Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Buddy Guy Performs 'Hoochie Coochie Man' At The 2013 Kennedy Center Honors

Buddy Guy with President Obama at the show

The ambassador of the blues, Buddy Guy, performed at the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors (he was honoree in 2012). His choice was the classic Muddy Waters song 'Hoochie Coochie Man', on the 29th of  December.

Buddy Guy just kills it, and also gives a sod to Santana who won an award for 2013.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Year in Blues: Highlights of 2013

Another year, another moment for self-reflection.

This year saw growth of viewers on the blog, even though I haven't posted as much as I did in 2012 (due to my new role as a parent).

Since the news that Speakin' The Blues was chosen as one of Lebanon's Top 100 Blogs, we have had a lot more coverage. (Thanks!) I wrote two articles over on Project Revolver and got to meet many of Lebanon's famous bloggers and social media personalities through this.

So below are the top 10 viewed posts of 2013 on this blog, with major changes coming in 2014 (new design, a monthly comic strip, and more reports).

All in all musically, 2013 was my worst. True, I live in Kuwait, and the action is almost zero, but I used to perform a lot more in previous years. Hopefully, in 2014 I will announce something new from Avant-Garde Music Projects. Follow us on Facebook for more details.

I want to thank all the readers from all over the world for their support. To be one of the only (if not THE only) bloggers about blues and jazz in the Middle East, it's truly great to see that many people are reading. It just makes my drive more powerful

Well enough of that! Here's the list of the 10 most viewed posts of 2013 (in no particular order):

The Parasite Blues

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas (But Even Santa's Got the Blues)

A Merry Christmas from Speakin' the Blues!

But who says you can escape the blues?

Not even Santa can!

You can also take a fun blues Christmas quiz over [here].

Monday, December 23, 2013

Chicago Bluesman Eric 'Guitar' Davis Murdered


In a sad state of affairs, bluesman Eric 'Guitar' Davis was found murdered in Chicago's South Shore area. He was shot in his car several times. He was 41 years old.

The son of blues drummer Bobby 'Top Hat' Davis, Eric was a talented guitarist, and was known in the local scene and has several albums out, and tours.

It's a sad day for the blues, may you rest in peace Eric.

Here's his cover of Muddy Waters' 'Hoochie Coochie Man':

Sunday, December 22, 2013

5 Great Blues Songs That Appear in Film

The blues is America's gift to the music world; it inspired a new generation of musicians, and like the saying goes: 'Blues had a baby, and they named it Rock n' Roll'.

Throughout Hollywood's history dozens of blues songs have been used in movies, so here's five examples of famous blues songs that appear in them:

5. THE RAINMAKER : 'How Blue Can You Get?' - B.B. King

4. SKYFALL : 'Boom Boom' - The Animals (Cover of John Lee Hooker's original)

3. THE BLUES BROTHERS : 'Sweet Home Chicago' - The Blues Brothers

2. GOODFELLAS : 'Mannish Boy' - Muddy Waters

1. TERMINATOR 2 : 'Bad To The Bone' - George Thorogood & The Destroyers

Got some I missed? Let me know!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

'Miles Davis Way' Officially Named in NYC

New York City's 312 West 77th Street has been officially named 'Miles Davis Way' by Mayor Bloomberg, after intense campaigning from Shirley Zafirau, his old neighbor.

Legendary trumpeter and jazz leader Miles Davis lived on that street for almost 25 years. 

Read the whole story [here].

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

John Coltrane's 'Afro Blue Impressions' Re-Mastered & Expanded

One of John Coltrane's best live albums, 'Afro Blue Impressions', has been re-released as a double-disc with a new remastering and three extra bonus tracks.

Released originally in 1963, this was in the Classic Quartet's tour of Europe. With Elvin Jones on drums, McCoy Turner on piano, and Jimmy Garrison on bass, you knew this was gonna be an amazing performance. This was when Coltrane's music shifted to more modal and avant-garde jazz, from his old hard bop sound.

Featuring some of Coltrane's best songs, like Naima, Impressions, and a stunning 21 minute performance of My Favorite Things, the new album features 3 unreleased tracks from a Stockholm performance: Naima, My Favorite Things, and I Want To Talk About You.

It's also been nominated for a Grammy award for Best Album Notes.

Hear the supreme (pun intended) version of 'My Favorite Things' below, which features Coltrane on the unusual soprano saxophone, with a hypnotic performance: 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones Set for UAE

The UAE train just keeps on going.

Mega rock (and blues) stars Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones are set to perform in Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively, in 2014.

