Vivascene Blues/Rock Eclectic Playlist

An eclectic mix of great tunes from both prominent and lesser-known blues and rock recording artists.



“I heard Elton John, and everything changed. That was the inspiration I’d needed, and I started pounding out songs by ear.” ~ Pat McDougall 

A blues keyboardist from Portland, Pat McDougall is firing on all cylinders on his new smashing release, In The Key Of Sorry. The thirteen compositions therein are testimony to the gentleman’s gift for crafting quality melodies supplemented by salient lyrical flair. He calls on the considerable musical talents of his bandmates from Tall Static (guitarist Whit Draper, bassist Jim Solberg, and drummer Ed Pierce), supplemented by several significant guest artists to deliver his tunes.

In The Key Of Sorry was recorded at Roseleaf Recording Studios in Portland. McDougall co-produced the album with studio owner Jimi Bott who had built and modeled his studio after the cedar walled main room of Wire Recording in Austin, Texas. In laymen’s terms, he built it for excellent sounding results.

Roots artist Lloyd Jones, also hailing from Portland, is the special guest on a song from the album that jumps out to me at first listen. “Love Won’t Let Me Down” finds Jones guesting on “groove” guitar on this one aided by a strong horn arrangement from Joe-Mack McCarthy that takes the song down round Nawlins by way of Big Pink in Woodstock. Pat McDougal’s ample piano skills are on display, as are his “woe is me” blues lyrics filled with fertile imagery. His vocal, delivered with a Randy Newman tongue-in-cheek attitude, fits the song like a glove. The song also benefits from the title refrain, which is nigh on irresistible to ignore and not join in on.



The title track from the McKee Brothers CD from awhile back has stood the test of time quite well. For that matter, the entire CD has. The songs are varied and sound reminiscent of great groups like Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, or Little Feat at times.

Denis McKee is a multi-instrumentalist and singer who is the brains behind the release, along with jazz keyboardist and master songwriter Bobby West. West, in addition to being a great songwriter, tickles those ivories like a champ. Dennis McKee’s vocals are super nice throughout, and he also manned the producer’s chair with great skill.

I dearly love the horn arrangements that augment a lot of the songs. Of course, who wouldn’t with legendary Lee Thornburg (formerly Tower Of Power) and dynamite Doug Webb (15 years in the Doc Severinsen Tonight Show Big Band) playing the brass and reeds, respectively.  

On the Al Green & Sly Stone inspired “A Time Like This,” soul singer supreme Maxayn Lewis shines brightly supporting McKee’s lead vocal and West’s organ is sublime on this Bobby West composition. Everything works great, with the horns imparting a punchy Stax-y goodness that puts the song over the top.

The lyrics regarding needing to stand united, and the need for love are always pertinent. But, never moreso than right now in our shattered and battered country in 2023.

This is a Most Highly Recommended release. This band is groovin’, and rockin’, and tasty as buttered cornbread! 



“Baby, You’re Right” by The Derek Trucks Band was written by Joe Tex and James Brown and was first recorded and released by James Brown and The Famous Flames on Think! The fabulous cover by The Derek Trucks Band on 2002’s Joyful Noise featured the soulfully sensational vocal talent of Susan Tedeschi burning hotter than blue blazes.

Joyful Noise is the third studio album from one of America’s finest jam bands. The record is known for covering a wide range of genres, including gospel, blues, jazz, Latin and East Indian music, and covering them well. It also is the first record to feature Kofi Burbridge as the bands new songwriter, keyboardist, flutist and backing vocalist. 

Skillfully produced by Russ Kunkel and Craig Street, this album is an aural delight of extreme measure. Joyful Noise was originally available as a limited edition of 1000 individually numbered copies on translucent green vinyl for discerning audiophiles.



“It’s not the music per se which will change the world. But, music is definitely something that will help people to feel good, and as a result change the world. MUSIC gives you strength, sensitivity, pleasure and intelligence: all you need to live well in the world.” ~ Eliana Cargnelutti 

Eliana Cargnelutti is one of the brightest stars on the Ruf Records label. Her international debut came back in 2015 with Electric Woman, produced by Albert Castiglia on the Ruf label. This confident lady from Italy is a strong singer and songwriter, as well as being an extremely crafty guitarist. Holding a degree in Jazz Music and Jazz Guitar from the music university Conservatorio G. Frescobaldi in Ferrara, Italy, she combines her training with a great sense of performance artistry. This Italian bella competently blends traces of pop, jazz and funk into her Blues/Rock excursions, all boosted by those ample electric guitar skills.

“I listen to many genres of music, from blues to heavy metal, from pop to jazz. My favorite bands are: Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Allman Brothers Band, and Pink Floyd. My favorite guitar players are Steve Vai, Scott Henderson, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jeff Beck.” ~ Eliana Cargnelutti

“My role as producer was to help Eliana achieve her vision as an artist. She was open to constructive criticism and was very professional. We worked extremely well together.

“Eliana is a very technically proficient guitar player, but she can kick you in the ass with her playing as well. She can certainly hold her own with anybody on the guitar end. Her vocal range is very impressive and reminds me of the great female singers of the ’80s, like Joan Jett, Ann Wilson and Pat Benatar.” ~ Albert Castiglia

Ruf Records surrounded Eliana with some top notch support talent. Castiglia contributes slide guitar on a couple tracks and the rhythm section of bassist Roger Inniss and drummer Jamie Little are skillfully gifted to handle the forays into heavy metal, pop balladry, R&B, blues and a mix of all these. John Ginty’s keyboards are very supportive, as well, love his play on “Street Corner Talking”.

A couple good cover versions appear beside the originals on Electric Woman. A rendition of Savoy Brown’s “Street Corner Talking” is perhaps my favorite. Eliana’s sassy vocal stance is fortified by her gritty dirty rock blues licks played with an appealing in your face attitude. Or, as Albert said “kick you in the ass” guitar. Keep on rocking those blues!



David Gilmour recorded the beautifully delicate jazz composition “The Girl in the Yellow Dress” for inclusion on 2015’s Rattle That Lock. Gilmour had the melody, which echoed back to his early musical influences, for a long time. His novelist wife, Polly Anne Samson, penned the lyrics.

“The basic backing track was recorded in 2004, with a jazz trio in this room [the Astoria houseboat studio]. It’s been waiting for something to turn it.

“Polly wrote a beautiful lyric about a girl dancing in a jazz club wearing a yellow dress that comes from a picture that we have by Johnny Dewe Mathews. I recorded it again at Abbey Road with a different band, including Jools Holland on piano, Robert Wyatt playing coronet and Rado Klose, who has been a friend of mine since I was born, on guitar.” ~ David Gilmour

The song also features English jazz musician Chris Laurence, who had previously played on David Gilmour’s tracks “Red Sky at Night” and “A Pocketful of Stones” on double bass. The recording was done at Gilmour’s recording studios with co-producer Phil Manzanera, the guitarist for Roxy Music. Manzanera also had co-produced David Gilmour’s album ‘On an Island,’ and played in Gilmour’s band in supporting tours in Europe and North America.

“Writing the song felt incredibly similar to writing a short story. The added advantage is that there’s someone prompting me. There is no blank piece of paper, because the music is there.” ~ Polly Sampson

The Girl In The Yellow Dress – personnel 

  Vocals, Guitar – David Gilmour

  Guitar – John Parricelli

  Guitar – Rado Klose

  Piano – Jools Holland

  Double Bass – Chris Laurence

  Drums – Martin France

  Cornet – Robert Wyatt

  Saxophone – Colin Stetson 

KID RAMOS ~ from the album OLD SCHOOL


“The music comes out of what’s in your soul. That’s what music is, it transcends everything. It transcends language and cultures and everything. It’s that language that speaks to people in a place that you can’t describe.” ~ Kid Ramos

The Old School album was crafted in just two days at Big Jon Atkinson’s home studio using all analog equipment, vintage microphones, and old school values and attitude. This deep commitment to authenticity comes through loud and clear on every track. The warmth, presence and fullness evoked from pre-digital musical recordings is brandished magnificently.

Kid Ramos hearkens back to the days of yore with his instrumental throwback entitled “Mashed Potatoes And Chili.” The skilled lineup for this one consists of Kid on guitar, Robert Welsh on organ, Kedar Roy on bass guitar, and Marty Dodson on the drum kit. The tune is well layered, and integrates the ingredients into a most appetizing melody. The chemistry between these four musicians arrives fresh and unforced.

Throughout Old School there is a raw looseness that is contagious and never feels sloppy. Kid Ramos’ guitar formula is honest as the day is long. He summons enduring guitar lines that are spare, tasty, and waste no notes whatsoever. His tone is usually sweet as molasses, but he can also apply a sharp sting at will.



“Jeff Chaz, known as the Bourbon Street Bluesman, has recently released This Silence Is Killing Me. Very much akin to Sounds Like The Blues To Me, his previous 2016 offering, the new album is chocked full of Jeff Chaz originals. Those familiar with Jeff Chaz will comprehend that this fact is a mighty good thing. Jeff Chaz is a masterful songwriter whose work evokes vivid character portraits along with a fair share of memorable melodies. Chaz consistently displays a dead-on sense of how to get his songs across. He also plays blues guitar like nobody’s business and sings with a smoky/gritty (yet with smoothed corners) vocal style that suits his songs seamlessly.

“Chaz was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana and spent his formative years in Creole, LA. His family moved to California and after completing high school he traveled the country playing trombone in the horn section of a soul band. There he took advantage of an opportunity to sing in a fashion he refers to as “Memphis Soul.” Returning to California, he studied music and guitar at San Bernardino College and unearthed his love for blues guitar.            

“One of my favorites on This Silence Is Killing Me is “Oncoming Train.” The lyrics speak of the up and down roller-coaster ride of life that everyone encounters. Just when you think you’re trotting down easy street without a care in the world some obstacle comes along to bring you crashing back to earth. Or, as Chaz expresses it “You see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it looks like an oncoming train.” Train whistle noises accompany some mighty fine ensemble work from Jeff and his band. Chaz and the group click tightly together like a padlock on this outstanding track.” ~ RP /Vivascene 

J.J. CALE ~ from the album NATURALLY 


Some musical artists can go largely unnoticed by the general public; even after decades worth of expert song writing and performances. J. J. Cale was one such under-the-radar talent. It was even said that he purposely shunned the limelight. As a prime architect of the Tulsa sound, Cale maintained a trademark shuffle groove with a laconic vocal delivery that encompassed rock, blues, rockabilly and country music. Cale effortlessly captured a lazy, rolling boogie that contradicted all the commercial styles of those genres at the time. He seemed able to keep the delicate balance between hard swinging, and not even beginning to break a sweat.

“J.J. was very self-critical, dismissive about his gifts. He was happy to just be known as a songwriter. But, when I tried to play like him…. it’s beyond most musicians. We get too heavy-handed. He had a touch that was sensitive and subtle. He was a fantastic musician. He was my hero.” ~ Eric Clapton

J.J. Cale’s debut album in 1971, Naturally, was recorded after Eric Clapton had made Cale’s song “After Midnight” a huge success. Cale’s cool, relaxed, laid back pace, and just-above-a-whisper vocals serve to draw the listener in closer, as not to miss a single word. Each, and every, precious song on the album is a treasure of songwriting and performance skill. Cale’s “Magnolia” always stood out to me; and for many reasons. First and foremost: for its sheer stately beauty.


Vocal, Guitar – J.J. Cale

Harmonica – Ed Colis 

Piano – Bob Wilson 

Bass – Tim Drummond 

Drums – Karl Himmel 

JOHN MAYALL ~ from the album U.S.A. UNION


John Mayall’s ‘U.S.A. Union‘s release was a fine release of ten original songs recorded without a drummer, maintaining his reputation as a blues innovator. On the album, Mayall played blues harp, guitar, piano, tambourine, and sang.  

An all-American lineup supplied the sturdy support. The clean lead guitar throughout the album was provided by Harvey “The Snake” Mandel, with the bass guitar work of Larry “The Mole” Taylor. Don “Sugarcane” Harris imparts fine electric violin to the bluesy mix.

Vocals, Harmonica – John Mayall

Lead Guitar – Harvey Mandel

Violin – Don “Sugarcane” Harris

Bass Guitar – Larry Taylor



Buddy Whittington is a blues player who is proud of his Texas roots. He is a fine guitarist who honed his chops when he replaced Coco Montoya in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. 

“John Mayall has actually run an incredibly great school for musicians.” ~ Eric Clapton

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, his parents were big fans of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys brand of Western Swing. But, probably the biggest influence in young Bud’s musical makeup was the record collection of his big sister, encompassing everything from British Invasion bands to R&B hits of the day and, of course, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Beatles, Stones, The Who, The Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers to ‘The Temps and The Tops’, Gary ‘U.S.’ Bonds, Jimmy Reed, and Slim Harpo.

All those years with Mayall (the Godfather of British Blues) coupled with his Texas roots have given Buddy some chops that make not just an outstanding musician, but one who currently stands heads and shoulders above his few peers. To me, his vocals are almost as awesome as his guitar work (not an easy task) and his songwriting has wit and nice variations.

When he stepped out in 2008 for his self-titled release, he was more than ready to shine. He produced the record, and wrote eleven of the twelve fine songs. One that I’ve dug a long time was his “Minor Blues.”  



“I mainly like the ’classic’ guys best [still] because I listened to their recordings the most, and was so influenced by them: Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Sonny Boy II, Howlin’ Wolf as well as the country blues artists further back.” ~ Roy Rogers

Born in Redding, California, Roy began playing guitar at twelve years of age. A year later at age 13, he was performing in a rock ‘n’ roll band that wore gold lame jackets and played Little Richard and Chuck Berry tunes. He discovered the great blues players early on, especially when his older brother brought home an album by Robert Johnson. Thus began his love of the blues, slide guitar in particular, which had an immediate effect on Roy, who was indeed named after the King of the Cowboys. Through the years he developed a distinctive style of playing slide guitar that not only emerged, but one that is instantly recognizable.

Roy Rogers included a rousing cover of the classic Robert Johnson tune “Terraplane Blues” on his Chops Not Chaps release on Blind Pig Records.

The song was initially recorded in 1936 in the Gunter Hotel, San Antonio, Texas, by bluesman Robert Johnson. Vocalion Records issued it as Johnson’s first 78 rpm record, backed with “Kind Hearted Woman Blues,” in March of 1937. The song, in the style of many early Blues songs, contained thinly veiled sexual innuendo.  

The song is most notable for its elaborate intertwining rhythms and disjointed sections with Johnson using the car model Terraplane as a metaphor for sex.  



“Blues is real music. It’s from the heart. It’s about life. It’s about good times and bad times with your buddy or your girlfriend. It’s your comfort when you’re down. It’s all-purpose music. Blues will get you through life. It’s always there for you.” ~ Charlie Musselwhite

Charlie Musselwhite can rightfully lay claim to inheriting the mantle of many of the great harp players that came before him. His music is as dark as Mississippi mud, while being as uplifting as the blue skies of California. The blues harp player, singer, songwriter and guitarist has earned and deserves to be honored as a true master of the Blues.

Vocals, Blues Harp – Charlie Musslewhite 

Guitar – Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones

Bass – Artis Joyce

Drums – Tommy Hill