Thursday, October 27, 2011

November 8, 2011 WBS Blues Bash - A Long Time Friend Back in Town

The Washington Blues Society (WBS) is honored to have a long time friend back in town for a very special Blues Bash performance at the November 8,  2011 WBS Blues Bash @ 7PM. For details on the November Blues Bash CLICK HERE. If you haven't attend a WBS Blues Bash before, you are missing out!! Come get your groove on, meet lot's of great people and enjoy fantastic music.

World renown Portland Oregon roots artist Lloyd Jones has recorded six critically acclaimed albums, toured internationally, and racked up dozens of major awards and accolades. In April 2011 Lloyd released his seventh CD 'Highway Bound Lloyd Jones Traditional Folk Blues' was released on the Seattle based Underworld Records. Since then it has found itself on the Blues Charts from its very respectable radio play across the USA, Canada, Europe and Australia.

This is the new release from Lloyd's 2010 sessions at Seattle's Mouse Recording Studio with his Martin 0018, Regal Steal Body, Danelectro Guitars and his Mighty Red Plate Amp; and is an amazing intimate production paying respect, simply and honestly, to some of Lloyd's favorite Folk Blues.

Currently Lloyd latest CD "Highway Bound" is nominated for consideration for both the Folk Blues - Blues Foundation Award and a Blues category GRAMMY!

Lloyd is a relentless road dog, hitting festival stages, Delbert’s annual Sandy Beaches Cruises (he’s been a regular on six winter cruises), and clubs all across the land to enthusiastic crowds who can’t get enough of his swampy blues, his back porch picking, his serious-as-anthrax funk, soul, roadhouse two-beats, and old-school rhythm and blues.

Too cool to have him join us at November's Blues Bash. Don't miss this very special night! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kilborn Alley Blues Band Releases 'Four' Nov. 22; Tracklist And Album Artwork Revealed

By Josh Hathaway  
Award-winners Kilborn Alley Blues Band (KABB) will release their new album Four via Blue Bella Records on Nov. 22 and have released album artwork as well as the complete tracklisting for the upcoming set.

Four follows their critically acclaimed Better Off Now and features 11 original songs produced and mixed by Nick Moss. The band recorded the set as a four-piece with frontman Andrew Duncanson sharing guitar duties with Josh Stimmel and Chris Breen and Ed O’Hara again handling bass and drums respectively.

I don’t want to tease my review too much but I’ve heard the entire album so I'll share a few of the details to whet your appetite. The album was recorded as a quartet as I mentioned earlier but a few guest musicians contribute to a handful of tracks: Gerry Hundt blows some serious harp for three cuts, Vince Salerno provides a little greasy sax on a pair of songs, and Travis Reed (Nick Moss & The Flip Tops) delivers big time, adding organ on several tunes.

Four includes the longest track to grace a KABB studio record with album closer “Going Hard” eclipsing 10 minutes. There is once again an instrumental track, “Argyles And A Do-Rag”; the title being an homage to guitarist Stimmel.


One final nugget about the record: I pity those of us who can’t dance because a couple of these tunes pretty well demand and command the body to move to the groove. There are going to be many, many “Elaine” dances at KABB shows or parties where this album is cranked. I'm actually a little worried about this because I'm seeing them for the first time next Friday. I'm extremely excited about hearing them play. The horrifying dancing? I may well need a designated driver to make it through their final set of the night.

So, yes, tour dates in support of the upcoming record are underway and you should check out their web site for tour dates!

Kilborn Alley Blues Band - Four
1. ’Rents House Boogie (2:55)
2. Wandering (4:57)
3. Couple Of Days (Change My Ways) (5:00)
4. Fast Heart Beat (4:16)
5. You Were My Woman (4:38)
6. 22nd Street (3:06)
7. Argyles And A Do-Rag (3:11)
8. Good Advice (4:06)
9. Sitting On The Bank (3:58)
10. Dressed Up Messed Up (2:28)
11. Going Hard (10:26)

Monday, October 24, 2011

New CD Release by The Stacey Jones Band Due Out November 1st

The Stacy Jones Band, winner of the 2010 Best Female Vocalist and 2009 Best New Band awards from the Washington Blues Society, has a new disc scheduled for release on November 1st.   

The new CD, titled No Need to Spell it Out, contains 11 original tracks including an eight minute jam epic track titled Cry A love Song. The band has been working hard on the new disc since last spring. New and long time fans of the Stacey Jones Band will not be dissapointed. On the tails of their 2010 release Long Time Comin', the band continues to bring their excellent musicianship, songwriting and dynamic arrangements forward with this new release.

