Thursday, December 29, 2016

Blues Review 2016

Another year has gone, this time one of the harshest. Wars, many influential celeb deaths, and Pokemon Go.

This year was a turning point for me, as I was signed to a record label and my album is coming early next year, as well having some great gigs and played in Bahrain for the first time with my rock side-project The Watertowers.

My album, coming soon in 2017

Blog wise I was not that active this year, mainly because my life and music commitments too a lot of my blog slice of the pie; hopefully you stuck around with me and I hope to bring you more blues next year. Have a good one everybody.

Oh, and in case you missed it, here's my latest Youtube upload of my band performing Dust My Broom at the DAI Fall Festival last month:

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Blues Playlist

How bluesmen celebrate Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! This time of year is always great for the blues, because you spend all your money on gifts, might spend it away from family and friends, cold weather, and all that.

So to celebrate the Christmas blues, here's a few tunes for the season:

BB King - 'Back Door Santa'

Sonny Boy Williamson - 'Sonny Boy's Christmas Blues'

Freddie King - Christmas Tears

The Drifters - Santa Claus Got the Blues

John Lee Hooker - Blues for Christmas

Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown - Christmas

Monday, December 12, 2016

Blues Nominees for the 2017 Grammy Awards

The official Grammy website has announced their nominations for next year's event. Of course, we don't give a crap about anythin' but the blues, so here are your nominees this year:


Can't Shake This Feeling
Lurrie Bell

Live At The Greek Theatre
Joe Bonamassa

Blues & Ballads (A Folksinger's Songbook: Volumes I & II)
Luther Dickinson

The Soul Of Jimmie Rodgers
Vasti Jackson

Porcupine Meat
Bobby Rush


The Last Days Of Oakland
Fantastic Negrito

Love Wins Again
Janiva Magness

Kenny Neal

Give It Back To You
The Record Company

Everybody Wants A Piece
Joe Louis Walker


Not a bad list, but obviously there's a bit of genre cross-leaping; some are not 'blues' per se, but we gotta work with what we got. 

My picks for winners are Lurrie Bell for Traditional and Fantastic Negrito for Contemporary. 

See you on February 12!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Fender Drops American Standard, Renamed American Professional Series

Fender announced that their American Standard series of guitars & basses will be rebranded as the American Professional Series.

It adds some new improvements to their existing line, most notably the pickups will be all replaced by V-Mod pickups designed by Time Shaw, new neck profiles (more vintage-like), taller frets, new hardshell case, and other minor changes. Here's a full comparison:

See the new set below; I like the changes but the color choices are very limited and I'm sad they dropped the turtleshell pickguards off the basses. They look very bland now.


Stratocaster HSS

Stratocaster HH




Precision Bass (5 String also available)

Jazz Bass (5 String and Fretless also available)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Another Year Without Jazz at Dubai Jazz Fest

Oh look! It's that time of year where I bash the Dubai Jazz Festival again.

It's not even been one year since my last post about this goddammed festival, but hey if it wasn't for beating on dead horses it wouldn't be the blues.

This year ladies and gents, without even announcing the full lineup, we get this for the 2017 edition:

Dear god they done fucked it up again. And get this: the cheapest ticket (per night of course, since Mariah and Enrique are playing on different days) is $90!

For comparison, at the Winter Jazz Festival in New York in January, you can buy an all-out pass for 5 full days with over 50 JAZZ artists for only $160 :

I don't wanna be too unfair about ticket prices, because hey, it's Dubai right? I mean... you can't compare it to New York fuckin' City right? (hint: sarcasm)

I still propose an anti-Dubai Jazz Fest be launched at the same day as the true anti-thesis of that watered-down, commercialized festival will be. But I digress, we know that won't happen.

So for a story 3 years running, this has been your grumpy neighborhood bluesman signing off. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Blues Summit: SRV, Albert King, BB King, and Paul Butterfield Share the Stage

The Sky Is Crying, captured live at the Ebony Showcase Theater, Los Angeles, California on April 15, 1987.

And the sky did cry, seeing all these legendary bluesmen share the stage for an epic show.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Blues With a Message: 'Do Right Blues' - Big Bill Broonzy

Big Bill Broonzy, one of the major influencers in early Chicago blues, made a big name for himself from the late 1930's until his death in 1958. 

His folk blues style was the basis for many later blues musicians, such as Muddy Waters, and his legacy lives on with many of his songs becoming blues standards.

Sometime in the early 50's he traveled to Europe and made a great living touring there, resulting in a few albums. This song is recorded in Paris, France sometime in 1956 or so. The song holds a message, to be a good, kind person, to get equal treatment by others.


Monday, November 14, 2016

'Riverside Blues' - Otis Spann

Otis Spann was one of the main pillars of Chicago blues piano; he was also one of the mainstays of Muddy Waters' Blues Band from 1952 until his untimely death in 1970. 

Otis released a few albums as a solo artist in the 60's and has played with many of the big blues giants like Howlin' Wolf to Bo Diddley. 

He was known to play solo piano in mellow moans and expressive voice, and this song from his 1966 album "Good Morning Mr. Blues" symbolizes that:

Monday, October 24, 2016

'Trouble in the Morning' - John Brim

John Brim was a Chicago bluesman who didn't discover fame until late in his career. His most famous song 'Ice Cream Man' was covered by Van Halen on their first album in 1978, leading him to more fame.

He recorded for several labels, including Chess. He died in 2003.

Here's a classic Chicago style blues by Brim for your enjoyment:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chuck Berry Announces First Album in 38 Years

Chuck Berry, the legendary blues and rock guitarist, has announced on his official website in celebration of his 90th birthday, that he would be releasing his first album in almost four decades.

From the description:

"Comprised primarily of new, original songs written, recorded and produced by the founding rock and roll legend, ‘CHUCK’ is Berry’s first new album in thirty-eight years. It was recorded in various studios around St. Louis and features Berry’s longtime hometown backing group – including his children Charles Berry Jr. (guitar) and Ingrid Berry (harmonica), plus Jimmy Marsala (Berry’s bassist of forty years), Robert Lohr (piano), and Keith Robinson (drums) – which has supported him for over two decades on over two hundred residency shows at the famed Blueberry Hill club. More details about ‘CHUCK’ and other Berry-related events will be revealed in the coming weeks."

This is very exciting news, and I look forward to hearing some new music from Chuck; if you live under a rock, Chuck Berry was one of the main pre-cursors to rock n' roll, with many of his tracks making it to the top of the charts. As a side note, did you know Muddy Waters introduced Chuck to Chess Records? The rest is history!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Double Performance This Weekend!

As a great start to the musical season, I'll be performing not once, but twice, this Thursday at Al-Sadu House.

This event is a casual get together, organized by Khaleejesque Magazine, in collaboration with Jumo Coffee.

The first set will be my own blues set with my mates Hashim Al-Nasser and Tarek Kabbani, and then with our superband The Watertowers as the closing set.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

'My Baby's Gone' - Frank Edwards

This is a rare tune from Georgia bluesman Frank Edwards, which was recorded by Music Maker Relief Foundation, who have recorded for many blues musicians to help them pay their bills and receive recognition and proper management. 

This comes from a compilation album called "The Last & Lost Blues Survivors".

Enjoy this raw deep blues from an old-school bluesman.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Buddy Ayache: A Blues Success Story

Every once in a while you see a shining glimmer of hope in an inspiring individual in this world; today it's my good friend and blues brother, Buddy Ayache, otherwise known as "Buddy Blues". He has taken his music and the blues from Beirut to Orlando and has positioned himself to be a formidable force in the blues scene there. He has released an album and is playing almost everyday. He also won 2nd place at a blues battle of the bands there. 

You see, my story with Buddy starts when we were neighbors, when I was in AUB (he was still 16 when we met 23), we got together and he was very curious to hear the music I was playing after blasting it in the house. After I told him about the blues and gave him a few pointers about guitar etc, he took off with a great passion that I haven't seen in a long while. 

