Thursday, June 25, 2009
I didn't really know what to expect with this disc. I have seen Big Bill Morganfield live, and on stage he is a big powerful bluesman--a powerful singer, perhaps a little one dimensional. But I was wrong. On this cd he continues his transformation from Muddy Water's son to becoming his own artist. "Born Lover" is a very fine disc of Chicago style blues--Big Bill's best disc so far. Big Bill has an unerring ear for blues songs which suit his big voice well--his baritone has a lot more nuance than I expected. He sings the blues with truth, a dose of heart and soul. Big Bill wrote three songs here, "High Gas Prices," "Who's The Fool?" and "X-Rated Lover," and he and the band bring to life Willie Dixon's "One Kiss," Buddy Guy's "My Love Is Real," Howling Wolf's "My Last Affair," and his father's song "Born Lover." I think Big Bill's take on "My Love Is Real" is even better than Buddy's original. Of course, Big Bill doesn't do it all by himself--he is backed by a great band consisting of Chuck Cotton on drums, Mookie Brill on bass, Clark Stern on keyboards, Brian Bisesi and Bob Margolin on guitars and Steve Guyger on harmonica. The band sounds absolutely spot on throughout--this is the living Chicago blues, y'all! I want to recognize the great harp work by Guyger on "Born Lover" and great piano work by Stern on "Who's The Fool?" There are moments such as when Stern and Guyger weave piano and harp around Morganfield's slide guitar on the ending of Snooky Pryor's "Peace of Mind" when I am reminded why I love this music.
A very good disc. Available 7-7-09 from Vizztone, at http://www.vizztone.com and at http://www.bigbillmorganfield.com
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Geoff Achison has carved out quite a niche as a guitar player and as a singer over the past dozen years. Originally from Australia, he moved to Decatur Georgia for a couple of years, arriving at about the same time I moved to Decatur from Missouri. I knew his music with the Souldiggers, and I had played him on my show "The Sunday Night Blues Project" on KJLU--but in person he is such an incredible guitarist and such a great songwriter that he still impressed me. While he was in town I must have heard him play half a dozen times--electric, acoustic, solo, with a band--and each evening was a treat. Those in the know about Geoff already know how great he is. What I'd love to do is get him better known by the rest of you. The music Geoff plays is not exactly blues music, not exactly folk music, not exactly rock music or jazz--but he plays all of those genres and he weaves a powerfully personal music. This new cd "One Ticket One Ride" is Geoff's response to the experience of living in the US. He wrote all the songs, and he recruited the recording band, which included the red hot rhythm section of Ted Pecchio & Tyler ‘Falcon’ Greenwell with guest spots by Oliver Wood and legendary drummer Yonrico Scott. It's a really wide-ranging cd, stylistically, and the highlights are many. My favorite so far might be "Bootbanger," which is a powerful instrumental blues a la Jeff Beck, but all the songs here feature great song writing and great playing. This is Geoff's best cd so far, and that's saying something profound. Right now he is on a six week tour of the Southeast United States, and I'm going to go see him this Thursday at The Melting Point in Athens, Georgia with the Yonrico Scott Band. Check him out!
You can buy this cd directly from Geoff at: http://www.geoffachison.com/
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Joe Price's cd "Rain Or Shine" should be in the hands of every bottleneck slide guitar blues lover--and every slide guitar blues student, and every blues lover. This guy lays it down with passion and exuberance and taste. He has been playing the blues in and around Iowa for over 35 years, beginning with the Rocket 88s (through 1974) and continuing with Mother Blues (from 1975-1981) opening shows for Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Koko Taylor and a host of others. He reminds me of Bernie Pearl and Geoff Achison--really good guitar players who have paid their dues for years and years despite never getting their props, players that the national media have never heard of, players who can and do take the stage and bring the real-deal blues out of a lifetime of experience and give their listeners a joyous good time with playing that is always new, always old, but most of all true to life. Price should be wayyyyy more well know than he is. So what if his singing voice reminds me a little bit of Leo Kottke? Blues is not about notes, it's about FEEL and LIFE. On this disc Joe, along with his wife Vicky on vocals and second guitar, brings old-school blues to clattering, rocking, screeching LIFE, built around that acoustic and/or resonator guitar slide sound, full of joy and lament, alternating between instrumentals and vocals. Highlights for me include the songs "Steel Guitar" and "Blues On Twelve" and "Beer Tent Boogie Woogie." But my favorite song is the last one, "Rock Slide," when you actually get to hear what Joe & Vicky can do working with a band--and Keni Ewing on drums and Al Naylor on trumpet really add a funky spice to the proceedings. I hope next time out the whole disc is a full band outing!
It all makes me wonder--why does this guy languish in relative obscurity while we get a seemingly endless parade of crap singers on the radio?
You can buy Joe Price's cd at http://www.cdbaby/cd/joeprice4