I played at Rockestfest 3 last year with Black River Blues and really enjoyed it. Since then I have got to know a few of the folks involved with the event and when I proposed myself as an acoustic act I didn’t really expect to be accepted – there were over 50 applicants for 24 playing slots. However, I was chosen, so I’ll be doing a set of blues, Little Feat, Grateful Dead and other similar tunes.
Steve Winwood has been around a long time – from The Spencer Davis Group to Traffic to Blind Faith – with Eric Clapton (reunited here) to massive solo success too. To me, he’s got one of those recognisable voices, a voice that I like. Here’s a link to a streaming track from his new “Nine Lives” album – “Dirty City” – this is a song I could certainly see appearing in the setlist of my next band – I like it a lot. If you go to the official website, there’s a video to the track too.
Winwood and Clapton have played a few gigs together this month – there’s a write up at Rolling Stone here.
Over the past 10 days or so I’ve been to see a couple of bands, and got the chance to sit in with them on a song or two. I went to see The Bandits at Byers Green club just over a week ago. I love this band – a no frills trio that are tighter than a tight thing. The crowd loved the band from start to finish, and so did I – their particular brand of uptempo r’n’b/rock’n’roll (with a few unexpected covers thrown in) is excellent. There were 2 guests that night – first “White Haired Guy” got up and played decent harp on a tune, then a little later I played some harp on a slow blues – “I Can’t Quit You”. (No cameras were present) I really enjoyed playing with this great band, and it seemed to go down OK with the locals too. Next time I might get to playt some guitar too! Bad Bob Bates and I had a chat about guitars and stuff – he loves his telecasters and has put a few together himself.
Then 3 days ago I went to see those bad boys Dirty South – my second exposure to this band of outlaws. This 6 piece (3 guitars!), as you might expect, play Southern Rock -and boy do they do it well! A great crowd at The Turbinia was with the band from the start, and neither the crowd nor the band let up. I was persuaded to get up and sling some slide on Dirty South’s version of Lynryd Skynrd’s version of JJ Cale’s “Call Me The Breeze” -I borrowed Ken’s (Blitzkrieg) Les Paul and Peavey stack for this.
Folks seemed to enjoy my sliding. In the second set Doc Brown and I did a little bit of Duellin’ Harps on a song I don’t even know the name of. Again, a great bunch of guys who clearly enjoy what they do. I look forward to the next gig.
Well, I’m no longer in Black Dog Blues Band. It just didn’t feel right, didn’t seem to be going how I had hoped – despite our pretty good performance at Crook Buskers a few months ago. So Dave (the drummer – he left too) and I are currently weighing up our options. Maybe this is the time that I should step up and just form my own band – not necessarily a blues band, but blues will always be part of what I play. Maybe need to look at a West Coast influenced Grateful Dead/Little Feat/Ry Cooder/Jackson Browne/Allman Brothers/Travelling Wilburys/Gov’t Mule/String Cheese Incident etc. etc. style of band – there might not be much call for it, but I’d love playing that kind of stuff!
Disclosure #1: I got this album for free
Disclosure #2: I like it!
A great selection of music that stands alone as a good collection of (mainly) blues songs.
Starting with 2 instrumentals that set the mood of the movie, I guess, “Honeydripper Lounge” (The Aces of Spades) swings like heck and “Tall Cotton” is a very moody piece with some great harp from Mike Turk. Then we have “No Matter How She Done It” by Mable John – a great piano based blues with even more great blues harp from Jerry Portnoy. The first of 2 gospel tracks comes next – “Standing By The Highway” by the New Beginnings Ministry. Not the strongest track on the album for me, but certainly no slouch either. Of course, blues wasn’t the only music being played around this era – illustrated here by the inclusion of Hank Williams “Move It On Over” – a great song wherever it is played.
We have an original 1941 recording next by Lil Green of “Why Don’t You Do Right?” a minor key blues with moody piano and guitar, and great vocals. Next comes one of the highlights so far – Keb’ Mo’ with “Stack O Lee” – a song that all blues fans know very well. This sounds so authentic it could have been recorded way back in the 40’s. Great work all round on guitar, harp and vocals from Keb.
Another gospel tune skips by before we get Danny Glover, one of the stars of the movie, giving us an authentic reading of “Goin’ Down Slow” accompanied only by the piano of Sonny Leyland.
Up next is a spooky little tune – “Bertha May” by Memphis Slim which sent shivers down my spine with the unusual accompaniment of celeste rather than piano.
Next comes the first of 3 tracks by Gary Clark Jr. – a very authentic, romping version of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” A lively track, but for me the vocals didn’t sound quite right, though there is good guitar, harp and sax work on the track.
The next track by Clark – “China Doll” – is an original tune but still fits in with the vibe of the rest of the tracks. The last of these tracks is “Blue Light Boogie” and I have to say I was generally disappointed by these 3 tracks, Whilst they sound authentic in the context of this collection, and probably fit well in the movie (I haven’t seen it yet), they don’t live up to the hype of Gary Clark Jr. being described by Texas Music Magazine as “probably the most talented Texas guitarist since a certain SRV.”.
The great Barrence Whitfield actually shows how it should be done, I think, on the next track “Music Keeps Rollin’ On” – this had me tapping my feet and reaching for my guitar too.
We finish with Ruth Brown and “Things About Coming My Way” – another moody piece with great accompaniment on clarinet, trumpet and trombone.
All in all a pretty good collection – I like it and most of the tracks will certainly be in rotation on my iPod. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie, too.