He rose the ranks of the local scene and eventually landed himself in the USA, where he enjoys a popular following and is very active. I am very proud of Buddy and I'm very happy I was able to inspire and assist someone with the music we call the blues. If only one person got the message I preach it's enough for me, and I wish Buddy more great success in the future moving forward. 

Buddy will also be featuring on my debut album "Gonna Die With the Blues" so stick around for that!

Here's Buddy's official music video "Wrong Side of the Blues", followed by a short documentary about his story, featuring a few blurbs about me (shamless plug):

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Blues, Bollywood Style

A very interesting video has surfaced which I thought I'd share with you!

Aki Kumar, an Indian bluesman, probably the first ever bluesman to come out of the country, has prepared a nice mash-up of traditional American blues with retro Bollywood pop music. He has a new album called 'Aki Goes to Bollywood' which brings the folk music of great importance together!

In the video below, he describes his passions of both the blues and Bollywood; I'd love to jam with him one day, as I self-proclaimed myself the messenger of the blues for the Middle East!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

My Official Website Launched, Album Cover Revealed

Following to my signing to Ajna Records a few weeks ago, my official website has now gone live!

You'll find some useful links, my bio, and some pictures taken by Yousef Al-Nasser.

Also, my debut album, "Gonna Die With the Blues" is set to be launched on February 13, 2017.

Here's the album cover, designed by Bachir Najjar:

Stay tuned for more updates as the weeks and months roll in, 
and thank you for supporting the blues!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Johnny Winter's Guitars and Other Items Up For Auction

some of the glorious Gibson Thunderbirds up for grabs
Guernsey's Auctioneers have put up over 30 guitars of blues legend Johnny Winter up for sale.

Johnny Winter died in 2014 and he has made a huge impact on blues and music in general. This collection is a testament to his status as a blues and rock god. Not only will there be rare guitars, but other items and novelties like hats, jewelry, posters and other memorabilia.

There will be two days of auction, one on 30 September, and the other on 1 October. You can check out the links here and here.

The proceeds will go to Winter's family.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Happy Birthday John Lee Hooker

On August 22, John Lee Hooker was born in Mississippi. Hooker was one of the most influential bluesmen of our times, having released several songs that have become blues standards, like 'Boom Boom', 'Boogie Chillen', 'I'm in the Mood', and many more.

His unusual guitar playing, emphasizing heavy bass rhythms, drive and tone, and his raspy voice, made him a force to be reckoned with. Many British rock bands covered his music and it elevated him to stardom.

In the 90's he reentered the spotlight and saw tremendous success. He died in 2001.

He was inducted to the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Enjoy an entire album of John Lee Hooker below!

Monday, August 15, 2016

So I Got a Buddy Guy Autograph

My man in Chicago, Steve Harper, went to Buddy Guy's Legends Blues Club, and met the OG himself.

Being the great guy he is, he asked Buddy to autograph his most recent Grammy winning release 'Born to Play the Guitar' and address it to me:

I now have fulfilled a dream, even if it was by proxy. Thank you Steve for this amazing gift; although I have this album on vinyl, it will be great in the car!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Signed a Record Deal, Album Announced

You can tell I'm excited.

I am happy to announce that I have signed a record deal with Ajna Records, owned and run by Nawaf Gheraibah, a highly talented and influential musician; we have previously worked together on several occasions,  the biggest one being the Bija Concert in 2012.

With this news we announced that my debut album will be released sometime in early 2017; and along the way I will be posting my progress. The album will be fully written and composed by me, and will be a traditional blues album, inspired by songs of old (as is the blues tradition!).

I do have a sneak detail though; the opening track of the album will be called 'Dbayeh Highway Blues'.

Thanks to Ajna and Nawaf for the wonderful opportunity!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

New Fender Basses for Fall 2016

New Fender bass guitars have been announced; a new Flea (of Red Hot Chili Peppers) Signature Bass, and three upgrades to old models; here we go:

Flea Jazz Bass

Deluxe Active Precision Bass Special (has a passive/active switch now!)

Deluxe Active Dimension Bass (4 & 5 string)

Deluxe Active Jazz Bass (4 & 5 string)


The Flea Bass was a nice surprise; Flea has been using his vintage Fender Jazz a lot and to make a replica of it is a sign of his true love for it. He's had many endorsements previously with Modulus, but this thing is a bare-bones powerhouse. 

Apart from the P-Bass Special, which now has a much needed passive/active switch, the other new upgrades aren't worth mentioning. I don't even know what's new about the Jazz Bass. 

Nothing too revolutionary, but with Fender you don't really need that.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Vinyl Watch: Super Super Blues Band

A few years ago I posted about this huge collaborative effort between the three blues giants Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Bo Diddley; and now the album is being re-released as a limited edition vinyl via Jackpot Records.

This historically meaningful album also features other blues giants Otis Spann, Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin, and Clifton James.

The vinyl will release in a limited color on August 26. I have started a small vinyl blues collection so this would be something on my radar!

Here's another song off the album, Howlin' Wolfs' 'Little Red Rooster':

Monday, August 1, 2016

'Born With the Blues' - Memphis Slim

Memphis Slim was one of the main pillars of blues in the mid-40 onwards, alongside other great blues pianists like Otis Spann, Sunnyland Slim, and Pinetop Perkins.

His major blues standard was 'Everyday I Have the Blues', which was covered by many artists.

He moved to Paris in the early 1960's and remained there until his death in 1988.

The following tune was recorded in France in 1962, in his signature mellow, late-night blues style.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

'I Smell Trouble' - Ike & Tina Turner

Ike & Tina Turner were one of the best soul / R&B performers of the 60's and 70's, before their famous break-up.

However their music was rooted in the blues; so appropriately I present you with 1969's 'I Smell Trouble', featuring none other than blues guitar hero, Albert Collins. It was on 'The Hunter' album.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Playlist: Louisiana Blues

Returning from previous Detroit and Mississippi, this time we go to Louisiana, best known for it's New Orleans sound, as well as it's delta-country style, and it's swampy rhythms.

Many famous bluesmen hailed from Louisiana, such as Buddy Guy, Little Walter, Slim Harpo, Boogie Bill Webb and so on.

So from the misty swamps, to jumping New Orleans, enjoy these 10 songs from Louisiana!

10) Come Back Baby - Little Walter

9) I'm a King Bee - Slim Harpo

8) See You Later Alligator - Bobby Charles

7) Hoodoo Man - Lightnin' Slim ft. Lazy Lester

6) Louisiana Blues - Clifton Chenier

5) Deep South Guitar Blues - Lafayette Thomas

4) I Hope You Come Back Home - Buddy Guy

3) Early One Morning - Ramblin' Hi' Harris

2) Crowly Blues - Clarence Locksley

1) I've Been Down So Long - Louisiana Red

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Never Easy to Say Goodbye

With a heavy heart, I'm sad to say that Steve Harper, my blues partner in crime, has decided to leave Kuwait and take up residence at the home of the blues, Chicago.
In the short time we played together (starting Nov. 2015) Steve has been an integral part of the Ali Sleeq Blues Band. He not only felt and lived the blues, he was a damn good harp player. Probably the best harpist I will ever play with. He knew his sound, he knew his equipment, was a professional, and he also knew the blues. He was also a dear friend.
While it is sad to see him go, I wish him the best of luck in the future, and that one day we will meet again for a blues jam. He's already taken Chicago by storm (played House of Blues, the Chicago Blues Fest, met Muddy Waters' son and Willie Dixons' grandson etc).

Here's the last song we performed together, which is very fitting.

Monday, June 20, 2016

'Poor Boy / London Session' - Howlin' Wolf

In 1971, Chess Records released an album recorded the year prior, called 'The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions'. This album featured Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts (the latter two from The Rolling Stones) alongside Howlin' Wolf and his guitarist Hubert Sumlin.

The result was a blues with a rock twist, where Wolf would sing traditional blues with Sumlin on Chicago guitar embellishes over British blues rock grooves.

Here's a song from that album, called 'Poor Boy', a blues standard:

Monday, May 30, 2016

Ali Sleeq ft. Steve Harper - LIVE at The Juke

A couple of weeks ago I passed by Jukebox Productions, who have set up a new and well equipped studio. They also have video production alongside the music side of things.

Zeus and his team took three videos of me playing some old blues tunes, featuring my trusty harmonica player Steve Harper.

These songs are as raw as possible, all taken in one take. So if you see any mistakes, it was intentional; such is the nature of the blues.

Hope you enjoy these videos as much as I did performing them! Thanks again to Jukebox Productions, which can be found @jukebox965 on Instagram and Youtube!


1) You Gonna Need My Help - Muddy Waters cover (1950)

2) Sweet Home Chicago - Robert Johnson cover (1936)

3) Key to the Highway - Big Bill Broonzy cover (1944) PENDING UPLOAD

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Essential Upcoming Purchase: Paul Butterfield Blues Band / 'Got a Mind to Give Up Living - Live 1966'

On June 3rd, a no-brainer purchase will be released; a remastered, never before released bootleg from 1966 of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, live at Boston’s Unicorn Coffee House.

As you recall, last year the band was inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, cementing their valuable music influence to the world. Although they were primarily a Chicago blues band, they also delved into other sonic voyages, featuring guitar virtuoso Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, Mark Naftalin, Jerome Arnold,Sam Lay, and of course Paul on harp. A multi-cultural mix that sent waves across the soundscape.

So pick that up as soon as you can; here's the official blurb:

"If the Summer of 1967 was the Summer of Love, the Summer of 1966 set the stage for the musical revolution that was to come. Albums released during the season, like The Beatles’ Revolver and The Byrds’ Fifth Dimension, brilliantly blended the burgeoning influence of Eastern exoticism into the rock music format, and the term “psychedelia” entered the common lexicon to stay. But beating them all to the punch was a multi-racial blues band that cut its teeth in Chicago, far from the hippie havens of London, Los Angeles and San Francisco. 

Issued in July 1966, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s East-West took blues-rock to places only free jazz had dared to tread, offering lengthy, modal improvisational passages that sparked the West Coast rock revolution, and, in Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, fully unleashing the first great guitar tandem in rock history. Now, Real Gone Music is very proud to release, for the first time in legitimate fashion, a legendary bootleg that captures this singular sextet on the brink of the stylistic breakthrough that would shake the rock ‘n’ roll world to its core: recorded live at Boston’s Unicorn Coffee House 50 years ago in May 1966, two months before the release of East-West, Got a Mind to Give Up Living—Live 1966 reaffirms that The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was simply untouchable live, capable of turning on a dime from slow-burning blues tunes to up-tempo rave-ups. And, particularly on a pair of tunes that were soon to be released on East-West, “Work Song” and “I Got a Mind to Give Up Living,” the raga influence (check Bloomfield’s solos!) comes through loud and clear, combining with the band’s blues tropes to create a truly new style of rock and rock guitar playing. Butterfield fans will also delight in the early appearances of “One More Heartache” (from The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw) and “Walking by Myself” (from Keep On Movin’), plus a pair of tunes, “Comin’ Home Baby” and “Memory Pain,” that the band never commercially recorded. 

Notes by Chris Morris featuring fresh quotes from Elvin Bishop and Mark Naftalin, rare pictures and memorabilia, editorial input from Bloomfield aficionado and co-producer Toby Byron, and some audio spit ‘n’ polish from Mike Milchner at SonicVision make this a package indispensable for any ‘60s rock (or jazz or R&B!) fan.

