Provided us with a copy of the new single from Kelly’s Lot.
We provide you all a chance to listen to this beautiful, sad song.
Kelly Z told us
“Alyssa is the first song released from our upcoming CD, ‘Can’t Take My Soul’. Alyssa was the daughter of DJ Mark Mushin. We met on facebook after he started playing my last release ‘Rescue’ He asked me for a station ID, personalized for his daughter. He told me stories about Alyssa, her spirit and her battle with Canavan Disease. A few months later she passed away and the song was inspired by all the stories Mark told me. By writing the song, Perry and I wanted to reach out to everyone who needs to be reminded that we must grab a hold of the joy we have today because we don’t now how long it will last.”
A note about Alyssa from her family -“Alyssa was born with Canavan Disease, a rare and fatal genetic brain disease. In her short 23 years, without ever speaking a word, Alyssa was able to shine her light on everyone around her. She had a smile that would melt your heart and her laughter would always sooth your soul. Her amazing journey started with me holding her for 4 hours when she was born, forming a bond that will live for all time. She then became a medical pioneer being one of the worlds first to receive gene therapy. She continued to share her pure spirit throughout her whole life making all who knew her the best they could be and taught us all the meaning of true love. Although her earthly experience is done, she still sends us signs from above and continues to inspire us all.”
Written by Kelly Zirbes and Perry Robertson Kelly Z – Vocals Perry Robertson – Guitar Matt McFadden – Bass Mike Sauer – Drums Bobby Orgel – B3 Background vocals – Jenna Mushin, Andrew Mushin, and Jeri Goldenhar Mixed by Fred Paragano Mastered by Mike Milchner at Sonic Vision Mastering
It’s there in your heart not trapped in your mind And easier to feel than to search out and find And Alyssa she knew the way to get you through She was never behind but one step ahead of the blues
Some just don’t know what’s right there to see Looking for easy to set them free And Alyssa she knew these things don’t get you through She was never behind but one step ahead of the blues She was never behind but one step ahead of the blues
Don’t hold on to worry when the answer is there Don’t try to fix every why, when and where Take a deep breath and throw away your fears Cause it’ll all be gone before you know that you’re here
She was never behind but one step ahead of the blues
Don’t hold on to a worry when the answer is there Don’t try to fix every why, when and where Take a deep breath and throw away your fears Cause it’ll all be gone before you know that you’re here.
Stop chasing the questions when its all right there No one promised this life would be fair And Alyssa she knew the way to get us through She was never behind she was one step ahead of the blues She was never behind she was one step ahead of the blues She was never behind she was one step ahead of the blues
Yes folks after much deliberation we have decided on our Album of the Month and what a treat it is, Beatles Blues Blast , 17 of the Liverpudlians great tunes Bluezed up by Gaetano and the boys.
The Fab Four are unquestionably one of the most influential groups of modern times, with over 500 artists recording cover versions or full tribute albums of Beatles’ songs. The list of artists spans the gamut from Ella to Elvis, the Philharmonic to Phish, even The Muppets and Alvin & the Chipmunks have had a go at them. The Beatles themselves began as a cover band, recording songs by 50’s icons Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Carl Perkins and the influence of classic R&B and blues can be heard on all the group’s albums. Several notable R&B stars had hits with Beatles songs, such as Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles, but only a few authentic blues acts have ventured into the territory of the lads from Liverpool.
Cleveland Ohio is the home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and birthplace of guitarist extraordinaire, Gaetano Letizia, leader of the Underworld Blues Rock Band, who was a teenager during the years of Beatlemania and the British invasion. The effect of those heady days has stayed in the forefront of his mind for decades and now, with a little help from his friends, Mike D’Elia on drums and bass man Lenny Gray, Gaetano presents “Beatles Blues Blast.” The third disc from the trio is a rowdy romp through 17 classics from the Beatles’ catalog, cleverly arranged and reframed as a funky blues jam session. Recorded live off the floor in a single day at Bad Racket Studio in downtown Cleveland, this lo-fi indie blues rock album takes this magical music back to its roughneck roots of dance clubs in a hard-working industrial town.
In classic Beatles’ fashion the album begins at the end with ‘Come Together,’ which was the opening song of their final studio album “Abbey Road,” where the trio forgo the dramatic intro and jump headlong into the groove setting up the formula for the project. D’Elia turns McCartney’s first drum track into a jungle beat of swamp rock fury on ‘Do It In The road,’ and then we all yell “More Cowbell!” during the four on the floor funk ‘Drive My Car.’ 1960 Motown hit ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’ is injected with surf guitar as a tip of the hat to the American bands that also covered it. Harrison’s Rocker ‘Taxman’ is given a Texas Shuffle treatment, and his beloved ode to the six string, ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps,’ shifts between a samba and power ballad. ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,’ retains the funky groove of the Joe Cocker version, and they keep the psychedelic blues rocker, ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy),’ true to its original metal prototype form. The Latin tinged ‘And I Love Her’ has a 70’s Santana vibe, and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love,’ is turned into a Chicago Blues. Letizia steps hard on the fuzz pedal for ‘You Can’t Do That,’ and plays ‘Yesterday,’ as a soft blues rhumba.
The boys pick up the rooftop party right where the Beatles left off for a rocking ‘Get Back,’ then bring out the full drama for ‘With A Little Help From My Friends.’ The novelty song with a great riff, ‘Birthday,’ is tossed in for laughs before a sweet country blues reading of ‘Blackbird’ that features marvelous finger picking lead guitar and articulate counter point on the bass. The aptly chosen closer ‘A Day In The Life,’ also the final track of the 1967 album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely-Hearts Club Band,” is bumped up with touches of Soul and Rockin’ Fire for an epic climax.
