Eric Bibb and JJ Milteau – Lead Belly’s Gold

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Nov 132015

Some people think of the great B.B. King when they think of blues, and that ain’t a bad way to go, nor would Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson or anyone with “Blind,” “Big” or “Dog” in their name, be bad choices. I love so many of the early Blues players but there has always been something special between myself and the man known as Lead Belly. Bigger than life in every way, Lead Belly personified the kind of life that gave a man the blues, then he poured his heart out for everyone to hear.

516JzEFTxnL-thumb-380xauto-29595Eric Bibb and JJ Milteau seem to feel much the way I do and to honor the great bluesman, they recorded a new album, Lead Belly’s Gold. The most loved songs, either written by, or easily associated with Lead Belly, are all here. Eric Bibb, the son of folk master Leon Bibb, has been steeped in the blues his whole life. On this album, he is accompanied by JJ Milteau, a French harmonica player who brings an unexpected authenticity to each song.

For those new to the songs of Lead Belly, it can be a bit unnerving when you hear songs like ‘Midnight Special’ and The ‘House of the Rising Sun’ performed decades before the 60s and 70s rock bands that brought them to the world’s attention. While many of these songs authorship is lost to the southern fields in which they were born, they owe their continued existence, at least in part, to Lead Belly.

Lead Belly’s Gold is filled with love and admiration for the man, the songs and their importance in music history. Eric and JJ masterfully walk through this time and add a piece of their own with three new songs written from the viewpoint of Lead Belly himself. Lead Belly’s Gold is beautifully recorded and is a great addition to anyone’s blues collection. I found myself going back and listening to original versions of the songs again and you should do the same.

Lead Belly’s Gold is a work of passion and it deserves your attention.

Blues Hall of Fame Donor Wall Listing Deadline September

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Aug 072014

August 30 will be the last day to make a pledge or donation that will get your name on the List of Donors in the Blues Hall of Fame.   If you are planning to give, now is the time since the names are to set to be “in stone” by September 1.

butt-baf-donateIf you have been thinking about having your name on the Donor Wall, now is the time to make your donation of $1000 or more. If you are already on the list, but want to increase your font size, now is the time to increase your donation.

A donation of $1000 or more will secure the addition of your name to the Donor Wall.

And the amount of the donation will determine the size and location of your name.

The current list of donors can be found at

These are the names that will go on our Donors Wall on the first floor of the Blues Hall of Fame.

Take a look at the list and determine what level works for you.  Where do you want to see your name, in whose company?

At this point, donations can be increased by paying over 3 years—2014, 2015 and 2016.

You can donate online at  or call me to discuss further.

Lets add your name to the Donor Wall!!

– See more at:

35th Blues Music Awards Winners Announced

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May 152014

MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 9, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Blues Foundation presented the 35th Blues Music Awards Thursday night, May 8 in Memphis. The event brings together Blues performers, industry representatives and fans from all over the world to celebrate the best in Blues recordings and performances from the previous year. Three awards went to Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks and their band, while a Little Walter tribute featuring five top harmonica players received two awards, including album of the year.  First time winners included Gary Clark Jr., Doug MacLeod, John Németh, Shawn Holt & the Teardrops, Trampled Under Foot and their female bassist Danielle Schnebelen.

The complete list of winners are:

Acoustic Album: There’s a TimeDoug MacLeod
Acoustic Artist: Doug MacLeod
Album: Remembering Little WalterBilly Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia, James Harman
B.B. King Entertainer: Buddy Guy
Band: Tedeschi Trucks Band
Best New Artist Debut: Daddy Told MeShawn Holt & the Teardrops
Contemporary Blues Album: BadlandsTrampled Under Foot
Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Susan Tedeschi
Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Gary Clark Jr.1376985_661526917214037_1837852618_n
DVD: Ruf RecordsSongs from the Road (Royal Southern Brotherhood)
Historical Album: Bear FamilyThe Sun Blues Box
Instrumentalist-Bass: Danielle Schnebelen
Instrumentalist-Drums: Cedric Burnside
Instrumentalist-Guitar: Ronnie Earl
Instrumentalist-Harmonica: Charlie Musselwhite
Instrumentalist-Horn: Eddie Shaw
Koko Taylor Award: Diunna Greenleaf
Pinetop Perkins Piano Player: Victor Wainwright
Rock Blues Album: Made Up MindTedeschi Trucks Band
Song: “Blues in My Soul” – Lurrie Bell
Soul Blues Album: Down in LouisianaBobby Rush
Soul Blues Female Artist: Irma Thomas
Soul Blues Male Artist: John Nemeth
Traditional Blues Album: Remembering Little WalterBilly Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia, James Harman
Traditional Blues Male Artist: James Cotton

The 35th Blues Music Awards are sponsored by BMI, Catfood Records, Eagle Rock Entertainment, First Tennessee Foundation, Jontaar Creative Studios, Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Sony Music/Legacy Recordings.

