Thursday, January 30, 2014

Write Your Own Blues Lyrics!

Anyone remember adlibs?

Here's a template to write your own blues song; you can see mine below... make your own and share it with us!

Woke up this morning and I crawled right out of my chair.
Well, my old dog was gone, and I was left here all ill.
Yeah, I ain't had no lovin' since 1981.
No I been mistreated and lied to since 1981.
Think I'll go and cut myself before mistreatin' gets too much.

Are Blues Magazines Dead?

It is of no surprise that I am obsessed with the blues; apart from my membership in the Blues Foundation and The National Blues Museum, I also collected Blues Revue magazine up until 2012.

100 Issues of Blues Review, hung on my wall.

Blues Revue was the definitive blues magazine; it also came with CD's (subscribers only) to promote new blues music. It also had some guitar and harmonica lessons, reviews, news, and editorials. 

I say 'was' because as far as I know they are now called Blues Music Magazine (I don't recall getting a memo on that, so I'm assuming). 

With the insane popularity and near complete take over of the internet, everything physical is going down the drain. Digital and streaming audio have surpassed CD sales for a few years now, and printed media has also taken a huge hit.

Why would you want to buy a magazine that will not only require real estate to store, but by the time you read the news in the magazine, it would already be considered obsolete. In Blues Revue's case, the magazine was released every 2 months; so in between you lose a lot of information. 

Apart from a collectors value, there is no longer a need to maintain a physical copy anymore. You can get the news that you want, whenever you want it, and even hear music clips and make purchases at the touch of a button or a finger swipe. 

While there a handful of blues magazines still in print, they also have turned to the internet, just like the hundreds of newspapers and magazines worldwide to remain relevant and up to date. The way information is shared and viewed these days, especially towards a niche audience of blues lovers, has effectively killed printed format. If huge establishments like Newsweek went digital, and many more following, we will have to accept the fact this is the trend, but it doesn't mean its bad news!

As long as the blues writers and editors and lovers connect with the blues audience, then I don't see how this is a bad thing. We just want to preserve and promote and support the blues, so the online strategy just has to make sense and the rest is easy as pie. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

The 2014 Blues Grammy Winner & Rant

So last night, in the usual media blitz and the hoopla, the red carpet catwalk, Ryan Seacrest, and the gay and straight marriage mass ceremony, the Blues category of the Grammys was announced (in a pre-telecast of course).

Below from the official Grammys website:

Now, as much as I like Charlie Musselwhite, a very diverse and talented harp player (and guitarist), I think due to the fact that the Grammy bosses decided to merge the Traditional Blues and Contemporary Blues categories into one, the award has become just like any other award, such as Best Country Album (Taylor fucking Swift was nominated for this category, even though her album Red was pure pop). 

Surely, Ben Harper's album deserves praise, it's very good. But, at what point do you draw the line? It's a multi-genre album, mixing blues with R&B, gospel, and rock. While both musicians are technically proficient, but when it comes to the blues, in this case I think James Cotton should have won.

James Cotton is one of the last remaining original Chicago bluesmen still alive today, at the age of 78. His musical contributions span six decades, starting in the 1950's with Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. He was there at Muddy Waters 1977 Grammy winning album Hard Again, playing the harp like they did back in the early days of Chess Records.

James Cotton's opening harp riff sums up this whole song

Truly, Cotton was the obvious choice for having the best Blues album; his legacy alone deserves the win, after all he did win the Grammy for Best Traditional Blues album in 1996.

The Grammy bosses also horribly excluded Buddy Guy's critically and commercially acclaimed album Rhythm & Blues from this list.

The Grammy Awards continues to be a commercial spectacle, and since their butchering of the blues and jazz categories, we know that these awards don't represent the real will of the music fans.

The official Blues Music Awards will take place on May 8th, so stay tuned for the real blues!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

60 Years of the Fender Stratocaster

Hard to believe 60 freakin' years have passed since Leo Fender created the number one guitar in history. The Stratocaster (or 'Strat' for short) revolutionized music as we know it dozens of times over. 

To commemorate this anniversary, Fender has launched a special webpage for this occasion, highlighting major events from 1954 till now, with pictures, videos (like the one below) and many more!

They have also released SIX new guitars for this exciting event, and here they are below:







'I Could Have Had Religion' - Junior Wells

The Blues and religion are always in a contrasting relationship; while many bluesmen associate the music with the devil, god's abandonment due to slavery, hard times, poverty and other negative situations, others believe the music was inspired by minstrels and the gospel, and many sang in churches (such as BB King). 

In Junior Wells song 'I Could Have Had Religion' he shows his willingness to turn to religion, but his woman's dirty ways won't let him. In an also unusual first, he talks about the heart attack of Howlin' Wolf, the death of Magic Sam, and Muddy Waters' car accident. It's a very heartfelt tune, with real deep blues.

This song is off the album 'South Side Blues Jam' which was released in 1970, and features blues piano legend Otis Spann (he would pass away the same year), and blues guitar great Buddy Guy on guitar.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Original Delta Blues - Son House

Son House is labeled as one of the original Delta bluesmen, that deep blues of Mississippi. His influence spans from Robert Johnson to Muddy Waters and all the way to The White Stripes of today (they covered of his songs, 'Death Letter').

While he was active in the 1930's and 1940's, after a field recording by Alan Lomax, he disappeared from public view until he was rediscovered in the early 1960's. Since then until his death in 1988, his original Delta blues style kept reminding us of the long and hard history of the music and his life. He remained true to his solo acoustic roots. 

This album, called The Original Delta Blues was released in 1998, and features 11 tracks from the 1965 recording sessions (the complete sessions, available on another album, have 21 songs). It's shorter and therefore much easier for those who want to learn about the music to get into.

The songs include 'Death Letter', 'Preacher Blues', and a few a capella tracks, such as 'John the Revelator'.

You can hear the entire album below, and then go buy it when you're done!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Release: Miles Davis 'Live At Fillmore' Complete Performance

Yet another re-release is planned for jazz legend / guru Miles Davis, this time the 'Live At Filmore' album, which was originally released in 1970. The concert lasted 4 days at the famed Filmore East in Manhattan's East Village. 

The original release was heavily edited and therefore the track names were changed to the dates of the performances (Wednesday Miles, Thursday Miles etc). The CD release in 1997 had the actual song names. 

This expanded re-issue will be a 4 CD release with the entire four days included, which means there will be over two hours of unreleased music, the sound of Miles' electric jazz era. The performers include Steve Grossman on tenor and soprano sax, Chick Corea on Fender Rhodes electric piano, Keith Jarretton electronic organ, Dave Holland on acoustic and electric bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums, and Airto Moreira on percussion, cuica (Brazilian drum).

The songs include It's About that Time, Directions, I Fall in Love Too Easily, and many more.

[SOURCE] , noting that an official announcement by Sony has not been issued, but it has been teased on Miles Davis' Facebook page

Here's an audio clip from the original release; delve into the cool:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hubert Sumlin's Cover of Muddy Waters' 'Iodine In My Coffee'

In 2003, Chicago blues guitar legend Hubert Sumlin recorded an album called 'About Them Shoes', which features him playing covers of two other great bluesmen; seven Muddy Waters tracks and five Willie Dixon tracks, with one written by himself. The album also features Eric Clapton and Keith Richards (of The Rolling Stones). A stellar traditional blues album on all accounts. 

One of the covers, 'Iodine in My Coffee', is very true to the original 1952 recording, which Muddy Waters would be proud of.

Here's the cover, and below it the original:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

New Discovered Johnny Cash Recordings to be Released

Country legend Johnny Cash has hundreds upon hundreds of records out; he was a very busy and prolific musician. But even the greats have their bad moments, and in Cash's case it was the 1980's, where sales were low and he was dropped from his label.

In 2012, Cash's son John Carter found some old recordings in a vault; and these are not retakes or demos, but complete tracks for an unreleased album, recorded in 1981. It also features duets with Waylon Jennings and Cash's wife June. Now, they have been remastered and will be released on March 25th, 2014, unheard by anyone until now.

Hear the sneak preview below; and if you're a fan of Johnny Cash or old school country, this album is for you.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Nu Jazz Sounds : 'Saint Germain' - DJ Cam Quartet

Jazz as the genre is the most sub-varieties; from acid jazz to free jazz, to bebop and hardbop, to cool and smooth jazz and everything in between.

A recent genre that has been created (through experiments) is Nu Jazz. It's loosely defined as jazz music with electronic sounds, beats, and rhythms. Unlike traditional jazz, Nu Jazz focuses on the ambiance and music as a whole and less on an individual musician's musical prowess.

Here's one track I heard not too long ago, called "Saint Germain" (after the French quarter of Paris) by DJ Cam, which is features on his Rebirth of Cool CD (a Miles Davis reference there) and the Saint-Germain-des-Prés Café Vol.9 nu jazz compilation album:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Blues Artists of Live Aid '85

In 1985, the legendary concert Live Aid took place simultaneously in the UK and the US (and other countries like Japan, Germany contributed live shows). This event was the first collaborative effort to support relief aid in Africa. It was a major success, with about 1.9 billion viewers watching on the live broadcast.

While we mostly remember the show for Queen, Led Zeppelin (not listed as a group), The Who, Bruce Springsteen and the other major rock greats, there was some blues representation at the shows.

The blues artists who performed were:

- BB King (performing from Holland)

- Eric Clapton (performing from USA)

- George Thorogood and The Destroyers (performing from USA), with Albert Collins and Bo Diddley.

Here's a video for each of the performers at the gig:




Dubai Jazz Fest Finally Gets Jazz Artists, Sidelines Them

Usually, I don't hold a grudge for this long; it's like beating a dead horse. But this is (hopefully) the last time I'm gonna discuss the Dubai Jazz Fest.
Beating a dead horse while wearing a suit; not comfy I suppose... 

But finally, after several posts and updates, the Dubai Jazz Festival announced the artists who will be playing Jazz at the concert.

But where did they shove them? In the "Jazz Garden", a separate venue from the main stage where the 'big' artists will perform, and gave them short playing time (no more than one and a half hours). Not only that, but unless you purchased tickets to the main event, going to the jazz portion of the show has it's own tickets. Which I guess is a good thing if you only want the JAZZ show and not the pop drivel. 

You can see the list of jazz artists below and the web link [here]:

Since everyone, including myself, the Pan-Arabia Enquirer, and countless others already trolled this festival, I think it's time to bury that horse.

Let's see what next year has in store for us.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Bluesy Soundtrack of 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

I have yet to see the movie, however knowing director Martin Scorsese's love for blues music (he has included blues songs in many of his movies, such as Goodfellas), I knew there would be some blues music in there, and my instinct proved right!

The soundtrack features many blues and jazz songs, from Cannonball Adderley to Ahmad Jamal to Bo Diddley to Howlin' Wolf. Of course not the whole soundtrack is composed of blues and jazz, but if you want a solid music collection this soundtrack is available now.

Here's the tracklist, and below a live performance for Howlin' Wolf's 'Smokestack Lightnin':

 1. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy – Cannonball Adderley 
 2. Dust My Broom – Elmore James
 3. Bang! Bang! – Joe Cuba 
 4. Movin’ On Out (Anthony’s Song) – Billy Joel 
 5. C’est Si Bon – Eartha Kitt 
 6. Goldfinger – Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings 
 7. Pretty Thing – Bo Diddley
 8. Moonlight in Vermont (Live At The Pershing Lounge/1958) – Ahmad Jamal 
 9. Smokestack Lightning – Howlin’ Wolf 
 10. Hey Leroy, Your Mama’s Callin’ You – The Jimmy Castor Bunch 
 11. Double Dutch – Malcolm McLaren 
 12. Never Say Never – Romeo Void 
 13. Meth Lab Zoso Sticker – 7Horse 
 14. Road Runner (Single Version) – Bo Diddley 
 15. Mrs. Robinson (LP Version) – The Lemonheads 
 16. Cast Your Fate To the Wind – Allen Toussaint

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Blue Note Records Turns 75

The legendary jazz label turned 75 on the 6th of January.

Without Blue Note, we would have missed out of a ton of music, as hundreds of artists passed though (or still are) under their wing.

From the hard bop of John Coltrane, Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk, Lee Morgan, to the avant-garde of Eric Dolphy and Cecil Taylor, all the way to Norah Jones, US3, Joe Lovano, Winton Marsalis, and many more, Blue Note is truly a legacy of music.

Here's to another 75 years and beyond!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Editorial: The Lebanese Blues

I apologize in advance for the misleading title; I'm not going to talk about the blues scene in Lebanon (although I intend to make a field report about that in the coming months).

Rather, the recent events in the last few weeks in Lebanon have not been giving any positive signs for the future. And hence, I want to take some to talk about politics, even though there are more established political bloggers out there. But that doesn't mean I can't have my two cents now does it?

As a Lebanese expat, living most of my life outside of Lebanon, I fell in love with the country again during my years in AUB (prior to the assassination of Rafiq Hariri). Perhaps it was my independence, the university life, the music adventures, or anything to be out of Kuwait really. I really thought it was the ideal place to be; but as all good stories come to an end, and I left Lebanon in 2005, a week prior to Hariri's assassination.

Since then it's "always been hard luck and trouble" (- Albert King), with things spiraling out of control. For almost 10 long years, no longer was Lebanon our "pride and joy" (- BB King).

Since we have "other mules kicking in our stall" (- Howlin' Wolf), none of the outside powers will "leave our little girl alone" (- Stevie Ray Vaughan). In the meantime, we have been so busy worrying about our day to day life that we almost have "no food on the table, and no shoes on our feet" (- John Lee Hooker).

We love to hear the sounds of our family and friends, that sound of a "long distance call" (- Muddy Waters). We hear of their success stories and the hopeful youth's aspiration to be in a better place that will bring them dignity, instead of living with the "worried life blues" (- Sleepy John Estes).

We stumble on "the same old thing" (- Willie Dixon); we bring back the same people into power that never seem to have the best intentions for us. These same people who never address our needs, just to fill their pockets and to control our lives.

As if humans are already considered a cheap commodity, ignorance, and hate, have brought us to a point where even our libraries are being burned. We "stand at a crossroads" (- Robert Johnson), it's either we get our shit together, or our dreams of prosperity will evaporate, and while "I'm not superstitious" (- Willie Dixon), I can't see things getting any better, if we don't think of the future, like "the things we used to do" (- Guitar Slim).

While everyone will maybe ignore this and go "shake their moneymaker" (- Elmore James), I'll still be here "preaching the blues" (- Son House).

Hope everyone in Lebanon is safe, and here's to a good 2014.

Spin Doctors Spin The Blues

Remember "Two Princes"? 

Sure you do. If you feel the need to head back into the 1990's for a sec, here you go:

Arguably their only hit record, the band went their own way never to be heard from again.

Until 2013, when they released a BLUES album.

You see, it seems the band was getting positive reactions from their bluesy material, so they just recorded an entire album of blues.  

I don't think it's that bad; just not something you can get used to easily; it's definitely not the old pop-rock band sound you remember. 

Here's a song off their 'If The River Was Whiskey" (a line taken from the old blues song) called Scotch and Water Blues:

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014 Fender Basses (and a Kick-ass Amp)

Some new models of Fender's basses have been posted on their website, with no official statement just yet. These models are from the Custom Shop; nothing from the regular production just yet.

Nothing too unusual.

However I LOVE the new Vaporizer amp they just posted... that retro 50's "Jetsons" look is awesome.

Check out the new models below: