Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bobby Murray's new CD 'a labor of love'

As a longtime member of the backup band for legendary singer Etta James, guitarist Bobby Murray learned how to work hand-in-hand with a vocalist.
He demonstrates that ability on his fine new CD, “I’m Sticking With You.”
“Even before I was working with Etta (who died in 2012), I worked with a lot of other singers,” said Murray, who celebrates his recording with a CD release party on Friday at the Loving Touch in Ferndale. “I love the guitar, and I’ve played my share of Albert Collins and Freddie King instrumentals, but my favorite instrument is still the human voice. There’s something about it.”
“I’m Sticking With You” features vocalists Red Redding, who is a member of the Bobby Murray Band; as well as guest vocalists Barbara Payton, Paul Randolph and Tom Hogarth.
“I try to think in terms of serving as a foil or doing a call-and-response with a fine singer,” Murray said.
Redding has performed with Murray’s band for about four years, since Murray heard him sing at a club in Detroit.
“His voice spoke to me,” Murray said. “I love the quality and timbre of his voice and his super soulful phrasing. I heard some Little Milton and Johnnie Taylor influences in his voice. He can sing down in the alley or a sweet, soulful ballad.”
Murray first heard Hogarth sing at a festival in Windsor. Hogarth has previously worked with keyboardist Mark Thibodeau and drummer Renell Gonsalves, who are both members of the Bobby Murray Band, along with bassist Dave Uricek.
“I heard his voice and said to myself ‘I’ve gotta work with this guy,’” Murray said. “He has a wonderful voice.”
Murray is thankful for the vocal contributions of Randolph, who performs with Jazzanova and is known world-wide as a multi-talented musician and writer. Randolph will be releasing his third solo album in 2014.
“Paul Randolph is an incredible singer,” Murray said. “I’ve always wanted to work with ever since I heard him play with Mudpuppy.”
Another contributor to Murray’s new CD is Payton, who fronts the band Barbara Payton and the Instigators, of which Murray is a member.
“She’s got so many tones, she has the ability to tap into the deepest part of the human experience,” Murray said. “What she does on ‘Rock My Soul,’ the discipline she uses on one verse where she bumps up an octave at the end, just kills me.
“I have good singers in the band too. Dave Uricek has a wonderful voice and Mark Thibodeau too. All the singers make my words come to life.”
Unlike his previous three albums, which featured a mix of original and cover tunes, “I’m Sticking With You” contains 11 songs all written by Murray.
“It’s certainly a labor of love, they are songs I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time,” he said. “It’s like John Lee Hooker sang in ‘Boogie Chillun’’ … ‘it’s in him and it’s got to come out.’ Like a lot of people, writing is a cathartic release for me.
“I know I’m not Bob Dylan or Percy Mayfield, but I love to do it. It is like a birthing process. First, you start out with one, but they are all my kids and I love ‘em all.”
Having someone else sings the songs you’ve written can be a challenge, but Murray -- who praises Brian “Roscoe” White for his contributions on the CD as engineer, mixer, arranger and musician – trusted the creativity of his vocalists.
“I wanted them to be able to express themselves and make the words come to life. I gave them carte blanche and told them ‘do it your way.’ I completely trusted them.
“It’s the best feeling in the world when you put words on a piece of paper, and they looked OK at 3 a.m., but when you see them come to life as a singer breathes life into them is pretty amazing. I’m always knocked out, it just kills me.
“It’s the same for the instrumentals too. I love the process of being able to work with people.”
The standout vocals, strong songwriting, and Murray’s tasty guitar work combine to produce a stellar recording. Murray may have been the one leading the way, but he knows that it was a collaborative effort.
“It’s like a school of fish moving as one, although everybody is completely separate.”

FYI – The Bobby Murray Band celebrates the release of “I’m Sticking With You” with a CD release and live performance at 9 p.m. Friday at The Loving Touch, 22634 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Guest performers are expected to include Paul Randolph, Barbara Payton, master of ceremonies and guitarist Mark “Pazman” Pasman, and vocalist Lenny Watkins. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is free.

To send info to JB Blues, please email Joe.Ballor@dailytribune.com

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Veteran Blues Reunion at Scarab Club

Kenny Parker  (BluesPhotos by Don McGhee) 
Want to see some of Detroit’s blues veterans perform?
The Veteran Blues Reunion, from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Scarab Club in Detroit, features award-winning singer and harmonica player Garfield Angove, guitarist Kenny Parker, keyboard master and singer Shawn McDonald, stand-up bass artist Bob Conner, and drummer RJ Spangler.
Angove received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Detroit Blues Society in 2007, and Spangler received the same award in 2005. Parker is another Detroit blues veteran, who played for many years with the Butler Twins; Conner has been playing in blues bands in Detroit since the late 1960s; and McDonald has been described as a young veteran blues master.
All of these veteran players have toured throughout the world representing Detroit blues. At the concert, they will perform classic and original blues tunes and will also relate some of their experiences traveling and playing blues locally and internationally with many Detroit and Chicago blues greats who are no longer with us.
The Scarab Club is at 217 Farnsworth, near the Detroit Institute of Arts.

David Vest in Plymouth
David Vest (Photo by Jim Dorothy)
Although he now calls Canada home, Maple Blues Award winner David Vest is an authentic, Southern-bred boogie-woogie piano player and blues shouter. Born in Alabama in 1943, Vest grew up in Birmingham, Ala. He played his first paying gig in 1957, and by the time he opened for Roy Orbison on New Year's Day 1962, he was a seasoned veteran of Gulf Coast roadhouses and honky tonks.
Over the years, Vest played the Southern gospel circuit and with artists ranging from blues shouter Big Joe Turner to country singer Faron Young.
From 2002 through 2006, he shared lead vocals and frontman duties in the Paul deLay Band. During his years in Portland, Vest won five Muddy Awards from the Cascade Blues Association, including Best Keyboard Player. After deLay's untimely death, Vest joined forces with Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne and various other pianists, including Ann Rabson, to form the supergroup Northwest Pianorama.
He will be joined by guitarist George Bedard and drummer RJ Spangler in concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22 at the Plymouth Elks Club, 41700 Ann Arbor Road in Plymouth. Admission is only $5 at the door.

Detroit Blues Challenge finals
The finals of the Detroit Blues Challenge will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, at Callahan’s Music Hall in Auburn Hills.
Blues musicians Carl Henry and Tony Berci, Sweet Willie Tea, Maggie McCabe and Mike Francis, Eliza Neals, Blues Dog Inquisition, Rev. Robert Sexton, Dirty Basement Blues Band, The Hatchetmen, and The Lost City Band will be competing in solo/duo and band categories to represent the Detroit Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge Jan. 21-25, 2014 in Memphis.
Admission is $10. For information, click detroitbluesociety.org or atcallahans.com.

‘Detroit Blues’ video 
Alt-rock singer-songwriter Ife Mora is best known for her work in techno and trip-hop music, but she delves into the blues of her hometown in her new music video “Detroit Blues” from her sophomore album “Fire Inside Me.”
The gritty video for “Detroit Blues” – shot in Detroit  shows Mora sweaty in a mechanic shop, while images of abandoned houses and a broken metropolis are streamed across the screen. A release states that the video shows the hardships Detroit is facing, but Mora wants us to get a feeling of hope from all of the beautiful people who are surviving and fighting for the rise of a grand new city.
“Detroit has always been the foundation for my love of music and has given me a very tough skin to be able to survive hardships in life and endure a tough business like the music industry,” Mora said in the release. “’Detroit Blues’ is all about a woman who can survive anything and look good doing it because of this historical and complex city she is

Kieron Lafferty, left, as Elwood and Wayne Catania as Jake
Official Blues Brother Revue
The Official Blues Brothers Revue, live concert show that combines the comedy and hit songs from the original 1980 hit film as well as the five albums released by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, makes a stop Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts in Clinton Township.
Featuring Wayne Catania as Jake and Kieron Lafferty as Elwood, The Official Blues Brothers Revue and their eight-piece intercontinental rhythm & blues revue band pay homage to the humor, music and mayhem of the Blues Brothers and to Chicago’s rich musical history of blues, gospel and soul music.
The show is produced by Dan Aykroyd, Judith Belushi and original Blues Brothers musical director Paul Shaffer.
Tickets start at $43. For information, click http://www.macombcenter.com/Events/2013-10-19-Blues+Brothers.htm

To send info to JB Blues, please email Joe.Ballor@dailytribune.com

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Erich Goebel hosts DBS jam

Erich Goebel
If you have never been to a Detroit Blues Society Meeting and Jam, do yourself a favor and check out the event at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, at Bachelors One, 1967 Cass Lake Road in Keego Harbor.
The monthly events are short on meeting and long on jams.
This month’s host band is Erich Goebel and the Flying Crowbars. Goebel is a fantastic guitarist and singer. He’ll be joined Saturday by bassist Chris Rumel and drummer Dave Watson. They will open the evening with a set of music, then turn the stage over to jammers. Traditionally, some of Detroit’s top performers make it out to the jam to share music and friendship. It’s a great way to see lots of different performers and there’s no cover charge.

