2018 Blues Music Awards Nominees

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The 39th Annual Blues Music Awards will be handed out in Memphis on 10 May 2018. Nominees were announced today by The Blues Foundation online (link at the end of this post), and, live from Memphis, by spokesmen John Németh, Bobby Rush, and Kenny Neal. The list follows shortly.

VOTING

First, you should know that if you want to vote, you need to be a member of the Blues Foundation. Simply navigate to blues.org and click the JOIN box at the upper right of the screen, or click this direct link: JOIN. Memberships start at a nominal $25. Note that FREE Youth memberships are available for interested youngsters. Ballots will be sent to new members as they join, and a ballot will be sent soon to all Blues Foundation members. The voting period runs from January 23rd to March 1st.

 

39th Blues Music Award Nominees

Acoustic Album of the Year

Catfish Keith – Mississippi River Blues
Doug MacLeod – Break the Chain
Guy Davis & Fabrizio Poggi – Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train
Harrison Kennedy – Who U Tellin’?
Mitch Woods – Friends Along The Way
Rory Block – Keepin’ Outta Trouble

Acoustic Artist
Doug McLeod
Guy Davis
Harrison Kennedy
Rory Block
Taj Mahal

Album of the Year
Don Bryant – Don’t Give Up on Love
Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter – Right Place, Right Time
Rick Estrin & The Nightcats – Groovin’ In Greaseland
TajMo – TajMo
Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra – After a While

Band of the Year
The Cash Box Kings
Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter
Nick Moss Band
North Mississippi All-Stars
Rick Estrin & the Nightcats

 B.B. King Entertainer of the Year
Bobby Rush
Michael Ledbetter
Rick Estrin
Sugaray Rayford
Taj Mahal

Best Emerging Artist Album
Altered Five Blues Band – Charmed & Dangerous
Larkin Poe – Peach
Miss Freddye – Lady of the Blues
R.L. Boyce – Roll and Tumble
Southern Avenue – Southern Avenue
Tas Cru – Simmered & Stewed

Contemporary Blues Album of the Year

Beth Hart – Fire on the Floor
Corey Dennison Band – Night After Night
Ronnie Baker Brooks – Times Have Changed
Selwyn Birchwood – Pick Your Poison
TajMo – TajMo

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Beth Hart
Karen Lovely
Samantha Fish
Shemekia Copeland
Vanessa Collier

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Keb’ Mo’
Michael Ledbetter
Ronnie Baker Brooks
Selwyn Birchwood
Toronzo Cannon

 Historical Album of the Year
Jimmy Reed, Mr. Luck: The Complete Vee-Jay Singles – Craft Recordings
John Lee Hooker, King of the Boogie – Craft Recordings
Luther Allison, A Legend Never Dies – Ruf Records
The Paul deLay Band, Live at Notodden ’97 – Little Village Foundation
Various, American Epic: The Collection – Sony Legacy

Instrumental-Bass
Benny Turner
Bob Stroger
Larry Fulcher
Michael “Mudcat” Ward
Patrick Rynn

Instrumentalist-Drums
Jimi Bott
June Core
Kenny Smith
Tom Hambridge
Tony Braunagel

 Instrumentalist-Guitar
Anson Funderburgh
Chris Cain
Christoffer “Kid” Andersen
Monster Mike Welch
Ronnie Earl

Instrumentalist-Harmonica
Billy Branch
Dennis Gruenling
Jason Ricci
Kim Wilson
Rick Estrin

 Instrumentalist-Horn
Al Basile
Jimmy Carpenter
Nancy Wright
Trombone Shorty
Vanessa Collier

 Instrumentalist- Pinetop Perkins Piano Player
Anthony Geraci
Henry Gray
Jim Pugh
Mitch Woods
Victor Wainwright

 Instrumentalist – Vocals
Beth Hart
Don Bryant
John Németh
Michael Ledbetter
Sugaray Rayford
Wee Willie Walker

Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female)
Annika Chambers
Diunna Greenleaf
Janiva Magness
Miss Freddye
Ruthie Foster

Rock Blues Album of the Year
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band – Lay It On Down
Mike Zito – Make Blues Not War
North Mississippi Allstars – Prayer for Peace
Savoy Brown – Witchy Feelin’
Walter Trout – We’re All In This Together

Rock Blues Artist
Eric Gales
Jason Ricci
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Mike Zito
Walter Trout

