Fall is zipping by and ole man winter will soon be upon us, except for you folks in the warmer climates. As I said in our last update we’ve had a busy year with 5 great releases and are not slowing down now. We have several releases scheduled for 2016. First up is a project that I’ve wanted to do for some time now. Get together some great friends / blues harmonica players and pay respect to one of the all time greats, Big Walter Horton. Big Walter has been a major influence on all of the great players of my generation and beyond. We want to do our part in spreading the blues gospel of Walter Horton. Some people like the legendary Willie Dixon said he was “the best he ever heard” and he’d heard and worked with all the greats. This is a non-profit project with proceeds going to charity. Everyone involved is donating music for the cause. We’re very excited about the record and are so grateful for the stellar lineup that is involved. We have the great Kim Wilson with Big Jon Atkinson, Mark Wenner, Mark Hummel, Steve Guyger, Sugar Ray Norica, Bob Corritore on tracks with Jimmy Rodgers and Robert Lockwood, Kurt Crandall and yours truly Li’l Ronnie. I hope we get to do a Volume II because they’re so many great players that we couldn’t get on this one CD.
As we announced early in the year we have the first solo release from one of the true greats of the guitar, Little Charlie Baty. Most remember him as founding member of Little Charlie and the Nightcats. After 25+ years of touring he turned the band over to his long time partner in the blues the one and only Rick Estrin. Rick and the band are still out touring the world and you never know when Charlie might pop in. The Nightcats rhythm section of Jay Hansen on drums and Lorenzo Farrell on organ /bass are outstanding in this organ trio format. This is a jazzier side of Charlie but it’s all Charlie. The Band is called ‘Little Charlie and Organ Grinder Swing’. The CD is titled ‘Skronky Tonk’ a very cool mix of jazz, ballads and blues. Look for it April.
We have more great things coming soon. Now don’t let the cold weather keep you inside, get out and hear some live music. It’s good for the soul.
New household name…..Andy Poxon! Andy’s new CD “Must Be Crazy” is a must have! This fabulous guitarist, singer, songwriter, and talent beyond words, will knock you out! Yea, he a young one, but yes he is the package! Andy plays way beyond his years. The ability to lay off and play just what is needed is a gift. Andy has that! Guitarist extraordinaire, he plays nothing more than what is required! He has thirteen songs on this new CD and he wrote or co-wrote EVERY one of them! Andy is definitely beyond his years in every category. His playing is dead on the money, and that soulful singing! He’s the package! The band with him is exceptional! Easy going big band sound, without the big band, and great pace throughout the whole CD. Andy can sing and play anything he wants, and his comfort level is beyond words. This guy is going to do some great things. I’m glad these young guys are out there with this much “old spirit and heart” I guess you would say. Yea, he’s got the right stuff. Sings, plays, grooves, he just takes charge. Again…..the band is killer! Here he is! Unreal. Oh yea and he has the McCrary Sisters on backup vocals, and Jim Hoke on Saxophones! Every time I hear this CD it sounds better! But then again the first time I heard it, it sounded good. Andy Poxon - “Must Be Crazy”. Astounding young talent! Give him a listen and support him. You’ll be glad you did. He’s the real thing. Nice, easy soft listening, groovy, beautiful…..whew. - Barry - Smokey Mountain Blues Society
Web Site: www.andypoxon.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Andy Poxon
“Legend” is one label we might apply to Joe Stanley. Others might include mentor, inspiration, trailblazer. Stanley was an integral part of the dynamic Washington D C music scene for more than five decades His swooping, growling tone combined the dexterity of Plas Johnson and Sil Austin with the raw, emotive wail of Earl Bostic and Red Allen. And Joe could hold his own with any of them right up until his passing on January 7, 2007. He kept that muscular, honking sax tradition alive throughout his career. Upon first hearing him in the 1980s, Big Joe Maher likened it to entering a time machine and hearing the best R&B sax men of the 1940s and 50s. Stanley began playing with the D.C. area's premier club band,“The Saxtons,” (AKA “The Saxons”) as a teenager. The band dominated the local pop music club scene. ( He kept the band alive in one form or another for more than 30 years.) Joe went on to work with luminaries including Link\X/ray, Charlie Daniels, Roy Clark, Big Joe Turner, Bill Black's Combo and a then-unknown D.C. talent named Marvin Gaye. Stanley was the first to bring the young, future guitar legend Danny Gatton to the stage, gave D.C. music stalwart Billy Hancock his start and formed various combos and bands that served \X/ashington’s most promising and talented musicians. Beginning in his teens,he was among the first area musicians to cross the color line,playing with some of the area's first integrated bands. Fueled by Stanley's gritty, wailing sax, The Saxtons backed a who's who of 1950s and 60s popular entertainers, Sam Cooke, The Drifters, Bobby Darin, Jackie \X/ilson, Dion and the Belmonts and too many others to list here. Later in his career he worked extensively with Big Joe &the Dynaflows, Danny Gatton, Roy Buchanan, The Big Four Combo and others He was an inexhaustible source of incredible stories culled from an astonishing career, There was always something to learn from — and about — Joe Stanley. Let this special edition tribute continue the education.
