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Blues CDs New Releases - April 2014

Bobby Rush w/Blinddog Smokin's Decisions

New albums from Albert Castiglia, Bob Corritore, Bobby Rush, Jim Byrnes, and Robert Cray, among others, are going to put a dent in your wallet this month!. No matter your taste in blues, here's what you'll be listening to in April…

Nick Moss on Record
Blues Spotlight10

Joe Bonamassa’s Tour De Force London CD Release

Thursday April 24, 2014

Joe Bonamassa's Tour de Force London CDYou had to know that this was coming...due to popular demand, on May 19th, 2014 blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa will release his acclaimed Tour de Force concerts as four separate two-disc CD sets through his independent J&R Adventures label. The Tour de Force - Live In London concerts were originally released on DVD and Blu-ray disc back in October 2013, both separately and as part of a super mondo-deluxe collectible four-disc set packed in a very cool Marshall amp-styled box with an exclusive photo book.

For those of you who may have forgotten, or didn't know the story to begin with, here's the deal: in early 2013, Bonamassa scheduled four very special shows in London, England that sold-out almost immediately. What was special about them was that they were booked at four legendary London venues - the Royal Albert Hall, the Hammersmith Apollo, Shepherd's Bush Empire, and The Borderline - and each show was structured to provide a unique performance experience for the fan.

So, the Shepherd's Bush Empire set was structured as a "blues night" with a full horn section; the Hammersmith Apollo concert opening with a short acoustic intro before launching into a rock 'n' roll setlist; the Royal Albert Hall show was half-acoustic and half-electric; and the show at The Borderline was the "power trio jam," an intimate set by a three-piece band that revisited a lot of the guitarist's early catalog. By mixing up the set lists and emphasizing different aspects of his talent, Bonamassa made each of the four nights an entertaining and illuminating experience full of great music that spans the artist's entire career.

All four shows will now be available on CD as well as DVD, which is great news for the Joey B. fan, and there are also Tour de Force t-shirts, coffee mugs, and other merch if you really want to geek out with your credit card. There's also that persistent rumor of a new Bonamassa studio album sometime this year to follow the critically-acclaimed collaboration with Beth Hart, Live In Amsterdam...so keep your eyes glued to this blog for more Bonamassa news as it happens!

Photo courtesy J&R Adventures

Weekly Blues Music Report: The Mississippi Blues Diva Debuts!

Tuesday April 22, 2014

JJ Thames' Tell You What I KnowNot much change on the blues chart for the week ending April 26, 2014 save for the unlikely debut, at number seven, of singer JJ Thames' Tell You What I Know album. Thames bills herself as the "Mississippi Blues Diva" and her soul-blues hybrid does remind of greats like Etta James and Tina Turner. Released back in January by the independent DeChamp Records label and distributed through CD Baby and Amazon.com, the album is one of those curious visitors to the Top Ten that pop in and out, but help to reinforce the magic of the blues. We wish Ms. Thames a lot of luck and recommend that readers (and label A&R people) check out Thames' website.

No new CD releases this week, which is probably a good thing considering the bounty of blues albums that hit the shelves last Tuesday...throw in Saturday's annual "Record Store Day" event and it's surprising that any of us have any money left. It's time to start saving your pennies, though, 'cause May brings a few new "must have" releases including new albums from the Black Keys, Ian Siegel, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, John Mayall, Eden Brent, and the debut by newcomer Jarekus Singleton...more about which later...

Here are this week's Billboard Top Ten blues albums, ranked by sales:

10. Tommy Castro & the Painkillers - The Devil You Know (Alligator Records)
9. Joe Bonamassa - An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House (J&R Adventures)
8. Tedeschi Trucks Band - Made Up Mind (Sony Masterworks)
7. JJ Thames - Tell You What I Know (DeChamp Records)
6. Paul Rodgers - The Royal Sessions (429 Records)
5. George Thorogood - 10 Great Songs, 20th Century Masters (Capitol Records)
4. John Nemeth - Memphis Grease (Blue Corn Music)
3. Gary Clark, Jr. - Blak and Blu (Warner Brothers)
2. Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa - Live In Amsterdam (J&R Adventures)
1. Robert Cray - In My Soul (Provogue Records)

Photo of JJ Thames' Tell You What I Know courtesy DeChamp Records

Kenny Wayne Shepherd CD Preview

Thursday April 17, 2014

Kenny Wayne Shepherd's Goin' HomeKenny Wayne Shepherd has never been accused of being overly prolific in the recording studio, the guitarist releasing but two studio albums over the past decade. He's been busy honing his craft, touring with blues legends like Pinetop Perkins, Henry Townsend, and Hubert Sumlin and delving deeper into the blues than your average young blues-rock fretburner. Then there was last year's collaboration with Stephen Stills and Barry Goldberg as the Rides. Shepherd comes full circle on May 20, 2014 when Concord Records releases Goin' Home, a collection of classic blues covers as only KWS can deliver.

His eighth album overall, Goin' Home is the first to be recorded in Shepherd's hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana. Working at Blade Studios with album co-producer Brady Blade, Shepherd recorded with an all-star line-up that included longtime band frontman Noah Hunter, bassist Tony Franklin (The Firm), keyboardist Riley Osbourn, and drummer Chris Layton (Double Trouble). Among the classic covers performed by Shepherd and his crew are songs by Albert King ("Born Under A Bad Sign"), Bo Diddley ("You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover"), John Lee Hooker ("Boogie Man"), and Muddy Waters ("Still A Fool") as well as songs from Magic Sam, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Junior Wells, and Freddie King.

Shepherd and his band weren't alone in the studio, either, joined by friends of the guitarist like Joe Walsh, Warren Haynes, and Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, among others. "I dug through tons and tons of songs and artists' catalogues, trying to find songs that I thought would be right for this record," says Shepherd in a press release for Goin' Home. "That brought back all these distinct memories of sitting in the living room in front of the record player and cassette deck as a kid and learning how to play this material."

The band recorded Goin' Home in just 11 days, putting a total of 22 songs on tape before whittling them down to a dozen for the album's release. "We did it the way records used to be recorded," Shepherd explains. "Everything, including the vocals, was basically cut live in the studio with everybody in the same room, with the instruments all bleeding together onto two-inch tape. I wanted to record these songs in the same spirit in which they were originally recorded, so the 11-day time frame was self-imposed. That put pressure on everybody to get it right the first time, and I had the utmost confidence in everyone's abilities and knowledge."

"This is a homecoming in more ways than one," says Shepherd, "I felt like I was retracing my steps and reliving all the good times that I've had in my life because of this music. And hopefully, that amount of happiness comes through on the album."

Photo courtesy Concord Records

Weekly Blues Music Report: Robert Cray's Big Debut!

Tuesday April 15, 2014

Terry Hanck's Gotta Bring It On Home To YouWell, who would have expected the upset we're seeing on the blues chart for the week ending April 19, 2014? Robert Cray's In My Soul album made its big debut this week, knocking Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa out of the top spot and claiming number one for his own bad self! Although I guessed that Cray's latest would perform well, it looks like quite a few fans (myself included) pre-ordered the album, or bought it on the day of its release, so it hit the chart high. I haven't received my copy yet, so I don't know how good it is, but it's Robert Cray so I have high expectations. Hopefully it will have the legs to stay in the Top Ten for a while!

The week's other big debut comes from our old friend George Thorogood and a new compilation album called 10 Great Songs, 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection or something like that. It's really hard to get the story behind this one...the budget-priced anthology was released on April Fool's Day and features pretty much the same "10 great songs" as every other Thorogood "best of" album, including 2010's 10 Great Songs CD. By my count, there are ten various Thorogood anthology albums currently for sale on Amazon, eight of them released over the past ten years. How long is the label going to keep flogging this horse?

If the label had put as much effort into promoting the guitarist's excellent 2120 South Michigan Avenue album as they do in marketing "best of" albums, well...let just say that Thorogood's Icon at least includes a new song. There are a lot of new releases this week, none of which are from the talented guitarist from Delaware, the list dominated by a trio of albums from the Delta Groove label featuring harp master Bob Corritore, guitarist Shane Dwight, and sax-blaster Terry Hanck. Throw in albums by singer Jim Byrnes and harmonica wizard Mark Hummel, and you'll have to work overtime this week to buy 'em all!

Here are this week's Billboard Top Ten blues albums, ranked by sales:

10. Hugh Laurie - Didn't It Rain (Warner Brothers Records)
9. Joe Bonamassa - An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House (J&R Adventures)
8. Paul Rodgers - The Royal Sessions (429 Records)
7. John Nemeth - Memphis Grease (Blue Corn Music)
6. Tommy Castro & the Painkillers - The Devil You Know (Alligator Records)
5. Tedeschi Trucks Band - Made Up Mind (Sony Masterworks)
4. George Thorogood - 10 Great Songs, 20th Century Masters (Capitol Records)
3. Gary Clark, Jr. - Blak and Blu (Warner Brothers)
2. Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa - Live In Amsterdam (J&R Adventures)
1. Robert Cray - In My Soul (Provogue Records)

New releases this week: Bob Corritore's Taboo (Delta Groove); Hans Theessink's Songs From The Southland (Blue Groove Records); Jim Byrnes' St. Louis Times (Black Hen Music); Mark Hummel's The Hustle Is Really On (Electro-Fi Records); Shane Dwight's This Home (Delta Groove); Terry Hanck's Gotta Bring It On Home To You (Delta Groove)

Photo of Terry Hanck's Gotta Bring It On Home To You courtesy Delta Groove

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