Saturday, February 22, at Old Town School of Folk Music – The show opener, singer/songwriter Peter Oren, thrilled with his deep baritone, compelling guitar work and friendly demeanor. His set included a dreamy tribute to clouds and some clever call-outs to cows. Oren, who lives in rural Indiana, waxed rhapsodic about freeing himself from overwhelming social media, “phones and stuff.” His “Gnawed to the Bone (Come By)” got an especially good response.  

Peter Oren

James McMurtry’s 2015 masterpiece was entitled “Complicated Game.” He’s a darn wizard when it comes to composing chilling narratives, such as the spooky-titled, “Where’d You Hide the Body.” These references might make one believe this Texan’s the consummate tortured soul, one on the verge of a nervous breakdown, yet when this singer-songwriter-guitarist stands in front of the Old Town School admirers, he comes off pretty much as everyman. 

James McMurtry

Of course, “everyman” can’t do what McMurtry does on a consistent basis all across America and beyond on his ambitious tours, which take him from the big skies of Bozeman to Baton Rouge, Jackson, and Petaluma. And luckily for Midwesterners, one of the most prominent teaching centers in Chicago: the Old Town School of Folk Music. 

McMurtry’s true-blue fans are the kind who do their homework. And that’s the kind of hard work that pays off, as the beauty of already being acquainted with a performer’s repertoire is that the fan gets to soak up the stories and genuinely enjoy the nuances.

And last night there were many nuances to enjoy. His massive set list included rough-hewn, tender and sometimes cynical homages to everything from “crystal meth,” an “Airstream trailer” and a “Holstein cow,” courtesy of “Choctaw Bingo.” Gulfs between generations were underscored in “Copper Canteen,” virtue of powerful imagery: “We grew up hard and our children don’t know what that means.” Certainly that line struck a bittersweet chord with the older patrons; and of course, the epic plea, “Honey, don’t you be yelling at me when I’m cleaning my gun” just seems designed to fire up the coolest senses.  

McMurtry was dressed head-to-toe in denim — his long, dark hair and steady gaze contributing heavily to his cool, confident, tough-guy with a soft-center image. He focused completely on the task at hand, tearing off song and song, often with poker-faced comments in-between. All the while, he conflates tragedy with humor. Even as he tuned an acoustic guitar (switching between two), he made damn sure the fourth wall was kept down. And although it was easy to drift and get blissfully lost in his tuneful conversations, his fine instrumental work was of equal import and deserved full attention as he finessed beautiful tones and allowed for striking hammer-ons and pull-offs from his twelve-string. The sound, overseen by musician/soundman Tim Holt, was also superb. 

Anyone who has heard McMurtry play with a full ensemble (Austin locals get to hear him weekly), or on his multi-layered albums, might wonder how it feels for the man to play unplugged for several hours solo. Does he consider it a challenge to perform the fierce, rockabilly-infused “Choctaw Bingo” without the support of a dynamic rhythm section? Perhaps for some. But McMurtry, an accomplished instrumentalist who strummed his first guitar at age seven, tore up and down that fretboard with extreme vigor — keeping the beat, wailing catchy phrases, and balancing harmonic highs and lows with precision. 

Venturing into the arena of love, a songwriting topic recommended by his grandmother, he garnered lots of appreciation for “These Things I’ve Come to Know,” which illustrates how opposites can still attract even when the odds are against it: “She likes the two-step, she likes to waltz,” he sang, but soon added, “I can’t dance a lick but sometimes I can flat rock and roll.” 

“Red Dress” stood in warm contrast to the other material — a heady mix of blues and grit. In his quieter rendition of the winsome “No More Buffalo,” his austere tale spoke volumes about our current state of environmental gloom. And as for pure linear craft, the vocal drone of “Levelland” was beyond moving. “State of the Union” probably got the biggest reaction. Although the words can apply to any time in history, the message may strike some as especially potent now.

As for other inspirational/political anthems, the one surprise was that McMurtry failed to play “We Can’t Make It Here,” a brainstorm that intrepidly describes the despair of so many Americans and that has fueled campaigns.  

That said, McMurtry gave his all. Even after holding court for such a long time alone, he graciously returned to the stage after a passionate standing ovation. At one point, he mentioned a concert where the audience was less than appreciative. “They’re idiots,” yelled a fan. Yeah, I’d say that’s true. 

