Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Buddy Guy Performs 'Hoochie Coochie Man' At The 2013 Kennedy Center Honors

Buddy Guy with President Obama at the show

The ambassador of the blues, Buddy Guy, performed at the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors (he was honoree in 2012). His choice was the classic Muddy Waters song 'Hoochie Coochie Man', on the 29th of  December.

Buddy Guy just kills it, and also gives a sod to Santana who won an award for 2013.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Year in Blues: Highlights of 2013

Another year, another moment for self-reflection.

This year saw growth of viewers on the blog, even though I haven't posted as much as I did in 2012 (due to my new role as a parent).

Since the news that Speakin' The Blues was chosen as one of Lebanon's Top 100 Blogs, we have had a lot more coverage. (Thanks!) I wrote two articles over on Project Revolver and got to meet many of Lebanon's famous bloggers and social media personalities through this.

So below are the top 10 viewed posts of 2013 on this blog, with major changes coming in 2014 (new design, a monthly comic strip, and more reports).

All in all musically, 2013 was my worst. True, I live in Kuwait, and the action is almost zero, but I used to perform a lot more in previous years. Hopefully, in 2014 I will announce something new from Avant-Garde Music Projects. Follow us on Facebook for more details.

I want to thank all the readers from all over the world for their support. To be one of the only (if not THE only) bloggers about blues and jazz in the Middle East, it's truly great to see that many people are reading. It just makes my drive more powerful

Well enough of that! Here's the list of the 10 most viewed posts of 2013 (in no particular order):

The Parasite Blues

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas (But Even Santa's Got the Blues)

A Merry Christmas from Speakin' the Blues!

But who says you can escape the blues?

Not even Santa can!

You can also take a fun blues Christmas quiz over [here].

Monday, December 23, 2013

Chicago Bluesman Eric 'Guitar' Davis Murdered


In a sad state of affairs, bluesman Eric 'Guitar' Davis was found murdered in Chicago's South Shore area. He was shot in his car several times. He was 41 years old.

The son of blues drummer Bobby 'Top Hat' Davis, Eric was a talented guitarist, and was known in the local scene and has several albums out, and tours.

It's a sad day for the blues, may you rest in peace Eric.

Here's his cover of Muddy Waters' 'Hoochie Coochie Man':

Sunday, December 22, 2013

5 Great Blues Songs That Appear in Film

The blues is America's gift to the music world; it inspired a new generation of musicians, and like the saying goes: 'Blues had a baby, and they named it Rock n' Roll'.

Throughout Hollywood's history dozens of blues songs have been used in movies, so here's five examples of famous blues songs that appear in them:

5. THE RAINMAKER : 'How Blue Can You Get?' - B.B. King

4. SKYFALL : 'Boom Boom' - The Animals (Cover of John Lee Hooker's original)

3. THE BLUES BROTHERS : 'Sweet Home Chicago' - The Blues Brothers

2. GOODFELLAS : 'Mannish Boy' - Muddy Waters

1. TERMINATOR 2 : 'Bad To The Bone' - George Thorogood & The Destroyers

Got some I missed? Let me know!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

'Miles Davis Way' Officially Named in NYC

New York City's 312 West 77th Street has been officially named 'Miles Davis Way' by Mayor Bloomberg, after intense campaigning from Shirley Zafirau, his old neighbor.

Legendary trumpeter and jazz leader Miles Davis lived on that street for almost 25 years. 

Read the whole story [here].

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

John Coltrane's 'Afro Blue Impressions' Re-Mastered & Expanded

One of John Coltrane's best live albums, 'Afro Blue Impressions', has been re-released as a double-disc with a new remastering and three extra bonus tracks.

Released originally in 1963, this was in the Classic Quartet's tour of Europe. With Elvin Jones on drums, McCoy Turner on piano, and Jimmy Garrison on bass, you knew this was gonna be an amazing performance. This was when Coltrane's music shifted to more modal and avant-garde jazz, from his old hard bop sound.

