Gary Hoey on His New CD, Neon Highway Blues – It Makes Me Feel Like Being on the Road which is the Essence of the Blues!



Interview : Robert Cavuoto

Early this year Gary Hoey released his latest blues creation, Neon Highway Blues via Mascot Label Group/ Provogue Records. The self-produced album features 11 soulful blues tracks by Gary with appearances by Eric Gales, Lance Lopez, Josh Smith and Gary’s son, Ian.

Many of the blues songs on Neon Highway Blues are infused with his rock sensibility. It turns the blues up a notch and provides an extra kick like on “I Felt Alive” and the slow-tempo instrumental “Waiting on the Sun.” As you would expect with any genera of music that Gary takes on, his abilities as a highly talented guitarist shine through. On Neon Highway Blues Gary does a masterful job of playing and singing the blues.

I caught up with Gary while on tour to discuss his passion for the blues, the making of Neon Highway Blues, and inspiration in finding his unique guitar tone!

Robert Cavuoto: What was the inspiration for putting out this soulful, blues-oriented CD?

Gary Hoey: We have been on the blues path for the last few CDs with Deja Blues and Dust & Bone plus being with Mascot/ Provogue Records, we wanted to do the blues-rock thing for a couple of CD’s. So Neon Highway Blues is a continuation of that theme while incorporating a little more of the rock side into the blues.

Robert Cavuoto: You did a tremendous job on the CD, two of my favorite songs were “I Felt Alive” and “Waiting for the Sun,” what can you tell me about their creation?

Gary Hoey: My history is based on instrumental music when I wrote “Waiting for the Sun” I thought it was a pretty melody like a Jeff Beck song. We played it live the other night, and it was gigantic! It’s a very slow tempo and takes a lot of restraint to do so. It almost brought me to tears. “I Felt Alive” goes back to my Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin influences with that slow groove rock. Live we extend it and have a good jam on it. It came out of nowhere, and we just kept working on the riff. It really turned out to be one of my favorites.

Photo Credit: David Brown

Robert Cavuoto: You’re such an innovative guitar player, do you feel you always have to keep re-inventing yourself CD after CD or after a period of time to keep you, and you’re fans excited?

Gary Hoey: I think so. In my career I have done Christmas music, Heavy Metal instrumental, and surf music; there are a couple of reasons why. Creatively I either needed to change, grow, or be excited to do something different like scoring a surf movie. I love a challenge so when I take on something I get into it deep; I’m a bit of a scientist and love to study different styles and genres of music. The other part of it is in order to survive in this business you have to re-invent yourself and try something different to keep people interested in what you are doing.

Robert Cavuoto: Most established bands can’t manage to put out as many CDs as you have in their career; how do you do it?

Gary Hoey: I’m a bit of workaholic. I’m always recording and setting goals for myself. I think it has just happened. I don’t want to talk like I’m that prolific, but I’m really able to keep the projects coming and keep the kids fed [laughing].

Robert Cavuoto: What are a few things about your approach to the guitar that you feel are your own and defines what you do?

Gary Hoey: Every guitar player probably doesn’t think they have their own style because we all take from other people and draw from influences. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint. For me, what sets me apart and keeps me true to myself as a player is try to find my styles and tones organically rather than doing a lot of tricks in the studio. Perhaps the way I use my delays and reverbs; like every guitar player has their own thing. My two main Fender Strats have dual Humbuckers which gives me the power in the sound. Combining the Humbuckers with the Strat, I think gives me my unique sound.

Photo Credit: David Brown

Robert Cavuoto: What did you use to track this new CD?

Gary Hoey: I used the Resonator in a few places like on “Your Kind of Love” and “Damned if I Do.” I used my blue reverse headstock Fender on “I Felt Alive” to get that big sound; it’s my main guitar on any drop tuning songs. I used the Strat with the flag on it for more down-home blues songs. I also used my 50th Anniversary Fender Strat, which I love, on “Mercy of Love” when I went toe-to-toe with Josh Smith who killed it on that song.

Robert Cavuoto: How important is tone to you compared to the other aspects of playing?

Gary Hoey: Tone is everything to me as it inspires the playing. Any guitar player will tell if you give them an amp with terrible tone, they might not play good [laughing]. What kept slowing down this CD was my experimenting with different gear. I kept going around in circles. I would bring out the 1978 Super Reverb the Vox. I would mic-up the Bassman amp then go back to my EVH 5150 III head with 4 x 12 cabinet and Celestion 30’s. I would mic-up my live rig which is where my sound is the best. I had to remind myself to dumb it down and make it work. Certain heads might have worked for BB King or Albert Collins in 1964, but it doesn’t work for Gary Hoey now! I own 40 guitars but only play two of them on the road for the last 27 years. Those are the two that feel good in my hands. That is what I discover about my tone. People would come up to me after a show and tell me they love my tone. That is the best compliment I can get. My advice to other guitarists is to find something that works for them; you don’t have to change all the time. Once Stevie Ray Vaughan found his tone that was it!

Robert Cavuoto: What was it like to work with your son, Ian on this CD?

Gary Hoey: It was awesome just having him play and record with me on the CD. It was a dream come true. He is 17 years old now, and at the time of recording, he was 16. I started teaching him a guitar when he was five. Over the years I had brought him on stage to jam with me. A few years back he discovered the blues and plays it with passion. Maybe because I was playing the blues, it influenced him. He played on “Don’t Come Crying,” and when he came into the studio, I tricked him. I said lets jam on this tune and didn’t tell him we were recording. He started playing this great stuff and then told him I was putting him on my new CD [laughing]. Now he wants a career in the music business; he wants my gig!

Robert Cavuoto: What are your thoughts about that; it’s a tough business to crack.

Photo Credit: David Brown

Gary Hoey: It’s funny that you say that as I just had the same conversation with my wife the other day. Ian is graduating high school next year, he’s a Quarterback on the football team, he is wicked smart with straight A’s, and going to college. He says to me he wants to be a musician. He loves all kinds of music. I’m actually scared for him to go into the music business. It’s hard to call it a business sometimes. One minute you’re making it the next you’re not. I have been blessed. My gut tells me he won’t have to work as hard as I did because he has me to help and guide him. I’m not going to stop him from doing what he really loves. I’ll encourage and support it.

Robert Cavuoto: Tell me about the significance of the CD title – Neon Highway Blues?

Gary Hoey: I always like to have the CD completed before I decide what it’s going to be called. I look at the songs to see if there is one that best depicts the feel of the CD or just a cool title. I’m a bit of marketing guy, so I try to look for something catchy and easy off the tongue. One of the last songs I wrote was “Neon Highway Blues.” It was a cool trippy Dobro thing, and it reminds me of a David Lynch movie whenever I hear it. It has an eerie sound like I was playing the Dobro while drinking [laughing], but I wasn’t. I really like the title because it reminds me of when we are on the road looking for the neon lights for coffee, dinner, or where the gig is. It makes me feel like being on the road and the essence of the blues. The fact that the title end with the word “blues” will let people know it’s a blues CD [laughing].



http://garyhoey.com/

Joe Bonamassa ‘Live At The Royal Albert Hall’ – A Masterclass In The Blues

Words by: Erik De’Viking

Before his landmark gig at the Royal Albert Hall in 2009, Joe Bonamassa was known to us blues aficionados but he hadn’t reached global stardom. On that fateful night, Joe played with his idol Eric Clapton at the hallowed venue fulfilling a life-long dream. The platinum-selling Live From The Royal Albert Hall DVD set a precedent, and the rest, is as they say history.

While the 4th of May is technically the 10th anniversary of that spectacular concert, as Joe reminded the audience, he gave a heartfelt speech about what it all meant to him. Stating that, “my life changed since that first gig. We have toured the globe, and I’ve played here so many times now that people think I’m British. They come up to me surprised by my accent and realise they were wrong.” This elicited a lot of laughter and cheers from the audience, as he continued, “Thank you all, it has been an honour and a privilege.”

Adding a final anecdote, Joe mentioned, “I try to impress my friends. I have like six friends. Just six! And very very very rarely do I have guests. When I do, I serve my coffee in Royal Albert Hall mugs. After they’ve been sitting there for a few looking at the mugs, they ask, “so where did you get the cool mugs?” and without hesitation I say, “why the Royal Albert Hall of course!”  And on he went giving every ounce of himself to the sold-out crowd as he worked through a number of tracks off his latest album Redemption as well as classic tracks and covers.

As Joe took us through a masterclass in the blues, the audience sat enraptured by the spectacle that he was creating through his mastery of the guitar. Opening with ‘Tiger In Your Tank’, the band played on through ‘King Bee’, ‘Evil Mama’, ‘Just Cause You Can’, and ‘Self Inflicted Wounds’. Reese Wynans’ stunning piano intro to ‘This Train’ set an altogether different mood before the band chimed in and went full tilt, with Anton Fig channelling a raging locomotive with his punchy drum lines and fills.

While the night wound on, we had ‘Blues of Desperation’, ‘No Good Place For The Lonely’, and finally one of the stand-out moments of the night, ‘Sloe Gin’. The stunning arrangement of one of his most iconic songs took on a gospel infused feeling. Opening with simple keys and Joe’s isolated vocal, the band slowly joined in as if a spirit was rising within them. This soulful transformation of the song transcended the original, as Joe made his guitar cry like a soul departing this world, leaving all their pain and sorrow behind.

Following on from ‘Sloe Gin’, we had ‘Well Well’, and ‘Boogie Woogie Woman’, which featured guest guitarist Kurt Fletcher. Giving the band and Kurt a chance to take featured solos, the audience was up on their feet, dancing in the aisles by the time they finished. Now quickly approaching the second hour of the show, it was clear that it was time to get hard and heavy. With a little more than a bit of Led Zeppelin influence on the arrangements, we had a medley of ‘Tea For One / I Can’t Quite You Babe’, which was followed by ‘How Many More Times’. Finishing off the main set with an extended solo, the crowd stood enraptured as he said goodnight and the band left the stage.

We didn’t have long to wait before Joe was back on stage by himself with just an acoustic guitar. Taking centre stage, with just a single spotlight, Joe gave us ‘Woke Up Dreaming’ and masterful acoustic solo before the band returned to close out the night with a brilliant rendition of ‘Mountain Time’.  After thanking the crowd and taking a number bows, Joe and the band left the stage. It was clear throughout the night that everyone was in great spirits and having a lot of fun. The backing singers (Mahalia Barnes & Jade MacRae) were stunning, the brass section (Lee Thornburg & Paulie Cerra) was strutting and grooving to the music, the keys were masterfully handled by Reese Wynans, Anton Fig was totally on point with the drums, and Michael Rhodes on bass really brought everything together and acted as the glue throughout the night. It is fair to say that this was two-hours and fifteen minutes of the blues and blues rock at its best. Definitely one ticked off the bucket list for sure. If you ever have the chance to see Joe Bonamassa live, do not pass it up.

While you’re here, why not check out our review of Joe’s latest album, Redemption.

Written by: Erik De’Viking

My Global Mind – UK Editor

Erik De’Viking is a London based freelance music journalist. His musical interests include music in all its forms, and he is constantly on the lookout for new bands and genres to discover and later preach about to the masses.

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WILLE AND THE BANDITS – PATHS review

Genre: ROCK/BLUES

Released by: FARM HAND RECORDS

Release date: OUT NOW!

Line up:

Wille Edwards – Lead Vocals/Guitars

Matt Brooks – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals

Andrew Naumann – Drums/Percussion

Tracklist:

1. One Way

2. Make Love

3. Victim of the Night

4. Four Million Days

5. Chakra

6. Keep it on the Down-low

7. Judgement Day

8. How Long

9. Find my Way

10. Watch you Grow

11. Retribution

Ok, I’m a bit late getting to this one but despite being around for quite some time and having four previous studio albums and a live album under their belt, Cornish three piece ‘Wille and The Bandits’ have surprisingly up until this point managed to slip under my radar – the fact that they encompass all my favourite musical genres is more surprising still, but better late than never I say…

Opening track “One Way”, lures the listener in with a bit of relaxed slide guitar before picking up pace and morphing into a fast paced, catchy tune with a repetitive upbeat blues resonance in the background, consistent hard hitting percussion features throughout, it’s an instantly addictive song I wanted to play over and over.

“Victim of the Night” begins with what I can best describe as a Southern rock vibe, soft but effective backing vocals precede a stunning, spiralling melodic guitar interlude which turns the track in a different direction, absolutely superb.

Featuring an altogether more sombre sound, “Four Million Days” is like an ethereal ballad, it is vocal, lyrical and musical brilliance, while a noticeably heavier sound can be heard on “Find my Way” and towards the end of the amazing finishing track “Retribution”.

Selecting tracks to best highlight the various qualities of this album has been insanely difficult, a favourite track an impossibility.  There are no fillers here, every song is unique and showcases the abilities of the musicians to the max.  It is originality with a ‘hint of familiarity’ as the band weave their way through various musical styles with top notch proficiency and diversity.  It is in places energised and hard hitting, in others slow and melancholy but absolutely packed with feeling in its entirety. 

I may have mentioned before on occasion but it is no easy task to give a detailed, well rounded review to an album which is so good it could be summed up in one line – ‘best album I’ve heard this year’, or even in one word -‘wow!’ 

I love it and can’t say I was surprised to learn that this trio who are currently on a European tour are all multi instrumentalists – catch them on a stage near you and don’t forget to check out the back catalogue!

SCORE: 10/10

Reviewed by: Karen Hetherington

Walter Trout on New CD Survivor Blues – I Put Everything I Had Into It!

Interview by Robert Cavuoto

Blues guitarist Walter Trout will be releasing his newest CD, Survivor Blues on January 25th via Provogue Records. It’s a twelve-track collection of lesser known blues songs chosen by Walter and performed by him and his bandmates, Johnny Griparic [bass], Michael Leasure [drums], and Skip Edwards [keyboards].

The CD features songs by artists like guitarist Dawkins, John Mayall, Sunnyland Slim, and Otis Rush. It also features Robbie Krieger of the Doors fame who plays guitar on “Goin’ Down To the River.”

I had the pleasure of speaking with Walter about the creation of Survivor Blues, the physical hardships the band has overcome, and how a chance encounter as a kid with the legendary guitarist, BB King, at a shopping mall set him on his lifelong mission to play the blues.

Robert Cavuoto: All the band members have had their share of physical hardships, how did that contribute to the title and concept of this CD?

Walter Trout: All the musicians on this CD are survivors. I have been through my liver transplant with eight months in the hospital then out of commission for two years. Bassist Johnny Griparic and drummer Michael Leasure are in recovery, and keyboardist Skip Edwards recently had bypass surgery and survived. We feel that we are old guys who have survived the trials and tribulations of years in the music business. It also has to do with the songs as well. I purposely choose old obscure tunes. I chose them because I think they are worthy of being heard and in their own way the songs have survived. They have relevance and beauty making them great songs.

Robert Cavuoto: I hope you are feeling better and doing well since your liver transplant?

Walter Trout: I’m doing well and feeling great!

Photo Credit: Austin Hargave

Robert Cavuoto: When recording these songs, was it a challenge to strike a balance of keeping the warmth and beauty of when they were originally recorded while incorporating today’s modern technology?

Walter Trout: I was not out to copy them. I wanted to take these songs and do them in our own style. We were not trying to mimic the originals but pay homage to them and put our own little slant on them. It was a lot of fun, I brought the songs in, and we as a band discussed how to approach them. On a few songs we created different versions with different grooves and approaches, then we picked the one we liked best.

Robert Cavuoto: Do feel you did the songs justice giving them what they truly deserve?

Walter Trout: I hope, but that is up to the listener to discern. I certainly gave it the best I had! I put everything I had into it. The band worked really hard as did the producer Eric Corne; he, my wife, and I worked on the mix and mastering. A lot of time and energy went into making this the best it could be.

Robert Cavuoto: Did you use any special guitars to help capture the historic guitar tones?

Walter Trout: No, I used the same guitar that I use on the road. I’m a one guitar guy. I’m not a guy who uses a different guitar on every song. I like to establish a relationship with the guitar. I have to have a connection with the guitar. It’s like a woman, do you want a real relationship with love or just a one night stand!

Robert Cavuoto: You and Eric Corne deliver wonderful dimensional guitar tones. What’s the process when the two of you were dialing in sounds?

Walter Trout: A lot of that is up to Eric with the mixing. My wife had some valuable input when it came to mixing it. She suggested approaching the mixing in a different way from our other albums; to not to make it sound like an old blues album and make it sound big and expansive. We were originally going to make it sound like an old blues record. She is a musician and has great ears. She felt in this modern day and age; you don’t need to make it sound like it was recorded in 1951.

Photo Credit: Austin Hargave

Robert Cavuoto: Kudos to her, I think that was a tremendous idea.

Walter Trout: Thanks I’ll tell her

Robert Cavuoto: You picked John Mayall “Nature’s Disappearing” to cover on this CD. John gave you a big break back in the day when you joined his band. What was the significance of picking that song as you could have chosen any one of his songs to cover?

Walter Trout: I was determined to do one of his songs. He is still a dear friend of mine and has appeared on four of my solo albums. In many ways, he is a surrogate father as he has that position in my life. I love and respect him so much. Mr. Mayall back in the 60s and 70s was a trailblazer in songwriting. He wrote blues songs about current events and topical subjects. They were just not about relationships or being broke. “Nature’s Disappearing” spoke to me because he wrote and recorded it in 1970 and in many ways it could have written yesterday as it’s a relevant topic especially with all the regulations being thrown out about clean air and water. To not let coal companies dump their waste back into the water. The world is seeking sustainable energy to save the planet. When I decided to record that song, I called him up to tell him, and he shared with me an interesting story about its creation. In the 1970s when he was in a doctor’s waiting room, he read a magazine article about pollution. In the office on the back of an envelope, he wrote the song in five minutes after spending 15 minutes reading the article.

Robert Cavuoto: Did you share the final song with him?

Walter Trout: Yes, I was a bit nervous, and he wrote me this beautiful email saying that he listened to the song over and over and he is going to keep listening to it. He thought I did a fanatics job and thanked me. That meant the world to me.

Robert Cavuoto: Did you play that song live when you were performing with him.

Walter Trout: During those five years I was with him I don’t recall playing it live. I have to say that during the first couple of years with him I was drinking and drugging so we may have played the song; I just don’t remember. I got sober while I was in his band.

Robert Cavuoto: I really enjoyed your cover of BB King’s “Please Love Me,” what can you tell me about that songs selection and what BB meant to you as a player?

Photo Credit: Austin Hargave

Walter Trout: I can tell you a story. I was 16 years old and had a job in a little shopping center in New Jersey. I was playing guitar and was very serious about and playing The Beatles, The Animals, and The Rolling Stones songs. One day, in walks BB to the shopping mall. I recognized him because my Dad had BB King records. I went up to him and told him was I learning to play the guitar, how I love the blues, and asked if I get an autograph. He said, “Let’s sit down and talk!” He talked with me for over an hour about the blues and the music business. It was incredible. I was so inspired that I went home from work and told my parent the story. I told them I’m going to be a blues guitar player and I never looked back. That cemented my musical direction. When I was ten years old I got to hang out with Duke Ellington, but that meeting with BB changed my life, and I devoted my energy towards the blues. Years later when I was with John Mayall; BB became my friend, and we did a lot of shows together. I told him about that meeting. Unfortunately, he didn’t remember it. I told him that he might not have remembered it, but I sure do. He was such a warm, generous human being.


https://www.waltertrout.com/

Growing up with Stevie Ray Vaughan & playing guitar with Eric Clapton – interview with Doyle Bramhall II

Interview by Adrian Hextall

With his songs getting rave reviews in the press, Doyle Bramhall II, Eric Clapton’s right hand man for so many years has just released a new music video called ‘Love and Pain’, taken from his recent ‘Shades’ album

We spoke to Doyle about his latest album, playing with one of the most well known guitarists in the world and why a trip to Kent, UK in 2019 might just be a good thing for everyone. The link below takes you through to a copy of Shades that can be streamed or purchased.

Adrian: You’ve recently completed a busy press day in London which whilst very busy was a great example of what your label, Mascot Label Group and Provogue Records does for their artists. It feels like the perfect home for you and the music that you play these days, it’s a perfect fit I think.

DB: I haven’t experienced a record company this good and I can’t remember since the ’90s. It’s a really amazing run so far and I’m really, really excited to be on this label. I think they’re killing it.

Adrian: You are surrounded by similar artists to yourself, blues artists, a mixture of them, people from around the world. Looking at your biography as well, that seems to be what you’ve grown up with. The roster at Mascot could easily be the collective people that you’ve grown up with over the years right back from when you first started to play.

DB: I don’t actually know who’s on the roster. I know that I met with the label in New York and just really loved everybody there and the relationship is there. They’re really perfect for me and I haven’t felt that supported by a label ever really, so that’s pretty great.

Adrian: Tell me a little bit about the history of you as an artist then, because looking at who you started off playing with right back in the early days, you’ve been exposed to this sort of music very much from almost day one.

DB: It was very much in my family. My father and my uncles and cousins all moved from Dallas where they were from, with the Vaughan family, which was Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughan and a bunch of other people, a bunch of other musician from Dallas.

We all moved down to Austin when I was one year old and because my mom and dad were 19 when I was one year old. My dad was starting to play shows and sort of paved the way for a lot of the Blues scenes that was happening in Austin Texas at that time. He was also going out to clubs every night listening to anybody from Leon Russell, Freddie King, Albert Collins to Linden Hopkins and many different blues masters of that day. A lot of times I would go out to to the shows with them. He would take either me or he take my mom and me, and we would just go out and I would be around that and listen to music three or four times a week at least.

Until the time I was almost six, I was in clubs listening to music, so I really grew up in it fully. For me, when Stevie Ray Vaughan who was always just Stevie to me, when he became a really big and iconic artist that he became, it was just such a different thing because a year before he made it, so to speak, he was staying with his band in my step grandmother’s house. All just sleeping on the floor and just hanging out, so he was just our buddy. It was pretty amazing to see the transition from that into what he would become one of the most iconic blues guitarist of all times.

Adrian: There’ll be a lot of people out there in the world as well that would be very jealous to think that you’ve had that opportunity and that experience in growing up because it’s a wonderful part of music history. That time where music sort of exploding on the scene as well to what it’s obviously become in the year since as well.

