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The Pizzarelli Boys' Desert Island Dreamers, CD Review - by J. Blake

(New York, NY)

And now for something completely different…

During his live shows, jazz guitar-great John Pizzarelli has frequently stated (with his tongue slightly planted in cheek) that both FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE! and Count Basie’s ATOMIC BASIE are on his list of “desert island discs”; meaning that those are albums he would want to have with him if he were ever stranded on a desert island. With their latest Arbors Records release, The Pizzarelli Boys (John, Bucky and Martin) attempt to put together their own island-worthy collection of (mostly) instrumental covers.

Based on an album concept by executive producer Paul Hanly, DESERT ISLAND DREAMERS finds the Pizzarellis (and friends) interpreting compositions from Mercer and Mancini to Page and Plant. Spanning 11 tracks, this latest studio effort, for the most part, shies away from the swinging and expeditious fret-work the boys have become known for and instead focuses on relatively tranquil and beautifully executed versions of standards like “By Myself”, “Over The Rainbow”, “Greensleeves” and “Danny Boy”, as well as a few songs from the Sinatra songbook; including “A Man Alone”, “Emily”, “All The Way Home/Moon River” and “Cycles.”

For those fans looking for a little extra “oomph”, the John Pizzarelli penned “Waiting For The Phantom” features a lowdown dirty blues groove and some tasty leads from John, pianist Larry Fuller and violinist Aaron Weinstein. Equally as worthwhile is the group’s take on Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven.” A potentially dangerous song to attempt, The Pizzarelli Boys manage to pull it off brilliantly by starting it slow and moody and swinging it with a bit of a Wes Montgomery vibe by the 3 minute mark. It’s an unlikely jazz cover, that is definitely worth a listen.

If this writer had one complaint about DESERT ISLAND DREAMERS, it would be that the album could’ve used a little more guitar and a little less violin. As talented as (25 year-old violinist) Aaron Weinstein is, the album does feature two of the greatest guitarists on the planet. So having the guitar/violin ratio skewed slightly more in the Pizzarelli direction would’ve been nice.

That minor flaw (if you can even call it that) aside, the album is solid; a relaxing and meditative 64 minute display of superior musicianship. The Pizzarelli Boys have yet to disappoint.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy: John Pizzarelli’s ROCKIN’ IN RHYTHM

Thanks and keep reading American Blues News and also check out Media Wah Wah for more of this writer’s thoughts and opinions about Movies, Music, TV & More.

Copyright © 2010 - J. Blake. All Rights Reserved

Jimmie Vaughan by Nelson Onofre

Welcome back my fellow Blues lovers! For this week's photo submission I am featuring one of the most well known and respected guitar players in the music business, Jimmie Vaughan. As most of you reading this already know, he was the older brother of the late, great, Stevie Ray Vaughan, one of my personal favorites. Along with Kim Wilson Jimmie founded the highly successful band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Jimmie has had a great career so far and its highlights are more than I can squeeze in here so please visit his website and read more in-depth about this great musician. The photos are from a May 2010 show at the BB King Blues Club in New York and as you can imagine it was a great show.

As always thanks to Laura Becker for the guest list/photo credentials and continued support.

Nelson G. Onofre
my websites:

all photos: Nelson G. Onofre © 2010 Copyright
All Rights Reserved
click on images for a larger view

Jimmie Vaughan
BB King Blues Club, NY, May 2010

Lou Ann Barton w/Jimmie Vaughan

Lou Ann Barton

Look What's Coming: SRV & Albert King DVD


Guitar titans' one and only meeting to be released
as a deluxe CD/DVD November 9th on Stax

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — On December 6, 1983, legendary blues guitarist Albert King joined his disciple Stevie Ray Vaughan on a Canadian sound stage for the live music television series In Session. Magic happened. The highly sought after video footage from that one-time legendary summit becomes available for the first time ever on November 9 with the release of Stax Records’ deluxe two-disc CD/DVD In Session.

The DVD contains three classic performances unavailable on the previously issued audio disc: “Born Under a Bad Sign,” the landmark title track from Albert King’s biggest Stax release written by William Bell and Booker T. Jones; Stevie Ray’s “Texas Flood,” the Larry Davis-penned title track of Vaughan’s immortal debut album; and “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town,” made famous by Louis Jordan and later, Ray Charles.

“It was evident from the first choruses,” writes liner notes author/musicologist Samuel Charters, “that they were playing for each other. And that was the best audience either of them could ever have. The music never lost its intensity, its quality of something very important being handed back and forth and there was time for Stevie and Albert to see where their ideas took them.”

Accolades have showered upon this momentous encounter. “As a document of what was probably one of the greatest nights in the musical life of SRV, this belongs in the collection of every true fan,” said the Austin American-Statesman. Sonic Boomers added, “Both men are gone now, but rare recordings like In Session remind us of a time when blues giants still walked the earth side by side.” Elmore magazine called it “an indispensible part of any blues fan’s collection.” And BluesWax noted, “thank goodness, this disc lives on and on.”

Now this one-of-a-kind visual document featuring two giants of American blues can be enjoyed by audiences all over the world. Sadly, King and Vaughan would not share a stage together ever again. Vaughan, 31 years King’s junior, died in a helicopter crash in the fog on the way back from a concert in 1990. King outlived him by two years, dying of a heart attack in 1992. They didn’t meet often, and their careers took different paths. But we can all be grateful for that one long day in a television studio when sparks flew and this timeless performance was forever captured.

Clapton CD Review - by J. Blake

(New York, NY)

Over that last decade Eric Clapton wrote an autobiography, recorded albums with musical mentors B.B. King and J.J. Cale, recorded two tributes to blues inspiration Robert Johnson, reunited with Cream, Bobby Whitlock and Steve Winwood, played several concert dates with longtime friend and “guitar rival” Jeff Beck, sat in with the Allman Brothers at the Beacon and revisited almost the entire Derek and the Dominos catalogue while on tour with Derek Trucks. To say that he has been feeling a bit nostalgic about his life and career is probably an understatement.

With his latest studio effort, titled CLAPTON, the man formerly known as God delivers a beautifully intimate musical self-portrait that reflects largely on the music of his childhood and provides a fascinating glimpse into where he is artistically today, at age 65. Spanning genres from blues and Dixieland jazz to pop standards and soulful soft-rock, the album CLAPTON boasts compositions by Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael, Fats Waller, Lil’ Son Jackson, Little Walter and J.J. Cale (among others) and features guest performances from Steve Winwood, Allen Toussaint, Walter Richmond, Wynton Marsalis, J.J. Cale, Kim Wilson, Derek Trucks, Sheryl Crow, Doyle Bramhall II (who also acted as producer) and selected members from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

The tone of the album as a whole is mature and relaxed; feeling more akin to Clapton’s 2001 effort REPTILE and 1992’s UNPLUGGED than anything else in his catalogue. His guitar playing is tastefully subdued and his vocals seem uncharacteristically casual and confident. Lyrically, he delivers “How Deep The Ocean” and “Autumn Leaves” with an emotive calmness that gives these standards an emotional weight and poignancy that is sorely absent from similar attempts made by Clapton contemporaries like Rod Stewart. Conversely, Dixieland-style tracks like “My Very Good Friend The Milkman” and “When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful” are sung with a spryness and a self-assuredness that seems entirely new to Clapton’s repertoire.

Despite the fact that many of the songs were written pre-WWII, CLAPTON (the album) unabashedly represents where the man’s musical sensibilities are as he seemingly embraces his role as an elder statesmen of popular music and given the artistic trajectory of his of studio career over the last decade, the release of such an album is not entirely surprising. This may seem like disappointing news to the small, but vocal, section of his fan base that has been unhappy (and at times even disgusted) with his studio work in recent years, but for the rest of us, it is an interesting and exciting installment into the ever evolving body of work of a man that has somehow managed to explore every musical avenue while never straying too far away from home.

This latest studio release may explore a lot of uncharted territory, but Clapton fans looking for a bit of the familiar may find solace in some of the “bluesier” material, like Snooky Pryor’s “Judgment Day”, Lane Hardin’s “Hard Times Blues” and the wonderfully gritty rendition of Little Walters’ “Can’t Hold Out Much Longer” and early-Clapton enthusiasts longing for the fire of pre-1980s Slowhand may enjoy “Run Back To Your Side” and Robert Wilkins’ “That’s No Way To Get Along”, which chug along with a vibe that is very reminiscent of the mid-70s/George Terry era of his career.

CLAPTON (the album) is not for the closed-minded. It is an eclectic and at times emotionally complex collection of songs that speaks volumes about its creator. It opens a lot of potentially exciting artistic doors for a musician that changes genres almost as often as he changes his hair-style and it proves that a rock-god can age as gracefully as a jazz crooner. Though this album may not cater to everyone, I think that many of its skeptics will be pleasantly surprised by what is, in actuality, a beautifully executed piece of work.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy: Clapton & Winwood, A Touch of Faith.

Thanks and keep reading American Blues News and also check out Media Wah Wah for more of this writer’s thoughts and opinions about Movies, Music, TV & More.

Copyright © 2010 - J. Blake. All Rights Reserved

B.B. King and Dr. John Headline Arkansas Blues and Heritage 25th Anniversary by Robert “Nighthawk” Tooms

(Memphis, Tennessee) If you are wondering what to do while in Helena, Arkansas, for the 25th Anniversary of the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival, look no more.

photo from a recent jam at Blues Bayou Restaurant and Blues Bar

check them out on facebook:!/pages/Helena-AR/Blues-Bayou-Restaurant-Blues-Club/137490426271842?ref=ts

At the Blues Bayou Restaurant and Blues Bar a big blues jam will be held on Wednesday, October 6. This event will kick off what will be a memorable and likely record-breaking event in Helena.

I cannot recommend this festival enough. It is simply the great grandfather of blues festivals and this year will be outstanding.

the author will be playing with Sterling Billingsley’s Band at 3:40 PM on Thursday

On Thursday, the festival begins in earnest. Here's a copy of the finalized schedule:

Sonny Boy Williamson Main Stage

11:30/12:15 – 2009 Emerging Artist Winner – Heather Cross
12:30/1:15 – 2010 SBBS Battle of The Bands Winner-Diddley Squat
1:30/2:15 – 2010 IBC Winner – Grady Champion
2:30/3:20 – Willie Cobbs
3:40/4:35 – Sterling Billingsley Band
5:00-6:05 – James Harman
6:25/7:30 – The Reba Russell Band
7:55/9:05 – Paul Thorn
9:30/11:00 – B.B. King

This looks as if it will be the best first day of this festival ever. I could not be more excited to participate and attend. Bring a chair and get comfortable, viewing some of the world's greatest blues acts from the levee of the mighty Mississippi river, the largest, most famous river in the United States. the Blues history that is so rich in Helena will be augmented by this year's event. this will be the first time B. B. King has played the event and all the acts on this day's roster are sure to please Blues lovers.

B.B.King takes the stage Thursday at 9:30 PMOn Friday, the excitement continues.

Sonny Boy Williamson Main Stage

10:00 AM- David Berntson Blues in Schools Students
11:30/12:30 – Sherrie Williams
12:45/1:45 – Big Jack Johnson
2:00/3:05 – Smokin Joe Kubek with Bnois King
3:35/4:40 – Kentucky Headhunters
5:00/6:10 – Hubert Sumlin & The Willie “Big Eyes” Smith Band
6:35/7:50 – Michael Burks
8:15/9:30 – Marcia Ball
10:00/11:30 – Dr. John

Dr. John

the author with Eden Brent

Lockwood Stackhouse Stage (a few blocks north of the main stage)

11:00/11:45 – US Navy Band
12:00/12:45 – Phillip Stackhouse
1:00/1:45 – Andy Coats
2:00/2:45 – Johnny Billington
3:00/3:45 – Eden Brent
4:00/5:00 – Bernie Pearl
5:30/6:40 – Spoonfed Blues featuring Mississippi Spoonman
7:00/8:10 – Gwen White
8:30/9:40 – Mojo Buford
10:00/11:15 – Bobby Rush

Bobby Rush

Emerging Artist Stage

1:00/1:45 - Guitar Mack
2:00/2:45 - Paul Thomas
3:00/3:45 - Taylor &Grayson
5:00/5:45 - Valerie June
6:00/6:45 - Ray Cashman
7:00/7:45 - Clover Blue
8:00/8:45 - Gil Franklin
9:00/9:45 - Scott Simpson

On Saturday, the festival gets into full swing with entertainment of all kinds all over town. Check this out:

Sonny Boy Williamson Main Stage

11:30/12:30 – Preston Shannon
12:45/1:50 – Larry McCray
2:05/3:20 – Bobby Parker
3:35/4:50 – Pinetop Perkins & Bob Margolin
5:10/6:25 – Anson Funderburg & The Rockets
6:50/8:05 – Walter “Wolfman” Washington
8:25/9:40 – Charlie Musselwhite
10:00/11:30 – Taj Mahal

John Hammond

Lockwood Stackhouse Stage

12:00/1:00 – Jimmy “Duck” Holmes
1:20/2:20 – Rev. Roberts
2:40/3:40 – Austin “Walkin Cane” Charanghat
4:00/5:00 – John Hammond
5:30/6:40 – Lonnie Shields
7:00/8:10 – Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms and his Wampus Cats
8:30/9:40 – Don McMinn
10:00/11:15 – Earnest “Guitar” Roy

Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms and his Wampus Cats

Emerging Artist Stage

2:00/2:45 - Losing Streak
3:00/3:45 - Darren J
4:00/4:45 - Heavy Suga & the Sweetones
5:00/5:45 - The Overtones
6:00/6:45 - Interstate Bu alo
7:00/7:45 - Joe Pitt Band
8:00/8:45 - Charlotte Taylor
9:00/9:45 - Lauren Strange

Bit – O – Blues Stage

12:00/12:45 – Johnny Billington
1:00/1:45 – Matt Wigler
2:00/2:45 – Homemade Jamz
3:00/3:45 – Payton Clark Tribute Band

2 Children's harmonica workshops taught
by David Berntson @ 1 and 3 PM
- class sizes are limited.

Gospel Stage - (same stage as Bit-O-Blues)

5:15/5:30 - Jason Jaco
5:35/5:50 - Denise Morgan
5:55/6:10 - Kathy Davis
6:15/6:30 - WH Baptist Drama Team
6:35/6:50 - Skeeter and Darla Self
6:55/7:10 - Anna Arnold
7:15/7:30 - Maddie Webb
7:35/7:50 - Stephanie Monroe
7:55/8:10 - Phillips County Quartet Choir
8:15/8:30 - St. Peter Choir
8:35/8:50 - Helena-West Helena Community Choir

8:55/9:10 - Blessful 7
9:15/9:30 - Young and Ready
9:35/9:50 - Ratio Male Chorus
9:55/10:10 - Spiritual Keys
10:15/11:00 - Memphis Harmonizers


© Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms, 2010

American Blues News Staff

What makes American Blues News unique is our coverage across America. Here is our lineup:

Mon: Memphis Correspondent - Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms
Nighthawk is our resident globetrotter and man behind the scenes, as he tours with the Reba Russell Band.

Tues: New York Correspondent - J. Blake
Blake is the American Blues News review and interview guru. You may catch him out and about in NY playing the blues.

Wed: National Correspondent - Monica Yasher
Monica is our executive director and artist interview specialist. You can catch Monica singing the blues around Pittsburgh or working on some country music songs in Nashville.

Thurs: Washington, DC Correspondent - Virginiabluesman
Geraldo offers inteviews and reviews. You may have seen him at an Ana Popovic concert or conversed with him on her websites, as he offers administrative support with her music.

Fri: Northeast Photographer - Nelson Onofre
Nelson offers a Friday column of blues photography and pictorial support for the interviews covered by the team.

Jim Stick in Colorado
Jim will be focusing on the Blues Festivals in the beautiful state of Colorado, and the artists that live and visit there.

Maureen Elizabeth, our resident art correspondent, will be focusing on blues art as she explores the creation of CD covers, or speaking with artists who also have a love of creating pictorial art in addition to their music! She may also feature some of her good friends in the Pittsburgh area. In her love of art, you may find Maureen's photography accompanying writer's articles on our pages. Maureen is also our marketing director.

Pittsburgh correspondent and photographer, CR Bennett, will share the Pittsburgh scene with all of you. You may also see CR's pictures accompanying other writer's articles.

We head to the big state of Texas! Abby Owen, our Texas correspondent.

Another big area to cover, the West Coast with Casey Reagan, Casey will feature many artists and events on this ocean's shores.

Lastly, we have our roving blues entertainment writer,
Chef Jimi.

And of course, we will surprise you sometimes!

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