DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

Easterling, Turner to Play Port City Oct. 5

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on September 22, 2011

Wilmington, N.C. is in for a treat as Americana duo Angela Easterling and Brandon Turner  present an intimate listening room concert downtown at Press 102 on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m.
The folksy Easterling hails from Taylors, S.C. the mill town section of Greenville. Kudos for her songwriting and vocal talents have come from all over,  including founder of legendary folk rock group The Byrds, Roger McGuinn. He said, “Angela Easterling is a bright shining star on the country/folk/ alt music horizon. Her gift is so special. I loved listening to her new Black Top Road CD … Brought me back to the time the Byrds recorded ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’ – tradition meets youthful exuberance!”
Easterling’s newest CD, Beguiler, is full of sweet Southern charm that packs a wallop, as Southern charm is wont to do.

Guitarist Bandon Turner played on the recording and joins her for the Wilmington concert. Turner is an extremely versatile musician, moving easily between electric and acoustic or blues and bluegrass.
Earlier this month at the Summer’s Last Blast & Blues Festival in Piedmont, S.C., he performed with harp man Freddie Vanderford and literally stunned the audience with his searing guitar licks.

The Press 102 event is sure to be lively evening of passionate music from two top quality, up and coming musicians.

Press 102 is located at 102 S. Second St., Wilmington, N.C. Ticket price is $15, free for ages ten and under.  Reserve seats via email: info@stonesoupconcerts.com.

South By Southeast Presents Steve Young and Jubal Lee Young

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on September 22, 2011

Steve Young.

On Oct. 1, South By Southeast, the nonprofit music organization in Myrtle Beach will bring Steve Young and Jubal Lee Young to the stage at the historic Myrtle Beach Train Depot.

According to the SxSE website, “Steve Young has followed his own musical quest, blending Southern roots with life’s experiences, and creating Americana music traditions. A boy of the South with roots in Texas, Georgia and Alabama, he was barely out of high school, playing guitar and writing songs in the folk, country and blues stylings of such music icons as Hank Williams, Elvis, and Carl Perkins.

“Steve was an integral part of the movement that spawned and defined the California country-rock sound. Appearing on Steve’s 1969 classic album Rock, Salt & Nails were Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, Bernie Leadon and Gram Parsons – all Flying Burrito Brothers and Byrds members. The most covered Steve Young song is ‘Seven Bridges Road.’ ‘Lonesome, Ornery & Mean’ became a Waylon Jennings signature, and Hank Jr.’s cover of ‘Montgomery in the Rain is classic.

Jubal Lee first appeared on the South by Southeast scene at a Music Feast a few years back performing with fellow singer/songwriter Justin Townes Earle. Jubal’s smoky baritone rasp invokes the familiar sound of John Lee Hooker, Bob Seger and Hank, Jr. whether he’s playing originals or covers. ‘Jubal Lee Young makes genuine top-class Americana country-rock; melodic, story-telling and attention-seeking. It reminds me of a young Steve Earle.’ – Magnus Sundell.”

South By Southeast is known for bringing these amazing talents to the beach. Another of the organization’s goals is “to provide assistance and support to local music education programs for the young people in our area through instrument drives, scholarships, donations, and other means.”

Music Feasts are $25 per person ($20 for SxSE annual concert series members). Reservations are suggested. Send an email to southxsoutheast@aol.com, with the number of tickets and your zip code. They’ll put you on their A list.

The Myrtle Beach Train Depot is located at 851 Broadway in Myrtle Beach. For more information about the SxSE event,log onto http://www.southbysoutheast.org.

R+R with Rick Strickland

Posted in CD Picks by darielb on September 21, 2011

CD photography by Jim Allen; graphics & design by Joanie Dakai.

Is there a recording artist who makes you smile every time you hear him on the radio … or whose song you have to stay in the car and listen to even though it’s on your iPod and in the CD player?

For me, Rick Strickland is that artist. So today is another great day because I get to listen to Rick’s latest CD and then talk to him about what I’ve just heard. I have been a fan since his Something Smooth (2005) days and he never lets me down. The new 12-track solo recording is titled Rhythm + Romance (we’ll talk about the title in a minute). It’s full of Rick’s signature four-octave range vocals, perfect harmonies, simple sophisticated songwriting and luscious instrumentation.

In other words, it’s classic Rick Strickland – a mix of brand new tunes and some that have been on the back burner for 30-plus years.

The opening track, “Over and Over,” is one of the new ones, completed just a few months ago. According to Rick, it’s getting great response during club dates.

Track two is “Something’s Gotta Give,” and it features a smokin’ alto sax solo by Butch Barnes of Murrell’s Inlet-based Sea-Cruz. “I think Rick is an incredible writer, artist and performer,” says Butch. “I love everything he’s done on this CD. To me, he’s just one of the best.”

It’s always interesting to hear  how a tune is born, and this one is no exception. “It was 1985, I was in a band called the Citizens and we were playing St. Croix for a week. One morning as sat at the window listening to the street sounds and steel drum bands, I saw these two Rastafarian kids in the yard, and they were going back and forth about something, not getting along. Finally, one just stops and says to the other, ‘Hey, somethin’ got to give, mon,’ and I wrote this song. It turned out funky, not reggae, but that’s where it came from.”

“Shing Yo Ling” is up next, an “out-of-the-box” hit, that uses suggestive nonsense phrases as skillfully as anyone ever has.

Jumping ahead, track five is “Just So You Know,” a ballad that really showcases Rick’s vocals, which have a sweet raw quality for this one. I think it’ll fill the dance floor.

“Two Faces,” which is track six, is my fave, at least for now. I love the lyrics and the fast-paced vocals. The song really takes someone to task (actually, two people, I’ve come to find out), first for being the ungrateful, short-memoried nouveau riche and second for back-stabbing and trouble-making. Talking to Rick on the phone about it, I could hear Lesa Hudson in the background laughing, “Moral of story: never cross a songwriter.”

Lesa’s a hoot.

Lesa and Rick fans will be happy to know there’s another duet on this album, too. “Got to Be With You” is a lively tune that puts their chemistry and showmanship right up front. It’s a lot of fun, and sounds like a tush push to me.

Throughout the recording, Rick’s lyrics tell a story, but they’re pretty simple and straightforward. “I read a quote by John Lennon a long time ago,” he explains. “It goes, ‘Just say what you’ve got to say and put it to a backbeat,’ and that’s pretty much  how I feel. I don’t want to belabor a point.”

Rick gave me some backstory on “Whatever You Do” that I didn’t know.

“I owe a big debt of gratitude to Curtis Carpenter for this. It was back in 1991. Curtis wrote an article for Headliners In Review magazine. He compared my work to Brian Wilson and Hall & Oates, and went on to say that he felt it should be Song of the Year. I got lots of session work right after that.

“Another reason this song is so special to me is that it’s the first song of mine that my daughters learned all the words to. We’d sing it together at bedtime.”

Closing track is “You’re Not Alone,” a grandly orchestrated clutch-at-your-heart ballad that slows down the pace of the album, but rachets up the emotion. It’s a beautiful tune, and when I spoke to Rick about the album, he told me that he had written it back in 1986 for Pets, Inc., an animal rescue organization.

Getting back to the CD’s title, Rick tells me, “John Hook has been a long time supporter. In fact, John and Ray Scott, before anyone else, were there for my music. Anyway, John said to me one day [Rick does a super John Hook imitation, by the way],’ Rick, I’ve thought of the absolute perfect way to describe your music – rhythm and romance.’ When we got down to brass tack and started doing the album, we decided it fit.”

Not surprisingly,  Rhythm + Romance was written, produced, arranged, engineered and mixed by Rick himself. In addition, he played all guitars, bass and drums; and he sang all leads and most background vocals on the recording.
If this is the first you’ve heard about Rick Strickland, visit my blog, DarielB – Flying Under the Radar. I’ve got three different posts about him, four if you count the last Lesa Hudson story: CD Review: Rick Strickland Island Soul (Sept. 9, 2008); Rick Strickland Melds Musicianship in New 7-piece Band (April 21, 2009); Rick Strickland’s Lucky Number ‘Seven’ (March 29, 2010); Lesa Hudson: Laid Back In a Driven Kind of Way (July 11, 2011).

Track list: 1. Over and Over; 2. Something’s Gotta Give (featuring Butch Barnes); 3. Shing Yo Ling; 4. Moth to a Flame; 5. Just So You Know; 6. Two Faces; 7. Got to Be With You (duet with Lesa Hudson); 8. Whatever You Do; 9. If You Don’t Want Me; 10. Mr. Heartache; 11. Experience; 12. You’re Not Alone.

Players: Rick Strickland (guitar, bass, drums, lead and background vocals); Art Benton (keyboards for all but Something’s Gotta Give and You’re Not Alone); Lesa Hudson (vocals on Got to Be With You; background vocals on Just So You Know and Mr. Heartache; keyboards on Something’s Gotta Give, Just So You Know,Two Faces, Whatever You Do, and Mr. Heartache);Jeff Poteat (keyboards on You’re Not Alone); Butch Barnes (alto sax solo on Something’s Gotta Give); Debbie Anderson (background vocals on Just So You Know).

Note to Fans of the Rick Strickland Band: On Friday, Sept. 23, the band is presenting a free Fan Appreciation Concert, 6 – 10 p.m. at the Avista Resort Ballroom, 300 N. Ocean Blvd., North Myrtle Beach, S.C. I understand there will be some great surprises. Seating is limited, so get there early! Free parking on either side or across the street!

Summer’s Last Blast Was a Blast!

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on September 21, 2011

Last Saturday, Sept. 17, I went to Greenville, S.C. (Piedmont, I suppose is more accurate) for the inaugural Summer’s Last Blast & Blues Festival sponsored by Sparkle City Blues, Treeline Entertainment and DeLisle & Associates.

The lineup was superb. Beverly “Guitar” Watkins, Cee Cee James Band featuring guitarist Rickey Godfrey, J Edwards Band, Freddy Vanderford with guitarist Brandon Turner and the Shades, the Matt Walsh Band and the King Bees.

Dave Harrison, who puts out the monthly BluzNdaBlood podcast, drove from Roanoke, Va. for it. He likes catching the Festivals while they’re still small. The week before the Festival he put out a preview show that you might want to hear. Dave does a great job.

All the acts were super, and especially fun for me because I’d never seen Cee Cee James, Freddie Vanderford, the King Bees, Matt Walsh or the headliner, Beverly “Guitar” Watkins before.

I’m going to post some photos taken by my blues sista, Mary Anne McLaurin, along with links to some videos.

She D’Ambrosio and Tim DeLisle put the fledgling festival together, and I think they did a great job. Can’t wait until next year.

Beverly "Guitar" Watkins. So cool to watch her work that guitar ... and super vocals! (Photo Mary Anne McLaurin)

Seriously underrated guitarist Brandon Turner with Piedmont bluesman Freddie Vanderford. (Photo Mary Anne McLaurin)

Juke Joint Johnny (harp) played with the King Bees and also Miss Beverly. (Photo Mary Anne McLaurin)

The King Bees stinging and singing. (Photo Mary Anne McLaurin)

Matt Walsh is from N.C. but plays southside Chicago music. (Photo Mary Anne McLaurin)

Nashville's Rickey Godfrey is currently featured in the Cee Cee James Band, who BTW will be playing the King Biscuit Festival this year. (Photo Mary Anne McLaurin)

J Edwards has a voice that you have to hear to believe. (Photo Mary Anne McLaurin)

Tom "T-Bird" Toglio, drummer with J Edwards Band. (Photo Dariel Bendin)

Road Trip: Summer’s Last Blast & Blues Fest

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on September 7, 2011

She D’Ambrosio is a talent scout, booking agent and all around lover of blues music. It’s been on her bucket list for quite some time now to put together a blues festival for the Upstate of South Carolina, and this month it’s finally come to pass.

On Saturday, Sept. 17, the inaugural Summer’s Last Blast & Blues Festival will take place at the Pavilion at Acadia in Piedmont, S.C. (a suburb of Greenville). The lineup is extraordinary, especially for the ultra-reasonable ticket price of $15 per person (free for kids under 12).

Headlining is the incredible Beverly “Guitar” Watkins and her band; then there’s Cee Cee James featuring the inimitable Rickey Godfrey on guitar; the Matt Walsh Blues Band; Freddie Vanderford with Brandon Turner and the Shades; singer songwriter J Edwards and his kick-ass band; and the King Bees. YEAH!

Beverly "Guitar" Watkins (Photo David Baerst)

Beverly “Guitar” Watkins was born in Atlanta, Ga. in 1939, and she can play the pants off musicians half her age. She says, “My style is real Lightnin’’ Hopkins lowdown blues. I call it hard classic blues, stompin’ blues, railroad smokin’ blues.”

D’Ambrosio can’t wait to bring her to the Upstate. ‘Beverly is a national treasure,” she tells me. “She’s got a style all her own and she’s so charismatic. Wait till people see her with that guitar over her head.”

Watkins was a junior in high school when she joined Piano red and the Meter-tones. Later she played with Eddie Tigner and the Ink Spots and other groups, becoming a fixture at the Underground Atlanta.