Song of the Year
“The Blues Ain’t Going Nowhere” – written by Rick Estrin
“Don’t Give Up On Love” – written by Scott Bomar and Don Bryant
“Don’t Leave Me Here” – written by Kevin R. Moore, Taj Mahal, and Gary Nicholson
“Hate Take a Holiday” – written by Willie Walker, Anthony Paule, and Ernie Williams
“Prayer for Peace” – written by Luther Dickinson, Cody Dickinson, and Oteil Burbridge

Soul Blues Album of the Year
Don Bryant – Don’t Give Up on Love
Johnny Rawls – Waiting for the Train
Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm – Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
Sugaray Rayford – The World That We Live In
Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra – After a While

Soul Blues Female Artist
Bettye LaVette
Denise LaSalle
Mavis Staples
Trudy Lynn
Vaneese Thomas

Soul Blues Male Artist
Curtis Salgado
Don Bryant
Johnny Rawls
Sugaray Rayford
William Bell
Wee Willie Walker

  Traditional Blues Album of the Year
The Cash Box Kings – Royal Mint
Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio – Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio
Kim Wilson – Blues and Boogie Vol. 1
Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter – Right Place, Right Time
Rick Estrin & The Nightcats – Groovin’ In Greaseland
Various Artists – Howlin’ At Greaseland

Traditional Blues Female Artist
Annika Chambers
Diunna Greenleaf
Janiva Magness
Miss Freddye
Ruthie Foster

 Traditional Blues Male Artist
John Primer
Kim Wilson
Lurrie Bell
R.L. Boyce
Rick Estrin

Read the official announcement here: 39th Blues Music Awards Nominees

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Mr Tom’s Top Blues CDs of 2017

Because 10 just isn’t enough: My top blues and near-blues (that is, old-school R&B/soul and roots rock and roll) albums of last year. I won’t rank them except to let you know that my favorite record of 2017 was a tossup between this Hi-Style Records release by Jake La Botz, loaded with a bunch of tremendous songs, fine singing and playing, and a sound 100% all its own (production by Jimmy Sutton):

Jake

Jake La Botz – Sunnyside

and this outstanding, idiosyncratic, stone cold blues CD from Austin, Texas’s almost-under-the-radar all-star band, The Peacemakers, featuring Mike and Corey Keller, Johnny Bradley, Willie Pipkin, and Greg Izor:

peacemakers22

The Peacemakers

And now, 30 or so other albums you’ll want to have if you dig Real American Music, as it’s sometimes called, in alphabetical (not ranked) order, as they’re pretty much all indispensable, and I am enthusiastic about every one of them. (Cover art follows the list.)

Adrianna Marie & Her Roomful of All-Stars – Kingdom of Swing

Andy T Band feat. Alabama Mike – Double Strike

Chris Armour Quartet – Tele-Porter

B.B. and The Blues Shacks – Reservation Blues

Don Bryant – Don’t Give Up On Love

Rockin’ Johnny Burgin – Neoprene Fedora

The Cash Box Kings – Royal Mint

Chris Cain

Chris Corcoran Band – Blues Guitar Grooves

Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm

Daniel De Vita, Netto Rockfeller, JM Carrasco – Third World Guitars

Eastside Kings

Rick Estrin & The Nightcats – Groovin’ in Greaseland

Billy Flynn – Lonesome Highway

Various Artists of Greaseland – Howlin’ at Greaseland

Casey Hensley featuring Laura Chavez – Live

Egidio “Juke” Ingala & The Jacknives – Switcharoo

Greg Izor and Marco Pandolfi – Homemade Wine

Nathan James – What I Believe

Marquise Knox – Black and Blue

Miss Freddye – Lady of the Blues

Konstantin Kolesnichenko – Minor Differences

Martin Lang – Ain’t No Notion

The Love Light Orchestra featuring John Németh – Live from Bar DKDC in Memphis, TN!