The Blues Foundation is Memphis-based, but world-renown as the organization dedicated to preserving our blues music history, celebrating recording and performance excellence, supporting blues education and ensuring the future of this uniquely American art form.

Jay Sieleman

SOURCE The Blues Foundation

Albert King, A Blues Legend Like No Other

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Sep 112013

Albert King is a legendary blues musician, world renowned for his distinctive style and Flying V guitar. Albert was the first to combine Mississippi blues style with the more contemporary soul rhythms. King pushed the blues ahead throughout his career and was one of the most influential blues musicians playing during the birth of Rock n Roll, soul, and funk.albert_king_B

Albert’s early influences included the slide guitar stylings of Elmore James and later the distinctive playing of T-Bone Walker. Albert claimed that he just mixed it all together and then added his own touches. A tortured brand of blues goodness all his own.

Part of Albert’s distinction was his left-handed playing style where he played the right-handed guitar upside down and strung it backwards. This helped create his singing guitar sound, a long sustained note with few chords. King played without a pick because he never felt comfortable using one and preferred to strum with his thumb.

His single string solo style was unlike anyone else. His ability to bend strings and create odd tunings allowed him to play some of the most tortured sounds ever produced on guitar. He was one of the few who successfully married the 60s blues sound with the newer soul sound of the day, a combination that greatly influenced Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Albert was signed by both Stax and Chess labels as well as several smaller ones through the years. His time at Stax was considered his best period by blues enthusiasts and it is hard to argue otherwise. The CD King of the Blues Guitar includes his best work for Stax and should be included in any blues fans collection.

‘Gatemouth’ Brown, The San Antonio Ballbuster

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Aug 192013

It wasn’t easy deciding which of the great bluesmen I should write about first for this new series. I could go way back and dig through some of the whorehouse blues I love, or I could core out the father of modern blues and write about Robert Johnson. Hell, I could write about dozens of men and women who earned my respect but it was a conversation with my father that made me decide on someone I initially hadn’t considered. Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown earned his stripes a hundred times over and he finds his way onto my turntable more than most, still, it was something more personal that pushed him to the front of the line.

It was a crazy hot day at the ACL Festival in 2004. I was dripping wet from sweat and looked forward to watching an act under the single covered stage area. I was even more excited knowing that Clarence Gatemouth Brown was the act.gatemouth Brown moved slower than in the past, but his fingers were as nimble as ever. He flew around the fret board, his fingers and mind oblivious to his age. This would be the last time I saw Gatemouth, he passed a year later, leaving an expansive hole in the blues world.

Several years later, I gave my father an old touchscreen music server system. An outdated computer loaded with blues and jazz along with an inexpensive receiver I had in the attic. Somewhere during this process, I mentioned seeing Browns last Austin show, to which my father told me he used to go see Gatemouth play live way back in the 70s. Even more shocking to me was that Gatemouth played the Holiday Inn in Cody Wyoming, where I grew up.

My father had never really discussed music, I had no idea he had a passion for jazz and the blues. This was why I chose Brown for my first article in the series; his idea of the blues is as shocking as finding out your dad is a closet blues fan.

Clarence Gatemouth Brown was a proficient artist with likely more recordings lost to time than he has ever been credited with. This Louisiana born master of every instrument he picked up came to fame in Texas, where he was raised. I would love to pick out one album and say “this is the defining record” but like many of these old musicians, the records don’t necessarily reflect a single effort or even a single period in their career.

I find it difficult to pinpoint the height of his career or his skills. He is masterful from his first recording to his last. What sets Gatemouth apart from his fellow bluesmen is his willingness to bring in heavy jazz and country influences. I can think of no other blues artist that made regular use of a jazz flute. He helped create rock music as we know it, he could wail on a guitar like the devil and still play every note as cleanly as any guitarist I have heard.

Brown rarely played a song the same way twice, choosing to continue exploring the potential within. The must own Clarence Gatemouth Brown albums in my opinion start with San Antonio Ballbuster, a collection of influential songs that range from predating rock –n- roll to early 60s guitar jive. Browns wit shines throughout this album.

Back to Bogalusa along with American Music, Texas Style, and Timeless are all three later works that stand out for both their playing and songwriting. With dozens of additional recordings to choose from, all of them worth owning, these are simply a good place to start. Clarence Gatemouth Brown made music and toured longer than even the Rolling Stones. That says a lot about who he was and why he deserves to open this series. Now I’m going to drop the needle on some blues and give my dad a call.

Who would you like to see me cover in this series?