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|SOLOMON KING : : UNDER THE SUN
Solomon King's new CD, "Under the Sun", shines like a guiding light at the crossroads of contemporary electric blues. Powered by a rhythm section of hometown Motown legends: Ray Parker, Jr. (Ghostbusters), Ollie ‘Olliewood” Brown (Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder), Reggie McBride (Keb’Mo) and produced by another Detroit native, Sylvester Rivers (more than 100 gold and platinum selling recordings) "Under the Sun" is where Detroit soul meets Hollywood rock-n-roll. Two of the CD cuts: "Frankie and Johnnie" and "Jack Me Up", are featured on HBO's smash hit "True Blood".
To hear Solomon King is to carry on the tradition of the American Dream. It's like a piece of broken concrete was uprooted from the wreckage of the old Motor City dream factory and transplanted into the soul of the New American Dream factory: Hollywood, CA. So wake up and begin the dream again. Welcome to the New American Blues of Solomon King.
Click on button to hear:"Jack Me Up" which was featured on two episodes of HBO's Golden Globe winning True Blood series.
|LITTLE JOE McLERRAN : : BELIEVE I'LL MAKE A CHANGE
On February 7, 2009 Little Joe realized a goal, four years in the making, by taking 1st Place at the 25th Annual Blues Foundation's International Blues Challenge [IBC] held in Memphis. With three stellar sets in his fourth consecutive trip to the IBC, Little Joe walked away with the crown, all by himself.
Since winning the IBC, Little Joe has traveled from coast to coast and to Europe playing festivals and club dates. These dates have included the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, Oregon, the Illinois Blues Fest, the Heritage Blues Festival in Wheeling, West Virginia, the Rootsways Blues Festival in Parma, Italy and the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise into the Pacific.
Another highlight was the release of his fourth album, "Believe I'll Make a Change", on the Roots Blues Reborn record label. The new CD is being hearlded as Little Joe's finest work to date.
Click on button to hear "Believe I'll Make A Change"
|WILL TUCKER : : STEALIN' THE SOUL
Will Tucker was raised on blues and southern rock in Memphis, Tennessee. He was playing drums at age five, piano at eight, and guitar at age twelve. Little did he know that in the summer of 2008 when he performed at the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi that he would soon be a regular at nationally renowned BB King’s Blues Club on Memphis' Beale Street.
Will was discovered by Memphis BB King’s Blues Club owner, Tommy Peters, who calls Will “the axe man” and refers to him as “a 16 year old guitar prodigy who exploded onto the Memphis music scene.” Peters began putting Will to the test with different bands at BB King’s in Memphis and Orlando. After opening three times for BB King when he performed in Memphis, Will formed a band who now performs at BB King’s Blues Club every weekend. During 2008 and 2009, Will performed on stage with Charlie Musselwhite, G. Love and Special Sauce, and the Beach Boys with John Stamos.
In January 2009, Will opened for R&B star Angie Stone at the Martin Luther King Peace and Freedom concert. He and his trio performed in the 2009 International Blues Challenge which was promoted with a performance on “Live at 9” on WREG-TV in Memphis, TN and appeared on ESPN during the 2008 Liberty Bowl.
Will was fortunate to play the guitar one-on-one with ZZ Top legend Billy Gibbons and has received special interest from notable musicians such as David Porter, Jimi Jamison, and Keith Sykes.
Will produced his first CD in the fall of 2009 called "Stealin' the Soul" at Ardent Studios with Grammy nominated producer, Paul Speer.
Click on button to hear "Your Sacrifice"
|GIBSON PICKS TOP BLUES PLAYERS
Got the blues? Well, the blues got Gibsons. Gibson takes a look at some of the pioneering guitarists who have used their instruments while helping shape the history of rock and roll.
Albert King - Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix all studied King’s sharp tones and deep bends. Having picked up the first Korina model of the Flying V, he became synonymous with the guitar that encouraged his experimental, mind-blowing solos on classics like “Born Under a Bad Sign” and “(I Love) Lucy.”
B.B. King - Is there a more famous blues guitar than Lucille? King, ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as the third greatest guitarist of all time, has kept some incarnation of the ES-355 at his side since 1949. Gibson started manufacturing a custom-built model in 1980, allowing everyone to experience the sound that inspired guitarists from Eric Clapton to Keith Richards. Even Aerosmith’s Joe Perry got a customized model decorated with his wife’s visage, naming it Billie.
