Sunday, May 29, 2011

Concert Review: Tedeschi Trucks Band, Seattle May 26, 2011

By Rick J Bowen  
Headlining a nearly sold out show at Seattle's Moore theater is an unlikely place to see a new band, but that is precisely what everyone got Thursday night while experiencing the debut tour of the Tedeschi Trucks band. The Grammy award winning husband and wife team of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks have essentially combined their two bands into on power house eleven member show band. while the two have a long history with a respectable number of hit songs and fan favorites, Thursday nights show was all about this new band and their new album Revelator, to be released June 7th. In their 90 minute set the band presented entirely new material along with three playful covers songs. This is quite a statement of where these established artist are in this moment and how they want to be perceived.

RevelatorSusan Tedeschi delivered her signature blazing vocals and solid guitar work on every number, while Derek Trucks delivered the most mesmerizing slide guitar playing heard anywhere.The songs ran the gamut from rocking blues to gospel and jamming jazz. Anchored by the jack hammer double drumming from JJ Johnson and Tyler Greenwell and the Burbridge brothers Oteil and Kofi on bass and keyboards with the super funky horn section of trumpeter Maurice Brown,Saxophonist Kebbie Williams and Saunders Sermons on trombone,created a wall of sound that almost overpowered the Moore theater PA system. Each number showed off the almost telepathic communication among the players and featured fiery solos and trade offs with sweeping dynamics.

The first cover song was "Sing a Simple Song" from Sly and the Family Stone,featuring terrific vocals from Mark Rivers and Mike Mattison. Next came a nod to Seattle's Jimi Hendrix with a jazzy psychedelic run down of "Manic Depression," sung by bassist Oteil Burbridge. Next Susan announced "this one is just for fun," as the band launched into the Stevie Wonder Classic "Uptight" (everything's alright), which broke down into a mind blowing bass solo and playful double drum solo.

The full band then returned to the stage for the final number "Learn To Love," a raw rocker built on a great guitar riff from Trucks,which will no doubt be hitting the airwaves soon. The audience responded with a stunned standing ovation as the band exited the stage, clearly wanting more. Trucks led them back on stage for the encore of current single "Bound for Glory," that tore the house down.

Long time Fans of Tedeschi and Trucks as individuals may have come away from this show with some disappointment in not hearing familiar songs, but no doubt everyone experienced the musical mastery of this new phase in Susan and Derek's mighty career.

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Tailor Made Blues" - Alabama Mike (Juke House Records)

By Malcolm Kennedy
Tailor Made Blues

Vocalist Alabama Mike Benjamin is assisted by six guitarists including Scott Brenton (6 cuts) who adds harp to 5 tracks, three each on keyboards and bass as well as a four piece horn section on two cuts and one with five pieces. The 19 professional musicians who are part of Tailor Made Blues form tight combos making for 11 tough tracks.

Scott’s harmonica, Sid Morris’ piano and Jon Lawton’s fat guitar tone combine to make “Eddie Lee” a winner. The paired down front porch acoustic stylings of “I’m Gone” had me tapping my toes and “Moon Dog Howl” had a sparse Howlin’ Wolf like vibe. “Stop Putting Me On” had a Bobby Bland soul blues touch and “Look Here Baby” is a rolling blues rumba showing more of Alabama Mike’s versatility. There isn’t a dud in the bunch, and the cover of Junior Wells’ “Hoo Doo Man” is tastefully done, in fact without the lyrics you wouldn’t recognize it.

Tailor Made Blues is cut from sturdy cloth and I highly recommend it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

An All-Star Band at Highway 99

By Robert Horn   (or some may know him as Robert "Susan Lucci-Rodney Dangerfield" Horn)
Saturday, April 23, 2011, an amazing show happened at the Highway 99 Blues Club. I have long been impressed by Kim Field on harmonica and vocals. I remember Paul DeLay's wake at The Triple Door a few years ago. Back then there were a number of great harmonica players on stage. Kim unplugged the harmonica from the mic and walked to the center of the stage. He then played a harmonica solo louder than anyone has probably played it with the aid of electricity. He hit the high notes with perfect tone while performing a passionate and artistically powerful example of how great audible art can be.

That Saturday he surprised me again in a good way. He performed great, but it wasn't just him. He had the help of his band in its new form. That new form contains something bigger than the sum of its parts, but the parts are pretty amazing. He now has two guitar players that are perhaps the best two-guitar-player-combination a band can have.

Tom Boyle and Tim Sherman together in the same band is something I've tried to think of a sports analogy for, but all sports analogies fall flat. That is because of a few things: these guys are really buddies so a Shaq and Kobie example doesn't come close, and these guys have a whole band that complements their styles. Tim played some sweet sensitive guitar that escalated to a fiery crescendo of passion that got the crowd on its feet, and Tom gave him a great hug when he did it. Tom got perhaps the biggest applause of the night when his stratocaster got the ultra fast hand movement that melted the pick and gave everyone there delightful eargasms from the music it made.