By tackling this iconic repertoire, Gaetano Letizia and The Underworld Blues Rock Band, have created a whimsical and yet sincere tribute with “Beatles Blues Blast,” that will find a respected place in the Pantheon of Beatlemania that remains strong some 50 years on.
Rick J Bowen
Gaetano Letizia – Guitarist, Song Writer, Vocalist
Gaetano, also known as Tom, was born in Cleveland in 1951. He began performing his own blues shows at the age of 16. One of his first stage appearances was with the James Gang, sitting in for Joe Walsh at his Alma Mater, Kent State in 1970. Since then, he’s performed all over the U.S. along with Europe and Asia. Early performances with June Core of Robert Jr. Lockwood’s band, gave Gaetano a strong blues foundation based on B.B. King, Albert King, Muddy Waters and all the great blues patriarchs.
Producer of ten blues and jazz guitar CDs, Gaetano has received stellar reviews in Downbeat, Guitar Player and many national/international publications and his music has been played on radio stations in every state as well as most foreign countries.
The Underworld Band is Gaetano’s blues trio formed in 2010 and now beginning to tour the U.S. with plans for European and Asian tours in the works. The band won the Cleveland Blues Society’s 2014 Memphis Challenge and did four great shows in Memphis. The Underworld Band plays creative blues shows that audiences love and will remember. The band has two excellent albums, “Voodoo Doll & Other Blues Lessons” (2014) and “Resurrection” (2016).
Described as “a guitarist’s guitarist” and a “virtuoso” by music critics, Gaetano’s music stays true to the roots of blues while advancing the standard blues forms to delight the listener. “A new take on the blues” describes Gaetano’s treatment of modern blues problems in our lives now that we’re far from sharecropping in Mississippi. With blazing electric solos, red hot slide playing and nylon string guitar, listeners will be treated to a fun style of blues rock combined with funk and R&B that grooves and makes you move. The guitar playing is top shelf and the performances are high energy, audience oriented fun.
Michael D’Elia – Drummer, Vocalist
Born in Canton, Ohio in 1953, Mike started playing drums professionally at the age of 8 and toured nationally with various groups in his teens. Mike is the “go to” drummer for almost all the Cleveland based groups not only because he is a dynamic vocalist, but because he is a great drummer whose powerful groove and solos drive audiences wild. Known affectionately as “Daddy Sweet Roll”, Mike is loved by his thousands of music fans and everyone who meets this great lifetime blues rock musician.
Lenny Gray – Bassist
A Cleveland native born in 1950, Lenny started playing drums at 10 years old and switched to bass to play in R&B bands in 1966. Nephew of Slide Hampton, Lenny’s family is loaded with professional musicians, family reunions are big jam sessions. Lenny’s style is based in blues and jazz, heavy on the groove side. A Victor Wooten student and disciple, Lenny pops with the best and swings with all the rest.
CHICAGO RAMBLER the new album from Tomislav Goluban is finally to be released on Friday. We have been lucky enough to have had a copy of the album for a while and after listening to it carefully our highly paid reviewer came up with a cracker of a review – read below.
We got our moneys worth.
So we decided to make Tomislav our Spotlight Artist for the next 30 days so our listeners can agree with our review.
After 20 years of intense study of one of America’s greatest artforms from afar in his homeland, Croatia, singer songwriter and harmonica master, Tomislav “Little Pigeon” Goluban made a journey to the source to record an album of authentic blues music in the Windy City for his tenth studio album, “Chicago Rambler.” Goluban enlisted the skills of prominent figures in the Chicago blues scene, led by acclaimed producer and guitarist Eric Noden to collaborate with him on 11 new songs written for the project. A year ago, Tomislav flew to Chicago to record at Joy Ride Studios. Noden wisely brought in two “Sons of the Blues” as the rhythm section; E.G. McDaniel on bass and Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith on drums, both building prestigious careers for themselves while preserving their musical heritage. Harmonica man Joe Filisko also contributed to the project by playing harmonica on two songs, and engineer Blaise Burton manned the console for the frenetic two-day session.
The full tilt ‘Pigeon Swing’ kicks off the album with much pizzazz, as Goluban blows like Little Walter resurrected on an instrumental that was supposed to be a bonus track but has so much fire it was pushed to the lead-off slot. The 12/8 blues ‘Locked Heart’ reveals the influence of Jimmy Reed and Slim Harpo on the timeless tale of a soft-hearted bluesman. The heavy-duty south side shuffle, ‘Bag Full Of Troubles,’ is a spot-on Chicago-land prototype that could only be delivered by seasoned pros. Inspired by the friendship between Goluban and the late country bluesman “Philadelphia” Jerry Ricks, the tasty rhumba, ‘Jerry Ricks On My Mind,’ recants images from the last concert he performed alongside Goluban before his untimely death in 2007. He was buried in the cemetery in Kastav (Croatia) where the annual Tribute to Jerry Ricks – Kastav Blues festival is now held.
