Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Ain't Nothin' But Another Cold Day / Playlist

now THIS is the best Christmas Tree

I would like to wish you all a merry Christmas; please remember the more unfortunate who will be spending the holidays alone and in need. 

And this year I bring you another selection of Christmas blues tunes, some happy, and many sad:

Christmas Celebration - BB King

Merry Christmas - Lightnin' Hopkins

Xmas Baby - Riff Ruffin

Christmas Comes Once a Year - Albert King

Blues for Christmas - John Lee Hooker

Christmas Eve Blues - Blind Lemon Jefferson

Please Come Home for Christmas - Charles Brown

Monday, December 18, 2017

Review: 'Old Friends' - Kansas City Red / David 'Honeyboy' Edwards / Sunnyland Slim / Floyd Jones / Big Walter Horton

One of the great things about blues music is that I always discover something to listen to; I've been listening and playing the blues for 17 years and I still am dumbfounded by the sheer amount of music that is available, albeit some harder to come by than others. 

This album, appropriately titled 'Old Friends' is one such gem. I've been on a binge listening to the likes of Floyd Jones, Eddie Boyd, and others in the early 50's Chicago blues as of late, and while researching music by Floyd Jones, who doesn't have much on record, I found a little album that was difficult to find on CD (but (but Amazon can print it for you), but easily available on cdbaby for a $9.99 download. 

And boy, I could not be happier with the internet.

In 1981, five of the biggest legends in Chicago blues got together in the studio, also in the city, and recorded 17 tracks. Everyone of these artists would get a few songs to lead on vocals; some new material and some old. What is the result? An unabashed, raw, in your face collection of the old-school blues in it's purest form, just that it's 30 years older. 

The assembled cast, Kansas City Red, David 'Honey Edwards', Sunnyland Slim, Floyd Jones, and Big Walter Horton, represent a certain legacy in post-war Chicago blues. Many have played with other legends like Muddy Waters, and also became legends of their own. Horton is one of the staples of blues harp, Sunnyland is a pillar of blues piano, Honeyboy Edwards of delta style acoustic guitar, Kansas Red for his drumming, and Jones, while possibly the most obscure of the bunch, had his own unique dark songwriting.

Mashing this band altogether makes for over an hour of honest to truth blues; while many of them nearing their 60's at this point, their singing and playing remains loyal to the formula. While you will not hear anything out of the ordinary, you also shouldn't expect to. 

I love the fact that this is all a live recording, as many times the band would go in and out of bars or end off time from one another, but this adds to the improvised flavor of the genre.

If you want to add an album to your whiskey drinking collection, I highly advise you get this one. Not only is it rare, but it's also like a piece of music history.

Track list: 

01 - Apron Strings
02 - Gamblin' Man
03 - 43rd Street Jump
04 - The War Is Over
05 - When I Came In 
06 - Banty Rooster
07 - Mr. Freddy Blues
08 - Over The Seas Blues
09 - I'm a Prisoner
10 - Freedom Train
11 - Lightnin' Struck the Poor House
12 - Linda Lu - 
13 - Lula Mae
14 - That's All Right, I'll Be Around
15 - Heartache
16 - Sometimes I Worry
17 - I'm Going Back Home 

This is the only video of the album on Youtube; you can listen to samples of each track in the cdbaby link above:

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

'Still Called the Blues' - Luther Allison with James Solberg

Luther Allison

This song is a rare one; although a cover of the blues-soul/funk, very 80's sounding original from Johnny Taylor (see here), is a true hardcore and raw blues you would expect from me to send out to you.

A stellar fiery performance from legends Luther Allison and James Solberg who features on the track, released in 2002 on a compilation album:

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Blues Nominees for the 2018 Grammy Awards

Another year, another Grammy award ceremony. On January 28, 2018 the 60th Grammy Awards will take place in New York City.

Yesterday, the official Grammys website confirmed the full list of nominees for the event, and as usual the only nominees we care about are the blues artists!

So here you go:

Thursday, November 23, 2017

'Masters of Modern Blues' - Floyd Jones / Eddie Tayor & Friends

In 1994, a never before released compilation of recordings was brought to light; it was a 1966 session for Testament Records, involving the underrated Floyd Jones and Eddie Boyd, accompanied by some of Chicago blue's finest: Otis Spann on piano, Big Walter Horton on harp, and Fred Below on drums. 

The result is some of the most raw and emotional blues recordings ever made... and that needs to be spread out to the world for the sake of history.