*All photos © Philamonjaro

James McMurtry  

The Blues Podcast Launches 25th February 2020.

It kicks off with 3 episodes being released on the same day featuring:
Beth Hart, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Kris Barras.

On 25th February the brand new Blues Podcast will launch with a sizzling three episodes on the same day featuring the queen of modern blues Beth Hart, the multi-platinum selling Kenny Wayne Shepherd and the fast-rising British blues-rock star Kris Barras.

The series will be presented by the inimitable Big Boy Bloater – the current drive time presenter for Feedback Radio and former host of the popular Blues Magazine Show for Team Rock Radio.

A successful musician too, he has toured the world and has fans in the shape of Jools Holland, Imelda May, Craig Charles and Paul Jones and he’s played with the likes of Carl Perkins, Wanda Jackson and Paloma Faith to name a few.

The naturally charming Big Boy Bloater knows what makes musicians tick and how to get inside their head, which is what makes The Blues Podcast so special. It’s a chat amongst friends where they sit down and chew the fat of life and what has shaped them into who they are.

Over the episodes he’ll be talking to not only musicians but is also expected to chat to leading industry figures, from journalists to promoters and beyond. Subscribe now to join Bloater and his guests for a peek behind the curtain, to find out how to keep the blues alive.

Talking about the shows Big Boy Bloater says; I’m excited to present the brand new Blues Podcast, where I get the chance to chat to and delve into the lives of some of the greatest contemporary and up and coming blues musicians as well as the leading industry figures in the genre. We’ll be getting to know the person behind the music by finding out what makes them tick and where their roots lay. So, sit back, put your feet up, and grab a tipple of your choice as we massage your ears with tall tales from the blues trail.

The Blues Podcast will be available on a number of platforms such as Spotify, Apple Podcast/iTunes, Google Podcast, YouTube, and PodBean between audio and video format on the last Tuesday of every month.

Listen To Them By Clicking Here

The Blues Podcast online:

YouTube: youtube.com/channel/UCf8ePDsTiKRjvcmKUjDGYZg
Facebook: facebook.com/TheBluesPodcastOfficial
Instagram: instagram.com/thebluespodcastofficial

To check out a previous article on Big Boy Bloater please click here

The post The Blues Podcast Launches! appeared first on Blues Matters Magazine.

As Richie Kotzen himself describes it, he had enough songs for his 22nd solo album ready to go last year when he stumbled across some old material that hadn’t yet been fully fleshed out. The songs—most of them, anyway—weren’t finished, but he was pretty sure they could be. It was then that he had an idea: What if, to celebrate his 50th birthday, he released a gigantic 50-track album?

Before making any announcements, he had to figure out if it could realistically happen. In the span of about a half-year, he dug through his archives, spent a ton of time in the studio and realized it was possible. Out now, 50 for 50 shows Kotzen transforming songs that had been in various states of completion into finished works. It’s an impressive feat to size up an old foe (even if that foe is an unfinished song) and come out on top, but Kotzen doesn’t think of this album in that way. Speaking practically, he credits its existence to his freedom to release music without the oversight of a major record label, the technology that enabled him to file his unused ideas for later use and his approach to making music. “If I’m working on something and I can’t finish it, some might call it writer’s block,” Kotzen told Blues Rock Review not long after 50 for 50’s release on his custom label Headroom-Inc. “But I walk away and do something else, because I know eventually I’ll get the inspiration to finish.”

This project started with a new album’s worth of material that then morphed into a monster 50-song album. How did the project change so drastically?

I didn’t really have the idea until midway through last year. What happened was, I recorded what would have been a normal record—maybe 12, 13 songs. I went on the road with my band and I started going through this hard drive which had a bunch of music that I never finished. I started listening to some of this stuff and thought, “These things should be finished.” On the spot, I started having ideas.

While I was on the road I started archiving and working on lyrics. My plan was, when I got home I would start finishing things and see how far I could get. In the back of my mind, I had this thought of, “Wow, wouldn’t it be crazy if I got most of it done and ended up with 50 or more songs?” I had that many, if not more, ideas; I probably had 60 or 70 pieces of music, riffs and ideas and melodies. When I started working on it, I started getting ideas for new compositions. I’d finish one idea that was the work in progress, and then all of a sudden I’d write a brand-new song. Before I knew it, I had quite a bit of material recorded and finished.

At that point, I thought, “I think by the time I turn 50 I should have it pretty much done.” So I started teasing on my Instagram that I was making a 50-song album, and then I think sometime in November I’d gotten 50 songs completed. So then I stopped, because if I’d kept going I would have eventually lost my mind, being in the studio that much.

Some of the songs were just ideas. Then there were other songs that just needed some attention. Some of the songs had the drums done, the bass done, were at various points of completion. That’s really why I was able to do it. There were a lot of compositions where I’d started recording them and never finished. I had drum takes for many of them that were ready to go.

It sounds more complicated than it was. Once I got in there, it really started coming together.

What was the time span from which you were picking the unfinished works? Were some from decades back and others more recent, or did you pick all of the songs from a specific time period?

There’s a song in there where I’m not sure when I recorded it; I think it was the early 2000s, but it might have been 1999 or ’98. There are two songs that old that were actually finished. I don’t know why I never put them out, but I was sitting on those for a long time. It spans back that far; almost 20 years. And then there are songs on there that are only a couple months old. They were all recorded in various stages. Some of the songs were recorded at my old house, some things I started to record in a proper studio, but then all the stuff that was finished was done recently in my new place. It really stretches out over time and location.

That’s the great thing about the way music is recorded now, digitally. They really are files on a hard drive. In the old days, you’d have to have a vault to have all that audio tape, but I started using Pro Tools right around ’98 or something like that and stopped using analog. That’s how I was able to go back and find all these things, because they were just sitting on various hard drives.

Photo by Larry Dimarzio

Was it hard to get into the frame of mind you had been in years ago when you first started the archived songs?

I would have these ideas that I’d start years ago and then I wouldn’t finish them because basically I’d hit a wall or get stuck. That’s something I typically do if I’m working on something, even today. If I have an idea, I’ll work on it until I can’t anymore. If that gets to the point where it’s finished, great. But sometimes you work up to a point and then you get stuck. I typically move on at that point.

I had a lot of things that I’d moved on from, and then I went back to them—and that’s when I was able to finish them. A great example is a song like “Mountains.” That was partially recorded, but the lyric and melody I’d been living with for a long time, and I was unable to figure out how to tie it all together. Recently, when I went back to it, it just kind of hit me on the spot.

That’s one of the things I talk about a lot when people ask me about writer’s block. I often say, “I don’t really believe in that.” My approach is that, if I’m working on something and I can’t finish it, some might call it writer’s block, but I walk away and do something else because I know eventually I’ll get the inspiration to finish the idea. I’ve kind of proven that to myself time and time again.

That’s really how it worked on this record: I went back to ideas that I started many years ago, couldn’t finish, and suddenly I was able to finish them and in the process I was coming up with brand-new ideas. I’d have a song like “Mountains” that I started years ago, just finished it last year, and then no sooner did I finish it then I wrote a brand-new song like “Black Mark” or “Innocuous.” It was kind of crazy how it snowballed. When I started, I was getting all kinds of ideas at the same time. And now the thought of going into the studio is the last thing I want to do.

Were those newer song ideas that came to you while working on archived material easier to finish? Were the juices flowing enough where they came to fruition quickly, or were some of them still a struggle to finalize?

That’s what was interesting: It was kind of like a yin and yang thing in the sense that the old ideas obviously took a long time to finish, but on the flip side, the new ideas I finished instantly. With “Innocuous,” I had finished one of the songs, went upstairs and thought I was done for the day, picked up the acoustic guitar, and suddenly I had the idea. I went right back to the studio, and that night, within a few hours, I had written a new song.

There are other songs on the record like that; the song “Warrior” was a newer one that just wrote itself. It’s kind of ironic that the newer songs really did just kind of come out and write themselves. Probably because I was already in that creative flow, so it made it much easier to follow through on it.

The way the music industry operates today is much more open to a project like this. It would have been extremely difficult to get a 50-song album green-lit even two decades ago. How much do you enjoy having that flexibility as an artist?

It’s great. For the last year and a half, I’ve been putting out singles. I had written a song called “The Damned” that was pretty cool, and I wasn’t ready to put a record out, so I made a video and put a single out. I did that with two other songs. It’s great to have that freedom. I’m able to survive and do what I’m doing on my own terms. I love it. It’s fantastic.

