DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

Brits & Blues In Charleston

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on January 26, 2011

Robin Trower (photo Neil Calandra)

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

Keyboard player Gary Erwin aka Shrimp City Slim organizes the Lowcountry Blues Bash every year. (courtesy photo)

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.

Hip-swingin’ blues mama DieDra, all the way from Alabama, will get you out of your chairs. Bring yo’ dancin’ shoes! (Click here for CD review.)

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

Penny Zamagni of the King Bees brings take-your-breath-away vocals and solid songwriting to each performance. (courtesy photo)

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

From the S.C. Upstate come harpman Freddie Vanderford (shown) and guitarist Brandon Turner. (courtesy photo)

brochure in PDF format.


CD Picks: Stocking Stuffers

Posted in CD Picks by darielb on December 2, 2009
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!
Donald Jordan
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…..
Dave Harrison
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!
Michele Seidman
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.
Tammy Brackett
Moonstruck Productions music publicity
Blogger (alunatunes.wordpress.com):
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
Inspiration Information 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.
Mary Sack
Artist management
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.
Robert Erickson
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!
Tommy Womack
(Daddy, previously Government Cheese and the bis-quits); author:
Beck, Guero. 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.

Bill Lauderbach
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.
Rickey Godfrey,
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.
Kyle Deibler
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.
Lan Nichols,
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
Blues promoter (LiveBluesWorld.com):
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.
Chris Huff
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.

CD Picks: Delta Highway, Randall Bramblett, Blue Voodoo

Posted in CD Picks by darielb on March 12, 2009


Delta Highway
Oh Lonesome Me Records
Genre: Blues

The first time I saw Delta Highway live was this summer at the 2008 Cape Fear Blues Festival in Wilmington, North Carolina. I became an instant fan that very afternoon and since that day, The Devil Had a Woman – Delta Highway’s exciting sophomore effort – has owned the No. 1 slot in my CD player.
This ten-track (plus hidden bonus track!!) CD is loaded with rockin’ blues, sure to excite fans of the traditional genre as well as those who bleed over to the broad-based rocker label.

Founded by frontman Brandon Santini (vocals and harp) and guitarist Justin Sulek in 2003, Delta Highway is fast earning a reputation for strong songwriting and a sound that’s at once rooted in tradition while it explores new avenues. This disc delivers one winner after another. Every tune is essential. No cannon fodder here – from “23 Hours,” the opening shuffle tot he number 11 surprise, “Burnside,” a nod to MIssissippi guitarist R.L. Burnside.

The synergy between Santini and Sulek was tantamount at the live show and translates just as strongly to the disc. Tom “Slim” Louis on bass and “Steady” Kevin Eddy on drums and percussion consistently provide the band’s driving rhythms. On “Feelin Bad,” Santini’s skilled harp work pulls us into the lengthy seven-plus-minute smoke-filled number, while the raw emotion in his vocal holds us there. Sulek’s masterful guitar lines blow me away on just about every track.
Memphis musician Victor Wainwright sits in on piano for “The Devil Had a Woman,” “Got To Be On My Way” and “I Want You To Know.” Chris Stephenson, also from Memphis, plays organ on “Feelin’ Bad,” “We Got a Thang Goin’ On,” “Shake It Just a Little Bit” and ” Somebody’s Gotta Go.”

Delta Highway is a great name for this high-energy group because although their sound is clearly rooted in traditional blues, they are definitely on the move and open to new influences. I highly recommend that you jump along for the ride. It’s going to be a blast! DB, Sept. 9, 2008

Randall Bramblett
Now It’s Tomorrow (2008)
New West Records
Genre: Rock
This 11-song disc from the beloved southern rocker is a gem. Crisply written lyrics, all penned by Bramblett, combine with soulful vocals and sophisticated instrumentals to deliver a CD of great emotional and musical depth. DB, Aug. 21, 2008

Lefty Williams Band
Featuring Jason “Lefty” Williams
Snake Oil (2008)
Genre: Blues

This is the second CD from the up-and-coming Atlanta guitarist. Despite being born without a right arm, Williams’ talent is considerable. The 13 autobiographical tunes are tightly written. Tinsley Ellis, Todd Smallie (Derek Trucks Band) guest. John Keane (Widespread Panic) produced. DB, Aug. 21, 2008
Blue Voodoo
The Storm (2005)
Genre: Blues
BJ Allen heads up this rockin’ electric blues quartet. The group’s 11-track CD runs the gamut from sultry soul to hard drivin’ blues. Love her voice. DB, Aug. 21, 2008