Prendete un locale sperduto nel Nord dell’Olanda, infilateci un pubblico partecipe (cosa ormai rara) e un trio che suona un blues sincero e che gli piace farlo. Risultato? Un onesto disco di blues che ti viene vo- glia di riascoltare immaginando di poter essere stato tra i fortu- nati presenti. Questo trio è capitanato da Boo Boo Davis, un mississippiano DOC, nato e cresciuto a Drew nel cuore del Delta, e questo lo si capisce alla prima battuta. Certo che aver avuto a casa propria personaggi come John Lee Hooker, Elmore James o Robert Pete Williams, intenti a suonare col proprio padre, non dev’essere un’esperienza da tutti i giorni e, forse, qualcosa di quelle magiche atmosfere deve per forza esserti rimasta dentro. Sia come sia questa magia emerge da questo “Live And Almost Unplugged” e ci rega- la una sana lezione di blues, dove quel che conta è quel che si dice e non quel che si fa. Lezione che dovrebbero imparare tutti coloro che si approcciano al blues come se fosse una competizione col diavolo o più semplicemente con gli altri “colleghi”. Partita persa prima che inizi, cari miei e il settantatreenne Boo Boo Davis ve lo può dimostrare. Un solo microfono al centro della sala del piccolo Cafe de Amer, il pubblico a due passi e il concerto ha inizio. Boo Boo con la sua armonica e voce è sostenuto da un ottimo Jan Mittendorp alla chitarra e da John Gerritse alla batteria. Non serve altro. Il loro blues fa tutto, dall’iniziale “Ice Storm” via via fino alla conclusiva “St. Louis Woman”, tutti brani scritti da questo trio. È difficile stabilire quale sia la miglior canzone, l’abilità di questi musicisti è quella di aver creato un tappeto sonoro capace di coinvolgere il pubblico olandese come l’ascoltatore a casa, portandolo con l’immaginazione nelle terre piatte del Mississippi dove le ombre al tramonto si allungano sui campi come fantasmi e al crocicchio gli alberi la notte si trasformano in diavoli tentatori. Allora, non esitate, fatevi ten- tare da Boo Boo Davis, qualcosa da insegnarvi lui ce l’ha.
It might be mid-March but Winter is coming…the new musical concoction from David Philips, that is. The British ex-pat singer-songwriter performed his familiar ritual of holing himself up in his home studio and emerged with a fresh batch of recorded originals. Winter, recorded over much of this still-lingering cold season, is expected to drop in late March/early April through Black And Tan Records, but the folks over at Black and Tan have already provided a preview of what to expect. “Home” is the advance single from Philips’ newest creation, now available in digital form, and streamable above. What is immediately noticeable from followers of Philips is that he went ‘full band’ this time, not unlike 2015’s If I Had Wings but all instrumentation here and the rest of the album is handled by Philips alone and he remains firmly on the folk reservation this time. Actually, Winter could be thought of as a proper follow-up to his debut record. Still, it’s a bit of a jolt to hear his twelve-string acoustic guitar soon joined by harmonica, bass, drums, backing vocals and more guitars. What isn’t different is a voice with the warm soulfulness of Aaron Neville and a bright melody that sticks with you long after the last chord rings out. David Philips might change his tactics from time to time but the overall strategy of delivering quality, hand-made folk music never wavers.
Today we released the first single from an upcoming David Philips album
B&T 961 – David Philips – Home
November 2016 to March 2017 David Philips locked himself in his studio and spent the winter months writing and recording new material. Harking back to the full band sound of his debut album, but with more grit, more electric guitar, more to say and a clearer idea of how to say it. Very much the studio loner David recorded and produced the whole record himself, playing all instruments and also designing the artwork. “Home” is the upbeat new single from this collection of recordings entitled simply “Winter” due out April 10 !
The single is available on all streaming and download platforms.
OLD SKOOL – By Boo Boo Davis
James ‘Boo Boo” Davis truly is one of a kind. Born and bred in Drew, Mississippi, he’s spent the past 60- plus years dripping nothing but the blues. His father, Sylvester Davis, was a cotton farmer who played multiple instruments. Musically gifted, he performed with legends such as John Lee Hooker, Elmore James and Robert Pete Williams. The younger Boo just soaked it all in. By five he was playing harp and singing in church with his mother. At 13 he was strumming guitar. And by the age of 18, he was working gigs across the Delta with his dad and older brothers. But the early 60’s brought a new twist. Trekking north with his brothers, they settled right into the vibrant St. Louis blues scene. Albert King, Ike & Tina Turner, Little Milton, Oliver Sain, Fontella Bass, Chuck Berry and Johnnie Johnson — the names were all here. But it was The Davis Brothers Blues Band who held court at Tubby’s Red Room every weekend in East St. Louis. Their residency would not only last 18 years, but kindle many fond memories. The year 1998 though was Boo’s true breakthrough. Perhaps DAVE was intervening. Or maybe it was Boo Boo’s ability to sing and play several instruments. Either way, he was playing drums for local and national harp legend, Arthur Williams, when opportunity finally knocked. Touring Europe as part of Arthur’s crack St. Louis band, Boo Boo was approached about recording his own CD. His 1999 Black & Tan label debut, EAST ST. LOUIS was the first step towards a blues legacy that just keeps growing. OLD SKOOL itself is about as stripped-down and powerful as you can get. Featuring Jon Mittendorp on electric guitar, and John Gerritse on drums, the European duo truly pull Boo’s deep Delta essence out. Yet, in so doing, they add a 21st century funk that simply resonates. Much akin to R.L. Burnside’s later years at Fat Possum Records, ‘Old Skool Delta’ rolls anew with Boo Boo’s Black & Tan recordings. This pulsing, trance-inducing sound has been catchy enough to score Boo Boo international acclaim. In fact, ‘ 5-Hour Energy Drink’ used snippets of his 2008 song ‘I’m Tired’ for their radio ads to boost their sales. Imagine that. Seventy-plus year old Boo Boo Davis selling an energy revival! But in the end, it all makes sense. The trio on this CD has not only toured Europe extensively, but they’ve played over 300 shows in 20 countries the past two years. Tight and cohesive, all 11 tracks were recorded in single takes. From the clash of harp and drums on the opener, ‘Hold Your Head Up’, through such notables as the catchy-quick ‘Boo Boo Fool’, the slow, open-ended ‘Boy Blues’, to the driving train-like ‘Call Me A Clown’, the band rocks a 43 minute jam session that embodies Boo Boo’s spirited live shows. It’s amazing how Boo Boo Davis continues to age like fine wine. Hopefully, if you’re a reader out there, you’ll take the opportunity to catch the ever stylish Boo live downtown. Though he’s currently on a brief sabbatical from his European duo, he’s back home performing some weekend gigs with Bob Kamoske, Mike Graham and Kevin O’Conner at BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups. What you’ll find is one of the last great “old-skoolers” pumping out downhome blues as only a true great can. As the liner notes claim, ‘this music really is COOL.’ About the only other thing this reviewer can add is “Thank you DAVE!!” And oh, even if you do catch Boo Boo live, get the CD. It’s killer…… ENJOY!!
Live in Europe sounds really impressive, unless you are in Europe, where “Live in the USA” sounds more impressive. By now an elder statesman of the acoustic blues, singer-songwriter Doug MacLeod, known as “Dubb,” took his National resonator guitar named “Spook” and headed over to Holland back in 2006. This is a reissue of a DVD originally recorded back then, when MacLeod was signed to Black & Tan Records. He recollects that he had a fever that day and he had only 50 percent of his voice. This is the raw recording of MacLeod, Spook and his stomping foot. “No overdubs, no pitch control, no do-overs. It was one night when one of our best and finest acoustic performers today wasn’t feeling too good but went on stage anyway.” If that weren’t written here you would never know it. MacLeod is such a consummate professional, a superlative singer-songwriter and guitarist, a storyteller and performer, that the only thing you will notice is that this is a seasoned pro, a man who cut his teeth playing guitar for George “Harmonica” Smith. He’s played with Big Joe Turner, Pee Wee Crayton, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Lowell Fulson and Big Mama Thornton. For three decades or so he has been an internationally successful touring musician, and if you don’t know him as a player, maybe you know him as host of Nothin’ But the Blues on Long Beach / Los Angeles’ KLON-KKJZ. Top that with winning the 2016 Blues Music Award for best acoustic blues artist. On this album he is a bit more gentle than normal, delivering nine tunes. He starts off with one of his signature songs I Want You, with his classic pick-up line by now so often copied by lesser men, “I want you / don’t you know I want you / every word is true / this man wants you.” He does a 14-minute-long version of Bukka White’s train song The New Panama Limited. He also delivers smooth versions of his standards Home Cooking, Cold Rain, Long Time Road, Turkey Leg Woman and Master Plan. Bad Magic is an homage to one of his early mentors, Ernest Banks of Toano, Virginia, a one-eyed bluesman who taught MacLeod, “Never play a note you don’t believe.” MacLeod surely took this advice to heart. As a performer and singer, MacLeod is simply unmatched. He interacts with the audience with plain talk, humor and natural “we’re all neighbors and friends” dialogue. He plays a pounding, percussive heartbeat on the guitar, singing with his rich and vibrant voice. Another thing he learned from Ernest Banks is to play his National resonator guitars with such rhythmic force that his audience can’t keep their feet still for wanting to dance. MacLeod remembers. “Ernest said, ‘You have got to make them dance.’ Because he said if they weren’t dancing they weren’t drinking, and if they weren’t dancing and drinking, he wasn’t going to get paid. So, you got to make them dance. The old bluesmen like Ernest Banks and Son House used to do that. Ernest said, ‘You ain’t shit unless you can make them dance.’” If there is one guy on the scene today who keeps the blues vibrant, fresh and new while keeping to the tradition and adding fiery and intensive original news songs, it’s Doug MacLeod.
RIVHERSIDE – BLUES IN CLERMONT
Non, le blues n’est pas mort, car il bande encore ! Qu’on pardonne cette grivoiserie qui n’a d’autre but que de traduire un enthousiasme sincère pour une musique aux pieds solidement ancrés dans le delta du Mississippi, la tête dans le Cloud. Renaud Villet est informaticien à l’Université Clermont-Auvergne, mais c’est bien le virus du blues qu’il a contracté. À l’instar d’un Muddy Waters du XXIe siècle, armé d’une guitare et du logiciel Ableton Live, il écrit en anglais, compose, interprète et produit seul des chansons d’une authenticité folle. On est frappé d’entrée par les couleurs chaudes des guitares électriques, allant du Chicago blues au rock sans qu’on n’ait jamais l’impression d’un ersatz ni d’une redite. Puis vient la voix, traitée à l’ancienne avec l’écho en slapback, qui ajoute à la pertinence du son. Enfin, la boîte à rythmes, quelques scratchs et synthés çà et là qui donnent à l’ensemble une touche hip-hop électro subtile mais efficace. En 1974, Coluche faisait rire en accolant dans une chanson «blues» et «Clermont-Ferrand», Rivherside change la donne. Du grand art.
today we released:
BA 521 – BLu ACiD feat John Blake – No Time
the fourth single from a recording session that BLu ACiD did with singer John Blake in 2016. Released digital-only and available at all the popular platforms. Here are a few links
That moment when handmade music makes you groove on the spot, then all of a sudden makes you feel like dancing. The not-so-new track of Mischa den Haring and Jan Mittendorp, better known as BLu ACiD, gets right into your bloodstream. The two dutch musicians released an album called “HCN” recently which features many of their released singles from 2015 and 2016. Although one of the keyphrases I used for this review is “New tracks”, the track “Money” from BLu ACiD is in fact over a year old, but since I discovered it just today, I thought for all of you reading this the sound IS new.Being a drummer in a krautrock band, I just have a thing for handmade music. Using electronic elements in tracks creates that signature sound which stucks to your head instantly, and that’s one of the things the guys of BLu ACiD do all day long. While “Money” as an example hasn’t that much electro elements in it, it still has that distinctive groovy style coming along with the sound. The electro elements in the other tracks on their album is just the icing on the cake, so to speak. “Money” showcases that the two musicians are able to transmit a certain feel with their music. You just can hear that they are living what they are doing there. Groovy slightly distorted guitar tracks combined with deep bass lines and that unique vocals keep you caught in the music for those four and a half minutes. The track itself is mixed a bit too flat for my taste, but this could be a wanted effect, serving the retro feel of the track. There’s that “fattening” missing where other producers tend to double or triple tracks. Still, I’m not sure if keeping the track slim was intentional or not. Besides this, everything is placed where it should be. The voice isn’t too centered to give room for the guitar and backing vocal tracks. And most importantly: the feeling is real – you can’t mix that in. Most of what BLu ACiD is giving me, I’m feeling it. Whether it makes you move, sing along or thinking “how the hell did they DO that?”, it works to keep you entertained, interested and listening. I strongly recommend listening to the whole album, musicians might learn a thing or two from den Haring and Mittendorp, and the avid listener will just groove along.