|LONG JOHN HUNTER : : LOOKING FOR A PARTY
The first new studio album in six years from the last of the great Texas Blues guitarists is a departure for long-time Lone Star resident Long John Hunter in that it was recorded in California, but great music knows no geographical bounds – he spent ten years at the rowdy Lobby Bar in Juarez, Mexico. With only eight albums in 21 years, Long John is not one of the Blues’ most prolific artists, but he is (literally) a Texas giant and an influence on Lonnie Brooks and even a young Buddy Holly.
Born in 1931 to a large sharecropping family near Shreveport, Louisiana, Long John had no interest in music, but when he was 22 and toiling away in a Beaumont, Texas box factory, he attended a B.B. King show and was instantly transfixed. The next day he bought a guitar, and a year later was starring at the same bar that B.B. had headlined.
Looking For a Party is expertly produced by Dennis Walker, whose imprimatur graces the lion’s share of the material. Walker is renowned for his work with Robert Cray, co-producing his Grammy-winning Strong Persuader album.
Now living in Phoenix, Long John may not swing from the rafters as he used to when blasting red-hot riffs at the Lobby Bar in Juarez, but his brand of Texas Blues remains incendiary. Looking For a Party is a statement from a man who, like those of his generation, played and partied as hard as he worked. If you’re looking a party, but one filled with Texas Telecaster wisdom that flows like vintage wine, you’ve found it.
“Best blues album of the year, hands down.” – Bentley’s Bandstand
“An unsung musical treasure, Hunter sustains the spirit of his raucous border town days” – Elmore Magazine
“Ever the natural, expressive talent” – Texas Monthly
Label: Blues Express
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|STEVE HOWELL : : SINCE I SAW YOU LAST
When Steve Howell first heard Mississippi John Hurt's happy style of fingerpicking country blues in 1965 at the age of thirteen, he immediately knew that the tame, folky style of strumming the guitar was a thing of the past for him. This revelation opened the door to a new musical universe for him. As his journey progressed, Mississippi John Hurt begat Blind Willie McTell and Leadbelly. They in turn begat Robert Johnson, Son House, Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Blake and a host of other black acoustic guitar players and vocalists. His interest in rural, folk-blues styles and the history of the music led him to learn more about how this music came to town and melded with the horn-oriented bands prevalent in the cities, creating a strong affinity for him with the traditional jazz and New Orleans music of the first half of the twentieth century. This led to a journey through music which, of course, included the pop, country, rock and blues music of the times, as well as the music of Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Lester Young, Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, Art Tatum, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Chet Atkins, Johnny Smith, Wes Montgomery, Bucky Pizzarelli, Joe Pass, George Van Eps, Lenny Breau, and many other great jazz artists. Although very interested in many other music styles (bebop, rock 'n' roll, rhythm and blues, and others), the heart of his playing and singing is very much rooted in the rural acoustic blues and traditional jazz genres born in the American South.
Since I Saw You Last presents Howell in his most eclectic mood with 12 tracks that include country blues, rockabilly, folk and R&B with a mostly acoustic bent.
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|26th International Blues Challenge Winners Crowned
Above:IBC producer Joe Whitmer with solo winner Matt Anderson.
Band winners Grady Champion
The Blues Foundation's 26th International Blues Challenge concluded Saturday with two packed shows at the Orpheum Theatre.
The solo/duo winner was Matt Andersen, sponsored by Harvest Jazz and Blues from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada and second place honors went to Alphonso Sanders and Bill "Howl-n-Madd" Perry from the Crossroads Blues Society, Rosedale, Mississippi.
The top prize in the Band competition was awarded to Grady Champion of the Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola. Second place honors were earned by Karen Lovely Band, Cascade Blues Association, and the third spot went to Cheryl Renee with Them Bones, hailing from the Cincy Blues Society.
A beautiful blue custom Gibson guitar featuring The Blues Foundation's logo was awarded to Matt Kelly of the Big Boy Little Band (DC Blues Society), as the finals top guitarist.
In the Best Self-Produced CD contest, the judges determined that two CDs were the best: Fire It Up! by the Laurie Morvan Band sponsored by the Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society and Crime Scene Queen by The Informants sponsored by the Colorado Blues Society.
The other solo duo finalists were: Becky Boyd & Tim Matson (Cleveland Blues Society); Jimi Lee with PB Shane (Austin Blues Society); Sherman Lee Dillon (Central Mississippi Blues Society); Tom Walbank & Arthur Migliazza (Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation); Ken "The Rocket" Korb (Long Island Blues Society); and Steve Cohen (Grafton Blues Association).
The other Band finalists were: Mojo Theory (Pomeroy Blues & Jazz Society); R&K Brew Co (West Virginia Blues Society); Big Boy Little Band (DC Blues Society); Sonny Moorman Group (Columbus Blues Alliance); Jesse Greene Band (Ottawa Blues Society); Jackie Scott & the Housewreckers (Baltimore Blues Society); Labron Lazenby and LA 3 (Smoky Mountain Blues Society); and The Avey Brothers (Iowa Blues Societies).
