Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Day We Rocked Dubai

In 2008, our band The Lounging Criminals submitted a few original songs to compete for the Shamal Battle of the Bands.  The winning band would open the 2008 Dubai Desert Rock Festival, that year being headlined by Muse and Korn.

We got the call that we were chosen to compete. It was a great trip with the guys (Aziz, Fawaz, Yousef, and myself), rented a villa, did all kinds of crazy stuff; and most importantly, on March 6, we rocked the house with our original music.

 At the end of the day, we didn't pull off the win (we got 3rd place, out of 11 regional bands), but we did get to see Velvet Revolver and attend the show.

 Here are a few pics of that night, and of course I was repping the Blues!

JLP's 'Through the Looking Glass' - A Documentary

JLP, a local act from Lebanon, are currently on a roll.

Dozens of gigs later, JLP has become a dominating force, performing cover songs from across the musical spectrum in their style.

The band is composed of my AUB buddies Ramzi, Ziad, Boudy, Ghassan, and Joe (who I played alongside with at the 2008 Dubai Battle of the Bands, but that's a different story).

They won "Best Local Cover Act" at Timeout Beirut's Nightlife Awards 2012; the Readers Choice.

What's is purely awesome is that they made a VH1 styled documentary which was beautifully made; check out the over 25 (!) minute video below; these guys are hard working and are the real deal.

If you are ever in Beirut you should definitely check them out; they are performing weekly in several pubs mostly in the Hamra area.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Jimi Hendrix!!

The man who singlehandedly revolutionized the future of rock and roll, the Voodoo Child Jimi Hendrix was born on this  day in 1942.

I mean... I could go on and on about Jimi; about his passion for music, to his guitar experimentation, the whole guitar burning ritual in the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, Woodstock... the Band of Gypsies... the list goes on and on.

He took the roots of the blues to a whole new level, and with that changed music forever. He is repeatedly voted the best guitarist of all time, and among the most popular musicians ever.

He did it all while he was still young, and unfortunately died at the age of 27...

I will let the music speak for itself... the everlasting "Purple Haze"... now excuse me while I kiss the sky.

Monday, November 26, 2012

67 Years Ago: Charlie Parker Records 'Ko-Ko' featuring Dizzie Gillespie

Bird and Dizzy
Today in 1945, the first ever bebop song was recorded, according to popular opinion.

See, during this time, there was a ban on union musicians to record for the labels due to royalty issues; so not many records were released, and due to this it has lead this song, "Ko-Ko" to be perceived as such.

Of course, Bird, real name Charlie Parker, would create massive waves with this song, which features trumpeter extraordinaire Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet (and piano) and himself on alto sax.

This new sound, of fast solos, complex rhythm work and improv, would soon lead to other forms of jazz, including hard-bop and modal jazz.

It's interesting to disbelieve this song is actually from 1945; it still sounds fresh today, and is easily understood how this genre of jazz was the framework for the future. Interesting tid-bit; it seems Miles Davis was supposed to play the trumpet on this track but was not available, so Dizzy stepped in!

Here's the song 'Ko-Ko'; enjoy everyone!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Deep Purple to Headline Dubai Jazz Festival 2013

Now sponsored by Emirates Airlines, the 2013 Dubai Jazz Festival has been announced, with so far only one act headlining: classic rockers Deep Purple.

Aging rockers headlining a jazz festival... it's too ironic and sad to be honest. Trying to showhorn non-jazz acts just to increase ticket sales is pretty low.

I mean, last year they got James Blunt (see my 2012 Dubai Jazz Fest post [here])... they had Celine Dion open the Jamaican Jazz & Blues Fest...

It's a shame really. Even in the blues they add reggae and other styles just to broaden the audience.

I might be too idealistic but I feel it just convolutes the music.

See the official Dubai Jazz Fest site [here] and stay tuned for updates; they just might surprise us with the other acts.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Independence Day Lebanon!