Kim sang as well as ever, and his harmonica had the tone worthy of his bands name: Kim Field & the Mighty Titans of Tone. A list of guest performers made it into a big band. There was the Emerald City Horns to back up the band that included Mr Brady on bass and Andrew Cloutier on drums among other treats. Bill Rhodes from Portland sang and played harmonica as did Mike Lynch. There was also something new, The Titanettes (no kidding). Yes two women singers sang some harmony and background for Kim and the band.

Find where you can catch Kim and the band, go see and hear the act. It is pretty damn amazing. Or, you can buy their latest CD by clicking on the cover image below:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The 2011 Best of Blues Extravaganza

by Robert "Susan Lucci" Horn
This year the Washington Blues Society's  "Best of Blues" awards (also known as the BB's) had the sound of more music and less talk. Was that 17 music acts, or 40 performers performing on stage? I may have the numbers wrong since I am relying on statements others made from the stage. The evening began with Kevin Sutton leading a band from the stage through the crowd performing "Minnie the Moocher" from the tops of tables in different parts of the audience. He brought his platoon of musicians back on stage as they finished the last couple lyrics. That was a beginning fitting for what followed until 11 pm or so. There were some awards spread out between musical acts instead of some musical acts spread out through the awards. Music was the emphasis and the crowd liked it.

Photo by Tom Hunnewell
Some of the performances included Back Porch Stomp (with Nick Vigarino showing what blew audiences away recently in Memphis at the IBC), JD Hobson (which blew me away at the event), Hot Rod's Blues Revue, The Stacy Jones Band, and The Wired Band. Mark Riley added a little humor when he won the award for slide guitar. His first words on the mic were, "Nick, how did this happen?" Then Mark showed why it happened, he did an astoundingly great solo performance on the slide guitar. BB winners in different categories joined in with bands on stage so you got to hear CD Woodbury, Jeff Herzog, Randy Oxford, and Suze Sims performing in superbands this night.

Photo by Tom Hunnewell
I got to sit in a section where everyone (except for one guy who writes articles) won BB Awards. My contribution to the festivities is that I am catching up with Eric Maddis in the catagory of Most BB Nominations without a BB Award. In a few more years I can pass Eric and win the Susan Lucci Award. It was fun to hang out with Randy Oxford, Son Jack and Michael Wilde, on one side and Lee Oskar on the other. I got close to greatness.

There is always great talent at BB Award shows. We brought in Charlie Musselwhite in 2003 and that was great. I enjoyed the show that night as much as any of them though. The Triple Door seems like a perfect place for this. Someday it may expand beyond its capacity if the word gets out about how great this event is.

Photo by Tom Hunnewell
Oh, ya, some of the award winners included CD Woodbury for Best Electric Blues Guitar, the amazing Lissa Ramaglia for Best Bass Guitar, Scotty Harris for Best Horn, Andrew Cloutier got the Chris Leighton Best Blues Drummer Award, Randy Oxford won for Best Blues Recording, and Kevin Sutton walked away with a few BB's including one for Best Blues Performer.

Here is a complete list of the  2011 Washington Blues Society "Best of the Blues" Award Recipients:

Blues Image
Michelle Burge & Margene: Oct 2010 Bluesletter Cover (Women in Blues)

Blues Graphic Artist
Dennis Hacker

Blues DJ
Jonathan “Oogie” Richards, KSER-FM

Lifetime Achievement
Charles White

Keeping the Blues Alive
Tim and Michelle Burge

Blue to the Bone
Dean Jacobsen
Dave Nichols

Hall of Fame
LJ Porter

Blues Writer
Malcolm Kennedy

Open Blues Jam
Madison Pub with Unbound

Non-Festival Blues Event
Blues Vespers

Blues Festival
Sunbanks Rhythm & Blues Festival

Blues Club
The Oxford Saloon

Acoustic Blues Guitar
Son Jack, Jr.

Blues Bass
Lissa Ramaglia

Electric Blues Guitar
CD Woodbury

Slide Blues Guitar
Mark Riley

Chris Leighton Blues Drummer
Andrew Cloutier

Blues Horn
Scotty Harris

Paul Green Blues Harmonica
Jeff Herzog

Blues Piano/Keyboard
Eric “Two Scoops” Moore

Washington Blues Recording
Teach You A LessonRandy Oxford Band: Teach You a Lesson 

Mark Dufresne Male Vocalist
Sammy Eubanks

Blues Female Vocalist
Suze Sims

Traditional Blues Act
Little Bill & the Blue Notes

Solo/Duo Blues Act
Back Porch Stomp

New Blues Band
James King and the Southsiders

Blues Songwriter
Kevin Sutton

Blues Performer
Kevin Sutton

Blues Act
The WIRED! Band