Preview the tracks "Glory Bound" and "Heavy Water" from the upcoming release, No Need to Spell it Out, in the player below:

You can pre-order now for an early order bargain price of $14 each by sending an email to Pre-orders@stacyjonesband.com.

Twenty-Something Stacy Jones not only impresses with a vocal richness beyond her years but is also a top-notch harmonica player as well as playing keyboards and acoustic guitar. The entertaining trio of Rick Bowen (drums), Tom Jones (bass) and Jeff Menteer (guitar) provides the foundation for a strong ensemble sound and the band’s obvious joy of making music together is constantly commented on. 

In 2009 The Stacy Jones Band took the Seattle music scene by storm, playing over 115 gigs & festivals as well as winning the Best New Band award from The Washington State Blues Society. The band released a limited edition CD Live at the Triple Door, in September. The Stacy Jones Band’s first full length CD, Long Time Comin, was released in January 2010 and continues to receive strong airplay and is now in its second pressing. 2011 looks promising for this Northwest favorite. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Validation of artist shines within, Mia Vermillion

Mia Vermillion is an artist who offers an original contribution to the blues scene. She entered the blues scene through the backdoor not really knowing who-is-who in blues, but rather playing from within and with classic vocal inspirations from the past. She has played the popular Jazz Alley venue in Seattle, opening for John Hammond. She has opened the festivities at the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival in July 2011, which is the largest blues festival on the west coast. She has represented Washington State at the 26th annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Mia has self produced her hit recording "Alone Together With The Blues", which has made the top picks on Bluesville Sirius XM.

Does she need validation from others of just how good she is? According to Mia, "that is something that most people strive for, but the important thing is to be at peace with yourself and then the light will shine on what you can do".

I had  an opportunity to chat with Mia Vermillion and we discussed a wide range of topics from her past, present, and future. Mia shares  her accomplishments and struggles as an artist in the blues industry. The opportunity to share this discussion is coming straight at you now…

DEW: First let's discuss what you have been up to recently.
MIA: I have played some great venues this summer. I opened for John Hammond at the infamous Jazz Alley venue in Seattle, Washington, and opened the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival with Buddy Guy, in Portland, Oregon.

DEW: Your latest debut recording is "Alone Together With The Blues", which is self produced, how did you get into producing your own material?
MIA: My husband Todd helped inspire the studio. In the 1990′s, the internet was developed for communication, and the web was not available at the time. I knew there would be the ability for graphics and sound, as applications were developed. By 2002-2003,  the technology for independent recording became viable.

DEW: Did you begin performing while in college?
MIA: My first band called Ryan, was formed when I was a senior in high school. Ryan is named after an airplane because our band practiced in a large airplane hanger. I sang in choir, played guitar and piano, and have always been interested in vocals. The experience of studying vocals and working with other vocalists in college, proved that I had a wide range of vocals.

DEW: The style and tone of the recordings on "Alone Together With The Blues" sound like a mix of easy listening blues, folk, and jazz. What inspires you to this unique style?
MIA: I like different and interesting chord progressions, besides the traditional three chords in twelve bar blues. The people that really get this recording, hear something different every time they listen. The first time, it hits them but they don't know quite what they are hearing. Folks enjoy discovering something new with every listen. I'm inspired by classic styles such as, Lil Green and Big Bill Broonzy from their 1930′s and early 40′s blues ballads, which were influenced by jazz.

DEW: I know you were out of the music scene for awhile because of a serious injury. Can you explain what that period of your life was like?
MIA: Yes, the injury was serious and took me away from actively being involved with music. I still wanted to be around the music scene and tried to use my vision, but the vision and inspiration were taken away. I began to recover when realizing that I can not be sidetracked by pain and suffering. The vision and inspiration began to return with peace, it was a test in recovery. I have learned that peace provides vision and inspiration, the validity comes from within as light begins to shine on what you can do.

We continued to discuss the vision and inspiration of Mia Vermillion's music. I felt a connection develop that truly began to inspire me. We related as human beings and could recognize the need of peace, which provides vision and inspiration of what one can accomplish. Mia is working on a new recording, and I believe it will be one with a message that inspires us all. Thank you Mia.

