Friday, July 23, 2010

Les Copeland "Don't Let The Devil In"

Les Copeland is a fine guitarist and an underrated vocalist. He hails from Canada, but the blues he bring to life on this disc really are universal. This album is Copeland's first release on Earwig. According to the label, it "showcases Les’ fine finger picking, melodic sensibility and chordal finesse, and his wry and ironic lyrical observations about everyday people." Copeland shows a talent for all kinds of songs here--sometimes he's doing Chicago blues, sometimes jazz, sometimes old-style country, and sometimes folk music, but always the music and vocals are clear and strong and honest. All the songs but one are Copeland originals. On several songs Copeland's slide guitar playing reminds me of Ry Cooder--especially on "Ry Cooder" and "Riding The Sky Train." And on "Ginseng Girl" and "Wet Paper Bag" Copeland shows that he has listened to Barney Kessel, spinning out gorgeous jazz melodies. On "I'm The Little One" he even sings a children's song, and on the next song "Everyday People" Copeland takes a very nice folkish turn. His singing voice reminds me of Jimmie Rodgers, especially on "What's Your Name," "Long Lost Love," and "Distant Train." All these comparisons are high praise.

Helping Copeland here are guest Hall of Fame bluesman David 'Honeyboy' Edwards on second guitar on two songs, "Anna Lee" and "How's That Drummer." And Honeyboy's manager, Michael Frank, contributes harmonica on three songs, "What's Your Name," "Silently," and the title track.

Les Copeland has made an interesting and quite good disc. You can buy it at Earwig Music. Http://

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Grady Champion "Back In Mississippi Live at 930 Blues Cafe"

These men won the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in January 2010 so you know they play with fire and power. This show was recorded on 07-07-07 at the 930 Blues Club in Jackson Mississippi, and it captures a great time. Grady Champion and the Grady Champion Revue featuring Eddie Cotton Jr, as a band, are made of Mr. Champion on vocals and harp and Mr. Cotton on guitar, Calvin Wilson on keyboards, Marquis Champion on bass, and Frank White on drums. They have played together long enough to do things right. Things start off with the doubleheader blast of Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed, with "I'm Ready" and "Baby What You Want Me To Do/Bright Lights" the way shows probably kicked off in hundreds of blues clubs back in the 50s and 60s. These classics are expertly done, and after that warm up the band brings out three Grady Champion compositions, "You Got Some Explaining To Do" "1-800-Blu-Love" and "Policeman Blues." Grady testifies, he tells the truth in each song; and then, as the audience is catching their breath, the Revue launches into a long and glorious cover of Howlin' Wolf's "Spoonful" and you think the show must be wrapping up. But the best is still yet to come! Led by a slow and terrific organ and guitar intro, the band digs into "Lonesome Bed Blues" where everybody gets a chance to shine, especially Eddie Cotton Jr. His guitar work here alone is worth the price of the cd. The rest of the show is all 100% top notch blues, mixing Grady Champion's original songs with the BB King classic "Why I Sing The Blues," which is where you get to hear Grady's great harp work. During "Wine and Women," co-written by Grady and Eddie Cotton Jr., Calvin Wilson plays a great solo on piano. Every song is fully realized... This cd is a great teaching opportunity too. Anybody who says "I don't like the blues, they're all sad songs" needs to hear this. It will lift your spirits! You can dance to it! And for all you blues DJ's out there, there's a good blues Christmas song here too--"Blues On Christmas."

Just yesterday (July 12) Grady Champion won the Jackson Music Award as "Local Blues Artist of the Year." Lucky people of Jackson.

You can buy this disc at

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cee Cee James "Seriously Raw" (Live at Sunbanks)

This is a terrific disc! It's an old-style live disc that needs to be played loud. Cee Cee burns the place down with her singing, and the band is great too. Cee Cee is backed by Chris Leighton on drums with Dan Mohler on bass and Rob "SlideBoy" Andrews on slide and rhythm guitar and Jason Childs on lead guitar. There's not a weak second anywhere. It feels almost as through you're hanging out at your favorite blues club on a hot hot Saturday night, and Cee Cee is singing to expel the demons and save her life. There's a lot of Janis Joplin in her soulful growl, but I think on this set Cee Cee does Janis maybe even better than Janis did. Especially recommended is "I've Got A Right To Sing The Blues."

My favorite live disc, not only of 2010 but maybe of the century so far.

You can buy this disc at