Val Starr & the Blues Rocket finish a great week at NUMBER ONE

After spending at week in Memphis  appearing  in two special showcase performances during the IBC week, being called up to do a spot at the world famous Silky O’Sulivans by Barbara Blue, visiting all the  sites that Memphis has to offer, suffering with the coldest weather Memphis had for 20 years,being TME.fm Radio Spotlight Artist,  Val Starr & the Blues Rocket ended a special week by reaching NUMBER ONE on the Electric Blues Chart at RMR.

Top 50 Electric Blues Album Chart for the Week of Jan 20 2018 Roots Music Report

Val and the Boys live in Memphis

 

Sacramento blues woman, Val Starr, describes her music as “songs written about love and loss, breaking free of bad relationships, and learning to live with the good ones.” All that, and more, can be found on the 12 tracks of her fourth album of all original material “I Always Turn The Blues On.” Starr is backed by the veteran trio The Blues Rocket, which includes her partner in crime, John Ellis on bass, Frankie Soul on lead guitar, and Paul Farman on drums.

The tunes run the gamut from traditional blues shuffles to bold blues ballads. Kicking off the album is a girl-power call out, ‘High Time To Go,’ followed by the easy swing of the title track featuring Todd Morgan of Todd Morgan & The Emblems on keys, while Starr spells out her love of the blues. A bumping groove underpins the life lesson ‘What Happens After Midnight (Nothin’ Good)’ that Starr wrote for her teenage sons. Bay Area guitar slinger Daniel Castro adds gritty lead guitar to the powerful anthem to social consciousness ‘Whether Blues’ and some fine pickin’ to the country ballad ‘Please Don’t Go Away Mad.’ Tim Barron joins in on harmonica for the bump and grinder ‘Bad Luck & the Blues.’ The Rockets show they know how to play authentic Chicago blues on the hot shuffle ‘Out With The Old’ and a touch of Memphis soul on the saucy number ‘The Baby Mama Song.’ Steve ‘Beer Dawg’ Wall adds angular lead guitar to the tale of a women scorned ‘Blind Eye.’ Starr shows off all her feminine wiles during the jazzy slow blues ‘Bye Bye’ and then closes out the set with a rambling blues tune about life’s up and downs ‘It’s Always Something.’

“I Always Turn The Blues On” from Val Starr & The Blues Rocket gives proof to her stature as an acclaimed female blues singer/songwriter and prominent figure in the Northern California blues scene.

VAL STARR & the BLUES ROCKET are The TME.FM SPOTLIGHT ARTIST.

For the next four weeks we are proud to have Blues star VAL STARR as our SPOTLIGHT ARTIST. So you will be hearing lots of great blues during all the shows not just the blues show.

 

We must not forget the BLUES ROCKET’S they help the starr shine so brightly.

So tune in to catch the songs and you will find out that VAL STARR & the BLUES ROCKET have real starr talent and it shows. Hear why Val and the band are no pretenders to chart success they have been there and done that and they will continue to do so.

About Val Starr & the Blues Rocket

I Always Turn The Blues On, Val Starr & The Blues Rocket’s fourth all original blues CD, hit the streets on August 1st, 2017. The songs are written from the heart, and tell tales about love and loss, breaking free of bad relationships, and learning to live with the good ones. “Whether Blues” is a blues cry for people to come together and just get along. “What Happens After Midnight (Nothin Good)” is an blues anthem that every parent should relay to their teenagers!

 

Her ultra talented band is comprised of Sacramento blues professionals, John Ellis on bass, Frankie Soul on lead guitar, and Paul Farman on drums. I Always Turn The Blues On also features several top Sacramento based side musicians including Todd Morgan of Todd Morgan & The Emblems on keys, Daniel Castro and Steve Wall on lead guitar, Guyle Taber on drums and Tim Barron on harmonica.

Sorry but male full frontal’s not allowed on this website.

The band’s prior release, Woman on a Mission received solid radio support, holding the #1 spot on the Airplay Direct Global Radio Blues Charts for 5 straight weeks in March, 2016. The band also debuted on the Roots Music Report blues charts at #39. Their radio success can be attributed to their talent, hard work and music business background.

 

For the past 4 years, John and Val have been actively bringing blues acts to Sacramento by way of their own summer concert series, Blues On The Patio. BOTP, along with other blues festivals such as the Blues & Bones Festival, Vacaville Blues Festival, El Dorado Hills Art & Wine Festival, Folsom Rhythm & Brews and Orangevale Pow-Wow-Days, have provided the Blues Rocket with the opportunity to share the stage with top blues artists such as Tommy Castro, Coco Montoya, Rick Estrin, Chris Cain, E.G. Kight, Dennis Jones, Laurie Morvan, E.C. Scott, Albert Cummings and more. The band was also a finalist in the 2012 Sacramento International Blues Competition.

Val Starr has experienced a lifetime of music both as a performer and music industry executive. Raised in southern California, Val started singing and playing guitar at age 12. Her earliest musical influences were female singer/songwriters like Carole King and Joni Mitchell, and bands of the 60’s and 70’s. Her mother also instilled in her a love of musical comedy, which is apparent in the theatrical way she delivers her songs live, her catchy lyrics, and her amusing storytelling.