The first record I started to feel that on was Into the Black in 2006. I made a solo record and decided not to work with a label. I thought, “I’m going to make some music, and when the time comes, I’ll release it.” It led me to that album, and that was the first time I realized I could actually do this without a label. So far, it’s been working for me. I can put material out directly to the people who are interested, and I think the quality of what I’m doing has improved over the years because I don’t have any pressure and I’m able to really be true to myself.

At this particular milestone in your life, how much of 50 for 50 was about challenging yourself to tackle creative ideas that resisted completion in the past?

I didn’t think in those terms. I just thought to myself, “I have a lot of ideas that are sitting here. Some of them are close to being done, some need more work.” I wanted to invest the time and see if it was worth finishing, and how far I could get with it. Until I really started making a dent in it, I didn’t think I was making a record; I was just giving attention to some stuff I’d abandoned.

What songs from the archived material are you most excited or most proud to have finished?

There were some that did surprise me, the way they came out. I was very pleased with the way “Mountains” turned out. That’s a song that’s been in my head for a while; I was never able to put it all together the right way. There’s a song called “Mad Bazaar” on the first disc that has been living with me for many years, and I never really had a clear picture on how to present it. Suddenly, it all clicked. There’s a bunch on that first disc. “When God Made You,” the title didn’t exist until recently, but the concept for the music was there.

It kind of happened for all of it, because had I not gotten any given song to the point where it is now, I would not have released it. That’s my main thing: to get something to where I know that I love it, so at least I can let go of it. I was able to do that, and that’s the core approach for me when I make music.

Interview by Meghan Roos

Today, February 25, 2020, the brand new Blues Podcast launched with a sizzling three episodes featuring the queen of modern blues Beth Hart, the multi-platinum selling Kenny Wayne Shepherd and the fast rising British blues-rock star Kris Barras.

The series is presented by the inimitable Big Boy Bloater – the current drive time presenter for Feedback Radio and former host of the popular Blues Magazine Show for Team Rock Radio. A successful musician too, he has toured the world and has fans in the shape of Jools Holland, Imelda May, Craig Charles and Paul Jones and he’s also played with the likes of Carl Perkins, Wanda Jackson and Paloma Faith to name a few.

Talking about the shows Big Boy Bloater says; “I’m excited to present the brand new Blues Podcast, where I get the chance to chat to and delve into the lives of some of the greatest contemporary and up and coming blues musicians as well as the leading industry figures in the genre. We’ll be getting to know the person behind the music by finding out what makes them tick and where their roots lay. So, sit back, put your feet up, and grab a tipple of your choice as we massage your ears with tall tales from the blues trail.”

The naturally charming Bloater knows what makes musicians tick and how to get inside their head which is what makes The Blues Podcast so special – to find out about the person behind the music. It’s a chat amongst friends where they sit down and chew the fat of life and what has shaped them into who they are. Over the episodes he’ll be talking to not only musicians but is also expected to chat with leading industry figures, from journalists to promoters and beyond. Subscribe now to join Bloater and his guests for a peek behind the curtain, and find out how we keep the blues alive.

The Blues Podcast is available on a number of platforms such as Spotify, Apple Podcast/iTunes, Google Podcast, YouTube, and PodBean between audio and video format on the last Tuesday of every month.

The Blues Podcast

Dan Wolf, co-owner of Chicago Fret Works, has worked on thousands of guitars over the last 22 years in Chicago alongside partner Steve Baker. Players, collectors, and enthusiasts from around the country have turned to Dan for their most challenging and difficult guitar repairs. He began learning his craft in 1996 at Red Wing Technical College (Now Minnesota State College- Southeast Technical) in Red Wing Minnesota. Dan has worked guitars from the following artists: Wilco, Dwight Yoakam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, and Dave Specter.

L-R Steve Baker, Dwight Yoakam, Dan Wolf

Brant Buckley:

How long have you been fixing guitars and how did you get into musical instrument restoration?

