Thursday, February 27, 2014

'Hand Me Down My Walking Cane' - Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup

Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup was an influential delta and Chicago bluesman; and was highly active in the 40's and early 50's.

His smooth soft voice and superb guitar playing made him one of the main pillars of the blues; even Elvis covered his songs, particularly 'So Glad You're Mine'.

He started out performing in the blues Mecca, Clarksdale, Mississippi before moving to Chicago in the late 1930's where he recorded and performed. His career fluctuated up and down, due to royalty disputes, and went back to Mississippi, where he returned to normal work. He did record in the mid 60's however, and died in 1974.

Here's 'Hand Me Down My Walking Cane', recorded in Chicago sometime between 1946-1949:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Flamenco Guitar Genius Paco de Lucia Dead at 66

The great flamenco guitar virtuoso Paco de Lucia has passed away in Mexico today. He was 66.

de Lucia, from Spain, was a very influential guitarist, and was known as an ambassador of flamenco music. He also played flamenco jazz and fusion music. He has performed with dozens of musicians, including Chick Corea, Al di Meola, John McLaughlin, Eric Clapton, Brian Adams, and many more.

It's a sad loss for music today. Rest in Peace Paco.

Here's a video of Paco performing in a recent jazz festival:

Cairo Jazz Festival Returns

The Cairo Jazz Festival is back and is set for March 13-16 at the Azhar Park.

The festival features several international and regional artists, including Lebanon's Mashrou' Laila.

Here's the full lineup:

- Jakub Urban Trio feat. Noha Fekry (Czech/Egypt)

- USS w Lazq (Egypt)

- Kaz Okumura Trio feat. Michelle Rounds (Japan/ Australia)

- Massar Egbari (Egypt)

- OUM (Morocco)

- VEIN (Switzerland)

- Yuri Honing Quartette (Holland) 

- Sylvain Beuf Electric Eccentric (France)

- Soweto Kinch feat. Arab Rap All Stars (UK/Egypt)

- Daerr-Bica-Stick (Germany)
- Soopar Lox (Egypt)
- Nabil Khemir (Tunisia)
- Holler My Dear (Austria)
- Rami Attalla Group (Egypt)

- Mashrou Leila feat. Soweto Kinch (Lebanon/UK)

 - Omar Khairat (Egypt)
- Andre Carvalho Group (Portugal)
- Christine Kisilewsky (Austia)
 The official site is [here] and check out the teaser video below:

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Fender Custom Shop Muddy Waters Tribute Telecaster

Muddy Waters is mostly associated with his candy apple red Fender Telecaster (which he called "The Hoss"). It wasn't always red though; it started out as a 50's color white blonde, maple neck Telecaster. Later he got new neck from Fender, this time in rosewood, and got the color changed to a 60's candy apple red, and changed the standard knobs to amp knobs.

Ever since the late 50's until his death in 1983, Muddy only used this guitar (with one major exception being when he played a Guild briefly for advertising purposes).

The Fender Custom Shop released a tribute to that guitar, in 2000:

As a salute to the brilliant artistry of the godfather of the blues, Muddy Waters, and the lasting impact his music has had on guitar players around the world, the Fender Custom Shop is proud to unveil the Muddy Waters Tribute Telecaster 2000. If you've thrilled to the classic sounds of Chicago blues, the Fender Muddy Waters Tribute Tele is for you.

