Monday, June 26, 2006

Robert Lighthouse is Right on Rhythm

Excuse the pun, but the Swedish born blues artist, Robert Lighthouse, and Wayne Kahn who is the DC Blues and Roots Scene Musical Archivist is working on Robert’s new album for Wayne’s Right on Rhythm Records, Wayne’s label. The first album by Robert was critically acclaimed and not many can bring life to an old Dr. Ross number as well as actually bring something new to hendrix from a blues perspective. The Washington City Paper has a nice article on Wayne, Robert and the label and here is the link:

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mitch Miller caught watching Muddy?

I finally started looking at the recently issued Muddy Waters DVD, Classic Concerts. The first of the three concerts is from Muddy’s appearance at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival and in addition to some excellent music, there is a scene during the encore of Muddy and others doing Mean Mistreater and Goin’ to Chicago Blues (while Jimmy Rushing is singing) that a short scene to the back stage shows a goateed older gentleman with a striking resemblance to Mitch Miller taking in the music. For those having the video its somewhere around the 22:45 to 23:00 mark on this part of the disc.

Just something I found interesting and I suspect I am not the first to observe that.
Here is the link to the amazon page on this:

Otherwise go to do a DVD search for Muddy waters and it will come up.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Another day of blues at Lamont's

Second weekend in a row at Lamont’s and there was not quite the turnout to see Theodis Ealey as the week before when they hosted Marvin Sease. Another beautiful Saturday although quite a bit hotter out. I got there to here Verbal Warning doing an outstanding set of soul oldies including tunes from Motown and Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson with three keyboards, two guitars and several really good singers. Up came Brothers plus four, an old fashioned soul-funk band which tore into three James Brown numbers (Including Bewildered and I Go Crazy) before the lead singer did a strong version of There is Something on Your Mind. They then backed up Eddie Daye & Denise Daye who did a strong set of oldies and soul before Eddie did what is now his signature tune, (I’m no Dirty Old Man, I’m a) Sexy Senior Citizen simply out to outrace father time. Denise Daye was amazing in both her outfit and youthfulness. Material ranged from doowop to R&B-soul classics (Eddie did an amiable rendition of Tyrone Davis’ Turn Back the Hands of Time) while Denise did Ike & Tina’s rendition of Proud Mary. After a break when DJ Ultramix Wayne spun some hot songs including Vernon Garrett’s Standing at the Crossroads.

Theodis Ealey joined his band after one warm-up number, George Benson’s Breezin’. Theodis did some fine soul and blues from his Stand Up In It album and others including some solid blues like Heading Back to Hurtsville. Several times he told the audience I may sing some some southern soul, but I really am a bluesman launching into some blues licks and later when he made this statement launched into a terrific rendition of Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. Of course his closing number was Stand Up In It, where he noted that “you can lick it, you can stroke, you can put it in a pipe and smoke it,” and then referencing the Queen who is coming to Lamont’s on July 15, “tell Denise LaSalle that it ain’t going to snap, crackle and pop until you stand up in it” It capped a terrific performance from Ealey who is a helluva singer, guitarist and songwriter and certainly someone who should be able to appeal outside the southern soul-blues circuit.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Theodis Ealey

I forget which Pocono Blues Festival I attended in which Trudy Lynn was one of the performers. I had heard Theodis Ealey’s Ichiban albums and enjoyed his soulful singing and solid guitar playing. While only having a chance to play a few numbers before Trudy Lynn came on, he was quite good. Occasionally when playing his Ichiban CDs I would wonder what happened to him. There were a lot of excellent artists on Ichiban and when the label folded, his visibility was much less.
It was a bit over a year ago when I came across his big hit recording, Stand Up In It, which is about how a man can please his woman. Its a song that has become a staple on the soul-blues circuit although many who think of themselves as blues fans are probably not aware of it. Also, there have been more than a handful of covers and answer songs to Stand Up in it, including Sir Charles Jones’ Make It Talk. Even the Queen, Denise Lasalle has her own reply song. Checking out Ealey’s album Stand Up In It (Igram) I finally heard this bawdy song (which was not suitable for airplay) as well as other songs that were simply strong blues and soul numbers. Theodis Ealey sounded as solid a singer-guitarist as I remembered, not simply doing the risque material, but anything he tackled.
He goes on at Lamont’s tomorrow at around 5:30PM and I look forward to seeing him. If the set is half as entertaining as the CD, it will be one of the better blues shows I have been to in awhile.

Here is a link to Theodis website:

Here is a link to a picture from the website of Theodis at lamont’s (I recognize the pagoda) from a couple year’s back (I wish I had been there):

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Chicago Blues Portraits and Stories

I am in the process of finishing David Whiteis’ Chicago Blues Portraits and Stories (Univ. of Illinois Press 2006) for which I will be drafting a review. Whiteis’ book is a collection of portraits of performers and venues that range from deceased legends like Junior Wells, Sunnyland Slim and Big Walter Horton, blues venues and more contemporary performers ranging from Billy Branch and Lurrie Bell to Artie ‘Blues Boy’ White and Cicero Blake. Whiteis does a fine job depicting the performers and the hurdles of everyday life and is refreshing in dealing with the whole range of African-American blues to be found in the Windy City. He may not establish all of his points, but he is never less than interesting and puts a spotlight on several performers who deserve more acclaim and recognition than they have received.
This is available at

It was 40 years ago this year

Hmmm what is behind this allusion to Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I do not have my copy of the first edition of Leadbitter & Slaven’s Blues Records 1943-1966 (hope I have the title including dates right), but I recall the last entry in the volume is a 45 single by Magic Slim & the Teardrops from 1966 I believe. Here we are and Magic Slim is still at it with his immediately recognizable sound and with numerous very entertaining and representative available recordings. May you keep going another 40 years Slim.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Chick Willis Tribute to Albert King

When I was at Lamont’s last Saturday for the Southern Soul Show, Jacques ‘Saxman’ Johnson had me go to his car and listen to a new album that he had recorded featuring Chick Willis. Willis maybe best known for the bawdy number Stoop Down Baby, but the new album is a tribute to Albert King with Chick handling 5 songs associated with King including Laundromat Blues and Angel of Mercy, as well as one number associated with Bobby Bland. Saxman himself is featured on several numbers including a storming big band version of The Hucklebuck. While I only heard snippets of each song, it certainly sounded like it would be a really hot set of blues and rhythm music. Chick is underrated as a blues artist and hopefully this will get the veteran a bit more attention. It should be coming out in a few weeks and I will post again about it at that time.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Gil Evans and the Music of Jimi Hendrix

Some blues enthusiasts familiar with jazz will know of Gil Evans, the arranger and big band leader who is best known for his association with Miles Davis (Think of "The Birth of the Cool," "Porgy and Bess," "Sketches of Spain"). Evans was highly fascinated with Jimi Hendrix's music and orchestrated an album of Big Band versions of Hendrix's compositions. Hendrix, is highly regarded as one of the most influential guitarists and musicians of the 20th Century. Listening to Evans' orchestrations of Hendrix tunes, one also realizes how marvelous a composer Hendrix was, and how his songs lend themselves to what some might consider radical reinterpretation. I believe there had been hopes of Evans and Hendrix collaborating as there had been hopes of Miles and Hendrix working together.

Hendrix compositions bvecame part and parcel of Gil Evans Orchestra performances. The German label Jazz Club has issued "Voodoo Chile" which is predominantly from a 1974 Swedish performance and after a medley of compositions by Alan Shorter and Trevor Koehler (who was on baritone sax on this performance), the Orchestra launches into 'Voodoo Chile' with Tom Malone's trombone taking the lead before the horns start filling in and providing an energetic if occasional chaotic sounding counterpoint to the lead. It is followed by the two-part 'Blues Medley' (over a half-hour) of John Lewis' 'Concorde', Charlie Parker's 'Cheryl' and a vocal medley entitled 'Stormy Monday' (which has lyrics from several other songs including 'Rock Me Baby') sung/shouted by trumpeter Hannibal Marvin Peterson. The mix of acoustic horns and reed instruments with electronic instruments makes for some fascinating listening and mau open up some ideas of what it means to play the blues. The CD concludes with the Evans Orchestra (slightly different personnel) in Cologne, Germany in 1978 performing one of Hendrix's most evocative compositions, 'Little Wing,' which features the tenor sax and flute of George Adams. Listening to this CD one can imagine what a Hendrix and Evans collaboration might have sounded like. Certainly it would have been an intriguing presentation of Hendrix's music.

Otis Spann's Blue Horizon sides

Just a heads up on the new reissue of Otis Spann, The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions that is available with the single he recorded with Willie Dixon's Chicago All Stars (Can't Do No Good and Bloody Murder) with Spann replacing Sunnyland Slim, and the remainder (including Hungry Country Girl which charted) which included various members of Fleetwood Mac (notably Peter Green and John McVie on almost every track) and drummer SP Leary. As a Complete Sessions, a number of alternate takes are included and some false starts and incomplete takes too, but the music will certainly delight other Spann enthusiasts besides myself. Just something how Spann played and sang that really grabbed one, just like the music of Muddy Waters or Elmore James. There are some rough spots in some of the takes but this does not detract from the Excellent examples of Spann's music. Also Peter Green's guitar on most of this shows why he was so highly regarded by so many back then.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Blues Music Awards Rant

I believe Larry Davis won the first Handy Award for the Rooster Blues album, Funny Stuff. Davis' album wouldn't have won in subsequent years when the voting became more open because it was too funky and full of soul, notwithstanding the fact that it was truly a superb album with terrific songs and playing. It was not rock enough.

Davis' album stands far above most of the winners this year and one would be hard-pressed to name one winning new CD that is close to Davis' recording in its focus and impact, and will be also be regarded as a classic album in twenty years. While its nice to see Little Milton win one wonders how highly regarded his Telarc album would have been if he had not passed. I confess that I found myself enjoying this disc with repeated listening, but it is not as strong or significant as the classic albums he recorded for Chess, Stax and Malaco. The best traditional album was a modest album of Muddy Water covers by Hubert Sumlin and famous friends. I suggest that Muddy's songs do not even effectively display Sumlin's unique style. Is anyone going to really listen to this five years from now as opposed to his work with Wolf, Big Mac, Sunnyland Slim and Willie Williams. And comeback artist of the year award for Al Kooper. Were there no blues artists other than aging bluesy rockers who had significant comebacks last year. Indicative of the shortcomings with the Awards that not one European album, not even reissues where labels like Ace in England have made available recordings by artists who are fundamental to blues history, including some fabulous reissues of the Delta Region recordings the Bihari Brothers made in the fifties, many under the direction of Ike Turner. Instead Johnny Winter's Second Winter was a final nominee for reissue. No offense but if anyone thinks that Johnny Winter is a significant a figure in blues history as say Roy Brown or Ivory Joe Hunter, they really need to undergo some real education.

That's enough ranting for 1 post.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Blue Blues

The trip from Falls Church to PoMonkey MD for the Southern Soul Explosion at Lamont's was well worth it. It was a day of classic R&B ('For Your Precious Love', 'Rainbow', 'Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean') mixed in with songs about making one's lover get freaking (Big G's 'Freaky Groove'), songs about marital misbehavior (Roy C with a long rap as he tells the story of 'Infidelity, Georgia), songs about not being able to satisfy one's lover (Big G trying to find a Dr. John about making him bigger where it mattered), Marvin Sease telling us it isn't the equipment, but how one uses it and dance numbers (Big G's 'Two Step').
This is not to say every song was about these themes, but these were prevalent. There was really good singing and the bands were very fine, including some Washington DC area treasures that are often ignored here such as Lil Margie & Jacques 'Saxman' Johnson. Lil Margie really can hit the high notes as well as the Billy Stewart stutter.
Meanwhile, at least twice during the show, women commandeered the men's room. Denise Lasalle would have loved it. I just remembered she is coming to Lamont's July 15.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Fillmore's Jazz Scene predated Bill Graham

