Livin the Bluz
Ruff Pro Records (April 2010)
Livin’ the Bluz (Ruff Pro Records 2010) by DieDra Hurdle, better known simply as DieDra, is the second solo recording by this talented Alabama blues singer and it’s a winner. The ten-track CD is a lively mix of dance tunes, swingin’ blues and vocals you’d expect to hear from a singer at a national level.
DieDra and partner Keithen Ruff are pretty much the whole creative team on this project. She tells me that most tunes start with a “sound” from Keith and then typically she writes a lyric to it. On Livin’ the Bluz, she penned lyrics for eight of the tracks, with Keith writing “He’s Alright” and “Don’t Wait Too Long.” As for the studio, Keith played guitar, keyboard, horns, drums and bass guitar on the album.
Right from track one, “Dance the Night Away,” you know this is dance blues, so get ready to shag, bop and boogie the night away.
Track four is “You Do Me Wrong,” which was also included on Deep Fried Southern Style, the 2010 compilation on the Shanty’s Records label. Another hip swivelin’ tune.
“Left You Behind” at 5:04 is the longest track on the recording, and it’s one of my faves. Featuring gutsy guitar riffs from Keithen and DieDra’s emotionally charged vocals, it’s prime for dancing in the dark.
“Fantasy” delivers more sultry vocals and raw, plaintive guitar work. A sexy slow dance.
“Anybody Seen My Man” is blues with a sense of humor. DeiDra wrote me about it, “My favorite on the CD is “Anybody Seen My Man”.. It was fun. So that concept to me, is so fun when I’m performing it on stage… When I ask.. “Has anybody seen my man”… People will point to Keith.
“My next favorite is “Lovin on the Edge of Hate”.. I wrote that song as I look at tough times in relationships. You can love someone and in the same breath – hate them … It’s about the ups and downs of love … Sometimes it makes you feel good and other times it makes you feel bad … but … you still love.”
DieDra and Keithen have been partnering, both in life and the studio, since 2007, but their first contact was back in the late nineties. The two were both assigned to Polygram/ Boogiedown Productions. She was an R&B artist and he was her producer. Ironically, they conducted business over the phone and never met during this period. They lost touch until 2007, when after a monster seven-hour phone call, they decided to meet and begin dating.
DieDra adds, “Keith was on the road with Bobby Rush at that time. He had been with him for 15 years. Keith produced Bobby’s hits “Booga-Bear” and his newest CD, Look At Whatcha Gettin’. I knew nothing about the blues. He took me on the road with him. I was able to open for Bobby several times and get a feel for the scene.”
Shortly after, they married, she moved to Alabama, signed with his Ruff Pro Records and her debut album Overcoming Hurdles was produced in about a month.
The standout track from the recording was “Hip Swingin’’ Blues,” which has brought her kudos from all over the industry. It ended 2010 at No. 4 on the R&B Dee Jays Top 50 chart, and No. 5 on the Beach Music 45 Smokin’ 45 for 2010. “Hip Swingin’ Blues” was also nominated for the 2009 JUS Blues Southern Soul Song of the Year-Female. In addition, JUS Blues honored DieDra with a 2010 nomination for Best Southern Soul Artist.
Livin’ The Bluz is also earning raves. DieDra was the winner of The 2010 Blue Note Award (Association of Rhythm and Blues DJ’s). In the shag market, she was also nominated for four 2010 CBMA awards: Blues Album of the Year (Livin’ The Bluz), Solo Album of the Year (Livin’ The Bluz), Song of the Year (“Hip Swingin’ Blues”) and New Artist of the Year.
When she’s not recording or singing in church, DeiDra is usually donating her time to working with kids.
“Keith and I both work for the Alabama Blues Project, which is designed to keep the blues alive by teaching it to kids, in an after-school program in Tusalossa, Alabama,” she explains. “We drive there once a week – an hour away from home. Keith teaches guitar and I teach vocal. There’s a blues camp in the summer for one week each year. We stay in Tuscaloosa the whole week and teach the kids from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
DieDra Hurdle is a four-foot-something bundle of talent. You can keep up with what she’s doing on Facebook (DieDra Dionne Tucker). Her CDs are available online at CDBaby.com and SouthernSoul.com. If you get the chance to see her live with the Ruff Pro Band, jump at the chance. She’s a rockin’ blues mama!
Low Country Blues Bash Feb. 3 – 19, 2011
Blues aficionados from the Carolinas, Georgia and all over the southeastern U.S. will soon be making their way toward Charleston, S.C. for the twenty-first annual Lowcountry Blues Bash, which begins Feb. 3 and rocks on through Feb. 19.
Not officially part of the Blues Bash, but warmly welcomed by the local blues community are two British blues-rock legends – Robert Plant, former frontman for Led Zeppelin and Robin Trower, from the legendary Procul Harum. Plant will appear with his Band of Joy at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on Feb. 4. ($55.30 – $76.50 including fees).Trower, also performing on Feb. 4, will be at the Music Farm. ($23 ADV/$25DOS) Wow! Trower for $23. No brainer! Bummer they’re on the same night. Tickets for both are available at the venues.
As in the past, organizer Gary Erwin of Erwin Music and the Lowcountry Blues Society are bringing a mix of
local, regional and national talent to the Palmetto City. The blues-driven frets-n-frenzy takes place over 17 days and features high-end performances by 50 different acts at 25 different locations.
Highlights include guitarist Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones with Dennis Gruenling. Deming’s group alone is a much sought after swing band. Add Gruenling to the lineup and according to Erwin, you get “pure postwar blues bliss.” (www.dougdeming.com/www.dennisgruenling.com)
South Carolina’s favorite son, Drink Small, returns to the Bash, bringing a cure for whatever ails you. The Blues Doctor’s in the house! (www.myspace.com/drinksmallblues)
From Texas comes one of our favorite singing drummers slash harp players, the genre-jumpin’ Randy McAllister.
North Carolina’s King Bees deliver swingin’ blues at every turn. Can’t go wrong here.
Frankie’s Blues Mission from Atlanta dishes up some hot West Side Chicago-style electric blues. Yeah!
Another Atlantan, Lefty Williams is on the roster, too. If you’ve never heard this one-armed guitarist, get you to
Chucktown. It’s worth the price of gasoline.
Ten Foot Polecats are coming all the way from Boston, y’all. For my buck, this punk-edged Mississippi-inspired trio is the act to catch. Jim Chilson’s guitar work is some of the finest you’ll see. They’re at Fiery Ron’s Hometeam BBQ on Sullivan’s Island Feb. 5. I dare you to sit still!
There are so many more topnotch players at this year’s Bash – Mac Arnold & Plate full O’ Blues; acoustic icon
Paul Geremia; Big Bill Morganfield, making his daddy proud; from the Grand Strand, the talented My Buddy Todd; the rockin’Johnny Mac & the Booty Ranch; Charleston’s own Skye Paige bringing rockabilly and blues to the stage.
There’s a special dedication to Lil Dave Thompson, who tragically died in an automobile crash while returning home after last year’s Blues Bash. The event will take place at Fiery Ron’s Hometeam BBQ on Sullivan’s Island on Sunday evening, Feb. 13.
Most ticket prices will be less than $15 and many are free. Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina at Patriot’s Point in Mt. Pleasant is offering preferred rates for festival goers. Call 843 856 0028 and mention the Blues Bash.
To see the entire lineup, venue listing and schedule, visit http://www.bluesbash.com and download your very own
brochure in PDF format.
What happened? Did the South head south for the winter? The new year’s blustery entrance and record deep freeze are taking their toll on me. I need some heat.
I’m hungry for somethin’ soulful to warm my innards and Deep Fried Southern Style, the 2010 compilation CD from Shanty’s Records more than satisfies my appetite for smokey old tunes, hot guitar licks and lip-smackin’ vocals. The 21-track disc is a tasty combination of soul-blues, R&B and shag tunes. So whether you’re fixin’ to sit back and enjoy it by yourself or invite a mess of folks over to dance and carry on, get yourself some Southern Style.
Track one is the soulful “A Love To Call Mine” by Johnnie Taylor. Penned by Paul Taylor, it’s from Taylor’s This Is Your Night album (Malaco Records 1984), and a sweet way to open the album. Track two is another tasty morsel, this time by Oscar Toney Jr., “No More Heartaches,” from his album, Sundazed (Bob Grady Records 2001).
Track three is “Katrina Katrina,” (think “Corina Corina”) by blues piano legend Henry Gray, from his Times Are Gettin’ Hard CD (Lucky Cat Records 2009). After 50 or 60 years, you think it might start to get stale, but Henry’s as real as ever.
Next on the menu is “Memphis Women & Chicken,” the classic from T. Graham Brown’s T. Brown Graham Live (Aspirion Records 2004). This soul-country tune was written by Gary Nicholson, Dan Penn and Donnie Fritts.
I have to confess here, that I don’t often enjoy compilation albums. I find them disjointed and without a concept.
Not this one.
Producer David Wade, who is also the owner of Shanty’s Records, has done a fine job of selecting tunes. The fledgling label, which he founded in 2010, is based
on the premise of “bringing back the songs and artists that have slipped through the cracks, or have been forgotten along the way.”
One of my favorite tunes on the disc is the soulful “Can’t Tear Myself Away” by Jamaican born singer/songwriter Ruby Turner from her 2005 R&B release So Amazing.
Burlington, N.C.’s Holiday Band is represented with another Dan Penn tune, “I’m Your Puppet,” originally performed by James and Bobby Purify in 1966 and later Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrill.
Two tracks from the Roadrunners are also included. Track 11 is “Let the Boogie Woogie Roll” written by Nugetre, Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler; and track 18, “Devil With a Blue Dress On,” made famous by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels. Vocals on these two are by the late great Earl Gaines. On piano is Jay Spell, who sadly just passed away over New Year’s.
T. Graham Brown is back with his “Brilliant Conversationalist.” This is the original title track from his second album for Capitol Records (1987).
Mark Roberts & Breeze gives us “The Way You Love Me” and a rockin’ version of the 1997 Wayne Toups tune “Love Me As Hard As You Hurt Me.” The latter is also on his Cover To Cover album (Shanty’s Records 2010).
From Rickey Godfrey comes “G-Man,” written back in the 80s by Rickey’s brother and sister-in-law, Ronnie Godfrey and Kim Morrison (they’re also singing backup). A little trivia for you, this tune was featured for a bit on G. Gordon Liddy’s Radio America show in the late 90s.
Holly Singletary-Artis, well known throughout the Carolinas as one of the high-energy vocalists in the now defunct Sammy O’Banion & Mardi Gras, does a beautiful job on Carlene Carter’s “Come Here You.”
Deep Fried Southern Style is a deliciously rich music gumbo blending all my favorite ingredients – blues, R&B and soul. I wanted to know how David Wade developed his taste in music.
A deejay since the early seventies, he tells me his first gig was with the Air Force. From there, he went to CBS radio, where he hosted the syndicated Salty Dawg Blues & Review Show.
“I have been fortunate to have been able to deejay all over the world – on military bases, at American Embassy functions, state functions and more. I spent 21 years in the Air Force, retiring in 1989. Throughout my military career, I was able to keep playing music.
“I also owned Shanty’s Beach & Blues Club in Carolina Beach, N.C., which was nominated for a Cammy is first year of being opened. Shaggin’ Time was also nominated for Internet Radio Show of the Year the same year – 2009.”
Additional tracks on Deep Fried Southern Style are “Swanee River Rock” written by Ray Charles and performed by Manny Lloyd of Soul Posse; “Airtight Alibi,” another Johnnie Taylor original; “Broken Hearted Melody,” by Eliza (a hit for Sarah Vaughn back in 1959); “Stop Me From Starting This Feeling” by Clinton Horton of the Magnificents; “More Love,” a Smokey Robinson tune sung superbly by Holly Singletary-Artis; “Bubba White’s” by Charleston, S.C.’s Rick Strickland from his 2008 release Island Soul; and “Actions Speak Louder Than Words” by Men of Distinction.
Closing out the CD is the bluesy “You Do Me Wrong” by DieDra from Living the Bluz (RuffPro Records 2010) . That’s her husband Keithan Ruff wailing on the guitar and playing just about everything else on the track, too. I expect you’ll savor Deep Fried Southern Style down to this last tasty bite. I sure did.
Additional album credits: sequencing Midi, Richard Robertson and Terry Nash; engineering, J.K. Loftin/Cape Fear Studios.