She would go on to work with James Brown, B.B. King and Ray Charles, becoming well-known throughout the blues community. But like so many other roots musicians, she had little airplay, and wouldn’t achieve success until the advent of the Internet. Re-discovered by Tim Duffy, founder of the nonprofit Music Maker Relief Foundation, she joined Koko Taylor on the women of Blues “Hot Mamas” tour in 1998. Her debut CD, Back In Business (1999), earned her a W.C. Handy Award nomination in 2000, and she was on her way. A bout with cancer a few years later couldn’t keep her down, and she’s back touring and getting the kudos she deserves.

Cee Cee James

Originally from Portland, Ore., Cee Cee James was 12 when she put together her first band. She discovered blues early, but went on to explore R&B and her native cherokee roots. “Hiking in the mountains outside San Diego,” she says, “I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan whispering to me from the Heavens… “Go back to your roots girl. go back to what you do best,” which I intuitively knew was blues, low-down roots and soul.”

Her current blues band includes songwriting partner and husband Rob “Slideboy” Andrews and Nashville’s hot rockin’ bluesman Rickey Godfrey wailing on his Telecaster. This act is going to blow the sky open.

“Cee Cee James is a vocal volcano,” says D’Ambrosio. “There’s this gut-wrenching quality … Her originals come from walking through fire … and there’s just not enough to say about Rickey Godfrey. It’s an honor for us to have him here.”

J Edwards Band is going to shock a lot of people at this show. A popular Columbia, S.C. musician, he just isn’t well-known outside the area. But this boy can sing. His raw, rough, heart-wrenching vocals will stop you in your tracks.

In a matter-of-fact style that I’ve come to expect from She D’Ambrosio, she says bluntly, “J’s voice is my crack cocaine. He’s got a voice like no other. Once you’ve heard ‘I’ve Got a Woman,’ you know what I mean.”

Matt Walsh’s sound is rooted in the old-school blues of south-side Chicago in the fifties. He first gained national notoriety in 2006 when former guitarist for Muddy Waters Bob Margolin interviewed him for Blues Revue magazine. Since then Matt shared the stage or opened for Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Pinetop Perkins and others. This guy’s on his way up! Catch him while you can!

The King Bees out of N.C were formed by guitarist/organist Hound Dog Baskerville and singer/song-writer/bassist, Queen Bee Penny Zamagni. They have a musical pedigree I can’t even imagine. They have sat in with or backed up so many blues giants:Bo Diddley, Tinsley Ellis, Billy Branch, Mojo Buford, Big Jack Johnson, Sam Carr, Frank Frost, Lazy Lester, Ronnie Earl … the list goes on.

“When you hear that voice come out of Penny, who stands  all of five feet … you wonder where it comes from,” says D’Ambrosio as she talks about the King Bees.

Harpman Freddie Vanderford is doing his part to keep the blues alive. In 2010 he received the Jean Laney Harris Folk  Heritage Award for  sharing the tradition of Piedmont blues harp. For the Summer’s Last Blast festival, he’s playing with iconic guitarist Brandon Turner and the Shades.

“Brandon Turner is one of the most underrated guitarists in the U.S. I can’t wait for this show,” She tells me.

“We have people coming fro Atlanta, Charlotte, Virginia, the Carolina beaches,” she goes on. “We’re hoping to have a lot of locals, too. We have a lot of talent in this area, but we wanted to bring in acts from out of the area, too … give people a chance to see someone that maybe they haven’t been able to see before.”

This is a family-friendly festival. Food vendors will be selling homemade ice cream, funnel cakes, hot dogs, barbecue, beer, wine, soda, tea, lemonade and more.

Vendor spots are still available for $25. As a further incentive, this year’s vendors will be able to return next year for the same price.

The Summer’s Last Blast & Blues Festival is produced by Treeline Music, Sparkle City Blues and De Lisle and Associates.

The Pavilion at Acadia is located at 102 Fathers Way in Piedmont, S.C. For more information, log onto the website at http://www.summerslastbluesfest.com, email summerblues@treelinemusic.com or visit them on Facebook.

Fall S.O.S. Is All About Fun

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews, Music Stories by darielb on September 3, 2011

This year's Fun Monday block party will feature R&B group Wallstreet, Craig Woolard Band with special guest Danny Wood, and soul singer William Bell. Shown, Craig and William at the 2009 CBMA Awards at the Alabama Theatre in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Photo Jim Allen)

When the subject of conversation is a ten-day adult party that takes over a town in the south, you know you’re talking about S.O.S. in the Ocean Drive section of North Myrtle Beach, S.C. The 2011 S.O.S. Fall Migration starts Thursday, Sept. 16 and runs full board through Sunday, Sept. 25.

Most of the fun will be taking place at the famous S.O.S. lounges – Fat Harold’s, Duck’s, O.D. Arcade, and the clubs at the O.D. Beach Resort and Golf Resort (Spanish Galleon, O.D. Beach Club and the upstairs O.D. Café). But make sure you also check out Deckerz, right off Main St.; Boom Boom’s Raw Bar on 13th Ave. North; HOTO’s on the beach in Cherry Grove, 2001 Nightclub on Lake Arrowhead Rd.; and Captain Poo’s at Anchor Marina. Party hearty, folks.

There’ll be shag exhibitions and workshops, live entertainment, deejays spinning your favorite tunes, dancing, dancing and more dancing! In fact, over at Fat Harold’s, they’ll be holding their first Last Shagger Standing contest  from 12 noon to 12 midnight on Tuesday, Sept. 20, and the payoff is a thousand bucks, so start practicing those maneuvers.

On the first Sunday and only Monday of Fall Migration, thousands fill the streets for two of the biggest block parties you’ll ever experience. For Fun Sunday, as it’s come to be called, head to the parking lot across from the O.D. Arcade (100 S. Ocean Blvd.). Mark Roberts Band and Legends of Beach, two of the hottest bands around will play from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The Mark Roberts group defines the term “dance band.” They play everything from beach and boogie to blues rock to party music. Musically and stylistically, they’re a cut above.
Legends of Beach, featuring the inimitable Jackie Gore on lead vocals, is pure beach music. If you haven’t seen them lately, Pat Carpenter has joined the mix on guitar and vocals. Add to that Nantucket saxman Eddie Blair, Ben Shaw on trumpet and Original Carolina Girl Terri Gore on vocals. And let’s not forget band stalwarts Johnny Barker (keys), Tony Davis (drums) and Gerald Davis (bass). Hot ticket … and it’s free!

Fun Monday brings us another amazing day. Main Street will be blocked off and the band stage will be at the “horseshoe” at the ocean. The bands start at noon and play until about 5:30 p.m.

Wallstreet will be here, all the way from Joisey. This five-man R&B group doesn’t get to this neck of the beach all that often, don’t miss this opportunity to hear a topnotch group. Founder Odell Mickens splits his time between playing the B3 with Wallstreet and  bass guitar for the Trammps, known best in the Carolinas for their “Hold Back the Night.”

New Jersey R&B group Wallstreet.

Wallstreet singles include “The Little Things,” “Closing Time,” “Finally Friday” and their latest “Old School Music” on Shantys Records. Odell tells me they’ve got a brand new drummer, Jerome “J.T.”  Tyus from the late Keisha Brown’s band. Don’t miss this show.

Sharing the Fun Monday bill with Wallstreet will be CWB – the Craig Woolard Band with special guest Danny Woods, formerly with Chairmen of the Board.That’s going to be some kind of vocal energy on that stage, a whole lotta soul goin’ on. For anyone living under a rock, Craig Woolard is a superb vocalist. Before starting his own band, he spent many years with beloved beach music group, the Embers. Beach, boogie and blues … he does it all. But my favorite is Craig’s rendition of “Georgia.” Goose bumps, every time.

Last but not least for Fun Monday is soul singer William Bell. This guy is considered one of the architects of the 1960s Stax-Volt sound. His debut single was “You Don’t Miss Your Water” (1961), and he’s still associated with the tune. Another William Bell classic is “Private Number,” (1968) a duet with Judy Clay. “Trying to Love Two” hit the Top 40 and No.1 on the R&B charts. Otis Redding fans will recall “A Tribute To a King.”

Many folks don’t realize that William is noted for his songwriting as well. He shares songwriting credits on Chuck Jackson’s hit, “Any Other Way,” which Bell recorded first, by the way. He also penned his hit “I Forgot To Be Your Lover” (1968), which would become a Top 10 pop hit for Billy Idol in 1986, and co-wrote (with Booker T. Jones)  the 1967 Albert King blues classic “Born Under a Bad Sign.” I promise you, the William Bell show will be super.

To say Fun Monday is fun is an understatement. It’s a blast. If you’re in the neighborhood, head over the Main Street and enjoy yo self!

Events at the S.O.S. lounges mentioned above require an S.O.S. card for admission. For $35 per person, you’ll find yourself part of a unique lifestyle, one that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else. Entry to the other clubs will either be free or close to it. For more information and schedules, visit the S.O.S. website or the clubs’ individual websites.

If you’ve got other events, club dates or S.O.S. news, feel free to add your comment here!!!