Michel Germain from Quebec City, Quebec won the Gibson Little Lucille autographed at the 2004 Blues Music Awards.
Blues societies all over the world will soon be starting all over again as they begin their own competitions to determine who they will send to the 27th International Blues Challenge, the finals of which will be staged February 5, 2011.
|KPOV FM Radio in Bend Oregon is now requesting new music from Labels and Artists
KPOV radio plays a really diverse range of musical genres...if you check out our website at kpov.org you can find anything from blues to bluegrass, funk, jazz, roots/americana country, reggae, cowboy western, do wop, oldies, techno and the beat goes on. KPOV Radio plays all music genres if we like the sound.
To send any music format to the station send to:
501 NW Bond St
Bend, OR. 97702
Attn: William Johnson
|Ticketmaster, Live Nation's Monster Merger Approved by U.S.
Live Nation (LYV) and Ticketmaster Entertainment (TKTM) on Monday reportedly received approval for their merger from the Justice Department. The move paves the way for Live Nation Ticketmaster, a titanic entertainment company that would handle ticketing, artist management, and live music. LNT would have managing interests in about 350 artists and exclusive booking and promotional deals with more than 125 venues around the country, and it would handle ticketing for events outside of music, like baseball games. Shares of both companies surged almost 10% on news of the merger's approval.
Consumer advocates have been protesting a Ticketmaster–Live Nation merger since it was announced. Last fall, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice Department would need "serious concessions" on the part of both companies.
Those Dreaded "Service Fees"
Ticketmaster handles ticketing for between 70% and 80% of live events in the U.S. It's also in the artist-management game, with a controlling stake in Front Line, the management company founded by Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff, that handles superstars including the Eagles, Christina Aguilera, and Shakira. Public opinion of Ticketmaster has been decidedly negative, due largely to the "service fees" it tacks onto ticket prices.
Live Nation is the dominant event promoter in the U.S. Spun off in 2005 from radio giant Clear Channel, Live Nation owns or operates more than 100 U.S. venues, including clubs branded with the names House Of Blues and Fillmore. The company also signed high-profile "360 deals," whose multimillion-dollar advances give the company multiple revenue streams, including recorded music and tours, from big names like Jay-Z, Madonna, and U2.
Although the two companies have worked together, Live Nation tried to dial back its relationship with Ticketmaster in 2008, when a ticketing agreement between the two companies expired. Live Nation launched a competing service last year, to mixed reports. Consumers complained about exorbitant service fees and servers that couldn't handle high-demand on-sales. News of the merger came out shortly after this roll-out.
Consumer Protests Continue
But the music industry and music fans have railed against the merger since its announcement last February. A coalition of ticket brokers and public-interest groups, TicketDisaster.org, cites Ticketmaster's history of anti-competitive practices, has encouraged consumers to voice their opposition to the Justice Department.
This month, rumblings about Justice approving the merger due to lawyers' being "unenthused" about opposing it in court did not come to fruition. More recent reports suggest that Justice lawyers are actively preparing arguments against the deal.
|Bonham, Hughes, Sherinian, and Bonamassa Form New Super Group
A new super group has been formed with Jason Bonham, Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa and Derek Sherinian. They are calling themselves Black Country, taking their name from the industrial area in England from which Bonham and Hughes both hail. The band is currently in the studio with producer Kevin Shirley (Black Crowes, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin) cutting tracks for an upcoming album to be released in late 2010 or early 2011.
With Bonham (Led Zeppelin, Foreigner) on drums, Sherinian (Dream Theater, Billy Idol, Alice Cooper) on keyboards, Hughes (Deep Purple, Trapeze) on bass and vocals and Bonamassa on guitar and vocals, the band already has six tracks cut. The next recording session will take place in March and the band hopes to finish recording in early April. Shirley made the announcement on his website: "So there it is folks - the cat is out the bag! This is Black Country. The songs are all original and what a lineup. They are all the very best players in the world, for my money!"
Shirley added, "Jason Bonham is a totally unique drummer and a supreme, yet oh-so-tasty powerhouse. Derek Sherinian is super versatile, and is playing mostly overdriven Hammond organ in this ensemble and is the color on the palette. Glenn Hughes plays bass and sings with a range very, very few can even get close to, and Joe Bonamassa, perhaps the best Blues Rock guitarist around, plays hard riffing guitar as well as adding his signature vocals alongside Glenn. You'll just have to wait - we're planning to get this out late summer, and it's promising to be phenomenal!"
