Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New Release: 'Muddy Waters 100' - A Centennial Tribute Album

Just released, 'Muddy Waters 100' is an officially authorized tribute album featuring many artists, including former bandmate Joe Primer,Billy Branch, Gary Clark Jr., Shemekia Copeland, James Cotton, Bob Margolin, Keb’ Mo’, Derek Trucks, Johnny Winter, with Vincent Bucher, Leanne Faine, Tim Gant, Khari Parker, James Teague, Steve Gibons, Keith Henderson and the Living History Band: Matthew Skoller, Billy Flynn, Johnny Iguana, Felton Crews, Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith.

This album is a tribute to 100 years of the great bluesman Muddy  Waters, whose musical legacy lives on today. 

To buy this album digitally or physically (including a deluxe 48 page booklet) go [here].

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

You Seein' Trash 'Cause You Gots the 'Garbage Man Blues'

photo by Jawad Chaaban

In light of the recent debacle in Lebanon, about trash not being picked up and is currently filling up the streets, I'd like to dedicate this blues by Muddy Waters to the Lebanese people and the government.

Although it technically is about a cheating woman leaving her husband for the garbage man, ideally we can use it as a metaphor for being screwed by politicians instead.

My baby, she run off
With the garbage man
Yeah my baby, she run off
With the garbage man
Well, I need you so bad little girl
So you can empty my garbage can

I don't know where she been
And I don't know why she goin'
Yeah, I don't know where she been
And I don't know why she goin'
Please come back to me
My garbage can is overflowin'

Yeah my baby, she run away
With my hard earned cash
Well my woman, she run away
With my hard earned cash
Well I don't need your money
I don't need your money girl
I need you so you can empty my trash

Bonus: Buddy Guy Cover

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Complete 'Blues Masters' Video

In 1966, CBS Corp. recorded a live blues session with some of the best Chicago blues players. It features Muddy Waters, Sunnyland Slim, Willie Dixon, Otis Spann, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, and many more.

If you want a great piece of musical history, which hasn't happened again for some time (getting master blues players together for a summit), including an encore performance by everyone, don;t miss this classic showcase!

Monday, July 13, 2015

'Chicken Hearted Woman' - Clarence Samuels

Now almost forgotten, Clarence Samuels was a blues singer who was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on October 30, 1923 and died on May 21, 2002. Samuels made his first recordings for Aristocrat (Chess) in Chicago in 1947 and 1948. He recorded for a number of labels and made his final recording in 1966.

He started performing live again after a long haitus, touring the US and Europe.

His most famous song is called 'Chicken Hearted Woman':

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Miles Davis' 'Kind of Blue' the 5th Best Selling Vinyl in 2015

via Sinister Salad

So far in 2015, these are the top 10 most selling vinyls according to Nielsen Music:

1. Taylor Swift, 1989 (34,000)
2. Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell (32,000)
3. Arctic Monkeys, AM (27,000)
4. Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color (26,000)
5. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (23,000)
6. Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour (23,000)
7. Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon (23,000)
8. Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack (22,000)
9. Father John Misty, I Love You Honeybear (22,000)
10. Hozier, Hozier (21,000)

My my.

We already know that this seminal jazz album by trumpeter and legend Miles Davis is the best selling jazz album of all time; but to still be this relevant in 2015? It seems it's relevance is still paramount, even after almost 60 years since release.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Blues Workshop - 12th July

I'll be giving a workshop about blues music next week (Sunday, 12th June) at Bayt Lothan; it's only KD 5/- a person, with limited seating.

Here's the blurb:

"Part historical and part practical, Ali's blues workshop will cover the origins, various playstyles and the main legends of the blues, along with a practical understanding of the basics of blues playing. 
 If you want to brush up on the history of the blues and learn a few licks, join us at Bayt Lothan on July 12 for the first workshop of its kind in Kuwait!" 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Robert Johnson’s Son Dies in Mississippi

Claude Johnson, seated
The blues legend Robert Johnson remains an enigma; for all but two pictures are known of him (a third one is under dispute and is most probably fake), he also never left a will, and died at a young age. Yet his music shook the foundations and spawned rock n' roll.

One of his sons, Claude Johnson, was announced dead at the age of 83 in Mississippi a few days ago. Claude was the sole heir of his father's music, and under a supreme court order in 2014 to also benefit from the photograph royalties, despite heavy class action suits from relatives.

However, he didn't use these royalties to build houses or whatever, rather taking menial jobs and living a simple life.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Rolling Stones Sing a Muddy Waters Tune Featuring Buddy Guy

A few days ago at one of their concerts in Milwaukee, The Rolling Stones performed 'Champagne & Reefer', a Muddy Waters classic. Joining them as a special guest was blues legend Buddy Guy (who played and recorded with Muddy many years ago.)

Nice to see the Stones pay tribute to one of their biggest influences!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

'Early Morning Blues' - Big Joe Williams/Lightnin Hopkins/Sonny Terry/Brownie McGhee

In 1960, a live jam session took place at the Ash Grove club in Los Angeles, featuring four blues legends, Big Joe Williams, Lightnin' Hopkins, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.

A very raw and down low, loose performance by all these greats, this album was only released in 2001 after being bootlegged for so long.

Here's 'Early Morning Blues' also known as 'Chain Gang Blues':

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Post-Gig Blues Report

10 years. 

It was 10 years ago that I performed in Beirut. Why did I take so long to go back and play? Lots of factors really. After all, I was always in a band situation, never a solo performer until only a few years ago. 

The opportunity seemed ripe, considering the amount of work and effort I was putting into this blues thing. How far can someone go with the blues? A genre that continues to dwindle in the overall scheme of things?

I got the approval of Fete de la Musique a month back. It was the comeback I was looking for after a decade of absence from the Lebanese music scene.

The next step would be to assemble a band. Like I normally do things, I have my friends and network of musicians. I was fortunate enough, considering how busy everyone would be on that night (92 bands were playing), I reunited with Toufic who was the drummer with me in the Mojolaters Blues Band before we returned to Lebanon 4 years back.  

Next I had the versatile and laid back Joe on guitars, who was essential in filling both the role of lead and rhythm. 

Given the time constraints and busy schedules, I was not able to get other people on board. A power trio it would have to be.

Under tension and anxiety, and also having an extremely powerful band (Funky Blues Brothers), incidentally fronted by the French Ambassador no less, led me to almost crumble. I mean, these guys have about 30 years of playing experience, not to mention some of the best musicians in Lebanon, and having more members on stage to fill up the sound.

To counter this, I made a rapport with the audience, telling them my story of being here, cracking some jokes here and there.

Our setlist was:

1) Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock N Roll - Muddy Waters
2) My Babe - Little Walter
3) How Blue Can You Get - BB King
4) La Grange - ZZ Top
5) Got My Mojo Workin' - Muddy Waters

My tension eased once the first opening notes were played, and when everything gelled together. By the 3rd song we were in full force. Thankfully we pulled off a great performance and the crowd was very supportive and engaging, especially when they were singing along in "Got My Mojo Workin'.

Thanks to Fete de la Musique and to Beirut for having me again after all these years, to my friends and family who came to the show in support. I'm back in Kuwait now with the blues as I write this, but I hope to be back again soon.