Bia Marchese – Love Me Right

The Paladins – New World

John Primer & Bob Corritore – Ain’t Nothing You Can Do

Laura Rain & The Caesars – Walk With Me

Patrick Recob – Perpetual Luau

Chris Ruest & Gene Taylor – It’s Too Late Now

The Red Devils – Return of the Red Devils

San Pedro Slim – In Times Like These

Joakim Tinderholt – Hold On

Jimmie Vaughan Trio featuring Mike Flanigin – Live at C-Boy’s

Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra – After A While

Monster Mike Welch & Mike Ledbetter – Right Place, Right Time

Peter Ward – Blues On My Shoulders

Kim Wilson – Blues & Boogie Vol 1

Oscar Wilson – One Room Blues

 

Adrianna Marie

Andy T

Chris Armour Quartet - Tele-Porter - cover

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Don Bryant

Rockin Johnny

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CBK

Corcoran

CrayPassport

Eastside

Estrin

Billy

Casey H

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What I Believe

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LLO

Bia

Paladins

Primer

LRC

Recob

Ruest Taylor

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Tinderholt

Howlin'

 

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WWW

Ward

Welch

Wilson Kim

Wilson Oscar

 

 

 

 

2015 Blues Music Awards Winners

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The awards were handed out in Memphis on Thursday, 7 May. The 36th Blues Music Award winners (in bold) are:

Acoustic Album
Hard Luck Child: A Tribute to Skip James – Rory Block
Jericho Road – Eric Bibb
Jigsaw Heart – Eden Brent
Son & Moon: A Tribute to Son House – John Mooney
Timeless – John Hammond

Acoustic Artist
Doug MacLeod
Eric Bibb
John Hammond
John Mooney
Rory Block

Album
Can’t Even Do Wrong Right – Elvin Bishop
Living Tear To Tear – Sugar Ray & the Bluetones
Memphis Grease – John Németh
Refuse to Lose – Jarekus Singleton
Wrapped Up and Ready – The Mannish Boys

B.B. King Entertainer
Bobby Rush
Elvin Bishop
John Németh
Rick Estrin
Sugaray Rayford

Band
Elvin Bishop Band
John Németh & the Bo-Keys
Rick Estrin & the Nightcats
Sugar Ray & the Bluetones
The Mannish Boys

Best New Artist Album
Chromaticism – Big Harp George
Don’t Call No Ambulance – Selwyn Birchwood
Heavy Water – Fo’ Reel
Making My Mark – Annika Chambers & the Houston All-Stars
One Heart Walkin‘ – Austin Walkin’ Cane

Contemporary Blues Album
Can’t Even Do Wrong Right – Elvin Bishop
Original – Janiva Magness
Refuse to Lose -Jarekus Singleton
Hornet’s Nest – Joe Louis Walker
BluesAmericana – Keb’ Mo’

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Beth Hart
Bettye LaVette
Janiva Magness
Marcia Ball
Shemekia Copeland

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Elvin Bishop
Gary Clark Jr.
Jarekus Singleton
Joe Bonamassa
Joe Louis Walker

Historical
From His Head to His Heart to His Hands – Michael Bloomfield (Columbia/Legacy)
Live at the Avant Garde – Magic Sam (Delmark)
Soul & Swagger: The Complete “5” Royales 1951-1967 – The “5” Royales (Rock Beat)
The Modern Music Sessions 1948-1951 – Pee Wee Crayton (Ace)
The Roots of it All-Acoustic Blues – Various Artists (Bear Family)

Instrumentalist-Bass
Bob Stroger
Lisa Mann
Michael “Mudcat” Ward
Patrick Rynn
Willie J. Campbell

Instrumentalist-Drums
Jimi Bott
June Core
Kenny Smith
Tom Hambridge
Tony Braunagel

Instrumentalist-Guitar
Anson Funderburgh
Joe Bonamassa
Johnny Winter
Kid Andersen
Ronnie Earl

Instrumentalist-Harmonica
Charlie Musselwhite
Kim Wilson
Mark Hummel
Rick Estrin
Sugar Ray Norcia

Instrumentalist-Horn
Al Basile
Deanna Bogart
Jimmy Carpenter
Sax Gordon
Terry Hanck

Koko Taylor Award
Alexis P Suter
Diunna Greenleaf
EG Kight
Ruthie Foster
Trudy Lynn

Pinetop Perkins Piano Player
Barrelhouse Chuck
Bruce Katz
David Maxwell
Eden Brent
Marcia Ball

Rock Blues Album
Step Back – Johnny Winter
Goin’ Home – Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
Time Ain’t Free – Nick Moss Band
heartsoulblood – Royal Southern Brotherhood
The Blues Came Callin’ – Walter Trout

Song
“Another Murder in New Orleans” written by Carl Gustafson & Donald Markowitz, performed by Bobby Rush and Dr. John with Blinddog Smokin’
“Bad Luck Is My Name” written and performed by John Németh
“Can’t Even Do Wrong Right” written and performed by Elvin Bishop
“Let Me Breathe” written by Janiva Magness & Dave Darling, performed by Janiva Magness
“Things Could Be Worse” written by Ray Norcia, performed by Sugar Ray & the Bluetones

Soul Blues Album
Blues for My Father – Vaneese Thomas
Decisions – Bobby Rush with Blinddog Smokin’
In My Soul – The Robert Cray Band
Memphis Grease – John Németh
Soul Brothers – Otis Clay & Johnny Rawls

Soul Blues Female Artist
Candi Staton
Missy Andersen
Sharon Jones
Sista Monica
Vaneese Thomas

Soul Blues Male Artist
Bobby Rush
Curtis Salgado
John Németh
Johnny Rawls
Otis Clay

Traditional Blues Album
Common Ground: Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy – Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin
For Pops (A Tribute to Muddy Waters) – Mud Morganfield & Kim Wilson
Livin’ it Up – Andy T-Nick Nixon Band
Living Tear To Tear – Sugar Ray & the Bluetones
The Hustle is Really On – Mark Hummel
Wrapped Up and Ready – The Mannish Boys

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Billy Boy Arnold
John Primer
Lurrie Bell
Sugar Ray Norcia
Sugaray Rayford

It’s extremely likely I will be sharing some of my thoughts about the results, so check back. In the meantime, I would be interested in yours. Please comment.

http://www.blues.org/2015/05/36th-blues-music-awards-winners/

Best of 2014

David Mac again invited me to join other contributors in submitting a selection of my ten favorite CDs of 2014 to his fabulous site Blues Junction (http://bluesjunctionproductions.com/daves_top_nine_list_of_top_ten_lists). After much agonizing decisionmaking, I delivered this list:

index

John Németh, Memphis Grease (Blue Corn)
Sean Costello, In the Magic Shop (VizzTone)
Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin, Common Ground (YepRoc)
The Mannish Boys, Wrapped Up and Ready (Delta Groove)
Mark Hummel, The Hustle is Really On (Electro-Fi)
Denilson Martins, Big D (Chico Blues)
Nathan James, Natural Born That Way (Sacred Cat)
Bob Corritore, Taboo (YepRoc)
Raoul and the Big Time, Hollywood Boulevard (Big Time)
Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, Living Tear to Tear (Severn)

Making the final cuts really came down, in many cases, to a coin toss. So, for the record, here are the rest of the best of 2014 – I daresay every bit as good as my top 10. And I’m certain I overlooked some titles I ought to have remembered.

Robin Banks, Modern Classic (self)

Big Jon Atkinson, Boogie With You Baby (Bluebeat)

Al Blake, Blues According to Blake (Soul Sanctuary)

Nick Moss Band, Time Ain’t Free (Blue Bella)

Laura Rain and the Caesars, Closer (LRC)

Brian Carpy, Rockin’ Bollocks (Bamboo)

Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Pure Magic (Wolf)

Loot Rock Gang, That’s Why I’ve Got To Sing (Big Muddy)

Madison Slim, Close…But No Cigar

Jim Suhler, Panther Burn (Underworld)

Tony Vega Band, Shakin’ At The Easy! (Lucha Libre)

Kai Strauss, Electric Blues (Continental Record Services)

Jim Liban with the Joel Paterson Trio, I Say What I Mean (Ventrella)

Aki Kumar, Don’t Hold Back (Greaseland)

Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, You Asked For It…Live! (Alligator)

A.C. Myles • Reconsider Me

Myles

A.C. Myles

Reconsider Me

2014

http://acmyles.com/

 

Concentrating on his solo career after some very respectable positions as sideman, including work with Fillmore Slim and a stint with John Németh, the talented Northern California-based singer and guitarist A.C. Myles is set to release his second solo album (after a live record, now out of print) very soon. I was privileged to hear an advance copy of Reconsider Me!

Produced by Kid Andersen at his Greaseland studio, Reconsider Me! spotlights Myles’s tough guitar playing and devastating singing. Its playlist is designed to touch on some of Myles’s influences and professional associates. Nearly half of the set consists of rockers. “Livin’ A Lie” owes much to Johnny Winter’s flamboyant 1970s recordings. Interesting sections and tempo shifts give the song a complex, hard edge that is softened, slightly, by an anthemic, radio-ready chorus. On the pumping boogie “Three Ways To Fall,” Myles evokes the sound of Winter’s Alligator period, positively nailing his slide guitar style and vocal mannerisms. The swaggering rocker “Call ‘em All Baby” is marked by hammering piano and sweet backing vocals over the chorus, with harmonized lead guitars emphasizing its unmistakable inspiration in Southern rock. Myles turns in a fierce and funky version of Rory Gallagher’s “Do You Read Me,” and transforms “Rock My Soul” into something a bit less country-fried than Elvin Bishop’s original, tipping a hat to the revival-tent enthusiasm of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends and including some very Clapton-esque guitar playing. Myles’s powerful voice is well suited to these rocking numbers, and–to judge by his enthusiastic screams–he has a blast singing them.

Blues are amply represented on Reconsider Me! Myles adapts Fillmore Slim’s superbad version of “Blue Monday” in an arrangement built on percolating drums and bass, organ and funky keyboards, and wah-wah guitar. His vocal is lovely and soulful, the guitar solo and chicken-picked fills perfectly conceived. Myles’s guitar absolutely stings on the gritty “Queen Bee,” with rubbery bends, wild double-stops, and killer instinct straight out of ‘60s-era Buddy Guy. “Death Bed Blues,” a slowish, midtempo straight blues with a relaxed shuffle feel, lands in the West Coast neighborhood of Lowell Fulson, groove-wise, with elegant guitar lines that could have come from Fenton Robinson, whose “You Don’t Know What Love Is” appears here, fleshed out with percussion and electric piano, with sublime guitar and a beautiful vocal. The entire album, in fact, is wonderfully sung, but the title track merits special attention. The country soul classic by Johnny Adams gets a simple, effective arrangement of rhythm section, organ, Floyd Cramer-style piano, and guitar, and while the Tan Canary is often cited as one of the best pure singers to work in blues and R&B, Myles’s performance yields nothing. Subtle shifts in timbre give his voice a country feeling; his phrasing is devastatingly expressive; and his glides into falsetto during the choruses are breathtaking. “Reconsider Me” is a show-stopper.

One number splits the difference between the rockers and the blues songs. “What Is Love” was originally done by The Loved Ones, a great and underappreciated Oakland-based band whose two albums on Hightone achieved a potent distillation of the rock-and-soul of the early Rolling Stones, the mid-‘60s R&B-on-the-cusp-of-funk of James Brown, blues attitude à la Junior Wells, and a faultless pop sensibility. Obviously Myles remembers them fondly, too, for he recreates their highly original sound flawlessly. Three cheers!

While it is likely that the purists won’t admit to liking everything here, they will surely find the blues-based material deeply enjoyable. It is also likely that those who perhaps came for the rock-inflected songs will stay to hear the soul and blues, and that non-purists will love all of Reconsider Me! That makes A.C. Myles’s new album just the sort of gateway drug I thoroughly endorse. Reconsider Me! promises to provide some of the most memorable moments of 2014.

 

TOM HYSLOP

 

The artist kindly provided the review copy of this CD.

2014 Blues Music Awards Winners

major2_hvr_02Congratulations to the winners, announced in Memphis on 2014-05-08. As usual, I am out of step with the voters, with my favorite candidates often drastically at variance with the popular choices (where the winners in a few cases were my absolute last choices). I am laughing to keep from crying as I reveal my batting average: .087. I voted for precisely two winners in the 23 categories decided by public ballot. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts, if any. Are you satisfied or outraged by the results?

In the unlikely event this blog is your sole source of news regarding the BMAs, I present again the complete list of 35th Blues Music Award nominees, now with winners in bold type:

Acoustic Album
There’s a Time – Doug MacLeod
Juba Dance – Guy Davis featuring Fabrizio Poggi
Soulscape – Harrison Kennedy
Avalon – Rory Block
Unleashed – The Hound Kings

Acoustic Artist
Doug MacLeod
Guy Davis
Harrison Kennedy
Little G Weevil
Rory Block

Album
Get Up! – Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite
Remembering Little Walter – Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia & James Harman
Rhythm & Blues – Buddy Guy
Cotton Mouth Man – James Cotton
Blues in My Soul – Lurrie Bell

B.B. King Entertainer
Bobby Rush
Buddy Guy
John Németh
Kim Wilson
Rick Estrin

Band
Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials
Rick Estrin & the Night Cats
Tedeschi Trucks Band
The Mannish Boys
Trampled Under Foot

Best New Artist Debut
Double Crossing Blues – Adrianna Marie and Her Groovecutters
Rooster – Clay Swafford
Proof of Love – Gracie Curran & the High Falutin’ Band
What’s the Chance… – Paul Gabriel
Daddy Told Me – Shawn Holt & the Teardrops
Pushin’ Against a Stone – Valerie June

Contemporary Blues Album
Get Up! – Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite
This Time Another Year – Brandon Santini
Rhythm & Blues – Buddy Guy
Magic Honey – Cyril Neville
Badlands – Trampled Under Foot

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Ana Popovic
Beth Hart
Bettye LaVette
Candye Kane
Susan Tedeschi

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Buddy Guy
Gary Clark Jr.
Johnny Sansone
Kim Wilson
Otis Taylor

DVD
High John Records – Time Brings About a Change (Floyd Dixon)
J&R Adventures – An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House (Joe Bonamassa)
Shake-It-Sugar Records – Live (Murali Coryell)
Ruf Records – Songs from the Road (Royal Southern Brotherhood)
Blue Star Connection – Live at Knuckleheads (The Healers)

Historical
The Sun Blues Box (Various Artists) – Bear Family
The Original Honeydripper (Roosevelt Sykes) – Blind Pig Records
The Jewel/Paula Blues Story (Various Artists) – Fuel Records
Death Might Be Your Santa Claus (Various Artists) – Legacy Recordings
The Complete King/Federal Singles (Freddie King) – Real Gone Music

Instrumentalist-Bass
Bill Stuve
Bob Stroger
Danielle Schnebelen
Larry Taylor
Patrick Rynn

Instrumentalist-Drums
Cedric Burnside
Jimi Bott
Kenny Smith
Tom Hambridge
Tony Braunagel

Instrumentalist-Guitar
Anson Funderburgh
Gary Clark Jr.
Kid Andersen
Lurrie Bell
Ronnie Earl

Instrumentalist-Harmonica
Brandon Santini
Charlie Musselwhite
James Cotton
Kim Wilson
Rick Estrin

Instrumentalist-Horn
Big James Montgomery
Eddie Shaw
Jimmy Carpenter
Sax Gordon
Terry Hanck

Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female)
Diunna Greenleaf
Lavelle White
Teeny Tucker
Trudy Lynn
Zora Young

Rock Blues Album
Gone to Texas – Mike Zito & the Wheel
Made Up Mind – Tedeschi Trucks Band
Can’t Get Enough – The Rides
John the Conquer Root – Toronzo Cannon
Luther’s Blues – Walter Trout

Pinetop Perkins Piano Player
Barrelhouse Chuck
Dave Keyes
Marcia Ball
Mike Finnigan
Victor Wainwright

Song
“Blues in My Soul” – Lurrie Bell
“He Was There” – James Cotton, Tom Hambridge & Richard Fleming
“That’s When the Blues Begins” – James Goode
“The Entitled Few” – Doug MacLeod
“The Night the Pie Factory Burned Down” – Johnny Sansone

Soul Blues Album
Down In Louisiana – Bobby Rush
Soul Changes – Dave Keller
Soul for Your Blues – Frank Bey & Anthony Paule Band
Remembering O. V. – Johnny Rawls
Truth Is (Putting Love Back Into the Music) – Otis Clay

Soul Blues Female Artist
Barbara Carr
Denise LaSalle
Dorothy Moore
Irma Thomas
Sista Monica

Soul Blues Male Artist
Bobby Rush
Frank Bey
John Németh
Johnny Rawls
Otis Clay

Traditional Blues Album
Driftin’ from Town to Town – Barrelhouse Chuck & Kim Wilson’s Blues All-Stars
Remembering Little Walter – Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia, James Harman
Cotton Mouth Man – James Cotton
Blues in My Soul – Lurrie Bell
Black Toppin’ – The Cash Box Kings

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Anson Funderburgh
Billy Boy Arnold
James Cotton
John Primer
Lurrie Bell

John Nemeth’s soul and blues par excellence

Just because I dig these performances so much…I’m presenting a slightly revised verson of a piece that originally ran in The Golden Gate Blues Society’s newsletter (check out the Society’s excellent Web site at http://tggbs.org).

ImageImage

John Németh

Blues Live

Soul Live

John Németh Music 2012

http://JohnNemeth.com/

The Memphis-based songwriter-harmonica player-singer John Németh (an Idaho native who until recently had made the Bay Area his home) has made his mark with multiple Blues Music Awards nominations and Living Blues Awards, and is widely considered to be one of the most striking vocal talents to appear in some time.  A decade into his recording career, he is both a relative newcomer and, with a pair of independent CDs and three for Blind Pig Records, all of them acclaimed, under his belt, a veteran artist.

In February 2012, Németh decided to present an ambitious overview of his music. He assembled a crackerjack band – John Lee Sanders (keys), Tommy Folen (bass guitar), Nick Fishman (drums), and Bob Welsh, A.C. Myles, and Kid Andersen (guitars) – for performances at the Point Arena Theater, the Poor House Bistro, and Biscuits and Blues; recorded those shows; and distilled them into two albums, each dedicated to an aspect of his music interests.  One reflects Németh’s Blues Live, and the other concentrates on his Soul Live.

Soul Live begins with nine Németh compositions. Most tilt toward the hard, uptempo style of R&B that flourished alongside the deep and sweet soul sounds of the ‘60s. All transcend genre to sound strikingly contemporary. “Too Good To Be True” grafts an indelible melody to a rumbling, ska-like bass line, and ices it with chicken-pickin’ guitar. (Yes, that’s right: chicken-pickin’.) “Blue Broadway” has that push-pull rhythm that encourages listeners to push back the furniture and take off their clothes. A solid four-on-the-floor beat, breakdowns in the verses, ascending chords in the chorus, a truly tuneful bridge, and a hummingbird-wing guitar solo make “Love Me Tonight” unstoppable. The irresistible “Name The Day” channels the sweet sound of Chicago soul à la Tyrone Davis. Want funk? Németh and band hint at Parliament in “Do You Really Want That Woman” and James Brown in “Funky Feelin’,” which stars tough harp and bass solos and hip, interlocking guitars (dig the superbad single note rhythm and the auto-wah!). “Magic Touch” features ace guitar solos incorporating Chuck Berry-isms, pitch shifts via tuning machine (not string-bending or whammy bars), twin-guitar harmony–the whole kitchen sink!–as well as dynamics that seem almost impossible in this roots-rocking context. The only breaks in an otherwise high-energy set come in the lilting “Fuel For Your Fire,” and in “Said Too Much,” quite a lovely deep soul ballad, sensitively played and beautifully sung. Solomon Burke’s “Home In Your Heart” and a hard-charging take on Oakland legend Rodger Collins’s “She’s Looking Good” that approaches revival-tent fervor round out this stunning disc.

The same cast plays blues just as effectively. The proof is all over the sister CD. A supple, dynamically charged reading of Fats Domino’s “Every Night About This Time” leads into the pile-driving original “Country Boy,” where the band repeatedly builds and releases in intensity behind Németh’s harp solo. Al Simmons’s wild, down-home (down-home Fresno, that is) rocker “Ain’t Too Old” follows. “Daughter Of The Devil” and “Mother-In-Law” are other fine lowdown numbers, and “Just Like You” is what blues rock would sound like in a dream world in which The Red Devils and The Blasters defined the style. Want blues with a touch of soul? Sweet and stinging, Magic Sam’s “She Belongs To Me” grooves deep. Slinky and diamond-hard, “You Know” and “Love Gone Crazy” are raw enough to sit in a blues set, funky enough to have been included on Soul Live. And the show-stopping slow blues “Blues In My Heart” may well fool you into thinking you are hearing Buddy Guy and Junior Wells in their prime. In all, Blues Live is a dynamite display of solid rhythms, gritty and inventive playing, with great tone from the guitarists and Németh on harp, and stellar singing.

Both Soul Live and Blues Live are exceptional documents that showcase Németh’s remarkable vocals and sharply focused songs, and make clear the power of a rhythm and blues band that both knows how to play the music, and leaves everything on the stage.

TOM HYSLOP

CDs for review were purchased from the online store at johnnemethblues.com