Noden’s slide guitar moans with sorrow of a hundred-year flood on the lowdown ‘Can’t Find Myself’ and Smith demonstrates his encyclopedic knowledge of authentic blues grooves as he nails the high energy boogaloo surf blues for the audacious ‘Home Made Honey’ and classic Bo Diddley beat for ‘Do The Right Thing.’ Between those two numbers, Goluban’s fantastic harmonica imitation of a train, an old-time tradition among harp players, introduces ‘One Way Ticket,’ a traveling blues ramble. He lays out a twist on a Muddy Waters’ style blues with ‘Little Pigeon’ extolling his manly prowess to arouse a lover. Track ten is an acoustic version of ‘Jerry Ricks On My Mind.’ The quartet glides thru the Jimmy Reed style country blues ‘Searchin’ For My Baby,’ before transforming a traditional Croatia folk song ‘Išel budem v kleticu (I’ll Go To My Cottage)’ into a straight-ahead Chi-town shuffle from a hot Saturday night at the Peppermint Lounge.
With this album Tomislav Goluban fulfills his dream of wandering the musical streets of the city that gave birth to so many of his heroes and becoming a bona fide Chicago rambler.
Rick J Bowen
After a 20-year music career and 10 studio albums, the proverb “The older – the crazier” definitely applies to Croatian harmonica player Tomislav “Little Pigeon” Goluban, whose songs and performances burst with energy, passion, humor and above all, fantastic music. Goluban has been playing harp since 1997, inspired by old school masters such as Sonny Terry, Slim Harpo, Paul Butterfield, Gary Primich, Kim Wilson and Joe Filisko to name just a few.
Performing solo/duo and with a band, Goluban has played in the U.S. and across many European countries at festivals and events such as the Notodden Blues Festival (Norway), Amal’s Blues Festival (Sweden), Blues sur Seine (France) and International Blues Challenge (USA).
Looking back at his discography reveals delta, country & Chicago blues, zydeco, rock ‘n’ roll and world music. He’s been recording his music in a wide span from raw delta duo sound to the full instrumental arrangement with 20 musicians playing one song.
In the period from 2005 to 2019 Tomislav has:
published ten studio albums and three maxi singles,
won four Croatian top discography awards “Porin” (the equivalent of a Grammy in Croatia),
won three “Croatian Musicians Union” awards “Status,”
performed in 20 countries in two continents (Europe and the USA),
won 4th place at World Harmonica Championship in Germany 2005,
is the sole Croatian endorsee of the world’s finest and most famous harmonica manufacturer “Hohner,”
was the first Croatian representative at International Blues Challenge, Memphis, USA in 2009 & returned in 2017,
was one of the founders and the first president of the “Croatian Blues Forces” association,
developed an educational music program called “The harmonica in Blues” which is presented to the pupils of elementary and high schools all over Croatia.
REPRESENTING MINNESOTA BLUES SOCIETY IN THE BAND CATEGORY AT THE 2019 INTERNATIONAL BLUES CHALLENGE (IBC)
Minneapolis became noted as a center for rhythm and blues (R&B) in the 1980s, when the multi-talented star Prince rose to fame. But the twin-cities region had long been known for giving birth to notable modern folk music, gospel, blues, alt rock and jazz artists. Dee Miller grew up in Saint Paul Minnesota, singing along to her favorite vocalists and was a member of many local bands earning the title “The Duchess of the Blues” from the Minnesota blues community. The self-proclaimed “barrelhouse” singer formed her own band in 2004 and in the fall of 2018 the Minnesota Blues Society inducted Dee Miller into the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame in the category of “Performer.”
Her sizzling hot band features the vocal lead and harmonies as well as the blazing guitar work of the phenomenal Craig Clark. His rich deep sound is rounded out by the rhythm section of Eric Meyer (bass/vocals), Mike DuBois (drums) and the keyboard work of Jesse Mueller.
Their third album, “Leopard Print Dress,” was recorded at the Villa Studios and features ten tracks – a cross section of house rockin’ blues heavy duty soul and dance party R&B that showcases the muscular abilities of this tight hard-working band. The sharp originals and creative covers reflect the variety of blues, rock, and R&B deep-cuts in the group’s repertoire. Inspired by wild nights in steamy nightclubs the rousing ‘Hot And Sweaty,’ open the set with dance floor filling swing and sizzle. Miller proudly carries the torch for Etta James on the blazing cover of ‘Strongest Weakness,’ with her powerful, deep, earthy voice bridging the gap between R&B and rock ‘n’ roll. John Pinckaers sits in on piano for the gospel-fueled reading on the Eagles’ classic ‘Take It To The Limit.’ Craig Clark shares the lead vocals for the title track ‘Leopard Print Dress,’ which won the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame award in 2017 for “Best Song.” The four on the floor blues rocker was cowritten with Jimi “Primetime” Smith and features a greasy slide guitar solo that has become Miller’s trademark anthem. The house party really gets rolling for the horn-infused boogie woogie ‘Back In The Saddle,’ then Clark steps up on the soul blues burner ‘Last Two Dollars,’ delivering powerful vocals and a ripping lead on the Jonny Taylor hit that has become a staple of the club scene. Steve “Boom Boom” Vonderharr added his hot blues harp to the bump and grind shuffle ‘I Sing The Blues,’ and Toby Marshall lays down sweet Hammond B3 on the lovely cover of ‘Midnight In Harlem,’ with Dylan Salfer tackling the daunting slide guitar part written by Derrick Trucks over a new double chorus outro.
The Band gets funky on rousing take of Albert Collins classic ‘Black Cat Bone,’ highlighted by groovy keyboard from Jesse Mueller and icepick guitar from Clark. Miller dedicates the album closer ‘Steppin’,’ to all her “girlfriends out there who’ve been done wrong” then preaches the blues the way it is supposed to be; down and dirty, raw and live off the floor. The Dee Miller Band are poised to make some bold impressions and tell the world what the Twin Cities has known for some time; The Duchess and her boys are here to tear the house down.
Rick J Bowen
“It is upbeat, engaging, tight, and extremely, butt shakingly danceable. If you are lookin’ for a REAL GOOD TIME, you have found it in The Dee Miller Band and “Leopard Print Dress.” A highly recommended addition to your collection!” John ‘blueshammer’ Hammer, Blue Monday Monthly
Dee Miller is a Minnesota musician who has a performance pedigree that spans many years on the local and Midwest blues scene. Dee’s “barrelhouse” style of singing has earned her the label “Duchess of the Blues” in the Twin Cities and regionally.
From her early days as a child listening to her mother singing the blues around the house in Maplewood, MN, Dee has been a singer. She first started singing along with Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin recordings as she crafted her skills. The sounds of Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, and Mahalia Jackson were part of a life spent singing as she walked down the railroad tracks that were right next door to her house. During these times, Dee realized the power of music and what a refuge it is for her.
Dee’s first professional gig was with the blues band “Minnesota Barking Ducks”. She has also been a member of “Liberty Street”, “Bottom Line”, “Night Train” with her dear friend Liz Cummings, and several others before she started the Dee Miller Band in 2004. Dee has performed in many local music establishments. On a national level, Dee has performed in Chicago at Buddy Guy’s Legends, and in Washington D.C. at Madam’s Organ. Dee has also performed on stages in Memphis, San Francisco, Greenwich Village, Key Largo and Florence, Italy.
During her career she has shared the stage with Koko Taylor, Janiva Magness, Bobby Messano as well as local favorites Lamont Cranston, Annie Mack, Renee Austin, Mick Sterling, and many more incredible musicians. International guitarist Jimi “Primetime” Smith was an integral part of the Dee Miller Band for several years.
Dee was inducted into the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame as Performer of the Year in 2018. Also, in 2018, The Dee Miller Band was selected to represent Minnesota at the 2019 IBC in Memphis in January. Her awards prior to that include a Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame award in 2017 for “Best Song” for “Leopard Print Dress” cowritten with Jimi “Primetime” Smith.
Josh Lief is singer-songwriter, guitar player based in Richmond, VA. Love In Disguise was recorded at Montrose Recording in Richmond, VA. Josh recorded Love In Disguise with the Josh Lief Band, that is playing gigs in Central Virginia and beyond. The Josh Lief Band includes Josh and the rhythm section of Debbie Flood on drums and Thomas Schoppe on bass. Both are veterans of several well known Richmond bands and Debbie has toured extensively as well as recorded with many artists. Debbie and Tommy are a great team and bring a solid yet exciting rhythm section to the upcoming album and live performances.
Josh’s album “Redemption” was released in April, 2017. The album, recorded at Montrose Recording in Richmond, VA, contains 8 original songs, and is a mixture of Americana, Country-Rock and Blues and is available on CDBaby.com, Apple Music, Spotify, and other download services as well as in RVA at Plan 9 records. The first single from the album, Five Forks Woods, got airplay on over 70 radio stations across the U.S. and is still in rotation on several stations.
Josh recorded his second album in 2 years – “Love In Disguise” – that will be released on November 2, 2018. The single Love In Disguise, including a live-action video was released 9/7/18. Also recorded at Montrose Recording in Richmond, VA, Josh recorded Love In Disguise with the Josh Lief Band. Ben “Wolfe” White of the Trongone Band joined the band on keyboards on several of the tracks on Love In Disguise., and Wolfe and Andrew Trongone sang backup on one song (Andrew contributed some licks on one song as well). The album contains 8 original tracks, and like Redemption, contains a wide range of music. Love In Disguise has a more blues/rock sound to it but still contains some elements of Americana/Folk.
The Josh Lief Band plays gigs throughout Virginia and beyond The band includes Josh and the rhythm section of Debbie Flood on drums -www.dflooddrums.com – and Tommy Dacat on bass. Both are veterans of several well known Richmond bands and Debbie has toured extensively as well as recorded with many artists. Debbie and Tommy are a great team and bring a solid yet exciting rhythm section to the upcoming album and live performances. In addition to band gigs, Josh plays solo acoustic shows on a regular basis.
Josh started playing guitar when he was 6 years old. His style is a mixture of the all the music he loved as a young musician. His influences started with his big three of Hendrix, Clapton, and Led Zeppelin. He also learned a lot of country style lead guitar from being a big Southern Rock fan as well as of the classic country of Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings. He is also loves the music of Neil Young, the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead and they can be heard in his lead playing and writing. He can play a wide range of styles from rock to blues to country to folk and in his solo acoustic shows does just that.
“Talk about star power, a killer voice and guitar skills. She said to the band as much to the audience, “I think tonight, we’ll just play some blues.” Playing slide guitar, Grainger began with rootsy blues, her voice full-bodied with plenty of soul. There was clarity there too with that unmistakable bell tone mixed with grit. We were in for some serious musicianship with Kara Grainger. Her vocals packed a punch and she played monster guitar solos that had the crowd whooping andclapping. Nice to see a female musician kick some a** like that”. – Rock & Blues Muse
“But the highlight of the opening set will be Aussie soul slinger Kara Grainger who is known for her groove-rooted sound and mean slide guitar; her sultry vocal melting hearts and minds, a true delight to see”. Zaki Zufri, Insing.com
Her music career began in a small suburban town of Sydney Australia and since then has taken her on an incredible journey throughout the globe. Combining tasteful blues and slide guitar, soulful vocals and a heartfelt approach to songwriting, Kara’s truly unique sound will leave you uplifted, inspired and always wanting more.