Totaling 16 tracks alternating between Floyd and Eddie songs (8 each), this album is a necessary addition to any blues fan. And thanks to Youtube we have the entire album available:


01. Rising Wind
02. Dark Road
03. Stockyard Blues
04. Sweet Talkin' Woman
05. Train Fare Home
06. Big Town Playboy
07. Peach Tree Blues
08. Bad Boy
09. Hard Times
10. M&O Blues
11. Playhouse Blues
12. Dark Road (alternate)
13. Feel So Bad
14. After Hours
15. Take Your Hand Down
16. Bad Boy (alternate)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Obscure Blues: '13 Highway'

Since my recent purchase of my own bluesmobile, a Lincoln Town Car, I decided to discuss a particular and relatively unknown blues song from 1938 called '13 Highway', where it discusses driving a V8 Ford (which is basically what I have) along a lonesome highway. US Route 13 is a real highway in America, that spans five states (North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, & Pennsylvania). 

It was originally recorded in 1938 by Walter Davis, which I unfortunately could not find on Youtube (it is available on iTunes though; click on the song for a preview).

It's not a blues standard by any means, since only a handful of bluesmen covered it, the most high profile being Muddy Waters (he recorded it in 1963 but wasn't released until a compilation of unreleased tracks in 1994) and played it live at The Fillmore. 

The song's lyrics go like this:

I went down 13 Highway, drivin' a brand new V8 Ford
I went down 13 Highway, drivin' a brand new V8 Ford
Oh you know I was drivin' so fast, baby I couldn't hardly see the road

Oh I was drivin' 60 miles an hour, all up and down the hill
Oh you know I was drivin' 60 miles an hour, all up and down the hill
Oh you know I was speedin' so fast, I couldn't hardly control my wheel

Don't the highway look lonesome, after the sun done gone down
Oh don't the highway look lonesome, after the sun done gone down
Oh you know you're all alone by yourself, there ain't nobody else around

Here are the only versions available online; an Eddie Boyd version exists too but again, it's not available on Youtube:


LEROY SIMPSON - Late 1940's


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Just Acquired a Bluesmobile!

In the blues world, the ideal blues car is either a Cadillac, a V8 Ford, an Oldsmobile Rocket 88, or a Greyhound bus (see my post about blues transportation [here]). Basically, a huge American made land yacht; none of these puny European and Japanese 4 cylinder toys.

So in the spirit of the blues, I just acquired my own bluesmobile: A 1999 Lincoln Town Car, Signature Edition, in fantastic condition!

With a 4.6 liter V8 engine, boat measurements, and pillow-like leather seats, this is a premier vehicle to blast the blues in, and to make entrance to any gig a statement. Plus, it was for only $1,000!!

They certainly don't make cars like this anymore!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Muddy Waters' Debut Album to be Reissued on Vinyl


Back in 2012, I discussed Muddy Waters' first actual album, which was a compilation of all his successful singles. The album was released in 1958 under the legendary label, Chess Records. This album contains his major hits from 1948 to 1954.

Now, 30 years after it's last reissue, the album is set to be re-released on vinyl and digital platforms. If you want to add a great album to your blues collection, this is it! It will be released on November 10, 2017.

Track listing:
Side A
1. I Just Want To Make Love To You
2. Long Distance Call
3. Louisiana Blues
4. Honey Bee
5. Rollin’ Stone
6. I’m Ready
Side B
1. Hoochie Coochie
2. She Moves Me
3. I Want You To Love Me
4. Standing Around Crying
5. Still A Fool
6. I Can’t Be Satisfied

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Walter Davis' Deep Blues Legacy

Walter Davis was a bluesman born in Mississippi, and made his way to St. Louis in the 1930's, and recorded many songs (about 150) for the Victor and Bluebird labels, and was a gifted pianist and singer.

His style was very mellow and somber, and while he died in 1963 (and effectively out of the music scene since 1952 because of a stroke) his legacy remains strong. Several songs became standards, and other bluesmen like Muddy Waters and Eddie Boyd covered his songs such as 13 Highway and Come Back Baby.

He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2005.

Here are a few of the tracks I was able to find on Youtube; hope you enjoy these down-home blues:

M&O Blues

Blue Ghost Blues

Ashes in My Whiskey

Tears Came Rolling Down

Come Back Baby

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The War Blues Playlist

Back in the early days, besides singing about hard times and love, bluesmen also sang about the tragedy of war. Indeed, the big boom was the 'post-war blues' of Chicago, but besides WW2 there was the Vietnam War as well.

I compiled 7 songs about war for you, please enjoy! (the blues, not war)

1- Lightnin' Hopkins - War News Blues

2- J.B. Lenior - Vietnam

3- John Lee Hooker - War is Over 

4- Junior Wells - Vietcong Blues

5- Muddy Waters - Herbert Harper's Free Press News

6- Big Joe Williams - Army Man in Vietnam

7- Big Amos Patton - Going to Vietnam Blues

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Obscure Blues: Homer Harris

no image found for Homer Harris

In my usual quest for digging up some old school blues I recently discovered a bluesman who at first I thought was actually Muddy Waters, but turned out to be really Homer Harris.