John now lives in Northern California, spreading the jazz / blues / swing gospel in the Sacramento area as a soloist and bandleader, and working with the finest musicians in town. Famous jazz drummer Louie Bellson called John a "Gentleman of Jazz" and hired John's band to perform at his wedding Reception in 1992.
Swingster John Cocuzzi has New Orleans flavor and East Coast class, playing with passion and intensity on piano, vibes and drums. For more than 25 years, John had been entertaining crowds in the Washington, DC area and performing alongside jazz and blues greats at festivals across the United States and in Europe. With dynamic style and diverse rhythms, John's innovation breathes new life into familiar tunes, from swingin' and burnin' jazz and blues to lush and sultry ballads. An intuitive performer, John possesses that musical "fire in the belly," igniting the crowd with skillful improvisation, "telling his story" through spirited, high-energy solos. In addition to being a fine pianist, John has earned a nationwide reputation as a premier swing vibraphonist. The names of prominent jazz and blues musicians John has worked with over the years is too long to list here. For more information: www.johncocuzzimusic.com
"His command of a vibraphone and piano, as well as being a fine ‘shy-guy‘ vocalist, make him a triple-threat musician whose enthusiasm and engaging personality brighten any room in which he performs.”
- Jazz journalist, Cam Miller
Renowned musician, singer-songwriter Mike Henderson has come full circle with this long awaited CD and return to his blue’s rockin’ roots. A thirty plus year veteran of the music industry, he has worn many hats. Henderson is a Grammy nominated songwriter, having written many songs recorded by a wide range of artists. He's also an "in demand" guitarist, lending his skills to countless recordings. As band leader, he not only handles the vocals and guitar, but also blows some very impressive blues harmonica.
All of his Bel Airs, Snakes and Bluebloods fans will rejoice upon hearing this new release, ‘If You Think it’s Hot Here...’ his debut on EllerSoul Records ®. The Mike Henderson Band still holds court every Monday night at Nashville's famed Bluebird Cafe, laying down the many shades of the blues… you better get there early, there's always a line.
Web Site: www.mikehenderson.com
Now in their fifth decade of recording and live performing, the 21st century Nighthawks are a tight, cohesive unit - the kind that comes only from years and miles. Guitarist Paul Bell and bassist Johnny Castle have been in the band for more than a decade; drummer Mark Stutso, the "new kid," is starting his fifth year; and founding member singer / harmonica player Mark Wenner is counting 40 plus. The nightly consensus from fans is that this version of The Nighthawks is the best ever. The concept that was mapped out in the liner notes of their 1974 debut recording, Rock and Roll, has grown into a powerful expression of the American musical tradition.
Almost every Nighthawks recording has featured at least one Muddy Waters tune, and 444 is no exception. This time the band showcases its acoustic version of Muddy's "Louisiana Blues" (staying close to the country blues of Muddy's original version), recalling their Blues Music Award-winning acoustic release, Last Train to Bluesville, and Muddy's live introduction on the band's Open All Night album. As the legend said that night way back when, "They have a beautiful name. They are THE NIGHTHAWKS."
Web Site: www.thenighthawks.com
The BlueBeats were a very popular regional band in the 80's and early 90's. They just recently finished their 2nd CD that they started recording way back in 91'. The record features the incredible gospel tinged vocals of Claudia Carawan. The rest of the band is Jim Wark- guitar, Stu Grimes - drums, Mike Moore - bass, Eric Holt - keyboards and vocals and Ronnie Owens on harmonica and vocals. They had written all the songs and had recorded 8 tunes in 91' but sometimes things don't turnout as planned and life just gets in way. Well here it is 23 years later and they're finally got it finished with a April 15th release date. The CD is a real mix of styles with 12 impressive originals and 2 choice covers by Ray Charles and Louie Prima. This is Ronnie's band before the Grand Dukes. Sounds like he'll be a busy man fronting both bands.