At the age of 16 Kara joined with her brother Mitch Grainger to form the band “Papa Lips”. The band toured consistently throughout Australia and produced two studio albums that received national air play.
The band was heavily influenced by the sounds of Stax recording in Memphis, and by the Funky style of blues and soul that derived from New Orleans.
In 2008 Kara signed to Australian label “Craving Records” and was invited to the US by producer David Kalish where she recorded her debut solo album. The recording entitled “Grand and Green River” received critical acclaim and remained in the top 30 of the Americana Charts for 38 straight weeks.
Since then Kara has made two further albums whilst residing in the US. In 2011 “LA Blues” was recorded live at Studio City Sound. The cd paid tribute to some of Kara’s earliest blues inspirations and in 2013 kara recorded and released”Shiver and Sigh” through Los Angeles record label “Eclecto Groove.” The album was produced by grammy award winning producer David Z with some of LA’s finest musicians, including Mike Finnigan, Hutch Hutchinson, James Gadson and Kirk Fletcher among others.
Recently Kara was invited to play in North east India by the Himalayan Blues Foundation. Her performance at the “18 degrees cultural Festival” introduced the local community in Shillong to roots and blues music for the very first time.
She has traveled to Indonesia several times to perform at the the Jakarta International Blues Festival, performing together with her US band and also as a special guest with “The Jakarta all Women Blues Review”.
In 2011 she toured Japan with “The Swampers and Donnie Fritts”, the infamous house Rhythm section for “Fame Recordings” in Muscle Shoals…She has taken her band to Switzerland where she performed at the “Sierre Blues Festival” as well as “Lucerne”. The band has also toured in Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg and Spain..
In 2015 Kara performed at the “Beautiful swamp Festival” in Calais France and also to sell out crowds on her debut tour of the Uk. One of the highlights was perfoming at “Ronnie Scotts”, Londons premier blues and jazz venue.
In the US Kara has performed at several Festivals such as ‘The Portland Waterfront Blues Festival’, ‘Blues from the Top’ in Colorado and “Austin City Limits”. She has also opened the show for many extraordinary acts such as Peter Frampton, Buddy Guy,Taj Mahal and Jonny Lang, to name a few.
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Me & The Originator is Al Basile fifteenth release on Sweetspot years. It’s a concept album which tells a story through a hybrid of narration and songs about an imaginary musician who has a career which harbors a dark secret. This CD asks the questions ‘who makes the song?’ and ‘Who can can call a song their own?’ – another way of thinking about the history of blues as it has passed down to us latter day interpreters. Produced by Duke Robillard, with the same lineup as on Al’s BMA nominated best contemporary blues album Mid-Century Modern in 2016.
Al Basile grew up in a park in Haverhill, Massachusetts. He graduated from Phillips Academy in 1966, and in 1970 he was the first to receive a Master’s Degree from the Brown University Writing Program. He began his musical career as a cornet player with Roomful of Blues in 1973, and has worked with the Duke Robillard Band as a songwriter and recording member since 1990, appearing on twelve CDs and a DVD; his songs have been used in films and television and covered by such artists as Ruth Brown and Johnny Rawls, and bands New Jump Blues and the Knickerbocker All Stars. He has fifteen solo blues and roots CDs out under his own name, the majority having reached the top 15 on the Living Blues airplay charts in their year of release. They have all been produced by Robillard and feature his guitar playing and many former Roomful members: guest artists have included the Blind Boys of Alabama, jazz great Scott Hamilton, and the late Sista Monica Parker. He has been nominated seven times since 2010 for a Blues Music Award as best horn player; his 2016 CD Mid-Century Modernwas nominated as Best Contemporary Blues Album. He is also a prize-winning poet, with two published books, 2011’s A Lit House and 2017’s Tonesmith. He taught full time at the Providence Country Day School in East Providence, RI from 1980-2005 and since then has concentrated on his writing, performing, and recording.
“The NOLA Sessions” is inspired by the beauty and creative depth of New Orleans. Tom Hambridge set out to produce a biographical blues recording by leveraging the immense talents of local musicians and legends including the late, great Allen Toussaint, Clapton’s favorite slide guitarist, Sonny Landreth, and the B3 mastery of Ivan Neville, as well as rich artistic contributions drawn from New Orleans’ musical heritage. For this eighth solo album Tom and his production team ventured south to The Parlor studios in the Irish Channel neighborhood of uptown New Orleans and gathered some of the best players the Big Easy has to offer. Other guests on this album of 13 original tunes by Hambridge, some in concert with other composers, include The McCrary Sisters and The Naughty Horns, as well as his daughters, Sarah & Rachel Hambridge. This quality production is further enhanced by being mastered at Abbey Road Studios in London in the “George Martin Suite” by Grammy winner Sean Magee.
The album opens with the easy swinging duet ‘Blues Been Mighty Good To Me,’ featuring the amazing piano and vocal of the master of New Orleans soul and R&B sound, Allen Toussaint, on one of the last studio recordings before his untimely death in 2015. The selection is even more appropriate as Hambridge and Toussaint share the honor of being successful songwriters and producers, who have played a crucial role in countless classic songs popularized by other artists.