Dew Wiuff is a blues writer and runs the Mississippi Blues Club Blog

Friday, October 14, 2011

Review - 2011 Mt. Baker Blues Festival

By Robert Horn
I told the vendor at the BBQ booth that I would mention to readers of this article that they need to put the ribs he cooks on their bucket list. His ribs were the most amazingly good ribs I remember ever eating. Try to pull a piece of meat by the bone and it won’t move as the bone comes out. You then find out that you have a huge amount of meat in front of you. Guys bigger than me had a hard time finishing their plate because of how much meat was there. I came back from Mt Baker Blues Festival three pounds heavier, and I only ate at two food vendors there. Wait… this is is supposed to be a music review. OK. I will say that you must go to the Mt Baker Blues Festival next year to get those ribs, and to get some of the best music on this planet.

I got some emails from festival goers who said that this may have been the best Mt Baker Blues Festival ever because of the lineup, the talent who dropped in on the jams, and the great beer servers in the beer garden (Note to Editor: I made up the statement about the beer servers because of my own beer serving ego).

Friday at about 5:30 Jesse James and the MOB started playing. These young blues musicians showed a little of the future of the blues. Someday they will be old enough to have a beer in nightclubs, and by then, they will have had many years of experience playing at events like this.

The Chris Eger Band followed, and Chris showed guitar greatness at the afterhours jams each night as well. I was impressed and told him that when I caught up with him to have a conversation sometime around 2 AM Sunday morning.

If you haven’t seen Hamilton Loomis perform live, you need to. Whether he’s in Texas or Washington State, or some other part of the world, Loomis is worth the trip! He is a good singer, great guitar player, and great entertainer. He also jammed after hours with good guitar players like Chris Eger. Each performer sold CDs through the Washington Blues Society booth, and the booth was busy morning, noon and night. Tony Frederickson and Chad Creamer were busier retail clerks than I ever see at a Starbucks location at daybreak, and Hamilton Loomis’ CD sales were very, very popular.

Bright and early at 11:30 Saturday morning, Jumpin Josh and Felicia kicked things off with a good set, followed by James King and the Southsiders. James King has a good, new band and I’m confident that they will be recognized by our society’s membership at BB Awards events. Look at the schedule in The Bluesletter each month to find out where to go see them play live.

Those who have seen the CD Woodbury Band perform know why he wins BB Awards for Best Electric Guitar. His band has no weak links. After his set, CD said the band will review some of the flaws they noticed. I point this out only to mention that, as part of the audience, I sure didn’t notice any imperfections. CD has decidedly high standards, this is one example of the attention to detail and professionalism that of many of our blues bands, band leaders, and guitar players are around here.

Mid-afternoon the band that is sometimes called “The House Band” at Mt Baker took the stage and showed why The Fat Tones are often the most popular band at this festival. The Fat Tones have a singing bass player, a guitar player that shares have amazing harmonies, and they also put on a great visual show. Bobby Patterson has won some major awards as a guitar player, and has to be seen as well as heard to be fully appreciated.

There were two performances this year that made about half the crowd fall deeply in lust. For straight women, it was Shane Dwight. For straight men, it was Ana Popovic. Ana Popovic comes on stage after her band gets the crowd going. Her bass player is an entertainer at A level that can steal the show from almost anyone but Ana. After a song or two he introduced her with rivers of sweat already running down his face and tight black clothing. Ana came out wearing just a pair of black leather pumps with 5” high heels with little silver chains, (oh, and a tight short purple dress, I guess). Her guitar playing was good, and she did some blues classics along with some original songs. Her band is very good at making sure the crowd is entertained. I was talking to Al Owen (a good harmonica player himself) later and told him that deaf people could still have loved her performance. He then pointed out that blind people could have loved her performance too. So we agreed that it was good for many.

The Average White Band was up next, and they are as great now as they were back in the days when they first rose to dominance on the music scene. They started in the British Isles and conquered America. They sounded great at Baker this year. They were followed by another bluesman from Europe, Matt Schofield.

Schofield was voted by UK’s Guitar & Bass Magazine as “One of the Top Ten Greatest Blues Guitarists of All Time from the UK.” The crowd at Mt Baker found out why. Someone in the same league as Keith Richards and Eric Clapton on stage showed one more reason why the Mt Baker Blues Festival must be on your blues bucket list. This is the kind of talent we now expect, and get, at this festival. I didn’t get much sleep before the music began on Sunday. There was a gospel show in the building at the festival site and my camping neighbors went to it.

Mark Whitman and Sweet Talking Jones put on a great show as other campers woke up, and I got some good photos of this good Washington band on stage.

One of the great guitar players in this region got on stage on Sunday afternoon. There is a YouTube video of Fat James at Mt Baker that shows what I am talking about. He put on a great performance people talked about all day. Late Sunday night (actually Monday morning) Fat James, Chris Eger, and Shane Dwight were on the jam stage with Shane’s bass player and other festival greats and put on what some sober people say was the hi-light of the year. Three guitar greats playing together, about three inches from each other, and taking each other higher, was something to experience.

I was very impressed by the Canadian blues band, The Twisters. The harmonica playing of Dave Hoerl and the guitar playing of Brandon Isaak, along with the humor and bass playing of Keith Picot were very noticeable, but the drumming of Chip Hart was also key to the greatness of the band and its show.

What should I tell you about Curtis Salgado and his big band? Curtis is one of the world’s vocal greats and harmonica greats. He brought the horn section and the back-up vocalists too so this show just like he does at his home Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland. I will never forget this show. It doesn’t get much better than Curtis on songs like “I’m Too Loose” or “I’d Rather Go Blind” or anything else he does. We would have rather have gone blind than to watch him go.

The whole crowd stayed to hear Shane Dwight. I took some pictures of his fingers on the guitar strings, doing what mere mortals can’t do to make the sounds intended for the other world. Shane was great on guitar and vocals. Women seemed to like him for other reasons, too. He asked “Who will drive me to my hotel?” and a lot of women standing next to husbands and boy-friends raised their hands. I found out later who was supposed to have answered his question. If she’s reading this Bluesletter, I need to get her Facebook contact again, largely because my memory was not perfect because I had a beer in my hand at, I forget, 2:30 AM or 3:00 AM.

I was ready to come back to Earth by Monday afternoon (worn out) but it was sure a great party.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Centrum Names New Artistic Director for The Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival

Centrum, Washington’s home for creative arts and education, has announced the appointment of Daryl Davis to the position of Artistic Director for the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival.  Davis will work with Centrum staff to identify faculty, develop curriculum, and create artist lineups for 2012 mainstage performances at McCurdy Pavilion, and for the annual “Blues in the Clubs” series.  Davis succeeds Corey Harris, who was appointed Artistic Director in 2009, and completed his tenure in August, 2011.  Established in 1992, the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival is one of the premier gatherings of blues music aficionados in the country, and a destination for students and fans of all ages to study and experience the rich history of the acoustic blues tradition. 

“Daryl Davis’ abilities and experience as a performer, teacher and administrator make him ideal for this role,” said John MacElwee, Centrum’s Executive Director.  “He has been a popular presence at the workshop for many years with very strong knowledge of the program and a proponent of the work we do at Centrum.  We very much look forward to working with him.”  

The son of a Foreign Service officer, Daryl Davis is a native of Chicago, but was raised in Europe and Africa.  He earned a bachelor of music degree from Howard University, where he was a member of the Howard University Choir and Jazz Vocal Ensemble. In addition to being a vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist, and composer, Davis is a celebrated lecturer, actor, and author of, “Klan-Destine Relationships: A Black Man’s Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan,” the story of his quixotic journey into the heart of the KKK.

As a performer, Davis has worked with Elvis Presley’s Jordanaires, The Coasters, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Percy Sledge, and many others.  He was the featured pianist on Cephas & Wiggins’ 1992 Grammy Award winning album, Flip Flop and Fly.  In 1985, boogie-woogie pioneer Pinetop Perkins selected Davis to succeed him in the piano and vocal slot of the Muddy Waters Legendary Blues Band.  

Davis’ album, American Roots, received the 2005 Washington Area Music Association Award for Best Roots Music Artist, and the 2006 and 2008 WAMA award for Best Blues Instrumentalist. As an actor, Davis has most recently appeared on the critically acclaimed television show, The Wire.  He is the recipient of the Dizzy Gillespie Bahai Award for Racial Harmony Through the Arts, and the highly prestigious American Ethical Union’s Elliott-Black Award.  His work has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Good Morning America, National Public Radio, The Washington Post, and The Baltimore Sun.

"It is with great honor and pleasure that I have been entrusted with the opportunity to hold the position of Artistic Director for Centrum's Acoustic Blues Festival,” said Davis.  “It is my vision and goal to expand the recognition, acceptance, and knowledge of this musical art form beyond its indigenous region, while preserving the original integrity and style of this great tradition.  While many of the original practitioners have passed on, I will not let their memories fade or their contributions to our great American musical history go unrecognized or be forgotten, but rather live on through the participants who attend Centrum during my directorship and as I invite others to join us in sharing this vision.”

Corey Harris was appointed Artistic Director of thePort Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival in 2009.    During his tenure, the festival drew nearly 200 participants each year from as far away as France and Australia, and featured performances and master classes from Taj Mahal, Nat Reese, John Dee Holman, David Bromberg, and many others.  Harris was profiled in Martin Scorsese’s PBS documentary The Blues, and heralded for his work in connecting the music of the American blues masters to the African griots, the class of traveling poets, musicians, and storytellers who maintain a tradition of oral history in parts of West Africa.

A veteran performer, Harris has appeared and recorded with numerous artists including Taj Mahal, Billy Bragg, Ali Farka TourĂ©, and Wilco. In September, 2007 Harris was awarded a MacArthur “Genius Award” Fellowship.

“We greatly appreciate Corey’s work over the last three years in bringing some fresh voices in the country blues genre to Centrum,” said MacElwee, “and also in connecting the blues tradition to its roots in Africa by inviting African artists to be part of the festival.”

The Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival celebrates the tradition of acoustic blues (also known as country blues) and the masters who create and preserve those traditions - through workshops, jam sessions, and public performances in and around Port Townsend, WA.  For more information, visit the home of the blues at Centrum at www.centrum.org/blues.

Centrum, in partnership with Fort Worden State Park, is a gathering place for artists and creative thinkers from all cultures, and in all phases of their development; for students of all ages and backgrounds; and for audiences seeking extraordinary cultural enrichment. Centrum promotes creative experiences that change lives.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Duke Robillard – Low Down And Tore Up: The Duke Doing What He Does Best

By John Taylor (BlindedBySound)
It's tempting to say that, following a somewhat less-than-stellar outing featuring his own compositions, Duke Robillard has returned to doing what he does best – covering blues classics with swinging, swaggering aplomb. But then, truth be told, Robillard's pretty darn good at just about any musical undertaking …

Robillard first made his name as a co-founder of perennial favorites Roomful Of Blues, an outfit that's still going strong. He's since dabbled in rock (for a while he was the guitarist for The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and led his own Pleasure Kings through a few recordings) and jazz. Producer extraordinaire, he's also been instrumental in resurrecting the careers of a number of almost-forgotten legends, all while cranking out disc after disc of superior guitar-oriented music.

If Robillard has a weak spot, it's his writing. While the songs on Passport To The Blues were musically sound, the lyrics simply lacked resonance. Not quite trivial, perhaps, but coupled with his idiosyncratic vocals, the material failed to make much of an impression. No such problems here, though, as he rips through a set of lesser-known tunes by the likes of Guitar Slim, Elmore James, Tampa Red, and John Lee Hooker. Carefully choosing songs that haven't been done to death – Pee Wee Crayton's "Blues After Hours" is probably the best-known of the bunch – he swings like mad through a set that combines solid material with instrumental excellence.

Robillard is once again working with his own core group – drummer Mark Teixeira, who takes a vocal turn for the first time, bassist Brad Hallen, and pianist Bruce Bears – all of whom seem of one musical mind, with the entire album recorded in just a couple of days. Also on hand are old friends Matt McCabe (piano on a handful) and the great Sax Gordon, who contributes raunchy sax that's nasty and downright sleazy in all the right ways. Indeed, Gordon gets almost as much solo time as Robillard himself, and together the two tear the paint off the walls with blistering fretwork and brazen, ballsy brass. Always a rather mannered singer, Robillard's in fine form on this outing, putting more passion into the vocals than he has for a while. He positively roars through opener "Quicksand," and doesn't let up 'til, fourteen tracks later, he struts jauntily through "Later For You Baby" – both tunes courtesy of Guitar Slim. Teixeira won't win any awards for his turn at the mike, but he gets the job done on the furiously fast "Overboard."

In keeping with the vintage material, Robillard wanted to capture the spontaneous, live-off-the-floor sound of the original recordings. With very few overdubs, this is the sound of a ferociously hard-working band, though technology provides a cleaner and better-defined recording than the originators could have imagined.

Robillard is always worth a listen for the sheer musicality of his fretwork; this is a guy who can swing at any speed, and he never seems to run out of musical ideas. Those qualities occasionally result in self-indulgence, but here he's fully focused, lean and mean yet irresistibly exuberant throughout. Low Down And Tore Up is one of the best in Duke's extensive and admirable discography – very highly recommended!