 

Val’s music business career began in the late 70’s working for record labels, ABC, Chrysalis and Polygram as an executive assistant. In the early 80’s her focus shifted to radio promotion and from then on into the late 90’s, Val had a successful career as an independent radio promoter. Val worked in the music industry by day, and at night, played the L.A. club scene, in original rock bands “Local Authority” and “Threshold.”

 

In 1983, Val married bassist, John Ellis, who remains the cornerstone of her band to this day. At the end of the eighties, the family, which now included son James (and later son Sean), relocated to the Bay area. For the next twenty years John and Val continued to write, record and perform with local bands in San Francisco.

 

At the start of the new millennium, streaming audio caught her eye. She had witnessed firsthand as an indie radio promoter, how hard it was to get records added to the limited airplay slots available at terrestrial radio. As a result, she started one of the first streaming audio networks, Allradio.com, and went on to launch Choiceradio.com and Gotradio.com. GotRadio continues to be a popular global radio network and along with its 38 custom channels, features a 24/7 blues station called Bit O Blues.

Now I know where all the TME.FM listeners go.

 

In 2003, Val and her family moved to Sacramento and continued playing in local cover bands. Around and about 2010, tired of the cover band/ club scene, Val and John started showing up at local blues jams in the area, out of which she found the talent to form her first blues band. “I found the blues and with it I discovered my voice. I had been singing covers for so long, imitating other singers, I forgot what my own voice sounded like. I may not have the ‘typical female blues whiskey voice’, but I know that I was always meant to sing and play the blues.” – Val Starr

 

Val Starr & The Blues Rocket released their first CD, “Cool Ride,” in 2012 to favorable reviews. “Blues Away,” their second CD which came out in 2014, was well received at blues radio and went to #4 on the Airplay Direct Global Blues chart. In addition, Val had a #1 Airplay Direct holiday hit with “Spending Christmas With The Blues,” in December of 2015

Val Starr is an extraordinary singer and songwriter who writes songs gleaned from everyday life, love, friends, and family. In 2016 Woman On A Mission was submitted for nomination to the 2016 Grammys, and I Always turn The Blues On will be submitted for consideration for the 2017 Grammy Award.

 

From programming an online international 24/7 blues radio station, to promoting her own blues concerts in Sacramento, to recording and performing with her band, Val Starr is truly a woman that can say “I Always Turn the Blues On.”

Website

 

TME.FM Radio’s Top Songs Of 2017.

Below is the playlist of our 20 favorite songs of 2017.

Yes I know there are 42 but without declaring war among ourselves we could not make the list any smaller.

We had to use dirty tricks,back stabbing,bribery,coercion and  payment of favors but the 7 of us finally agreed.

We apologize to all the artists who have not got a song on the list , it does not mean they were not good enough we could not make a decision.

This list in no way reflects the TOP ALBUMS OF THE YEAR list which is being compiled in a much more democratic way. No bribes will be accepted from artists or PR companies I can assure you.

Now press play and listen to the best of the best of the best songs played on TME.FM Radio in 2017.

Howe Gelb & Lonna Kelley – Further Standards

Last year’s Future Standards saw Howe Gelb crafting twinkling, roguish takes on classic US songwriting. Think Harold Arlen after a lost year being dragged around jazz-fuelled speakeasies by Dr John… without the voodoo.
Apparently Gelb’s itch wasn’t quite scratched and so we have Further Standards – a companion piece that brings us up to speed with how the songs are shaping up. The first half sees Gelb lay a few new ones on us and update Future Standards to give touring vocalist and old Giant Sand pal Lonna Kelley more prominence. Of the fresh standards, “Presumptuous” hands Kelley the spotlight for a song that musically evokes melancholy Gershwin, with Kelley’s understated vocal complementing the song beautifully. The other newie,…

…”All You Need to Know”, is one of the best things the whole project has offered – a hard-to-second-guess odd couple duet that wriggles between sounding as if it belongs in Ronnie Scotts and on the silver screen. The other “recycled” stuff on offer suggests a confidence in the material and Kelley’s presence have combined to allow Gelb to take things slower – it’s in everybody’s best interests.

The second side captures Gelb and co in concert, where the tunes really breathe. A song like Clear’s snappy swing turns into a more conversational, sauntering vogue. The sense of freedom is heightened by Gelb’s loose piano playing – a fruity vamp is usually never far away – and the juiced-up flights of delightful fancy cooked up whenever Naim Amor takes a guitar solo. Delightful stuff all round.

Ilya Portnov – Strong Brew

Harmonica player Ilya (i l e e y u h) Portnov’ s debut instrumental album contains nine eclectic tunes, seven of which are originals together with an arrangement of ‘Cincinnati Flow Rag’ and ‘In A Town Garden.’Here’s what Ilya has to say about his new recording:

“On this album, I wanted to feature different kinds of music that play a big role in my life. Being in the US I’ve been playing a lot of blues and roots and some jazz music. I’ve been also playing and recorded with a few bands that play Brazilian music in the styles of choro and forro both here and in Brazil. As I grew up in Russia, I was exposed to a lot of European and Russian classical music and folk music from Europe and Russia.

I wrote most of the music for this album and at first the plan was to feature all these three countries on the album. I was going to record the “American” and “Russian” parts here in the US and then go to Brazil to record the “Brazilian” part and mix everything in the US. But after we started recording here in the US I realized that the overall sound of the album seemed very “American,” even though there were a lot of elements coming from Europe and Russia. So, I decided to exclude the Brazilian part from this album and record a separate album in Brazil (hopefully sometime soon).

I wrote tunes in different styles for it; there is one that is kind of a tribute to a great early jazz clarinet player Sidney Bechet. There is a surf-rock tune. There are several kinds of blues. There is an old American ragtime tune by Rev. Gary Davis, ‘Cincinnati Flow Rag.’ There is a popular Russian tune from the 1940’s, ‘In A Town Garden,’ (one of my grandmother’s favorite) that we recorded in a kind of organ trio style. There is a waltz that I wrote. Tango is very big in Russia especially in the first half of the 20th century and many Russian composers wrote tangos. So, I wrote one for this album.

It was all recorded at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios in San Jose, which mostly specializes in blues and roots music. Kid plays bass and guitar on the album and was the recording engineer too. It also features some other great musicians that specialize in blues, roots and jazz music. Chris Burns plays piano and keyboard. June Core on drums and percussion. There are also a couple of special guests – Rob Vye on acoustic guitar on one of the tracks. (Rob and I have a country blues duo that participated in the 2017 IBC representing the Golden Gate Blues Society). And Ben Andrews plays violin on two tracks. (Ben also plays in my other band, Choro Bastardo).

So, there is a big mixture of things on the album and a lot of different styles and I was trying to be very respectful to each of these styles.”

BACKGROUND

Ilya was born in Russia and grew up in the suburbs of Moscow. As he was born in 1989, all his documents say that his place of birth is the USSR. He came to study at the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he obtained his Master’s degree, as the first person to be accepted with the diatonic harmonica as the main instrument. After graduating from NEC in 2014, Ilya moved to the West Coast. At first to San Francisco and now he’s based in Los Angeles.

Ilya started out playing piano at the age of four, mostly classical music. His dad is really into rock music, so he always heard a lot of British rock (Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc.) growing up. He also had a couple of friends, who played blues on the harmonica, and he was really into its sound. Finding an old harmonica that belonged to his dad, he was hooked and spent all his free time practicing, even skipping college just to stay home and practice. As he already had theoretical knowledge about music, he progressed swiftly on the harmonica and five years later was accepted into the Master’s program at the Contemporary Improvisation department of New England Conservatory, one of the most prestigious music schools in the US.

His first harmonica teacher in Russia, Alex Bratetsky, greatly influenced Ilya’s technique, developing an excellent basic foundation and introducing him to the “overblow” technique, which allows one to play a full chromatic scale on a diatonic harmonica. His teacher also introduced Ilya to the music of Jason Ricci, Howard Levy and Carlos del Junco, a major turning point in his development. “After hearing these guys, I realized that I can play anything on the harmonica and that’s when I became very serious about it,” says Ilya. “I always liked the blues and that’s what I started with on the harmonica, but I could never see it as the only thing I would do just because of my background, the place where I grew up, and the culture I was surrounded by. So, hearing these three guys really changed a lot for me and I realized I can play anything I want on the harmonica. And later I was lucky enough to study with all three of them on different occasions. Also since coming to the US (and especially after moving to the West Coast) I started studying blues and American roots music on a deeper level and it’s now a much bigger part of what I do. After graduating from NEC, I started playing chromatic harmonica too. And even though I can play all the chromatic notes on a diatonic harmonica, the chromatic harmonica has a different sound and I do like it for certain projects.”

“Strong Brew” is his debut solo project. A few years ago, Ilya recorded an album with one of his bands called Choro Bastardo, which plays Brazilian music, and he has also recorded on a bunch of other people’s albums. Some of them are released in the US, some in Brazil, and some in Russia. Ilya is featured in an NPR Music article on the harmonica – http://www.npr.org/2015/12/26/460860955/pocket-sized-revolution-behind-the-harmonicas-world-music-takeover.

 

TITLE
STRONG BREW
LABEL
SELF
RELEASE DATE
NOVEMBER 10, 2017
DISTRIBUTION
CD BABY
LINKS
Artist Website
Artist Facebook

Harmonica player Ilya (i l e e y u h) Portnov’ s debut instrumental album contains nine eclectic tunes, seven of which are originals together with an arrangement of ‘Cincinnati Flow Rag’ and ‘In A Town Garden.’Here’s what Ilya has to say about his new recording:

“On this album, I wanted to feature different kinds of music that play a big role in my life. Being in the US I’ve been playing a lot of blues and roots and some jazz music. I’ve been also playing and recorded with a few bands that play Brazilian music in the styles of choro and forro both here and in Brazil. As I grew up in Russia, I was exposed to a lot of European and Russian classical music and folk music from Europe and Russia.

I wrote most of the music for this album and at first the plan was to feature all these three countries on the album. I was going to record the “American” and “Russian” parts here in the US and then go to Brazil to record the “Brazilian” part and mix everything in the US. But after we started recording here in the US I realized that the overall sound of the album seemed very “American,” even though there were a lot of elements coming from Europe and Russia. So, I decided to exclude the Brazilian part from this album and record a separate album in Brazil (hopefully sometime soon).