For many Tom’s wiry tenor may be unfamiliar, but whip crack shuffle back beat from Hambridge is easily identified as demonstrated on the juke joint testimonial ‘Bluz Crazy.’ Louisiana icon Sonny Landreth brings his signature “Slydeco” electric guitar to the sessions, for the first of several appearances, on the swamp rocker ‘This End Of The Road,’ delivering that unmistakable greasy slide sound he is so famous for.
Alumni of the Loyola University Jazz Band, The Naughty Horns, join in on the French Street party anthem ‘I Love Everything.’ Hambridge celebrates of the life of old friend John Flynn on the heartfelt ‘What You Leave Behind,’ beautifully complemented by Neville’s B3 and the Horns’ “Last Waltz” quality arrangement, and then delivers an authentic second line groove for the twisting stomp ‘Little Things,’ boldly declaring “the more you don’t give a sh*t, the easier it is to sleep, so I don’t let the little things bother me.” On the tome of a tormented man ‘Whiskey Ghost,’ (a co-write with Gary Nicholson) which first appeared on Hambridge’s 2013 collaboration with Buddy Guy for the album “Rhythm & Blues,” Landreth and Tom take the spooky rhumba further down the bayou. Music director and guitarist for Daryl Hall’s highly acclaimed show “Live From Daryl’s House,” Shane Theriot, rips hot lead licks and the McCrary Sisters provide the Sunday go-to-meeting backups for the Gospel rocker ‘Save Me,’ which was co-written by piano man and former member of Derek and the Dominos, Bobby Whitlock.
Hambridge pays tribute to all things “strong,” good, bad and ugly, by comparing them to what he longs for on the edgy ‘A Couple Drops,’ before slowing the pace on the spacious Father and Son epic ‘Masterpiece.’ The torrid tale of a road warrior, ‘Me And Charlie,’ is dedicated to Buddy Guy’s trusted bus driver Charlie McPherson and features more scorching “Slydeco” leads. Prolific Nashville songwriter Jeffrey Steele, worked with Hambridge on the contemporary country ballad ‘Trying to Find It,’ an expansive track that is anchored by stellar piano from Kevin McKendree and soaring leads from top session guitarist Rob McNelley.
“The NOLA Sessions” close with an in-depth study of one of our most human qualities and conceptions, ‘Faith,’ with the soulful vocal of Hambridge backed by fingerpicking guitar from John Fohl and the mournful cello of Nathaniel Smith to punctuate the introspective treatise on one of the most powerful forces in the universe.
Rick J Bowen – Five-time blues writer winner and KBA award recipient from the Washington Blues Society
Tom Hambridge is a two-time Grammy-winning producer, songwriter, & drummer for his production work on two of blues legend Buddy Guy’s most critically-acclaimed albums: “Living Proof” (2010) and “Born To Play Guitar’ (2015).
Tom has also produced five other Grammy- nominated albums. He has won numerous W.C. Handy and Blues Music Awards, eight Boston Music Awards and several ASCAP Country Music Awards. He was the recipient of the prestigious KBA (Keeping the Blues Alive) Award and has been inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. The list of artist collaborators includes such notables as Gary Clark Jr., Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, B.B. King, Gregg Allman, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Kid Rock, Billy Gibbons, Johnny Winter, George Thorogood and Susan Tedeschi, among many others.
Over 400 of Tom’s songs have been recorded (and many top charted) by such diverse artists as Buddy Guy, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Rascal Flatts, Eric Burdon (The Animals,) James Cotton, Foghat, Delbert McClinton, Van Zant, and Joe Bonamassa. Tom has also performed/toured and/or recorded with Chuck Berry, Boston, Hank Williams Jr., Buddy Guy, Bo Diddley, Susan Tedeschi, Johnny Winter, George Thorogood and the Destroyers and Keb’ Mo’, to name just a few.
Tom is a Voting Member of the National Academy of Arts and Science (NARAS) a Member of the Local Grammy Chapter Nashville, TN; and a Member of The Blues Foundation.
There must be something in the wind of the Texas/Arkansas/Louisiana tri-state area that makes everyone from there wonderfully sentimental. The music and art from that region is steeped in tradition and plays out as if time has stood still for a century. Steve Howell and his quartet, The Mighty Men, are living embodiment of that charm and style of Texarkana, as they prefer to honor melody and lyricism over pyrotechnics and flashy instrumentation. Lead by Howell the group returns with their third album “Good As I Been To You,” along with special guest vocalist Katy Hobgood Ray, delivering further explorations of long-hidden gems from the great American songbook. The eleven tracks, a celebration of songwriting and storytelling from the masters, run the gamut of genres from roots to blues, country, gospel and work songs from well-known originators such Lead Belly and Memphis Minnie to lesser known ones such as Arthur “Blind” Blake, all of whom have been a lifelong influence on Howell and his passion.
The Mighty Men open the set with a slinky blues romp from the 1950’s, ‘Bacon Fat,’ that features some jaggedy lead from guitarist Chris Michaels and a Doodley Wop sing-along chorus. Katy Hobgood Ray then joins Howell for a duet rendition of ‘When I Was A Cowboy’ that was first recorded by Lead Belly in 1933 and is given full band electric roots rock treatment sounding like something from the Buffalo Springfield catalog. Katy Ray leads the band through a swinging cover of Memphis Minnie’s 1930’s ragtime ‘New Dirty Dozens.’
Howell goes on to celebrate the songwriters, who created the “Brill Building Sound,” where numerous teams of professional songwriters penned material for girl groups and teen idols in the early 1960s, by covering the bubble gum pop classic from 1964 ‘It Hurts To Be In Love.’ He then gets way low down for the downtempo spacious blues ‘Come Back Baby,’ and the slow rolling Texas finger-picking ramble ‘Blues In The Bottle.’ Katy Ray steps to the mic again for a lovely update of the timeless tune ‘Easy Rider,’ with a lilting vocal, Mark Knopfler like guitar work and a forward moving groove. Howell reveals more of his love for syrupy 60’s pop by covering the Frankie Valli hit and surely one of the saddest songs of all time ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.’ The crew lifts the mood with the inspired country blues from the Blind Lemon Jefferson archives ‘Bad Luck Blues.’ Jefferson, a fellow Texan, is considered by Howell to be “the greatest of all of the Texas blues singers.” Howell plays the role of the section boss, leading the Men though an acapella Gandy Dancer work song ‘Lining Track.’
Steve Howell is recognized as a world class blues finger style guitarist, and so pays tribute to Arthur “Blind” Blake by covering his 1927 ragtime ‘You Gonna Quit Me,’ thanking the man who inspired Howell to take up the mantle of this difficult technique and endeavoring to keep this blues alive.
Rick J Bowen – Five-time Blues Writer winner and KBA Award recipient from the Washington Blues Society
East Texan Steve Howell’s guitar playing and singing are very much rooted in the traditional jazz and rural acoustic blues genres born in the American South. His interpretations of tunes from these genres have been enjoyed by audiences in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Great Britain for over forty years and lauded by critics from the United States and Europe who have unanimously praised his unique approach to breathing new life into time-honored songs from days gone by and reintroducing little-known gems of American music to a whole new audience. He has released six CD’s and was the recipient of the Texas Music Academy’s 2011 Historical Significance Award. His recordings are in steady rotation on radio playlists in the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland, Greece, Croatia, and Australia and on XM and WorldSpace satellite radio. A set of fifteen of his fingerstyle guitar arrangements of early jazz standards will be released by the Hal Leonard Corporation in the summer of 2018.
Chris Michaels cut his musical teeth in the late 80’s and early 90’s as a bass player in the Shreveport, LA area, including notable one nighters with Cab Calloway, Martha and the Vandellas, and Augie Myers and numerous gigs with local heroes such as The Deadbeats, Iraz Baz, The Cut, David Egan, and Buddy Flett. Later exploits included extensive touring with Beanland, a notorious jam-band from Oxford, MS. The mid-90’s were spent doing numerous recordings and live dates as a member of Boondogs in Little Rock, Arkansas. Other notable gigs that followed included recording dates and live shows with artists such as the late Jim Dickinson, Greg Spradlin, Isaac Alexander, Mulehead, Ho-Hum, Kami Lyle, Kevin Gordon, The Yellow Hope Project and Buddy Flett. Although primarily focusing on electric bass, upright bass, and guitars, Chris released a solo record of Americana inspired songs titled “Morning & Night” in 2009. Throughout it all Chris has maintained a musical kinship and friendship with Steve Howell, both in the studio and on the stage.
Dave Hoffpauir started playing professionally in 1982. He played around Shreveport for 10 years or so in bands such as the Psychobillies, the Native Sons, the Deadbeats (his first collaboration w/ Steve Howell) Dorothy Prime and the Housecats, Betty Lewis and the Executives, and in various house bands which backed artists like Jessie Thomas, Kenny Bill Stinson and Buddy Flett. In 1989, he formed the SugarKings (his first serious collaboration w/ Chris Michaels, and he also played in the Infidels in 1990 (his first serious collaboration w/ Jason Weinheimer.) After moving to Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1992, he continued playing with the SugarKings but also began playing in several Arkansas bands, including Ebo and the Tomcats (which backed Billy Lee Riley and Dale Hawkins on several occasions), the Skeeterhawks, the Cockleburrs and Mulehead. He and Kevin Kerby briefly tabled Mulehead and joined Ho-Hum in 1993. After recording several demos with various producers, including the legendary Jim Dickinson in 1994, they eventually signed a record deal with Universal Records in 1995. They had one major label release, Local, which came out in 1996. Hoffpauir joined the Boondogs in 1999 and again worked with Michaels, Weinheimer and Dickinson as they completed a project that was never released on Garageband.com Records. Michaels, Weinheimer and Hoffpauir have continued to play with Steve Howell for over 30 years while pursuing their other musical interests and have formed a very creative bond that has yielded some fine recordings.
Jason Weinheimer owns and operates Fellowship Hall Sound in Little Rock, AR. In addition to producing and engineering, he plays in the Boondogs, Love Ghost, The Libras and with songwriter Isaac Alexander. He also played with the late great Jim Dickinson, who served as his studio mentor and musical guide for many years. Jason is the owner/operator of Fellowship Hall Sound recording studio in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he has played on, produced, and engineered many significant recordings by artists including Steve Howell & The Mighty Men, Jim Mize, Isaac Alexander, Boondogs, The Yellow Hope Project, Greg Spradlin & Band of Imperials, and Buddy Flett.
Katy Hobgood Ray is a singer-songwriter, children’s author, the host, director and producer of Confetti Park, a kid-friendly radio show and podcast featuring music and children’s stories from Louisiana. Born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, raised in Shreveport, she has lived in New Orleans for the past several years, and is now located in Memphis, Tennessee. Katy has been chronicling Louisiana arts and culture since 2000, when she launched an online North Louisiana music zine called NeonBridge (now in archive). As a writer, she’s contributed to SB Magazine, VisitSouth.com, New Wave, Tulane Magazine, Jazz Archivist, and more, and worked as a radio host and content producer for NPR’s Red River Radio. Her new CD release, Louisiana Oranges, is currently gaining widespread critical favor.
