Sunday, June 29, 2014

Blues Weapons - Pistols

The blues genre has many shades of themes and topics; one such theme is violence and murder... some can be in cold blood, and some can be in vengeance.

Once you catch the blues, sometimes you lose control and there ain't nothin' you can do. 

Here are a few blues pistols: 

.32-20 Winchester Rounds (Colt) 

If she gets unruly, and thinks she don't want do
Take my 32-20, and cut her half in two

32-20 Blues - Robert Johnson

.44 Special

Well I walked all night long, with my .44 in my hand
Well I walked all night long, with my .44 in my hand
 Now I was looking for my woman, found her with another man

.44 Blues - Roosevelt Sykes

.45 Colt 1911

I'm going over to Third Alley, Lord but I'm going to carry my .45
I'm going over to Third Alley, Lord but I'm going to carry my .45
Because you know ain't many men go there and come back alive

45 Pistol Blues - Walter Roland

Eric Clapton Considering Retirement


In a new interview with Uncut magazine, rock legend Eric Clapton hinted that he was considering retiring from touring and possibly guitar.

"The road has become unbearable," he said. "It's become unapproachable, because it takes so long to get anywhere. It's hostile – everywhere: getting in and out of airports, traveling on planes and in cars."

When asked if he plans to stop playing guitar altogether, Clapton replied, “Maybe. It might be that I can't, if it hurts too much. I have odd ailments."

This comes after he [issued] an apology for leaving the stage last week in Glasgow, Scotland, citing technical problems.

Eric is turning 70, and I completely understand that eventually old-age gets to you. He's been playing music since he was a teenager and joined The Yardbirds in 1963 and never stopped performing since. 

Recently, B.B. King also [apologized] for a bad performance; however we must consider that all our favorite musicians are also human and eventually get too tired.

I'd rather see my favorite musician retire in peace for all their contributions to music.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Celebrating 65 Years of Prestige Records

A few months back, legendary jazz label Blue Note Records celebrated it's 75th anniversary; this time, another legendary jazz label will celebrate, being Prestige Records, which turned 65 a few days ago.

Prestige was set up in 1948 by Bob Weinstock in New York City. Slowly but surely their artist profile included top jazz talent such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Red Garland, Eric Dolphy, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, and many more.

The great producer Rudy Van Gelder is also responsible for remastering many of the old classic albums under the Rudy Van Gelder Remaster Series.

old ad from Prestige

To celebrate, they have posted some promotional sweepstakes which you can take of part of [here] which includes a free downloadable music sampler.

You can hear a few songs from classic albums from the label that I have selected:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kanye Says He's On a Mission From God; But Is He?

There's always someone who claims he/she is such an important figure in society that they claim they are sent on a divine mission from God.

Today, it's Kanye West, who recently spoke on radio and had this to say:

"Don't worry about how I'm saying what I'm saying. Look at what I'm saying and how I feel my intent is.  You do not want to go against the power. I'm working on one mission, and that's a mission from God. I'm gonna make it very clear exactly what I'm here to do. I'm here to help. I'm going to apply all the blessings I've got. "We're moving to the future. [And] I'm gonna be the anchor."

Aside from the incoherent vagueness, the statement always takes me back to the original messengers of the Lord: 

In 1980, The Blues Brothers, originally a Saturday Night Live skit - turned Hollywood movie, set comedy films on fire as well as having a substantial role in reviving the blues as a genre. 

Why is this relevant? 

On the musical side of things, The Blues Brothers, and more notably Dan Aykroyd, have sought out to spread the message of the blues; indeed, in Blues Brothers 2000 he gives an inspirational speech to the band who is suffering from low morale and feel the cause is lost by saying: 

Elwood Blues: You may go if you wish. But remember this: walk away now and you walk away from your crafts, your skills, your vocations; leaving the next generation with nothing but recycled, digitally-sampled techno-grooves, quasi-synth rhythms, pseudo-songs of violence-laden gangsta-rap, acid pop, and simpering, saccharine, soulless slush. Depart now and you forever separate yourselves from the vital American legacies of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Jimmy Reed, Memphis Slim, Blind Boy Fuller, Louie Jordon, Little Walter, Big Walter, Sonnyboy Williamson I and II, Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson, Elvis Presley, Lieber and Stoller, and Robert K. Weiss.

Donald "Duck" Dunn: Who is Robert K. Weiss?

Elwood Blues: Turn your backs now and you snuff out the fragile candles of Blues, R&B and Soul, and when those flames flicker and expire, the light of the world is extinguished because the music which has moved mankind through seven decades leading to the millennium will whither and die on the vine of abandonment and neglect.

That is the sound of a messiah; Kanye's boastful claims of being sent on a holy mission in rap music (I'm assuming by his quote) by showing extreme personality disorders such as throwing a fit when not winning a Grammy, or marrying one of the fakest women on the planet and having major egotistical issues, makes you wonder what kind of a message he's bringing? 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Jazz Icon Horace Silver Passes Away


Some sad news today; jazz legend and hard bop icon Horace Silver passed away last night at the age of 85.

Horace Silver was a staple and pillar of the hard bop jazz movement, up there with other Blue Note artist Art Blakey. His Hispanic roots led him to have some Latin influence in his music as well.

I wrote about Horace a while back; it's is pretty hard news to hear honestly; the giants of jazz are so few in number already.

Rest in Peace Horace. Here's a live video of "Song for My Father":

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

'Can Starbucks Save Jazz?'

Everytime I walk into a Starbucks I am impressed that there is some good quality Jazz music being played. I especially remember when one time 'Freddie Freeloader' from Miles Davis's album Kind of Blue was on and I got so overexcited that I told the barista 'Hey that's Freddie Freeloader!' while he looked at me in bewilderment.

While I thought it was a nice way to get people to hear jazz, I also thought that most people would just use it as ambient music while sipping their frappachinos; afterall, jazz is is no longer the music of the people. It's become music of the sophisticated, and these days people couple sophistication with coffeeshops.

What about an expert opinion on the matter?

Jazz historian Ted Gioia is a leading jazz critic and author; he has written several books on jazz and blues, as well as being active on the internet by starting up and co-chairing several jazz websites.

Most recently he wrote an article for the Daily Beast where he asks 'Can Starbucks Save Jazz?' or 'Jazz (The Music of Coffee and Donuts) Has Respect, But It Needs Love'.

In it, he argues:

'Jazz helps sell millions of cups of coffee, but sales of jazz records are in dire need of a caffeine jolt. Jazz festivals flourish by tapping into this allure of jazz—but increasingly fill their stages with artists from other genres.

So even if I applaud Starbucks and other retailers for exposing the general public to jazz, I still can’t take much comfort from its prominence in these settings. Let me be blunt: I don’t want the next generation of music lovers to associate jazz with Frappuccinos and frosted donuts.'

What do you think? Are we taking the matter too seriously (for more about purism read by article Blues Purism vs Evolution)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Standard of the Week: 'Boom Boom'

John Lee Hooker's classic blues standard 'Boom Boom' entered the Billboard charts in the Pop and  R&B sections today in 1962. To celebrate it's 52 years of release, I thought I'd make in this weeks standard. 

The song's appeal is in the repeated riff in stop time, and the boogie jam in the middle. In live situations, the boogie jam would extend almost forever with each musician taking extensive solos and John Lee Hooker wailing with his raspy voice. 

What makes it also a bit unusual too is that unlike other bluesmen such as Muddy Waters or Albert King, is that Hooker is primarily known as a solo artist; with this song he is accompanied by a backup band and it led to great sounding jams. 

Here's the original studio recording:

And here's a live video version:

The song was inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame's list "The Songs That Shaped Rock n' Roll" as well as the Blues Hall of Fame in the "Classic Blues Recording" section.

The song was covered was dozens of artists, including:

The Animals:

Bruce Springsteen: 

Eric Clapton:

ZZ Top (with John Lee Hooker)

and... there's a German Metal version:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I'm Back to Blues Duty & News Roundup

After my short vacation, I'm back on the blog!

Hope you guys missed having some of the daily blues dosage I was dishing out!

Here's a roundup of some of the things that happened while I was away:

1) I Performed in Turkey

I had a blues jam with a band while I was on vacation in Turkey which was pretty awesome.

                           2) Don Cheadle Goes to IndieGogo for Miles Davis Film Funding

The Miles Davis biofilm which I wrote about previously, is now in need of funding. Don Cheadle, actor and director of the film, has posted the project on crowdfunding site IndieGogo.

3) Fender to Release an American Standard Jaguar Bass

New rumors (which are more or less confirmed) have surfaced about Fender releasing a US made Jaguar Bass, because of listings on Sweetwater's website. It looks amazing and it would be a nice match for my Jaguar Bass!

My Jag:

4) Walter Trout is Recovering

After reporting about his illness earlier, Walter Trout has had a liver transplant and is recovering. You can check out the news here and a video interview with him below post-op:

That's all for now, I'll be back tomorrow and regularly for more blues!!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Heads Up: On Vacation