I wrote tunes in different styles for it; there is one that is kind of a tribute to a great early jazz clarinet player Sidney Bechet. There is a surf-rock tune. There are several kinds of blues. There is an old American ragtime tune by Rev. Gary Davis, ‘Cincinnati Flow Rag.’ There is a popular Russian tune from the 1940’s, ‘In A Town Garden,’ (one of my grandmother’s favorite) that we recorded in a kind of organ trio style. There is a waltz that I wrote. Tango is very big in Russia especially in the first half of the 20th century and many Russian composers wrote tangos. So, I wrote one for this album.

View post on imgur.com

It was all recorded at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios in San Jose, which mostly specializes in blues and roots music. Kid plays bass and guitar on the album and was the recording engineer too. It also features some other great musicians that specialize in blues, roots and jazz music. Chris Burns plays piano and keyboard. June Core on drums and percussion. There are also a couple of special guests – Rob Vye on acoustic guitar on one of the tracks. (Rob and I have a country blues duo that participated in the 2017 IBC representing the Golden Gate Blues Society). And Ben Andrews plays violin on two tracks. (Ben also plays in my other band, Choro Bastardo).

So, there is a big mixture of things on the album and a lot of different styles and I was trying to be very respectful to each of these styles.”

BACKGROUND

Ilya was born in Russia and grew up in the suburbs of Moscow. As he was born in 1989, all his documents say that his place of birth is the USSR. He came to study at the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he obtained his Master’s degree, as the first person to be accepted with the diatonic harmonica as the main instrument. After graduating from NEC in 2014, Ilya moved to the West Coast. At first to San Francisco and now he’s based in Los Angeles.

Ilya started out playing piano at the age of four, mostly classical music. His dad is really into rock music, so he always heard a lot of British rock (Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc.) growing up. He also had a couple of friends, who played blues on the harmonica, and he was really into its sound. Finding an old harmonica that belonged to his dad, he was hooked and spent all his free time practicing, even skipping college just to stay home and practice. As he already had theoretical knowledge about music, he progressed swiftly on the harmonica and five years later was accepted into the Master’s program at the Contemporary Improvisation department of New England Conservatory, one of the most prestigious music schools in the US.

His first harmonica teacher in Russia, Alex Bratetsky, greatly influenced Ilya’s technique, developing an excellent basic foundation and introducing him to the “overblow” technique, which allows one to play a full chromatic scale on a diatonic harmonica. His teacher also introduced Ilya to the music of Jason Ricci, Howard Levy and Carlos del Junco, a major turning point in his development. “After hearing these guys, I realized that I can play anything on the harmonica and that’s when I became very serious about it,” says Ilya. “I always liked the blues and that’s what I started with on the harmonica, but I could never see it as the only thing I would do just because of my background, the place where I grew up, and the culture I was surrounded by. So, hearing these three guys really changed a lot for me and I realized I can play anything I want on the harmonica. And later I was lucky enough to study with all three of them on different occasions. Also since coming to the US (and especially after moving to the West Coast) I started studying blues and American roots music on a deeper level and it’s now a much bigger part of what I do. After graduating from NEC, I started playing chromatic harmonica too. And even though I can play all the chromatic notes on a diatonic harmonica, the chromatic harmonica has a different sound and I do like it for certain projects.”

“Strong Brew” is his debut solo project. A few years ago, Ilya recorded an album with one of his bands called Choro Bastardo, which plays Brazilian music, and he has also recorded on a bunch of other people’s albums. Some of them are released in the US, some in Brazil, and some in Russia. Ilya is featured in an NPR Music article on the harmonica – http://www.npr.org/2015/12/26/460860955/pocket-sized-revolution-behind-the-harmonicas-world-music-takeover.

 

TITLE
STRONG BREW
LABEL
SELF
RELEASE DATE
NOVEMBER 10, 2017
DISTRIBUTION
CD BABY
LINKS
Artist Website
Artist Facebook

MINDI ABAIR AND THE BONESHAKERS

 

Like many first-class leaders Mindi Abair (pronounced with a long A plus Bear) knows how to surround herself with greatness. She has been electrifying audiences with her dynamic live performances and utter command of the saxophone since her debut album in 2000. No one since Junior Walker has brought saxophone and vocals in one package to the forefront of modern music, with a raucous tone and such dynamic stage presence. After eight successful solo albums, the two-time GRAMMY nominated saxophonist, singer, songwriter teamed up with powerhouse Detroit band The Boneshakers, led by guitarist Randy Jacobs and released the critically acclaimed debut Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers LIVE in Seattle in September of 2015.

After 2 ½ years of non-stop touring with the five-piece band that includes vocalist Sweet Pea Atkinson, drummer Third Richardson, keyboardist Rodney Lee and Derek Frank on bass, she called on the talents of renowned Blues Rock producer Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Joe Bonamassa, The Black Crowes, Aerosmith) to guide them into the studio for their first studio recording.  They chose the famed Hollywood recording studio EastWest Studios, and recorded 11 new tracks of hard-driving blues, rock and soul in just five days. “The EastWest Sessions” includes guest appearances from Joe Bonamassa and the 2017 GRAMMY Best Contemporary Blues Album Winner Fantastic Negrito.

The album opens with the thumping soul rocker, ‘Vinyl,’ that is a celebration of love and the power of music, that name checks many of its inspirational characters. Abair and Jacobs share lead lines over the heavy tom tom-driven groove of the instrumental ‘I’m Not That Kind Of A Girl,’ that builds into the sheer abandon of a saxophone house party. Abair spells out her philosophy of self-reliance and determination on the rocker anthem ‘Play To Win.’ Choosing a bump and grind slow blues as her soap box, Abair takes aim at the boy’s club for the blistering rebuke ‘Pretty Good For A Girl,’ driving her point home by sparring with guitar-slinger and friend Joe Bonamassa. For the soul ballad ‘Let Me Hear It From You,’ Sweet Pea Atkinson takes the vocal reins, demonstrating the power and skills he honed as the acclaimed lead singer for Was Not Was, Bonnie Raitt and Lyle Lovett. Some greasy wah-wah guitar mixes with Abair’s saxophone on the opening hook of the inventive almost instrumental Blues Rock anthem ‘Live My Life,’ that features a vocal chorus alternating with scorching solos. The gospel soaked ‘Freedom,’ starts out unfettered then jumps into a ripping guitar riff over a huge drum groove. This ain’t your daddy’s jazz saxophone for sure. The slinky beat from Third Richardson provides the template for Abair’s unapologetic confessional ‘I Had To Learn The Hard Way.’

Deep Blues pioneer Fantastic Negrito joins the crew on the expansive meditation ‘She Don’t Cry No More,’ a brooding work song dug up from the recesses of the human condition, filled with desperate weeping and wailing. Abair then plays a woman scorned on the dramatic ‘Done Me Wrong,’ pouring out her fury with tenacious vocals and blistering saxophone.  The playful cigar box guitar-driven country meets New Orleans two step, ‘I Love To Play The Saxophone,’ closes out the session. A sweet back porch sing-along with Abair touting her affection for the horn that has been the love of her life.

The title “The EastWest Sessions” refers to the LA studio used for recording the album in the city where they all met and started playing together, but upon further consideration what Mindi Abair And The Boneshakers have created is something deeper; a melding of styles and ideals. The tracks are a mixture of old school Eastern R&B swagger and soul meeting Modern West Coast Jazz and Commercial Rock sensibility, blended into a new groove for a new age.

Rick J Bowen

BIOGRAPHY

Two-time GRAMMY nominee Mindi Abair has made her mark as one of the most recognizable saxophonists in the US. You may know her as the saxophonist on American Idol, or the only saxophonist to tour with rock legends Aerosmith since 1973. You may have seen her on stage with Bruce Springsteen for a historic night at the Beacon Theater, or tuned in as she joined Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra on the Late Show with David Letterman, caught her appearance at The Grand Ole Opry, or recognized her as Al Pacino’s sax player in the movie Danny Collins or as the sax player in Adam Sandler’s film “Sandy Wexler.”

Her eight solo CDs have garnered ten #1 radio hits, seven top five spots and two #1 spots on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz album chart. Abair received a 2014 GRAMMY nomination in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category for “Summer Horns,” a #1 recording with her friends Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot, and more recently received a 2015 GRAMMY nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for her solo album “Wild Heart” featuring friends Gregg Allman, Joe Perry, Trombone Shorty, Booker T. Jones, Keb’ Mo’, and Max Weinberg.

After “Wild Heart,” Abair wanted to translate its edgier rock/soul sound to the stage. She called longtime friend Randy Jacobs (Bonnie Raitt, Was Not Was, Willie Nelson) to join her live band. Randy brought his Detroit blues/rock edge to her music.  Randy’s band, The Boneshakers, was playing The Newport Beach Jazz Festival on the same bill as Mindi’s band, where she hopped on stage to “sit in” with The Boneshakers. “There was so much electricity on stage. We all felt it. Everyone played with complete abandon,” Abair said. “It felt like home. And most of my band were also playing with Randy’s band. It was really only about hiring longtime Boneshakers vocalist, Sweet Pea Atkinson (Bonnie Raitt, Was (Not Was), Lyle Lovett). So, we made it official and hit the road as Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers.” “Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers LIVE in Seattle was released September 2015, featuring all the abandon of their live performances.

The artists she’s toured with and/or recorded with are a testament to her talent: Aerosmith, Gregg Allman, Keb’ Mo’, Joe Perry, Bobby Rush, Lalah Hathaway, Trombone Shorty, Duran Duran, Adam Sandler, Lee Ritenour, The Backstreet Boys, Booker T. Jones, Jimmy Webb, Mandy Moore, Max Weinberg, Bill Champlin, David Pack, Mocean Worker, The Ides of March and Teena Marie. Abair played on Bobby Rush’s album with Blinddog Smokin’ called “Decisions” and she produced, wrote, played and sang on “The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You.” Abair has also played on a few Keb’ Mo’ albums over the years and vice versa and she played on Sweet Pea Atkinson’s album releasing on Blue Note Records in Sept., produced by Keb’ Mo’ and Don Was.

LINKS
Artist Website
Artist Facebook

Kelly Z – Rescue

Kelly Z’s solo album, “Rescue,” is a collection of 60’s Funk, Rock and R&B produced, mixed and recorded by the acclaimed Chuck Kavooras. The eight tracks of inspired cover songs were recorded in 2011, but because of a set of fortunate and unfortunate events, never completed. When Chuck and Kelly Zirbes started talking about doing another project together, Chuck remembered the abandoned tracks and played them for Kelly. Both decided they were just too good to sit in a box, where no one would hear the power of these songs and skillful effort of the musicians. Kelly was brought in to sing on the tracks and finish the project. The whole album was recorded on analog at Slide Away Studios, recreating that big vintage sound, and featuring a full horn section, special guests – Teresa James, Shari Puorto & Lisa Orloff Staley – and the core studio band of Rick Reed, Bryan Head, John Marx, and Mo Beeks.

Kelly’s powerhouse rough and ready vocals draw instant comparisons to fellow blues belters, Lydia Pence, Dusty Springfield, Tina Turner and Irma Thomas. She rips out the scorching plea, ‘What Do I Have To Do,’ on the James Brown funk and fury opener, then dials it back for the smoldering soul of ‘Baby It’s You,’ and digs deep into her emotional tool kit for the slow blues ‘You Don’t Realize.’ Guitarist Perry Robertson plays Kelly’s foil on the Ike and Tina standard from 1963 ‘It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,’ complete with “Ikette” backups from Teresa, Shari & Lisa. Kavooras himself adds greasy slide guitar to the swamp rocker ‘Trying To Find My Mind.’ Soul classic ‘He Called Me Baby’ is given a tender but robust treatment and you can sink your teeth into the sexy groove of Isaac Hayes’ ‘Do Your Thing.’ The folk chestnut, ‘You Are My Sunshine,’ is given the full “Funky Broadway” treatment of a thundering jungle beat and blazing horn jabs to bolster Kelly’s steamy vocals. This collection was so worth every effort needed to complete the “Rescue.”

Rick J Bowen

BIOGRAPHY

Kelly Zirbes and her band Kelly’s Lot have been playing and recording in Los Angeles since the mid 90’s, and have recorded eleven albums and toured nationally and internationally, amassing a strong following. Currently, the full band is Kelly Zirbes on vocals, Perry Robertson and Rob Zucca on guitars, Matt McFadden on bass, Sebastian Sheehan on drums, Bill Johnston on sax, Dave Welch on trumpet, Bobby Orgel on keys and Frank Hinojosa on harmonica.

“Test Drive” gave the band its first official release. Through the first ten years they recorded three live albums, “Live At The Troubadour,” “Stop And Make A Difference” and “Trio,” headlined local festivals, toured regionally and embarked on two national tours. Many radio stations, have played their albums including their seven-song EP “Come To This,” which was recorded to showcase the band’s journey towards more blues.

Kelly’s Lot has been featured on many media outlets for the music and charity work the band has embraced. Some of the appearances include ABC Perspectives, Channel 4 in Milwaukee, Rock City News, LA Times, Pasadena Weekly, Independent Songwriter Magazine, Mixdown Magazine, The Debra Duncan Show, Good Morning Texas, The Gordon Keith show and Fox TV Houston to name a few.

In 2008 “The Light” was released, which showcased more of the rock and blues the band was getting known for. Their next release in 2009, “Pastrami and Jam,” included a list of covers the band enjoys playing.

Kelly and her band have opened for Tommy Castro, Shemekia Copeland, Marcia Ball, John Mayall, Curtis Salgado, Coco Montoya, to name just a few, and have hosted blues events for charities and for fellow blues musicians. With the support of European fans, the band toured across Belgium, France, Germany, England, Scotland, and The Netherlands. In 2011, they released a live album from Brussels, “Live in Brussels,” which was released both in Belgium and the U.S. “Plain Simple Me” came next and brings the listener back to the roots of this band, when Kelly was playing solo shows as a singer/songwriter.

“Don’t Give My Blues Away,” the next studio recording, was released with a horn section and keys with guest artists Teresa James, Robert Dill and Fred Mandel lending their musical genius to the project, which helped book new gigs for the group including the Valencia Jazz Festival and The Simi Valley Cajun and Blues Festival. “Bittersweet,” their early 2017 release is a mix of many genres and features a new side of the duo’s songwriting. Kelly and Perry have written songs for a 2018 blues release.

LINKS
Artist Website
Artist Facebook

Elles Bailey – Wildfire

Bristol-based Elles Bailey has a talent for crafting and seamlessly weaving rootsy blues, country, and soulful rock, with a contemporary edge. What’s more fate has blessed her with a ‘smoky vocal’ style that perfectly fits her music.

Elles’s trademark husky, lived-in voice may sound like this young songstress keeps up a 60-a-day habit, but was actually caused by a serious childhood illness. At the tender age of three, Elles contracted both viral and bacterial pneumonia. Ever-resilient, Elles recovered,but her voice had changed completely.  An ENT visit revealed no permanent damage, but as the specialist prophetically observed, “If she ever wants to sing, she’ll be a natural blues vocalist!”

Now, the miracle girl with the made-for-the-blues voice is about to release her debut album, ‘Wildfire’, on 1st September, 2017.

Elles had The opportunity to record ‘Wildfire’ at Blackbird Studio in Nashville Tennessee  where she drew together an amazing pool of musical and production talent and expertise.

“It was always my plan to release my debut album in 2017,” says Elles, “It had been a long time coming, but I could never have imagined getting the opportunity to make it in Nashville, at a studio like Blackbird Studios, where so many iconic albums have been made! I’m very excited about sharing this record with the world!”

