DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

Tix Now On Sale For Cape Fear Blues Festival July 29 – 31

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on June 15, 2011

This summer marks year 16 for the Cape Fear Blues Festival, and once again, I can’t wait!

According to Lan Nichols from Cape Fear Blues Society, they’ve moved away from the big outdoor concert on Saturday to a few different venues. And who doesn’t want to support the blues clubs, after all?

They don’t have all the details worked out yet, so I’m jumping the gun a little bit here, but I wanted to give you plenty of time to get yo tix! This weekend is going bring together Chicago blues, swamp funk, soul blues, electric blues and acoustic blues with some surf rock(?) mixed in to keep us on our toes. Go figure.

Here’s the schedule as it stands now. Friday night, July 29, is the ever popular Cape Fear Blues Cruise, of course. Henrietta III, Wilmington’s largest riverboat, was originally built for dinner cruises and later enlarged to be a casino boat. There are three decks; the lower two have dining and dancing. The upper deck has an enclosed atrium as well as the open deck portion. There will be three different bands playing.

Rickey Godfrey’s blues quartet headlines the Friday night Blues Cruise (Photo © Demian Riley)

My buddy Rickey Godfrey  and his blues quartet will be tearing it up on the main deck of Henrietta III. If you’ve never experienced this Telecaster-wielding, growling, gravelly-throated soulman, you’re in for a treat.

He released a new CD last year, Nasty Man, and let me tell you what just a few folks in the know are saying about it:

“… Nasty Man, a 12-track whoop-up that comes out of the chute kickin’ like a wild bull on Red Bull. From the grungy “I Want Me a Nasty Woman” to the first single from the album, “Don’t Get Your Honey Where You Get Your Money,” this is a fiery, guitar driven and gritty masterpiece. It’s electric blues the way God intended them to be played. Lord have mercy, Miss Percy. Rickey Godfrey has done got nasty on us, and it sounds so good.”

– Michael Buffalo Smith, Universal Music Tribe

“Hard sung vocals, wonderfully amusing lyrics and scorching guitar all make this one a winner.”

– Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro/ Blues Editor at Mary 4 Music

Rickey’s unique brand of hot rockin’ blues and hip-shakin’ soul will keep you boogeying all night long. Yah!

Playing the party deck will be Wilmington faves, Ten Dollar Thrill. These guys are a blast! They’re into everything from  Chicago blues to West Coast swing to rockabilly and good ole rock & roll.

This band gets rave reviews wherever and whenever they play. Check ‘em out on the Henrietta III. I promise you, it’ll be a party!

If you’re into acoustic blues and finger pickin’, don’t miss Tampa Blue on the upper deck.

It’s hard to describe this music in just a few words. In fact, someone asked this Alabama picker what kind of blues he played, and his answer was “Traditional, acoustic, Delta, slide, Piedmont, finger-style, Southern rural, pre-war, country, pre-electric with a touch of spirituals, hollers, rags and American finger-style guitar seasoning.”

Blues fans love the historical fabric of his music along with the storytelling and anecdotes that this southern gem brings to the stage.

Before you even set foot on the Henrietta III, Rick Tobey from the Chickenhead Blues Band will be entertaining on the dock. This well-respected musician won the 2009 Cape Fear Blues Society Solo Blues  Challenge and then the 2010 Triangle Blues Society Solo Blues Challenge. About himself Rick says, “I was born in a south Louisiana chicken coop with a bottle neck on my little finger and a guitar in my hand. Been playin’ dem Chickenhead Blues ever since I could crawl, from the Mississippi Delta to the North Carolina Piedmont, from the Cape Fear River Basin to the Smokey Mountains.”

The Treblemakers bring their classic blues/surf rock mix to the Post Cruise Blues Party on Friday night.

Afterward, head to the Post Cruise Blues Party, where the Treblemakers

are the headline act at the Port City’s hottest little juke joint – the Rusty Nail. If you’re not from these parts, you may not know these guys yet, but this five-piece blues band slash surf rock group rocks the room. Party hearty!

Saturday, July 30, begins with the downtown blues workshop sponsored by Finkelstein Music. Blues guitarist Eric Manning will share his knowledge and stories of life on the road and then deliver a kick-butt set at The Cellar with his band, E-Train & the Rusted Nails. This will be a performance for anyone calling himself – or herself– a blues fan.

The main act on Saturday – we’re back at the Rusty Nail again – is a top talent and considered to be one of the most creative ensembles in Blues music today – Studebaker John & the Hawks. Wow!

Saturday’s headliner Studebaker John & the Hawks. (Photo © Linas Abukauskas, Lithuania)

Chicago bluesman Studebaker John (aka John Grimaldi) plays both guitar and harp. He has been recording albums, touring the U.S. and Europe since the seventies. On his latest CD, Studebaker John’s Maxwell Street Kings (Delmark 2010) he pays homage to the early days of Chicago street blues.

I can’t say enough good things about Studebaker John, and it seems I’m not alone:

“It’s rare to hear a blues artist perform three sets of irresistible originals, and it’s even rarer for that artist to stay ‘in the zone’ from first song to last.”

– Thomas J. Cullen, III (Blues Revue magazine)

“John captures the raw energy and grit of the classic blues musicians but pumped up to a rocking energy level. He has a deep understanding of the blues tradition that comes from hanging with the classic Chicago bluesmen, but he’s created his own sound and style from these roots.”

– Bruce Iglauer (Alligator Records)

The opening act for this show is Two of a Kind.

Come Sunday July 31,, and we’re here once again at the Rusty Nail for the All-Day Blues Jam. ‘Bring a lawn chair because this will be outdoors under the tent. You’ll find some of the area’s finest blues musicians come out for this free event.

At day’s end, some lucky duck will win a Gretsch Electromatic Pro Jet guitar ($850 value). Tickets are just $1 each and the proceeds help support the projects and programs of the Cape Fear Blues Society.  The giveaway takes place after 6 p.m. and it’s sponsored by Finkelstein Music.

You can find all the information you need about tickets, times and locations at the Cape Fear Blues Festival website.

The site will continue to be updated as more Festival information becomes available.


Three For the Road

Posted in CD Picks by darielb on June 1, 2011

Even with gas prices reaching $3.95 a gallon in some parts of the southeast (according to gasbuddy.com), summer is for road trips. And road trips mean music. So with that in mind, here are three recordings, as different as different can be, but each wholly satisfying and exciting in its own way.

Master Sessions
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
Genre: Americana
Red Beet Records (2010)
I mentioned this album in my last post because I was about to go see these guys at their South By Southeast show at the Myrtle Beach Train Depot. I was so taken with their performance that night, I picked up a copy of the CD and have been transported to another place ever since. Mind you, this is more acoustic guitar than I’ve listened to for the whole last year, but it reminds me how much I value melody and harmony and intelligent song-writing.

Master Sessions features two of East Nashville’s up and comers: Peter Cooper and Eric Brace. If you’re at all into Americana music, you need to  know about these two. For this 11-track disc, they’ve enlisted the talents of two of their own musical heroes: Mike Auldridge, legendary dobro player for the Seldom Scene, the progressive bluegrass group out of Alexandria, Va. and master of the pedal steel guitar, Lloyd Green. Throughout the recording, the synergy is awe-inspiring.

Opening track is “Wait a Minute,” the bittersweet Herb Pedersen tune about love shattered by life on the road. This song, by the way, was a staple for the Seldom Scene. And both Cooper and Brace say they used to be mesmerized by the group’s performance of it – long before they ever met. “Circus” is a sweet little tune penned by Brace and Cooper, one that I find completely enticing. Maybe it’s the simplicity. In the album notes, they credit contributions by Lloyd and Auldridge for taking the song “far beyond what Eric and Peter could have imagined.”

Track 8 is “I Flew Over Our House Last Night,” written by country legend Tom T. Hall. It’s another quietly longing tune that’s performed simply and beautifully. Of course, I could say the same thing about the whole album. And I do.

Track List: Wait a Minute, Suffer a Fool, It Won’t Be Me, Missoula Tonight, Big Steve, Circus, Behind Your Back, I Flew Over Our House Last Night, Nice Old Man, Silent Night, I Wish We Had Our Time Again.

Youth Is In Our Blood
The Dirty Guv’Nahs
Genre: Rock
Independent (2009)
In a nutshell, this CD is a rockin’ good time, and I can’t wait to take it on the highway with me. The sound is sophisticated and fresh. The band is tight. The vocals blow me away. There’s a great mix of rockers and power ballads. But why had I not heard of these guys before? Have I been living under a rock?

The Guv’Nahs have played Bonnaroo. They’ve opened for names like Zac Brown, Drive By Truckers, Blues Traveler, and Levon Helm, naming just a few here. The Dirty Guv’Nuhs has been voted – three years in a row – Best Band in Knoxvillie, Tenn.  by the Metro Pulse Readers Poll.

Recorded at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, N.Y. Youth Is In Our Blood brings some strong country, blues and soul influences to bear. Opening rocker “Baby We Were Young” sets the CD’s theme.

Love was the shape we made
Love was the breath we drew
Love was in our blood
And baby we were young

“Wide Awake” is a vocally rich ballad, somehow simultaneously fresh and reminiscent.
I’ve never seen this band live, but I’m betting that “Ain’t It Strange” is a great sing-along.

This band is one to watch.

The Dirty Guv’Nahs are Michael Jenkins (guitar), Justin  Hoskins (bass), Aaron Hoskins (drums), Cozmo Holloway (guitar), Chris Doody (keyboards/ organ/vocals) and James Trimble (vocals). All 13 tracks are original with music and lyrics  by Jenkins and Trimble on all except track 12 by Chris Doody and track 13 by Aaron Hoskins.

Track list: Baby We Were Young, Wide Awake, Walk Wtih Me, We’ll Be the Light, Song For My Beloved, New Salvation, It’s Dangerous, Courage, The Country, Blue Rose Stroll, Ain’t It Strange, Seeds On the Rise, Recovery.

Trouble With Lovin’
Shaun Murphy
Genre: Blues/Soul-Blues
Serenity Hill (2010)
You remember the female vocalist in Little Feat belting out the Bob Dylan tune, “It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry,” on Chinese Work Songs (2000)? Well, that was Shaun Murphy. And this mama rocks the room. After leaving her gig with Little Feat in 2009, Murphy – also a veteran of Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band and Eric Clapton’s tour band – formed the Shaun Murphy Band and released her first solo CD, Livin’ the Blues (Serenity Hill 2009), followed by last year’s Trouble With Lovin’ .

The ten-track CD is chock full of Murphy’s signature soulful blues, velvety smooth one minute, gritty the next. It’s hard to choose a favorite tune. The title track, “Trouble With Livin’,” is classic Shaun Murphy, really showing off her vocal range. “Blue Tears” is a sexy piece that can get your hips to swivelin’ in a heartbeat. On Burton Gaar’s “Mississipi Water,” Shaun gets that gravelly thing going that we love so much.

Also featured on the CD are  some of Shaun’s high-powered buddies including Grammy Award nominee Johnny Neel (keyboard, harp), keyboard player Mike Finnigan, saxophonist Danny Pelfry.

In my unasked-for opinion, Shaun Murphy should be a lot more famous than she is. Buy her CD. Help make her famous.

Track list: Bed of Roses,  Deservin’ of Love,  Mississippi Water, The Trouble With Lovin’, Hopelessly In Love With You, Blue Tears, Did you Call, Rio Esperanza, The Blues Don’t Tell It all, That’s What Love Will Make You Do.

This is also published in Alternatives NewsMagazine and Coast Magazine (issue June 2 – 16, 2011) and in the online version .