Marking their first performances in the Middle East, it's sure to draw huge crowds and it will be great for those of us who don't live in the UAE, since it's very close to everyone.

Eric Clapton plays on the 6th of March at the Dubai Media City Amphitheater ; tickets [here]
The Rolling Stones play on the 21st of February , Du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi ; tickets [here]

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Blues Returns to Africa - Songhoy Blues

The blues has it's origins planted in West Africa, and it was transported to the United States with the slaves, who then brought their music and influences to create the blues (this is the brief version of the story).

While I was exploring new blues music, I stumbled upon a blues band from Mali called Songhoy Blues. They started playing by trying to uplift the refugees of the war-torn country, especially after last year's Timbuktu taking by armed jihadists (it has since been liberated), who were being oppressed by severe Islamic laws.

After playing a few local bars, the band was then introduced to Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who recorded a song with them called 'Soubour' which means 'patience', a song referencing the refugees of Mali.

And with that, the song has been released on a compilation album by Africa Express called  Maison Des Jeunes, and now have been invited to play a gig in the UK.

Blues music is truly universal and I am very happy I stumbled on this music. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Johnny Winter CD Box Set To Be Released

[SOURCE] Sony Music has announced that they will released a 4-disc box set commemorating bluesman Johnnie Winter's 70th birthday. It will be released two days after his birthday on the 25th of February, 2014.

It will feature 56 tracks spanning all his recordings with Columbia Records, from 1969 (starting with his first album Johnny Winter until the 2011 album Roots.)

Johnny Winter is recognized as one of the best guitarists of all time ranked at number 63 by Rolling Stone magazine, and was instrumental in bringing Muddy Waters back to the spotlight after leaving Chess Records (he would release 3 studio albums and one live one with Winter, and 3 of those won Grammy awards).

Here's an old video from 1970 called "Be Careful with a Fool".

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

35th Blues Music Awards Nominees Announced

As every year, The Blues Foundation has announced the nominees for the 35th Blues Music Awards, which will be held (again, as usual) in Memphis, Tennessee on May 8, 2014.

The full list is below:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2013 Jazz Holiday Gift Guide

Last week I told you about the 2013 Blues Holiday Gift Guide, this time I'm sending you a Jazz gift guide!

JazzTimes has listed their guide for this holiday season, so I've embedded it here for you.

I accept gifts by the way :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

'Little Angel Child' - Pinetop Perkins

Pinetop Perkins was a legendary blues pianist, closely associated with Muddy Waters (he played with his band from the late 60's until Muddy's death in 1983). Pinetop was also a highly succussful solo artist who played the blues until his death at the age of 97 in 2011, just a month after receiving a Grammy award for Best Traditional Blues Album.

Here's a rare tune called "Little Angel Child" from 1978:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

2014 Blues Grammy Award Nominations Announced

The 56th Grammy Award Nominations have been announced for all categories, but what we care about is the blues, so below are the nominees for Best Blues Album, with a video for each nominee. You can see the full list [here].

Honestly, I'm very surprised that Buddy Guys' excellent album "Rhythm & Blues" is not nominated!

1- Remembering Little Walter Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia & James Harman

2- Cotton Mouth Man - James Cotton

3- Get Up! - Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite

4- Seesaw - Beth Hard & Joe Bonnamassa

5- Down in Louisiana - Bobby Rush

Friday, December 6, 2013

Blues Pianist Aaron Moore Dead at 95

Blues pianist Aaron Moore, the last Mississippi born pianist in Chicago, is dead at 95.

He was a well-known session player in the heyday of Chicago's blues, backing many of the famous players for 36 years. However he didn't achieve star status like his compatriots, rather retiring in the early 80's to be with his family.

However, in the 90's he went back to music and released two albums, one in 1996 and another in 1999 under the Delmark label with success.

Rest in peace Aaron, hope you are having fun with all the other bluesmen up in heaven.

Here's the title track from his 1996 debut album "Hello World":

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Blues Brothers Recreated With LEGOS!

Holy crap do people have some free time.

If you've seen the 1980 cult classic "The Blues Brothers", then you know that that Elwood and Jake Blues are on a mission from God to save their orphanage, and along the way they get in some trouble with the law (among others).
One of the car chases is through a mall; and it turns out, it's just as amazing with Lego bricks. Duncan McConchie, the mad genius at Bricktease, created a shot-for-shot recreation of the famous scene done entirely with Legos. 
This is brilliant , and this is what the internet is all about. Hats off to Duncan!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2013 Blues Holiday Gift Guide

2013 is almost over, and this month marks the shopping spree joyous holiday of Christmas. What better time to start picking out gifts for your friends (or yourself?)'s Blues section has it's 2013 holiday gift up and you can check it out in full [here], whilst I'll list them for you for ease:

2014 Blues Calendar From Blues Images 

Not only do you have a great collection of vintage blues art, but you get a free CD featuring classic blues songs from the likes of Blind Blake, Furry Lewis, Charlie Patton, and others!

'Rhythm & Blues' - Buddy Guy

The highly acclaimed 2013 release from Buddy Guy was a great success commercially and critically. You can read my review of the album [here].

Duane Allman's 'Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective' CD box set

The ENTIRE works of slide guitarist Duane Allman spanning seven discs. I hope you have a lot of free time to indulge all of it!

Eric Clapton's 'Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013' CD/DVD

In it's 4th show, Eric Clapton's renowned Crossroads Guitar Festival of 2013 which took place in Madison Square Garden was a massive blues, rock, and guitar festival featuring dozens of legendary artists like BB King, Jeff Beck, The Allman Brothers, and many more!

Eric Clapton's 'Give Me Strength' CD box set

A six disc compilation of just one (!) year of Eric Clapton's career, from 1974-1975. It features his solo work and other recordings such as rare sides and live tracks. One disc is a blu-ray remaster of the 461 Ocean Boulevard album (the one with "I Shot the Sheriff). 

Joe Bonamassa 'Tour de Force' DVDs

Earlier this year, blues-rocker Joe Bonamassa performed 4 different shows in London, each night with a different theme (blues, rock n' roll., power trio, acoustic/electric), so that's 4 different DVD's of different caliber. If you're a fan you should get all of them!

Robert Crumb's 'The Complete Album Cover Collection' Book

Robert Crumb is a cartoonist who is infatuated with old jazz and blues art. Since the early 60's he's done hundreds of album covers for many recording artists, such as James Brown, Frank Zappa, Gus Cannon, George Jones, Woody Guthrie, and more. Features 450 covers!

Third Man Records' Paramount Records 'Wonder Cabinet'

If you have around $500 to spend, this is an ultimate collectors item; the 1917-1927 catalog of defunct Paramount Records, featuring hundreds of songs and other goodies like:

800 newly-remastered digital tracks on a forged metal USB drive shaped like a Victrola stylus
200+ fully-restored original ads and images
6 x 180g LPs w/ hand-engraved metal leaf center labels on burled chestnut vinyl
Deluxe large-format hardcover art book: 250 pages, narrative with full-color plates 
Encyclopedia-style reference manual: 360 pages, field guide to artists & repertoire
Handcrafted elements: rich woods, lush upholstery, and custom-forged metal hardware
Track & Image App: First-of-its-kind music and image player app, allows user management of 800 tracks and 200+ original ads, housed on custom-made USB

Friday, November 29, 2013

Comedian Paul F. Tompkins Pokes Fun at Jazz

Comedian Paul F. Tompkins has a well known skit called "Jazz", where he makes fun of the genre and it's listeners (known as the common stupid people).

It's worth listening to some fun humor; got to have a sense of humor!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

'Stool Pigeon Blues' - Lightnin' Hopkins

Lightnin' Hopkins  is one of the blues' greatest heroes. His low down and gritty blues style has sent the story of the blues across the USA and the world.

This solitary lonesome blues hits the soul so hard you can feel the pain of Hopkins. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

'Old Vets Blues' - Poor Boy Burke

I discovered a new blues artist today called Poor Boy Burke. I could not find a bio and just a tiny photo of his only (?) hit song, Old Vets Blues, which might not even be one of the gents in the picture.

How bluer can you get? The song in itself is a simple piano blues, where Burke discusses how old he's become and he changed his young and wild days.

I used to be jealous back in my younger days;
Women don't excite me;
and I have changed my ways. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

For A Rainy Day: 'Tupelo Blues' - John Lee Hooker

A severe thunderstorm has hit Kuwait and the Gulf States, with Saudi Arabia experiencing great floods.

I recommend spending the day at home, while having John Lee Hooker's song, 'Tupelo Blues' playing non-stop.

Tupelo, Mississippi, was hit by a severe tornado in 1936 and caused hundreds of deaths, and John Lee's song is a homage to the hard-hit town.

This blues is very befitting of the current scenario.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Steven Seagal Sings the Blues (I Shit You Not)

Yes, THAT Steven Seagal.

The C (or D?) list action movie star has expanded into music, much like other actors, but he went to the blues.

He released his first album 'Songs from the Crystal Cave' in 2005, and somehow it was successful enough that he released another album called 'Mojo Priest' in 2006.

Is it good? You be the judge!

Here's the Muddy Waters classic performed by Lord Steven:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

'Standin' in My Door' - Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King

Smokin' Joe Kubek is a modern Texas blues guitarist, and Bnois King is an old school Lousiana blues guitarist. Put them both together and you get some smokin' grooves going on, one hot like Dallas, one cool like New Orleans.

They released an album in 2003 called "Roadhouse Research" on Blind Pig Records, which is one of the biggest blues labels, to much acclaim.

Here's one of the tracks off the album, called 'Standin' In My Door"

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

'I'm a King Bee' - Slim Harpo

Slim Harpo, real name James Moore, was an influential blues harmonica player. In 1957, 'I'm a King Bee' was released to much acclaim, becoming Slim's most famous song. In 2006, the song received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award for it's legacy.

The Rolling Stones covered this song on their debut album in 1964, and dozens of artists from Led Zeppelin to The Grateful Dead to Muddy Waters (his final album was named after this song) covered it.

The call and response tune with the sexual innuendo makes it raunchy and fun. Take a listen and get pumped!

Monday, November 11, 2013

'Come On In' - R.L. Burnside's Blues Meets Electronica

R.L. Burnside was one of the blues greatest heroes, who had his career noticed only in the early 90's. Before that, he was living by blues... he killed a man in Mississippi, did some jail time, had some family members killed in Chicago, was distant relatives with Muddy Waters, and lived a county away from 'Mississippi' Fred McDowell.

He's a big family man too... he has 13 children, 35 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren.

In 1998, 'Come On In' was released, which featured Burnside's blues remixed with electronica by Tom Rothrock, to a great deal of success. There have been many attempts trying to fuse blues with other genres (see the Putamayo example), but this one largely stays true to the sound of the blues while giving us a different perspective.

I actually liked the idea; for those of you who like blues or electronic music, you might wanna check this album out.

Here's the blues standard 'Rollin' & Tumblin" from the album with a twist:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

More Dubai Jazz Fest Fail: Stone Temple Pilots & Colbie Caillat

I don't know how many articles I have to write about this issue. But yes, I'm still pissed off.

Two new acts have been announced to this 'jazz' concert:

And then of course, there's the obligatory PR crap:

‘By popular demand, the alternative classic rock band Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington will headline the opening night. Just like the Dubai Jazz Festival, the band is upholding their legacy while keeping up with the new age,’ said the co-founder and CEO of Chillout Productions, the promoters behind the festival.

Unless they haven't been following the online rants and hate, I don't see where by' popular demand' that these were the bands the fans wanted to see. I mean, AT FUCKING LEAST if you're gonna get Stone Temple Pilots, bring Scott Weiland on board!

So far, NO JAZZ FUCKING ARTIST has been announced. 

Maybe it's just better to let this matter go and just move on. RIP Dubai Jazz Fest 2014. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Blues: 'Blood Thirsty Blues' - Victoria Spivey

While many or most of you will be dressing up as pirates, prostitutes, or the ever so cliche zombies, while asking people for sweet delicious candy, Victoria Spivey sings about the true horrors of love, more fitting to this dark festival.

I can tell you, if you're in love with a blues woman and you treat her wrong, you're gonna get what's coming to you.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

John Coltrane's 'Love Supreme' in Graffiti Art

Made by German artist MTO in Paris a few years back. 

Author Tony Whyton had a few words to say about this artwork. You can read the full text [here]. Below is an excerpt:

 "MTO’s image is inspired by Coltrane but also acts as an alternative to everyday representations of the icon. This is not an official reading of Coltrane’s masterpiece and, arguably, it conveys a certain politics: the graffiti artwork itself can be read as an act of subversion. Similarly, some of my research interests involve challenging official or dominant narratives that have become associated with Coltrane, trying to seek out underlying agendas which might play a role in the changing representation and interpretations of his music, and offering an alternative means of understanding the Coltrane legacy."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Legendary Chicago Blues Get-Together

In 1966, Canadian CBC Television invited some of North America's greatest blues performers to gather in a studio in Toronto, recording together and individually in sessions that lasted three days. The result was originally televised as part of the CBC "Festival" series, and now the session video tapes have been found, restored and re-edited.

The great Muddy Waters and his band perform "You Can't Lose What You Never Had" and "Got My Mojo Workin'," the latter with James Cotton on harmonica. Willie Dixon goes solo on "Bassology" and (helped by a little '90s technology) performs "Crazy for My Baby" with host Colin James. Plus rare appearances by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Mable Hillery singing "How Long This Train Been Gone," and delta blues piano player Sunnyland Slim, introducing a whole new generation to this inspiring, soulful music.