The Muddy Waters Tribute Tele is an exact replica of the late '50s Telecaster that was Muddy's signature guitar for more than 30 years. Now hanging in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, Muddy's Tele is as distinctive as the man himself, but also as simple and direct. The emphasis here is squarely on tone and vibe. The authentic specs give you the tone; the exact replication of 40 years of wear and tear give you the vibe.
To recreate this classic artist's classic axe, Custom Shop R&D man George Blanda flew out to Cleveland and, with the permission of the Hall of Fame, took rulers, calipers and gauges to Muddy's Tele.
Every ding, scratch and eccentricity, even the amp knobs, has been faithfully recreated by the people who craft our popular Relic guitars. But don't just hang it on the wall. With its girthy neck and its classic pickups and electronics, this Tele's tone and feel give you all the legendary mojo the name Muddy Waters implies.
As a premium bonus, each Muddy Waters Tribute Tele comes with an accessory kit that will remind you what the Mojo man was all about. The Mojo Accessory Kit includes slide, capo, fingerpicks, thumb-pick, Muddy Waters: The Lost Tapes CD and a signed and framed poster of Muddy by famed Chicago blues photographer Raeburn Flerlage.

After that, Fender released a standard version (Made in Mexico) for about over 10 years, and it was sadly discontinued sometime in 2008/2009.

Here's a video of Muddy playing his unique slide guitar on his Telecaster, (solo starts at 2:25)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Paul Rodgers feat. David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) Cover Muddy Waters

Paul Rodgers, of the band Free and Bad Company, released an entire album dedicated to the legendary bluesman Muddy Waters in 1993. 

The featured artists are: Jeff Beck, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Buddy Guy, Brian May (Queen), Steve Miller, Gary Moore, Trevor Rabin (Yes), Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi), Neal Schon (Journey, Bad English), Brian Setzer, and Slash (Guns n' Roses, Velvet Revolver).

Now that's a great list of musicians, for which they all have a lot to thank Muddy Waters for. There are 15 tracks, including songs like 'I Can't Be Satisfied', 'Hoochie Coochie Man' and 'Rolling Stone'. 

Here's 'Standing Around Crying' and features David Gilmour; enjoy!

Gary Clark Jr. Covers Albert King's 'Oh Pretty Woman'

Gary Clark Jr. is a young fellow at 30 years old, but already has the music business buzzing. He's won the Grammy for best Traditional RnB album this year, and other local awards.

He's a young generation of blues music pioneers, providing a musical freshness to this drivel led age.

Here's him covering Albert King's classic cut 'Oh Pretty Woman'. Gary and John Mayer inducted Albert King at the 2013 Rock n' Roll hall of Fame, and they performed it at the show.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

'Weird Al' Yankovic Sings The Blues

Funny music man Weird Al Yankovic has made a name for himself by performing parody versions of popular songs, most notably Amish Paradise (mock of Gangsta's Paradise), Smells Like Nirvana (mock of Smells Like Teen Spirit) and Like A Surgeon (mock of Like A Virgin) etc.

Well, he also sang the blues; while the lyrics are not THAT funny it's a great vocal delivery, and the backup band kicks the blues to 11.

Here's the Generic Blues:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Essential Hollywood Blues Movies

There have been several movies based on or involve the music and themes of the Blues. Most of them have been very good, and worth watching (none of that fluff we're used to with romantic-comedies etc).

So here's an essential list of some of my favorites:


Needs no introduction.


Anything with Samuel L. Jackson is worth watching anyways.


Steve Vai versus the Blues?!?! HELL YEAH. The below is the famous "guitar duel" from the movie.


A good representation of the Chess Records era of the Blues, showing what Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, etc went through. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

'Can't Hold On Much Longer' - Little Walter

In 1957, Chess Records released a compilation album featuring the top hits of blues harp legend, Little Walter. He had 10 hits on the Billboard chart in the 50's, making him a staple of the post-war Chicago blues.

Walter, not just a proficient solo artist, was also the main harp player for Muddy Waters and many other bluesmen, such as Johnny Shines, Otis Rush, Jimmy Rodgers, and others.

His legacy as a blues harpist was evident when he was inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, and is the only harmonica player to receive such an award.

Here's 'Can't Hold On Much Longer', which features label mates Muddy Waters and Jimmy Rodgers on guitar. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Blues Thought for Valentines

"...there ain't but one kind of blues, and that consists of between male and female that's in love. Two people supposed to be in love. And one or the other deceives the other who they love. Sometimes that kind of blues will make you even kill one another or do anything, that kind of love. It goes here, this side (puts his hand on heart) that's where the blues started..."  - Son House


Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Blues Albums on Rolling Stones' '500 Greatest Albums of all Time' List

I couldn't find a convenient list, so I have done this service for you!

Below are the albums listed in Rolling Stone magazine's ultimate feature: 500 GREATEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME. The actual number is 21 out of 500, which only makes up 4.2 % of the whole list. Muddy Waters is the most listed bluesman with 3 albums, with BB King, ZZ Top, and Eric Clapton receiving 2 each.

I have listed the album's rank, artist, release year, and the album cover for your enjoyment. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Miles Davis Responds to Jackie Chamoun's Critics

Blues Purism vs. Evolution

With apologies to Mississippi John Hurt

A while back I read a book called 'Is Jazz Dead? (Or Has It Moved to a New Address)' by Stuart Nicholson; a 288 page in-depth study on the history of the evolution of jazz until now.

Get this book if you're a history buff; or just buff.

The age old debate that spans almost every musical genre: should the music (in our case, the blues) be preserved and maintain its standard traits and not be fooled around with, or should the music evolve as this is the natural progression of music?

This debate runs through almost every genre; jazz purists want to keep the music tied to the legends such Miles Davis, John Coltrane and the like, without adding any electric instruments, which the evolutionists do. (The funny thing is, Miles Davis and John Coltrane among others sought to change jazz and not stay stuck in the past; see Electric Miles)

Country purists want to keep the music true to it's roots; and not the pop sound it's getting now, same thing with the metalheads, the punks, the trance lovers, etc, for progress and change is how the music evolves.

So what about the blues? 

I admit I am more on the purist side of things; but not in a fascist sort of way. I prefer to hear the roots of the music, the Delta blues and for the electric sound I listen to the post-WWII Chicago blues. This is what moves me the most.

However I have regularly posted about new blues music and artists on the blog, just a few days ago in fact. I don't consider myself closed-minded at all (although my wife begs to differ), I just know what I like. I've paid my dues with the blues, and I support it as much as I can, from donating to the Blues Museum or joining the Blues Foundation or just collecting magazines.

It's hard sometimes though to accept the melting pot of music, not for any bad reason, but because the genres get so mixed up the lines get so blurred, that you have to come up with new terms that somehow don't make sense. Can you still call this the blues? Well you have at least a few dozen sub-genres, and often they are so similar you can't tell them apart.

I always receive and listen to new music, and in many cases I do not hear the 'blues'; I hear soul, gospel, rock, and even reggae sometimes.

The blues as a music is the foundation to almost every type of Western music; we will definitely see some correlations with, say, country music.

One case that was raised a while back was that Metallica's 1996 album 'Load' was actually inspired by blues music. Of course, as a blues geek, I went out and purchased the album sometime in 2001. I was of course, not seeing the connection. If anything, the music is inspired or sounds like Southern hard-rock, which technically should be related to bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd.

(Do you see a connection?)

The pentatonic music scale, and by extension , the blues scale, is not mutually exclusive to the blues; so just because there are a few scales that sound 'bluesy' it can't be called 'blues inspired'. 

In jazz, the blood cousin of the blues, there are hundreds if not thousands of instances where a song has the word 'blues' in it, but technically it's not. Here's a classic example:

It's considered a blues in the jazz sense because of the intro vamp and the structure, although it's been heavily played with, that the obvious 'blues' part is sort of negated. 

So in the end, blues music cannot be at a standstill; a great case is Stevie Ray Vaughan, who re-electrified the blues in the 80's, and put it back on the map. If it wasn't for such new blood, the music would not still be around or relevant. Yes, it's not Justin Bieber popular, but with the current love trend with everything retro, it's remains very much alive.

Love and honor your heroes, and pave the way for the next generation.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

'In The Belly of the Blues' - A Photographic Journey of the Blues

You love blues history and archival documents right?

