Monday, July 30, 2012

Another BBQ Post--

My friend Bob Herndon asked me to share the differences between Georgia BBQ and Missouri BBQ. Well, I spent 4 years eating and judging BBQ in the Georgia BBQ Assn, the National BBQ Assn, the Memphis BBQ Network, the Florida BBQ Assn and the Kansas City BBQ Society, and I loved every minute of it. The BBQ at contests I judged in GA was amazing, some of the best I've ever had. I still remember every detail of a piece of chicken I had at Dublin in 2010--fabulous. And the brisket that Glen smoked in Duluth. And the ribs at Jackson in 2009. I judged about a dozen contests every year from 2008-2011, and I was lucky enough to get to eat something great nearly time I went out. I can sincerely say that there never was a contest I regretted being a part of. But even better than the food were the people I got to meet and spend time with--Glen & Melanie Musick, Bob Herndon, Mr K, Gregg Snyder, Rod Brown, David Gellin, Kell and Carlene Phelps and at least half a dozen more. BBQ people are the very best people on Earth. As far as BBQ at GA restaurants, I ate at a bunch of 'em. I had to--within 5 miles of my house I could get great BBQ at Fox Brothers, Community Q, Burnt Fork, Big Daddy Z's, or Pig & Chick. One of the very best things I did when I first moved to Decatur was join the Atlanta BBQ Club. Eat BBQ once a month with a bunch of other BBQ lovers? Where do I sign up? And then every so often I would drive up to Sam's # 1 or The Big Shanty or Fresh Air just because I could, and the BBQ was always the highlight of my day. I'll always remember meals with my friends Bob Saye and Leslie Raymer and David Schakett and Don de Leaumont. The BBQ was always great, but eating with friends was especially wonderful. I just remembered when Jane & I stopped by one late evening at Southern Soul BBQ at St Simon's Island--that was great too. Whenever somebody wanted to know where the best BBQ could be found, I was glad to have an answer. I'm glad I got to do the homework, and I thank 'em for asking.

All these memories are making me sad, because I moved away from all that great BBQ and came back to my home state of Missouri on June1st. We live in Columbia now, and the BBQ here in town is pretty limited. The # 1 BBQ here is not even at a BBQ place--it's at D Rowe's. I got a great pulled pork sandwich there the other day, and I got to see their Old Hickory pit and talk BBQ with David (he is the D of D Rowe's) for a while. But to get great BBQ here it looks like I'll have to go to Pappy's Smokehouse in St Louis and or Oklahoma Joe's in Kansas City. Those are both awesome BBQ destinations, but they're both 2 hours from my house in different directions. In my BBQ eating lifetime here I have eaten at Arthur Bryant's, Gates & Sons, Roper's Ribs, and five or six more spots that were all very good--and I'll get back to them all as time permits. I did judge at a couple of nice KCBS contests nearby since we arrived, and I ate very well at those. I'm signed up to judge at 2 or 3 more even ts as the summer progresses.

The difference between BBQ in Georgia and Missouri? I guess good BBQ in Georgia is just a little bit too far away for me now, and good BBQ in Missouri mostly hasn't been located yet. But I still have my car window cracked and my nose sniffing the air for that great aroma of wood and meat. When BBQ is prepared with love and passion and knowledge, the results are terrific wherever you happen to eat it. When I find what I'm looking for, I'll be sure to let y'all know.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cee Cee James -- "Blood Red Blues"

Cee Cee James is a wonderful singer and songwriter, and "Blood Red Blues" is a terrific release. For those not familiar with Cee Cee, she comes from the great state of Washington, with a stopover in Nashville for a year, and now she lives in St Louis, Missouri. She has released three previous records--her first, "Spiritually Wet" in 1999, was a pop/funk disc, then came two blues releases: "Low Down Where The Snakes Crawl," (2008) and "Seriously Raw: Live at Sunbanks" (2010). Both the blues discs are quite good, but I only call your attention to these earlier releases to say that "Blood Red Blues" is the best thing she has done so far.

Check out the band on this: Cee Cee on vocals, Chris Leighton on drums, Dan Moeller on bass, Rob 'Slideboy' Andrews on rhythm and slide guitar, Rocky Athas on lead guitar, Susan Julian on keyboards. Jim Gaines produced, engineered and mixed everything, so you know the band is absolutely killer--they support Cee Cee solidly in the pocket--and her singing is outstanding throughout. Cee Cee wrote all the songs with Rob 'Slideboy' Andrews, and they did all the arrangements. It may sound like she has suddenly burst forth from seemingly nowhere, but this cd has been growing and in development for over 20 years. The life-journey has not always been smooth, but it has been worth it. Everything here is, as it says on the website, "deeply rich in human emotions expressed in lyrical and melodic vulnerability." That's true, but it doesn't really get to the heart of the matter. I will say that Cee Cee and her band tell the story, in twelve songs, of a real woman's life--stories of real happiness, real despair, real pain and pleasure and joy and sorrow.