Track list:

  1. Instrumental Intro
  2. Look Over Yonders Wall
  3. Born in Chicago
  4. Love Her with a Feeling
  5. Get Out of My Life, Woman
  6. Never Say No
  7. One More Heartache
  8. Work Song
  9. Coming Home Baby
  10. Memory Pain
  11. I Got a Mind to Give Up Living
  12. Walking by Myself
  13. Got My Mojo Working"

Here's a video to freshen up on the band:

Monday, May 23, 2016

Eric Clapton Returns with New Album 'I Still Do'

Eric Clapton, who had announced he would retire, has released a new, and possibly final, album a few days ago. It's cleverly titled 'I Still Do', and features a few covers and new material. It's a bit on the mellow side, with more blues roots instead of high octane rock guitar.

If you're a fan of Slowhand, you best go and best the album; my favorite track is 'Alabama Woman Blues', a cover from Leroy Carr's original.

Monday, May 9, 2016

37th Blues Music Award Winners

Over the weekend, the 37th Blues Music Awards took place in Memphis, and the Blues Foundation has announced the winners. Congrats to Buddy Guy for winning Album of the Year, for his awesome Born to Play Guitar. Other major winners were John Primer, Walter Trout, and Shemekia Copeland.

Here's the full winner's list, great job to these brilliant artists:

1. Acoustic Album: The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard – Duke Robillard
2. Acoustic Artist: Doug MacLeod
3. Album: Born to Play Guitar – Buddy Guy
4. B.B. King Entertainer: Victor Wainwright
5. Band: Victor Wainwright & the Wild Roots
6. Best New Artist Album: The Mississippi Blues Child – Mr. Sipp
7. Contemporary Blues Album: Born to Play Guitar – Buddy Guy
8. Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Shemekia Copeland
9. Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Joe Louis Walker
10. Historical: Soul & Swagger: Buzzin’ the Blues by Slim Harpo
11. Instrumentalist-Bass : Lisa Mann
12. Instrumentalist-Drums: Cedric Burnside
13. Instrumentalist-Guitar: Sonny Landreth
14. Instrumentalist-Harmonica: Kim Wilson
15. Instrumentalist-Horn: Terry Hanck
16. Koko Taylor Award: Ruthie Foster
17. Pinetop Perkins Piano Player: Allen Toussaint
18. Rock Blues Album: Battle Scars – Walter Trout
19. Song: “Gonna Live Again” written and performed by Walter Trout
20. Soul Blues Album: This Time for Real – Billy Price & Otis Clay
21. Soul Blues Female Artist: Bettye LaVette
22. Soul Blues Male Artist: Otis Clay
23. Traditional Blues Album: Descendants of Hill Country – Cedric Burnside Project
24. Traditional Blues Male Artist: John Primer 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Blues Hall of Fame 2016 Inductees Announced

The Blues Foundation has announced that five new artists will be honored alongside other blues legends this year at the Blues Hall of Fame. The ceremony will take place a day before the 37th Blues Music Awards.

The inductees are below, with a video for each! Congrats to all these great bluesmen!

1- Elvin Bishop

2- Eddy Clearwater

3- Jimmie Johnson

4- John Mayall

5- Memphis Jug Band

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Rare Version of Muddy Waters' 'Mean Red Spider'

One of Muddy's well known songs from his first pressings at Chess Records (called Aristocrat at the time) was 'Mean Red Spider' in 1948. But the one we know was him playing distorted guitar with Big Ernest Crawford on upright bass.

However there is a very rare version for 1946 on the Ballen label of the same name, and listed Muddy under the alias James "Sweet Lucy" Carter and his Orchestra.

It features a more jazzy blues full with horns, something we aren't used from Muddy.

Apparently only a limited number of this record were released, making this a highly sought after tune.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Raw Blues-Rock: 'Off The Ground' - The Record Company

The Record Company have released their debut album last month, which features some rugged and raw rock with heavy blues undertones.

The band consists of:

1) Chris Vos - vocals, guitars, lap steel, pedal steel, harmonica
2) Alex Stiff - bass, guitars, piano, vocals
3) Marc Cazorla - drums, piano, vocals

Their song 'Off The Ground' from the album is a real head banger; check it out below!

[Official Website]