For the closing song, Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Mable Hillary, Sunnyland Slim, Otis Spann, and Willie Dixon perform "Bye, Bye, Bye Baby, Goodbye" in an all out ensemble.

Ironically, or cryptically, this would be the last time such a gathering would happen. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Blues Brothers Video Game

In 1992, Titus Software released a platform game based on the popular Blues Brothers film on PC, NES and other platforms.

It's a strange game, with almost nothing to do with the movie apart from the characters Jake and Elwood Blues, and a midi soundtrack related to the film's music. The rest involves picking up boxes and using them to climb to platforms to damage opponents.

I guess it's part of how licensed material goes; take a popular movie or series and milk it to merchandise. Star Wars makes billions of dollars annually on merchandise like toys and t-shirts. Usually, licensed franchise video games don't turn out well, the only exception being the latest Batman games on the PS3/360.

The Blues Brothers game play demo on the first level of the game

Sunday, October 20, 2013

'Freight Train Blues' - Roosevelt Charles

Roosevelt Charles lived a blues life; not only do we not know his birth date, place or his death, but he was recorded while he was serving time in Louisiana's Angola prison in the early 60's by a blues historian, Dr. Harry Oster.

There's one album (a compilation of that recording) called 'Blues, Prayer, Work, and Trouble Songs' in 1964 on the Vanguard label. 

Here's a very low down dirty blues called 'Freight Train Blues', a homage to the hobo life:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

'Big Town Playboy' - Little Johnnie Jones

Jones (left) with Otis Spann (center) and George Buford, late '50s

Little Johnnie Jones, from Mississippi, traveled to Chicago like many of the other major blues acts, and was most famously known for playing the piano with Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf  and many others.

He was a heavy drinker, had a wild character, and used to always get in fights, indicative of his pure blues life. He died at the early age of 40 in 1964 from illness.

He did record a few solo tracks and his most famous is 'Big Town Playboy' recorded in 1949 and released in 1950:

The Mockery That Is The Dubai Jazz Fest [UPDATE]


Boy band The Wanted (who?) have been announced today:


Oh boy; it seems that the 2014 Dubai Jazz Festival, as I expected, will be a major disappointment yet again for jazz fans.

This whole story began last year when I pointed out my skepticism about having major rock and pop acts headline a supposedly jazz-centric festival. The major acts were Deep Purple, Three Doors Down, The Script, and One Republic.

This year, it seems that things will be worse, as this photo from the official Facebook page of the festival indicates: 

Eight pop (!) acts will be announced, two of which (Olly Murs and Jamie Cullum) have been revealed. I only expect things to get worse.

I also want to mention that the organizers need some lessons on how to use the social media, as they have been deleting comments and banning users from their Facebook page, and even making ridiculous statements like the one below (thanks to Anonymous for the screenshot). It has since been removed but remember, nothing on the internet is removed:

This farcical display and the fact that there is basically little to no jazz in this festival, several websites, such as the Pan-Arabian Enquirer, have taken to mock and troll the festival, as well as a new parody Twitter account has been created, with great tweets like: 

With this developing story generating some sweet scandalous internet sensationalism, and the disappointment  of the treatment of the music called jazz in efforts rake in sales and attendance, I expect this to go on for a while until (or if) some more JAZZ music is announced. 

Stay tuned for more on this story soon!

Monday, October 7, 2013

High Price For Extremely Rare Tommy Johnson Record

Who says that blues music can't have it's share of high priced valuables?

An extremely rare Delta bluesman Tommy Johnson Record was sold at  winning bid of $37,100 on eBay, which is about $33,000 more than the original asking price. You can see the actual item bidding [here].

The original record, called "Alcohol And Jake Blues', was released on the Paramount label sometime in the late 20's or early 30's. 

This could be the only one to exist. What a fantastic find!


Here's the song in question!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

'I'm Going to Mississippi' - Magic Slim

Magic Slim was a great bluesman, winning many awards including 'Best Traditional Male Artist' in the 2013 Blues Awards. He sadly died in February of this year.

Magic Slim's performance is fantastic on this track. Hope you enjoy it, it's not often you see a Fender Jazzmaster in the blues!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

'Pigeon Jazz in the City' - A Literal Title

To introduce the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival 2012, a full jazz ensemble was set up in Pigeon Square in Johannesburg. Seeds and popcorn were scattered over the instruments and the new jazz band called 'Featherweights', assembled to create music. It wasn't long before the sounds of pigeon jazz filled the air - much to the delight of passers-by.