Russ Green’s debut album, “City Soul,” is a love letter to the Windy City and all the musicians who helped create its legendary sound. The ten original tracks, recorded at Rax Trax in Chicago by renowned engineer Rick Barnes, was co-produced by Russ and Sam Clayton and features a select group of the city’s hottest session players.
Green and his hot blues harp burn from the top of the boogie blues opener, ‘First Thing Smokin,’ paying tribute to the sounds of Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker and setting the tone for things to come. Green then works his soulful baritone like Bill Withers for the bittersweet ‘Believe In Love,’ with drummer Ricky Nelson mixing in a touch of classic side stick playing into the groove. Green displays his affinity for Jimi Hendrix with the swirling psychedelic harmonica intro to the foxy funk rocker ‘The Edge.’
International troubadour Eric Bibb graced the sessions joining Green for a duet on his delta blues stomp, ‘Going Down South,’ that was written as an exploration of the heritage of blues people. Joe Munroe lays down some super thick Hammond B3 sparing with Green’s harp on the south side strut ‘Lover Man.’
Green takes on the difficult social issues of poverty, homelessness, abuse and desperation that plague the inner city on the theatrical ‘Train Of Pain.’ The slinky blues ‘Up From The Bottom’ features some slick ice pickin’ guitar work from Giles Cory, and bass man Marvin Little leads the charge clearing the way for Green to tell the tale of a man down on his luck on the blazing chi-town funk, ‘Lint In My Pocket.’ The crew pushes the envelope on the style shifting ‘Something New,’ with Vince Agwada tossing some greasy slide guitar into the mix of modern blues rock.
The album closes with a classic R&B groover ‘Love To Give,’ with Green trading off between a soulful vocal line and screaming blues harp, showing off the chops that are certain to win him new fans and satisfy his legion of loyal followers.
Rick J Bowen – Five-time blues writer winner and KBA award recipient from the Washington Blues Society
Harmonica player and singer Russ Green’s journey into the blues is different than those of most musicians. Russ was born in Chicago and grew up on the city’s west side. Although, throughout his life he had listened to all types of music, his desire to play wasn’t realized until his adult years.
After being discharged from the U.S. Army, Russ attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale where he studied film. It was at this time that his desire to play music began to grow. Like lots of fans of Jimi Hendrix, Russ wanted to be able to re-create the sounds of the man whom he had admired for many years. But being a film student and having all his money going to these films, he couldn’t afford to buy a guitar. Undaunted by this realization, Russ remembered the purchase of a harmonica from a west side shop a few years earlier. The ability to re-create the sounds of Hendrix was becoming realized, not with a guitar, but with a harmonica!
Before leaving Southern Illinois, he was told that when he got back to Chicago he should check out Sugar Blue, described as one of the best harmonica players in Chicago. So, on his first Friday night back in Chicago Russ went out and found a Chicago Reader to see who was playing where in the city. And there it was, Sugar Blue at Blues Etc., one of Chicago’s premiere blues clubs on the North side. Mind blown by what he was hearing and seeing, Russ sat down at a high-top table not far from the bandstand. As he sat he saw a card on the table that said “tonight at Blues Etc. Sugar Blue the Charlie Parker of the harmonica and the Jimi Hendrix of the blues harp.” That’s it! That is what he wanted to be and it’s right in front of him. And the song the band was playing when he first arrived, it was ‘Miss You’ by The Rolling Stones, a song that Sugar Blue played on during his time with the band. He spent the next three months in Chicago going out to see Sugar Blue wherever he was playing but was too intimidated to speak to him. Russ then moved to Seattle, a city that captured his heart while he was in the Army.
His return to Chicago, some three years later, was not only an opportunity to learn from Sugar Blue, but also brought about the realization of a lifelong dream for Russ, working in film production. He started in television commercials and moved into television shows and feature films. Starting as a Production Assistant, he worked his way to Assistant Director and became a member of the Director’s Guild of America. Television shows include E.R. and Prison Break. Feature films include Soul Food, The Break-Up, Hardball, Save the Last Dance, Road to Perdition, Tears of the Sun and many more. With actors Paul Newman, Tom Hanks, Daniel Craig, Vince Vaughn, Vanessa Williams, Jude Law, Bruce Willis and many others. Russ even joined fellow harmonica player Bruce Willis on stage with his band while working on Tears of the Sun in Hawaii.
Musically Russ’ career has continued to grow since returning to Chicago. Not only has he been tremendously influenced by Sugar Blue, but also by Chicago’s other legendary harmonica player, Billy Branch. He playfully describes his relationship with his two mentors as like two little devils standing on each shoulder whispering in his ear of how he should play. He has also played, recorded and toured with John Primer and Lurrie Bell. His producing credits include a recording for Big Llou Johnson, from B.B. King’s Bluesville on SiriusXM, that won a Blues Music Award for Best New Artist. He is also one of the harmonica players featured on an album, Chicago Blues Harmonica Project, that has received rave reviews and has been played on radio stations around the world. This recording has been credited with proving that the harmonica is still alive and vibrant in Chicago. Russ has performed at numerous blues festivals, including the Chicago Blues Festival, the Burnley Mechanics Blues festival, the Gloucester Blues Festival, and the San Francisco Blues Festival, to name just a few. At this point the journey for Russ Green is rolling on!