John Lee Hooker - He could do anything – sing, write or play. Using hollow-body electrics including Gibson ES-125s, ES-135s and Epiphone Sheratons, the Mississippi bluesman became known for his timeless one-chord stomps like “Boogie Chillen” and “Boom Boom.”
Robert Johnson - The name most people associate with the Delta blues played an L-1 acoustic guitar – the original, which allegedly appeared at auction a few years back, going for $6 million. Fortunately, the reproduction model is much more affordable, and not just for Johnson disciples like Led Zeppelin, Cream and the Stones. His life was brief and his death was mysterious, but his legacy – just 29 songs – is momentous.
Hubert Sumlin - This fingerstyle player served as Howlin’ Wolf’s sideman for more than 25 years. Sumlin is recognized as one of the originators of Chicago blues, using a Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. Hendrix often claimed Hubert was his favorite guitarist, which makes sense if you’ve ever had the chance to study his push-pull rhythms and blasts of noise on blues standards like "Smokestack Lightning," "Back Door Man" and "The Red Rooster.”
|BLUES FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES 2010 BLUES HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
The Blues Foundation has announced the inductees for the Blues Hall of Fame in 2010, including Louisiana-born, Chicago-based bluesman Lonnie Brooks, blues singer and harpist Charlie Musselwhite and singer, songwriter, guitarist and social activist Bonnie Raitt.
Among the other individuals that are being recognized by the Foundation this year include "The Father of the Blues" W.C. Handy, jug band pioneer Gus Cannon and Cannon's Jug Stompers, and the writer of many great "drinking songs," including "One Scotch, One Whiskey, One Beer," Amos Milburn.
American roots music writer Peter Guralnick and the legendary host of the King Biscuit Time program on KFFA radio in Helena, Arkansas Sonny Payne, are the non-performers being inducted this year. Sam Charters' groundbreaking research on the blues in the 1950s and '60s resulted in several books including this year's Classics of Blues Literature inductee - The Bluesmen.
The following singles or album tracks will be inducted during the ceremony: "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)" by Otis Rush, "Fever" by Little Willie John, "Key to the Highway" by Big Bill Broonzy, "Match Box Blues" by Blind Lemon Jefferson and "Spoonful" by Howlin' Wolf. These albums are also being honored: Strong Persuader by Robert Cray, Hung Down Head by Lowell Fulson and I Hear Some Blues Downstairs by Fenton Robinson.
The induction ceremony will be held on Wednesday, May 5, at the Memphis Marriott Downtown in Memphis, Tennessee, the night before the 31st Blues Music Awards. Plans are underway now individually honor each of the inductees that night.
The Hall of Fame committee, consisting of scholars, record producers, radio programmers, and historians, is chaired by Jim O'Neal, founding editor of Living Blues.
On May 6, the night after the Blues Hall of Fame inductions, The Blues Foundation will present the Blues Music Awards for the 31st time. Performers, industry representatives, and fans from around the world will celebrate the best in Blues recording, songwriting and performance from the previous year at the Memphis Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis.
|CLEARWATER SEA- BLUES FESTIVAL
The City of Clearwater Florida is proud to present its Annual Sea-Blues Festival. Visit Downtown Clearwater's beautiful park overlooking the intercoastal waterway for the best in world class Blues, while quenching your appetite for the finest Gulf coast cuisine...jumbo shrimp, crab cakes, oysters, crawfish, gumbo and much more!
FEBRUARY 19 - 21 2010
Robert Cray Band
Shaun Murphy of Little Feat
Chris Duarte & Bluestone Co.
Walker Smith Group
Lazy Boy & the Rockers
|Jimi Hendrix's Rare Blues Cover To Be Released After 40 Years
'The Filth And The Fury' director Julien Temple also signs up to film the video for 'Bleeding Heart'
A rare Jimi Hendrix cover recorded over 40 years ago is set to be released next month.
'Bleeding Heart', the late veteran's take on Elmore James' classic blues song, is being lined up for a digital release on March 1 and a seven-inch vinyl release seven days later.
Originally recorded in April 1969, the studio recording, featuring Hendrix, bassist Billy Cox and drummer Rocky Isaac, has never been released until now.
Julien Temple, who previously directed the Sex Pistols documentary 'The Filth And The Fury' has also made a video to accompany the track.
The single will feature previously unreleased B-side 'Peace In Mississippi' and will be released in conjunction with his forthcoming posthumous studio album 'Valleys Of Neptune'.
News of the release comes after Hendrix's sister Janie Hendrix revealed that the late legend is to get his own version of the Rock Band computer game.
| FREE BLUES CAMP FOR KIDS IN CHICAGO
Free Blues Camp Audition Saturday, March 13 10:00 AM – Noon Ages 12 – 18
Artistic Director, Fernando Jones @ Columbia College Chicago Music Center 1014 S. Michigan Ave.
Blues Camp will be held at Columbia College Chicago July 4 – 9, 2010
|Chicago Blues Guitarist Battles Mental Illness With Music
(CHICAGO) (WLS) - Chicago's blues guitarist Lurrie Bell is considered by some to be one of the most talented blues guitarists of his generation. This is a major accomplishment for Bell, especially since he has been struggling with mental illness most of his life. Lurrie Bell has been performing for 40 years. He is a regular at Buddy Guy's.
Bell said he has been confused about life for a long time. "I had an accident, had a concussion, had to stay in hospital as a kid for six months, and the effects of that stayed with me for years and years and years," said Bell, "and it caused me to feel kind of depressed and felt like I didn't fit in with society.
"I didn't feel so depressed when I picked up the guitar or picked up the harmonica or sung a number. It made me feel like everything was gonna be alright."
Last fall, Bell was one of the recipients of the 3Arts Artist Award.
Esther Grimm is the executive director. "Our mission is to support Chicago artists, and not just any Chicago artist, we have a focus on women, people of color and people with disabilities working in the music, theater and visual arts," said Grimm.
Bell's history with mental illness and talent exemplifies why he was selected for the $15,000 award. "He's exceptionally talented. He is recognized locally to a certain extent in our city. He hasn't received a major award like this before," Grimm said.
Bell's first CD, Let's Talk About Love, was recorded in 2007. With the award, he is able to get started on his new CD. "It's gonna be a gospel and blues traditional CD," said Bell, "and I'm gonna use part of the money for that. Part of the money I'm gonna use for expenses...as far as transportation to get me around, get me to certain jobs."
Lurrie Bell performs at Buddy Guy's every Thursday and Friday.
|Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck politely share stage for first time at New York's Madison Square Garden
Guitar dreams don't get more dramatic than this.
Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck -- two of the holy trinity of living axe-men -- performed their first-ever full American concert together at Madison Square Garden Thursday night.(For the record, the third guitar deity is Jimmy Page.) All three played in the seminal British blues band the Yardbirds back in the '60s, with Beck having replaced Clapton in '65.
In the years since, Beck has wavered through an erratic career, ducking in and out of the limelight, while Clapton has barely left it for a second.
Their divergent careers may account for some of the difference in attitude and effort displayed by the two legends last night.
Beck, who opened with a 45-minute solo set, played as if he still had something to prove, reeling off solos informed by equal parts technical derring-do and emotional resonance.
Clapton more often held back in his set, letting the songs rule while doling out his runs with dutiful care. Only in the concert's final third did the two stars cross axes at last.
Beck's opening mirrored his changeable career, careening from funky blues to fusion jazz to grand balladry. In Jeff Buckley's "Corpus Christi," he infused his guitar with all the hurt and variety of a human voice. His instrumental version of the Beatles "A Day In The Life" recreated the song's entire panoply aided by an orchestral backup. Even a reach into opera -- a run at "Nossom Dorma" -- sounded both edgy and ravishing.
Clapton's set proved far drowsier, opening with four acoustic shuffles. Although his solos were immaculate and scholarly, they were also distanced, weighed down further by the star's indifferent backing band. Unfortunately, Clapton's group backed the tandem section, rather than Beck's more feverish players.
The two stars found common ground in the blues but largely kept out of each other's way, rarely goosing each other and therefore establishing only a polite rapport. Nowhere did Clapton show the intimacy and emotion he enjoyed in his brilliant Garden show with Steve Winwood last year. Beck put more muscle in his playing, as well more wit, especially in "Shake Your Money Maker" and a lovely take on "Moon River." Moments like that gave the show value. But as far as fulfilling a generation's life-long fantasy, let's just say it lived better in our minds.
BY Jim Farber
DAILY NEWS MUSIC CRITIC
|Zeppelin's "Stairway" Covered By Mary J. Blige
(RTTNews) - An all-star group of musicians has covered Led Zeppelin's seminal 1971 song "Stairway to Heaven."
R&B singer Mary J. Blige assembled a cast that included Blink-182's drummer Travis Barker, Michael Jackson's touring guitarist Orianthi, guitarist Steve Vai, and American Idol judge Randy Jackson on bass. The group cut a cover of the legendary rock song in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
"Some people might consider it blasphemy, but Mary's voice really is a nice match [for the song]," producer Ron Fair explained to the Los Angeles Times of the cover. "Robert Plant's high-pitched blues thing is right in step with Mary's vocal range, and she brings the soul music to it, which is what Plant was going for in the first place."
Blige does have experience covering rock classics. Blige has recorded a cover of U2's "One" on her 2005 album The Breakthrough.
The all-star cover of "Stairway to Heaven" will appear as one of the bonus tracks on the overseas release of her latest album, Stronger With Each Tear.
|UIC's 20th Annual Blues Cabaret Feb. 26
The University of Illinois at Chicago concludes Black History Month with the 20th annual Blues Cabaret featuring Shemekia Copeland on February 26.
Blues vocalist Shemekia Copeland, daughter of the late Texas blues guitar legend Johnny Clyde Copeland, has established herself as a signature performer since releasing her first album in 1998 at age 19.
Copeland has opened for the Rolling Stones, headlined at the Chicago Blues Festival and other festivals around the world, and garnered critics choice awards from The New York Times and The Times of London. She has also shared the stage with Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Taj Mahal and John Mayer.
The UIC Forum is the newest event venue on campus. Located at the corner of Roosevelt Road and Halsted Street, the UIC Forum has a main hall, two floors of meeting space, a 150-seat theater and a 25-seat training room. The 22, 000-square-foot main hall seats 3, 000 and features a theatrical lighting system, state-of-the-art concert sound and telescopic seating.
|ST. JOHN BLUES FESTIVAL
"The hottest blues festival on the coolest Caribbean island"
Wednesday - March 17th through Sunday - March 21st
The main show is Saturday evening March 20th - 7:00 PM in the Coral Bay Ball Field
The Deanna Bogart Band - The Ford Blues Band - EG Kight - JP Soars & The Red Hots - JT Lauritsen - Shakura S'Aida - Billy Gibson - The Ty Curtis Band - Washboard Jo
|A Guitar Hero Won’t Play the Game
NYTimes -In late January, Jeff Beck flew to LA from London for the Grammy Awards, capping what had been an unusually active year for him. Not only did he win his fifth Grammy, in the best rock instrumental category for a version of the Beatles’ “Day in the Life,” but he also led a televised memorial tribute to the electric guitar pioneer Les Paul that, in contrast to some of the other live performances that night, was flawless.
But the most illuminating moment of the visit may have been supplied by Stephen Colbert in the monologue that opened the Grammy show. “Honey, do you know who Jeff Beck is?” he asked his daughter, sitting in the audience. When she shook her head no and looked baffled, Mr. Colbert explained: “Well, you know the game ‘Guitar Hero?’ He has the all-time high score — and he’s never played it.”
That, in a nutshell, defines Mr. Beck’s peculiar situation. At 65, with a distinguished career that dates back to the earliest days of the British Invasion, he remains the greatest guitarist that millions of people have never heard of. But the master instrumentalist in him has resisted making the concessions that would allow him to be heard more widely in an era in which his craft has been reduced to a video game with colored buttons.
The creators of “Guitar Hero” invited Mr. Beck to be an avatar in the game, but he declined. “Who wants to be in a kid’s game, like a toy shop?” he asked dismissively during an interview the day before the Grammys. “There’s just this mad avalanche of material that’s available, so it’s so hard for aspiring young players to find where they should go” and “not be enslaved to yet another tool or device.”
With a new manager and a forthcoming record on a new label, Mr. Beck is instead trying to resolve his dilemma the old-fashioned way. He spent a large part of 2009 on the road, and in April was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist, the second time that body had honored him. In late October he dazzled at the 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert at Madison Square Garden, performing, among other numbers, “Superstition,” a song that Stevie Wonder originally wrote for him, alongside Mr. Wonder, a friend of 40 years’ standing.
This year the pace is accelerating. On Thursday and Friday Mr. Beck and his pal Eric Clapton will be performing together at Madison Square Garden, the second stop on a four-city mini-tour. Mr. Beck and his new band will then head off to Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea before returning to the United States in April, when his first studio recording in seven years, “Emotion & Commotion,” is scheduled to be released by Atco.
“I was almost a recluse, and now you can’t get rid of me,” he said. “It just seems like I’ve picked the right moment to move. There’s a commitment I’ve made over the last year really,” prodded by his new manager and musicians he respects, “and now you’re seeing the results of that.” Originally Mr. Beck was one of what Jan Hammer, the jazz and fusion pianist and drummer who is a friend and longtime collaborator, calls “the holy trinity” of British guitar players to emerge from the 1960s. Like Mr. Clapton and Jimmy Page, the founder of Led Zeppelin, Mr. Beck first came to prominence as a member of the Yardbirds, playing blues-inflected rock ’n’ roll, and then went out on his own.
As a solo artist for the last 43 years Mr. Beck has built a reputation as the guitar player’s guitar player. Though notoriously self-effacing, even insecure, about his own talent, he has regularly topped reader polls in guitar magazines and has become a major influence on three generations of players, particularly through his use of harmonics and the whammy bar on the Fender Stratocaster he prefers to play.
“Jeff Beck is the best guitar player on the planet,” said Joe Perry, the lead guitarist of Aerosmith and a Beck admirer since his teenage years. “He is head, hands and feet above all the rest of us, with the kind of talent that appears only once every generation or two.”
|Under the Radar, They're Rocking and Rolling in Saudi Arabia
For young musicians in Saudi Arabia, rocking and rolling can mean risking everything.
The last three years have seen an explosion in the kingdom's underground music scene, with bands playing everything from hip-hop and rock to punk and death metal. There are currently more than 40 bands quietly rocking the nation, playing gigs in private homes, in residential compounds that house foreign workers and in tents in the middle of the vast Saudi desert.
But rocking in Riyadh and moshing in Mecca have their risks. The dreaded Mutaween — the Saudi religious police tasked with enforcing Shariah, the nation's strict Islamic law, feel you have to suffer if you want to sing the blues. They've arrested band members for holding concerts without permits, and they've charged some concert organizers with money laundering, according to Saudi musicians and human rights organizations that monitor the oil-rich kingdom.
The threat to the Saudi regime isn't the music itself, but rather the kingdom's teenagers and young adults, who have grown up with computers, iPhones and satellite TVs, said human rights advocate Ali Alyami.
"The biggest threat to Saudi stability isn't Al Qaeda. It's the Saudi youth. None of their needs or demands are being met.
"There's no jobs and people can't date. They see what their counterparts around the world have, and they want it too."
More than half of the kingdom's 28 million residents are under 25, and educated and tech-savvy youths who are drawn to the sounds of the West are using Internet tools like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace to get their ya-ya's out.
"These young people want an outlet. They're not allowed to drink or date girls, and so one of the few things they can do is start bands," said Alyami, director for the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, a non-profit based in Washington D.C.
"Unfortunately the fear from the government side is that they consider this a threat to the system, and so they arrest them."
The numbers of musicians and concert organizers who have been arrested and jailed is a closely guarded government secret, Saudi watchers say. While Western-style music is technically not outlawed, there are no concert venues or clubs to hold shows, and bands must obtain permits from the government in order to play.
Saudi musicians say their music offers them a creative outlet to get their styles and messages out to fans and like-minded rockers in Europe, the U.S. and the rest of the Middle East. They say their sound helps dispel the notion that Muslims are interested only in terrorism and spreading jihad.
"Having long hair or being dressed in black with monster drawings on our shirts is considered to be abnormal here, buts it's not like we worship Satan or perform voodoo," said Jude Jd Aldajani, 24, who plays in a death metal band in Jeddah.
"We are proud of being Muslims rather than being hated by millions throughout the world."
But the Mutaween, who answer directly to King Abdullah and hold virtually unlimited power, view music as contradicting Wahhabi ideology and as a distraction from God, critics of the regime say.
Officials at the Saudi embassy in Washington D.C. did not return calls seeking comment.
With no studios available for them to record, Saudi musicians import their own equipment from the West and cut their own records in home studios, and they distribute their CDs for free, said guitarist and singer Mohammed Al-Hajjaj.
"We're fighting for acceptance and we are doing our best. We don't have any interest in politics. All we care about is the art and playing gigs," said Al-Hajjaj, who lives in the eastern port city of Damman and plays in a band called Sound of Ruby.
Al-Hajjaj, 30, has a degree in marketing and has recorded eight full-length CDs. He's now recording his first solo album in a home studio for a Saudi-based music label. He said he and his fellow band members were arrested at their first concert for not having a permit.
To get around the permit problem, musicians now get the word out on Facebook and other Web sites, and they perform word-of-mouth gigs in private homes and residential compounds that house Westerners, which are off-limits to the Mutaween.
Sound of Ruby has also performed across the border in music-friendly Dubai, which attracts big-name rock acts from all over the world.
Some Saudi watchers say the regime is slowly loosening restrictions. In 2008, the government for the first time allowed a mixed-gender audience to attend a Mozart performance sponsored by the German Embassy.
But slow isn't nearly fast enough in the age of the Internet, and the Web is rapidly bringing Western musical influences into the kingdom, which — unlike China — doesn't block access to Facebook and Twitter.
Hasan Hatrash, a Saudi journalist and rock musician, says government restriction of rock performances just makes the underground scene stronger.
"It's sad that a lot of talent is going to waste, especially with the lack of a regulated music scene," he said. "But on the other hand, it is this hard situation that really makes an artist and brings out the best in you, because you're expressing the reality in your work."
Hatrash said the underground gigs are packed, sometimes with as many as 500 fans, a feat accomplished through online buzz and organization, according to Aldajani, the death metal musician.
"The Internet has helped all sorts of musicians and artists in spreading their messages. Web sites like Twitter and iLike are helping fans reach us. Our music scene here is bursting and spreading to other countries, and we thank the Internet for our free marketing," Aldajani said.
|Are Milwaukeeans Still Singing The Blues?
Run by owner Deb Mickey for 29 years, many Milwaukeeans believe Mamie's to be the city's last blues club.
Maureen Post-OnMilwaukee.com Staff Writer - Ask blues musicians, fans and experts around town and you'll quickly find that Mamie's, 3300 National Ave., is generally thought to be the sole remaining "authentic" blues bar in town.
Folks credit the Milwaukee Ale House, the Up and Under Pub, Painted Parrot or Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall with providing the occasional stage, but in the end Mamie's is the only stop completely dedicated to the blues.
"Mamie's is probably the last real blues bar in the city. Owner Deb Mickey is a true believer and all they play there is blues. If you don't play blues, you can't play there," says musician Reverend Raven, who fronts Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys.
Mamie's is what you expect a blues club to be. Located on 33rd Street and National Avenue, the bar represents its South Side neighborhood with good deals, no frills and great music. The patrons are regulars and the bartenders know everyone by name.
"I love the blues," says Mickey. "A lot of times I think you just do it for yourself. I think I might be a little selfish that way. Charles Walker, Hounds Tooth and Reverend Raven all play here. I love them but I can't get them as much as I'd like to."
Aside from "Open Mic" Tuesdays, Mamie's stage is strictly blues with a weekly show on Friday night from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Musicians this month include Pee Wee Hayes, Blue Wagon and Raven.
Some musicians, however, believe the concept of a Milwaukee blues club died when the Up and Under Pub changed ownership in 2006.
"Mamie's, in my opinion, is a borderline blues bar," says Victor Span, drummer for Perry Weber and the Devilles. " They bring in some great acts but, like most bars, they're more concerned with how many people you're going to bring out."
"Mamie's has been around for a long time and she's probably the most consistent but they don't bring in regional or national acts," JD Optekar, guitarist for Hounds Tooth says. "If you play there on a Friday night, the place will be full with maybe 40 or 50 people, but we see in other cities, if you partner with a blues society, they can get 150 out for a band they don't even know."
There seems to be a consensus that blues clubs in Milwaukee are few and far between. Accordingly, the lack of local venues begs the question, is blues music still alive in Milwaukee? In short, the answer is a bit fuzzy, somewhere between yes and no.
MILWAUKEE'S BLUES SCENE
"Back in '94 when I moved from Chicago to the Brady Street area, there was a vibrant blues scene. Jim Liban ruled the roost. Sunday jam sessions at the Up and Under were jam packed.
Perry Weber, Billy Flynn, people would come up from Chicago, it was a great scene," says Raven. "And then slowly through the '90s, they started dying out; blues clubs started closing or stopped doing the blues. It's kind of gone underground."
Milwaukee-based musicians like Raven, Liban, Perry Weber and Alex Wilson can be heard on blues nights at bars across town and at festivals like "Jazz in the Park." But, hometown shows are only possible thanks to the money the bands earn on tour.
"If you want to make a living, you really have to hit the road. There's a blues bar in every town in Wisconsin and Minnesota," Raven says.
"The beauty of the Midwest is that there are so many mid-size cities close to each other," adds Span. "It's great for travelling. Most cities have one legitimate blues club, and because it's known for authentic blues shows, they can bring out of town bands and a crowd will show up."
Perhaps time spent away from home adds the bona fide element of heartache, pain and passion that fuels the blues. Regardless, local artists find regional tours a necessary part of the job and very often, that a more thriving blues scene exists elsewhere.
"In my mind, authentic blues bars not only support the local scene but bring in regional or national artists," Optekar says. "In Madison, there's the Harmony Bar and in Indianapolis, The Slippery Noodle. I've only been in Milwaukee for five years or so, but guys that have been around for a long time, listening to their stories, the Up and Under used to be that place."
What sparked the change in the local scene? In general, it seems to be a generational shift; the consequence of an aging baby boomer generation.
"Really the baby boomers have always been huge supporters of blues and like in every other market, with the economic downturn, baby boomers, statistically, aren't drinking as much and aren't staying out as late," Optekar says. "And if that's the core market, well then you have to find a way to attract 20 and 30-year-olds, but you also have to stay true to what you love."
"There's been sort of a generational change. The baby boomers in the '90s were really the demographic of blues fans. As that generation has aged and stopped going out as much, it's changed. The quality of bands has deteriorated or at least been watered down."
"There wasn't a different generation of fans or college students that hooked on to the music and kept it going," says Raven.
At the Up and Under -- once a local beacon for blues fans -- owner Tim Brodersen points to the need and desire to diversify.
"We still have some great blues acts that come through like Alex Wilson, but we love our rock 'n' roll, reggae and other forms of music," he says.
For a city only a quick drive from Chicago, a city historically known for branding its own collection of blues artists, the lack of attention and support is surprising.
"The blues scene in Chicago still vibrant. You've got people from around the world coming to Chicago for the blues; you've got a steady stream of tourists and a hardcore fan base. But still, you see clubs closing; it's smaller but it's still there," says Raven.
But, despite thinning crowds and fewer gigs, a unity between local artists survives as the gap between "old-style" and "modern" blues styles continues to shrink.
"There's a lot of new bands in Milwaukee -- Robert Allen Jr., Alex Wilson, Hounds Tooth, Charles Walker," says Raven. "It's nice to see a younger generation out there playing and touring."
A YOUNGER GENERATION OF BLUES
As the Milwaukee crowds have changed, so has the music itself.
From originals like Mamie Smith and Ma Rainey to B.B. King and Muddy Waters in the '60s, Stevie Ray Vaughan in the '80s and Kenny Wayne Shepherd and The Black Keys today, the style, influence, tempo and instrumentation of the blues continues to evolve.
"People have an idea in their head of what blues is -- maybe its country or older styles of blues. Everything is related to the blues and I think if people saw how broad reaching it is, they would find they really like it," Kris Raymond, founder and president of the Grafton Blues Association says.
"Jared Nichols, our lead, he's 20 years old," says Optekar. "Jared can play old style traditional blues but we tend to play a modern dual guitar style."
B.B. King sparked the addition of brass sections to the blues and other artists like Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters added the rhythm of bass and drums. Later, The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton would pull the international spotlight of rock into the blues scene.
While the older generation of artists like Weber and Liban stays true to its interpretation of the blues, the younger guns are adding more genres -- like funk and r&b -- to the mix. And while some have embraced the "hybridized" concept, others remain fundamental in their views and are critically resistant.
"I think the blues in Milwaukee is struggling but that is true of the blues and the industry in general throughout the country," says Charles Walker, guitarist for the Charles Walker Blues Band. "In Milwaukee, we try and blur the lines between blues, r&b and funk. We're really playing a hybrid, which seems to connect with a younger audience."
"I call it the 'guitar-magedden,'" says Span. "Some bands listen to Hendrix or Zeppelin and consider that blues. As much great as Stevie Ray Vaughan did to revive the blues, he also spawned a generation of blues players who don't understand the craft."
"Authentic is a tricky word when it comes to purists," says Walker. "A purist will call what I do not blues. But, B.B. King's 'The Thrill is Gone' doesn't sound much like Robert Johnson's 'Sweet Home Chicago.' So there has been change in the blues. But the stories and the feelings, are universal. It's just the delivery that needs to evolve."
|ALLIGATOR RECORDS SIGNS ANDERS OSBORNE
AMERICAN PATCHWORK SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 27, 2010 RELEASE
Alligator Records is proud to announce the signing of award-winning guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Anders Osborne. Osborne's Alligator Records debut album, American Patchwork, is a moving collection of soul-baring roots rock, blues and ballads. Many of the songs on American Patchwork deal with healing and redemption, spirituality and acceptance. Often compared to Townes Van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen and Van Morrison, Osborne is an exceptional and singular talent. Paste Magazine says, "Osborne has an impossibly great voice and the songs to match." American Patchwork will be released on April 27, 2010.
According to Alligator president Bruce Iglauer, Anders is a perfect fit for the label. "We at Alligator are very excited to have a visionary artist like Anders Osborne join our roster. Having traveled over much of the world and honed his music in New Orleans, Anders combines a deep feeling for many genres of American roots music with straight-from-the-heart, deeply soulful songwriting. His voice has the unvarnished emotional honesty that we love. As a guitarist, he's simply thrilling. He's one of America's finest roots music artists, and we're honored to have him on Alligator."
Anders Osborne is in full agreement, saying, "I am very pleased to be working with such a reputable and classic American label like Alligator Records. This record, American Patchwork, means a helluva lot to both me and the guys helping me get it done. I wouldn't hand it over to just anybody. I am proud to call Alligator Records my label."
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| "15th Annual Blues Harmonica Summit".
Saturday March 6th 2010 at the Melody Ballroom (downstairs)
615 S.E. Alder, Portland, OR. 8:00 pm to 12:00 midnight?
$10.00 at the door (21 and over only)
$9.00 to Cascade Blues Association, Washington Blues Society,
and Rainy Day Blues Society Members.
Featured Artists will be ---------------
Johnny Ward (Portlands Original Harpman)
Little Ronnie Sirota (Harpman from NYC)
Mike Moothart (Northwest Legend)
Tim O'Hare (Upstart New Guy)
Bill Rhoades (6 time Muddy winner)
Plus an All-Star House Band ----------------------
Paris Slim - Guitar - (French veteran of Oakland, CA. Blues scene)
Rick Welter - Guitar - (Former Musselwhite sideman and Blues giant)
Nathan Waddell - Bass - (Former Los Falcons and Eugene Symphony)
Eddie Clark - Drums - (Former William Clarke / Smokey Wilson drummer)
"Come on out and watch these guys "Rock The House".
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|JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR:
Elwood welcomes British blueswoman Joanne Taylor Shaw, and her first CD, WHITE SUGAR, to the Radio Hour. Only in her mid-twenties, this dynamic blues player has been compared to Dusty Springfield and Stevie Ray Vaughn. She tells us how to get the blues in Birmingham, England. And we will hear some of the players who helped shape her person style: Stevie Ray, Bernard Allison, Albert Collins, and some Candye Kane as well. Also, new music from two Gregg Allman Band veterans, the Toler/Townsend Band. There is a chance for five lucky listeners to win a copy of Eric Bibb’s new album, Booker’s Guitar, Eric’s tribute to songster Booker White, and the other country blues players of the nineteen thirties. Take your chance right here!
for times and stations in your area.
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Over 500 festivals are listed on the website www.BluesFestivalGuide.com
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|Orlando Blues B-Q
Saturday, February 20, 2010
City Hall Plaza
Click here for Website
|Knology Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival
February 19-21, 2010
|Broadstairs Blues Bash
Friday-Monday, February 19-21, 2010
|Saskatoon Blues Festival
|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
|RBA Publishing Inc is based in Reno, NV with a satellite office in Beverly Hills, Florida. We produce the annual Blues Festival Guide magazine (now in its 7th year), the top-ranking website: www.BluesFestivalGuide.com, and this weekly blues newsletter: The Blues Festival E-Guide with approximately 20,000 weekly subscribers. We look forward to your suggestions, critiques, questions, etc.
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|Information - both editorial and advertising - in the Blues Festival E-Guide - is believed to be correct but not guaranteed - so check it carefully before you attend any event or send money for anything. We do not write the news... just report it.