Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Little Elmore Reed Blues Band

"Honey, you've got to get out more", is what the white hair matron says to those that she feels needs a casino fix. I don't do casinos, but she's on the money when it comes to me needing to get out there and listening to some "live" blues. That way I'd probably already have been over to Austin to hear The Little Elmore Reed Band.

No, there is no Elmore Reed in the band, just a conglomerate of some of the finest musicians playing some of the finest blues. To be honest, the reason I bought this release was because I thought that Greg Izor was blowing some of his deep toned magic on blues harp, because my research told me that he played with these cats around Austin. I reviewed Greg's debut CD on the blog here and then caught what he can do live at Sonny Boy Terry's Harp Fest last summer. Impressed I was.

Greg doesn't blow here, but Dale Spalding opens the disc, blowing like hell on a tune credited to guitarist Willie Pipkin called, "The G.P. Blues", and I'm assuming that it is a tribute to the legendary harp man, Gary Primich and is a kick butt instrumental. See, I've never heard of Dale Spalding, but since the disc cover indicates a man of my advance tenure in the world, I'd say that he's been on the blues scene quite some time; especially since his technique on the blues harp is fat backed and stone solid of tone. He immediately jumps into Sam Myers' "My Love Is Here to Stay" next with chops that'd make old Sam rise up and smile. Not sure who's impressive vocals carry the tune, because Pipkin, Spalding, and Mike Keller are all listed as vocalist and individual songs aren't credited. I'm voting for Spalding since it is a harp centric song and I've heard the other two sing before. Same with "I Can Tell". Deep toned harp thrown down there too. The man can play and sing (if it's his voice). I gotta get out more.

I mentioned on the Izor review that I'd seen Willie Pipkin play with the South Texas Jug Band at Conroe's Crighton Theatre a few years back, and even though they are far from being a blues band, they played some bluesy stuff a time or two and Pipkin's blues bending was substantial, as it was in support of Izor. As on the Izor disc, he works in tandem with blues guitar wizard, Mike Keller, which is another reason I bought this. Keller, who hits the road with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, has been one of my favorite blues guitarist for quite awhile. Those two guys bounce guitar licks off each other like Chinese ping pong artists. Don't know who is doing the reverb drenched pulls on "I Can Tell", but they're slaying it. The ripping leads on "Young Girl" is most likely Keller, since it's his song, but then again he may be deferring to Pipkin, since he's singing the rocking' tune.

"It's Wrong" is a Louisiana swamper by Earl King and Spalding pulls out some of his nastiest, dirtiest licks before giving way to low down string bending by one of those guys. Since these guys don't care if I know who's doing the singing and I guess it doesn't matter, but I'll guess Pipkin.

Guessing Pipkin on "School Girl", which is driven by drummer and bass man, Mark Hays and J.P. Whitefield respectively....and drive it they do. Spalding shines once more on the mouth harp with some nice bends on his runs. And someone nails the hell out of Muddy's slide guitar on "Country Boy", which, of course is tailored made for the harp man to get down with it.

The one song credited to Spalding is "You're The One", which convinces me that he sang on the early couple of the songs. He's got a solid voice for the blues and this shuffle is once again driven by the rhythm section, especially the cymbal crashes thrown out by Hays. The band turns Spalding loose on his harp and one of the string slingers picks it up and rips a whole through the tune.

I know that Keller is singing on his rollicking "Hey Little Girl" because I heard him sing it on one of Primich's shows and Spalding gets some mighty fine octave work going on, then Keller plays lights out on his Telecaster. I think.

Billy Boy Arnold's "Kissing At Midnight" gives Spalding an excuse to showcase his acoustic harp tone, which proves might fine and tasty chicken picking. It's a stripped down jaunt with an incessant groove provided my someone's one chord acoustic guitar plucking

Hell yeah, I need to get out more. I love these guys and now I know more about Dale Spalding. What I don't know is whether or not he's a mainstay with The Little Elmore Reed Blues Band, because I keep up with Greg Izor and do know that he plays live with them frequently. They seem to have a rotating crew, anchor by Whitefield and Hays, but what do I know. I don't get out enough. 'Nuff for now.

Monday, February 27, 2012

River Bottom Blues Book Events

Hitting the trail to meet and greet anyone with the inclination to drop by a signing of River Bottom Blues. First, let me mention that I shared a table with a great group of middle school students at their annual Authors and Appetizers event at Brenham, Texas' esteemed Giddings Stone Mansion. The purpose is to allow the students to mingle and hob nob with authors and poets from the area to show them that authors are "real" people and that they too can possibly do the same. True. If I can get it done, then anyone can. Each writer addressed the group with their stories about doing it after a fine lunch provided by the parents.

Mobius Coffehouse  will host my local book launch, for lack of a better term, this coming Saturday, March 3 between 9am-1pm. They have some mighty fine food to go with their mighty fine coffee. Great pizzas, soups and the best homemade bread ever to encase a sandwich. Anyone who buys a print copy of the book will get the coupon for the FREE eBook version from the publisher. BY THE WAY...anyone who has a coupon can get the Kindle, ePub and PDF format from now.

Those who have bought a book already, but would like it signed can drop by Mobius and I'll stick my signature to it. The Brenham Book Nook has copies available and I'd be glad to sign those.

For those who live over in the College Station/Bryan area, I'll be signing copies at Hastings Books, 2004 Texas Ave in College Station from 1-3 on March 24th. Get the word out to all those Aggie sons, daughters, relatives or friends and tell 'em to drop by for a visit. The book is in stock now for those who want to drop by and pick up a copy.

River Bottom Blues is now available at Amazon is both print and Kindle, Barnes and Noble in print and Nook, and numerous other booksellers such as Books-a-million, Abe Books, Powells, and Bookdepository and Pickabook in the UK. OR order it through a favorite independent book store.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

RIP Louisiana Red

So sad to hear that Louisiana Red passed on. I first heard him as Rocky Fuller on Chess, but it was Bob Corritore who turned me on to his latter day stuff. Noisy crowd sounds, but a might fine video here:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Juke Joint Boogie--CG&G

After posting this on facebook and twitter, I realized that I just had to paste it here. Ian Collard is one of my all time favorite harp blowing bluesmen and Collard Greens and Gravy prove the blues is alive in Australia.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Junior Wells and The Aces

Junior Wells and The Aces
Live In Boston 1966
Delmark 809

I can't think of any recordings of Junior Wells' that I don't have in my collection of blues harmonica greats. For me, this is a treasure, not because of it's pristine production values, but just the opposite. It is a live slice of Chicago blues, warts and all, as it existed in 1966. By this time in his career, The Aces had not been his band since he took over Little Walter's slot as the harp man in Muddy Waters' band in 1952 and Walter took the Aces on the road and into the studio. Brothers Louis (guitarist) and Dave Myers (bass), along with drummer Fred Below, became an important component in defining the Chicago brand of blues as much as the bands of Muddy and Howling Wolf did.

This is Junior Wells in his element, and is devoid of his James Brown jiving. His running patter with an appreciative Boston audience is helps provide a complete picture of this master at work. Most of the program consists of covers of blues tunes that are certainly considered "warhorses" by blues fans today, but
had not worn out their welcome yet in latter part of this decade. I doubt seriously if anyone cared that "Junior's Whoop" was a take off on Little Walter's "Mellow Down Easy", and the epiphany for me is listening to Louis Myers rip an extended solo on his six strings. Really solidifies just what a guitarist he was. That to me is the highlight of the entire proceedings...hearing The Aces tear it up on stage as a solid blues band following the sometimes unpredictable Wells. They follow-up this jumping, uptempo mood and get down in the alley with Jimmy Rogers' "That's Alright", and when he hollers "somebody, somebody, somebody", he's calling out for Louis to lay his fingers on the strings for a sweet 12 bar solo.

Of course, Wells is not going to deny the audience a rendition of his hit, "Messin' With The Kid". He kicks butt on the song that has become a staple of blues bands since. The audience eats this one up and then Juniors' applies his signature licks to open Big Arthur Cruddup's "Look Over Yonder Walls". Anyone who is unfamiliar with Wells' harp style, replete with rapid fire runs, double stops, triple tonguing, and full, bent notes, need to look no further than what he gets going here.

"Man Downstairs" is simply a nice reworking of what Sonny Boy Williamson II warned about in his "One Way Out" and even though "If Your Gonna Leave Me" is credited to Wells', it is akin to Wille Cobbs' "You Don't Love Me". But that's all alright, because that's the way the blues was done back in the day. You borrowed from your friends, threw down your own lyrics and called it your own, and in some cases could claim it.

"Hideaway", of course, is a guitar highlight played by every blues guitarist worth his salt since Freddy King rip it out for King Records and Louis proves that he really knows his way around the fret board and brother Dave and Below drive it into submission and are each given some space to kick it. It does become a bit of a train wreck after Junior jumps in with his harp, but they right the ship before it ends.

Get this for a piece of blues history that has languished in Delmark Record's vault for way too long. This, my friends, is '60s era blues at its best.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I've said it before and I'll say it again. Writing the damn book was the easiest thing about River Bottom Blues. The book rolled out "live" on Amazon Monday and I've been as busy as my Australian Sheppard chasing squirrels around the yard. Just as I get one problem treed, another scurries into view and needs my attention.

I've overwhelmed myself by visiting sites aimed at book promotion, authors, crime novelists, blues fans and any other spot on the internet that will help me spread the joy of RBB hitting the market. Of course, Facebook  and Twitter are "must do" social networking sites, according to the marketing gurus, so I must stay on top of posting there, which can turn into a total time suck sometimes.

Visited with a printer about promo posters, bookmarks, banners and the like. My publisher clued me into the fact that I have no clue as to what I'm doing in regards to their pixels, dpis, RGB, bleed sizes, etc...I just finished setting up a Paypal Buy Now button here and at Richard Bush Books so I can offer signed copies for folks that may want such, and create links to Amazon and Barking Rain Press for other buying options. Eventually, an e-book version will be offered online at various an sundry other sites, such as Barnes and Noble, so I'll have to revamp when that happens.

I just happened to spot the local radio station owner and his sports director broke down on the side of the road. I've known 'em for quite sometime and promised to drop a book by the station for each of them, and the Sports Doc reciprocated with an offer to run a press release. So, that was serendipity doo.

I've got a box of books due from UPS tomorrow so I can mail off copies to my relatives, who all have offered to buy copies, but I'll just have them promise to tell at least 100 potential readers that they need my book. I'm going to hand a few copies around the high school where I bent the minds of students for 29 years and see if some of the department heads will help GET the word out.

Gonna head back over to Navasota to deliver some books and maybe jam with the fine folks at Blues Alley. I crashed (unintentionally) The Blues Alley Blues Band's reheasal for their Chamber of Commerce dinner gig, but they graciously invited me to sit in with them. They play some great blues. The Blues Alley store just might host a book signing event with me.

Am I complaining? No, not really. I expected the work load to increase on the promotional end of things once the book was released and it's tiring already, but it's a good kind of tired. I wrote River Bottom Blues because the story was in me and had to come out. If I can share that tale with one other person, then I've succeeded. Never had intentions of making much money out of this gig. I've got another book, that I call Soldiers of Satan, ready to roll and now that I know what to expect, I'm ready to roll with it. Ex-reporter/blues harp blower, Mitty Andersen, and his partner in chime, Pete Bolden are back, battling evil in the world. I've started a third book in the series that I've set in Belize (maybe). So, I'm in this for awhile.

I've never intended this blog to be a promo page for my novels, but they do have a strong enough blues element that they do fit the theme here. I do promise, though, that my promo posts will be kept to a minimum and that the focus will be on sharing stuff I love about that nasty ol' blues music. So, expect a Junior Wells Live In Boston w/The Aces review real soon. In the meantime, River Bottom Blues is available at the links provided in the sidebar to the right. I'll send you a signed copy if you click on the Pay Pal link. You don't need an account.

Okay. That's more than 'nuff for now.