Born in Massachusetts, Albert Cummings has been putting his stamp on the blues scene for over a decade. On Valentine’s Day, Cummings released his newest offering, Believe, via Provogue Records.

Albert’s gritty guitar sound has always been amazing. And on Believe, it will blow you away. If you’re any kind of blues fan, this album is for you.

Believe hooks you right away, with Cummings’ cover of Sam & Dave’s Stax classic, “Hold On.” Albert’s soulful vocals and guitar intermix with some killer B3 and horns to keep that vintage vibe relevant nearly six decades later.

Albert accomplished the same thing with “Red Rooster,” taking the Willie Dixon standard and turning it into an electric slow-drag — and again by tipping his hat to Van the Man, with a powerful rendition of “Crazy Love.” Even “My Babe” gets a funk-slathered update that’s good enough to pour over biscuits.

Believe was recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and produced by GRAMMY winner Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana). “You can hear the difference between this album and my others, and that is the Muscle Shoals difference,” Cummings says. “If I had recorded those same songs anywhere else, then Believe would have sounded like a completely different album.”

It’s no secret that Stevie Ray has been Cummings’ biggest influence, and you can hear that impact throughout the album while Albert hops genres. Even though he is from “The Pilgrim State,” Albert’s feel for the blues is real, and his playing can stand against anyone’s from Texas to Chicago to Memphis.

Bravo, Mr. Cummings. Believe is a must-have.

Artist: Albert Cummings

Title: Believe

Label: Provogue Records

Release Date: February 14, 2020

Running Time: 43:19

Albert Cummings

The dynamic duo of Dan Auerbach (guitar, lead vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums),
friends since they were kids and better known as The Black Keys, brought their bluesy/rock sound to the Talking Stick Resort Arena in the Valley of the Sun on November 16th.

Patrick Carney of The Black Keys performs on Nov. 16, 2019, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Rick Scuteri)

The Keys were all business, song after song they got after it. On tour showing off their new album, Lets Rock, the boys had the arena rockin’ right from the start.

Leading off with an instrumental piece named “I Got Mine” they set the mood for a great night of jam! A near sell out crowd seemed mesmerized at times between the guitar solos and the drums that have made this band a must see as far as live acts go.

Introducing a half a dozen tunes from the new album and playing over a dozen more from their library had most wanting more. Auerbach and Carney seem to have a chemistry that most musicians dream of. That chemistry mixed with a tight back up band and a kick ass light show made this night worth every penny.

You can check out the Keys on tour with Modest Mouse, hopefully you haven’t missed this one.

Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys performs on Nov. 16, 2019, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Rick Scuteri)

Setlist:
I Got Mine
Eagle Birds
Tell Me Lies
Gold on the Ceiling
Fever
Next Girl
Fire Walk with Me
Walk Across the Water
Everlasting
Howlin For You
10am Automatic
Your Touch
Strange Times
Tighten Up
Thickfreakness
10 Cent Pistol
Little Black Submarines
Lonely Boy
Encore:
LoHi
Go
Shes Long Gone

The Black Keys

I remember my grandparents always playing some sorta holiday cheer. Whether it was Frank Sinatra or Nate King Cole, we always had some good Christmas music on during the holidays. If we were decorating the tree, baking cookies, cooking dinner, or just spending time with loved ones there was always something good to listen to.

By the time Christmas hits Im usually burned out and sick of the radio playing the traditional holiday stuff. But this year Kevin Moore, AKA Keb’ Mo’, 4-time Grammy Winner, has released a new Christmas album on October 18, 2019 via Concord Records. Moonlight, Mistletoe & You was produced by Moore himself, it’s a keeper.

Keb’ Mo’ just has that gifted voice, mixed with his jazzy/blues style makes this a must
have. Singing about peace and love, this album gets stronger as it goes, ending with a great tune “One More Year With You.” this one will surely set the mood with your loved one. You can’t miss with any of these tracks, “Moonlight, Mistletoe, And You” to “Santa Claus Blues.” There is something for everyone.

This is not just another boring Christmas album, this is one you can play over and over again. Pour yourself a glass a wine and relax, you will not be disappointed. I tip my hat to you on this one Mr. Moore, well done. I am definitely adding this to my collection.

Artist: Keb’ Mo’

Title: Moonlight, Mistletoe & You

Label: Concord Records

Release Date: October 18, 2019

Running Time: 35:24

Track List:

1. Please Come Home for Christmas
2. Moonlight, Mistletoe, And You
3. Better Everyday
4. Santa Claus Santa Claus
5. Christmas is Annoying
6. Merry Merry Christmas
7. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
8. Santa Claus Blues
9. When the Children Sing
10. One More Year With You

Keb’ Mo’

*Feature image © Rick Scuteri

Phil Collins walked to the stage with a cane, explaining back surgery makes it hard for him to get around. As he sat down in a chair, “That’s not going to stop us from having some fun,” he said before singing the ballad “Against All Odds” which brought the sold-out Talking Stick Arena crowd to their feet.

