Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Article in Project Revolver is Up!

I have joined forces with Project Revolver,  a Lebanese blogging platform dedicated to music via contributing authors, covering a wide array of subjects and genres.

My first article with them is called "10 Blues Songs That Shaped Rock n' Roll", and you can find it

Let me know what you think, and support Project Revolver!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Humor Blues - 'Chicken Cordon Blues'

I always share songs about despair, hard times, cheating lovers and assorted other things that make us cry. However I also am about having fun too; who says we have to be serious all the time?

Thanks to Steve Goodman, we have a funny blues tune called "Chicken Cordon Blues", which discusses the disintegrating eating habits of two lovers, as such:

When I first met you baby, you fed me on chicken and wine.
It was steak and potatoes and lobster and babe I sure felt fine.
But now all you ever give me is seaweed and alfalfa sprouts
And sunflower seeds and I got my doubts -
Babe, you left me here with the Chicken Cordon Bleus.

Alfalfa seeds... you can't get more blue than that!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Standard of the Week - 'Sweet Home Chicago'

This week, I'm jumping into one of the most famous and covered blues standards ever, called 'Sweet Home Chicago'. It was written in 1936 by Robert Johnson, which was a combination of several older songs, such as 'Kokomo Blues' by Scrapper Blackwell in the late 20's.

It features a straight 12 bar blues shuffle rhythm, and features a homage to Chicago, but also to California. This still is a bit controversial, as many were wondering why he asked his lady to go "back to the land of California". In most new versions, "California" is replaced with "that same old place". When played with amplified, this song gets pretty powerful.

This is the original Robert Johnson recording:

One of the earliest well received covers was by Junior Parker in 1958, where it reached #13 on the Billboard R&B charts:

The late great Magic Sam covered this song in 1967 on his album 'West Side Soul' : 

From 1980, this sweet version with extensive solo sections was recorded by The Blues Brothers, and is featured in the movie: 

A more recent, kick-ass version was performed live in the 2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival, featuring Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray and Hubert Sumlin:

And finally,


This is just a handful of the hundred and thousands of aspiring artists, and the best musicians perform.

'Chameleon' Live - Herbie Hancock & Jaco Pastorius

Put Herbie Hancock and Jaco Pastorius on the same track and what do you get?! A jazz/funk explosion!

This song is off of Herbie Hancock's breakthrough 1973 album 'Head Hunters', which was a jazz-funk album, a genre still in it's infancy but thanks to musicians like Miles Davis, was starting to gain momentum.

This version, off the Live Voyage album in 1977, features Herbie and Jaco trade off the bass parts, switching between the keyboard and bass guitar. Later, Herbie plays some interstellar key work. Sax is played by Bennie Maupin and drums by James Levi.

Funk it baby!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

'Johnny B Goode' From 'Back to the Future' Movie

Who doesn't love this movie?! It's one of the staples of the 1980's!

Besides the comedy and the crazy story, and that DeLorean car, there was a scene where Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) absolutely rips the song that shot Chuck Berry to fame, 'Johnny B Goode' which was a great moment from that movie, when Marty went back to 1955 to Hill Valley High School.

I especially like how at the end he goes off into a guitar frenzy. Enjoy this flashback folks!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Even Canadians Get the Blues

Originally this was just going to be a funny, 'nothing important happening this Saturday morning' type post, but once I actually heard the music, shit got real.

still funny though. Admit it... you laughed.

My curiosity led to me to hear some of the music, and damn... there's some epic big band jazz goin' on over here!

So yes thanks Rob McConnell, for showing us that Canadians can actually play good music... I mean... Justin Bieber? Nickelback? Fuck no, THIS IS SOME REAL CANADIAN STUFF PEOPLE. 

So enjoy the song 'Even Canadians Got the Blues', eh! You hosers!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Standard of the Week: 'Baby Please Don't Go'

This week, we delve into one of the most famous and most played blues standard of all time, called 'Baby Please Don't Go'. It was originally written and performed by Big Joe Williams in 1935, with himself on guitar and vocals, and features a fiddle and a washboard (played by Dad Tracy and Chasey Collins respectively), bringing on the work song origins and inspirations of the Mississippi Delta to the big city of Chicago where it was recorded.

The song was a smash hit and Williams went on to record another version of it later , as did several notable bluesmen adding their own touches such as Lightnin' Hopkins in 1947:

An electric Chicago blues from Muddy Waters in 1953:

And once rock n' roll came into action, many rock artists such as Bob Dylan in 1962: 

And even freakin' Aerosmith covered it:

Another major blues record that inspired legions of artists. Come back next week for another standard; or on second thought... baby, please don't go!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bluesman T-Model Ford Passes Away

Last night, delta bluesman T-Model Ford (real name James Lewis Carter Ford) passed away from respiratory failure. I wrote about him last year, mentioning that though he can't really remember his birthday, it's somewhere around the late 80's.

He was one of the last pure delta bluesmen, living a hard blues life (alcoholism, killing a man and spending two years in jail, marrying six women and fathering twenty six children), and only learned guitar at the age of 58.

He became popular in the 70's and kept performing and recording until his death.

RIP to a true bluesman.

Here's one of his songs, a cover of Howlin' Wolf's 'Asked Her for Water':

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

'He Don't Play Nothin' But The Blues' - Robben Ford

Robben Ford is one fine guitarist, having performed solo and with many great artists, including KISS, Miles Davis, and Joni Mitchell. He's released dozens of albums, and has been nominated to the Grammys four times.

with Miles Davis, 1986

His album 'Mystic Miles' released in 1993 features 'He Don't Play Nothin' But The Blues' as the opening track, providing high-octane blues/rock with it's distorted guitar riffs and heavy beat.

This is a song for cruising down the road!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The History of the Blues in 50 Guitar Riffs

The internet is a great place to be.

I found this great ass-kickin' video, which shows Ivan Milenkovic playing famous blues musicians riffs (short repeated musical phrase), 50 of them to be exact (!) detailing the major movers of the blues genre, from Robert Johnson to Muddy Waters to SRV and almost everyone in between. It tells the story of how the music developed from it's simple country roots to the more complex rock sound of today.

It just shows you how much the blues has contributed to Western music.

They start from the 20's-40's with acoustic Delta and Country blues, to the 50's Chicago blues, 60's and 70's blues / blues rock, 80's revival, and contemporary 90's and 00's. That's a huge history right there.

The full setlist is after the jump; so if you have 12 minutes to spare, you will not be dissapointed.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Old Russian Vinyls of Muddy Waters & Howlin' Wolf

Mississippi River Blues - George 'Harmonica' Smith

George 'Harmonica' Smith was a, you guessed it, a blues harp player who was most known for performing with Muddy Waters in the early 50's and again in the late 60's in Chicago. He was also a great vocalist in his own right, and released a few albums as well.

He relocated to the West Coast and remained there until his death in 1983.

Here's one of his classics, called 'Mississippi River Blues', a slow tempo, reflective, homesick tune:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Standard of the Week: 'St. James Infirmary Blues'

St. James Infirmary was written by an unknown author early on in the beginning of the 20th century. It was adapted from another song from 18th century England, and it is speculated that the infirmary was an actual hospital run by the church to treat leprosy. 

Once it moved the USA, it became about alcohol instead. Louis Armstrong made the song popular in 1928, with his version, in the minor key, with a somber tone and downer lyrics:

Cab Calloway, one of the original scat men, also performed this song in 1933, on a Betty Boop cartoon no less

Even Hugh freaking Laurie (AKA House) sang this song on his album:

It is one of the staples of New Orleans and 1920's jazz and has been performed by countless musicians, for good reason.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Happy Birthday Pinetop Perkins!

Today in 1913, blues piano legend Joseph "Pinetop" Perkins was born in Mississippi.

In the 50's he released a very well known (and now standard) song called "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie" and started touring and recording with Earl Hooker.

Pinetop is mostly known for being in Muddy Waters' blues band, replacing Otis Spann in 1969 and stayed on until Muddy's death in 1983.

From then on, he was a lead member of The Legendary Blues Band featuring other members of Muddy's band,  Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Calvin Jones, and Jerry Portnoy, during these years, and his debut album was released in 1988.

With a healthy and contant dose of albums and liver performances, Pinetop is the oldest-ever Grammy winner at the age of 97, winning the award for Best Traditional Blues Album for the 2011 album "Joined at the Hip", which he recorded with Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. He also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

The later years...
He died a month after his Grammy win in 2011; we wish him a happy birthday; for he is a true pillar of the blues and of music in general.

Here's his blues standard calle "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie":

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Love Extended Guitar Solos? 'No Tears' - Duke Robillard & Ronnie Earl

'The Duke Meets The Earl' is the first time blues guitar giants Duke Robillard and Ronnie Earl have recorded an album together, which was released in 2005. 

Between the two, they have won six W.C. Handy Awards as Blues Guitarist of the Year! But this is not two guys duelling at a showdown at high noon; what it is is two good friends and two exceptional guitar players jamming together and making exceptional music for the joy of playing together.

This album is a great contemporary blues album, a must for blues guitar lovers. I chose the cover of Walter Price's 'No Tears' because it's 16 minutes long and features about 10 minutes of guitar soloing, so what's not to love?!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

New Fender Bass Leaked: Modern Player Dimension

I'm always here bringing you the latest in Fender's guitar/bass releases, and now there's a new leak out... the Modern Player Dimension bass.

The Dimension was actually released in the early 2000's with a different look than usual Fender styles; but this one is more reminiscent of the Marauder or a Gibson-styled guitar, and features a triple-humbucker pickup. The Modern Player series is made in China and is the testing ground for eccentric styled Fender equipment.

I'm not too excited; I'm a Precision Bass dude all the way (ok and Jaguars too)!

Expect the official release announcement end of the month.

Bluesman Texas Johnny Brown Dies

Another sad day for the blues as Houston blues legend 'Texas' Johnny Brown passed away last night July 1st, at the age of 85.

He was diagnosed with liver cancer but he refused to get chemotherapy; he died peacefully in his sleep.

The bluesman has been a staple of the Houston blues scene since his arrival from Mississippi with his dad, a blind blues musician, at the age of 10. Johnny worked with his father for some time before beginning a successful solo career. 

Here's one of his blues standards called "There Goes the Blues", which in this sad day, is very true. RIP Johnny.

Monday, July 1, 2013

'Mini Bar Blues' - Fun Lovin' Criminals

I mentioned previously that the Fun Lovin' Criminals are one of my favorite bands, and perhaps I'm their biggest fan from the Middle East (still waiting for the band recognition on that one!). Their creative mix of blues, hip hop and rock resonates with me in crazy ways. Not to mention Huey Morgan is just a badass mofo.

On their second album '100% Columbian' released in 1998, there's a track called 'Mini Bar Blues' which features blues legend BB King on guitar; it's one their most "pure" blues songs on record. The mellow mood always cheers me up.

Here's the live version from back in the day, featuring their first drummer Steve: