The L.A. Times reports that 673 tape reels of Producer Allen Toussaint have been purchased at Roadium in Los Angeles, a weekend flea market. The trove includes masters and safety copies of many 1968-1979 records at Sea-Saint Studios. After several ownership transitions following the sale of the tapes winding up in a flea market where Mike Nishita purchased them. He is brother of Money Mark and a DJ of reknown. The tapes had been feared lost after Hurricane Katrina.
I had the distinct pleasure of video interviewing Allen twice in the mid-1990’s as well as shooting a play talk interview with Earl King at Sea-Saint. Funky and full of mystique, Sea-Saint is best known for Sir Paul’s Venus and Mars, Labelle’s Lady Marmalade, Allen’s own Southern Nights, and Robert Palmer’s Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, but so often Toussaint could pull magical results from his regular backing band, The Meters.
Providing to New Orleans what Booker T. & The M.G.’s did to Memphis, they went on to become a funk mainstay and have had outsized influence on subsequent sounds. In addition, the Neville Brothers found a world-wide audience summarizing these triumphs with tours and records featuring songs first recorded at Sea-Saint.
Just when we need a pick-me-up song and a way to help out, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy continues his ongoing and amazing collaboration with Stax-Volt soul music legend Mavis Staples.
“The song speaks to what we’re going through now — everyone is in this together, whether you like it or not,” said Staples. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have, what race or sex you are, where you live…It’s hit so many people in our country and around the world in such a horrible way and I just hope this song can bring a little light to the darkness. We will get through this but, we’re going to have to do it together. If this song is able to bring any happiness or relief to anyone out there in even the smallest way, I wanted to make sure that I helped to do that.”
Pink Floyd, a psychedelic rock band with over 250 million albums sold has had a foot in the blues since day one. Founder Syd Barrett named the band after two Piedmont blues players, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council – settling the question “which one’s Pink?” The music brought blues riffs galore to the masses courtesy of the guitar stylings of David Gilmour.
Even casual fans may notice the fiery blues licks incorporated in many of the band’s anthems such as “Wish You Were Here,” “Money,” “Have a Cigar” and “Young Lust.” As Gilmour himself put it:
“I love blues, and every piece of music that I have listened to has become an influence. But you’re right, there’s a distinct blues influence within what I do, but at the same time I am not frightened to step out of that. I don’t even think whether I play the blues or not, I just play whatever feels right at the moment. I also will use any gadget or device that I find that helps me achieve the sort of sound on the guitar that I want to get.”
Blues-rock guitar master Alvin Youngblood Hart holds forth on playing covers of Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Stephen Foster, Johnny Cash and Tom Petty with footage jamming with Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Luther Dickinson and his own Muscle Theory backing band. Les Paul, Marshall Stacks and Free on rock radio pointed the way to his own unique sound steeped in blues and Mississippi, Memphis and New Orleans tones. Building guitars, and some in-house licks complete the mix with Ric Stewart on the other mic in BCI #18. Subscribe to the series via bluescenters.com
King of the Chitlin’ Circuit, Bobby Rush, turns 86 today! His incredible energy and vitality are an inspiration to us all. Winner of his first Grammy in 2017 for Porcupine Meat, he’s miraculously back with another strong release Sitting on Top of the Blues in 2019.
Funky bassist, Runnin’ Pardner and Meterman George Porter, Jr. holds forth on bass, blues, country and how the Meters got their moniker. The early days as Art Neville and the Boys came to an abrupt ending with a game of chance, or perhaps it was all the design of Rock Hall of Fame writer-producer Allen Toussaint. Catch some funky live licks with Mike Lemmler on keyboards and stickman Terrence Houston caught live. They hold down a Monday night residency at the Maple Leaf.
The 2019 King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas showcased dozens of great blues artists on 6 stages. Top moments shown below include the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band with BCI #10’s Joe Krown on the keys. Kenny Wayne and vocalist Noah Hunt have been a stage-fronting combo for over 20 years!
Minds were blown all weekend long with Larry McCray providing the hard edge guitar work, and Andy T laying it all on the line with Alabama Mike, Anson Funderburg and guests. The quaint historic town of Helena sprang to life once again this year.
Kudos to Bubba Sullivan and the crew for an excellent fest and the Southern hospitality extended to the Blues Center. And another shout out to Jontavious Willis (of BCI #1), killing it live with the audience in the palm of his hand. Awesome bluesy shows across the board!
Benny Turner, bassist and younger brother of Freddie King talks and plays blues in BCI #16. Benny’s musical journey began in Texas, learning from his mother and uncles alongside Freddie. Playing poker and shunning rehearsals the band roared into the 1970’s with a blues rock sound sharing bills with Canned Heat, T-Bone Walker, Grand Funk and CCR, whose “Lodi” Freddie re-cut as “Lowdown in Lodi.” They embraced country music and loved Hank Williams, but Charles Brown was their idol.
The Rolling Stones began as a Chicago blues ensemble in 1962. As mid-2019 approaches they are set to embark on another U.S. tour. Marksville, LA’s Little Walter featured prominently in Blue and Lonesome the band’s 2016 Grammy winning blues set. The Chicago Tribune offers this run down.