Phil Collins Band at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ

Collins and his band continued playing hit after hit until he took a break and let his son Nicolas and percussionist Richie Garcia go off on the drums. Collins would later join them as this drum trio brought the fans to their feet again, making it the start of a night to remember.

The show continued with “You Know What I Mean,” one that Collins said, “son Nicolas asked if he would teach him.” And the two performed this to perfection. Just another highlight of the evening. “In the Air Tonight” was next with 18,000 fans playing air drums. You just couldn’t help yourself.

The hits kept coming with “Invisible Touch,” showcasing amazing backup singers and “Easy Lover,” finishing with a confetti-throwing “Sussudio” that had the fans rockin’ away. The encore, “Take Me Home” was the best way to end this legendary night. Cane or no cane, with Phil in a chair, this is a must see. The 68-year-old former Genesis front man sounded better than ever, strong vocals that rocked the night away. I would go back and see this one again if I could.

Nicolas Collins
Phil & Nicholas Collins

Phil Collins performs on Oct. 15, 2019, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Rick Scuteri)

Setlist:
Against All Odds
Another Day in Paradise
Hang in Long Enough
Dont Lose My Number
Throwing it All Away
Follow You Follow Me
I Missed Again
Who Said I Would
Separate Lives

Drum Trio

Something Happened on the Way to Heaven
You Know What I Mean
In the Air Tonight
You Cant Hurry Love
Dance Into the Light
Invisible Touch
Easy Lover
Sussudio
Encore:
Take Me Home

Phil Collins

*All images © Rick Scuteri

The Chandler Center For the Arts, a very intimate setting with great acoustics and not a bad seat in the house, was about to witness something special. Samantha Fish and band walked out to a very quiet, still, didn’t-even-know-if-they-were-awake-at-times, sold-out crowd. Samantha changed that pretty quickly. By the fourth tune she started winning them over. And when she pulled out the cigar box guitar, she had them eating out of her hand, ending the night with a standing ovation from this low-key bunch.

Fish played a bunch of her older tunes and a few from her new album, Kill Or Be Kind. Her strong guitar playing and vocals won over the crowd so much that by the end they were up dancing and swaying to her high beat sound. This was simply just fun to watch. Samantha’s vocals and tight, bluesy guitar sound has her rising to the top. For an hour Samantha played music that ended with the crowd wanting more. After the show she greeted a long line of folks, signed autographs, took selfies, and just chatted it up. Classy as always as her new friends embraced her. Check out Samantha Fish as she continues on the road with Marc Broussard in the US before leaving for the UK in February of next year.

Setlist:
Love You Lies
Kill or be Kind
Watch it Die
Love Letters
She Dont Live Around Here
You Got it Bad
Little Baby
Fair Weather
Bulletproof
Crow Jane

Samantha Fish

*All photos © Rick Scuteri

On September 24th, Jeff Beck rocked Phoenix’ Celebrity Theatre. The Celebrity is an intimate theater in the round, and there’s not a bad seat in the house. It was the perfect venue to witness a night with Beck, and he threw in a couple of surprises.

This sold out theater was packed with a guitar-watching crowd, mesmerized by the legendary axe slinger’s licks. Marc Zimmerman of New York commented to me, “Beck is as big a legend as Clapton. They just took different roads.” Beck definitely backed this theory up as he played flawlessly throughout the night.

Jeff had a little bit of help from his friends. Former Prince bassist Rhonda Smith, an incredible player in her own right, just killed it, adding solos here and there that were simply brilliant. Later, Johnny Depp, joined Beck on stage during “Rumble” (Link Wray cover), helping out on guitar and afterward singing “Isolation” (John Lennon cover). The guests did not stop there. Southern Rock’s Wet Willie singer Jimmy Hall came out and sang “Little Wing” (Jimi Hendrix cover) and “Superstition” (Stevie Wonder cover), finishing the night with “Hey Mr. Millionaire”.

Jeff Beck really knows how to win a crowd over. With his style of guitar work, a kick-ass band, surprise guests, and a great setlist of tunes, this was a nice little jam. This show was at the end of a tour, that included 4 other US stops, plus Crossroads and a reunion show with Rod Stewart at the Hollywood Bowl. Hopefully you can catch him on the next round. He never disappoints!

Setlist:
Space for Papa
Stratus
Just for Fun
You Know You Know
Nadia
Mna na heireann
You Never Know
Caroline
Lonnie on the Move
Big Block
We Ended as Lovers
Rumble
Isolation
Heddy Lamar
Brush with the Blues
Little Wing
Superstition
A Day in the Life
Mr. Millionaire

Jeff Beck

*All photos © Rick Scuteri