Dan Wolf:

It started with going to Red Wing Technical College. Believe it or not it’s a guitar building college. Guitar building schools are much more popular nowadays. It’s an accredited college where you learn how to build guitars. I went there for a couple of years after high school. I had a great time there. I was thinking I was going to be doing it for fun and perhaps afterwards go to a university and get a college degree and try to make my mom happy. It was the first time I was ever really good in a classroom. You learn how to build guitars which is a completely different world than repairing guitars. It just kind of morphed into repair work. I lived in Quebec City for a few months trying to build guitars with a builder by being an apprentice. It didn’t really work out and I missed living in Chicago and I moved back. My roommate at the time talked me into going into Guitar Center and seeing if they needed a repairman. I was thrown into the world of guitar repair and learning on the fly. It seems like twenty years have flown by.

When did you open Chicago Fret Works?

Steve Baker and I opened up the shop in early 2008. We both worked at another shop in town. I worked there for close to eleven years and Steve worked for six years. We became friends outside of the shop and became comfortable enough discussing the possibility of opening up our own shop. We just jumped off the cliff. It was crazy, scary, and exciting. We did it and haven’t looked back.

What’s the coolest guitar that has come through the store?

We do work for Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. He has an enormous vintage guitar collection. Steve and I really like vintage stuff from the 60’s and 70’s. If instruments from the 50’s come in that aren’t in terrible shape, that’s extra fun. We are lucky to work on a lot of guitars through Wilco and other customers. They keep us busy with a heaping supply of cool guitars to work on including a 1952 Les Paul Goldtop. These guitars are close to being museum pieces because of their rarity and significance in the electric guitar world. A lot of old Gibsons and Martins from the 50’s and 60’s have come in. Those are our favorite guitars. It’s funny the old vintage guitars are the most fun, coolest, and happen to be the easiest to work on because they’re designed to be taken apart to some degree. Especially the acoustic stuff. Modern guitars aren’t designed to be taken apart as much as the vintage stuff because they are almost disposable. Like everything else in the world, they used to make them better. As a repair tech whenever I see a case that I know has a vintage guitar in it, I get pretty excited because I know it’s going to be fun and it’s also going to be easy to work on. People who built these guitars had in mind they would be repaired in the future.

What’s the hardest part when dealing with fixing vintage instruments?

The hardest part about fixing vintage instruments is making sure you keep them as original as possible. Originality is a huge thing that is drilled into our heads when we are learning how to do this stuff. It’s a big no no to do certain things like refinishing vintage guitars or replacing unnecessary parts. It sounds easy enough but when something needs to get repaired it becomes tricky to make sure everything stays as original as possible.

How many guitars do you work on each day? What’s a typical day look like?

I would guess we complete anywhere between 10-20 guitars a day. My typical day revolves around managing my employees and making sure business gets taken care of. Along with my business partner Steve we share the duties. I take on the majority of teaching employees how to do certain things and they are all at different levels and they all do different types of jobs. I make sure things run smoothly. Every single day some surprise comes up and it’s not always a fun surprise. Steve and I either have to put out a fire or react to something that unexpectedly happened. We like to talk to customers and get to know them and their needs. I do have my own projects that I am working on that are the more difficult ones we do. I always have three to four really difficult projects going on. I try and split the time with everything else I mentioned.

If there is one guitar (artist’s guitar) you could work on which one would you choose and why?

We get that all the time and I always never know what to say. Wilco is a friend of the shop and we also like their music. We are ecstatic that we get to work on their guitars. If you were to tell me ten years ago I was going to be working on so many of Wilco’s instruments, I would be really psyched. We don’t take it for granted. I don’t think my favorite artists will ever make it in the shop. I am a big fan of Frank Black, Stephen Malkmus and A.C. Newman of The New Pornographers. If these guys came in the shop I would be pretty damn excited to work on their guitars.

What else do you want to accomplish?

I am pretty focused on my employees becoming really good at this. Teaching these guys how to do this work is my motivation right now. Money isn’t and shouldn’t be a big motivator in this line of work. I want to continue teaching my employees to be the best guitar tech they can be. That is really important to me. It is really rewarding work that you can’t get in other fields: finishing products, seeing a happy customer get a guitar back that they had sentimental attachment to, and working with your hands. All of the people who do this kind of work are artists whether they know it or not. Refinishing a guitar to make it look like it is from the 50’s and 60’s and recreating everything is an art form. You need to be into art to enjoy this job.