Featuring some of Coltrane's best songs, like Naima, Impressions, and a stunning 21 minute performance of My Favorite Things, the new album features 3 unreleased tracks from a Stockholm performance: Naima, My Favorite Things, and I Want To Talk About You.

It's also been nominated for a Grammy award for Best Album Notes.

Hear the supreme (pun intended) version of 'My Favorite Things' below, which features Coltrane on the unusual soprano saxophone, with a hypnotic performance: 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones Set for UAE

The UAE train just keeps on going.

Mega rock (and blues) stars Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones are set to perform in Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively, in 2014.

Marking their first performances in the Middle East, it's sure to draw huge crowds and it will be great for those of us who don't live in the UAE, since it's very close to everyone.

Eric Clapton plays on the 6th of March at the Dubai Media City Amphitheater ; tickets [here]
The Rolling Stones play on the 21st of February , Du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi ; tickets [here]

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Blues Returns to Africa - Songhoy Blues

The blues has it's origins planted in West Africa, and it was transported to the United States with the slaves, who then brought their music and influences to create the blues (this is the brief version of the story).

While I was exploring new blues music, I stumbled upon a blues band from Mali called Songhoy Blues. They started playing by trying to uplift the refugees of the war-torn country, especially after last year's Timbuktu taking by armed jihadists (it has since been liberated), who were being oppressed by severe Islamic laws.

After playing a few local bars, the band was then introduced to Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who recorded a song with them called 'Soubour' which means 'patience', a song referencing the refugees of Mali.

And with that, the song has been released on a compilation album by Africa Express called  Maison Des Jeunes, and now have been invited to play a gig in the UK.

Blues music is truly universal and I am very happy I stumbled on this music. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Johnny Winter CD Box Set To Be Released

[SOURCE] Sony Music has announced that they will released a 4-disc box set commemorating bluesman Johnnie Winter's 70th birthday. It will be released two days after his birthday on the 25th of February, 2014.

It will feature 56 tracks spanning all his recordings with Columbia Records, from 1969 (starting with his first album Johnny Winter until the 2011 album Roots.)

Johnny Winter is recognized as one of the best guitarists of all time ranked at number 63 by Rolling Stone magazine, and was instrumental in bringing Muddy Waters back to the spotlight after leaving Chess Records (he would release 3 studio albums and one live one with Winter, and 3 of those won Grammy awards).

Here's an old video from 1970 called "Be Careful with a Fool".

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

35th Blues Music Awards Nominees Announced

As every year, The Blues Foundation has announced the nominees for the 35th Blues Music Awards, which will be held (again, as usual) in Memphis, Tennessee on May 8, 2014.

The full list is below:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2013 Jazz Holiday Gift Guide

Last week I told you about the 2013 Blues Holiday Gift Guide, this time I'm sending you a Jazz gift guide!

JazzTimes has listed their guide for this holiday season, so I've embedded it here for you.

I accept gifts by the way :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

'Little Angel Child' - Pinetop Perkins

Pinetop Perkins was a legendary blues pianist, closely associated with Muddy Waters (he played with his band from the late 60's until Muddy's death in 1983). Pinetop was also a highly succussful solo artist who played the blues until his death at the age of 97 in 2011, just a month after receiving a Grammy award for Best Traditional Blues Album.

Here's a rare tune called "Little Angel Child" from 1978:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

2014 Blues Grammy Award Nominations Announced

The 56th Grammy Award Nominations have been announced for all categories, but what we care about is the blues, so below are the nominees for Best Blues Album, with a video for each nominee. You can see the full list [here].

Honestly, I'm very surprised that Buddy Guys' excellent album "Rhythm & Blues" is not nominated!

1- Remembering Little Walter Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia & James Harman

2- Cotton Mouth Man - James Cotton

3- Get Up! - Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite

4- Seesaw - Beth Hard & Joe Bonnamassa

5- Down in Louisiana - Bobby Rush

Friday, December 6, 2013

Blues Pianist Aaron Moore Dead at 95

Blues pianist Aaron Moore, the last Mississippi born pianist in Chicago, is dead at 95.