Bluesin’  Flint
The next event in a concert series organized by musician Greg Nagy is at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, at Scooter’s Bar and Grill in Flint.
George Bedard and the Kingpins are this month’s featured performers. Bedard is a rockabilly guitarist who has been a seminal figure on the Michigan roots rock scene for more than 20 years.
The event will also feature Nagy, Laura Rain and The Caesars, and more.
Steve Nardella is up next in the series, performing on Nov. 17.

Acoustic blues
The next Attic Dwellers acoustic circle jam session is from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct, 13, at Paycheck’s Lounge in Hamtramck (1 to 5 p.m.).  Beginners as well as seasoned musicians will enjoy themselves at the free event. You can go and just listen too.

Midweek nirvana
Looking for something to do midweek?
Three awesome choices are available next week.
At 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16, legendary R&B/funk guitarist Dennis Coffey performs at the Blues and Jazz Series at the Southfield Public Library. Coffey is perhaps best known for his work with Motown’s Funk Brothers, and added unique rockin’ guitar sounds on recordings such as Temptations’ hits “Cloud Nine” and “Psychedelic Shack,” Edwin Starr’s “War,” and Freda Payne’s “Band of Gold,” among many, many others.
Coffey also had instrumental hits, including “Scorpio” and “Taurus,” as a solo artist.
Also on Wednesday, Oct. 16, blues guitar great Coco Montoya takes the stage at Callahan’s Music Hall in Auburn Hills.
Callahan’s hosts legendary British bluesman John Mayall on Thursday, Oct. 17. Over the years, Mayall’s groups have included guitarists including Eric Clapton, Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac, and Mick Taylor of the Rolling Stones.
Check their schedule at www.atcallahans.com

To send info to JB Blues, please email Joe.Ballor@dailytribune.com

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Remembering the Attic Bar

Detroit blues fans have many fond memories of the Attic Bar in Hamtramck.
The venue was home to many Detroit blues greats, including Uncle Jesse White, the Butler Twins (Curtis and Clarence), and drummer Duke Dawson, among many others.
Those fine artists are no longer with us, and the bar changed owners and format in 2007.
Duke Dawson (BluesPhotos by Don McGhee) 
But, at 3 p.m. on Sunday, blues musicians and fans can relive the days of the Attic at a reunion held at the Hastings Street Ballroom, 715 E. Milwaukee in Detroit.
Cathy Davis and the Rhythm Bonz band will be the musical hosts, and there will be other talented musicians jamming as well.
There will be food available for purchase by Sidecar Detroit and a historic photo display by photographers Don McGhee and Bruce Harkness.
For more information visit the Attic Bar Reunion page on Facebook.

Big bucks for blues recording

Longtime blues record collector and expert John Tefteller was the winning bidder on eBay at $37,100 for an extremely rare 78 rpm record by musician Tommy Johnson.
Johnson’s record, on the Paramount label from 1930, is one of only two known and verified copies. All other copies of this disc are presumed lost or destroyed. The two songs on the record are "Alcohol And Jake Blues" and "Ridin' Horse."
Johnson, a singer-guitarist from Mississippi, is one of the legendary figures in early recorded blues music, alongside Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Skip James and Son House.
Tefteller, who has been collecting rare blues records for over 40 years, already owns the only other known copy and has released the songs previously on one of his Classic Blues Artwork From The 1920's Calendar series. This newly verified record is in vastly better condition than the other one and Tefteller said he "just had to have it." His original copy will be sold to help offset the cost of this new one and he says he is "going to remaster and re-release this new copy next year" for his 2015 Blues Calendar release. The Blues Calendars come complete with a 20 to 24 track CD that is included free with each calendar.
The seller was a local Columbia, South Carolina collector who found the record some years back at an estate sale.
Check out Tefteller’s website, Blues Images, at www.bluesimages.com

To send info to JB Blues, please email Joe.Ballor@dailytribune.com