Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Standard of the Week: 'The Sky is Crying'

In 1959, electric slide master Elmore James recorded an impromptu track in Chicago. Influenced by the rainy day, he picked up the guitar and wailed the blues, starting with the now famous line:

The sky is cryin' 
Can't you see the tears roll down the street 
The sky is cryin' 
Can't you see the tears roll down the street 
I've been looking for my baby 
And I wonder where can she be 

And  the rest is history; the song reached number #15 on the Billboard charts, and listed in the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame as a Classic of Blues Recording. It has since been covered by dozens of artists, such as:

Albert King:

Gary Moore:

Stevie Ray Vaughan:

Eric Clapton:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Beirut Speaks Jazz @ Metro Al-Madina

In celebration of International Jazz Day, the hard working folks at Metro Al-Madina have announced a free concert called 'BEIRUT SPEAKS JAZZ'.

I will miss this concert by one day (I'll be in Beirut on the 1st of May), so it would have been great to see all these superb artists again along with my friends who run the Metro.

Below is from their event page:

"Come experience the most versatile jazz event in Lebanon where an all-star lineup of rock, pop, rap, blues and tarab artists get together in one night and on one stage to perform arrangements of songs over the foundations of Jazz harmonies and rhythms.

Beirut Speaks Jazz 2014 artists:
Oumeima El Khalil
Tania Saleh
Mazen El Sayed (aka El Rass)
Donna Khalife
Erin Mikaelian
Chady Nashef
Makram Abol Hosn / bass
Fouad Afra / drums (my relative!)
Bashar Farran / bass
George Kassis / piano
Jean Madani / bass
Chady Nashef / guitar
Avo Tutunjian / saxophone
Tarek Yamani / piano
Joseph Zayoun / guitar
Tarek Yamani: Artistic Director / producer
Metro al Madina: Co-producer
and more to be announced soon…
Doors open at 9:00 pm
Concert starts at 9:30 pm"

Monday, April 21, 2014

'Born With The Blues' - Buster Benton ft. Carey Bell

Buster Benton was a great blues guitarist and vocalist, most active in the 60's up until his death in 1996.

His raw vocal energy and Chicago blues soul guitar playing led him to be a prolific session player and a solo artist, and was in Willie Dixon's Blues All-Stars for a while. Dixon in turn wrote his signature tune 'Spider in My Stew' in 1970.

Despite having amputations with both legs, he kept performing the blues with great tenacity.

Here's one of his great songs called 'Born With the Blues' which features Chicago harp master Carey Bell, released in 1979.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Review: 'One More Mile' - Muddy Waters

Bluesmen of old are usually very prolific; their music mantra was to get in a studio and record  much as they can in one day. Indeed, many old bluesmen recorded entire albums in one, two or three days. John Lee Hooker once said "It don't take me no three days to record no album." Bluesmen such as Lightnin' Hopkins have over 500 or 600 songs on record. 

Moving on to Muddy Waters, the father of the electric Chicago blues. In his recording tenure with Chess Records since 1946, he recorded extensively. His early 50's records hit the top of the charts, but he has a huge backlog of unreleased material.

In 1994, part of the Chess Collection albums, the album 'One More Mile' was released, featuring 41 tracks on 2 CD's. Disc 1 contains tracks from 1948 to 1963, and disc 2 from 1964 to 1972. 

Of these 41 tracks, only 3 were released previously (available on the expanded edition of 'Live in Newport 1960'). The rest have never been released at all, so as a fan of Muddy this naturally is very exciting.

A huge catalog of alternate takes from the early records like 'Rollin & Tumblin Part 2', 'Rollin Stone', and 'You Will Need My Help', which feature no drummers or other backup performers (just Muddy and an upright bass played by Ernest 'Big' Crawford), sound so raw and gritty.

The other tracks are more modern sounding with a full backup band, with tracks like 'Roll Me Over Baby', 'One More Mile' and 'Trouble Trouble'. The last 11 songs are an electric drummer-less performance from 1972 in Switzerland.

If you are tired of the same old 'best-of' compilation, go out and buy this album! This is some of Muddy's best work and  covers different stages of his career, and is of top quality throughout. Essential for a blues fan!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Vintage: Bill Cosby Teaches Lesson with the Blues

A while back I posted an old video from the very popular 80's sitcom "The Cosby Show", where special guest BB King appeared.

This time, from the same show, Bill Cosby teaches his son Theo on how to get his girlfriend back, using the blues. Of course, this leads to some comedic and awkward scenarios.

I love this show and this clip brought back so many memories!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mojohand - The Source of Blues Themed Products

As I mentioned a few days ago, the fine folks at Mojohand have been fast and efficient in creating the blog's new banner.

Mojohand is THE source for blues and folk themed products; from prints to t-shirts, caps to CD designs, Grego has got your back!

Grego has been exhibited numerous times in many art galleries, in XL and Living Blues magazines, at the SXSW Music Festival, Blues Legends Festival, Austin City Limits and dozens more.

He has designed CD's for the following bluesmen: Bukka White, Big Joe Williams, Redd Foxx, Blind Willie McTell, Freddie Fender, Freddie King, Rosetta Tharpe, Big Bill Broonzy, Sunnyland Slim, Muddy WatersThe Mojomatics, and many more.

Check out some of the designs below, and trust me, that mojo will be workin' on you! There's t-shirts, stickers and other cool stuff to purchase (over 15 ready designs available), shipping since 2001!

Click for more details.

Monday, April 14, 2014

'I'm Free' - Lucky Peterson

Lucky Peterson found his breakthrough in the late 80's and early 90's, blending blues with soul and R n B. He is a gifted guitarist and pianist and continues to perform and record today.

Here's a slow blues from his album 'Triple Play' from 1990:

Sunday, April 13, 2014

New Blog Banner Design

I hope you like the new banner design I got from, a fully dedicated blues art and design website.

Grego, the owner, has been in the business for a while and has made designs for famous blues and other artists, as well as t-shirt, CD, and folk art design.

Look out for a more in-depth look about Mojohand in the coming days.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Earth Day Concert by Nawaf Gheraibah & Friends

Once again, I have the honor to perform with one of Kuwait's musical visionaries, Nawaf Gheraibah. I have worked with Nawaf on his Bija Concert which sent waves across the country. He also made the Samsara event last year as well to much acclaim.

And now, a smaller version of his events will be held for Earth Day, on the 22nd and 23rd April at the Kuwait National Museum, and I will be on bass duties once more.

Check out the teaser video below, and hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Jazz Cover of the Game of Thrones Theme!

If you're like me and addicted to Game of Thrones (what a great start to season 4 eh?), then you will enjoy this cover of the main theme.

The 'smooth jazz' version of the theme is performed by Dave Koz (9 time Grammy winner) on sax, Adam Kubota on bass, Allan Mednard on drums ans Scott Bradlee on piano. And it kicks ass!

If you think the epic intensity of dragons, incest, blood and gore, and backstabbing is too much, then hear this and think of your loved one, gazing over King's Landing.