Of course you do!

Well here's a little doozy that will satiate your thirst!

A book by Grammy winning songwriter Terry Abhrahamson has been released; a memoir of his life on the road and it includes about 100 rare photographs of blues greats such as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Jonny Winter, Hound Dog Taylor and many others taken by himself.

Terry has written songs for Muddy Waters, helped start George Thorogood's career, made the first commercial with John Lee Hooker, and many other musical inputs.

I have ordered the book already, perhaps you should too! Take a sneak peak on his website [here].

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Saffire - The Uppity Blues Women: 'Middle Aged Blues Boogie'

Yes, you read it right.

Take three middle aged women, throw in some instruments and the blues, and you get the Saffire - The Uppity Blues Women.

Although they sing novelty songs and you might now take them serious, these women can play! Apart from the great technical proficiency, check out the lyrics:

"Well, I don't need no reefer, I don't need no cocaine 
All I need is a young man to drive me insane
I'm throwing away my dustmop, got a brand new vacuum cleaner
I'm no longer taken for granted, my young man's sexy but sweeter
A young, young man, to drive away my middle-age blues"

The band has disbanded in 2009, after forming in 1987.

Check this song out called 'Middle Aged Blues Boogie'.

Preview: Kent Burnside's 'My World Is So Cold'

I always look out for new blues music; it's a journey of exploration.

I was contacted by Lucky 13 Records and they informed me about Kent Burnside's just released debut album called "My World Is So Cold", and boy I'm glad they did.

Kent is the grandson of blues great R.L. Burnside, and damn the music is awesome. It's got the blues, a bit of rock and soul too. I recommend you listen to the tracks over on Lucky 13's Soundcloud page, and here's one of the rocky songs called 'Mizz Maybelle' below. There's also a cover of the blues standard 'Spoonful' by Howlin' Wolf.

So get a listenin' and support the new generation of the blues!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Miles Davis Music Sees New Administrator, New Deals


The estate of Miles Davis and the Kobalt Music Group have announced that Kobalt will now run the entire Miles Davis music catalog. The music was previously administered by Universal Music.

According to them this will create new opportunities as they wish to expand to media, advertising, TV and film licensing of Davis' music.

This is a good move I suppose; why shouldn't we have more Miles in our everyday lives?

Speaking of ads, here's an old ad for a Honda scooter that Miles did; pretty awkward if you ask me.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Happy Birthday Bob Marley (and Bob Marley Day)

Today in 1945, 69 years ago, the reggae and music legend Bob Marley was born.

While I write about the blues on this blog, I consider reggae to be the Jamaican "blues". The beats and rhythms change, but the lyrical and roots similarities are very strong.

The blues and reggae both came from Africa, and reggae, and by extension the Rastafarai movement, seeks a more Afrocentric lifestyle, to stand up to exploitation.

Bob Marley is remembered not only the best reggae and Jamaican ambassador, but also an iconic pop culture behemoth, who still stands the test of time across all generations.

On this occasion, Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto, Canada has announced today to be 'Bob Marley Day' :

"Bob Marley became one of the greatest ambassadors of peace the world has seen. He used music to tear down the walls of apartheid and promoted African unity, culture and world peace both at home and internationally, with songs like One Love and Africa Unite. Today, his music continues to be loved by many and is instantly recognized around the world.
Now therefore, I, Mayor Rob Ford, on behalf of Toronto City Council, do hereby proclaim February 6, 2014 as “Bob Marley Day” in the City of Toronto."

Happy Birthday to the rasta masta, and here's "Exodus" for ya mon:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Avant-Garde Music Projects Announces ACID BLUES PROJECT

Monday, February 3, 2014

Walter Trout is Ill

Walter Trout, the great blues rocker, is ill, from his recent liver condition. His wife posted this on Facebook:

Our thoughts and prayers to Walter and we hope he gets well soon. 

Here's a video of Walter kicking ass, just as he always does... we have the blues for you buddy.