Americana, blues and rock blend together in this fascinating and eclectic playlist.
JERRY GARCIA & DAVID GRISMAN ~ from the album SHADY GROVE
“Some of my best musical memories are of the times we spent together exploring our mutual love of traditional American music. Jerry was a great communicator and made countless connections with music enthusiasts all over the planet through his unique guitar style (acoustic and electric) and expressive voice. I’m so grateful to have known him as a friend and collaborator.” ~ David Grisman
Jerry Garcia and David Grisman met in 1964, and played together in a number of different musical arrangements. They only started performing and recording together as Garcia & Grisman in 1990, usually supported in concert by Jim Kerwin on bass, and Joe Craven on violin and percussion. Sometimes performing live, they recorded at least forty sessions together. Many of these recording sessions took place at Dawg Studios, which belonged to Grisman; the majority of their releases are drawn from those studio sessions. On Casey Jones, the magic is provided by just Jerry on guitar and vocal with David on mandolin.
The final verse:
Casey said just before he died / Two more roads that I want to ride / People said, what roads can they be? / Old Colorado and the Santa Fe
Songwriters: Robert C. Hunter / Jerome J. Garcia
DAVE ALVIN AND PHIL ALVIN ~ from the album LOST TIME
“Phil and Dave Alvin are founding members of the L.A. band The Blasters, a group that blends all styles of American roots music, with a heaping helping of The Blues. Before that, Phil Alvin was a member of Big Joe Turner’s backing band, along with keyboardist Gene Taylor. Taylor would spend 4½ years in the Blasters, and appear on four of The Blasters LPs before moving on to be a part of another rootsy feel-good band; The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Taylor’s presence on this record is hugely felt, with his genius being akin to the piano work of Pinetop Perkins; that is, knowing just what to play to enhance each song consummately.” ~ RP / Vivascene
“Here’s a jump blues track from the upcoming new release by my brother and me, one of four Big Joe Turner songs we recorded on the album. Big Joe was our musical mentor, spiritual guide and lifelong friend so on this record we wanted to finally pay tribute to him. Blaster Gene Taylor struts his stuff on the boogie woogie piano, Don Heffington is rocking the drums, Bob Glaub is keeping everything solid on bass, Chris G Miller is swinging the acoustic guitar while I bash on the loud, electric guitar and my brother shouts the blues just like Big Joe taught him decades ago. Hope you enjoy it.” ~ Dave Alvin, 2015
The song “Feeling Happy” was written by Big Joe Turner, one of the pioneers of rock’n’roll and jum in blues, and was first recorded and released by Joe Turner and His Blues Kings in 1956. The legendary R&B belter/shouter was born Joseph Vernon Turner Jr. (May 18, 1911 – November 24, 1985). Big Joe Turner was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1983 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
FEELING HAPPY – personnel
Vocals – Phil Alvin
Electric Guitar – Dave Alvin
Acoustic Guitar – Chris Miller
Piano – Gene Taylor
Bass – Bob Glaub
Drums – Don Heffington
JIMMY CARPENTER ~ from the album THE LOUISIANA RECORD
I HEAR YOU KNOCKING
“New Orleans music has the deepest roots of all American music. The grooves there are derived from generations passed: sometimes refined, sometimes raw, always grooving. It’s the origin of so much modern music, from rock-n-roll to blues to jazz, and often all mashed together in the same song. There is a looseness, a freedom, an uninhibited vibe to the whole city, and it shows in the music.” ~ Jimmy Carpenter
On Carpenter’s brand spanking new release, ‘The Louisiana Record,’ on Gulf Coast Records, Jimmy (saxophone and vocals) is accompanied by guitarist Mike Zito, bassist Casandra Faulconer, keyboardist John Gros and drummer Wayne Maureau.
“This record [The Louisiana Record] is very different for me, recorded almost completely live, with simple instrumentation, and no frills. Strong melodies, laid back, grooving, iconic songs that were a real pleasure to play and sing, especially with this group of musicians, and literally on the bayou at Dockside Studios.” ~ Jimmy Carpenter
All the songs on the new release are cover renditions of some of Carpenter’s favorite songs from the fertile Crescent City area. The tune “I Hear You Knocking” was written by Dave Bartholomew and Pearl King and was first recorded and released by Smiley Lewis back in 1955. Countless others, including Fats Domino, Dave Edmunds, Rockpile, Alvin Lee, and Roy Buchanan have tried their hand on this great chestnut.
KEB’ MO’ ~ from the album KEEP IT SIMPLE
RILEY B. KING
On his Grammy Winning (Best Contemporary Blues Album, 2005) album ‘Keep It Simple,’ Keb’ Mo’ included a touching tribute to B.B. King, on a song co-written with Robben Ford.
Providing a moving heartfelt vocal, Keb’ Mo’ is joined by two great guest guitarists who provide fine solos: Robert Cray first and then Robben Ford. The Hammond organ of Jeff Paris is also noteworthy in the song. And, much like the lyrics proclaim, the song brings a flood of emotion.
Riley B. King – personnel
Vocals – Keb’ Mo’
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Robert Cray
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Robben Ford
Keyboards – Jeff Paris
Bass – Reggie McBride
Drums – Steve Ferrone
Riley B. King he’s the king of the ocean
He’s royal blue like the deep blue sea
JOHN PRINE ~ from the album SWEET REVENGE
“Bewildered, bewildered you have no complaint. You are what you are, and you ain’t what you ain’t.” ~ John Prine
John Prine’s memorable song about an assortment of desperate miserable people who write letters to the renowned advice columnist was recorded during a live gig at New York’s State University after a studio session didn’t quite pan out. It was released on his third album, Sweet Revenge in 1973, a fantastic collection of songs.
“The studio version of that was cut with a band, and it was real stiff and humorless. We cut it once, live, and that was it. That was the power of the song, in the way people would turn their heads the minute I’d get to the first verse, the first chords. That was the reason we used the live version.” ~ John Prine, Performing Songwriter
Mr. Prine found his inspiration when he happened upon a “Dear Abby” column while on a trip to Rome, Italy.
“I was in Europe and my first wife and I stopped in Rome for the day. I wanted a newspaper and all they had was the International Herald Tribune which is all the tragic news in the world crammed into six pages with no sports results and no comics. And yet here’s ‘Dear Abby.’ She was the only relief in the whole paper, and that’s where I wrote most of the song – in Rome, Italy, that is.
“Years later, somebody took the verse about the guy whose stomach makes noises, wrote it just out of kilter enough so it didn’t rhyme, and send it to ‘Dear Abby.’ And she answered it in her column. She suggested that he seek professional help. She got loads of letters from people who knew the song and told her she’d been had.” ~ John Prine
GREGG ALLMAN ~ from the album SOUTHERN BLOOD
MY ONLY TRUE FRIEND
“The Hammond B3 is heavy, for sure. Heavy as a heartache.” ~ Gregg Allman
Gregg Allman poured out his heart on “My Only True Friend” with the same passion that made the singer, songwriter, and musician the legend that he was. One of the inventors of Southern Rock, Gregg was blessed with one of the finest soulful blues growls in existence. His Hammond B-3 Organ skills were filled with tremendous power: emotionally impactful.
Long time Gregg Allman Band musical director & gifted guitarist Scott Sharrad was a co-writer with Gregg on this song. Sherrod is now a member in the band Little Feat.
This great recording was the opening track off of Gregg Allman’s final studio album in 2017, ‘Southern Blood,’ produced by Don Was and mixed by Bob Clearmountain. The recording was a product of nine days toil at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama in March of 2016.
Billy F Gibbons of ZZ Top once eloquently stated Gregg Allman’s singing and keyboard playing displayed “a dark richness, a soulfulness that added one more color to the Allmans’ rainbow.”
‘Southern Blood’ producer Don Was said of the posthumous LP:
“It was kind of unspoken, but it was really clear we were preparing a final statement, in many ways.
“It’s not an album about dying. Gregg was explaining his life and making sense of it, both for the fans who stood with him for decades, and for himself.”
The Gregg Allman Band
Vocals, Guitar, B-3 Organ – Gregg Allman
Guitar – Scott Sharrard
Keyboards – Peter Levin
Bass – Ronald Johnson
Drums – Steve Potts
Percussion – Marc Quinones
Saxophone, Flute – Jay Collins
Saxophone – Art Edmaiston
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Marc Franklin
Harmony Vocals – Buddy Miller
You and I both know / This river will surely flow to an end / Keep me in your heart / Keep your soul on the mend.”
ERIC DEMMER ~ from the album SO FINE
DON’T TALK TO ME
“Hear What You Feel; Play What You Hear” is the man’s motto. Eric Demmer began his musical journey when at the age of 10, young Eric found a saxophone under the Christmas tree. Dedicated to his craft, the natural-born musician progressed to playing his saxophone anywhere, at any time, with anyone.
“In 1993, I got the call to play with the legendary guitarist, Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown, and was a member of ‘Gate’s’ band until his death in 2005. One of my career highlights while playing with ‘Gate’ was performing on Eric Clapton’s, ‘From the Cradle’ Tour.
“Also, I was invited by Dickey Betts to perform with The Allman Brothers Band, and I had the privilege of performing with many world-class artists such as Johnny Clyde Copeland, B.B. King, Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, Buddy Guy, Johnnie Johnson, Les Paul, Billy Gibbons, and many more.
“In 2016, I played shows with Mike Zito; and in 2018, I started performing with the Mike Zito Big Band. After playing with Mike and so many other great artists, I had the yearning to put out my own album and share my heartfelt experiences. The album, SO FINE, tells the story of my relationships throughout my personal and musical experiences.” ~ Eric Demmer
Eric describes his sound as “high-energy blues with a mix of funk and rock-n-roll.” Eric combines a variety of musical style and influences while reminding everyone that “…the real thing comes from the heart and soul.”
Here’s a new funk-dripping song from Eric Demmer’s new release on Gulf Coast Records, ‘So Fine.’ A kickin’ jazz-blues raspy vocal treatment paired with a horn arrangement that is soooo very fine! Can you dig it? I knew that you could!
STEVE EARLE & THE DUKES ~ from the albumTERRAPLANE
BABY, BABY, BABY (BABY)
Steve Earle is recognized as one of America’s finest and most prolific songwriters. He’s released nearly an album a year since getting sober in the mid Nineties, blending Americana rootsy blues, country, folk and neo-traditional bluegrass.
“The Texas I grew up in was headed for being more like Southern California.” ~ Steve Earle
2015’s record, ‘Terraplane,’ could be categorized as Americana or Texas Blues, but it probably would be best to not attempt to put it in any box and just enjoy it. The opening song “Baby, Baby, Baby (Baby) is a feel-good groove-laden, bluesy bar-stomping tune that finds Earle playing guitar, blowing mouth harp, and sing-speaking the earwig “baby, baby, baby, baby” with a southern twang. I really dig the song’s swagger, even if the lyrics aren’t earth shattering.
Guitarist Chris Masterson leads The Dukes in providing loose, real and raw accompaniment to Earle. Masterson’s wife, Eleanor Whitmore, adds fiddle and vocals elsewhere on the album. Earle’s late long-time bassist, Kelley Looney (with Steve Earle since ’88), and new drummer Will Rigby (ex-DBs) add country and jangle solid roots. The album is varied, and has qualities that could have any number of tunes being people’s personal favorites.
DR. JOHN ~ from the album THINGS HAPPEN THAT WAY
I WALK ON GILDED SPLINTERS
Dr. John’s 1968 debut ‘Gris-Gris’ was a revelation, unlike anything I’d heard up to that time. Written using his pseudonym of Dr. John Creaux, it was the closing track. This song,in particular, oozed the New Orleans’ cultural spirit, and carried it into the mainstream of the late Sixties music scene, with its hypnotizing mix of swampy blues, gospel, and soulful R&B.
One of Mac Rebennack’s most popular songs, it has been covered by way too many artists to name. A couple of the more recognizable would be by Humble Pie, The Allman Brothers Band, Paul Weller and Widespread Panic.
Lukas Nelson (Willie’s son) and Promise Of The Real pay tribute to the good doctor as Lukas acted as producer on “Gilded Splinters.”
‘Things Happen That Way’ contains quite a few fine covers of songs written by others. Aaron Neville adds his talented vocal to a cover of The Traveling Wilburys “End Of The Line.” A few covers of country music classics from Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Ramblin’ Man,” Jack Clement’s “Guess Things Happen That Way” made famous by Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away,” are highlights to me.
Things Happen That Way
I Walk On Guilded Splinters – personnel
Vocals, Keyboards – Dr. John
Vocals, Guitar – Lukas Nelson
Keyboards, Lap Steel Guitar – Logan Metz
Bass – Corey McCormick
Drums – Anthony LoGerfo
Walk through the fire / Fly through the smoke / See my enemy / At the end of dey rope
Walk on pins and needles / See what they can do / Walk on gilded splinters / With the king of the Zulu
JANIVA MAGNESS ~ from the album CHANGE IN THE WEATHER, JANIVA MAGNESS SINGS JOHN FOGERTY
DON’T YOU WISH IT WAS TRUE
“John Fogerty is a brilliant writer. His melodies are big and rich and provide a real highway into the heart of his songs, which is wonderful for me as a singer, and their backbone is his storytelling, which is spare and direct, and absolutely American in its imagery and themes. And those themes endure.” ~ Janiva Magness
“Those of you who remember my review of Janiva Magness ‘Love Wins Again’ a few years ago are familiar with the huge esteem I hold for the vocal prowess of Ms. Magness. On that album she did a marvelous cover of John Fogerty’s “Long As I Can See The Light.” On her Blue Élan Records release, ‘Change In The Weather,’ Janiva Magness pays ultimate tribute to John Fogerty, one of America’s top twenty songwriters of the past half century. Once again, Janiva teams with gifted producer/songwriter/musician Dave Darling to help attain one of the pinnacle performances of her career. By creating an entire album plucked from the gems of the Fogerty catalog the Magness/Darling duo hit major pay dirt by mining this very fertile ground.
“The core recording group consists of Dave Darling (guitars), Zachary Ross (dobro and guitar), Gary Davenport (bass guitar), Steve Wilson (drums and percussion), and Arlan Oscar (keyboards). Backing vocals are the domain of Bernie Barlo, Janiva Magness, Dave Darling, and Zackary Ross. Two special guest vocalists, Taj Mahal and Sam Morrow, are each featured in captivatingly dazzling duets with Magness.
“Taj Mahal provides a winning duet with Janiva on “Don’t You Wish It Was True” from Fogerty’s 2007 “Revival” studio album that was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album of 2008. The duo of Taj and Janiva are playful despite the song’s cautionary content. Together they make the song a special exuberant treat, as well as one of my favorites on the release. It makes me yearn to hear Taj and Magness record an entire album together. Zachary Ross and his dobro slide guitar team with the steady rhythm section to grant the song a distinctive quality. The lyrical content will always remain relevant in this troubled world we live in.” ~ RP / Vivascene
ROY ROGERS ~ from the album SIDEWINDER
“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 thirteen, 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’ second album, ‘Sidewinder,’ on Blind Pig Records had a very nice barebones cover of “Terraplane Blues” that featured the unmistakable vocal talent of John Lee Hooker. Rogers had also included the same classic tune on his debut ‘Chops Not Chaps.’
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.
On Sidewinder, Rogers plays slide guitar accompanied by John Lee Hooker’s vocal. The song is most notable for it’s elaborate intertwining rhythms and disjointed sections with Robert Johnson using the car model Terraplane as a metaphor for sex. The lyrical narrative is included below; see if you’re not in agreement.
And I feel so lonesome,you hear me when I moan
When I feel so lonesome, you hear me when I moan
Who been drivin my terraplane for you since I’ve been gone
JONATHAN BURDEN ~ from the album TALES FROM THE ALLUVIAL
“Independent artist Jon Burden blurs the genre boundaries with his song “Restless Spirit” from his album ‘Tales From The Alluvial.’ The release was recorded in analog; utilizing a simple sound of guitar, bass, drums and vocals without any electronic enhancements of auto tune, pitch shift, etc. The result harkens back to the troubadour days when singer songwriters ruled the radio and the charts. Elements of folk and country combine to create a sound that is undeniably Americana.” ~ RP /Vivascene
“I miss the quality of the music. The realness of the music. I miss the sound of analog tape.” ~ Jonathan Burden
JONATHAN BURDEN ~ from the album TALES FROM THE ALLUVIAL
OVER THE SKYLINE
“It’s really all the same music. Hank Williams music is just blues sung by a white, hillbilly singer. Jazz is sophisticated blues. Folk is from the acoustic blues tradition and gospel is blues from the church.” ~ Jonathan Burden
“A song that soothes the soul, “Over The Skyline” speaks to all who have ever heard the highway’s siren call. The thrilling sense of adventure felt when encountering new faces and places is palpable. Jon uses the metaphor of “like a miner seeking the motherlode” to finely convey this restless, uneasy feeling that peril may result; yet innerly knowing that the possible reward outweighs the risks.
“This release, ‘Tales From The Alluvial’ comes highly recommended. These eleven quality compositions harken back to Burden’s musical roots and the days of singer/songwriters crafting intelligent lyrics. It’s one of those releases that you immediately like. Then, upon repeated listens, the like turns to love.” ~ RP / Vivascene