Wednesday, April 30, 2014

'3 O'Clock Blues' - Ike & Tina Turner

When you hear the names 'Ike & Tina Turner' you probably only think about domestic violence, drug use, and the wild media fire surrounding their marriage.

However they were a musical force back in the day; they were responsible for many hits in the 60's and 70's like 'Proud Mary', won Grammy's and were inducted in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame. Ike's guitar playing and Tina's soulful voice won them a lot of fans and recognition.

What's interesting is that they recorded a pure blues track, the standard '3 O'Clock Blues' which was originally by Lowell Fulson in 1948, but is most known to be a standard BB King tune as he made it famous in 1951.

It's a great version, and Tina rips through the blues while Ike's lead guitar fits the bill quite nicely.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Singers to Commemorate 50th Anniversary of the Blues & Gospel Train Concert


In a very exciting piece of news, several singers are getting ready to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the famous Blues & Gospel Train concert that took place at a train station in Manchester, UK, on May 7, 1964.

The concert, which was released as a film, features the great Muddy Waters, Cousin Joe, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee.

Here's Muddy Waters performing 'Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had' from that show:

Now, on May 3rd, several musicians including Phil Busby, will perform at Whalley Range, close to the original location of the concert. Phil had this to say:

"Coming over to the UK to play gigs like this reignited the careers of musicians like Muddy Waters, and the Blues and Gospel Train gig has become an iconic moment in Blues music history. This single film that Granada made has become part of the memory of the British music scene."

You can visit the event page of [Facebook] and if you are in the UK you owe it to yourself to be there!!

Monday, April 28, 2014

'Sitting At My Window' - Son Seals

Son Seals (real name Frank Seals) was a well known blues guitarist and vocalist, and was most active in the 1970's up until his death in 2004. He had a soulful and dazzling guitar technique that propelled him to the heights of the Chicago blues circuit.

This song is from his electrifying debut album The Son Seals Blues Band in 1973 on Alligator Records, where he would stay for most of his recording life.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Rap Meets Blues: 'Bridging the Gap' - Nas ft. Olu Dara

I love seeing the blues being fused with other genres; it makes for interesting combinations.

One such mix is the 2nd single from famous rapper Nas, off his 2004 album 'Street Disciple'.

Sampling Muddy Waters' "Mannish Boy", it features his father Olu Dara (who is also a musician) on the chorus, singing about raising Nas as a child, whose real name is Nasir.

Nas spits some lines about his life when he was young, growing up, and the blues too:

The blues came from gospel, gospel from blues
Slaves are harmonizin' them ah's and ooh's
Old school, new school, know school rules
All these years I been voicin' my blues

There have been many tries to mix these genres together, but Nas brings it hardcore.

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.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Blues Magazine Now Available in the Middle East

Well this is a surprising find! Who would have thought that a blues exclusive magazine would find itself in Kuwait?

I wrote about the state of blues magazines not too long ago, and I've been following a relatively new one called The Blues Magazine out of the UK. You can check out their blog [here]. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.

This particular issue is number 12, and covers a range of topics in 130 pages like:

- The 1964 Blues & Gospel Tour of Europe featuring Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee and others
- Article on Robert Cray
- 60 Years of the Fender Strat (I did that too!)
- Article on Jack Bruce

and a dozen other things like reviews, tour information, hundreds of color photos and editorials.

It also comes with a CD, which was removed from my copy due to Kuwaiti customs (still the devil's music eh?). As you can see the cover has been ripped and the CD taken out. 

So go on over to your local bookstore and get your copy and support the blues!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Legacy of Muddy Waters

The 4th of April marked the 101st birthday of McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters.

Muddy Waters is my hands down favorite bluesman of all time. His music is where I draw my musical inspiration from, like the hundreds of others.

Like many bluesmen before him, Muddy traveled to Chicago from his native Mississippi. But it was his new 'electric' sound that brought him to the public and national light. Before this, music was all acoustic, and in live situations the guitar (and by extension the bass) was near inaudible over the drums and a horn section. Once he tried plugging in his guitar through an amplifier, the sound of the blues was changed forever. But it was also his Mississippi Delta upbringing that also gave his blues a raw feel. His use of amplification is cited as, the  missing link between Delta Blues and Rock 'N' Roll.

I Can't Be Satisfied, released in 1948, arguably 'the song' that changed music.  

Soon enough, it was hit after hit during the 50's, and his music defined the Chicago blues, such as Hoochie Cootchie Man, Rolling Stone, Mannish Boy, You Shook Me, and many more. His music and the evolution of rock n' roll dominated the scenes in the 1960's and 1970's. You owe him for many of the British bands of the day, like The Rolling Stones, Clapton, and Led Zeppelin. He has 3 albums in the Top 500 Albums of all Time

He has won Grammys, has a Lifetime Achievement Award and is a Rock n' Roll Hall of Famer. I could go on forever.

Here's the first track off of Muddy's comeback Grammy winning album 'Hard Again', featuring a new and dazzling version of Mannish Boy. Happy birthday Muddy!