Monday, January 24, 2011

River Bottom Blues Update

"When's your book coming out?" Now that friends, family and social network contacts know that I've written a book and that it has been acquired by a publishing and that it is in the "process", this is my most asked question. "Not quite sure", is normally the best answer that I can give them because River Bottom Blues hasn't been assigned a definite release date. Sometimes I'll say, "Oh, maybe late Summer 2011." That's always been an educated guess based on me extrapolating the timelines of the other authors from their acquisition date to published product. Now that Virtual Tales has updated their production schedule for 2011, I do have a better idea of when my book may hit the market. Again, my extrapolations are based on the number of authors in the production queue ahead of me. So...I'm thinking late September or maybe October 2011.

In the meantime, Virtual Tales offers a method to sign up for the first four chapters for FREE now and receive them once they are available. That's a good thing. The first four chapters will convince readers that they must have River Bottom Blues (or, heavens forbid, the exact opposite). If it is the former, then Virtual Tales will include a 40% coupon off the purchase price for giving the book a test run. If it is the latter, then it cost nothing to decide that the book is not the reader's cup of tea (or brand of beer). The publisher absolutely does not spam your e-mail. They'll send a confirmation, then send the chapters when they are formatted. There are two ways to achieve the same results. One is by sending a blank e-mail here:link
And the other is to use the form in the Back In The Day sidebar. Actually, there are three, because the form is also available on my website

I do know that River Bottom Blues' cover artwork should be in the works very soon. Now, that'll be exciting to see the theme of my novel graphically illustrated. It'll all seem so much more 'for real' when they send me the example. It'll certainly help with the promotion end of things once I can apply the cover design into my marketing platforms. So, now, when asked, "When's your book coming out?", I'll answer, "Not quite sure", but I do have a better idea of when that'll happen.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Juke Joint Boogie

Collards Greens and Gravy
Juke Joint Boogie
Black Market Music

Ding dang dagnabbit! I've always kept up with my boys from down-under, but somehow Juke Joint Boogie slipped by me this past October. That did coincide with me being up to my ears with rounds of editing RIVER BOTTOM BLUES, but darn it, I've never let anything, that Ian Collard's blowing, pass me by. As I've mentioned before, he's one of the most soulful and toneful blues harp players doing that thang--and one of my favorites. Oh, and he can sing the blues as if was born in the Mississippi Delta instead of on the coast of Australia. So, I'll just cut to the chase (since I could have written about this last Fall) and say that he and his partners get it going on with some kind of down and dirty blues of the variety that makes my heart flutter. Maybe not flutter, maybe just skip a beat or two.

Where the fellows mined the Mississippi Hill Country stompin' grooves on their last outing, Devil In The Woodpile, this time out they summon the spirit of Sam Phillips' Sun Records. Where Collard set his harp aside a few times on the latter to add some great guitar tones in tandem with James Bridges, I sure do like it when he keeps harp in mouth and goes about proving just how fat and deep he can get with his harmonica tones and that's what he's doing throughout Juke Joint Boogie, kicking it off by getting inside the skin of Willie Cobbs' You Don't Love Me. Of course, it's such a great song that a few people have recorded it, including the fabulous version by the Allman Brothers, but CC&G owns the song from the minute Collard sets the stage with his opening harp riffs and mournful cries of Ah, ah, ahah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ahahh.

Doctor Ross' Cat Squirrel, which was his reworking of Catfish Blues, puts the band solidly into the type of romping Sun Records' had down pat with James Bridges' ripping the vibe with his opening guitar licks before Collard's harp echoes his lines. Drummer Anthony Shortte is in his element with the type of racous racket they want him to slap down on the skins. Shortte drives the heck out of the good Doctor's one man rave up and Collard spits out a wonderful solo break, mixing the Doc's potion with his own licks. I'd think that since Collard does a solo act with guitar and racked harmonica that he's studied methods employed by those that mastered it, such as Ross, which maybe points to how he can crawl into the material so well.

Ross did have a tune called Juke Box Boogie, but there is no relationship to CC&G's title cut, Juke Joint Boogie. Doctor Ross basically recycled Little Walter's Juke and these guys just roll and tumble a shufflin' boogie out the door and onto the porch with Collard's opening riffs sounding like a trumpet's Reville yanking everyone to their feet. Quite rollicking stuff, mate, with the blues harp rippin' the nasty (with some spot on bends) and the guitar slappin' bass lines.

 You Hear That Ramblin' has a Good Morning Little School Girl type harp riff because Sonny Boy Williamson I wrote both of them and employed similar licks to both tunes and Collard nails it down, but with full on amplified whomps as the band gets a Memphis beat loping along. They get a similar lope going on Goin' Back Home with Collard's intro sounding much like Charlie McCoy's on Roy Orbison's Candy Man, and Bridges' getting pretty twangy with thang.

Oh, I guess I can rave on and on about how good this release is. I guess I could gush as to just how much I love the low down and dirty they get on Low Down, especially when Collard pulls the nastiest notes from a ten hole diatonic that I've heard in a long time and how the hair on back of my neck bristled when he bends his notes down to the bottom of the barrel and then slams 'em around a bit before he lets them back up, and how Bridges' slid his slide guitar through the primordial muck while Shortte beat the song senseless, and then how they shift into riding a train rhythm on Out Last Night with Collard sucking on a mellow acoustic tone. I guess I could keep coming up with ways to describe what Ian Collard does with that harp in his mouth, but I would run out of superlative adjectives, so I'll just stop here and say this--if you love blues harp the way that I do, get Juke Joint Boogie.

Once I found out that this release was available, and not wanting to wait for a shipment from Australia, I sucked it off iTunes. That's also why I can't venture into which songs just might be CG&G originals mixed in with the covers. If you want a hard copy (which I'd prefer), you can venture over to and it'll link to their Australian management site. It is available on Amazon, but don't go there--they ask $48 as an import price. 'Nuff for now.

P.S.--Please read the comment left by Speedman. He lists the songs that are originals and also points out that the CD is available at He also echoes my thoughts that Ian just might have used his spiffy Lone Wolf Harp Attack pedal to emphasize that gritty, cranked, small amp tone. I've touted those pedals before and have to say that they are the 'bees knees'--check out the whole array at the same website.

Friday, January 14, 2011

R.I.P. Bobby Robinson

Here's an obit for one heck of a record label master:

Once I got off into blues music, Elmore James was one of my go to guys. Nobody sang with more intensity or conviction than Elmo or came close to his raw slide tone, and it was Bobby Robinson who brought us The Sky Is Crying, Rollin' and Tumblin', Done Somebody Wrong, Look Over Yonder Wall, Shake Your Money Maker, Stranger Blues and a half a dozen other gems from the slidemaster. If Robinson had recorded nothing else, then, in my mind, his legacy was set. Of course, we'll all remember Wilbert Harrison's Kansas City topping the charts. Gather those angels around you Bobby and get a heavenly choir going.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Kind of Guys

I've listed some of my favorite blues guitarist before now and a few of these cats are listed and a few others I've mentioned in prior posts, but I thought I thrown down a list of some guys who know how to back the hell out of  blues harmonica players and just may be flying under your radar. Some have made a name for themselves and some are not quite as well known. What I'm doing is just giving a shout out to these guitarists who are my kind of guys. I'm sure not dismissing the big boys like Kid Ramos, Junior Watson, Henry Carvajal, Rick Holmstrom, or Alex Schultz; just want you to google some of these fellows for some fine and tasty blues guitar playing.

1. Johnny Moeller--He's an official Fabulous Thunderbirds backing the best damned blues harp guy on the planet, but he's back up a slew of harp dudes. He blew my mind a few years back playing a gig with Rob Roy Parnell. Does (or did) a lot of session work for Severn Records, backing folks like Darrell Nulisch. He'll also slide into The Moeller Brother's act with his drummer bro (and T-Birder) on ocassion. His solo release last year, Bloogaloo, was one of my favorites.
2. Mike Keller--He's Moeller's T-Bird partner in crime at the moment. There just ain't another pair of guitarists sharing a stage, playing the blues like these two do. He kicked butt backing Gary Primich at The Big Easy in Houston, which was recorded and has yet to be released. I've confused The Keller Brothers with The Moeller Brothers more than once--both sets of siblings were impressing people like Clifford Antone at just about the same time.
3. Kid Andersen--I think that this cat's probably the man of the hour right now as one of Rick Estrin's Nightcats and having just left Charlie Musselwhite's band. Has an eclectic streak in him and runs Greaseland, one of the best danged recording studios in existence.
4. Jonn Del Toro Richardson--Got his name out there playing the IBC with Diunna Greenleaf and then touring with Otis Taylor, bands that a not harpcentric, but I've been to his jams and watched him back Sonny Boy Terry, Dave Nevling, Steve Schneider and other Houston harpers with immaculate taste, tone and talent. He's belongs in the national spotlight. Just reviewed the stupendously tasty Time Slip On By collaboration with Rich DelGrosso.
5. Paul Size--Wowed me backing Lester Butler's Red Devils on King King. Love the story that has James Harman recommending him to Lester Butler and Paul sends him a demo to get the job. He didn't mention that the demo was his Denton playmate Johnny Moeller's guitar playing. Resides out on the East Coast as one of Johnny Hoy's Bluefish.
6. James Bridges--Part of Ian Collard's Aussie trio Collard Greens and Gravy. Fabulously keeps the rhythm driving with just drums and blues harp to bounce off of. He really impresses me on their latest release Juke Joint Boogie, which channels a Sun Records vibe.
7. Nathan James--Knocked my socks off as a 19 or 20 year old touring with James Harman. Doing a duo thang with Ben Hernadez now.
8. Aaron 'Chainsaw' Moreland--Teams with harp dude, Dustin Arbuckle for some greasy rootsy rockin'/Mississippi Hillcountry stompin' stuff. They mix it up acoustically and electrically as a duo with a drummer thrown in at times.
9. Little Ray Ybarra--Got a lot of Anson Funderburgh in him, along with Jimmy Vaughn, and plays that Texas swagger blues well. Part of The Sonny Boy Terry Blues Quartet for quite awhile. His work there  can best be heard on Live At Miss Ann's Playpen. He's got his own band cookin' over in the Port Arthur area.
10. Charlie Hilbert--Only heard him play on one album--some live, street stuff with Nat Riddles as part of their El Cafe Street duo act that Adam Gussow sells from his website. His playing went every place that Riddles wanted him to go with some for real blues playing.