While the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival’s annual pilgrimage was missed this year, WWOZ filled the gap with highlights from the last half century. You can still check out some shows at wwoz.org.
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.”
For more on this topic: https://www.guitarplayer.com/players/david-gilmour-plays-the-blues-video
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.
Happy 86, Bobby! To catch his vertical leaps, check him out in BCI #15
On the Delta Blues Trail…crumbs from the Biscuit
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!
All shots by Ric Stewart © 2019 Ace Productions
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.
Buddy Guy won this year’s Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for 2018’s The Blues Is Alive And Well, featuring the Muscle Shoals Horns, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and James Bay. Buddy Guy has won 7 Grammy awards in his illustrious career.
In the speech Guy mentions the importance of recognizing blues heroes. “Every time I accept an award like this, I do it for some of my friends who maybe didn’t get ’em years ago, especially black people…the late Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, Arthur Crudup…they’re still in my heart, and every time I look up, it’s like they’re looking down on me.”
Since not forgetting the greats is the name of the game at the Blues Center enjoy a #bcvaults T-Bone Walker story coming up next…
Soul drumming legend James Gadson graces the Blues Center Interview series with recollections of Ray Charles, The Temptations, Beck and more. He also chimes in on the blues, New Orleans central role in the music and Aaron Neville.
Barry Goldberg in BCI #13 talks about his great fortune playing with Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels on “Good Golly Miss Molly/Devil With The Blue Dress” on his first session, going electric with Bob Dylan, The Electric Flag, Michael Bloomfield, Jimi Hendrix (then Jimmy James), his band with Steve Miller and how he got turned on to the blues in Chicago during the 1950’s. His blues apprenticeship with Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf paved the way. Now he’s in The Rides with Stephen Stills and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Some tasty piano licks fill in the gaps.
Jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd and Louisianan folk-rocker Lucinda Charles have combined for a blues drenched summit, Vanished Gardens. Both artists paid their blues dues. Lucinda began her career playing deep cuts from Robert Johnson and Memphis Minnie, while Lloyd blew in Howlin’ Wolf’s band. Throw in Americana, rock, country, and shake it up to create this sonic landscape. The Marvels consist of Bill Frisell on guitar, Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar and dobro, Reuben Rogers on bass, and Eric Harland on drums. Vanished Gardens was produced by Lloyd, Dorothy Darr, and Don Was.
Williams moaning vocals showcase her poetic gifts and the Lloyd’s soaring sax make this one of the year’s better releases.
Williams’s moaning vocals lend language to the instrumentalists’ improvisations, and their musical inventions trace the implications of her literary forays. A landmark achievement.
Here is a taste of the Jazz Fest 2018 performance on “Dust”