69 Years and the Struggle Continues
1943 - 2012

10 Most Influential Texas Blues Guitarists

The Dallas Observer has published an article of the 10 most influential Texas blues guitarists. It's a great list (except for Dimebag Darrell... this is out of place and shouldn't be listed... he's a metal guitarist for gods sake) and there's a lot of information and videos!

The list is as follows:

10 - Albert Collins
  9 - T-Bone Walker
  8 - Lightnin' Hopkins
  7 - Blind Lemon Jefferson
  6 - Eric Johnson
  5 - Billy Gibbons (of ZZ Top)
  4 - Dimebag Darrell
  3 - Freddie King
  2 - WC Clark

and at number one... you guessed it:


So to celebrate this here's a kickass version of Tightrope. Check out the list in detail [here].

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

'King Bee' - The Final Muddy Waters Album

After a long career that lasted from the 40's, Muddy Waters recorded his last album in 1981, with the title "King Bee", after a song written by Slim Harpo, which is also the first track. This would be the third studio album recorded under the Blue Sky/Sony label with guitarist Johnny Winter (the first being Hard Again and the second I'm Ready).

However, not everything was rosy as previous albums. By this time, Muddy's health was beginning to deteriorate and due to this, less live performances were made. This didn't fare well with his bandmates (including Bob Margolin, a great guitarist in his own right), because they needed the gigs to make money. The sessions were filled with tension, and to this, not many new songs were recorded. Instead, unused material from Hard Again were used alongside the couple of songs that were made.

This reflects the overall quality of the music, even though it sounds superb, but the rawness found in the first two seems absent. This one feels more somber... especially on songs like "Sad, Sad Day" which features an amazing guitar solo by Johnny Winter.

There's an acoustic "throwback" number as well, on "Feel Like Going Home" with Winter playing on a National Steel resonator guitar; the final result is not as tight as "Can't be Satisfied" from Hard Again. (This song was used from those sessions).

One of the new standout tracks is "Champagne and Reefer", which Muddy wrote to please the younger crowds (See the video below).

On 2004 Deluxe Edition, 2 more tracks are added being: "I Won't Go On" and "Clouds in my Heart" which add more value.

I wouldn't recommend to start your collection from here, but it's still got some great blues.


  1. I'm A King Bee
  2. Too Young To Know
  3. Mean Old Frisco Blues 
  4. Forever Lonely
  5. I Feel Like Going Home 
  6. Champagne & Reefer
  7. Sad, Sad Day
  8. (My Eyes) Keep Me In Trouble
  9. Deep Down in Florida #2 
  10. No Escape From The Blues
  11. (bonus track) I Won't Go On
  12. (bonus track) Clouds in my Heart

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cover Art: Wu Tang Clan VS Blue Note Records

No, it's not a Shaolin shadowboxing faceoff (all though that would be awesome).

Flickr user Logan Mills (akadvantagelogan) has made an awesome reinterpretation of the Wu Tang Clan (my favorite hip hop group) cover albums with the styling of jazz label Blue Note Records, whose albums such as John Coltrane's Blue Train (see below) have become an iconic style on their own.

Blue Train's cover inspired the "blue" era of Blue Note Records.

Here are a couple below, of RZA, GZA, and Raekwon, and you see the full 21 photos at his Flickr site [here].

Eric Clapton Announces US Tour & Crossroads Festival

Eric Clapton has announced a major US Tour in 2013 that will end with the 4th Crossroads Guitar Festival.

From Eric's Official Page:

Clapton and his band will visit more than a dozen cities across the U.S. beginning March 14, 2013 (see itinerary below). The tour will end with the two-night Festival where Clapton will gather the past, present and future of guitar music onto one stage for an unparalleled musical event

I expect there will be a huge roster of awesome musicians, who in the past include BB King, Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Randoph, Jeff Beck, Vince Gill, ZZ Top, John Mayer etc. The official website of the Crossroads Fest has opened; check it out [here]:

 I have the 2004 and the 2007 on DVD; while I enjoyed the 2004 concert, the 2007 however felt stale.  Here's "Sweet Home Chicago" being played by Clapton, Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray, and Hubert Sumlin from the 2004 festival:

Monday, November 19, 2012

'Undertaker Blues' - Buddy Moss, 1934

Another low down, dirty, somber blues today from the 30's... this time by Buddy Moss.

Buddy lived the blues... not only was he jailed and convicted for murder of his wife, but also was forgotten as a musician. He was very famous in the 30's and 40's, playing along side Blind Blake, Blind Willie McTell, and Curley Weaver.

More rootsy blues coming your way as always.

'Sugar Mama Blues No. 1' - Tampa Red, 1934

If you're feeling like an old school, low down blues, then look further than Tampa Red's version of Sugar Mama. Obviously this is his first recording, hence 'No. 1".

 This standard from 1934 was also recorded many times by other artists like Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Sonnyboy Williamson.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Sweet-ass Fender Telecaster Model

Fender has released a Factory Special Run, the Thinline Super Deluxe Telecaster. It's styling is definitely not of the standard Fender; but rather like Gretsch, which reminds me of  The Chickencaster I posted about before.

From Fender:

Available in Black and Olympic White, its elegant appointments include a resonant semi-hollow basswood body with double binding and a single f hole, matching painted headstock, 7.25"-radius bound rosewood fingerboard with pearloid block inlays, and a scorching pair of Fideli'Tron™ humbucking pickups.

Get more details [here].

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Keep Calm and Jazz On

Record Store Owner Finds the 'Holy Grail' Robert Johnson Record

A lucky record store owner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has found a rare and legendary record of Robert Johnson's second recorded song, "I Believe I'll Dust my Broom", under a mess of old records. It's in prefect condition and according to experts, only between 15-30 copies exist in such a shape.

Selling price of this record could be between $6,000 - $12,000... but he doesn't plan on selling it just get! I wouldn't sell it for any top bidder... what a great find and an awesome story.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ten Jazz Albums to Hear Before You Die

Yes, that's more than ten. Sue me.
The Village Voice (an ace website by the way) has listed ten jazz albums, that, in their opinion, you must hear before you die.

Now obviously we cannot have a definitive list, especially that ten is too small for such a historical and diverse genre... but never the less some of them are spot on.

Here's the list (the full link is [here] ) : 
10. The Shape of Jazz to Come - Ornette Coleman
9. The Bridge - Sonny Rollins
8. Head Hunters - Herbie Hancock
7. Ella and Louis - Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
6. Bitches Brew - Miles Davis
5. Monk's Dream - Thelonious Monk
4. Time Out - Dave Brubeck
3. Ah Um - Charles Mingus
2. Blue Train - John Coltrane
1. Kind of Blue - Miles Davis
Miles Davis gets two mentions, and Kind of Blue is obviously number one... it's too important to be anything less. Nice to see Coltrane at number two, but I might have suggested A Love Supreme instead. Seeing two forward thinking albums like Ah Um and A Shape to Jazz to Come was great... Head Hunters and Bitches are tributes to a  more electric sound of jazz.

Well other than the Ella/Louis album (since I'm not really into vocal jazz) I don't think this is a bad list overall! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Read a Lengthy Interview with Miles Davis from 1985

Over on The Guardian, they published an old NME article about Miles Davis from 1985. It's pretty long, so be ready. Here are some highlights:

"Coltrane was a very greedy man. Bird was, too. He was a big hog."
"If you jump on a horse and see he's on the wrong foot, you keep checking him until he gets to the fence – that's what I do when I'm playing."
"When you do anything too long, you either wear it out or lose interest."
"I'd rather play something that you can learn and like that you don't know. I don't want people to know what I am."
"If I ever leave a will it's not gonna be to my relatives, it's to the people I function around best. You're around musicians all the time. You're not alone."

Read the full article [here].

Monday, November 12, 2012

55 Years Ago, Thelonious Monk & John Coltrane Live at Carnegie Hall

Although this recording was made on November 29, 1957, I am too excited to wait that long.

Coltrane left the Miles Davis quintet in April 1957, due to his drug addictions. In this time he tried to sober up, and before rejoining the quintet in 1958 (and went on to record the two important albums "Milestones" and "Kind of Blue"), he joined forces with the legendary pianist and leader, Thelonious Monk.