Many of us have heard of the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco and associate it with hippies and modern rock because of the pioneering shows that Bill Graham booked there. Prior to this, it was the home of a vibrant jazz and blues scene from the forties until urban destruction (aka urban renewal) destroyed much of it. Chronicle Books has issued a marvelous volume Harlem of the West, by Elizabeth Pepin & Lewis Watts, two San Francisco photographers, instructors and historians. Ms. Pepin in fact was a former day manager of the Fillmore under Bill Graham. 

Through interviews with musicians, club owners, patrons and local photographers and through the inclusion of more than 200 previously unpublished photographs, they bring forth an overview of the socio-cultural history of the area that is richly illustrated. As they write, “This book is meant to be a slice of life, not a completist’s history nor analysis of events. Such locally photographers as Jerry Stoll. Ricardo Alvarado, Steve Jackson, Jr, David Johnson *(who was Ansel Adams’ first African- American student) are among those whose works are included here. Among the individuals interviewed are bassist Vernon Alley, singer Sugar Pie DeSanto, former mayor Willie Brown, community activist Steve Nakajo, saxophonist John Handy, club owner Wesley Johnson Jr., record company founder Jim Moore, John and Francis Lynne Coppola, saxophonist Bobbie Webb, musician, producer, radio host Johnny Otis, and others.

The book has four sections, a general introduction; a historical section on the neighborhood that tracks its change from a predominantly Japanese community into an African-American one during the incarceration in internment camps of Japanese-Americans and the emergence of the Fillmore district as a vibrant cultural center; a discussion of the various nightclubs in the Fillmore area including such long-closed rooms as Jack’s Tavern, the Club Alabam, the New York Swing Club; The Texas Playhouse/ Club Flamingo; The Long Bar; The Ellis Theatre; Bob City and others including of course the Fillmore Auditorium which dates back to the 1912 as the Majestic Hall & Academy of Dancing which in 1928 became the Majestic Ballroom and in 1936 the Ambassador Dance Hall. 

It [the Fillmore Auditorium] was a roller skating rink between 1939-1952 although Charles Jordan Hines began holding dances there in 1949 and Charles Sullivan took over booking bands in 1954, renaming it the Fillmore Auditorium and in December 10, 1965 allowed Bill Graham to use Sullivan’s dance hall permit to book a benefit for the San Francisco Mine Troupe, leading Sullivan to allow Graham to book shows when he had no shows booked. Graham took over booking after Sullivan was murdered in 1966. The final section of the book details how urban renewal destroyed most of the Fillmore community.As mentioned this book has over 200 previously unpublished illustrations which range from street shots, pictures of patrons and performers. 

The cover has John Handy, Pony Poindexter and John Coltrane (it is also on page 61, while others pictured include tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, Louis Jordan outside the Manor Plaza Hotel where a blown up photo of him is in the window; Eartha Kitt with neighborhood children; Sugar Pie DeSanto; Duke Ellington and friends relaxing at the Manor Plaza Hotel; Ruth Brown at the Booker T Washington Cocktail Lounge; T-Bone Walker with Wesley Johnson Sr.... at the Texas Playhouse; Earl Grant; Lionel Hampton; Billy Holiday with her beloved dog and Wesley Johnson Sr..... at the Club Flamingo; And Little Richard at the Fillmore with Jimi Hendrix on guitar. 

The young white photographer that caught this priceless shot {of Hendrix with Little Richard] from October 1964, John Goddard, remembers being up front taking lots of photos. “It was only years later that I found out that the guitar player, who kept getting in the way, was Jimi Hendrix. I remember him because he played with his teeth and behind his neck, but to me that night, he was just this guitar player who kept getting in the way of me taking pictures of Little Richard.” It should be noted that Goddard used a Brownie for many of his photos and Hendrix is in the forefront of the picture, although a bit blurred and Little Richard looks outrageous with curly blond hair. And there is plenty of interest into the pictures of yesteryear. Even those of the patrons show people who dressed up to go out on the town, in contrast to us today who dress down often.

Harlem of the West is a marvelous overview that delivers what the authors promise. Perhaps the only thing lacking are suggested recordings, but there is a bibliography, list of various websites including several for some of the musicians who are still active. A highly recommended book that will lead to a fuller study and evaluation of this scene.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Rahsaan and Bruce Springsteen

Normally one would not associate the genius of Rahsaan Roland Kirk with the music of Bruce Springsteen, but listening to the wonderful new recording on Hyena by Rashaan, , I found myself linking the two. There is a version of "My Girl" with its jangling opening groove and some tenor by Kirk that frankly reminded me of Springsteen's rendition of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." I would think from listening to Kirk's tone here before he switches to flute on the number, that Clarence Clemons, Springsteen's saxophonist likely listened to more than a little Kirk and Kirk's contemporaries. I am not saying that Clemons is a saxophonist on Kirk's level, but the overall feel of that part of the performance by Kirk had some of the same feel as the Springsteen recording. Maybe its because Kirk's music was so infused with the blues and played with as much passion. Kirk's new disk (from a 1972 live Hamburg, Germany performance) is a gem with the killer track being the over 17 minute "Blue Trane" that is a tenor tour de force and on which Kirk's invention never ceases. There is a medley, "Seasons and Serenade" to a "Cuckoo" where Kirk is on flute opening with a 'classical' tinge before changing into his influential flute style (humming and singing along while playing, a vocalized approach later used by Jeremy Steig and Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson). Kirk's music ranges from playful, to deep funky blues and barrelhousing to a bit on the outside, yet none of his playing, including his playing of several instruments at once was gimmickry. Everytime I listen to this, I hear something new. While I am not sure this CD is the place to start sampling Kirk's music (you might try the Rhino 2 CD set < which hopefully is still available. The album was my introduction to Kirk nearly 40 years ago.) Kirk fans will want this.

Also there is an excellent biography on Kirk by John Kruth , Welcome Rain Publishers, New York 2000

For a basic introduction to Rashaan Roland Kirk check out the wikipedia entry:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Still Doing It The Hardway

This is a very slightly revised review of a cd by the DC area's The Hardway Connection that ran in the DC Blues Society's newsletter. I just think they are so marvelous.

Its been a decade since an unheralded walk-on group competed and won the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, edging out a group fronted by Susan Tedeschi. Previously unknown to many blues lovers in the Washington area, The Hardway Connection have since established themselves as among the best-loved blues and old school soul bands in the Mid-Atlantic. Featuring several truly superb singers and a tight band with two keyboards, guitar, bass and drums, they have produced soulful and funky music and in the course of their three self-produced cds, have come up with strong original material along with some covers of some gems by Roy C. William Bell, the legendary soul artist, has compiled 15 tracks from the three discs on his Wilbe label, , which hopefully will make their music easier to find.

What is impressive is the quality of the originals (which shouldn’t be surprising since guitarist-vocalist Robert Owens is Don Covay’s nephew) as well as the remarkable vocals of Jerome MacKall (whose vocals evoke Otis Redding crossed with Al Green) backed by the group’s strong playing. Originals range from the get up on the dance floor groove of "Come On and Dance;" the southern soul of "What She Doesn’t Know" about a man in an affair; "Horn-ee Side," perhaps an unfortunate title for a lyric in which MacKall sings about wanting to turn on his women’s mind; one of the group’s finest soul ballads, "It Must Be Love"; and "Somebody," a deep soul lyric that evokes the Bee Gees To Love Somebody. Guitarist Robert Owens takes to the vocal mike on the medley of Roy C songs that is a staple of their live shows, "Morning Train"/ "Peeping Thru the Window" (presented in both radio and unedited mixes) and the follow-up, "One in the Morning," in which Robert attempts to remedy what his woman viewed as the deficiency in his equipment being too short.

And when one sees The Hardway Connection perform, one will mainly hear them performing originals along with selected covers from Dorothy Moore, Etta James and others. Hopefully this disc will be available in better stores. You can get it at the group’s performances and the Wilbe website,

Monday, June 05, 2006

Saturday at the Western Maryland Blues Festival

Saturday I went out to the 11th Western Maryland Blues Festival in Hagerstown, Maryland for an afternoon of blues in the downtown area. The Saturday is probably the main day to many of us at the festival although the Sunday picnic in the City Park is a popular affair. I must confess this year's Sunday line-up was not enough to entice me to drive up there two straight days but Saturday was a day of fine music. ARmed with cameras but a note pad, here are geenral impressions
I arrived at the end of the set by the BoneDaddy band which sounded like a pretty solid jump blues group for the little I heard. The Festival has two stages and when music stops on one stage Larry B hops to the other and introduces the next act with the next act starting right up. Kelly Bell Band was up featuring Bell witht his Phat Blues, a mix of blues, funk and some psychedelic touches. Bell has a tight group with a fine guitarist (believe his name is Irving Mayfield) and organist. He has a soulful voice and does not take himself too seriously but he seriously good at entertaining an audience and bringing out quite a crowd. Bell was followed by The Nicole Nelson band and Nelson impressed me as a fine singer with control in her delivery, not simply power and a tight backing group over a range of blues material including a rendition of "Summertime" that had the crowd really excited. It has been a few years since I saw Sugar Ray & the BlueTones who put out a splendid set of Chicago styled blues. Guitarist Paul Size supported Ray Norcia ably with Norcia playing some wonderful harp and playing some real fine songs, including a cover of Rocking Sydney's "No Good Woman" (a pre "Don't Mess With My TuTu" swamp blues) and Rice Miller's "Keep it To Yourself." I have known Sugar Ray since I first saw the band with Ronnie (Earl) Horvath on guitar backing JB Hutto in NYC. A real fine band that keeps true to the tradition while never slavishly imitating it and did a number of songs that one does not hear that often.
Sugar Ray's set was followed by a typically fine performance by The Holmes Brothers who opened with the spiritual classic "Amazing Grace" before launching into covers of Jimmy Reed and others along with their originals, all passionately delivered. After that was a terrific set by Tab Benoit whose singing matches the power of his guitar in the power-blues trio setting. The backing rhythm add so much and they get a groove going and can rock and roll. Highlights were a wonderful Otis Redding cover and a of numbers associated with New Orleans along with Benoit's telling the audience they can't let the politicians forget about the areas victimized by Katrina. John Lee Hooker, Jr. followed and if he is burdened/blessed by his name, he wisely has not attempted to play blues in his father's style. He has a really good voice and might be labeled as a soul-blues performer, although his band was a typical modern blues quartet. I really like his vocal delivery and his stage presence and while I left during the middle of his set, I look forward to seeing him in several weeks at the Pocono Blues Festival.
Making the drive back to Northern Virginia, I skipped the Dirty Dozen who were also featured at last year's festival and I have no reason to doubt they were similarly splendid this year. There was no question that this was a really excellent day of blues and I look forward to next year's line-up. The City of Hagerstown puts on quite a nice party the first Saturday of the month.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Its Getting Tough on the Road

Blues singer Candye Kane made the observation about how hard it is getting to make ends meet while touring. She refers to paying the mortgage, feeding one's family, paying one's bandmembers and the costs of touring and how little she has left over. Her post led to some complain about her whining but pthers were more supportive.. Her thrust was in one sense we need the people to show up at our gigs.

Of course, her point it is not simply l,imited to blues. In his book "Is Jazz Dead", Stuart Nicholson observes that gigs for bands that command medium-level fees have dried up and that thata only the acts that get very large fees or acts strating out get low fees can afford to tour and put some money away. Summer is an exception with some good paying festival gigs, but again there are less of them (I note that Wolf Trap, whose Jazz and Blues Festival had become musically irrelevant is not even pretending to have one this year) and some of the sponsors are more interested in bodies attending than in bringing in great music and supporting teh artists who deserve it.

Revues or packaged tours may be the way to go but still with lessening amounts of radio exposure as even public NPR stations increasingly become irrelevant for exposing music, and increased costs that performers incur, the chance to see artists like Candye, except for the Festival season, will be lesser.

Europe is a different situation because venues are closer together and there is much more government subsidy of the arts, including small community venues. Nicholson discusses this in his volume and it is very illuminating why jazz may be prospering a lot more in Europe than here in its homeland.

A lot to think about and I do agree with Nicholson that there needs to be mechanisms (including some governement subsidies) to enable bands that can only command medium fees prosper.

How Bluesy Can You Get

The title for this blog comes from how Whop Frazier, a Washington, DC area bassist and vocalist handles 'How Blue Can You Get,' which is one of B.B. King's signature songs, chanaging blues into bluesy. Yesteday, June 2, Whop played a free lunch-time concert at Wilson Plaza in front of the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington DC. He was accompanied by a fine group including his long-time drummer Earl Ivey and keyboard whiz Jackie hairston who has played with Whop over the years. On harp was Roger Edsall who plays in several fine Chicago blues-styled groups and on guitar was the fabulous guitarist, Harold Flood, who brings a tone and touch reminscent of Albert King. Flood, I consider one the DC & Baltimore area's biggest blues secrets and is the guitarist for one of the region's finest blues singers, Jesse Yawn. Unfortunately, Harold Flood is not featured on either of Jesse's CDs but he can be heard playing rhythm and taking one superb solo on the first Lou Pride CD issued on Severn Records ((I believe the CD title is 'Words of Caution'). Whop is a good vocalist but not on the level of Jesse Yawn or Bobby Parker. He always has a good band that plays tight and gets a nice groove going. While he has a new CD with originals, his performance yesterday focused on blues standards including a jaunty 'Got My Mojo Working,' a slightly flat 'Down Home Blues,' as well as an ebullient "Meet me With Your Black Drawers On." It was nice to hear some of his own touches in this music, such as his changes made to 'How Blue Can You Get." Whop may not be compelling, but he is always enjoyable, has great bands and helps you get rid of your blues. It was a nice way to enjoy my lunch.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Ernie Andrews

Some know I edit and do layout of the DC Blues Society's newsletter. I also have been writing on and off for Jazz and Blues Report which originally started in the 1970s as the Buffalo Jazz Report and subsequently relocated in Cleveland. I recently had the pleasure of writing a review of a new album by singer Ernie Andrews on High Note, labeled "How About Me."

Andrews has had quite a career dating back to the Central Avenue scene in Los Angeles of the forties (he first recorded in 1947 when 17 with Red Callendar's band). This album is a tribute to the singers and the songs of the forties and fifties with PercyMayfield's "The River's Invitation," and the standard, "The More I See You," perhaps the most familiar songs. For most of you a reference point might be the late Joe Williams (the Basie vocalist, not Big Joe) although Billy Eckstine is an influence as was the late Billy Daniels. Four of the songs are from Eckstine's repertoire or recordings, the most notable one being the wonderful Leonard Feather number, "She'’s Got the Blues For Sale," that would seem ripe for someone reviving it today. There is also a real nice rendition of Eddie Boyd's "Vacation from the Blues." Andrews reminds me of Williams and Witherspoon with the authority he brings to the blues. The wonderful backing band includes the marvelous tenor saxophonist Houston Person, who always shines backing up great singers like Mr. Andrews with his tone and lyrical playing. The band also includes pianist Phil Wright, guitarist Terry Evans, bassist Richard Simon and drummer Frank Wilson. To fans of Duke Robillard's swing recordings and productions with Jay McShann, I would certainly recommend this as its in a similar vein to Duke'’s recent swing oriented efforts.