey Piazza, Coco Montoya’s “I Want It All Back” is sure to please. This album will be a slight departure in that the emphasis is on the vocals. In the past Montoya used his singing as way to get to his guitar playing. This album the vocals are being given equal time and as Montoya says “People know where I’m at with the guitar, but here the vocals are being concentrated on. There will certainly be guitar, but the focus has been on song structure and my vocals. Release date is March 23.

Feed My Soul

The Holmes Brothers faced adversity when Wendell was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. Through faith and family Wendell prevailed over the disease. With the victory the band returned to record “Feed My Soul”,  produced by their longtime friend and collaborator Joan Osborne. The songs deal with everything the boys have gone through over the last couple years.This record is a testament to fighting through tough times and being able to overcome through the help of family, friends and will. Available now.

Better Off Now

The Kilborn Alley Blues Band is back with “Better Off Now.” One of the best young blues bands out there the Kilborn’s recently won the Sean Costello Rising Star of the Blues Award. The Kilborn Alley Blues Band does gritty Chicago blues and southern fried soul to great effect. This new cd is highly anticipated and should help continue to fuel their rise to blues fame. Due march 16th.

Shake For Me

“Shake For Me” is the fifth record for the Mannish Boys and continues the path that the band has chosen since their first album. With an ever changing line-up of musicians the Boys are putting together some of the best blues records of the past few years. Great musicianship with a healthy does of tradition in everything they do they also have a great cast of guests for this cd. Such as Rod Piazza, Mike Zito, Mitch Kashmar, Arthur Adams, Kid Ramos, and Nick Curran. Coming on March 16th.

Valleys Of Neptune

And last but certainly not least and probably the biggest surprise in awhile is that there is new Jimi Hendrix music on the way. “Valleys of Neptune” is due out on the 9th of March. The majority of the tracks were recorded in early 1969, following the release of Electric ladyland in September 1968. Mainly self-produced, Hendrix was working on songs for his (never released) fourth album. This cd contains 12 previously unreleased studio recordings, including the title track, which is a tune that is highly sought by collectors of Hendrix’s music.

Posted by: Raymond Docherty | February 24, 2010

Goin’ to Mississippi

I’m going down to Mississippi
I’m going down a southern road
And if you never see me again
Remember that I had to go….

I haven’t been writing in here nearly as much as I wanted to lately but it seems that most of my computer time recently has been devoted to a major project in Second Life. Cidnee Cooperstone, Ann Bluxome and I have been creating a new blues club called the Riverside. This project is in conjunction with Powell Goodman and Lee Marchant’s development of a Mississippi Delta themed sim, which conveniently enough is called Mississippi Delta Blues. Our two groups are working together to build what we hope is the premier blues sim in Second Life.

There are a lot of really good blues clubs and sims in Second Life but none quite had the flavour that we were looking for so we decided to go our own way. There were many things we discussed when we were dreaming up our project but some of the things we decided were that we wanted a sim that made you see, feel and hear the blues when you arrived, a place that had the look and the aura of blues country. We also wanted what we thought would be a very open and welcoming atmosphere combined with the best DJs and hosts we could find. One of the main things strangely enough is that we wanted a blues club that played blues and while that does sound rather obvious I don’t know how many times I have gone into different blues places in Second Life and heard Nickelback or Metallica. Nothing against those bands but they aren’t blues.  Maybe it’s just me but when people decide to visit a blues club I think they want to hear blues. I know I do.

So about 3 to 4 months ago we had our first meeting and the wish list was written. We set about shaping what we wanted the sim to look like. We had many discussions and it seemed like we would never finalise our ideas but slowly and surely it took shape.

We spent many of those early days searching. We were searching for the right idea, the right look, the right DJ, the right host and generally the right path. After a few missteps and wrong directions we started to find our way. We hired some of our first DJs ( BluJns Benoir, Filo Tani, Bear Rasmuson, MoonMaiden Horner & Reverend Quar) and Ann had hired some hosts (Aelia Ceriano and Zara Mistwalker). We started to get a framework of what the club and area around it would look like. We went shopping for the best dances. This resulted in some very large laugh fests for Cid and I. We bought furniture and decorations all with a somewhat obscure theme in our minds. We seemed to know what we wanted even if we had no idea how it would fit together at this point.

There were days where I had some doubts if it would ever come together totally in the early stages as we were working together yet separately with Powell and Lee. Yet, one day when I was finishing up putting the Riverside club together and Cidnee was helping me with the texturing it all seemed to come clear as the place suddenly had the unmistakable flavour and feel that we wanted. I knew then that we could have a very cool build.

Ann contributed the fish fry place and the gas station which really helped to complete the atmosphere of the Riverside. There were plenty more little rural flourishes that were added but now that we had the main components they were easy to find and fit right in.

As we continued to tinker with the smaller things the Grand Opening celebration was rapidly approaching. We decided we wanted a dry run so we planned on having a pre-opening party for our friends. We invited all the people that we had come to love and rely on as our friends in Second Life. Some brought friends with them and it turned out to be such a great night for us as some of the new people we met (Mac Ronas & Xavia Palmira) ended up working with us as well. Having all of our favourite avatars there made it very special for us and was really a success for us just being able to open the doors for our friends.

With the opening in one week, we only had a handful of DJs and even less hosts so Cid and I scouted for DJs while Ann went looking for hosts. Thankfully we managed to find a couple of each that final week before we opened. As luck would have it our friend Artiste Ibanez chose that week to come back from a long absence from Second Life. I immediately cornered him with an offer to DJ for us. We also lucked into a great host when Piffy Difference was paired with me at Hotlanta Blues Club. We found Hannah Volare that week too although at first she wasn’t sure she wanted to work at the Riverside, but thankfully we won her over.

On Saturday, January 16th the Sim opened to great success with Lee and Powell hiring Saint Skytower and SRV4U da Blues Preacher who played the first show’s at the Cotton Field Stage a neat open air venue in the middle of a tall cotton plantation. It was the perfect opening to the Mississippi Delta and attracted a great crowd of friends and new faces. At one point I believe we had 53 avatars on the sim.

Then, finally, the moment Cidnee, Ann and I had waited almost 3 months for arrived. The Riverside was open. I was the DJ in my own club and it was really quite a thrill. All in all it was a wonderful day and evening. We had about 30 plus avatars in the house all night and a great time. We had many old friends and familiar faces drop in to make the night very special and we had plenty of new faces that we hope become frequent guests. By the end of the night I know that Cid, Ann and I were happy, satisfied and exhausted. It was a good tired though.

Thanks to all of our friends that attended. Thanks to all the new faces too. All of you made the night very special.

Posted by: Raymond Docherty | January 19, 2010

Sean Costello, Overlooked and Underappreciated.

It’s been almost 2 years since Sean Costello’s “We Can Get Together was released. It was his final recording, and now Sean has been gone over a year and a half. Sadly, we have lost a fascinating blues guitar player and an interesting singer to boot. Sadder still, he was only 29 and as “We Can Get Together”, his final recording, attested was only just starting to hit his stride.

Blessed with the ability to play it any way you wanted, Sean showed so much versatility and maturity in his playing. In one instance rockin’ the blues with a real crunchy guitar tone on the title track, in another showing a gospel side on the very sad “Going Home” and in still another showing us how soulful he could be with “Have You No Shame.” This record just continues to grow in stature for me and is slowly becoming one of my very favourites.

Sean was born and raised in Atlanta. He picked up the guitar at age nine and by fourteen years old he won the Beale Street Blues Society’s talent award beating out another huge talent in Susan Tedeschi. The two later combined to record her debut “Just Won’t Burn”. He provided guitar on that record and then played lead guitar on tour for her, staying with her band for a couple years.

He released his first record “Call the Cops”, in 1996 at the age of seventeen but it wasn’t til he released “Cuttin’ In” that he started to really get noticed. It ended up in Costello getting a Best New Artist WC Handy Award nomination for his efforts. He released two more cd’s in between that one and “We Can Get Together.”

Sadly, on April 15, 2008, just two months after the release of that album and a day before his 29th birthday, Costello was found dead in a local Atlanta hotel room A subsequent toxicology report found the cause of death to be a mixture of drugs including heroin. Sean suffered from Bi-polar syndrome and his website has been transformed into a fund raising site for the disorder.

Listening to his final release, it is not hard to wonder if the overdose was a result of his disorder. If you hear him sing the words to “Going Home” it makes it hard not to think he wasn’t telling us something.

“Soon I will be done
With the troubles of this world
I am going home
To live with God
I am gonna meet
my mother over there
I am going home
To live with God”

Sean will be missed.

Posted by: Raymond Docherty | October 3, 2009

Tommy Castro’s “Hard Believer”

blues entry logoTommy Castro’s 11th album is his first for Alligator Records. “Hard Believer” is more of the same horn-driven blues the Castro has been recording since he released his debut “No Foolin'” back in 1994. However, it is his best record since “Right as Rain” which appeared ten years ago.

Castro’s music has always been blues-based with a big helping of sweaty R&B mixed in. Castro is one of the best blues singers, guitarists and live performers out there as his award for Blues Music Entertainer Of The Year for 2008 will attest.


Castro's first release for Alligator Records is "Hard Believer".

This effort starts out strong with “Definition of Insanity” a funky groove about two people who keep trying to make a bad relationship work without success. Castro sings “Is it love or madness the reason we’re together tonight? You know where it’s headed baby. We’re in for a terrible fight.”

“It Is What It Is” is covered in tribute to Stephen Bruton who passed away shortly before this record was released. The cd is dedicated to Bruton. “Monkey’s Paradise” reminds one of some classic 60’s R&B.  The best track on the album is “Trimmin’ Fat” which looks at today’s bleak economy from a musician’s point of view.

Castro also serves up  covers of  Bob Dylan, Wilson Pickett, Allen Toussaint and the Righteous Brothers’ “My Babe”. Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody” is played with a real sweaty intensity and is a highlight.

This record sounds like it fell out of a time capsule. It could have come out of the late 60’s early 70’s Stax Records catalog. “Hard Beliver” is all about the grooves which are plentiful and tasty and combine with Castro’s best vocals in some time to make for a smokin’ record. This isn’t a blues release really as it’s strongest elements are it’s soul and R&B tones but there is a lot of blues mixed within as well. Alligator has a winner with Castro’s first release for them.

Posted by: Raymond Docherty | September 10, 2009

Some Notable Blues Releases For September 2009

Every month brings new music in the blues world. Some have great expectation attached to them and many are unheralded but a music fan like myself is always hoping to find that next great record. So with no further ado lets take a look at some of the more notable records arriving this month.

Jeff-Healey-SONGSUp first, is one of my all time favourite guitar players, Jeff Healey, and the fact he is Canadian like me is especially nice. “Songs From The Road” is an album of unreleased live tracks are highlights from his 2006 performance at Norway’s Nottoden Blues Festival, plus 2007 gigs in London and Toronto (the latter at his home-town club, the Jeff Healey Roadhouse).  This record arrives about 18 months after his passing and the last of these recordings were made a year before he passed away in March of 2008 so any new music from Healey is a gift and live music was where he shone brightest. At the end of the closing song, “Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me,” you can hear Jeff saying “That was fun, and that’s what it’s all about.”

John-Mayall-TOUGHJohn Mayall will be releasing “Tough” this month. In the 44 years since his first record release and at almost 76 years old, this is John Mayall’s 57th official album. Wow! He has more records than I have years. Mayall is a jack of all trades on this outing. He produces,and  plays keyboards, guitar, and harmonica as well as singing. The record also features a young musician out of Austin named Rocky Athas who will maybe the next in the long line of brilliant guitar players that Mayall has employed. Mayall has an ear for guitar talent too, as Eric Clapton, Peter Green, and Mick Taylor joined his band in  succession in the mid-’60s, before going on to join Cream, Fleetwood Mac, and the Rolling Stones, respectively.

Aynsley-Lister-EQUILIBRIUMAynsley Lister is young blues-rocker out of the UK with 6 records to his name. “Equilibrium” will be his 7th and has been out overseas since March. If you aren’t familiar with him yet you will be soon I am sure. The guy is a damn good guitar player and a great singer to boot. His music has generally been in the blues-rock arena in the past. This one seems to have gone in a more rock direction and doesn’t have a lot of blues here. Funny thing but his cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” is a tune that does get more of a blues treatment.

Mike-Zito-PEARLMike Zito’s first record “Today” for Eclecto Groove Records was a critical success. Following that just over a year later is “Pearl River” a CD that had Zito entered into Piety Street Studios located in New Orleans, Louisiana in early June with a collection of songs inspired by the city’s rich musical heritage. Guest appearances by such as Cyrille Neville and Anders Osborne give the record more authenticity. At times, to my ears anyway, his voice sounds a lot like Jonny Lang’s and has a real soul blues feel. Hopefully this one will be as good as “Today”.

Sean-Costello-SEANSSean Costello is the second young blues artist to have a posthumous release this month. Sadly, on April 15, 2008, just two months after the release of “We Can Get Together” and a day before his 29th birthday, Costello was found dead in a local Atlanta hotel room. He suffered from bi-polar syndrome. If you visit his website it is now called The Sean Costello Memorial Fund For Bipolar Research. If you want to contribute part of the proceeds from the sales of Sean’s Blues will go to the fund. “Sean’s Blues” is a collection of  5 songs taken from his 2 Landslide Records releases and 12 previously unavailable tracks.

Corey-Harris-BLUCorey Harris is also back this month with “” a collection of fourteen original songs – primarily blues and reggae, but with a little bit of everything thrown in. Corey Harris has earned a reputation as one of the few contemporary bluesmen able to go back into the  blues past and yet add something different to them. He’s no traditionalist, mixing influences in his music as varied as New Orleans to the Caribbean to Africa.  Harris says, “The story that I want to tell is that we who have had the experience of coming from parents who came from the south, whose parent were poor and the children of slaves – we can take this music and make something new with it,”

Posted by: Raymond Docherty | September 5, 2009

Watermelon Slim: Escape from the Chicken Coop. A Short Review

blues entry logoI think I should say I am a big fan of Watermelon Slim before I go any further. I have enjoyed his last two records immensely. They were both deeply rooted in the delta blues and he has an unmistakable, original sound which in this day and age is hard to find.

m98834szrq8“Escape From the Chicken Coop” is a change in direction for Slim. He left his band, the Workers, behind and headed to Nashville. There, he recorded a country album that is an homage to the truck driving lifestyle. A life he knows well as he drove truck for many years before finally deciding to move into music full time a few years back. I am not a country fan and hearing that he had recorded a country record I was ready to not like it. I decided to give it a chance,  and I will say that I think Slim’s voice is a country voice if I ever heard one.

WatermelonSlimThis is not really the flavour of record that I look forward to when I hear Slim has a new cd coming out. Having said that there are enough of the familiar elements of Slim’s music for the blues fan. There are a few good good songs here. “Caterpillar Whine”, “Wreck on the Highway’ and “Should Have Done More” could probably have fit in on his previous records. In fact, many of these songs could have been given a blues treatment but truck driving has long been the territory of country music.

“The Way I Am”, “300 Miles” are a bit too country for me. “Skinny Women and Fat Cigars” is a fun tune. “It’s Never Too Hard to Be Humble” is a song about the state of Slim’s truck compared to some drivers, and really has no relevance to my life.

This being a short review, I will sum up by saying that I enjoyed some of this cd. If I was a country fan this would probably rate much higher but the fact that I prefer blues to country put this record sort of in the middle for me. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Posted by: Raymond Docherty | August 24, 2009

Little Willie John: Small Wonder

Today a blues performer may play delta blues, Chicago blues, soul, blues-rock and R&B among other forms of music but back in the day most performers didn’t genre hop too much. So the variety that we can hear on a blues artists record today, that can cover all of those tastes, wasn’t really available many years ago. If you’re like me you probably like all those genres just mentioned. I particularly enjoy early R&B. So it is probably no surprise then that I would like some of the performers that specialised in predominantly R&B, and little blues. One of the best of those early R&B performers was Little Willie John.

Little Willie John, was perhaps the most overlooked of the great R&B artists, due to the fact that he passed away at the age of 30. He wasn’t with us very long. Nicknamed “Little” for his height and age, the barely five-foot-tall John, a small man with a huge, extremely expressive voice, had his first big record at the age of 18.  He had a very strong influence on the singers that followed and his passionate vocals were a lead up to the soul music that emerged in the sixties. He never received the same amount of credit but Little Willie John has to be included in the group that includes Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and James Brown.

He was born William Edward John in Cullendale, Arkansas, on November 15, 1937. His family moved to Detroit when he was a child. Like many from that time, John began his singing career in a church choir. His family also formed a gospel quintet called The United Four. He sang in his family’s group for a time but he would soon make his own way. Musical talent ran in the family. Mabel John, his sister, was one of Ray Charles’ backup singers, the Raelettes. She had a hit for Stax Records called, “Your Good Thing (Is About to End),” in 1966. John’s son, Keith, was long time background singer with Stevie Wonder.

At the age of 14 he won a talent contest in Detroit sponsored by Johnny Otis. However, Hank Ballard was the only performer signed to a record contract that night. John also sang with Count Basie and Duke Ellington in his early teenage years. When he was 16, he recorded a Christmas album, but it was unsuccessful.

He got a break when Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams took John on tour with his orchestra. However, John was a little out of control. Williams had no patience for that side of his singer and he fired John. The buzz that John had created would soon lead to his discovery by King Records’ Henry Glover. When King Records finally signed John in 1955, he didn’t disappoint and quickly had a hit with his debut recording, a cover of Titus Turner’s “All Around the World” (also known as “Grits Ain’t Groceries), that hit number six on the R&B charts. “Need Your Love So Bad,” was another song that charted for the young singer. Before he turned 18, he’d already had 3 R&B top 10’s. From 1956 to 1961, Little Willie John had fourteen hits each on the R&B charts and on the pop charts.

It wasn’t until 1956 that he recorded his most popular hit, “Fever,” co-written with Eddie Cooley. “Fever” was recorded on March 1 in Cincinnati. John was the first person to record the tune, which went #1 on the R&B charts and garnered significant airplay on pop radio as well. To promote “Fever”, John performed on tour with his own revue, featuring James Brown and his Famous Flames as the opening act.  “Fever“ would become one of the most covered tunes of all time. Most of the artists who covered the song had bigger hits, especially Peggy Lee, whose cover in 1958 made her a star and used John’s familiar arrangement. Other artists that covered the song were as varied as the McCoys, Rita Coolidge and Madonna who covered it in 1992 on her Erotica album.

Then 6 months later, Sufferin’ With The Blues was released, and was another huge success and foreshadowed the advent of soul music. Through 1958 and 1959 he had a string of hits, such as; “Talk To Me, Talk To Me”, “You Hurt Me” and “I’m Shakin”.

In 1959 he hit both the R&B and pop charts with “Leave My Kitten Alone,” which was written by John and Titus Turner, and later recorded by the Beatles and intended for their “Beatles For Sale” album, but it went unreleased until 1995.  A cover version of “I Need Your Love So Bad” by Fleetwood Mac was also a big hit in Europe. John, unlike many other African-American artists, crossed over to the pop charts regularly.

John saw great success in his professional career, but his personal life was a mess. After the release of “Take My Love,” his last hit, the lack of attention began to affect him and his behaviour worsened. He was an alcoholic with a taste for violence, and it was not uncommon for him to carry a knife or a gun. By the end of 1962, his releases would go nowhere, mainly because his label was saddling him with subpar material. His alcoholism was becoming a problem, and when he left King Records in 1963, his life went downhill from there.

In 1964, at a party in Seattle after one of his shows, John got into a fight that would change his life with an ex-convict over something as trivial as the man stealing a chair from one of the women John was with. During the scuffle, John fatally stabbed the man. Two years later, in May of 1966, he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to up to 20 years in the Washington State Prison in Walla Walla. He appealed his conviction and was released while the case was reconsidered.  He recorded what was intended to be his comeback album during this time, but it was not released until 2008 (as Nineteen Sixty Six). Ultimately his appeal failed, and he was admitted to the prison on July 6, 1966. He never walked out of jail. Two years into his term, Little Willie John died May 26, 1968 at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington. The cause of John’s death is uncertain. The official cause is listed as a heart attack, though some report he died of pneumonia or asphyxiation.

John became a star at a very young and he died young too. He left a legacy though and his music was one of the primary influences of all the great R&B and soul singers that followed. To understand the importance of Little Willie John you need to remember that James Brown and his Famous Flames once opened for John in 1956 and 1957. The ‘Godfather of Soul’ regarded Little Willie John as one of his role models. Shortly after John passed away, Brown recorded a tribute album, “Thinking of Little Willie John and a Few Nice Things.” He also said: “Please do not forget the man I was opening for in 1956 and 1957”.

Although still relatively unknown to most people, is there anyone out there who doesn’t know the song “Fever?” In 1996, John was inducted by Stevie Wonder into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and his place in music history was secured.

Posted by: Raymond Docherty | August 14, 2009

Notable Blues Releases for August 2009

blues entry logoAugust is shaping up to be a very interesting month with many prominent blues artists putting out new albums. One of the things I love about music is knowing that a favourite artist is working on a new record and the anticipation that comes with that. There is a lot to anticipate this month so hopefully we have a few new great additions to the blues catalog.


Up first is “Unspoiled By Progress” from Walter Trout. Released on the 4th “Unspoiled” is kind of a retrospective celebrating 20 years of recording. It contains three new songs and others collected from the span of his career.


Watermelon Slim has a new one coming out on the 4th as well called “Escape From the Chicken Coop.” This one is a slight detour from his usual path as it has a bit more of a country flavour and he is without his normal band the workers for this outing.


Tommy Castro releases “Hard Believer” on the 11th. It’s his first recording for Alligator Records and the 11th of his career. It promises to be another in a string of really solid records from Castro with lots of blues, rock and r&b mixed in.


Robert Cray appears for the first time in 4 years with a new studio effort called “This Time”. This time he produced the record and this time he has a new band. The album contains 9 new songs all in his familiar soul-blues style.


Guitar wizard Robben Ford finally delivers a live record with “Soul On Ten” which has 8 live cuts and 2 studio recordings. Ford is known for being a great purveyor of blues, jazz and rock.


Delbert McClinton returns with his 13th studio album, “Acquired Taste”. He is another one with his first effort in over four years. The album continues in McClinton’s vein of Texas roadhouse music.


Last but definitely not least, is a record from Dani Wilde which was released in Europe a year ago to great reviews. The 20-something guitar player and singer’s album will finally get it’s North American release and we will get to see what all the fuss was about.

Posted by: Raymond Docherty | August 12, 2009

Blue-Eyed Roots

blues entry logoI discovered Eric Lindell’s 2008 release “Low on Cash, Rich in Love” about six months ago and it never strays very far from my playlist now. Seems like I am always listening to it.  It’s nice to find a younger artist that is not just capable of playing blue-eyed soul but who brings a conviction and an authenticity to the music. This is music with a timeless yet fresh feel. Above all it’s about songs and this record is loaded with them. Good ones.

Lindell was born in 1969 in San Mateo, CA and grew up in the area. He learned his trade by playing in bars around Sonoma County. On his way up he won the John Lennon Songwriting Competition with a song called “Kelly Ann.” Lindell eventually relocated to New Orleans where he formed his current band. Lindell left New Orleans two years ago, around the time he got sober. He now lives in Pensacola, Fla.


Eric Lindell at the 8x10 Club in Baltimore, MD. on June 10, 2007.

He reminds me, at times, of Van Morrison in the way that he combines so many genres of music effortlessy and makes them sound like they were always meant to be together. While it would be a stretch to call this a blues record it definitely has some of the flavour of the blues in it. This is probably best called a roots album. It has elements of blues, rock, soul and even some gospel all built on a foundation of the New Orleans sound.

The record has a laidback sound and yet at the same time you find yourself tapping your toes, bobbing your head and singing along. It has a sense of being released in the early 70’s and yet sounds completely original. This is a sign of a great artist in that he can take something familiar and comfortable and make you think you are hearing it for the first time.

“Low on Cash” is Lindell’s second release for Alligator Records. His first record for the label was “Change in the Weather” a collection of previously released material so in reality this is Lindell’s first release for Alligator. It’s a helluva debut too. This is a party album. Much of  it is horn-driven which provides the album with loping momentum carrying you from one song to the next.


It starts off with what is probably the strongest track of the set called “Lay Back Down”. “Tried and True” brings back memories of Sam Cooke-type arrangements. “It’s a Pity”, a funky mover, sings about his then home of New Orleans, post Katrina. Throughout the cd Lindell’s gritty yet soulful voice draws you in, his great harmonica playing and solid guitar work aid in that effort but the real star is the songwriting.

Lindell wrote all the songs on this record but one. “Lady Day and John Coltrane” was written by Gil Scott-Heron but fits right in with the overall sound of the album. “All Night Long” and “Josephine” and the title track with it’s funky New Orleans rhythm are other highlights.

This is an artist to take seriously. Lindell is a great singer who writes great songs that beg for repeated listens. It would be hard to give this album anything but top marks. This record needs to be considered as one of the very best roots or blues releases in the last few years.

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