There was a studio album released, and several live shows recorded. This particular show in 1957 was only discovered in 2005 at the Library of Congress. It was remastered by Monk's son and released on Blue Note Records.

The album was critically acclaimed for a good reason; two jazz masters playing classic tracks, including "Blue Monk" as below, to great skill and form.

You must get this live album for great showmanship and intensity!

The US Air Force Custom Precision Bass

Over on custom guitar luthiers Doner Designs, I spotted a unique custom Precision Bass, in a US Air Force fighter jet design... full with knobs and stickers and everything!

 There are no concrete details, but what it looks to me are EMG Precision pickups, a Gibson EB mudbucker, and a Rickenbacker 4003 bridge pickup. Active/Passive switches, bass/treble/mid boost/cuts and volume etc.

I'd join the Air Force just to play that bass!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Letter Concerning the Naming of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew Album

Did You Know? The Simpsons Recorded a Blues Album!

Yes folks; believe it or not, in 1990, The Simpsons released an album called "The Simpsons Sing the Blues". None of the songs except for one (Moanin' Lisa Blues) were ever aired on the series.

This album features famous musicians like BB King, Joe Walsh (The Eagles), Dr. John, and DJ Jazzy Jeff (Fresh Prince), and if any of you remember when we were kids, (I actually had this album on cassette around '93) it had the single "Do the Bartman". Lisa, Marge, Montgomery Burns, also bring their voices to the songlist.

The album was a hit and reached at number 3 on Billboard's charts.

Hearing Homer sing Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign" is just insane and it features BB King on the guitar!. Check it out below!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The "No PS3 Skyrim DLC" Blues

It's no secret I'm in love with videogames... I've had a few games related posts on this blog, the most being about the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:

And now, A year after the game was launched, I'm still waiting for the 2 DLC's (downloadable content) that have been released ("Dawnguard" and "Hearthfire") and the just announced DLC "Dragonborn" (check it below at the end of the article) to be announced for the PS3. 

I don't have an up to date, top-of-the-line PC nor do I have the time to buy an Xbox 360 or additional console. I've played this game for hundreds of hours, have wallpapers and stuff all over my work PC and my phone and the the ringtone of the main theme,  got the freaking collectors editions (with the Alduin statue) and all that. I feel dissapointed that Bethesda still has no real reason (all they said was they are having difficulty coding the DLC and nothing else). 

Even their PR has went silent, which led many to believe (including myself) that the new DLC announcement was to include news of a PS3 version.

I guess all I can do now is wait and play the Ballad of the Dragonborn non-stop and just hope that the heavens bestow upon us this much needed addition to one of the best games ever.

Here's the latest DLC trailer; drool as necessary.

Monday, November 5, 2012

"Miles Davis: The Complete Illustrated History" Releasing Later This Month


A new book by Ashley Kahn, who also wrote the two jazz books I wrote about previously about Davis and John Coltrane's biggest albums, will feature 300 pictures and writings by people from actor Bill Cosby to saxophonist Sonny Rollins.

This is an awesome book to see the transformation of Miles from his squeaky clean bop days to his crazy fusion/electric jazz phase.

It will be released on November 17, so get to Amazon and be ready!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Slowtrane - John Coltrane

The album called "The Last Trane" was released in 1965 on Prestige Records, Coltrane's old record label before he moved to Blue Note and then to Atlantic. The songs on there are all from 1957-58 and were used from unreleased material.

This song, called "Slowtrane" is a mellow bluesy number, one of the album's highlights.

Milk Cow Blues - Kokomo Arnold

This song by country blues guitarist Kokomo Arnold from 1934 is what inspired Robert Johnson to write "Sweet Home Chicago" and "Milkcow's Calf Blues", and is one of the staples in the old blues standards.

 The unique singing by Arnold and his hypnotic slide guitar remains cemented in the blues roots.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How I Kept my Homesick Lebanon Blues Away

Thanks Dubai!