He was a well-known session player in the heyday of Chicago's blues, backing many of the famous players for 36 years. However he didn't achieve star status like his compatriots, rather retiring in the early 80's to be with his family.

However, in the 90's he went back to music and released two albums, one in 1996 and another in 1999 under the Delmark label with success.

Rest in peace Aaron, hope you are having fun with all the other bluesmen up in heaven.

Here's the title track from his 1996 debut album "Hello World":

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Blues Brothers Recreated With LEGOS!

Holy crap do people have some free time.

If you've seen the 1980 cult classic "The Blues Brothers", then you know that that Elwood and Jake Blues are on a mission from God to save their orphanage, and along the way they get in some trouble with the law (among others).
One of the car chases is through a mall; and it turns out, it's just as amazing with Lego bricks. Duncan McConchie, the mad genius at Bricktease, created a shot-for-shot recreation of the famous scene done entirely with Legos. 
This is brilliant , and this is what the internet is all about. Hats off to Duncan!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2013 Blues Holiday Gift Guide

2013 is almost over, and this month marks the shopping spree joyous holiday of Christmas. What better time to start picking out gifts for your friends (or yourself?)'s Blues section has it's 2013 holiday gift up and you can check it out in full [here], whilst I'll list them for you for ease:

2014 Blues Calendar From Blues Images 

Not only do you have a great collection of vintage blues art, but you get a free CD featuring classic blues songs from the likes of Blind Blake, Furry Lewis, Charlie Patton, and others!

'Rhythm & Blues' - Buddy Guy

The highly acclaimed 2013 release from Buddy Guy was a great success commercially and critically. You can read my review of the album [here].

Duane Allman's 'Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective' CD box set

The ENTIRE works of slide guitarist Duane Allman spanning seven discs. I hope you have a lot of free time to indulge all of it!

Eric Clapton's 'Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013' CD/DVD

In it's 4th show, Eric Clapton's renowned Crossroads Guitar Festival of 2013 which took place in Madison Square Garden was a massive blues, rock, and guitar festival featuring dozens of legendary artists like BB King, Jeff Beck, The Allman Brothers, and many more!

Eric Clapton's 'Give Me Strength' CD box set

A six disc compilation of just one (!) year of Eric Clapton's career, from 1974-1975. It features his solo work and other recordings such as rare sides and live tracks. One disc is a blu-ray remaster of the 461 Ocean Boulevard album (the one with "I Shot the Sheriff). 

Joe Bonamassa 'Tour de Force' DVDs

Earlier this year, blues-rocker Joe Bonamassa performed 4 different shows in London, each night with a different theme (blues, rock n' roll., power trio, acoustic/electric), so that's 4 different DVD's of different caliber. If you're a fan you should get all of them!

Robert Crumb's 'The Complete Album Cover Collection' Book

Robert Crumb is a cartoonist who is infatuated with old jazz and blues art. Since the early 60's he's done hundreds of album covers for many recording artists, such as James Brown, Frank Zappa, Gus Cannon, George Jones, Woody Guthrie, and more. Features 450 covers!

Third Man Records' Paramount Records 'Wonder Cabinet'

If you have around $500 to spend, this is an ultimate collectors item; the 1917-1927 catalog of defunct Paramount Records, featuring hundreds of songs and other goodies like:

800 newly-remastered digital tracks on a forged metal USB drive shaped like a Victrola stylus
200+ fully-restored original ads and images
6 x 180g LPs w/ hand-engraved metal leaf center labels on burled chestnut vinyl
Deluxe large-format hardcover art book: 250 pages, narrative with full-color plates 
Encyclopedia-style reference manual: 360 pages, field guide to artists & repertoire
Handcrafted elements: rich woods, lush upholstery, and custom-forged metal hardware
Track & Image App: First-of-its-kind music and image player app, allows user management of 800 tracks and 200+ original ads, housed on custom-made USB