"Blood Red Blues" is in my personal top 2 or 3 releases of 2012 so far. If you are a woman, or if you love a woman, then you need to listen to this music. Listen close. You can buy this cd and all of Cee Cee's music at her website: but even better than that, buy this cd and then go see her LIVE! That is when she really shines, when she sings these stories with passion and sweat and a lot of love.

You will thank me.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Chris Watson Band -- "Pleasure & Pain"

This Chris Watson Band release was an answer to prayer for me--this, along with the Omar & The Howlers release "Essential" and J T Coldfire's "Always And Never," gave me the material I needed to start out on my latest "job:" Bruce's Texas Blues Show on the internet radio

I was contacted by Downtown Deb and agreed to do a Texas Blues Show. Now I had about 600 blues cds in my personal library, so I started pulling and downloading my Texas blues. That gave me a start, but I knew I would soon need a lot more new Texas Blues to really get the internet radio show off the ground.  I started praying for new material.

And that's how J T Coldfire, and Omar & The Howlers, and Chris Watson Band came to be answered prayers. I have already blog-reviewed both the others--so let me take a few lines and say that the Chris Watson Band has made a very strong cd. It's nothing fancy, just a guitar-centric blues affair by a band that has been together and touring in the Dallas/Ft. Worth clubs since 2006. This is their second release, following their debut "Just For Show," which was released in 2010. The band is Chris Watson on guitar and lead vocals, ably backed by Billy Acord and Chris Gipson on bass, Jon Zoog and Jason Thomas on drums, Scott Morris and Eric Scortia on keys, Justin Barbee on trumpet, Jeff Dazey on sax, and Kristin Major on backing vocals. Nine of the 12 songs are originals, and they are all wonderful. They range from "Heart On My Sleeve," which is lightly funky, through "Heartache," which is a slow bluesy ballad and my favorite song here, to "Mama Told Me," which has Watson showing off his chops with both blazing leads and chunky slashing rhythm work. The covers are all great songs, and they are done very well here--they were all staples from Sean Costello's live sets: "Going Home," "Hard Luck Woman," and Bobby Womack's Check It Out." (For more on Sean Costello, the Atlanta-based blues guitarist, check in my back reviews--he was a tremendous talent who died way too soon.)

Everything here is melodic, tight, soulful--and well done. They may be young, but the Chris Watson Band has all the ability in the world. Keep an eye on these guys. They have a very bright future ahead of them.

You can buy "Pleasure & Pain" at

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Geoff Achison & the Souldiggers -- Little Big Men (remastered)

Geoff Achison is a wonderful Australian blues/roots guitar player and singer/songwriter. His music combines elements of blues, funk, and jam band music, and he has a unique and distinctive style.

Back in 2006 I stumbled across some music by Geoff & the Souldiggers, including this album, in the blues library at KJLU. I listened to it, and fairly soon I decided that I didn't care if this was blues music or folk music or soul music or whatever--but I knew this great music needed to be on the radio. I didn't know then that Geoff's music was not widely available in the US. Then eighteen months later I moved to Atlanta, and I discovered that Geoff had just moved there too--on a two year work visa. So from 2007-2009 I got to meet him, I got to hear him with the Souldiggers, with Randall Bramblett, in solo, electric, and acoustic settings. I bought every cd he had ever made from him in person, still not knowing that this great music was pretty rare in the US. Anyway, to make a long story short, back in February of 2012, I got this cd in the mail with a bunch of other cds, and I looked at it and frowned and threw it aside--"What's this? This is not new!" Well, it really is sort of new--this is the remastered re-released "Little Big Men," and it is now getting the big push in the US. Now you can discover this terrific musician.

They picked a great cd to present Geoff to new fans. This is one of Geoff's strongest albums from start to finish. The songs here are all terrific--the original 14 songs are all just as I first heard them back in 2006, plus three bonus tracks. Geoff wrote all the songs. He is an amazing guitar player, completely unlike anybody else, and he can play everything you hear on this cd without effects pedals, without computers. And the Souldiggers (here consisting of Mal Logan on keyboards, Roger McLauhlan on bass, Gerry Pantazis on drums, Nikki Nichols on backing vocals, and James Mack on percussion) are all in top form too, and they make razor-sharp music great for listening to at home, in the car, at the beach, anywhere. On two of the bonus tracks the Souldiggers have a horn section (Paul Williamson on sax, Tibo Gyapjas on trumpet, and David Palmer on trombone) and those songs are really good too. I think my favorites songs here are "Bit By Bit" and "Boy," but everything is really good. Some cds get put in the player and immediately programmed to skip the clams. You know the drill. Well, when I put this one in the player I listen to it all. There are no skunks here.

The result is is this is a wonderful cd. Don't miss it. Give Geoff Achison a listen and you will want to buy more of his music. Everything can be bought at