Saturday, June 23, 2018

Blues Blast Magazine Album Review: The Mike Eldred Trio – Baptist Town



Hello!

This CD review was originally published in the October 20, 2016 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at www.bluesblastmagazine.com

The Mike Eldred Trio – Baptist Town

Great Western Recording Company

http://mikeeldredtrio.com

http://www.greatwesternrecordingcompany.com

13 tracks / 58:18

Mike Eldred is no stranger to the guitar, as he ran Fender’s Custom Shop for many years, but he is also a masterful musician and songwriter. He has joined up with John Bazz and Jerry Angel of the Southern California’s best band that should have hit the big time, The Blasters, to form the eclectic Mike Eldred Trio. The band has released their fourth album, Baptist Town, and it a refreshing blend of Americana and blues music.

Eldred drew inspiration for this project from Baptist Town, a neighborhood in Greenwood, Mississippi that was home to many blues greats, including Robert Johnson, Honeyboy Edwards, Hubert Sumlin, Hound Dog Taylor, and many more. The poverty of Baptist Town is a stark contrast with the affluent neighborhoods of Greenwood, and this inequality has not changed much for the better since Johnson passed on in 1938.

For Baptist Town, Mike acted as producer, wrote twelve of the thirteen tracks, and provided the much of the vocals and guitars. Bazz laid down the bass parts and Jerry Angel took care of the drums, while a nifty crew of artists contributed their unique skills throughout the album. Many of the sessions took place at the birthplace of rock and roll, the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee (about 125 miles north of Greenwood).

Baptist Town is not exactly the Delta nor is it Memphis, and likewise this is not a rock or a Delta blues album but rather an amalgamation of American styles, set to lyrics that speak to the social issues that are relevant to the neighborhood. There is a lot going on here, as evidenced by the opening track, “Hunder Dollar Bill,” a story of drunken misanthropy set to a driving vintage rock sound with muffled vocals and a wickedly distorted harmonica solo courtesy of Phoenix’s awesome John “Big Nick” Samora.

Three Grammy-winning guest artists each bring their own flavor to this disc, too. David Hidalgo of Los Lobos contributes his distinctive vocals and accordion to “Bess,” and the result is a thumping slice of Louisiana style. John Mayer provides the lap steel and electric guitar parts for “Roadside Shrine,” a very pretty country blues song with restrained vocals from Eldred. Yet another big name was drawn to this project, as Robert Cray brings his guitar to the title track, and his smooth leads mesh well with a slick undercurrent of riffs in this laid-back soul tune.

The songs that connect best to the community of Baptist Town are the ones that feature the Emmanuel Church Inspirational Choir and a local fellow, Jarvis Jernigan, on vocals. “Somebody Been Runnin’” is only a few minutes long, but this a capella gospel tune is powerful with wonderful back and forth between Jarvis and Mike, and the vocal harmonies are beautiful. As an added bonus, it seems to be inspired by the fate of Robert Johnson! “You're Always There” closes out the set, and after a raucous introduction, it settles down to a funky gospel vibe with a healthy serving of Hammond organ courtesy of Papa John DeFrancesco, a true American treasure.

The lone cover is an odd duck that does not exactly fit it with the rest of the material, and there has never been a version of the Beatles’ “Can't Buy Me Love” that is anything like this. This is a timeless story of love with no strings attached, but its heavy tone and six-plus minute running time highlights that there is not much value or variety to the words (sorry, John and Paul). My guess is that Eldred is seeking to contrast lighthearted pop music with the harsh reality of a downtrodden people, but it is a stretch to connect this material with the community or the overall theme of the disc.

Aside from this one tune, the rest of Baptist Town is a sweet set of uniquely American music that draws inspiration from the blues, and the Mike Eldred Trio has shone a light on a community that does not get much attention. Be sure to head over to their website as there is cool media to support this album, including the lyrics, a gallery of quality images from the neighborhood, and videos that show the production process, including an explanation of how it came to be and documentation of how a few of the tracks were recorded.















Matt “Guitar” Murphy: December 29, 1929 to June 15, 2018


Rest in Peace, Matt.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Blues Blast Magazine 2018 BBMA Award Nominees



Aloha!

Here is the info on the 2018 Blues Blast Music Awards Nominees and the awards show:

From Blues Blast Magazine - www.BluesBlastMagazine.com

Contact Information: Bob Kieser (309) 267-4425 or info@bluesblastmagazine.com

In early April, a group of Blues music industry professionals including music critics, journalists, festival promoters, music venue managers, producers, musicians and other Blues music industry professionals nominated the best in Blues music in twelve categories. The complete list of nominees is listed below and is also available at our website at: www.bluesblastmagazine.com/2018-blues-blast-music-awards-nominees/

Fan voting to determine the winners begins July 1, 2018 and continues until August 31, 2018 on our website at BluesBlastMagazine.com. Voting is free and open to anyone who is a Blues Blast Magazine subscriber. Blues Blast Magazine subscriptions are always FREE and you are automatically signed up as part of the voting process on our website.

The Blues Blast Music Awards are presented by Blues Blast Magazine, the largest FREE weekly internet Blues magazine with over 36,000 Blues fan subscribers located in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries.

The 2018 Blues Blast Awards ceremonies will be held on September 29th, at Tebala Event Center in Rockford, Illinois. Tickets and complete information on lodging and directions are available at The Blues Blast Music Awards website at www.TheBBMAs.com.

The 2018 Blues Blast Music Award nominees
Contemporary Blues Album

  • Victor Wainwright & The Train - Self Titled
  • Selwyn Birchwood - Pick Your Poison
  • Chris Cain - Self titled
  • Danielle Nicole - Cry No More
  • Bernard Allison - Let It Go
  • Jason Ricci & The Bad Kind - Approved By Snakes

Traditional Blues Album


  • The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling - The High Cost of Low Living
  • Kim Wilson - Blues And Boogie Vol 1
  • Rick Estrin & The Nightcats - Groovin' In Greaseland
  • Oscar Wilson - One Room Blues
  • The Cash Box Kings - Royal Mint
  • Mud Morganfield - They Call Me Mud

Soul Blues Album

  • Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra - After A While
  • Johnny Rawls - Waiting For The Train
  • Bettye LaVette - Things Have Changed
  • Benny Turner - My Brother’s Blues
  • Markey Blues & Ric Latina Project - Raised In Muddy Water
  • Ivy Ford - Time To Shine

Rock Blues Album

  • Walter Trout - We're All In This Together
  • Albert Castiglia - Up All Night
  • Tinsley Ellis - Winning Hand
  • Tommy Castro & The Painkillers - Stompin' Ground
  • Ghost Town Blues Band - Backstage Pass
  • Savoy Brown - Witchy Feelin'

Acoustic Blues Album

  • Curtis Salgado and Alan Hager - Rough Cut
  • Doug MacLeod - Break The Chain
  • Mitch Woods - Friends Along The Way
  • Daniel Eriksen - Narrative Boogie
  • Sonny Landreth - Recorded Live In Lafayette
  • Sunny Lowdown - Down Loaded

Live Blues Recording

  • Sonny Landreth - Recorded Live In Lafayette
  • John Mayall - Three For The Road
  • Ghost Town Blues Band - Backstage Pass
  • Muddy Waters - Live At Rockpalast
  • Nick Schnebelen - Live In Kansas City
  • Casey Hensley - Live Featuring Laura Chavez

Historical Or Vintage Recording

  • Muddy Waters - Live At Rockpalast
  • Luther Allison Box Set
  • Johnny Nicholas - Too Many Bad Habits
  • Paul Delay – Live at Notodden '97
  • Reverend Raven & The CSAB - My Life – Twentieth Anniversary

New Artist Debut Album

  • Patrick Recob - Perpetual Luau
  • Ben Levin - Ben's Blues
  • Heather Newman - Burn Me Alive
  • Casey Hensley - Live Featuring Laura Chavez
  • Orphan Jon - Abandoned No More
  • Ilya Portnov - Strong Brew

Blues Band

  • The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling
  • Rick Estrin & The Nightcats
  • The Cash Box Kings
  • Ghost Town Blues Band
  • Welch Ledbetter Connection
  • Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin' Altar Boys featuring Westside Andy

Male Blues Artist

  • Victor Wainwright
  • Chris Cain
  • Walter Trout
  • Oscar Wilson
  • Kid Ramos
  • Benny Turner

Female Blues Artist

  • Danielle Nicole
  • Shaun Murphy
  • Samantha Fish
  • Bettye LaVette
  • Beth Hart
  • Karen Lovely

Sean Costello Rising Star Award

  • Ben Levin
  • Joyann Parker
  • Orphan Jon
  • Ivy Ford
  • Heather Newman

Mahalo!


























































































Sunday, June 3, 2018

Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater: January 10, 1935 to June 1, 2018

Rest in peace, Eddy. You were a sweet man and will be greatly missed.

Blues Blast Magazine Album Review: Terrie Odabi – My Blue Soul

Hello!

This CD review was originally published in the October 13, 2016 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at www.bluesblastmagazine.com

Terrie Odabi – My Blue Soul

Self Release

www.reverbnation.com/terrieodabi

13 tracks / 64:50

With its rich cultural history of jazz, rock, and the blues, the San Francisco Bay area launched many artists’ careers and has been a source of so much fantastic music over the years. None other than the late Etta James got her start in the Bay Area, and Oakland’s Terrie Odabi is doing a marvelous job of following in her footsteps. Terrie’s vocal skill and passion translate well to the studio, and her sophomore album, My Blue Soul, has everything going for it.

Terrie worked in the music business for years before releasing her 2014 debut album, Evolution of the Blues. Based on the pure awesomeness of this disc and her amazing performance abiity, Odabi earned the right to be the Bay Area representative at International Blues Competition for 2014 and 2015, and both times she made it to the semi-finals. This lady is the real deal, and has earned all of the respect she gets.

My Blue Soul is a labor of love from Terrie, as she wrote eleven of the thirteen tracks, and she poured her soul into recording the vocals. She made all the right moves to make sure this would be a good album, and the first step was bringing in Kid Anderson as the producer and engineer. Anderson knows how to construct a quality blues album, and it surely made his job easier to have Odabi and a crew of more than a dozen top-shelf Bay Area musicians to work with.

The music is excellent, but Terrie’s lyrics are what really make the songs special. They are honest and relevant, drawing on personal and community experiences. The first track, “Gentrification Blues,” is a pointed social statement about folks who move into a neighborhood and then think they have the right to change the existing cultural norms. This fervent message is set to a hopping mixture of blues, funk, gospel, and rock with smoking organ and guitar from Anderson and thumping bass and drums from Kirk Crumpler and Derrick Martin.

“Born to Die” is a 1970s-issue jangly rock and roll revue with a “Foxy Lady” beat and the finely tuned horn section of Nancy Wright, Manny Angel, and Faris Jarrah - these cats are tight! The message here is that no matter what one’s station in life is, the end result is always the same so we should live accordingly. This track is backed up by the jazzy blues of “Life is so Good,” an autobiographical torch song from a woman whose life is good, so that she can’t believe that she’s singing the blues. This song features Terry Hiatt on lead guitar and cool muted trumpet from Angel.

There are a few songs about the difficulties of relationships, but the most uplifting is “When You Love Me,” a song that Odabi wrote to thank her love for his support during the production of this album. This is a barebones blues track with sexy vocals and the sparse instrumental accompaniment of just a pair of guitars manned by Anderson and AJ Crawdaddy. This is the perfect opportunity for listeners to hear Terrie’s voice, and her personality, inflection, and range are truly amazing.

The cover tunes are both neat songs that have special meaning to Terrie. She loves Big Mama Thornton, so “Ball and Chain” is a logical addition to the mix. This piece of straight-up blues is powerfully sung with sweet guitar leads from Kid and tasteful piano from Ken Cook. The other re-do is the traditional, “Wade in the Water,” reinterpreted as a gloriously soulful rhythm and blues tune. This spiritual is has a powerful place in US history, and the lovely backing vocals of Courtney Knott, Lisa Leuschner Anderson, and Niecey Robinson make this modern take complete.

My Blue Soul is an excellent sophomore effort from Terrie Odabi, and it is a testament to what this woman means for the future of blues. This disc is full of poignant songs that are recorded well and appeal to both traditional and modern blues audiences, making it one of the best releases of 2016. and it will be awesome to see what she comes up with next!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Review: 2007 Fender Precision Bass PB70-78US

Hi there!

This is kind of a repeat as I have two almost identical basses in stock right now, and I have been through quite a few of these basses over the years because they are consistently great instruments. The Fender PB70-70US Precision Bass is a very nice recreation of their 1970 model, and it was built with pride in Fender’s Japanese factories.

The PB in the model designation designates this instrument as a Precision Bass, the first 70 shows that this is a 1970 model, and the second 78 indicates that the original price was 70,000 Yen. That was around $590 bucks back then, which was a heck of a deal. Oh yes, and the US at the end of the model name means that this bass shipped with US-made vintage style pickups.

This one is finished in a silky Olympic White, which has yellowed nicely over the years. I have heard that the body is supposed to be made of alder, but who really knows? The body shape has the classic contoured P bass shape, and the neck is attached with a four-bolt joint. As I said, there is a US-sourced pickup, with the expected volume and tone controls. The hardware is the usual Fender stuff, with a three-layer B-W-B pickguard, a chrome four-saddle bridge, and the correct large bass Fender vintage-style tuners. I hate the Japanese basses that come with the lame small-base tuners. Boo.

The neck is not too huge, with a 1 5/8-inch wide nut and a comfortable shallow C profile to the back. The rosewood fretboard has white plastic fret markers, and a nut that might be a replacement. The neck is true and the truss rod works fine. The 20 original frets use vintage size wire, and are still nice and level with very little wear. To top it off, it has the correct big logo on the headstock, so this thing looks just right

It plays right, too. It is very well constructed, and the neck is very playable. I love the sound of it, and I do think the US pickups make a difference. I think that sometimes the Japanese pickups and pots are not quite up to snuff. This one is in line with most of the other one I have owned, coming in right around 9 pounds.

Anyway, it is a great bass, and if you are in the market for a new P Bass, these Japanese reissues cannot be beat for the price.

Mahalo!

Blues Blast Magazine Album Review: Malaya Blue – Heartsick

Hello!

This CD review was originally published in the October 13, 2016 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at www.bluesblastmagazine.com

Malaya Blue – Heartsick

Self Release through MBM Music

www.malayablue.com

11 tracks / 54:47

Malaya Blue may be relatively new to the scene, but she carries on the tradition of fine blues music that her sisters and brothers from the United Kingdom have been producing for decades. Her debut album, Bourbon Street, was very well received, earning her four 2015 British Blues Association Award nominations. With this effort, this Norwich based singer laid the groundwork to break through on a worldwide scale, though we are still waiting for our chance to see her here in the States.

Malaya did not rest on these laurels, and has released a worthy follow-up, Heartsick, with eleven original tracks that were cut at The Grange Studios in Norfolk, UK. Accompanying her vocals on this disc is a new line-up that includes Dudley Ross on guitar, Paul Jobson on the keyboards, bassist Stuart Uren, and Andrew McGuinness behind the drum kit. This band is capable of handling every genre on this disc, with arrangements that range from bare bones to fully instrumented songs that come complete with a string section.

Heartsick starts out strongly with its title track, a neat package of guitar fueled hard blues-rock. This is an apt showcase for Malaya to show how powerful her voice is, as well as her ability to push the edge of the envelope without sacrificing musicality. She is also responsible for writing all of the lyrics on this disc, and in this case she bemoans the end of a relationship and admits to being “a sucker for a hot sticky mess.” It is hard to say whether these words were written from experience, but they are personal in their delivery, which is a common theme throughout the album.

Another example of this is “Hunny Little Day Dream,” with words that are thoroughly saturated with the joy of love. After the intro with its raunchy harp and warbly organ, Malaya launches into jazzy R&B vocals that at times push the upper limits of her voice’s range, and she delivers them smoothly. Also notable are the slick walking bass line from Uren and rock solid drum work from McGuinness that serve to hold this one together. This is followed up by “Colour Blind” a mellow tune with an uptempo samba beat. The lyrics are more enigmatic, and Malaya adds dramatic spaces that help to make the mood more intense.

Malaya’s voice shines even brighter on the slower songs, and there is a pair of ballads sequenced midway through Heartsick. “Let’s Reinvent (Love)” is one of these, and it is a slow-rolling blues tune with a dramatic harp and B3 introduction. At over seven minutes this is the longest track on the CD, and this time is used to tell the story of rebuilding a relationship, with the vibe getting heavier as the song progresses. Key pieces of this puzzle are the righteous harp that guest artist Paul Jones lays down, and the backing vocals that Malaya layers in. The other is “Acceptance,” a pretty torch song that is driven by Jobson’s piano, with the added bonus of well-arranged strings from The Westwood String Quartet. It was a risk to put twelve minutes of slower material together, but Malaya has the vocal chops to keep things interesting, and she does not disappoint.

From there, the band works their way through soul (“Soul Come Back”), gospel (“I Have Arrived”), rock with a Bo Diddley beat (“Share the Love”), and a fan favorite from her live shows (“Hope”). Before the listener knows it, almost an hour has gone by and the set draws to a close with “Soul Come Back.” This emotional song of longing features producer Paul Long on piano, and one last chance for the string quartet to help make the mood. What a neat way to end the album!

Heartsick is a very slick album, with solid original songwriting, good musicians, and high production values. It should be no surprise that Malaya Blue now has two winning projects for her CV as she has worked very hard to get to this point. Malaya has been getting the word out too, having appeared at numerous gigs and festivals over the past year and promoting her music on the air. Hopefully there will be an update to the gig page on her website soon, as this kind of music translates well to the stage and it would be great for her fans to have the opportunity to see her live show.