In honor of the holiday season, Jerry Garcia Music Arts has released a mastered live recording of the soul classic “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”, performed by the Jerry Garcia Band. The music is offered as a holiday gift to the community this Christmas in the form of 10,000 free steams available on multiple digital platforms. The Aug. 10, 1991, live recording was mastered by Joe Gastwirt, a highly acclaimed audio engineer, who Garcia referred to as a “whiz kid” in a 1987 WNEW Radio interview. Joe’s discography includes the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Yes, and Crosby, Stills Nash and Young.

The song “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” written in 1964 by preacher and singer Solomon Burke, songwriter and record producer Bert Berns and music journalist Jerry Wexler, is about the virtues and gifts of love. It has recently gained popularity as the song in a 2019 Amazon holiday commercial and was featured on the soundtrack for the 1980 musical comedy film The Blues Brothers. Earlier this year, the song was released by Round Records on CD and vinyl as part of the Jerry Garcia Band Live Electric on the Eel album.

“We’re honored to help present a gift of my father’s music this holiday season,” said Keelin Garcia, daughter of Garcia and the president/founder of Jerry Garcia Music Arts. “His music lives on for all to enjoy and celebrate.”

In addition, a fine art element of this project features a limited-edition release of a Jerry Garcia pen and ink drawing titled “Merry Christmas.” This whimsical piece, a cheerful drawing of jolly Saint Nick and a reindeer, is water-colored by Keelin.

The piece will be available to the public online through early January at the Terrapin Gallery.

The visual art component of the project will benefit Vanessa and Jorma Kaukonen’s Psylodelic Gallery. The Psylodelic Gallery is housed in a revitalized grain silo and is located at the Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch in Pomeroy, Ohio. The Gallery celebrates the music, art, culture and literature of the 1960s, while tracing important events and movements of the psychedelic era. The gallery houses Jorma’s personal collections of artifacts, photographs and posters from his long career as a musician from Jefferson Airplane to Hot Tuna.

A permanent collection of Jerry Garcia’s fine art is featured at the Psylodelic Gallery.

Jerry Garcia Music Arts

The Recording Academy has announced its 2020 Special Merit Awards recipients, and it’s one legendary list. Lifetime Achievement Award honorees this year are Chicago, Roberta Flack, Isaac Hayes, Iggy Pop, John Prine, Public Enemy and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Ken Ehrlich, Philip Glass and Frank Walker will receive Trustees Award honors, and George Augspurger is being recognized with the Technical GRAMMY Award recipient. A special award presentation ceremony and concert celebrating the honorees will be held on April 18, 2020, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

“Our industry is one that prides itself on influence and paying it forward, and each year the Recording Academy has the privilege of honoring a select group of visionaries whose creative contributions have rippled throughout our culture,” said Deborah Dugan, President/CEO of the Recording Academy. “Our Special Merit Awards recipients have molded their musical passion into pieces of history that will continue to influence and inspire generations of music creators and music lovers to come.”

Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s combination of gospel and blues, and her renowned technique on electric guitar, has influenced countless musicians, from Little Richard to Bob Dylan. The Godmother of Rock and Roll’s 1945 hit, “Strange Things Happening Every Day,” has been credited as the first gospel song to cross over to the R&B charts, becoming an early model for rock and roll.

John Prine’s witty approach to storytelling has made him one of the most revered country & folk singer/songwriters since his emergence in the ’70s. He has garnered two GRAMMYs and his classic eponymous debut album was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame.

A soul music pioneer, Isaac Hayes was an in-house songwriter/producer at the legendary Stax Records, where he wrote such hits as “Soul Man” and “B-A-B-Y.” He also had a successful solo career, releasing the GRAMMY-winning “Theme From Shaft” in 1971.

Frank Walker began his career as an A&R scout for Columbia Records and went on to discover artists such as country great Hank Williams and blues legends Bessie Smith and Blind Willie Johnson. After wearing many hats at Columbia, he became the label chief for MGM Records in the mid-40s, where he introduced the soundtrack album concept and helped establish the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates performers who have made outstanding contributions of artistic significance to the field of recording, while the Trustees Award honors such contributions in areas other than performance. The Recording Academy’s National Board of Trustees determines the honorees of both awards. Technical GRAMMY Award recipients are voted on by the Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing Advisory Council and Chapter Committees, and are ratified by the Academy’s Trustees. The award is presented to individuals and companies who have made contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording industry.

Recording Academy

The Allman Betts Band will release its second album in June of 2020. The band released its debut album, Down To The River, this past summer, which was voted to Blues Rock Review’s Top 20 Albums of 2019.

The band has been working on the album at Muscle Shoals where it recorded the first album. Devon Allman announced on Instagram that the band has cut 13 tracks for the new album.

Editor’s Note: This article by Aarik Danielsen originally ran in the Columbia Daily Tribune.

As part of its effort to be an industry leader in gender equity, the Roots N Blues Festival announced two of its 2020 headliners Friday morning.

Brandi Carlile and Mavis Staples will be among the fest’s marquee names when it returns to Stephens Lake Park in Columbia, Missouri Oct. 2-4. The festival’s own name will undergo a slight change this year, as organizers have shortened the moniker from Roots N Blues N BBQ to just Roots N Blues.

Carlile, who the fest referred to as its most-requested artist, returns to Roots N Blues after performing in 2015. The 38-year-old Washington native won three Grammys earlier this year for her album By the Way, I Forgive You and co-founded the highly successful all-female Americana group The Highwomen, which includes 2019 Roots N Blues performers Maren Morris and Amanda Shires.

Staples, a legend in every sense of the term, is also a Roots N Blues veteran. A member of the iconic Staples family, she is both a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Blues Hall of Fame inductee and has shaped the landscape of gospel, rock and soul. She is on something of a hot streak, having released five superlative records this decade, with production by younger artists such as Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Ben Harper.

As part of its lineup reveal, the fest announced an initiative to level the playing field for festival performers. Every slot at this year’s Roots N Blues will in some way feature a woman, the fest said. This could equate to a female solo artist like Carlile or Staples, a female-led band or a male-led band which prominently features a woman.

Male artists represented 70 percent of performers at major American music festivals in 2018, the fest noted in a press release. A Tribune analysis of the 2018 Roots N Blues lineup revealed a 67 percent male, 20 percent female and 13 percent mixed-gender distribution. Roots N Blues’ initiative is a step toward achieving equity while focusing on artistry.

“While we have set a 100 percent benchmark for 2020, we are not changing our format to become a women-only festival in subsequent years,” fest co-owner Shay Jasper said in a news release. “However, we have pledged a long-term commitment to more equitable gender representation in all future years of this festival.”

Fest co-owner Tracy Lane cited how personal “challenges” she has faced as a woman during her decades of experience in entertainment affected the decision.

“As a business owner, I now have an opportunity to make a significant impact, to change the culture of the industry,” she said in the news release.

In a smaller way, the fest’s name change is also a move toward appropriate representation. Co-owner Jamie Varvaro noted that the festival’s once-signature barbecue offerings will remain, but that organizers “want our name to represent all of our food offerings, just as all of the genres of music we present.”

Roots N Blues plans to announce its full lineup in March.

Roots N Blues Festival

Shortly after ringing in the New Year, troubadour Nicholas Tremulis, prodigal son of a jazz pianist and blues vocalist, will be blowing out Chicago City Winery candles in celebration of his 60-year birthday (not to mention three decades in show business!) and the release of Rarified World. 

Long-term fans will be also be pleased to know that special cuts from Island Record’s chestnut, More Than the Truth (one of eight studio albums Tremulis recorded with Chris Blackwell’s reggae-plus-more label), will balance out the explosive set list. 

To help him rejoice, of course, will be the Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra’s Derek Brand, Rick Barnes, Larry Beers, and John Pirruccello as well as Prodigal 9 players: Renee Robinson, veteran NTO musician, Roger Reupert, Jose Rendon, Isiah Oby and James Perkins — with whom he’ll be recording a brand new album in the coming year. 

But on the evening of January 9, imagine sipping wine and enjoying great sight lines, while enjoying a host of players that have shared the stage with the likes of Albert Collins, Aretha Franklin and Ringo Starr. That said, Tremulis alone boasts performing/recording gigs with super stars: Marianne Faithful, New York Doll, David Johansen, “Be My Baby” Ronnie Spector as well as blues stalwart Hubert Sumlin and Windy City-based Wilco.  

Anyone who has witnessed Tremulis pack a local venue, can testify how his raw magnetism attracts and inspires fellow musicians. To that end, his thrilling side work with Candy Golde, The Fauntleroys (with Alejandro Escovedo) and the Chi-Town Social Club (including Rolling Stones bassist Darryl Jones, Vince Wiburn Jr. (Miles Davis) and Shawn Christopher (Chaka Khan) requires no further exposition. 

Tipping his producer hat, Tremulis stepped into the studio to curate local folk group Bittersweet Drive. In addition, he served up some mean guitar on Bobby Whitlock’s current project. But his skillsets don’t begin and end with those projects. After Tremulis scored a documentary on architect Carlo Bontempi, he waltzed away with a coveted Emmy. And his reign as radio host for half a decade on WXRT’s The Eclectic Company secured a whole, new audience. 

But as far as the upcoming City Winery concert, be prepared not only to rock, but to acquire truth from this native son’s astute observations. Wielding unparalleled street cred, defiant prose, and traffic-stopping vocals, Nicholas Tremulis is arguably one of the most transparent storytellers of his era. And with his all-star band that story can only grow richer.   

City Winery Ticket Info

 

The Basement is not easy to find. Walking from my car up a dark, residential side street and back down the alley to the gravel lot, there are often patrons confusedly searching for the graffiti and sticker-laden porch entrance. The heavy drone of the cozy, underground, kind-of-dank venue eventually attracts the stragglers.

Tonight, the Basement is teaming with industry professionals, just descended from the party upstairs at the Madison House agency. There are also die-hard attendees of New Faces Night, lucky to be here for a free performance by the Taylor Scott Band. They have just signed to Madison House, and the small Nashville office is rallying behind them.

Scott fronts the band with a subdued gusto. Nothing flashy, but that man can play. They start with three songs off “All We Have,” their summer release. Scott’s soulful voice and strong jazz stylings of the driving bass of Patrick McDevitt and drums of Larry Thompson; Scott’s longtime organist, John Wirtz, plays voluminous riffs. Scott stops the performance and chats with the intimate crowd, “Here’s one off the new album,” it’s called “Leaning Tree.” Applause floods the cinder block-walled basement as they finish the show with another three off “All We Have.”

Speaking with Scott after the performance, I learn that his next project is still a long ways off, but signing to Madison House has transformed his writing process. “It used to be all on me,” he says, “I was hustling every day: writing, practicing, booking gigs.”

Having an agency has allowed him to focus on the art of storytelling and introspection. When asked if listeners will hear similar themes as “All We Have,” Scott says, “I will definitely still make comments on our societal quirks, but I’m learning how to open up.”

“Stress limits my artistic time,” says Scott. “Having the Nashville team behind us allows more time to become better writers, singers, and players. Madison House is a perfect match.”

Taylor Scott

Any project from Scott and his band, however, will feature some of the same: The music will bend definitions of genre, and it will be played very well. “My guys all have deep wells of influence,” Scott says, and having worked with some of them since he was a teenager. Their styles mingle, creating a unique “brand of Americana.”

When Scott first started performing in his mid-teens it was all about the Blues: Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Eric Clapton. He soon realized that the stories they were telling weren’t his own, and he began to form his own style, though never letting go of the powerful emotion of the Blues. His performances and recordings flow through Blues, Jazz, Country, Folk, and Rock, but always center around the soul of Scott’s guitar.

This particular night in Nashville, the heart of Country music, the Colorado Natives’ Southern roots show – Scott’s vocals seem to have an extra twang. “It is important to really perform in Nashville,” he says. “People here really care about the music they are seeing.” Not only do they care about the quality of music, but how well the songs are written. “It’s not like playing Cerventes or Be on Key in Denver.” He laughs. “The focus out there is on the jam. Here, you need the whole package.” But he doesn’t favor one over the other. The bottom line for Scott is sharing his music, no matter where or how.

After impressing the local crowd at the Basement, Scott spent a few days in meetings before playing again at Nashville’s legendary 3rd & Lindsley. There, he did a set and sat down for an interview with WMOT, Roots Radio’s Whit Hubbard. The band left early the next day to continue their United States tour to their native Denver, through the first blizzard of the season.

Spencer Rubin

Tom Marker‘s Blues credentials have been well established in Chicago throughout his 35-year career hosting the popular “Blues Breakers” program on WXRT. Marker has been a presence on the air in Chicago since the mid-70s on stations including WJKL-FM (“The Fox”) and WLUP-FM (“The Loop”) as well as WXRT. Marker is also well known to Chicago Blues fans as the primary emcee at the Chicago Blues Festival.

Tom Marker at a tribute to Otis Rush. Photo: Franky Bruneel

With “Blues Time with Tom Marker” on WDCB, Marker and his fans delve into the best of the Blues – past, present and future – deeper than ever before. Each week’s show, airing from 7pm to 9pm, kicks off WDCB’s 10 hour all night Saturday Blues extravaganza, running until Sunday morning at 5am.

In 1999, Marker was presented with “Keeping the Blues Alive” award by The Blues Foundation in Memphis Tennessee.

Brant Buckley:

What does Chicago Blues mean to you?

Tom Marker:

It doesn’t mean quite as much as my wife, kids and granddaughters, but music means a lot to me and the Blues is my favorite music. I’ve been involved in the Blues for so long that it is a big part of my identity, both public and private. I love the Blues scene in Chicago where so many of my friends are working artists, club owners, employees, record label people, producers, and agents. It really is a great community.

Can you talk about the preparation that goes into your Blues shows?

I almost always start by putting down the names of artists who have new releases that I think should be played that week, artists who have engagements in Chicago in the coming week that should be mentioned, and artists with birthdays coming up. I then plug in the songs and albums, write some notes, and fill in the rest of the time with songs and artists that haven’t been played in a while or songs that come to my mind.

I would like to think that my radio programs are completely unique as far as Blues radio programs go. It’s unlike any other Blues program in any other city. The shows that I do are really for the Chicago Blues community: the fans, the performers and the scene in general. While the programs are first and foremost for entertainment, I’m always aware of my responsibility to support the scene with my programs. I like to think that I help the artists become better known. I want the audience to know when an artist, especially a local artist, has a new album or a special appearance. I want to encourage listeners to support the Blues by allowing them to know who is doing what and where by sharing my enthusiasm for many local events. I want my programs to reflect what’s happening here in Chicago right now.

I have an intro that I use for my WDCB program where I explain the basic theory of what I am doing. I tell the audience I play Blues from near and far, but mostly from right here. I play Blues that is old and new but a lot from right now. When I first started doing Blues radio shows, I was inspired by “Living Blues” Magazine and the “Living Chicago Blues” series of albums that came out on Alligator Records in 1978. Those two things helped me to see the Blues not as historical music but music of the present. It’s not music from some other place but music from Chicago. Back in the early days, field workers were singing songs that related to their conditions and the Blues has carried that tradition forward to the present. There is plenty of social commentary in Blues today that doesn’t take the view of the landowners and bosses. The Blues is about present life and that’s reflected in my programs. The Blues I play is something you can use right now. You can go out and see it, purchase recordings, and listen to it as it will relate to your life right now. Chicago Blues is a current living thing that’s different from any other place in the world. A Blues program from Chicago is by definition a different animal; closely connected to its place and time.

How has radio changed since you started?

I started a long time ago and there have been a lot of changes. I first started in the Chicago market in 1975. First, a lot of people think that radio leads people’s tastes, that songs are popular because they are on the radio. From my vantage point, it is really just the opposite, especially in the present. The commercial radio stations these days mostly follow the listener’s tastes. They play what they already know the listeners will like. It’s different than the past. For example, when I went into radio in the seventies there was this huge expansion of radio channels in America because of the new popularity and availability of FM radio. There were suddenly three to four times as many radio stations in each city that people were listening to. Some of these stations really helped widen the scope of what listeners could expect from radio. Listeners at some of these stations were really open to hearing new things; listening to something the DJ had just discovered and wanted to share. Young people were given a chance to program stations for their peers and radio stations. In some cases the stations were being run by people who were involved not because they were radio people but because they were music people. That was when stations like WXRT first appeared. In the early days of my work at WJKL in Elgin, and WXRT, we would sometimes play Ella FitzGerald, the Marshall Tucker Band, and the Ramones in the same hour. The Blues fit right in. Some of what we were playing in those days is now referred to as Classic Rock. A lot of it didn’t sound much different than the Blues. Bands like the Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers Band, and Led Zeppelin were just a small step from the Blues. Plus, WXRT always had a strong sense of place so being in Chicago made sense to play Blues.

Radio listeners have changed over the years compared to forty years ago and that’s part of why radio has changed. People listening to the radio now are the grandchildren of listeners in the seventies. They have different tastes and they want different things. The kind of music they listen to is different and it’s not nearly as closely related to Blues. Commercial radio stations in this century are generally owned by large broadcast companies. The stations that used to be programmed by radio people and music people are generally operated by business grads and the music is picked by researchers. Listener supported public radio stations are programmed entirely differently. It’s very interesting for me to have a foot in both worlds. Whether commercial or listener supported, radio is not as big a part of youth culture that it was when my career was beginning or the teenage culture of the late fifties and sixties.

Do you think there’s hope for a Blues crossover song to make the Billboard Hot 100?

I can’t say no because anything can happen. Every once in a while there is someone that just breaks out and is really popular. Blues is not what the popular music stations are currently looking for, but it could happen. I can’t really predict that it will, but I wouldn’t give up hope. The radio stations are really following the people’s choices. If somebody was really popular it could happen.

Do you have a favorite Chicago Blues club?

No. If I decide to go out and see live Blues in Chicago I usually choose a show based on who is performing. Certain artists are at career points where they have a good draw and are guaranteed to play larger rooms. I love to see Blues at S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston and City Winery in the West Loop. Buddy Guy’s Legends is of the size that they can draw some of the larger acts and they are a real Blues club. Rosa’s Lounge is a favorite of mine and I believe in their slogan: Chicago’s Friendliest Blues Lounge. B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted is tiny and wonderful. Kingston Mines, also on N. Halsted, draws a younger crowd that likes to dance and they are open super late. The Odyssey East on S. Torrance at 99th St. is friendly and inviting and presents some good Blues. I love the tiny Taylor Street Tap with its very friendly neighborhood vibe and small bands in a very intimate setting. There are a number of other venues that sometimes book Blues and my favorite of these is FitzGerald’s Nightclub on Roosevelt Road in Berwyn. That’s where we present our WDCB Bluesday Tuesday shows with live broadcasts on the first Tuesday of each month. Being a weeknight we are able to offer “weekend” level bands a low cover charge and people love that the bands begin so early, 7pm.

How long have you been an emcee at The Chicago Blues Festival?

I began to M.C. acts at Blues Fest in the eighties. WXRT has been a long time sponsor of the fest so at the beginning I was “assigned” to intro some bands. I think it was decided at some point by the fest producers that it would be easiest to just have me M.C. all of the evenings and I was good with that. Over the years, I have become more involved with the fest and I continue to be the M.C. for the Pritzker Pavilion stage each night. I’m commonly seen as M.C. for the “Buddy Shows” at Buddy Guy’s Legends every January. I think I had so much fun doing that that it made other people want to do it too. So the fun is now shared, but I still intro Buddy for at least a couple of those shows. I’m also called on to M.C. other festivals, benefits, and shows around town.

What else do you want to accomplish?

My career is starting to wind down. I am looking to work less in the future, not more. I am really happy with the way things are going now. I would like to point out that I worked full time for 33 1/3 years at WXRT. Now at WXRT, I only do what I like best, my Sunday night Blues Breakers show. I love being the host of “Blues Time with Tom Marker” every Saturday evening on WDCB. They are very supportive of the Blues there. The hosting and producing of the monthly WDCB Bluesday Tuesday shows and broadcast is also a great gig and is a lot of fun. That’s three jobs. Plus, there are various other shows and committees I find myself involved in so that’s enough.

Tom Marker on WXRT

Blues Time on WDCB

*Feature image Janet Mami Takayama