Normally around this time of year, I write a piece about my favorite CDs, but this year I thought I’d change it just a little. So here are some stocking stuffer ideas from other folks who listen to a lot of music!
Guitarist (Craig Woolard Band, formerly with the Embers):
Robert Cray Live From Across The Pond
(Vanguard, 2006), because he lets his soul just pour out onto the stage. When he takes his guitar solos you can hear him moaning faintly into the vocal mic. I have seen him many times and if someone has never had the chance to, it is just like being there. It doesn’t sound polished or produced ; it sounds just like Robert does live, which is pure soulful bliss!!
“Orianthi, who was supposed to play guitar with Michael Jackson on his new tour can kick your ass. She has a new release, Believe (Geffen Records, 2009) that came out a couple of weeks ago. Her new single is kind of pop music, I don’t know yet how the rest of the album sounds but I’m gonna get it. I do have some of her earlier, hard-to- get stuff and it is bluesy in nature and the girl can really play a guitar….. period.”
Michael Buffalo Smith
Musician, author, blogger
I have been loving Billy Bob Thornton’s band The Boxmasters and their whole Modbilly album. (Vanguard, 2009). They covered Michael Nesmith’s “Joanne” and it is great. Listen to The Tommy Talton Band’s Live Notes from Athens (Hittin the Note, 2009). Talton was in the band Cowboy in the 70s and is a killer singer, songwriter and guitarist. I love all music by Paul Thorn, including his latest Long Way From Tupelo (Perpetual Obscurity, 2008). And the new Kris Kristofferson is one I play every day. Closer to the Bone (New West, 2009). Very good…..
Blues podcast host
A listener from Australia sent me a copy by Kevin Borich Express called Heartstarter (Self-produced, 2002) … It’s a heavier blues rock CD that also has a boogie John Lee Hooker groove when its not head banging blues.
I’m also listening to a CD that I was sent for possible use for the show from The King Bees called Stingin & Swingin it’s a good CD of a band that has been cranking the blues out for a long time! But I also have two other faves that I stumbled upon at a local music store that sells used CDs. It breaks my heart to see folks get rid of music like this but when you can pick up great blues CDs for $4 each, what a steal!
I picked up a Bryan Lee Greatest Hits
CD (Justin Time Records 2003). Great stuff! Finally I stumbled on a Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee CD for $4 called But Not Together
(Tomato Music, 2003). Great stuff! Real raw blues delivered the good old fashioned way! Not cleaned up and sanitized… Just great blues!
Musician (Michele & the Midnight Blues)
Organizer, National Women in Blues):
Lately I have been playing the Tommy Castro CD Soul Shaker (Blind Pig, 2005) over and over. Even through I love my blues women, this CD has been speaking to me lately and when I had a recent harsh medical procedure, I played it in my MP3 player to try and ignore the pain. Music can be magical.
Moonstruck Productions music publicity
There is a band from Charlotte, N.C. called Transmission Fields that I am really liking. Only heard stuff online but it is ethereal and cool and hip all at the same time (myspace.com/transmissionfields
). Their CD was released Nov. 24 and is called Words, Numbers and Phonetic Sounds
Jason “Lefty” Williams
Atlanta, Ga. guitarist/vocalist
by Shuggie Otis [originally released 1974 (Epic), rereleased 2001 (Luaka Bop) ] cause it’s awesome and funky. The kid was like 13 when he wrote and recorded all of that stuff.
Self-titled Among The Oak & The Ash (Verve Forecast, 2010). This very cool band project from Josh Joplin and Garrison Starr sounds as great live as it does on this record. Brilliant concept of contemporizing traditional PD tunes with a twist. Bonus high energy track: “Big Mouth Strikes Again.”
From Hail The Size, I Can’t Die In L.A.(Good Drummer Music, 2009) Hail The Size is the L.A.-based songwriting team of Charles Ezell and drummer, Matt North. This is the second record I’ve heard from these fellas and it’s a creeper record. Upon the first listen, the groove is good and perhaps two or three of the well-crafted tunes really stand out. Upon re-listening to those, the rest of the album creeps back in and somehow it all makes great sense and is great fun. Apparently this album was meant for film/tv licensing – but dang, if it doesn’t get me moving through my workday and on the highway. Somewhat infectious.