DB: That was a lot of the things that people think like, “Oh man, it must have been a dream come true” or whatever but that was just my life. That was what I grew up in. That was very normal for me. It was a culture almost. It was like being raised the gypsy in Romania or something. That was just your life that you’ve grown up with in Austin Texas.

Adrian: The influence people have had on you from such an early age. You were never going to escape it if you were in all of those clubs from the ages of one through six.

DB: It could have gone a couple of different ways I guess, but I didn’t end up at least going into a monastery and leading my life as a monk which I could have from it. I could have been like, “I don’t want anything to do with this blues music. Stop the music and let me out.”

Adrian: Obviously, over the years you’ve worked with such a number of artists as well as producing your own material. I can only assume that you’ve had people come up to you in years as well [citing you as an influence to them] because you don’t get to work with the likes of Roger [Waters] or Eric [Clapton], for example, without you having the skills that influence others.

DB: I do. It’s funny because I think almost three-quarters of the people that come out to see me and my shows are all musicians. They always say that like, “Oh, you’re the guitarist’s guitarist. You’re the musician’s musician” or whatever. I find it funny because I’ve only taken one lesson in my life. I quit because I just I played left-handed, upside down, very unorthodox way of playing. I was told that I couldn’t be taught unless I switch strings around or played right-handed. It’s just funny to think that musicians, especially like when I meet musicians that they come from like Berkeley School of Music or North Texas or these real school of musicians that like what I do. I’m always very surprised by that because I don’t come from a place of theory. I just play from the heart and what I do a lot of times is very broken to me. It just sounds more like a voice or whatever, like I’m able to to get out things. I don’t really consider myself like super proficient or whatever. It’s always interesting when I know that I’m the musician’s musician or being called that.

Adrian: I suppose that’s just about the biggest compliment you can get, isn’t it? It’s not just your fan base that comes up to you and says, “Oh, man, we love you, we’re your number one fan.” This is actually musicians that know how to play and can listen to you and appreciate so much more of what you’re doing.

DB: I guess that’s what it gives you insight into the power of spirit or someone’s spirit that this spirit can override or even out power whatever kind of technical prowess one might have that the spirit is much bigger than even that.

Adrian: I can really appreciate that. There must be some spiritual moments on stage when you play because you’ll see the reaction from the crowd?

DB: I always think that they’re sleeping but people tell me that their mouths are open and they’re breathing. [laughs]

Adrian: I think the phrase you’re looking for is lost in the moment.

DB: Or mouth-breathers, very likely. [laughing]

Adrian: Now, you talk about the musician’s musician and of course, those musicians are coming up to you, they’re playing with you on your albums as well. The current one [Shades] has got quite a few special guests playing on it and all well-known names as well.

How do you split tracks up when you’ve got such notable artists playing with you? If you have a special guest on a track, for example, you’d let them have that moment in the spotlight so that the fans know it’s them at that point in the single or the song or something like that. Is it an even split of spotlight moments and things like that?

DB: I think more for me, I think that it’s become such a novelty marketing thing to have guests on your records in general. Like that’s why I’ve never done that because I didn’t want it to be viewed as some kind of person that’s trying to do this because that’s what people do now. That’s what artists do and a lot of it comes from more about record companies trying to get whoever they can on songs because the biggest songs in the world are usually either duets or performances that have gaps on them or whatever.

Anyway, when I was in the studio, the guest performances on my record all came very organically. When I’ve finished recording everything you need and immediately after I recorded it just popped into my head that it would be really nice to play back and forth with Eric on the song [Everything You Need]. I thought that he would really, really like that song. I just tempted, I asked if he could play on it and this is what I wanted to capture with him and I do a lot together when we’re playing live or rehearsing or what we do together. I just wanted to capture that on a song and I thought that would be a really great song to do it on.

Then as far as the ‘Searching for Love’ with Norah Jones was a song that I wanted to write with her, to really get her sensibility in songwriting and her musicianship and the way she sings. I wanted her to do what she does with me on the phone where I’m doing what I do as well. We were able to come up with a song where I feel like it’s one of the great songs on the record for me. That is just a really, really natural song and it feels that way when I’m doing it live. It’s just so natural that it just feel like it plays itself. It’s really beautiful for me.

Then with Derek and Susan Struck, that was a song that I did for a Greg Holman tribute show in New York City. I was asked to do that particular song which was about Dylan’s song. After I finished playing it, it had such a really, I don’t know, it felt so powerful and such a sweet moment, almost a tribute for Gregg Allman who had done that on his last album, that I thought it would be a really nice tribute just to cut that on my record. I was actually supposed to go down to do some writing with Derek [Trucks] and Susan’s [Tedeschi] for their album. I just thought it would be perfect for the sweet tribute for Gregg Allman especially being that Derek had grown up with Gregg and had such a lineage with that.

Then the one in Texas with the Greyhounds [Live Forever on the album] that came very naturally. I was in Austin hanging out close to their studio and we ran into each other and I was a fan of what the Greyhounds do. I said, “It’d be great if we could come up with something.” I had told them that I was working on my record and he was like, “Well, come in the studio.” The next day we just follow up a couple of dudes, went in the studio, recorded the song and that was it. All the guest performances just came about as I was going along. It wasn’t premeditated.

Adrian: You mentioned the Greyhounds on there as well. Tell me a little bit about them because I love the description that comes with that particular track about it being recorded ‘Austin Style’. What makes Austin Style? I like that, it’s a great phrase.

DB: Well, I guess in the situation like the Greyhounds, I guess those guys are about ten years younger than me. Apparently, according to Andrew [Trube] who is one of the main singers and writers in the Greyhounds, he said he grew up listening to my band in the ’90s, the Arc Angels and that he was a fan of what we did. He remembers being a kid listening to us and digging us or whatever. The Austin Style of experience was that they’re an Austin-based band and they’re a part of the Austin culture. The studio that they worked at is in East Austin. There is a courtyard in back of the studio and the other side of the courtyard is where my sister’s hair salon is. She’s a singer. She has been singing with Jimmie Vaughan and his band on his tours and stuff, but she’s also an amazing hair stylist. I was getting my hair cut one day and then all the musicians go to her hair salon to get their haircut.

Then so everything sorts of happened in that courtyard where it’s like there’s a coffee house and then people hang out, and then there’s musicians and all kinds of people, creative people that are getting their haircut from my sister. Then there’s Buzz recording studio with the Greyhounds.

Usually, it’s like everybody just hangs out in that courtyard and on their breaks and just talk and hangs out and have coffee. Then there’ll be like just this guy Sam Greyhorse, who’s this Native American fellow who will ride into the courtyard on horses and mules and then he’ll ask if anybody wants to go on the ride. Then you’ll get on a horse and take you on a journey for a couple of hours on horses downtown in Austin and into the countryside.

It’s pretty cool. It’s a pretty relaxed like I don’t know, like you know what? We used to call them hippies. I do feel like every time I’m in Austin, it almost feels because I live in Los Angeles where the pace is really hectic. In London, the pace is really hectic too.

Adrian: Oh, yeah. [laughs]

DB: When I go to Austin, every time I go there it feels like my DNA just relaxes. It’s just so chilled out. It’s really cool but you’re allowed just to be your creative self and relax. Even though there’s a lot of commerce and a lot of things going on there and it’s a booming city that’s growing so much, it still has this such a relaxed thing. You just want to hang out all the time.

Adrian: That’s one of the things I really got from the album. It’s that really sort of calming at times on the album. For the listener its the perfect balance between a chilled New Orleans club and an energised Music Festival. You seem to found that balance very well.

DB: Well, hopefully, that is all happening naturally. because I don’t think obviously you can’t create that consciously. It emulates that, it sort of flows out of you naturally.

Adrian: I’m thinking who else could do that and perform in this environment. The only other artists that springs to mind at the moment is Beth Hart, where she can easily do the lounge environment and also easily rock it up in front of a classic rock festival, for example.

DB: Right, yeah. She has that sort of crossover kind of thing definitely. I just grew up with a very diverse background. I grew up in the bar scene in Texas listening to blues and old-school rock and roll, and psychedelic music and singer-songwriters and country music and whatever was going on in Texas but then I also was raised on classical music and flamenco music, Spanish music and even Egyptian music. When I started buying my own records I got into Egyptian music and then discovering music, ancient music and whatever from around different parts of the world. My taste is very broad, I would say. Even though I do tend to listen to the older types of music but it is art. I just love art. I think that the art of music has deteriorated I think because of how marketing has taken over in music.

Adrian: Definitely. At least you got the opportunity then to put it back out there the way it should be.

DB: I think that was like, I remember Joni Mitchell saying and this was like probably 15 years ago, she started out 20 years ago. She felt like, “The ‘mus’ in music had been taken out, and once the ‘mus’ was taken out all you’re left with is ic!”

Adrian: [laughs] I like that. That’s a fair explanation of the way it’s going in some cases definitely. In terms of live events and whatever in support to the album, when are we likely to get you back? It feels like you’d be a natural fit for something like Ramblin’ Man Fair Festival in the UK in the summer.

DB: Yeah, I would love to do that because the other thing is I want, that’s exactly the kind of thing that I would love to be on because it’s about the music. It’s about different genres of music. It’s about just good music, hopefully, and because I can always play my own shows over there but it would be nice to be in front of a broader audience. Because there could be people at the country stage that are passers-by. They hear something that strikes their fancy and all of a sudden I have other people that were there that didn’t know about me, that would be into my music and didn’t even know it. I love those kinds of festive, I love those idea of that kind of festival that is just sort of crossing over, just music, music of all times.

Adrian: There is another link as well as Gregg [Allman] played the first year as well.

DB: Nice. It sounds perfect. Let’s make it happen.

Who knows.. maybe we’ll get the man that Eric Clapton and Roger Waters go to when [they] need a guitarist !

Shades is available now: http://smarturl.it/MLGDoyleB

Kent Blues Collective Festival – Gillingham, Kent – 29 September 2018

Words & Pictures: Jon Theobold / Jon Theobald Photography

When I originally heard that a new blues festival was taking place in Gillingham – where I grew up – at a school with somewhat of a reputation at that time, I was in parts excited, curious and slightly nervous. On arriving at the newly-named Woodlands Arts Centre the latter emotion evaporated as I walked into not an old school hall, but now a purposely-fitted out theatre/concert space with a permanent lighting rig, powerful PA, black diorama drapes, tiered seating and a surprising number of people for a warm, sunny September Saturday afternoon.

Keen to kick the day’s music off, Kent Blues Collective co-organiser Steve Borkowski took to the stage to welcome the audience and introduce the first band of the day, The Robert J Hunter Band. Hailing from the Channel Islands, Robert has already amassed critical acclaim for both his songwriting and the powerful dirty blues sound he and fellow musicians James (bass) and Greg (drums) have honed in just a relatively few years of touring and recording.

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Opening with the AC/DC-like riff of ‘Loving Unfortunately’, coincidentally the first track from the current self-titled album (actually the band’s fourth), they started the festival with a strong, catchy tune that got many a foot tapping after the first few beats and Robert’s clean-cut looks belying his characteristic deep, gruff voice. More conventional blues-chords introduced ‘Rumour Mill’ followed by ‘Mr. Winter’. iTunes Blues chart no.1 single ‘Suzy’ was next up, with the tight backing rhythm from Greg and a melodic bassline from James.

Robert was genuinely surprised by the already three-quarters-full nature of the room, despite the allure of some Autumn sunshine and the early start, and the band enthusiastically rattled through what seemed a much shorter than the 12-song set it was – to me always the sign of a great band. Finishing to great applause with the slower paced ‘The Fool’ and ‘Flaws’, they certainly made a memorable start to the festival.

Taking the stage next were The Della Grants, a five-piece band from Leicester, founded in 2014 and fronted by old friends Max Manning and Tom Best. Their blend of laid-back rock, blues and Americana was amply demonstrated in their first two songs ‘Too Fast’ and ‘Wayward Man’ with keyboardist Tony Robinson breaking out the trumpet and [muffler] on the latter. The Hawaiian-style shirts the band wore somehow typified the lighter, musically more colourful sound that has become their trademark style. With Max and Tom sharing vocal and guitar duties and the rhythm section of Andy Boulton (bass) and Tom Walker (drums) having played together for over a decade, the band have both variety and a solid stage presence. In addition, they have a strong catalogue of original tracks, but aren’t afraid to dip into blues history and pluck Little Walter’s ‘Hate To See You Go’ out from the fifties – more recently covered by The Rolling Stones on their Blues and Lonesome album. Set staples ‘Gone’, ‘More Than Pray’ and ‘Midnight Special’ mixed up the tempo before the DGs (as they are known) finished with the high-energy ‘Red Mist’.

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The DGs’ youthful looks were sharply contrasted with the next artist – the legend that is Del Bromham. Del, who was the founder and guitarist/songwriter with 70s rock band Stray, has been touring recently with his Blues Devils Band and took the middle-slot at the festival. It became immediately obvious that many of the audience knew Del and his former band well as he sauntered, nattily behatted, onto the stage to rousing cheers. With a knowing smile and the glance at the audience of a seasoned performer, Del struck up the first chords to Bobby Bland’s ‘This Time I’m Gone For Good’ and (somewhat appropriately given the venue) the lesson in old-school rock and blues began. Notes and tracks flowed effortlessly from Del’s Fender Strat and vintage Gibson guitars as you might expect from someone with 50+ years of experience (as he selflessly confessed to) on the frets. The driving riffs of ‘House of Love’ and more melodic ‘Slave’ from his solo album Devil’s Highway gave way to ‘You Don’t Know How I Feel’ and ‘The Ballad of JD’ (yes a song about that THAT whiskey man) from Nine Yards. Stray fans were rewarded with the classic ‘After The Storm’ and then a couple more solo songs before Del finished up with the old Traffic number ‘Dear Mr Fantasy’.

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When the Kent Blues promotors were faced with the challenge of ‘how to follow that?’ they chose wisely by asking harmonica virtuoso Will Wilde to take the penultimate slot. Striding onto the stage wearing a bandolier, filled not with shotgun cartridges but harmonicas, Will cut a striking stance with his Norse god-like blond hair and muscular stature, and almost literally blew the audience away.

Starting with a track from his Unleashed 2010 debut album, ‘If I Get My Hands On You’, Will then continued to select his from his impressive range of custom-tuned harmonicas to match his versions of original songs and covers – at one point playing two harmonicas at the same time. ‘Angel Came Down’ and ‘Can’t Hold Out’ from the second album, before focussing on the current release Bring It On Home, with ‘Locomotive Breath’. After ‘Bonnie To My Clyde’, Will chatted about the current single and how he was inspired by Gary Moore and wanted to honour him with a unique harmonica rendition of ‘Parisienne Walkways’. As if that wasn’t enough to display his virtuosity, Will then started up with the opening chords of Black Sabbath’s ‘The Wizard’ to an in-awe audience. Finishing with ‘Lazy’, also off the current album, both Will and the crowd drew a well-deserved collective breath and shuffled to the bar to replenish and await the headliner.

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Kris Barras really needed little introduction by co-organiser Steve, as he is one of the hardest working British blues musicians around. Sandwiching this gig in-between his current Divine and Dirty album tour and being straight back out on the road supporting Joanne Shaw Taylor, Kris and the band took to the stage as if it was the first night. Starting with the up-tempo ‘Heart On Your Sleeve’ from his Lucky 13 album, Kris and the band (JJ Manning – keyboards, Elliott Blackler – bass and Will Beavis – drums) ploughed through the rocket-fuelled bluesy ‘Kick Me Down’, ‘Stitch Me Up’ and ‘Blood on Your Hands’, before taking a breath and delivering a new song ‘What A Way To Go’ and the classic Creedence Clearwater Revival cover ‘Fortunate Son’.

It was hard to notice that Kris was suffering from the effects of a cold that had struck the entire band twice on the tour as he launched into the rock radio station’s 2018 playlist favourites ‘Propane’ and ‘Hail Mary’. It transpired that Kris had to cancel a show a few days later – his first in twenty years. Pausing for a break after ‘Small Town Blues’ for Will’s drum solo, ‘Nothing to Hide’ segued into ‘I Don’t Want The Blues’. A quick guitar change for ‘She’s More Than Enough’, started the last leg of the set.

Kris dedicated the next track ‘Watching Over Me’ to his father, who passed away a few years ago and was an enormous influence on Kris’ life and music career. Kris told the audience his dad gave him his first guitar when he was six and how he used to play his first gig at age nine in his Dad’s band!

The kick of the bass drum and Kris’ foot stomping launched into the driving (and audience sing-a-long) ‘Lovers Or Losers’ which closed the set on a high, the packed auditorium applauding with aplomb. The three festival organisers Steve, Andy Davies and Mark Matthews took to the stage to thank the bands, audience and the crew and staff at the venue before inviting Kris and the band back on stage for a rousing encore of ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Running Through My Veins’.

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This little festival surprisingly excelled in a number of ways: the venue was superb, combining seating and floorspace with inky black backdrops helping focus the audience on the bands; the PA and Vic Wintergreen the sound engineer filled the room with full, crystal clear, never distorted notes all day long and the organisers pulled a first class bill together for less than a fiver per band. A temporary bar and hot-food from the onsite café, served by cheery and enthusiastic staff ensured everyone would be fed and watered all day long. My only wish for next year, would be that the addition of a couple of varilite-type lights to add some more colour, wash and spotlight movement for the artists on the stage.

Thanks to the Kent Blues Collective for putting the show on, support from charity FORM, the Sevenoaks Guitar Centre and Neil Kay.

https://www.facebook.com/kentbluescollective/

 

 

 

The Ghost And The Machine – Red Rain Tires Review

Post blues soundscapes for the soul.

Released by: Noise Appeal Records
Release Date: 28 September 2018
Genre: Blues , Post Blues
Links: www.the-ghost-and-the-machine.com

Line Up:

Andi Lechner – Resonator guitar, vocals
Heidi Fial – Double bass, vocals
Matthias Macht – Drums

Tracklist:

1. Falling
2. Dirty Mind
3. Blue Day / Yellow City
4. Caroline
5. Passengers & Slaves
6. Complex Animal
7. Scars
8. Butterflies & Dust
9. Wrecks Of Innocence

Following their self-titled debut album in 2016, Red Rain Tires is the latest release from Austrian band The Ghost and the Machine. A unique combination of a stripped back sound which features resonator guitar, double bass, and drums, the band creates post blues soundscapes for the soul. Describing the album, the band suggested, “On Red Rain Tires we created floating structures within the songs to dive into,” adding, “It’s full of weird but yet precise sonic landscapes and still in constant touch with the rough spirit of long-forgotten prison songs. We’re really looking forward to share this piece of intimate but untamed music with you – Love it, hate it, buy it, spread it – in either case enjoy it!”

Opening the album is “Falling”, which features an incredible low register double-bass line provided by Fial. Once Macht’s shuffling drum beat and Lechner’s haunting resonator guitar and dream-like vocals join in, it sets a dark tone which cuts through the sonorous melody of the song. “Dirty Mind” sets an altogether different mood, with pop-rock sensibilities distilled through the aperture of a classic blues beat. Fail adds, “While dreaming the weirdest pictures appear as ordinary things, magic is taken for granted, time doesn’t exist.” The video for the song also forms the debut of Heidi Fial’s talents as a cinematographer. Expanding on this idea in the video Fial added, “There is only truth and insanity, and the carousel of figures and props in “Dirty Mind” revolves around them and does not demand any agreement.”

“Blue Day / Yellow City” is a sprawling, melancholy, and deeply stirring track that you can feel to your core as you are taken along the song’s musical journey. “Caroline” is pure deconstructed Delta Blues, with an almost impossibly low register that pulls you down into the depths of this evocative song. At times the song feels like funeral dirge, as it marches on towards its inevitable conclusion. For me, this is the stand-out track on the ablum. Described by the band, the song, “takes you on a road trip through the dark inner life of an initially inscrutable woman who finally finds her empathic abilities on the playground of a sonic experience. A slightly psychedelic, surrealistic but still understandable song about lost emotions. ”

“Passengers & Slaves” will test the limits of your speakers, and if you have a subwoofer, be prepared to feel every note of the stunning bassline that drives this song along with a rhythm that echoes a train rolling down the track. “Complex Animal” is perhaps the closest thing to traditional blues on offer on Red Rain Tires, however it is reimagined with the band’s signature style. “Scars” and “Butterflies & Dust” are more folk-rock style offerings that you would associate with the likes of Mumford & Sons. And closing the album is “Wrecks of Innocence” which really pushes the limits of the bands instruments and creates an extraordinarily complex sound for a three-piece band. Every ounce of sound is drawn out and extended through the song, and not a single note is wasted. It is an incredibly crafted song and a stunning production, which finishes the album on an exemplary note.

Red Rain Tires is a hard album to pin down, but that is part of its charm. It is familiar and yet often times alien, but it works on an intrinsic level. At its heart it is still a blues album in the tradition set forth by Muddy Waters, but it has transcended the genre and presents something new for listeners to engage with. The experience is made all the more enjoyable by the clarity of the production. The album produces a big sound, and nothing is lost. You can hear every nuanced note throughout Red Rain Tires, deepening the connection to the music that builds over the course of the album. If you’re a fan of the blues and you like to explore all the divergent pathways the genre has taken over the years, then this is an album you will want to pick up.

Ratings: 8/10

Written by: Erik De’Viking
My Global Mind – Reviewer / Music Journalist

Erik De’Viking is a freelance music journalist based in the South of England. His musical interests include rock and metal in all its forms, and he is constantly on the lookout for new bands and genres to discover and later preach about to the masses.

Socials: Twitter: @Erik_DeViking Instagram: @Erik_DeViking Last.FM: @Erik_DeViking Spotify: Erik De’Viking

Kris Barras Band at Exeter Phoenix in Exeter on Friday 7th September 2018

 

Live Gig Review by: Francijn Suermondt

Photos by: Simon Kneller

 

 

On a Friday night after a long week of traveling to shows and heavy workload, I was ready to enjoy some damn fine, sold out in a couple of weeks, Kris Barras, blues-infused, rock n roll at the Exeter Phoenix Centre….I was not going to be disappointed!

The support to Kris Barras on the evening was the Babysnakes, another local band hailing from the south-west. Looking like a bunch of lumberjacks all complete with check shirts and a healthy smattering of hair and baseball caps, I was not sure what to expect from these chaps. Storming in with a splendid mix of bluegrass and southern rock on acid, they opened with three stonking good tunes that got the crowd going like a boomtown at a hoedown. Further into the set and drawing on country influences with tracks such as ‘In Too Deep’, which wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of ‘Nashville’ (and I LOVE Nashville) and progressing further into songs with a heavy mix of ska and bluegrass ….. Babysnakes certainly got the packed to capacity Phoenix, moving and a grooving!

Kris Barras works hard …. VERY hard…whether it is through his previous life as a mixed martial artist or through his full-time career now, as the celebrated Prince of blues and one of the top 15 blues guitarists in the world, as voted by readers of Music Radar/Total Guitar Magazine.

With ACDC blasting through the speakers to rev the crowd up and then walking on to the stage along to the haunting restrains of Ennio Morricone’s ‘The Good The Bad & the Ugly’, the local boy done good was ready to entertain his people.

‘Heart On Your Sleeve’ opened the evening’s blues entertainment and dripped with quality and promise of more treats to come, whilst ‘Kick Me Down’ made me see clearly why Kris has been hailed as the best blues guitarist of our generation.

The fabulous band playing with Kris, start to let rip themselves on songs such as ‘Stitch Me Up’ which displayed some superb honky-tonk playing by Joshua to the fore, allowing a good dose of rhythm and blues boogie-woogie into the 21st century. Whilst ‘Blood On Your Hands’ kept the pace and adrenaline running.

Just something about Kris’s playing has that special je ne sais qui that I do not feel very often with other blues players, and as an out and out rocker myself I thoroughly enjoyed ‘What A Way To Go’ which had a heavier rock infused feel to it…..and I do love good use of a cowbell!!

One of my all-time favorites, ‘Fortunate Son’, was up next…..and I have to say these boys kicked ass with this cover of the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic, with Kris, Josiah Manning (keyboards), Elliott Blackler (bass) and Will Beavis (drums) having a fine old time of it! Loved the way this neatly slid into a nice dose of ‘Freebird’ too!

‘Propane’, my new found Albanian ACDC mad friend said, was his favorite because it was the first song he ever heard from The Kris Barras Band, it was his first introduction and therefore his first love. Watching him dutifully whipping his long hair to the beat, it made me realize what a great mix of music fans was actually in the crowd…young, old, rockers, blues fans, even a friend of Kris’s mum (who proudly announced this to me when I introduced myself to her). And surely that is what all music is about bringing people together?!

With the fabulous ‘Hail Mary’ bringing shouts of “Awesome!” behind me, the boys moved into the country/honky-tonk treat of ‘Small Town Country Blues’….we all understand that feeling here in Torquay sometimes don’t we!

 ‘Nothing To Hide’ and ‘I Don’t Want The Blues’ and ‘She’s More Than Enough’ was nicely interjected with, I have to say, a stonking rendition of ‘A Whole Lotta Rosie’ and made way for the spine-tingling ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’. This song is written for Kris’s father who sadly passed at the age of 54, having also lost my father when I was very young, this was very evocative for me.

After the final song of ‘Lovers And Losers’, the band came on for an encore and played ‘Rock N Roll Runnin Thru My Veins’ delicious in its slide guitar glory.

What I love is the unassumingness of all the guys on the stage, they all have great stage presence obviously, but with a humbleness somehow too. To one Devonian to another, Kris Barras, we are proud of you and your boys!

Footnote on the Exeter Phoenix: I have to mention the actual venue for the evening’s soiree, the experience from the beginning of the evening to the end was rather gorgeous. Starving hungry I had the best Three Bean Vegi Chilli and the staff simply couldn’t do enough for you!! And a friendlier crowd here you would be hard pushed to find, in fact, a number of them are now friends of mine on Facebook…what’s not to like!

 

https://www.krisbarrasband.com/

Billy F Gibbons The Big Bad Blues Review

A must have for any blues devotee.

Released by:  Snakefarm Records

Release Date: 21st of September

Genre: Blues, Blues Rock

Links:  https://www.billygibbons.com

Line Up:

Billy F Gibbons: Guitar, Harp & Vox

James Harman: Additional Harmonica

Joe Hardy: Fender Bass Guitar

Greg Morrow & Matt Sorum: Drums

Mike Flanigin: Keyboards 

Tracklist: 

(all songs by Billy F Gibbons except where noted):

1. Missin’ Yo’ Kissin’ (Gilly Stillwater)

2. My Baby She Rocks

3. Second Line

4. Standing Around Crying (Muddy Waters)

5. Let the Left Hand Know…

6. Bring It to Jerome (Jerome Green)

7. That’s What She Said

8. Mo’ Slower Blues

9. Hollywood 151

10. Rollin’ and Tumblin’ (Muddy Waters)

11. Crackin’ Up (Bo Diddley)

In what can only be described as a love letter to the blues, Billy F Gibbons follows up his successful Cubano flavoured solo album Perfectamundo with The Big Bad Blues, which takes us on a journey to the Mississippi Delta to listen to Billy reinvent his favourite classics as well as add a number of his own to the mix. Having assembled an all-star line-up of musicians to bring his vision to life, Billy describes The Big Bad Blues as, “something which our followers can enjoy with the satisfaction of experiencing the roots and tradition and, at the same time, feeling the richness of stretching the art form.” Expanding on that he added, “There’s something very primordial within the art form, and nobody gets away from the infectious allure of those straight-ahead licks!” There is certainly no denying that. Any lover of the blues is going to be swept up by this album and will find it hard to put down. As Billy says, “The blues is alive!” And this album is certainly proof of that.

Discussing the tone of the album, Billy added, “The dirtier, the grittier, the better. Dirt is its own reward, but you have to go low to get it in.” And this album most certainly goes low. There are some heavy, fat, deep, and slithering riffs dominating every track. Opening with the first single of the album, “Missin’ Yo’ Kissin’”, I can’t help thinking that it sounds more ZZ Top than ZZ Top. It’s a catchy song with an infectious beat that will get you up and moving as you groove along with it. Billy’s vocals are as good as ever, and he doesn’t miss a lick in this energetic track.

Opening with a blast of harmonica, “My Baby She Rocks” is a down and dirty blues bar anthem driven along by a traditional 4/4 blues beat and that sweet harmonica tone howlin’ in the background, riffing along with the band. With “Second Line” Billy lays down a funky blues grove, which segues nicely into “Standing Around Crying” which is the first of four covers on the album. This classic homage to Muddy Waters contrasts well against “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” which is sure to have the ghost of Muddy Waters dancing at the crossroads. The tone produced by Billy’s guitar is just superb. Discussing the tracks, Billy added, “Muddy was the man who changed the world in a very real way. He took the rural blues out of the Delta, went up to Chicago, ‘discovered electricity,’ and the world was forever changed. Muddy’s at the root of just about everything that came after.”

The rest of the album just cracks on with one excellent blues song after another. “Let the Left Hand Know” is a swinging blues track with sweet harmonica riffs, a step-beat shuffle, and harmonised vocals all driven along by Billy’s fat guitar sound. “That’s What She Said” is a tongue in cheek and irreverent blues song featuring outstanding harmonica work. “Mo’ Slower Blues” is pure Delta blues brought into the 21st century. This raucous blues shuffle claws its way through supported by the haunting tack piano in the background, the thrumming basslines, weighty guitar riffs, and Billy’s signature voice. “Hollywood 151” is a modern gritty blues ditty, with an impressive amount of heavy fuzz infused into the track, which is cut through by Billy’s gravelly voice, the pulsing bass and punchy drums. It’s a perfect highway tune. Rounding out the covers are two songs associated with Bo Diddly. First up we have “Bring It To Jerome”, which opens with a raspy harmonica, and breaks into a ballsy blues strut with a chugging guitar a proper old-school stomp beat on the drums. And the song that closes the album, “Crackin’ Up” features a bright guitar riff that echoes Bo’s signature sound, in this feel-good cover of the classic. A terrific ending to an outstanding album.

Recorded at Foam Box Recordings in Houston, and co-produced by Billy and Joe Hardy, The Big Bad Blues represents a carefully crafted and curated collection of songs brought to life by Billy’s undying love for the blues and good ole’ fashioned rock n’ roll. The Big Bad Blues has a distinctive vibe about it, with a larger than life, live sound that feels at times as though the speakers will barely contain it. I can only imagine how impressive it’s going to be performed live. When listening you can’t help but be swept up in the passion Billy clearly has for the blues and these songs in particular. His voice is full of energy and his guitar tone is unmatched on this recording. The chemistry he has with his backing band is absolutely palpable, and you can tell they had as much fun recording this album as Billy did. I am certain this album will stand out as an all-time blues classic and is a must have for any blues devotee.

Ratings: 10/10

Written by: Erik De’Viking

My Global Mind – Reviewer / Music Journalist

Erik De’Viking is a freelance music journalist based in the South of England. His musical interests include rock and metal in all its forms, and he is constantly on the lookout for new bands and genres to discover and later preach about to the masses.

Socials: Twitter: @Erik_DeViking Instagram: @Erik_DeViking Last.FM: @Erik_DeViking Spotify: Erik De’Viking

Ben Poole – Anytime You Need Me Review

A soulful and mature album that is a must have for any fan of the contemporary blues scene.

Released by: Manhaton Records

Release Date: September 14, 2018

Genre: Blues

Links:  http://benpooleband.com

Line Up:

Ben Poole: Guitars, Vocals & Backing Vocals

Beau Barnard: Bass

Wayne Proctor: Drums

Ross Stanley: Hammond Organ, Wurlitzer, Piano, Synths

Tracklist:

  1. Anytime You Need Me

  2. Take It No More

  3. You Could Say

  4. Found Out The Hard Way

  5. Further On Down The Line

  6. Dirty Laundry

  7. Start The Car

  8. Don’t Cry For Me

  9. Let Me Be

  10. Holding On

     

Hailing from the school of the modern British Blues scene, Ben Poole is an international blues-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist with a funky soul vibe about him. Preceded by the critically acclaimed albums Time Has Come (2016) and Live At The Royal Albert Hall (Recorded by the BBC in 2014), Anytime You Need Me is Ben’s latest album, due to be released on Friday 14th of September 2018 via Manhaton Records. Discussing the release, Ben explained, “There’s a rawness and edginess, but also a subtlety and intimacy. I think we captured what I’m all about with that album (Time Has Come), but with the new album the small but amazing team around me pushed me even further as an artist, and as a result we’ve created something way beyond what I could have ever imagined I was capable of.” This album certainly reflects the hard work that Ben Poole has put in over the past eight years, and is a testament to how he has grown as an artist.

Title track “Anytime You Need Me” sets a relaxed and funky tone which expands over the course of the album. Ben added that, “the message in the song is clear and simple. It’s about being there no matter what for those people you care about; be it friends, family, or your partner.” “Take It No More” is one of the heavier tracks on the album, with a gritty blues grind that permeates the song. “You Could Say” has been a long time coming, with Ben adding that, “the main riff in this song was something I’ve been playing around with for the past couple of years, and provided the basis for the song. However, this tune in particular certainly took a lot of work to get to where it is now. We spent a hell of a lot of time working on the main vocal melody, but as a result I think it’s one of the best melody’s I’ve ever written with a lot of interest both melodically and rhythmically.” This soulful tune will sound great on the radio. “Found Out The Hard Way” is a languid pop ballad, that stretches out into sweet harmonies, and Ben adds, “I’m extremely proud of the harmonies on this track in particular. I’ve also always loved moving the harmony from major to minor and vice-versa and this track is a perfect example of that where it goes major into the chorus which creates an emotional lift.”  The funk-fuelled “Further On Down The Line” features vocals as smooth as caramel backed by crunchy fuzz and vibrato tones, thrumming bass, and punchy drums.

“Dirty Laundry” is the first of two covers on the album. A self-confessed Eagles and Don Henley fan, Ben wasn’t sure about covering his hero at first, but at the instance of co-writers Steve and Wayne, he decided to give it a try. The result makes for a faithful, but unique rendition of this classic song. It’s definitely the standout track on the album. “Start The Car” is the second cover on the album. The obscure hit for Jude Cole is brought to life by Ben and the band, and its infectious groove will get you up and out of your seat. This will no doubt be a live favourite in no time. Discussing the track, Ben said, “I’d actually never even heard of Jude Cole until Steve Wright told me about him and about this song in particular which Jude had a hit with in the 80’s. I thought the song was badass as soon as I heard it, even if the original production is a little dated now. The original has literally everything but the kitchen sink thrown onto it in terms of instrumentation and I thought it would be awesome to do a stripped back blues rock version of it with the basic four piece line up of drums, bass, guitar and keys. I also thought it fit really well in terms of lyrics, as well as style, with the rest of the songs we had written.”

Written by Steve Wright, “Don’t Cry For Me” is a melodic and sweet guitar ballad that really highlights Ben’s vocal prowess. “Let Me Be” Ben says, is “a song about that one person in your life who you’ll never be able to see eye to eye with, no matter how you might try. You’ll always just have to agree to disagree with them. I’m really proud of the work we did on the lyrics of this song in particular. The first of the two heavier songs tail ending this album, with more fuzz tones along with an octave pedal to give extra lows and highs to an already big sounding rhythm guitar.” Finishing off the album is “Holding On”. Discussing the song, Ben added that, “Originally, I thought about having this as the opening track on the album, but then decided it might be a little too much on the heavy side. Instead it’s the big closing statement of the album. The main idea came from a song I’d written a few years ago and we had actually been playing live for a while. We stripped it back to basics, changed the rhythm into this 6/8 feel inspired a little by Jimi Hendrix’s Manic Depression, and built it all up again from there. Lyrically it’s about following your hopes and dreams, and ignoring those people who doubt you in your life.” The measured and churning pace of the song truly brings that feeling to life and closes what has been a superb album.

Recorded at Superfly Studios in Ollerton, Nottinghamshire, the album was produced by Wayne Proctor of King King fame, who also features on the drums. Discussing the album, Ben says, “It was an absolute joy to work again with Wayne. He has a great ear and knows me well as an artist, and the result is amazing.” Feeling that this album truly captures the essence of his live sound, as well as all the elements that come together to influence his song-writing, Ben sought to craft a sound that “showcases a lot of grit and a swagger, with special emphasis on guitar tones and instrumental performances.” While the primary focus was geared towards writing excellent songs, Anytime You Need Me seeks to place a finer focus on Ben as an artist, and the results are stunning. At times I was reminded of early Lenny Kravitz, Gary Clark Jr., and Walter Trout. Co-written with Wayne Proctor and Steve Wright, this is a soulful and mature album with a very radio-friendly sound and amazing production values. It is a must have for any fan of the contemporary blues scene.

Ratings: 9/10 

Written by: Erik De’Viking

My Global Mind – Reviewer / Music Journalist

Erik De’Viking is a freelance music journalist based in the South of England. His musical interests include rock and metal in all its forms, and he is constantly on the lookout for new bands and genres to discover and later preach about to the masses.

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