Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bobby "blue" Bland

June 23 was a sad day for the music industry....on this day we lost Bobby "Blue" Bland.  A giant in the industry, Bobby will be missed.  Born Robert Calvin Brooks in Rosemark Tennessee, he moved to Memphis in 1947 and began singing with local gospel groups. After a stint in the Army in the early 1950's Bobby returned to Memphis and began establishing himself as a distinctive R&B singer. Touring with Junior Parker and others, he enjoyed some moderate success with songs like "Farther up the road", and "Little Boy Blue".  Most noteworthy are early 1960's recordings especially the brilliant "Two Steps From The Blues", which is still listed by many critics as a top 10 all-time recording. As a live performer Bobby enjoyed success in the 1970's touring with great B.B. King (of which two amazing live records were released). Later in his career Bobby was experiencing a new popularity with his music being used in the movie "Lincoln Lawyer". In 2008 Bobby was honored with a tribute by Mick Hucknall (formerly of Simply Red) called "Tribute to Bobby". The Album reached 18 on the U.K. album chart.
Truly a labor of love, Hucknall succeeds in making a beautiful group of songs.  Bobby passed June 23 2013 at his home in Germantown Tennessee. He was 83.
Enjoy "Cry, Cry, Cry" share with someone!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lowell George

April 13 would have been the 68th birthday for one of my favorite artists: Lowell George.  Lowell would be most noteworthy for his contribution to the band Little Feat.  Many influences truly made this band a unique blend of blues, rock and jazz with a "jam band" sensibility. His consummate musicianship over time made him the "musician's musician", lending his musical prowess as well as production skills to artists such as Robert Palmer on his solo album "Sneaking Sally Through The Alley"(1974).  Songs such as "Sailin' Shoes", "Willin", "Atlanta", and many others became live staples served up to packed houses coast to coast, evidenced in the much acclaimed " Waiting for Columbus". Bandmates Bill Payne, Paul Barrere, Richie Hayward and Sam Clayton formed a genesis of the band that was to change personnel from time to time. Creative differences with Paul Barrere and Lowell's waning health caused the band to splinter around 1978.  During this time Lowell was working on his solo effort "Thanks I'll Eat It Here" which was a collection of all-star session musicians and a diverse selection of songs ranging from self-penned works to Allen Toussaint's "What do you want the girl to do" to Jimmie Webb's "Himmler's Ring". In 1979 while touring to support the solo work, Lowell collapsed in his Arlington Virginia hotel room, he was only 34.  The autopsy ruled cause of death heart attack, but it was widely held that Lowell's chronic weight problems coupled with drug use and the strain of touring were contributors.  Lowell is well remembered for writing memorable songs, a spirited well-crafted musical and production style, and an overall zest for life.  He has influenced new generations of artists with his infectious way of approaching songcraft and performance.  Check out this classic performance from the BBC'c "Old Grey Whistle Test" from 1975:  enjoy!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Book Review: Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke By Peter Guralnick

Finally I finished this book! I don't mean that in a bad way, but in fact this book is so meticulously researched (a Peter Guralnick trademark) that it is hard to read in a short period of time.  Sam Cooke had the gift of being able to "work" a song so as to create a memorable performance....Mr. Cooke was able to be a trailblazer not only in his music, but in the cause of civil rights.  Mr. Guralnick works hard to lay out the story as carefully and factually as possible, interviewing all parties concerned in order to portray an accurate picture of the man and his music. The reader takes away a firm understanding that Sam Cooke was an individual of personal convictions, who in turn was able to mentor others including Bobby Womack and Lou Rawls. This is yet another book in the series of books Mr. Guralnick has written including two volumes on Elvis Presley, on artists that have shaped music and popular culture.