Norwegian music lover and supporter:
Have been listening to many different CDs the last few weeks,and the ones I’ve listened the most to,are:
Delbert McClinton & Dick50 Acquired Taste (New West, deluxe edition).This CD is in our car,so we listen to it every day. Delbert’s been my favorite artist since the early 90s,and even though it took some time to get used to his new album, I now love it! It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Delbert wins another Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album next year; at least he should get a nomination! A Delbert album is always a mix of many musical styles, and that’s one of many reasons you never get tired of listening to his records. Acquired Taste is filled with blues, country, soul, rock and jazz, and is an album I highly recommend!
Wayne Toups & Zydecajun Live 2009 (Swallow Records). Bought this CD a few weeks ago, and really like it! I always get in a good mood when I listen to Wayne Toups, and hearing him live definitely puts the smile on my face! Wayne Toups’ music makes you want to dance, and is filled with Cajun, Zydeco, blues, R&B and a dash of country. Party music from A-Z!
Tommy Castro, Hard Believer (Alligator Records). Have been a fan of Tommy for about ten years,and Hard Believer is his best album so far, in my opinion. Tommy’s a very soulful vocalist, one hell of a guitar player, and is great live! I love horns, and that’s one of many reasons why I like Tommy Castro. Great horn arrangements by Keith Crossan (sax) and Tom Poole (trumpet) on this CD!
Watermelon Slim, Escape From the Chicken Coop (Northern Blues Music, 2009).Heard Watermelon Slim first time three years ago,and have been a fan since! I had already heard rumors about this CD in July 2008, so I bought it straight after it had been released. Watermelon Slim was backed by Delbert McClinton’s great band, Dick 50, on this album, and ace songwriter Gary Nicholson played on it too, so I knew before I bought it that it would be something special! One of my favorite country albums it has become!
Jonell Mosser Trust Yourself (Better Angels). Jonell Mosser is definitely among my favorite female artists,and her latest album is great! Jonell really puts her heart and soul into her music, and that’s one of many reasons why she’s so special. Will have the pleasure of seeing Jonell live on the Delbert & Friends Sandy Beaches Cruise 16 in Jan. 2010, and I simply can’t wait!
(Daddy, previously Government Cheese and the bis-quits); author:
. The second record he did with the Dust Brothers, the first being the brilliant Odelay
. One thing about Beck that I love is, if you don’t like how a song sounds, give it 15 seconds and it’ll change.
Led Zeppelin, The Song Remains The Same: Expanded Reissue. This beats the pants off the original double LP. Some of the tracks that appeared on that LP are different takes, and the unreleased stuff is superb. Jimmy Page wanks all over the place, but it’s wanking of the first order. I can see why people pegged them as devil worshippers. Jimmy’s guitar playing sounds way more like Satan than anything Charlie Daniels ever dug up in Georgia.
I’m listening to David Gerald. Great blues artist from Detroit. His CD Hell and Back (self-produced 2009) is amazing. Also listening to a lot of Jason Mraz.
I like the new Levon Helm CD, Electric Dirt
(Vanguard 2009). I was really impressed with the Buddy and Julie Miller CD Written in Chalk
(New West 2009). Randall Bramblett’s The Future Is Now
(New West, 2008) I think a lot of artistically. Fortunately, too, I hear a lot of rock & roll that my daughter, Heather, has turned me onto like Panic At the Disco’s first CD, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out
(Decaydance 2005). Nickelback’s All the Right Reasons
(Roadrunner 2005) and Pappa Roach’s Getting Away With Murder
(Geffen 2004). I love The Fray’s album, Over MyHead ( Cable Car)
(Bmg Int’l, 2007), especially the title track. What a great communicator that singer is! My daughter also turned me on to the group, Paramore. I think their lead singer, Hayley Williams, is one of the best female singers I’ve heard in a long time.
President, Phoenix Blues Society
I’ll give you three to think about. The first is Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters disc, Living in the Light (Stony Plain, 2009). Ronnie is just a fantastic guitarist and always puts out great music. Much of the disc is instrumental and it is a joy to listen to. Two others that have caught my ear recently are more obscure. The first is Woodbrain’s disc, Swimming in Turpentine (Yellow Dog, 2009) and Tom Rigney – Back Porch Blues (Parhelion, self-produced, 2008). Woodbrain is a band out of Portland and is receiving rave reviews for a very fresh and new approach to blues. Definitely not a traditional approach at all. Tom Rigney is a violinist and we rarely get to hear that in the blues. A very enjoyable acoustic disc and one that a lot of folks are finding hard to resist.
Producer & host/ WHQR 91.3FM
Co-director/Cape Fear Blues Festival
Board of directors/Cape Fear Blues Society:
I have the unique position of hearing a lot of music from my work at Public Radio, booking performers for the Cape Fear Blues Festival and just wearing out my music collection at home. These choices are a reflection of that.
The Bo-Keys, The Royal Sessions (Yellow Dog, 2004) – Sprouting from a 1998 recording session backing the legendary Sir Mack Rice, this 21st century soul-jazz instrumental project is steeped in the Memphis/Stax tradition. Sports an awesome rhythm section and powerful horn arrangements.
Etta James, The Chess Box (MCA/Chess, 2008) – This re-mastered collection is focused on Etta’s finest work at Chicago’s legendary rhythm & blues label, Chess Records. It also features previously unreleased material among the 72 tracks on this three-CD set. You’ll melt when you hear “I’d Rather Go Blind.”
Ottmar Liebert, Nouveau Flamenco
(Higher Octave) – This groundbreaking 1990 CD has been re-released with extra tracks showcasing Liebert’s deft guitar work and the flourishes of jazz, pop and world music that frame his later efforts. Passionate Latin beats and melodies for neither purists nor the faint-of-heart.
Phil Berkowitz, All Night Party (Dirty Cat, 2009) – A San Francisco harp player who has a love for everything from Louis Jordan to Billy Boy Arnold, Berkowitz is all about variety on this new release. Firmly based in the blues, this CD has a little bit of swing and a whole lot of shuffle goin’ for it.
Dwight Yoakam, Reprise Please Baby! (Rhino, 2002) – An unparalleled, four-disc retrospective of one of country music’s most enigmatic figures, Yoakam blends the aura of Hank Williams with the rhinestone flair of Buck Owens, and marries it seamlessly with blues, twang and rockabilly. Irresistible and infectious.
Mary Anne McLaurin-Norwood
Blue Mother Tupelo – Love Live – Five songs From the Road (2007), independent release, each CD is “assembled with love” by Micol. Or something like that. They are home burned discs, sold at shows and through their website (I think). They have several CDs out there and just released a new one. If you don’t know BMT, you will LOVE them. If you know who they are, you already love them.
Self-professed geek, blogger
Okay, so I don’t listen to CDs anymore, it’s all downloaded to iTunes and into my iPod, but as the man says, “It’s still rock and roll to me.”
You might think that a geek like me is listening to the new Star Trek sound track or some obscure folk singer, but I am stranger than any geek you’ve ever met. I’m listening to Tom Waits.
I just downloaded Tom Waits new live album, Glitter and Doom Live (Anti 2009). Recorded from performances across the U.S. and Europe during the 2008 tour, it is Waits at his best.
Why Tom Waits? (And if you don’t know Tom, you are missing out. For the more main stream of you out there, he did the “tango” version of “Roxanne” in Moulin Rouge and “A Little Bit of Poison” for Shrek.) Because, there is nobody else who takes the most hedonistic parts of rock, old time blues and weirdness, twists them together, and produces a style that defies classification and makes you want to hobo across America with a guitar or move to New Orleans and sing about all your ex-lovers on street corner.
Neal “Soul Dog” Furr
Internet Radio Host, Way Down South
All Christmas right now on my Internet show – one particular CD is a compilation from the Ace US label (1999) called Please Come Home for Christmas. Great tracks from Willie Clayton, Charles Brown, Ronnie Lovejoy, Huey Smith etc…..great soul holiday grooves!! SouL Dog
If you’ve got some faves you want to add, please leave a comment! THANKS!
© 2009 Dariel Bendin. Author Dariel Bendin can be reached on the Internet at Facebook.com, Twitter.com/darielb, Live Blues World.com and MySpace.com/culturejunkie.