There's not much information on Homer Harris, except he was born in Drew, Mississippi in 1916, and eventually moved to Chicago.

In 1946 he recorded three tracks for Columbia, and featured Muddy Waters on guitar. My initial confusion was from "I'm Gonna Cut Your Head" as the vocals are too similar to Muddy.

It came back to me that in September 27, 1946 Muddy Waters recorded several tracks for Columbia before moving to Aristocrat (later renamed Chess) and releasing his major hit "I Can't Be Satisfied" in 1947.

Muddy was the guitarist for the 3 tracks Homer Harris would record. Separately Muddy released 'Mean Red Spider' for Columbia under the pseudonym James "Sweet Lucy" Carter. 

Homer Harris would not record anything else afterwards, working odd jobs and opening small businesses in Chicago until his death in 2000. 

These songs embody the early Chicago blues sound at I enjoy the most, and I hope you enjoy them too.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

'Xanax Blues' - Jam by Ali Sleeq & Turk

Recently I had an awesome jam with my buddy Tarek 'Turk' Kabbani of Jaybird Studios (@turkhimself on Instagram) and we recorded a song of mine called 'Xanax Blues'.

As per the usual procedure, this track was all done in one take. I played the guitars and Turk did the drums and production. Hope you all enjoy this raw blues.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Obscure Blues: 'You Told Me' - Gus Jinkins

Gus Jinkins was a blues pianist from Alabama who got some recognition in the early 50's with his intrumental track 'Tricky' got to no. 2 on the R&B charts, but he never got to huge acclaim as an artist.

He recorded songs in the 50's in Chicago under Chess and others, and I found the below song called 'You Told Me' which the type of raw blues I love, released on the Flash label in 1956:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Rocksmith Adds Four Tracks by Muddy Waters

Rocksmith is a music video game played with a guitar peripheral, and this week it will add four tracks by Muddy Waters, to be purchased as additional content.

The four songs will be:
  • Honey Bee 
  • I Can’t Be Satisfied 
  • Mannish Boy 
  • Still A Fool
This isn't the first time they added blues to the game; in 2014 they released a blues pack as well. Nice to see games try and spread the music of the blues, given it's influence on rock!

If you want to watch a video of someone playing it, check it here:

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Speakin' The Blues Makes it to Top 30 Blues Music Blogs/Websites

I started this blog back in 2008, but started seriously blogging in 2011, with the sole message of spreading the blues to the region, and not only trying to share news but also coming up with my own type of content to separate myself from others.

It looks like it has paid off.

I have made it to Feedspot's Top 30 Blues Music Blogs & Websites at number 18, putting me in the same list of excellent and influential blues websites like American Blues Scene, The Blues Foundation (of which I am a member of), and many others.

As much as I know my uphill battle is with such a niche genre, and my obsession with it to the point people think I'm crazy is, my sole intention is to share the love that is the blues. And like I said in my upcoming song 'Gonna Die With The Blues':

I don't care what you think babe
Cuz I done paid my dues
and whenever I die
I'm gonna die with the blues

Thank you to all my readers and I hope I will increase my output for the remainder of this year. And remember, keep listenin' to the blues.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Rough Treatment: The J.O.B. Records Story - Brilliant Blues Collection

J.O.B. Records was started in 1949 by bluesman Jimmy Oden; and while it only lasted until 1972, it had a lot of great bluesmen under it's arm, including Eddie Boyd (who's song 'Five Long Years' got him and the label fame), Sunnyland Slim, Johnny Shines, Snooky Pryor, and Floyd Jones to name a few. 

In 2001, Westside Records released a compilation called 'Rough Treatment: The J.O.B. Records Story' of some of the tracks from the period between 1952-1962, and features some of the rawest, meanest Chicago Blues.

I promise you will NOT be dissapointed. It has 54 (!) tracks on 2 CD's. 

Here's one of the tracks, the song used as the title of this compilation, 'Rough Treatment' by Little Hudson:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

'Third Degree' - One Song, Two Versions

In 1953, veteran bluesman Eddie Boyd released 'Third Degree', a blues hit written by another legend Willie Dixon. It reached No. 3 on the R&B charts. 

 The song hits a sweet spot for showing the plight of those who are uneducated or poor and are taken advantage of by authorities, as well as scapegaoting them. The song in it's original form is very mellow and somber:


And then skip ahead 33 years, late guitar legend Johnny Winter covered the song in his signature smokin' gi-tar playing. It turns things up a notch, with an extended solo in the middle, but still evokes the theme of the song. Hope you enjoy this interpretation, showing how you can reimagine a tune and still keep it relevant:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

'Check My Baby's Oil' - Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials

Lil' Ed is one of the best bluesmen on the circuit toda; he got his first break in 1987 with Alligator Records, and has been touring and releasing albums ever since. His backing band, The Blues Imperials, elevate the sound to great heights. 