Produced by Brad Nowell ‘Wildfire’ assembled a host of Nashville’s finest, including Grammy Award winner and two-time CMA ‘Musician of the Year’ Brent Mason on guitar, three-time ‘Musician Hall Of Famer’ Bobby Wood on piano, joined by Chris Leuzinger (Garth Brooks) on guitar, Mike Brignardello (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Amy Grant) on bass, Wes Little (Stevie Wonder, Melissa Etheridge) on drums, and even legendary Ivor Novello Award-winning songwriter Roger Cook came on board to help add some extra sparkle. Blended together back in the UK with the likes of Jonny Henderson (Robyn Ford, Matt Schofield) on Hammond organ and Joe Wilkins on blistering guitar, the result is a unique trans-Atlantic coming together of styles.

As well as being supported by Radio 2, her single ‘Wildfire’ finally came off the Planet Rock playlist after a whopping 10 weeks and she’s back on their play list again, with her most recent single ‘Same Flame’. She has remained on the Country Rocks Spotify playlist for over a month now and cracked the magic 150k marker. Wildfire recently landed radio 1 playlist in Holland and has been voted the number 1 album in the IBBA blues radio charts. What’s more, Bailey’s most recent single ‘Same Flame’ and its accompanying video went on in June to make Song of the Day at Songwriting Magazine.

Reviewers have been wowed by Elles and her debut album, Wildfire due to be released on 1st September 2017. Maverick Magazine gave ‘Wildfire’ top marks (5/5) and went on to predict a glowing career for this talented artiste: “If Bailey can follow this album up with something equally as good as ‘Wildfire’, there’s no reason why she can’t hit the heights Swift did in country- and perhaps move even further up the country mountain than Swift did.”

“It’s a fact that very few make it to the big stage,” Blues In Britain reminds us, but “Elles Bailey has the necessary talent, the drive, and no) the product.”

Not only will Elles be doing her own headline tour of the UK through out October and November she has also been asked to open for guitar legend Eric Gales on his UK & Ireland tour.

 

ELMORE MAGAZINE REVIEW.

With ‘Wildfire’ she now delivers a debut album featuring a dozen tracks that are brim-full of fiery blues and confidence.

The pace and pitch is delightfully varied while the smoky-vocals are clear, clean and confidently self-assured, shades of the late Dusty Springfield at times, with hints of many of the old female blues greats swilling around in the background. Recorded in Music City USA, Nashville, and featuring some of the city’s finest sidemen, the keys and guitar work are driving, forceful, pounding along at times while at others pulling back off the gas and sliding along with zinging, ringing taste and control.

In many ways this album is a genuine triumph. It’s one thing to turn out a limited six-track EP but quite another to follow through soon afterwards with a fully formed, 12-track album. Bailey on this wonderful offering has pulled the trick off with absolute ease and assurance. This is an album that both promises much and delivers. In addition, it is a promising release that hints at yet more to come in the future pipeline. This is an album that crosses the acoustic-slide/electric blues divide comfortably and confidently. Get out and grab a copy of ‘Wildfire,’ you certainly won’t be disappointed. Ellis Bailey is a rising star to keep an eye on, for sure.

—Iain Patience

STEVE HOWELL & JASON WEINHEIMER

Few things are as pure as the sound of a solo vocal and sparse acoustic accompaniment. That singularity of purpose led to the latest collaboration from veteran blues man Steve Howell and his partner, Jason Weinheimer; “A Hundred Years From Today.” The wonderful ten song collection of rural country blues and traditional jazz offerings in the intimate setting of guitar, bass and vocals is set for an August of 2017 release. Texan Steve Howell provided the melodic and seasoned finger style guitar and soulful vocals while Jason Weinheimer lent his considerable and widely recognized skills on bass, engineering, mixing and mastering. The album opens with the jaunty trad jazz tune, ‘Lulu’s Back In Town,’ that was a staple of Fats Waller’s repertoire. The old-time country blues tune from 1927, ‘Kansas City Blues,’ shows off Howell’s adept finger picking skills and the inspiration he drew from Mike Bloomfield. Howell then digs deep into the songbook of fellow Texan Lightnin’ Hopkins for the share cropper’s blues ‘Going Back To Florida.’ The loose yet tight two-step feel of ‘Louis Collins,’ cleverly disguises the dark beauty of the great American murder story from the 1920’s, first recorded by Mississippi John Hurt.

Howell pays tribute to another one of his heroes, and Texas legend, jazz man Jack Teagarden, on the sweet lilting title track, ‘A Hundred Years From Today.’ Weinheimer keeps the bass walking as Howell trades rhythm, leads, and verses on the country blues boogie ‘Got The Blues, Can’t Be Satisfied,’ another standard from the catalog of Mississippi John Hurt. The duo then pays tribute to the Crescent City, (New Orleans) the birth place of Jazz on a loving reading of ‘Basin Street Blues.’ Howell deftly merges the jazz standards ‘Limehouse Blues’ and ‘After You’ve Gone’ into one with an extended instrumental intro of more finger picking magic that sets up his easy swinging vocals. Bo Carter and The Mississippi Sheiks wrote and recorded some of the most varied Delta Blues material and are well known for bawdy songs such as ‘Who’s Been Here?’ that would have been considered “blue material” back in the day. Howell delivers here with the light hearted, tongue-in-cheek humor that was intended. The much-loved standard, from the great American songbook, ‘Rocking Chair,’ closes out the set with Howell slowing the tempo and imbuing the motif of a dialog between an aged father and his son, with the deep melancholy from someone facing mortality.

“A Hundred Years From Today,” from Howell and Weinheimer, offers an interesting and accessible set list, recorded with an eerie clarity missing in the quality of most audio production, that breathes new life into gems from the past and taps the depths of the human condition.

by Rick J Bowen

BIOGRAPHY

Steve Howell

When Steve Howell first heard Mississippi John Hurt’s happy style of fingerpicking country blues in 1965 at the age of thirteen, he immediately knew that the tame, folky style of strumming the guitar was a thing out of the past for him. As his journey progressed, Mississippi John Hurt begat Blind Willie McTell and Leadbelly, who begat Robert Johnson, Son House, Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Blake and a host of other black acoustic guitar players and vocalists. His interest in rural, folk-blues styles and the history of the music led him to learn more about how this music came to town and melded with the horn-oriented bands prevalent in the cities, creating a strong affinity for him with the traditional jazz and New Orleans music of the first half of the twentieth century. This led to a journey through music which, of course, included the pop, country, rock and blues music of the times, as well as the music of Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Lester Young, Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, Art Tatum, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Chet Atkins, Johnny Smith, Wes Montgomery, Bucky Pizzarelli, Joe Pass, George Van Eps, Lenny Breau, and many other great jazz artists. Although very interested in many other music styles (bebop, rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, and others), the heart of his playing and singing is very much rooted in the rural acoustic blues and traditional jazz genres born in the American South.

Born in Marshall, Texas, Steve lived in Kilgore, Texas, until the age of seventeen, when his family moved to Shreveport, Louisiana. Upon Steve’s graduation from Captain Shreve High School in Shreveport, he lived in Dallas, Arlington, Austin, and spent some time in Pennsylvania during 1972-1973. Late 1973 brought the beginning of a hitch in the U.S. Navy which took him to Key West, Florida, and then to Havorfordwest, South Wales, for 3 1/2 years. During this time, he played folk clubs in South Wales, as well as in the South of England with his partner, fingerstyle and slide guitarist and mandolinist, Arnie Cottrell. They also played several folk music gatherings including the Pembroke Castle Folk Festival in the spring of 1976.

Upon his return to the United States ‘77 and back to Shreveport, Louisiana, Steve performed through the late 70’s & 80’s, with numerous gigs around East Texas, initially as a duo with guitarist David Dodson in 1977 and then with his partner, Shreveport restauranteur Jim Caskey. Since 2006 Steve has recorded the music he loves so much as well as continued to perform, oft times with his Mighty Men. Steve is the Recipient of the 2012 Academy of Texas Music Historical Significance Award.

Jason Weinheimer

A veteran songwriter and performer, Jason Weinheimer has spent the last decade focused on recording and producing albums for other artists at his studio, Fellowship Hall Sound www.fellowshiphallsound.com. He has recorded albums by John Moreland, Buddy Flett, and Jim Mize, among many others. In addition to his studio work, he plays bass in a few bands, most notably Steve Howell & the Mighty Men. His solo album “Skies Are Grey” was released in 2016 under the name The Libras.

GORDON MEIER BLUES EXPERIENCE

 

“Every musician is a product of their influences. It would be dishonest for me to deny the influence of B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins and others however the two profound “game changers” were Freddie King and Magic Slim. A quote from B.B. or Muddy may come at any time in my performance, but the giants who take me to the gig and stand with me are Slim and Freddie. Freddie was an obsession of mine throughout the ’70s. I played all of his instrumentals as have many famous guitarists. In the late ’70s, I discovered another giant. While searching the record bins at a record store known for obscure recordings, I discovered Magic Slim and The Teardrops. This lead to a pilgrimage to Chicago in the hopes of finding Slim. The liner notes on the Austrian record label said that he was in Chicago and was relatively undiscovered. At the time, there was at least 50 blues clubs in Chicago cooking every night of the week. I only knew of two; B.L.U.E.S. on N. Halstead and The Checkerboard Lounge (owned at the time by Buddy Guy and Jr. Wells) in the South Side. There was no internet. If you wanted to find something, you had to search and ask…. a lot. So, my quest began to find Magic Slim. I drove to Chicago and went to B.L.U.E.S. on N. Halstead to ask about Slim’s whereabouts. When I got there, Magic Slim and The Teardrops were playing! It was packed so I couldn’t talk to Slim. The following night, I went to the only other club I knew of, The Checkerboard Lounge. I walked in and saw Slim sitting at the bar. I introduced myself and explained my shock and disbelief that I found him two nights in a row with no prior knowledge of his whereabouts. He looked at me and said “Well…that’s why they call me Magic Slim”. That began a friendship that lasted over 30 years until his passing in Feb. 2013. I became very close to Slim and his band and played with them many times through the years. John Primer was the last guitar player in Muddy’s band and when Muddy passed, John went with Slim.

In the 13 years that John spent with Slim, we also became good friends. One of my favorite tunes by John is covered on this album, “Stop Draggin’ That Chain Around”. Slim encouraged and inspired me to find my own voice in performing the blues. If there’s a moment while listening to this album that you find yourself tapping your feet or playing air guitar or drums, I’ve succeeded in bringing you Magic. Whether it was Magic Slim or Freddie King that lead to that moment, it’s clear to me that they are both responsible for the way I interpret my music and so I have named this album……..MAGIC KINGDOM. Hopefully, you will find this album inspirational in some way and together we can share these moments that help to keep the Blues Alive!” Gordon Meier