Recently named "The Blues Rock Titan" by Guitar World Magazine, Bonamassa's new solo album, Black Rock, will be arriving March 23, 2010. Produced by Shirley, who has produced Bonamassa's last six solo albums, it will be released on Bonamassa's own J&R Adventures label.
|Rock n' Roll Ain't Noise Pollution
NEW YORK (AP) -- Sweet news for baby boomers: Despite all those warnings that loud rock music would damage their ears, their generation appears to have better hearing than their parents did.
In fact, a new study suggests that the rate of hearing problems at ages ranging from 45 to 75 has been dropping for years, at least among white Americans.
“I’m less likely to have a hearing loss when I get to be 70 years old than my grandmother did when she was 70,” said Karen Cruickshanks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
She’s an author of the study — and a baby boomer who remembers taking guff from her mother for listening to loud music.
Apart from giving her generation some satisfaction, the new work implies that what people do and experience may help them prevent or delay hearing loss as they get older. Experts theorize there may be several reasons for the finding, like fewer very noisy jobs and better ear protection at worksites, immunizations and antibiotics that prevented certain diseases, and maybe even a decline in smoking.
Experts praised the work, but agreed that scientists now must see if the pattern holds up outside of its largely white participants. They also said the result doesn’t mean it’s safe to blast loud music into your ears from an iPod for hours on end.
Cruikshanks, colleague Weihai Zhan and others at her university reported their work recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
They analyzed the results of hearing tests given to about 5,300 people who were at least 45 years old and born between 1902 and 1962. The tests were done between 1993 and 2008, and many participants were tested at five-year intervals. Participants were residents of Beaver Dam, Wis., and their sons and daughters, who lived in a variety of places.
The researchers noted how many tests showed at least mild hearing loss. Then they looked to see if the rate of impairment at given ages was affected by when the person was born.
For example, take the results for men in their early 60s. The impairment rate was 58 percent for men born between 1930 and 1934. For men born just five years later, the rate was about 50 percent. And for men born between 1945 and 1949, the oldest baby boomers, the rate was only about 36 percent.
Overall, for a given age group, men showed on average a 13 percent drop in the risk of impairment for every five-year increase in the date of their birth. For women, the decrease was about 6 percent.
The researchers are now trying to uncover reasons for the decline. Cruickshanks said the explanation will probably be complex and hard to pin down because the pattern has been going on for decades.
But factors could include fewer people with long-term exposure to very loud noise at work, and a decline in smoking, a habit some studies link to ear damage, she said. Maybe changes in health care, including immunizations and use of antibiotics, play some role too, she said.
The study is “very impressive,” said Elizabeth Helzner, an epidemiologist who studies age-related hearing loss at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.
The findings make sense in light of declines in long-term exposure to loud noise without ear protection in the workplace and perhaps in hunting and battle, she said. Those exposures would have happened more to men than women, which would help explain why the results were more dramatic in men, she said.
Another possible factor is better control of diabetes and heart disease, both of which are linked to hearing loss, she said.
Now the question is whether the decline will continue with today’s young people, who often play loud music in their earbuds for hours at a time, day after day, she said. That chronic exposure may prove more hazardous than the briefer bouts baby boomers had, she said.
|'Bleak' Fundraising Climate Kills Summertime Blues Festival Plans
The Nanaimo Blues Society has cancelled its annual Summertime Blues Festival in Nanaimo for 2010.
The event, staged on Diana Krall Plaza each August since its inception five years ago, has presented more than 100 performances and entertained more than 35,000 people during its tenure.
Society president Ed Poli said the decision was made to take the year off to allow time to examine future options and develop a new business plan for the event.
He said that the current economic environment presents a "considerable challenge" as does the "severe" reduction in available government arts funding.
Poli said sponsorship and grant support was down in 2009 and the festival ran at a loss.
"All indications are that this year's fundraising climate will be even bleaker, so the board opted to explore a new financial framework to move the festival forward," he said.
Poli also pointed out that after five years of successful festivals, the event has exceeded the capacity of Diana Krall Plaza and needs to move to a larger venue.
"This was a difficult decision, but it was the right one for a number of reasons" Poli said. "The board felt the festival had gone as far as it could as a free event supported entirely by grants, sponsorships and on-site donations."
Poli said the break is timely because the society is financially stable and has the resources to conduct a solid planning process.
"A number of vacancies are also opening up on the society's board and this provides the opportunity to attract new blood to help take the festival to the next level," he said.
The society welcomes interest from those wanting to be a part a new festival and will elect new board members at its annual general meeting on March 18.
|Which Town Offers The Best Live Music?
The Society of American Travel Writers recently polled its members to come up with the Top 10 best North American cities for live music.
New Orleans, La., www.neworleanscvb.com. "New Orleans bleeds music — it's in the air, in the water, in the people," Lisa A. Tomaszewski, editor, HMP Communications
New York City, www.nycgo.com. "Where else can you 'Rent' a seat next to some 'Guys and Dolls,' let down your 'Hair' and be transported anywhere from the 'South Pacific' to 'Chicago,' and leave the theatre thinking, 'Mamma Mia!' that was some enchanted evening!" Evelyn Kanter, writer/photographer
Austin, Texas, www.austintexas.org. "Only in Austin, Texas, can you go for super-delicious and inexpensive barbecue, sit outdoors at a picnic table and hear decent live rock at no additional charge," Carole Terwillger Meyers, writer
Nashville, Tenn., www.visitmusiccity.com. "Nashville isn't just the 'home' of country music. It's the heart and soul of country music." Steve Winston, writer
Chicago, www.choosechicago.com. "Chicago's reputation as home of the blues can't be understated, with live shows at clubs every night. ... It's all here, all the time," Laurie Borman, writer
Memphis, Tenn., www.memphistravel.com. "Barbecue and blues, blues and barbecue. Memphis is a foot-tapping, sensory delight," John H. Ostdick, writer
Montreal, Canada, www.tourisme-montreal.org. "Montreal is a hotbed of world music, and free music festivals!" Nancy Lyon, writer/photographer
Las Vegas, Nev., www.visitlasvegas.com. "From Elvis and Frank through Barbra and Barry to Celine and Bette, Vegas has been THE venue every great act hopes to get booked into. And with all the smaller lounges at the major hotels, you can catch talent on the way up, too,'' Bob Jenkins, writer.
Branson, Mo., www.explorebranson.com. "Where do top sidemen go when they tire of the L.A. lifestyle? To Branson where they can play their music at any of its 52 live performance theatres, enjoy life on three pristine lakes and 12 championship golf courses," Lorraine O'Donnell Williams, writer.
Denver, Colorado, www.visitdenver.com. "A concert at Red Rocks should be on everyone's bucket list. Red Rocks is one of a kind," Kim McHugh, writer.
|ON A MISSION FROM GOD
From Harps to Halos singer and harmonica player Ken Pinkerton points skyward during a January rehearsal
Christian blues band spreads message, donates money to needy
"Spreadin' the news ... playin' the blues." That's the motto of From Harps to Halos, an unusual music ministry that specializes in Christian blues, a genre grounded in the old Mississippi tradition of harmonicas, slide guitars and the plaintive songs of the working man's sorrows.
The Delaware group -- six blues brothers plus one sister -- belt out hand-clapping, foot-stomping, jumping-and-jiving praise-the-Lord Delta blues, along with the old standards like "Amazing Grace" and "Eye on the Sparrow."
As with so many great ideas, From Harps to Halos was founded at the kitchen table: Two guys, cooking pancakes for a church breakfast, started talking about their love of music -- the harmonica especially -- and kicked around the idea of forming a band that would play the good news of the Christian blues with all proceeds going to form a community outreach program.
Founders Ken Pinkerton, 56, and Jim Booker, 52, both red-hot harmonica players, recruited a couple of vocalists, a drummer, a bass player and a guitarist. They got most of the equipment donated and went, as Dan Aykroyd of Blues Brothers fame, said, "on a mission from God."
Booker, a one-time a professional sign painter, drives a school bus for the Red Clay district, has played harmonica most of his life.
"God gave me the gift, so I use the music to glorify Him. We play to celebrate Christ," he said.
Based at, but not affiliated with, the Christ United Methodist Church in Elsmere, the band members were all professionals in their field. Now they are unemployed, underemployed, and suffering through economic uncertainty. Nevertheless, through their music ministry and community outreach, they have brought joy and help to their struggling neighbors.They do so by collecting money, food, clothing and furniture and give it to those who have less than they have. "We never hand out cash to anyone," said Pinkerton. "If someone asks for gas money, I tell him to follow me to the nearest station, and I will pay to fill up his tank."
Since its founding five years ago, the group has collected about $3,500 in cash -- not much in hard times -- but they have provided food, gas and other necessities for the needy in the nearby towns of Stanton and Newport, as well as in Elsmere. They also collect and deliver donated household furniture and appliances.
A couple of times a month, they load their donated van with speakers, microphones, stands and drums and head out to retirement homes, nursing homes, Christian coffee houses and neighborhood churches to sing the blues and celebrate their faith.
"We don't go into Wilmington churches, there is enough help in the city, and we stay close to home to help," Pinkerton said.
Recently, the band heard of a family of four in Elsmere who needed help. They were sleeping on the floor of their apartment, had no furniture, no beds, no food.
"We collected used furniture from donors, and completely furnished the apartment and then bought them $125 worth of food," Pinkerton said. And just as they provide for others, they often receive acts of kindness from others.
Several years ago, guitarist Gary Ditchburn, 53, a professional musician who played in dance and show bands for 25 years in New York, found some extra cash and gave the organization a loan to purchase a trailer. It is now emblazoned with the logo "From Harps to Halos Christian Blues Music Ministry and Community Outreach."
|Music Fading At Fort Worth's J&J Blues Bar
FORT WORTH — After 24 years, the J&J Blues Bar will close as a regular live music venue on Jan. 30, but owner Jim Schusler said Thursday that it will be available for private parties and, when he can book a big act, open to the general public.
Once among dozens of blues joints like Blossoms, Froggy’s and the New Bluebird, which flourished in the 1980s, J&J fell victim to an aging fan base and an increasingly sober society, said Schusler, 72. He noted that average liquor sales per guest over the past five years dropped to $9 from $19.47.
"Financially, it was ridiculous," he said, disclosing that the bar has been unprofitable for the past five years. "When Jimmy 'Preacher’ Ellis played in November, there were only two people — my wife and myself."
In its heyday, from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, "J&J had every big blues name but B.B. King," Schusler said. "King wanted $31,000 and with just 230 seats, the numbers never could work."
Once offering music every night, the bar scaled back to three nights a week in 2008, then Friday and Saturday after a Tejano night on Thursdays bombed. Finally, Saturday only.
Failing miserably was an attempt 18 months ago to revitalize the venture by renaming it J&J Texas Roadhouse & Blues Bar and branching out to what Schusler’s wife, Cathy, called "new Texas country" music.
Schusler acknowledged that a new generation of residents often couldn’t find the bar. It’s tucked away at 937 Woodward St., near the police and fire training center off Henderson Street, just west of downtown.
And he didn’t help much.
"If you called up and asked where we were, I’d hang up," he admitted. "I figured, we’ve been Fort Worth for more than 20 years and if you don’t know where we are, I don’t want you."
J&J’s closing leaves Keys Lounge on Westcreek Drive, as well as nightspots that offer blues on occasion, said Sumter Bruton, a guitarist with the Juke Jumpers and owner of Record Town on University Drive.
"It has seen better days, but it will be missed," Bruton said. "It was not like it happened overnight. They stopped booking the big acts."
Bruton said the Juke Jumpers performed at J&J’s opening night in 1986. Fourteen tons of sand had been poured under the stage and foam sprayed on the ceiling to improve acoustics.
"But when we hit that first note, it began snowing — this white stuff floated down from the ceiling and into people’s drinks, our hair, my guitar. That was the high point of the night."
Schusler also owns J&J Oyster Bar, which will continue operating on University Drive, and he said he plans to open another location in Burleson’s Old Town area at 125 Bufford St. He is also negotiating to open a third oyster bar in a North Richland Hills mall.
Schusler, who neither drinks nor eats oysters, said he plans to occasionally unlock the doors of the blues bar when he can snag a top act on tour in Texas — "like Roomful of Blues, or Elvis Presley."
"If Elvis wants to come back, we’ll book him."
|T-Bone Burnett: Making Soundtrack Like Solving Mystery
Three weeks into the new year T-Bone Burnett was already collecting trophies. The producer won a Golden Globe for The Weary Kind, a song co-written with Ryan Bingham that Burnett produced for the film Crazy Heart. It will very likely draw an Academy Award nomination on Feb. 2 and could very well earn Burnett an Oscar to go with his formidable collection of Grammys. Speaking of Grammys, he's nominated for producer of the year, with the results being announced Sunday. This after taking home golden gramophones last year for Raising Sand, the album Burnett produced for Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, and the One Kind Favor, the best album B.B. King has made in decades.
If Burnett seems due for a break, it's not coming soon. He's producing a spate of albums this year, which are in various stages of completion. Willie Nelson's Country Music is among them. It will be released April 13.
“It's real old stuff that he's been singing his whole life,” Burnett says. “Old, old music, surprisingly old music. We did some deep digging for Willie. It's country, but old-school.”
Steve Earle, another musician with Texas ties, picked Burnett for his next album. Burnett calls Earle “a great record-maker in his own right, so I'm very excited to be working with him.”
In March, Bingham will begin recording his next album with Burnett. Also in the works is a collaborative album between legendary piano men Leon Russell and Elton John, the second solo album by Jakob Dylan and a new recording by Gregg Allman that Burnett calls “so superbad.”
“It's serious roadhouse blues and R&B, '50s and '60s rhythm and blues,” Burnett says. “Texas will love this record.”
Burnett has been based in L.A. for years, which makes sense since he's so often called on to work on films, as he did with Crazy Heart. But Burnett comes by his roots credibility honestly. Born Joseph Henry Burnett in St. Louis, he grew up in Fort Worth. He co-opted the surname of one of the state's most famous blues players and paired it with his family name, which is plenty bluesy itself.
Since the early 1970s, he's been a preserver and presenter of American roots music. Burnett played guitar on Bob Dylan's famed Rolling Thunder tour. He's played guitar on or produced albums by the following (along with many, many more): Dylan, Roy Orbison, Emmylou Harris, Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, Gillian Welch, Cassandra Wilson, John Mellencamp and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.
Burnett's own albums, often excellent, don't typically sell very well, so instead he's made his living diligently steering other artists. His work has ranged from pop bands with some rootsy elements (Counting Crows, the Wallflowers) to modern (but not too modern) recordings by legendary types including Ralph Stanley and B.B. King.
Perhaps its Burnett's semi-obscurity, his ability to set up a copacetic situation and then disappear, that allows him to work with so many Type-A artists. He suggests it's simpler, just multiple cases of mutual admiration between artist and producer.
“I do think I have a steady hand,” he says, “but my real secret is to work only with people who love you. (Laughs.) And work with people you love. Doing things with friends can be rewarding.”
“He's a great cat,” Bingham says. “He's a lot of fun to work with, and everything's relaxed. It seems like he's surrounded by people who have the same vibe. It gives you a cool environment to work in.”
But more than setting up fun playtime, Burnett has an ear acutely attuned to his subjects. He's able to nestle old legends into a musical nest created by longtime Burnett players like drummers Jay Bellerose and Jim Keltner, guitarist Marc Ribot, bassist Dennis Crouch and several others. What results isn't a rehash of a past nor is it so digitally modern as to lose its soul.
Take the King record. Burnett set up the blues legend with timeless blues songs written by the likes of his namesakes T-Bone Walker and Chester “Howlin' Wolf” Burnett, as well as blues greats like Lonnie Johnson, Furry Lewis and John Lee Hooker. The band featured a few Burnett regulars, pros who played with restraint, letting King's voice and guitar sell a group of songs often concerned with death. King, 82 at the time, had a masterpiece.
“He comes at music from a different angle than anybody else I've ever met,” says John Mellencamp, whose spare and somber 2008 album, Live Death Love Freedom, was produced by Burnett. “He knows more about the music of the '20s, '30s and '40s, which gives him a wealth of material for inspiration that most people just don't have access to.”
If Burnett has a secret, other than his exhaustive knowledge of roots music history, it might be found in the title of his last real studio recording, 2006's The True False Identity. Burnett suggests that making an album — either a soundtrack or an artist album — is about “creating an identity,” much as he took part in creating one for Crazy Heart's country singer Bad Blake.
In the case of the artists, he has a knack for reemphasizing that identity in a way that is new or feels new. With soundtracks, it's bundling songs together as he did with O Brother, Where Art Thou? in a way that serves the film but also holds together as a listenable set of songs.
“Your job is to create this identity, and you look for different parts of that identity, so it's like solving a mystery,” Burnett says. “But you also want to hold something back. You want to keep a little mystery for the listener. That's what makes these recordings interesting.”
|Label Turns Forgotten Music Into Gold
Dust to Digital:Rediscovering Forgotten Music
Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- There are burglar bars on the windows of Second Mount Olive Baptist Church. It takes a good shove to open its rusty metal door, identical to all the other offices in this rundown strip mall just off the highway in south Atlanta.
A fan whips up pages of a mildewed Old Testament lying open on one of the pews. An overturned Culligan water tank, Mount Olive's donation jar, is empty except for some change and a wadded buck.
The Rev. Johnny L. Jones, 73, looks out at his congregation of about 15. He slips in his dentures. And then the old man disappears.
In his place is the Rev. Hurricane, pounding a Hammond organ, ignoring the sweat that's pooling at his temples, letting whoever wants to get up and take the mic for a solo. Holding their elaborate hats in place, two elderly ladies defy their hips. They are singing hard: "This old building keep a-leakin'/I gotta move to a betta home/these old bones of mine keep on achin'/I gotta move to a betta home!"
And then the Rev. Hurricane does his Thing. He is on his tippy toes, spinning. He's spinning and singing, arms up, voice higher, spinning, spinning.
Lance Ledbetter is on his feet, too. Small, pale, hair impeccably combed, seeming transported from some black-and-white movie, he low-humming it and grinning. Pushing his glasses up his nose, he turns to his wife, April: "Are you getting this?"
A human Google of folk, gospel and blues music, Ledbetter, a Grammy-winning ethnographer, recorded the Rev. Hurricane for the better part of 2009.
Ledbetter's record label, Dust-to-Digital, released an LP of the Hurricane's most stirring sermons, "Jesus Christ From A to Z," featuring a sermon called "The Devil Made Me Do It." Old-school Atlantans, 20-something hipsters and music lovers of every genre were at the release party.
The LP, released shortly before Christmas and available online and nationwide in stores, is a personal revival for the Hurricane, who was once a national gospel superstar signed with Jewel Records, which produced John Lee Hooker.
The record also suggests once again that Ledbetter and Dust-to-Digital can do what no one else can: Make old (like, really old) time music cool again.
On Sunday, Ledbetter will find out whether he's won a second Grammy, this time for "Take Me To The Water: Immersion Baptism In Vintage Music And Photography 1890-1950," a CD (compiled from old 78-rpm records) and 96-page hardcover book with 75 spooky sepia photograph reproductions.
Works of art
Dust-to-Digital's critical success, and its praise among varied music lovers, has much to do with another long-lost art: packaging. His first project, 2003's "Goodbye, Babylon" -- "the greatest anthology of antique Southern sacred song and oratory ever assembled," raved Rolling Stone magazine -- is a six-CD set of hymns, sacred harp, choirs, jug bands, a cappella and blues, some more than 100 years old, which comes in a hand-made pine box with a silk-screen of the Tower of Babel painting on the cover.
The box slides opens to reveal inlaid raw Georgia cotton and a thick book "by authors of wide reputation" containing rare photos, lyrics and anecdotes about the singers. For $100, it can be found online -- and in art galleries.
The project took Ledbetter four years as he sought rare private collections around the world. He compiled the work at considerable expense while holding down a full-time IT job.
Ledbetter was absorbed in a small network of musicologists whose private collections he wanted to mine. Among them was the charismatic Joe Bussard, who has more than 25,000 American folk, gospel and blues records, most one-of-a-kind.
"I spent a year just listening to songs Joe sent me," he said. "It was my life. I wouldn't leave my apartment. My friends and my family didn't understand what I was doing, but I knew I was going to make something important."
'It just came over me'
Raised in LaFayette, Georgia, Ledbetter began buying rock records from indie labels. "I figured out that if you followed a label, you could trust that they had a curatorial approach, and you just bought whatever they put out," he said. He later spent time at the John C. Campbell Folk School in the mountains of North Carolina, a place where he enjoyed old-time school dances on the weekends with friends, and then worked at an Atlanta college radio station. It was there he first heard the Smithsonian's reissue of its Anthology of American Folk Music.
"I put it on the stereo in my apartment, and it just came over me," he said. "It's like it connected every moment of my life in music that meant anything, like when I was kid going to cattle auctions and in college going to square dances. It was a mystery unveiled to me about my history and American history."
Ledbetter took over a gospel show on the station, quickly realizing that gospel music before 1940 was very hard to find. Frustrated after searching so long, he decided that the only way to get it was to found his own label.
He also began the steep learning curve of digitizing old recordings, playing with needles and different grooves in a record to get just the right sound, running each millisecond through a computer and then recording.
A prime example: Dust-to-Digital's conversion of the first known recording of the human voice. The voice was recorded in France in 1860 -- nearly two decades before Thomas Edison invented the phonograph -- on paper, for a device unable to play back its work. The recording, of a French folk song, would ultimately be reproduced by Dust-to-Digital relying on a complex algorithm.
"It's a technological miracle that they got the sound," Ledbetter said. "That's what's exciting for me. Music is something of what came before what came before, with hopefully a fresh interpretation."
The Rev. Hurricane could use something like a miracle. On the up in the 1960s and early 1970s, his LPs were flying, music critics were paying attention, and his church had grown to 5,000 members. He had some nice suits, and his hurricane spin was the holiest in the South. The voice of his mother was always front-of-mind.
"When I told her I wanted to spread the Gospel, and I was a boy, she said, 'I don't want no jack-legged preacher in this family,' " he said. She didn't raise her son to be a Swaggart or a Bakker.
A promise was never better kept. But when his church burned in 1973, Jones lost his mojo big time. His mid-'90s release, "Jesus Is in Town," generated not a whisper.
But since Dust-to-Digital took an interest, with its connections to contemporary artists, Jones has packed several reputable venues, singing and sweating in a three-piece suit for hours.
"Maybe this will bring people back," he said, wiping his forehead with a gold handkerchief after a Sunday morning at Mount Olive. "Let's pray for it."
|Blues and Barbecue Heat Up Ferndale
Ferndale, MI - The Ninth Annual Ferndale Blues Festival will bring music, food and revelry to downtown Ferndale with at least 66 concerts and events in 23 venues over a 10-day period today through Feb. 6. An array of local blues and R&B acts — including the Sun Messengers, Jocelyn B, Brett Lucas, Electric Gypsy, Bobby Murray, Alberta Adams and more — will perform.
The music festival each winter raises money for two local charities, Ferndale Youth Assistance and Michigan AIDS Coalition, and brings music and camaraderie to folks often suffering from cabin fever and winter blues.
Top sponsors this year include Bud Light, Paramount Bank, Blue Care Network, Svedka Vodka, and Dino's Lounge.
Most of the concerts are free with no cover charge.
New venues this year include Inyo, Affirmations, Angel's Cafée and Candle Wick Shop.
Several dozen volunteers help make the event successful. Some are assigned to concerts and help raise money through donations at the door and by passing the blue piggy banks that are icons of the festival. More than 75 of the piggy banks are in stores, shops, and restaurants throughout Ferndale.
Blue papier-méchée piggy banks are also out in the community, made by students with autism from Cooley High School in Detroit. Cary Watkins, a teacher at the school, has had students help with the festival for the past four years.
Blue lights and banners are strung across Ferndale, along with billboards and electronic signs on Woodward Avenue and Interstate 75.
The third outdoor Blues Barbecue and Ribs Burn-Out is noon to 8 p.m. Feb. 6 in the city parking lot behind Dino's Lounge on Woodward Avenue, sponsored by Garden Fresh Salsa, Buffalo Trace Bourbon and Bud Light.
Eleven local restaurants and chefs compete for the right to brag of the best ribs. Last year's winners included Marty O'Neil from State Farm and Ferndale Police Chief Michael Kitchen. Detroit's own homegrown band, the Reefermen, play live music from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 6.
Four events are smoke-free, including concerts at Angel's Cafée, Affirmations, Paramount Bank, and AJ's Cafée. The three latter venues are also alcohol-free.
Student groups will play at Paramount Bank and AJ's Cafée.
An up-to-date schedule of events and concerts can be found at
|FOXWOOD'S CASINO/HOUSE OF BLUES TEAM UP
Foxwoods Resort Casino is betting on the House of Blues to bolster its business.
The Connecticut gambling outfit is set to announce this week that it has been named the “presenting sponsor” of the Boston music venue, under a multiyear deal with concert giant Live Nation.
Foxwoods’ logo will be added throughout the 2,425-capacity House of Blues - which opened on Lansdowne Street across from Fenway Park last fall - and on a billboard that faces the Pike.
The marketing move comes as the casino, operated by the Mashantucket tribe, nears the end of a contentious labor dispute.
| NEWS FLASH: this just in from Sandy Beaches Cruises (aka: The Delbert McClinton cruise)...They're BACK!
Yeah, you heard it right. The caboose ran off the tracks and the fat lady got laryngitis. SBC 17 is sailing in 2011! Postcards will be going out to everyone on the waiting list for SBC 16, so they will get next crack at reserving a spot (SBC 16 cruisers got the opportunity on board). Then on February 10, the reservation lines will be open for everyone who wants to sign up. We have complete information on all the folks on the waiting list, so don't even try to call for information or reservations before February 10. All will be revealed at that time.
The number to call if you are interested in cruising with Delbert McClinton in 2011 is 1-800-335-2378!
Singer songwriter Chris Smither is one of our greatest acoustic roots musicians. He joins Elwood to talk about his friend Bonnie Raitt, who has recorded his music, about growing up in New Orleans, the 1960’s blues revival, and the craft of songwriting. His album is called TIME STANDS STILL. That will be heard, plus a live in-studio performance by Chris. Also, music from Dr. John, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, and more. This week’s blues breaker is new music from South Carolina slide guitarist, Davis Coen. And five lucky listeners will win FUNK AND BLUES MAN, the latest from funky Floridian Ronny Sessum.
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|Lowcountry Blues Bash
|21st Annual Riverwalk Blues and Music Festival
February 12-14, 2010
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.
|Charleston Blues Festival
February 13, 2010
Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
|Broadstairs Blues Bash
Friday-Monday, February 19-21, 2010
|Fat Tuesday - The Fish House's 6th Annual Mardi Gras Celebration
|Saskatoon Blues Festival
Click Here for Website
|Seia Jazz & Blues
February 26-27, 2010
Seia, Guarda, Portugal
|Phuket International Blues Rock Festival
February 26-27, 2010
Karon, Phuket, Thailand
|Costa Rica Blues Festival
February 27, 2010
San Jose, Costa Rica
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Mesa, Arizona, U.S.
|Kissimmee Festival of Rhythm & Blues
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Kissimmee, Florida, U.S.
|Mr. Sam's 2nd Annual Love Cruise
Monday-Saturday, March 1-6, 2010
From New Orleans to Progreso, Yucatan and Cozumel, Mexico
|Pickle's Blues Extravaganza
Friday-Saturday, March 5-6, 2010
Lima, Ohio, U.S.
|Tri-City Blues Fest
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Fremont, California, U.S.
|Bonita Blues Festival
Friday-Saturday, March 12-13,
2010 Bonita Springs, Florida, U.S.
|Johnnie Walker St. John Blues Festival
Wednesday, March 17-21, 2010
St. John, United States Virgin Islands, U.S.
|Breda Blues Night
Friday, March 19, 2010
Breda, Noord Brabant, Netherlands
|Plymouth Rock Blues Festival
Saturday, March 20 2010
Plymouth, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Blues Harmonica Jam Camp
Tuesday, March 23-27, 2010
Clarksdale, Mississippi, U.S.
|4th Annual "Blues & Art Fiesta
Saturday-Sunday, March 27-28, 2010
San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico
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