Here's a slow and heavy blues track off his 2008 album 'Full Tilt", which captures the spirit of old school Chicago blues, his birthtown: 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Muddy Waters Mural to be Unveiled in Chicago

As part of the Chicago Blues Festival, the city of Chicago and blues fans are set for a site of wonder, as Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra will unveil his mural of blues legend Muddy Waters, on Thursday June 8th.

The Chicago Blues Fest runs from June 9-11 and is free for everyone. (no one planning to be kind enough to fund my trip?)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hip Hop X Blues - 2 Live Blues / 2 Live Crew

2 Live Crew are a notoriously obscene, yet influential, hip hop crew from Miami. They were very popular in the 80's and 90's, known for controversial subject matter in their albums.

There's one track on their most famous 1989 album As Nasty As I Wanna Be called '2 Live Blues', which is them rapping over the ever classic blues call and response rhythm, which was sampled from blues/soul man Clarence Carter's 'Love Me With a Feeling'. So let's take a step back in time to classic hip hop.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Happy Birthday Little Walter!

On May 1, 1930, blues harmonica legend Marion Walter Jacobs, AKA Little Walter, was born.

Walter would become one of the main pillars of blues harmonica in the Chicago scene, also famously known for being in Muddy Waters' blues band before going solo. His solo career would also be highly successful will hits like "Juke", "My Babe" and others.

He died at an early age in 1968 due to injuries in a nightclub fight. 

Here's a rare live performance from 1967:

Monday, May 1, 2017

Blues for May 1st

Today is May 1, the International Workers Day, or Labor Day in the US.

The Blues is no stranger to the toils of hard work and the troubles we all must endure, from harsh working conditions to a mean ol' boss man to put food on the table.

So here's a few songs I selected for you on this occasion:







Thursday, April 20, 2017

Celebrate 4/20 with the Blues

Yeah yeah we know, it's April 20. And potheads will be very sure to let us know, even if you only tried it once.

So if you want to get blazed, take a toke of Muddy Waters' anthem to the leafy green:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Blues for Mother's Day

Today the day we acknowledge and thank the women of the world who have given their lives, effort, and time to take care of us. While mostly it is a time for celebration, the blues is always relevant.

Mothers go through so much to ensure we become better people, to stay healthy, to learn to do things right and to always be good.

It's definitely not easy to be a mother, so here's a small list of blues songs that talk about the hardships and tribulations of mothers everywhere (well except Elmore James' but I digress):

Mother's Blues - Leadbelly 

Mother Blues - Son Seals

Nobody Loves Me But My Mother - B.B. King

Mean Mistreatin' Mama - Elmore James

Motherless Child - O.V. Wright

Monday, March 13, 2017

Blues Book: 'The Art of the Blues: A Visual Treasury of Black Music's Golden Age'

Art and blues? A history of visuals of the blues world? TAKE MY MONEY.

I purchased the blues/art book 'The Art of the Blues: A Visual Treasury of Black Music's Golden Age' by Bill Dahl, which compiles the history of cover art, poster work, and advertisements for all things blues in this amazing book. It's brings the blues image and lifestyle alive, making us feel the music just by looking at it. Bill Dahl, a  music journalist and historian who has written liner notes for countless reissues of classic blues, soul, R&B, and rock albums, is the perfect author to gather all this wonderful information.

If you are into the blues as I am, or if you are into vintage art, or simply want a book for your growing coffee table collection, then this one is for you.

Monday, March 6, 2017

David Gilmour Plays the Blues

Pink Floyd are not strangers to the blues; I have already mentioned that previously [here] and [here]. Hell their band name is a mish-mash of two bluesmen's names.

So since today is lead guitarist David Gilmour's birthday, I thought I'd showcase Gilmour playing some blues from the late 80's for ya.

Have a good one Dave!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine Blues Playlist

So, you got the blues on this special day? You're just in luck, because I got you covered with this lonesome blues playlist for you to drown your sorrow away.

So if you're single and alone, or in a relationship where you can't be satisfied, this list is for you:

Kind Hearted Woman - Muddy Waters

You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now - BB King

Wont' Be Hangin' Around - Albert King

A Man Like Me is Hard to Find - Lightnin' Hopkins

Last Time Blues - Charlie McCoy

I'm Getting Tired - Snooky Pryor

Nobody Loves Me - Memphis Slim

Sometimes I Wonder - Otis Spann

Monday, February 13, 2017

Blues Winners at the 59th Grammy Awards

So the Grammy Awards happened last night, and while we are not concerned with anything else other than the blues, here are the winners of the two categories in Blues:

Personally speaking I would have liked Lurrie Bell to win the Traditional category, as I consider Bobby Rush to be more of soul/R&B, and The Record Company for Contemporary, but nonetheless congrats to the winners!

Here's a video from each winner: