Blues History Blog by Stephen Harrison.

When we talk about blues music, we automatically lean our minds towards the Mississippi Delta and quite rightly so for that is where the American blues scene first came into existence. The slaves working in the cotton fields and living in and around the sharecropping communities began a ‘Field Holler‘ as a means of communication between themselves that over time became more musical through the church services that were attended by the migrant workforce.

But, even though this was the genesis of the American blues scene it had manifested itself many years before that from much further afield. In fact, it all stemmed from West Africa from the likes of the Jora tribe that had developed the ‘Field Holler‘ as a means of call and response.

During this period such instruments as the Ngoni and banjo were used as part of the musical heritage of the region. This gave birth to what we now call the blues. From such unthinkable beginnings came a genre of music that has lasted for over 150 years.

Indeed, one of the most acclaimed tunes regarding blues and gospel music began its life in West Africa as a warning song to the people working in the fields in order for them to avoid capture from the overseeing landowners.

The song we now know as Wade In The Water was an emergency call to immerse themselves underwater so as to avoid capture.

As we all know the slave trade began in earnest and resulted in people from West Africa being enslaved and transported to America to work in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta. The first known enslaved people arrived between 1870-1890 and were the originators of what we now call the blues. During this time the blues manifested itself into what we know today.

In Mississippi, the slave workers developed what was already well known to them from their roots in West and North Africa into a more common sound. For instance, the use of a knife blade along the strings of a rudimentary guitar became the norm and is still alive and kicking nowadays but in the form of the slide guitar.

It can be argued, who was the first person outside of slavery that heard the blues and began to listen with interest and start bringing the genre to a wider audience. Some say it is the Godfather of the blues, W.C. Handy. Others point towards Jelly Roll Morton who definitely started playing a style of the blues around the turn of the century. Jelly Roll Morton recounts the tale of hearing a prostitute singing the blues at around 1900 with the lines… “can’t give me a dollar, give me a lousy dime/you can’t give me a dollar, give me a lousy dime/just to feed that hungry man of mine.”

In and around that time W.C. Handy heard Yellow Raw Blues which later became Yellow Dog Blues in Tupelo, Mississippi. All of the songs around that period had African elements within them having been brought to America and passed down through generations of slave workers. Yellow Dog Blues became a sort of ragtime tune as opposed to a straight blues song but the blues DNA was still running right the way through it.

Going from West Africa to Mississippi, the blues has been well documented throughout the years but what is really good to know is that in places like Mali the blues still retains its true beginnings and meanings. This is no more evident than in the African musician Ali Farka Toure. His style of singing and playing could  so easily have been heard in the deep south of America instead of West Africa.

Born in 1939 in Timbuktu, Mali. He is widely regarded as a musical bridge between the two continents that between them produced a genre of music that spans the whole world and is ever-growing amongst new audiences. His album African Blues, released in 1990 optimizes the true DNA of African and American blues as we know it today.

Even to this day, African blues festivals attract fans and artists from all around the world. Artists such as Eric Bibb, Eric Burdon, Justin Adams, and Robert Plant to such far-out places that are virtually only accessible by following camel tracks in the desert. It is almost unbelievable that the whole of western musical culture owes its life and history to places that we have hardly ever heard about.

It’s like things have gone full circle encompassing the blues from birth to life and back again. And the amazing thing about all of this culture of blues music is that it can  literally trace its biological DNA from West Africa to the Mississippi Delta through the people who live on both continents.

This is so evident in the song written by J.C. Johnson and recorded by Bessie Smith in 1930, Black Mountain Blues. The song has such strong elements of Africa and the journey to its cultural new home of the deep south.

To close this short journey through the birth of the blues one must not forget its origins. From West and North Africa across to the vast plains of the Mississippi Delta, and the blues can trace it’s humble seeds to the mighty rivers and cities that helped forge the blues as we know it today.

What is very important to remember is where it all began and where it comes from and it began in Africa, The Motherland of all civilization. That in itself describes just how powerful and meaningful the blues are. People often say I like the blues, but to like the blues you first have to understand the blues and feel the blues otherwise it’s just another form of music.

A wise man once said, “When you got the blues, you play the blues, but when you play the blues, you don’t got them no more.” And  to summarize the importance of The Motherland as a musical genesis and giver of life, we must remember that we all originated from Africa. Some of us just turned white.

The post ROOTS AND THE FRUITS appeared first on Blues Matters Magazine.

Newcomer KP Wolfe is a native New Yorker who developed her raw and gritty sound performing in rock musicals, including NOFX’s show about street kids and as Janis Joplin in A Night With Janis Joplin where her manager discovered her. Wolfe’s music marries pop synth and alt rock with ferocious vocals and themes about empowering women, abandoning the victim card, and embracing the taboo. She is pushing back on the depictions of women as fragile and rejects the idea of sluts vs prudes.

Her powerful and edgy vocals and brutally honest lyrics reveal her penchant for provocation, allowing her to go full throttle with explosive live performances. Though KP is a newcomer to the industry, she’s collaborated with Air Supply, Grammy nominated songwriter Lauren Christy, multi-platinum producer Adrian Newman, and Grammy award winning producers Craig Bauer and Andrew Dawson. With her new music, KP strives to open up the exploratory side of her audiences.

“This song is about the anger and hurt you feel after getting blindsided by someone you love,” Wolfe says. “They lie and string you along and then you feel so stupid for believing it all. I wrote it after a breakup as a way to let go of my anger and start forgiving them and myself.”

KP Wolfe

We live in a world consumed by technology. Gone are the days of big CD collections and streaming platforms like Spotify and Pandora are king, but how are these changes in technology affecting musicians today? Blues Rock Review spoke with touring musicians all over the United States to find out.

Musicians interviewed include Joe Bonamassa, Robert Randolph, Philip Sayce, Anthony Gomes, Mike Zito, Hannah Wicklund, Diana Rein, and Jeremie Albino

Recently signed to Mascot Label Group imprint Provogue Records, Blues Rock guitarist Albert Cummings will release a new album, Believe, on Feb. 14, 2020. Featuring a flavorful mix of blues, country, and rock n’ roll, the 11-track album is now available for pre-order. Scroll down to listen to the first track “Hold On,” Cummings’ rendition of the 1966 soul classic by Sam & Dave.

Recorded at the iconic FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Cummings takes this release to new heights with the help of GRAMMY Award-winning producer, Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana). Together, they drew inspiration from the rich recording legacy of Muscle Shoals and created a timeless album full of rhythm, funk and soul.

Cummings will tour throughout next year. His dynamic, engaging personality combined with blues musicianship at its finest has created an enduring, loyal fan base worldwide.

Albert Cummings On Tour

Pre-Order Believe

(New Orleans, LA) – The Samantha Fish Cigar Box Guitar Festival – New Orleans 2020 will take place over four days (Wednesday, January 15 through Saturday, January 18) in two of the city’s best live music venues:  New Orleans’ top Americana club, Chickie Wah Wah (2828 Canal St. 504-304-4714), which will host the Festival on Wednesday, January 15 and Thursday, January 16 (7:00pm-10:30pm each night);  and The Howlin’ Wolf (907 S Peters St. 504-529-5844), which will host afternoon and evening shows on Friday, January 17 and Saturday, January 18 (2:00 pm-11:00 pm each evening). 

The New Orleans Cigar Box Guitar Festival, founded in 2016, has gained a reputation for outstanding entertainment during its first four years in existence. For 2020, Samantha Fish and the NOCBGF have partnered to expand the growth and outreach of the festival and the Cigar Box guitar.

“I have included the Cigar Box guitar on a song or two on most of my albums (including my last single ‘Bullet Proof,’ says Samantha Fish. “The instrument may look limited but there are so many sounds and styles that we haven’t discovered yet. I am looking forward to making this one of the biggest events honoring the instrument as well as other acoustic instruments that can Rock.”

“The partnership of Samantha Fish and the New Orleans Cigar Box Guitar Festival is a marriage made in roots music heaven,” says Festival Producer, Collins Kirby.  “She’s a contemporary artist who’s fully in touch with the traditions that inform today’s music.  We’re delighted to work with her spreading the word about the art and music of handmade instruments.”

The focus of the event is to celebrate the great music and rich cultural history of the Cigar Box guitar and similar homemade instruments. Historically, Western pioneers, Civil War soldiers, rural farmhands, street singers and other resourceful musicians found ways to build these expressive devices from household items and random hardware.  Many musicians throughout the world are currently using them to record and perform live, making the unique instruments and their sound a staple of today’s Americana music scene.

The festival is excited to present top homemade instrument performers April Mae & the June Bugs, Sugarcane Jane, John Nickel, Cigar Box Serenaders, Steve Arvey, Cash O’Riley, and others. Workshops, demonstrations and interviews will comprise the educational component of the event.

In addition, the Festival will host special sets which will include the legendary John Mooney, New Orleans icon Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and the Golden Eagles, Jonathon Long, Waylon Thibodeaux, Johnny Sansone, Damon Fowler, Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers), and more. On Friday and Saturday, Samantha Fish and guests will be performing, closing both nights at The Howlin’ Wolf with a special concert.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the New Orleans Blues Society.  Details and ticket opportunities are available at www.SamanthaFishCigarBoxGuitarFestival.com.

The Waterfront, Norwich – 22nd November 2019

Laurence Jones kicked off his UK tour in fine form after having been on the road in Europe for several weeks.

His band now consisting of Bennett Holland on keys & Hammond and backing singer Abbie Adigan as well as Phil Wilson (drums) and new member Jack Alexander Timmis on bass.

The depth and flavour this broader line up brings is evident from the off, Stay sounding rich and multi-layered and Laurence clearly relishing leading this talented bunch through a scorching set of new and older material that shows how far this gifted performer has come since he started making waves as a young teen.

Laurence Jones by Laurence Harvey

By the time we hit Mistreated, the third song in, the band and Laurence are well and truly hitting their stride, Bennett on Hammond perfectly complementing the biting guitar tones.

Having the courage to follow that with Quite Like You, the wonderful ballad dedicated to Laurence’s Mum highlights the self- belief and maturity he now possesses.

Long Long Lonely Ride is up next with Laurence showing his acoustic prowess before Bennett and Abbie step aside allowing Lenny to be performed as a Blues Rock power trio, a format Laurence has long excelled in.

By Laurence Harvey

Bennett takes centre stage and vocals next with an outstanding cover of fellow Sheffield son Joe Cockers Feeling Alright, all swirling Hammond and gritty vocals. LJ returns and we’re into Take Me, one of the outstanding tracks from 2017s The Truth album.

The band are now steadily cranking up the pace and energy levels. What Would You Do moving seamlessly into the Hendrix version of All Along The Watchtower, simmering with hot riffs.

Thunder In The Sky is up next, Laurence giving a nod to his early beginnings with a track that is met with knowing smiles and a roar of approval from the audience. Then we’re treated to the Clapton version of the Bo Diddley song Before You Accuse Me, and what a stunning version they pull out of the bag, reaching such a crescendo that I assumed this was the show closer, but no, there was still Everything’s Gonna Be Alright from the current album to rock the rafters.

By Laurence Harvey

Even after that, there is more, the band returning for a thoroughly deserved encore and all having obvious fun playing Live It Up from the Take Me High album, everyone enjoying the opportunity to take a solo spot with Abbie, in particular, taking the audience’s breath away.

Anyone who might have thought that Laurence’s move to more song orientated writing on his most recent albums meant a dilution of his electrifying guitar showmanship need have no fears, this Laurence Jones Band delivers in spades,

Gig Review by Steve Yourglivch

Photos by Laurence J Harvey

The post Gig Review LAURENCE JONES BAND appeared first on Blues Matters Magazine.

Alternative blues rock duo The Blues Stones have released a music video for their new single, “Shakin’ Off The Rust.”

“We wanted to do something a little different this time around. We think it’s funny that someday — maybe sooner than we think — we won’t have to tour, but can do shows from wherever we want. The video gets a little crazy at times, but we had fun doing it,” the band said about the video.

As part of London jazz festival, Rhiannon Giddens performed in the chapel at Wormwood Scrubs prison – supported by a choir of inmates

Fifty years after Johnny Cash gave the most famous prison concerts of all time at Folsom and San Quentin, the British penal system finally has an equivalent.

On Thursday night, the Grammy-winning African American folk singer Rhiannon Giddens delivered an intense and emotionally charged concert at HMP Wormwood Scrubs before an audience of both inmates and members of the general public who had bought tickets as part of the London jazz festival.

Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi are at the Royal Festival Hall, London, on 22 November. Then touring until 1 December.

Continue reading...

Recently signed to Mascot Label Group imprint, Provogue Records, Blues Rock guitarist Albert Cummings will release a new album, Believe, on Feb. 14, 2020. Featuring a flavorful mix of blues, country, and rock n’ roll, the 11-track album is now available for pre-order (here) with “Hold On,” Cummings’ rendition of the 1966 soul classic by Sam & Dave, being made available instantly.

Recorded at the iconic FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., Cummings takes this release to new heights with the help of GRAMMY Award-winning producer, Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana). Together, they drew inspiration from the rich recording legacy of Muscle Shoals and created a timeless album full of rhythm, funk and soul. “You can hear the difference between this album and my others, and that is the Muscle Shoals difference,” Cummings says of the new project, “If I had recorded those same songs anywhere else, then Believe would have sounded like a completely different album.”

With a career of recording music that spans nearly 20 years, Cummings has built a reputation through his live performance, bringing the audience on a musical roller coaster. He enchantingly brings his guitar alive in ways that have honored him and earned him praise from the King of Blues himself, B.B. King, while others have drawn comparisons to legends like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix.

With Believe, Cummings has created a crossbred of genres through the use of powerful backup singers, steady grooves, a dynamic brass section, and Cummings’ mesmerizing guitar riffs.

Believe commands attention right out of the gate with tenacious horns roaring on “Hold On.” Cummings sets the tone for the rest of the album by adding his spin on the classic with a captivating guitar solo that fades out, keeping the audience hanging on for more.

The forward-thinking tune, “Going My Way,” reflects on the good that comes to those who work hard, saying “They say you get what you give, well it’s time for me to receive.” Although, it is not officially the title track, the song closely follows the theme of the album title, saying “You can have anything you want, all you need to do is believe.”

The masterful guitarist brings the electrifying energy he is known for to the forefront of Believe with tracks like “Do What Mama Says” and the Freddie King cover, “Me and My Guitar,” while also suggesting a softer tone as he portrays Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love.”

Cummings’ originals highlight where he gets his inspiration from with songs like “Red Rooster” pulling straight from Blues 101, interchanging guitar talking with simple lyrics, while “It’s All Good” and “Get Out Of Here” follow a traditional Country music storytelling format. “Call Me Crazy” features his lyricism and ability to play on words.

Cummings has been praised by the media for his ability to pull inspiration from past greats while, “Stylistically, compositionally, lyrically, and vocally [being] very much a distinct entity.” – Phantom Tollbooth

Believe will climb on top of the building blocks Cummings has already built as a promising master guitarist, creating a firm foundation for himself as a guitar legend in the making.

Cummings reminisces about his time in recording at the world-famous FAME Studios:  “On the third day of recording, I started listening in on a tour the owners were giving and they were talking about Aretha Franklin recording ‘Never Loved a Man.’ As they described this, Clayton Ivy [FAME Studio keyboardist] played the infamous lick on the same Wurlitzer piano that was used in Aretha’s session. So many greats have been in the studio where we cut this album. I was playing my guitar, looking at a picture on the wall of Duane Allman standing in the same spot I was. It was at that moment that I realized where I was and what an incredible experience I was having.”

It wasn’t until he was 27 that Cummings publicly played with a band for the first time. Living in Massachusetts, he and his band, Swamp Yankee, got heavily involved with the Northeast Blues Society and started gaining notoriety. Cummings’ skill and intensity garnered attention from Double Trouble members Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon, who were so impressed with this relative newcomer that they produced and performed on his first solo record, From the Heart (2001).

After signing a multi-record deal with Blind Pig Records, Tommy Shannon would go on to work with Cummings on his 2004 inaugural release for the label, True To Yourself. Cummings recorded three more stellar albums on the Blind Pig Records label, Working Man (2006), Feel So Good: Albert Cummings Live (2008), and Someone Like You (2015). In 2012, he also self-released the country-rock-blues flavored winner, No Regrets, incorporating multiple musical categories, and highlighting his unique versatility.

Following the success of his first live record, a second was self-released in 2017, Live At The ’62 Center. It was recorded in his hometown of Willamstown, Mass., and it’s incredible reception garnered Cummings a Blues Music Award nomination for Blues Rock Album.

TRACK LISTING
1. Hold On
2. Do What Mama Says
3. Red Rooster
4. Queen Of Mean
5. Crazy Love
6. Get Out Of Here
7. My Babe
8. It’s All Good
9. Going My Way
10. Call Me Crazy
11. Me And My Guitar

Marcus King has released “Say You Will” from his upcoming Dan Auerbach produced solo album, El Dorado. The album will be released on January 17.

TOUR DATES

NOV 22 FRI – Minneapolis, MN – Varsity Theater

NOV 23 SAT – Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre

NOV 24 SUN – Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre

DEC 3 TUE – Macon, GA – Macon City Auditorium – Marcus King Solo, 

DEC 5 THU – Knoxville, TN – Bijou Theatre

DEC 6 FRI – Durham, NC – Carolina Theater

DEC 7 SAT – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Smalls Theatre

DEC 8 SUN – Washington DC – 9:30 Club

DEC 10 TUE – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts

DEC 12 THU – Detroit, MI – St. Andrew’s Hall

DEC 13 FRI – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall

DEC 14 SAT – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall

DEC 15 SUN – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall

DEC 17 TUE – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues

DEC 18 WED – Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall

DEC 19 THU – Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom

DEC 20 FRI – Northampton, MA – Calvin Theatre & Perf Arts Center

DEC 21 SAT – New York, NY – Beacon Theatre

DEC 28 SAT – Macon, GA – Macon City Auditorium

DEC 29 SUN – Augusta, GA – Miller Theater

DEC 30 MON – Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre

DEC 31 TUE – Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre

JAN 7-12 – Jam Cruise 2020 – Marcus King solo, Miami, FL, United States

JAN 24 – Panic En La Playa Nueve, Puerto Alvaro Obregon, Mexico

JAN 26 SUN – Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theatre

JAN 27 MON – Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up

JAN 28 TUE – San Diego, CA – Music Box

JAN 30 THR – Las Vegas, NV – Brooklyn Bowl – Las Vegas

JAN 31 FRI – Los Angeles, CA – The Fonda Theatre

FEB 1 SAT – Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst

FEB 4 TUE – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore

FEB 6 THR – Sacramento, CA – Ace Of Spades

FEB 7 FRI – Eugene, OR – McDonald Theatre

FEB 8 SAT – Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom

FEB 9 SUN – Vancouver, BC, Canada – The Commodore Ballroom

FEB 11 TUE – Seattle, WA – Neptune Theatre

FEB 13 THR – Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot

FEB 14 FRI – Boulder, CO – Boulder Theater

FEB 15 SAT – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre

FEB 21 FRI – Leeds, UK – The Wardrobe

FEB 22 SAT – Glasgow, UK – Oran More

FEB 23 SUN – Dublin, IE – Whelans

FEB 25 TUE – London, UK – Electric Ballroom

FEB 26 WED – Manchester, UK – Academy 3

FEB 27 THR – Nottingham, UK – Rescue Rooms

FEB 28 FRI – Bristol, UK – Thekla

MAR 1 SUN – Paris, FR – L’Alhambra

MAR 2 MON – Brussels, BE – Ancienne Belgique

MAR 3 TUE – Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso 

MAR 4 WED – Enschede, NL – Metropool Enschede

MAR 5 THR – Cologne, DE – Kantine

MAR 7 SAT – Berlin, DE – Heimathafen Neukölln

MAR 8 SUN – Hamburg, DE – Mojo Club

MAR 9 MON – Copenhagen, DK – Vega Jr.

 

APR 10-12 – Byron Bay Bluesfest – Tyagarah, Australia

APR 13 MON – Metro Theatre – Sydney, NSW, Australia

APR 15 WED – Croxton Park Hotel – Melbourne, VIC, Australia

APR 16 THR – Powerstation – Auckland, New Zealand