Chicago Fret Works

*Photos by Steve Baker

The Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame (FARHOF), announces its Winter/Spring 2020 schedule of Hallways — the Hall’s official podcast — airing weekly beginning in February. The series includes in depth, personal interviews with Folk, Americana, and Roots artists like Patty Griffin, Ani DiFranco, Tom Rush, Keb’ Mo’, Milk Carton Kids and The Mammals.

The podcast launched on January 3rd and featured FARHOF’s founder, Joe Spaulding, prior to moving to its weekly episode format on February 7th. Several upcoming episodes — including Ani DiFranco and Aengus Finnan — were recorded at the Folk Alliance International conference, which took place in New Orleans in January. Additionally Tom Rush, Mark Erelli, Hayley Sebella, Raye Zaragosa, Laura Cortese, David Amram and Diana Jones all recorded live, solo performances during their interviews with the Hallways team.

“Our mission at FARHOF is to preserve and celebrate the history of Folk, Americana and Roots music,” said Spaulding. “Hallways allows the legacy and history of folk, Americana, roots music to be heard from all artists past and future directly in their own words.”

The Folk Americana Roots Hall Of Fame is housed in the Wang Theatre and is an initiative of the Boch Center in Boston. FARHOF celebrates Folk, Americana and Roots music through displays, memorabilia, artifacts, multimedia, lectures and concerts. As much as any city in the country, Boston has been the musical birthplace for the styles and artists we celebrate, making it a fitting home.

Hallways is a production of Above The BasementBoston Music and Conversation, hosts Chuck Clough and Ronnie Hirschberg bring the stories and inspiration behind this great American music to life through conversation and live performance.

“Our team at Above The Basement could not be more proud to host and produce Hallways,” says host Clough. “As the storytelling and podcast partner of FARHOF, we’re looking forward to bringing this important American music to listeners, and highlighting the stories and songcraft that keep its spirit alive today.”

Hallways 2020 Winter/Spring Episode Schedule

TOM RUSH* 2/28/20
ANI DIFRANCO 3/6/20
KEB’ MO’  3/13/20
MILK CARTON KIDS 3/20/20
THE MAMMALS 3/27/20
DAVID AMRAM 4/3/20
THE ACCIDENTALS 4/10/20
LAURA CORTESE* 4/17/20
RAYE ZARAGOSA* 4/24/20
MARK ERELLI* 5/1/20
HAYLEY SEBELLA* 5/8/20
ROSE COUSINS 5/15/20
DIANA JONES* 5/22/20
PASSIM 60! 5/29/20

*Includes LIVE solo performance

Listen to Hallways HERE

Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame

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

Rick Diamond/Getty

A celebration of life for Willie Nelson’s drummer, best friend and unofficial bodyguard, Paul English, will be held on March 3 at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth. This event will be open to the public. 

The venue noted the following in a press release Thursday: 

“Paul was proud of his Fort Worth heritage. He grew up on the North Side and as a youngster boxed in the Golden Gloves and played trumpet in the Fort Worth Salvation Army band. After graduating from Fort Worth Polytechnic High School, he became a regular at some of our city’s more infamous establishments in Hell’s Half Acre, along Jacksboro Highway and, of course, the Fort Worth Stockyards, where he organized some of the area’s more notorious activities.”

English provided the backbeat and an unequivocal friendship for Willie, dating back to the 1950s. “I Still Can’t Believe You’re Gone” is a true testament of the pair’s close bond; the song was written by Willie about Paul’s first wife who committed suicide. 

Another dedication song to English was the partner-in-crime classic “Me and Paul,” a single from Willie’s concept album Yesterday’s Wine. English once stated, “Had it not been for Willie, I would be dead or in the penitentiary.” 

 

Blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa has announced new summer tour dates for the United States. Dates include the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and Red Rocks Amphiteatre in Colorado. This will be the seventh consecutive year Bonamassa performs at Red Rocks. This year’s performance will include the Colorado Symphony.

SUMMER 2020 TOUR DATES
Friday, July 31 – San Diego, CA – San Diego Civic Theatre
Saturday, August 1 – Los Angeles, CA – Greek Theatre
Monday, August 3 – Paso Robles, CA – Vina Robles Amphitheatre
Tuesday, August 4 – San Jose, CA – San Jose Civic
Thursday, August 6 – Salt Lake City, UT – Eccles Theater
Sunday, August 9 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Monday, August 10 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Blues Rock Review spoke with Bonamassa about a variety of topics last summer.