2013 has proven to be a notable year as Smith's fourth release, 'COBALT' (EllerSoul Records®) is already receiving stellar reviews and awards. The CD was nominated for multiple Grammy Awards and Smith made it to finalist status for Best Blues Song, 'Love Liquidation'. The project placed blues guitar master, Anson Funderburgh as the producer. He and Smith were back in the studio again where they have logged more than 240 hours in studio time.
Holland is best known for his penning of a song recorded by rock all-star, George Thorogood. Smith's original song, Rock Party was first recorded for the album 'The Hard Stuff' in 2006, and is used as the opening theme song for Thorogood's performances.
Several years after discovering and studying blues, he recorded with local bluesmen and became a regular performer during the west coast blues/swing revival that swept over Dallas during the early 90's. Smith landed a record deal and released his first CD, 'Jungle Jane' on the Topcat label. A few years later, he would release his second album for the label entitled 'Walkin' Heart Attack'. Both projects were also produced by Dallas blues guitar legend, Anson Funderburgh. Smith self released a third CD, 'Enough Is Enough' and toured the EU behind it like his first two albums. He slowly began building a following in both EU and in Brazil as well Smith met Ronnie Owens on a trip to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis where a deal was struck after an introduction by Funderburgh. The recording began right away and in September 2013, 'COBALT' was released on the EllerSoul Records® label.
Web Site: www.hollandksmith.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Holland K. Smith
There's hardly enough room here to list the accomplishments of these 4 great artists, only that the whole is even better than it's parts. I know that's a pretty big claim but the music on this disc is all the proof one needs. Its just what you'd expect from these top shelf musicians whose song writing and playing skills has the authenticity that few players can produce while still sounding fresh. Texas guitar legend Anson Funderbrugh is consider by his peers as one of the very best blues guitars to come out of Texas, that puts him in some mighty fine company. Anson has been a major part of the blues scene with his band 'The Rockets' for over 30 years. Washington D.C based Big Joe Maher is a one time label mate of Anson's on the old' Black Top Records' label. Drummer/vocalist Big Joe Maher also leads his own band 'the Dynaflows' and has several great CDs out on the Severn Records label. Many of you may know keyboardist Kevin McKendree for his many years as Delbert McClinton's band leader, Kevin also tours with roots rocker Brian Setzer. Grammy nominated Kevin, recorded, mixed and produced this CD in his studio 'The Rock House' and rock it does. Steve Mackey is the bass player in the new band and his lists of credits are too long to list. Steve is one of Nashville's first call session players. I could do some serious name dropping here with these guys but I'm running out of space.
This horn driven band delivers smokin' southern soul music for the 21st century. Julius Pittman & The Revival features keyboardist/vocalist Julius Pittman, guitarists Randy Moss and Velpo Robertson, bassist Audie Stanley, drummer Chris McIntyre, tenor sax player John Stanley,tenor/baritone sax player Howard Smith and trumpeter/flugelhorn Dave Triplett. Julius and the band mix smoking originals with timeless classics to keep the crowd engaged and dancers on the floor. From uptown, horn propelled blues to funky downtown soul, mercy, mercy it don't get no betta!
Web Site: www.juliuspittmanrevival.com
EllerSoul is proud to release the new CD by Ivan Appelrouth, Blue and Instrumental! It is Ivan's first recording as band leader. Ivan has been playing and recording for almost thirty years. The early 80's found him in the New England area playing with some of the areas finest blues band and learning from his mentor Duke Robillard. He later returned to his home town of Richmond, VA and played with a number of groups, including touring and recording with Jumpin' Johnny Sansone & the Blues Party. The 90's found him recording & touring with Li'l Ronnie & the Grand Dukes and the DC based Big Joe & the Dynaflows. While touring the US, Canada and Europe with Big Joe Ivan had the pleasure of playing with such luminaries as Earl King, James 'Thunderbird' Davis, Nappy Brown and many others.
Accompanied by an all-star band of former and sometime band-mates, the renown guitarist showcases his collection of original blues, swing & jump instrumentals plus 4 choice "covers". These tracks stand, in part as a musical tribute to the plethora of rocking and swinging blues and R&B greats who have influenced and shaped his playing and musical taste.
What you'll hear are fourteen tunes recorded live in the studio over 2 five-hour sessions. None of the tunes had ever been performed on stage as a complete band. At each session everyone essentially walked in cold with no rehearsal except for what was in Ivan's head. "I got a idea" was his blueprint, and they went to work. What they got down and done speaks volumes for Ivan and the cats he was honored to have join him. This is the way it's supposed to sound, not retro or old school, just the way it was meant to be played. You can feel it, drenched in emotion, spontaneous and impeccable.
...dig these tracks, they're hot! - Duke Robillard
Ellersoul Records ® is proud to reissue the great R&B recording, 'Essence' from 'Nashville's Queen of the Blues', the renowned singer/ song writer Marion James. Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Marion grew up in a family with a love for music. Like most great R&B singers, Marion's musical background is firmly rooted in the church. Her first experience with blues music came from watching vaudeville shows, checking out local performers and listening to her mother's record collection of 78s.
In 1966, she recorded the top-ten hit "That's My Man" for Nashville's legendary Excello Records. The track featured legendary blues guitarist, Johnny Jones (Bobby Blue Bland) and Marion's husband, trumpeter/arranger Jimmy Stuart. Stuart also arranged horn charts for such notable artists as Junior Parker and Bobby Blue Bland. During the early 1960's, Marion's touring band included guitarist, Jimi Hendrix, and bassist, Billy Cox. Their live performances electrified audiences throughout the South. Marion continued performing till the mid 1980s when she decided to take a long overdue break from the road.
In the early 90s, Marion met guitarist Casey Lutton. She began to perform with his group, The Hypnotics. Several years later, she and this funky outfit recorded an album for the Italian label, Appaloosa Records. Since then, Marion has shared the stage with Rufus Thomas, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Chick Willis, and many others! She's played to sold-out audiences in Europe and the Southeastern United States. Marion was also part of a exhibition at the Country Music Hall of Fame, "Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues 1945-1970". It covered the rich and vibrant R&B music history of Nashville.
Essence, is an intoxicating blend of blues, soul, and jazz and features some of Nashville's finest musicians. Legendary jazz pianist, Beegie Adair, and her trio accompany Marion on six of the twelve songs. Adair's restraint and poise perfectly complement James unique vocal styling. Marion's vocal style is reminiscent of her influences such as Billie Holiday, Ruth Brown, and Etta James.
The remaining tracks find Marion in an electric soul blues setting. Musicians like keyboardist Reese Wynans (Double Trouble), guitarist Jack Pearson (The Allman Brothers) , bassist Bob Babbitt (Motown session musician), and drummer Chucki Burke (Willie Dixon, Issac Hayes) drive the point home with music that'll make you jump out of your seat! From the greasy funk of "Tables" to the silky groove of "Let's Straighten It Out", Marion commands each track with the profound conviction that only a veteran can convey. Ellersoul Records ® is excited about adding this great recording to our catalog and look forward to working with Marion on her next recording project.
Blues masters Terry Garland and Li'l Ronnie have been performing as a duo since December 31, 2009. Although they had performed together in the past, this time it really clicked. Their electrifying sound mesmerizes the listener. Both Terry & Ronnie have long distinguished recording careers, as they are both vocalists, songwriters and interpreters their repertoire is varied, exciting and spontaneous.
Terry Garland is known internationally as a master slide and acoustic guitarist. Terry performs world wide and has performed at top blues festivals across the globe. The artist's impassioned songs, rare musical insight and depth make him one of the most innovative and praised contemporary blues and roots musicians. Terry's meticulous finger-picking and driving percussive foot-stomping unite with his vocal prowess to create an evocative, engaging transformation.
Born in Johnson City, TN., Terry's musical roots were pioneered by forefathers of the blues. During his youth, he studied the sounds of Robert Johnson, Jimmy Reed, Blind Willie McTell, Howling' Wolf and Lightning Hopkins, who inspired him to follow his calling. These pioneers played the blues on guitar or piano, they were the music. Just a voice and an instrument.
Harpist, singer/songwriter and Hohner Harmonica endorsee Ronnie Owens has been performing since the 60's and has been fronting his own bands for over 25 years. Ronnie and band have performed at top music festivals and venues including a headlining performance at the prestigious Lincoln Center. They have also played with and opened shows for some of the biggest names in the blues /rock world.
Terry and Ronnie recently recorded an electrifying live CD, 'Live at the Canal Club', with a planned release date of January, 2011. Terry and Ronnie are very excited about their new musical partnership.
Terry and Ronnie are available for festivals, events, private functions and music venues.
Visit Terry's site at: www.terrygarland.com
Check out Li'l Ronnie at: www.lilronnie.net
Lil’ Ronnie and the Grand Dukes are, to quote one reviewer, “ the real deal!...superb talents well versed in traditional blues”. They are led by harpist, singer/songwriter and Hohner Harmonica endorsee, Ronnie Keith Owens. While Ronnie & the band are well schooled in all styles of blues they also use elements of 50's r&b, soul, vintage rock & roll & jazz in their unique blend of American roots music.
Ronnie was born in Richmond, VA. Inspired and encouraged by his jazz drumming uncle, Ronnie was beatin’ the skins by the time he was 8, and giging in local bands by the tender age of 13. Ronnie was weaned on the sounds of swing jazz, rhythm & blues and early rock & roll, but it was the post-war urban blues that really spoke to Ronnie, especially the deep blues of Muddy Waters,the wicked harp of Little Walter and all those great Chess artists. This led Ronnie to finally change instruments from drums to harmonica and he ain’t looked back.
Ronnie has now been leading his own bands for over 25 years. He has played with or opened shows with some of the biggest names in the blues/ rock world, John Lee Hooker, James Cotton, Taj Mahal, Johnny Winter and way to many to name drop here.
Ronnie and his band ‘the Grand Dukes’ are a critically acclaimed touring band and play anywhere from funky little blues bars, where the music was invented, to major blues festivals, including a headlining & swinging night at New York’s prestigious Lincoln Center. They have earned the reputation as an exciting, must see band! The current line up includes Ivan Applerouth on guitar, Ivan has also toured & recorded with Big Joe & The Dynaflows, was original guitarist for Jumpin’ Johhny Sansone’s Blues Party & has fronted his own great bands, John Sheppard plays bass & also played & recorded with both Big Joe & Johnny Sansone, John Fralin plays piano & was also a former member of Big Joe & the Dynaflows, The Bopcats & others, rounding out the band is drummer Mark Young who also played drums in Ivan’s former bands.
Ronnie and the band have recorded 3 critically acclaimed and internationally distributed CD’s. Their latest CD ‘do what’cha do’ was a hit with Blues & Americana radio worldwide. The CD reached #5 on XM Radio’s Bluesville and reached #15 on ‘Living Blues Top 25 ’ worldwide radio charts, where it stayed for 2 months!
‘do what’cha do’ was ranked # 8 in Real Blues Magazine top CD’s of 2005, the band was also named ‘Best US Blues Band 2005’ from Real Blues Magazine. Li’l Ronnie and the Grand Dukes were voted ‘Best Blues Artist’ at the 5th Annual Virginia Music Awards.
Web Site: www.lilronnie.net
When Terry Garland sings the blues the listener is drawn into a new dimension of reality. The artist's impassioned songs, rare musical insight and depth make him one of the most innovative and praised blues musicians of the 1990s. Born in Johnson City, Tennessee, Terry's musical roots were pioneered by forefathers of the blues. During his youth he studied the sounds of Robert Johnson, Jimmy Reed, blind Willie McTell, Howlin'Wolf, and Lightnin' Hopkins who inspired him to follow his calling. "They played the blues on guitar or piano, just themselves. They were the music. Just a voice and an instrument."
He spent many years playing guitar in a string of rhythm and blues touring bands. A major turning point in Terry's career occurred when he opened a show for Leon Russell. This was his first solo performance and there was no turning back. Terry knew then that he must continue to "express my feelings with the blues."
After developing a catalog of songs and deciding which songs worked solo, Terry took his "own style" of blues to his audiences. He features country and delta blues covers complemented by spirited originals. A master slide and acoustic guitarist, Terry's meticulous finger-pricing and driving percussive foot-stomping unites with his vocal prowess creating an evocative, engaging transformation.
A seasoned entertainer and reputed true-blues troubadour, Terry Garland continues to spread his blues worldwide. Terry smiles when he quotes the words of blues veteran, John Lee Hooker, "It's in me and it's gotta' come out!" Terry's fifth CD, "Whistling in the Dark", was released in 2006. This record is Terry's first all-original endeavour.
Web Site: www.terrygarland.com