Blues in Elsewhere

Interviews, overviews and reviews of classic and contemporary blues musicians and music.

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Joe Bonamassa: Different Shades of Blue (J&R/Southbound)

12 Sep 2014

Astutely released today in advance of his sole New Zealand concert in Auckland tonight, this is the first album by acclaimed American guitarist/singer Joe Bonamassa featuring all his own compositions. That's surprising given he has quite a body of releases behind him, but as always he refers to the past and the masters: the two-minute opener is the Hendrix-referencing Hey Baby/New Rising... > Read more

So, What Would I Do

JOE BONAMASSA INTERVIEWED (2014): The plan is do what you do

3 Sep 2014    2

Joe Bonamassa – the 37-year old Grammy nominated blues-rock guitarist considered one of the finest players of his generation – is talking about what he does when he takes a break. But first let it be said, he rarely has down-time. In fewer than 15 years he's released 11 studio albums under his own name and two with gutsy soul-blues singer Beth Hart (many with DVD footage),... > Read more

Lonely Town Lonely Street

Joe Louis Walker: Hornet's Nest (Alligator/Southbound)

7 Jul 2014

The furious and fiery, award-winning 64-year old Joe Louis Walker is, of course, a bluesman . . .  but you could equally file some of his material under "rock" and even "hard rock". Or "gospel blues" if you catch him in another mood. With about 20 albums behind him -- with titles like Hellfire, Playin' Dirty and Blues Survivor -- Walker has an attack as... > Read more

Stick a Fork in Me

Lowell Fulson: Trouble Trouble, The Definitive Early Years Collection (Fantastic Voyage/Southbound)

22 Nov 2013

Sometimes the singer-guitarist Lowell Fulson (1921-99) recorded as Lowell Fulsom and even Lowell Fullsom, but he was born Fulson although the liner notes to this three CD set suggest where the variations came from. Fulson himself would adopt the various spellings for his own reasons (think: the taxman), but his grandfather was actually Henry Fulsom who was black freeman living with the... > Read more

The Train is Leaving (1947)

DARCY PERRY PROFILED (2013): Long years and hard miles

16 Oct 2013

Because of so many other pressing commitments, Elsewhere missed acknowledging the blues journeyman Darcy Perry when he played a few shows with his band during Blue September. But he has re-released digitally every track he had ever recorded along with two previously unreleased live albums. And there is also the new album Eleven Long Years, the title of which nods to just how long he... > Read more

Blues for Earl

James Cotton: Cotton Mouth Man (Alligator/Southbound)

28 May 2013    1

It's extraordinary to think that harmonica player Cotton played with Howlin' Wolf back in the early Fifties and then Muddy Waters, and at 77 he's not only still here but blowing up a hurricane on this album with high class fans like Joe Bonamassa, Gregg Allman, Chuck Leavell, Keb Mo, Ruthie Foster, Delbert McClinton and Darrell Nulisch. He's survived every phase of the fickle interest in... > Read more

Midnight Train

Hugh Laurie: Didn't It Rain (Warners)

13 May 2013

Musicians can get very territorial when actors are perceived to be moving into their turf. People like Juliette Lewis, Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron have hardly been welcomed (sometimes with good reason) and so Hugh Laurie was met with some scepticism when he released his Let Them Talk (nice title!) a couple of years back. Clearly Laurie -- who sings and plays piano -- loved and... > Read more

The Weed Smoker's Dream

Watermelon Slim: Up Close & Personal (Southern/Yellow Eye)

17 Apr 2013    1

Not only does white bluesman Watermelon Slim sound like the blackest 1940s blues player that ever was, but he's also has had an extraordinary life. Believable if you read it in a novel, but all true. Check out his backstory in this archival interview at Elsewhere and also have a look here for his music, then close your eyes as he transports to to Southern juke-joints or -- as on this... > Read more

The Last Blues

Ben Harper, Charlie Musselwhite: Get Up! (Stax)

4 Feb 2013    1

To be honest, the first couple of times I saw Ben Harper I walked out being bored witless by a man I jokingly came to refer to as "Taj Marley" because he simply seemed to weld together the most crowd pleasing aspects of Taj Mahal and Bob Marley. I faithfully listened to his many albums down the years but only rarely found them genuinely interesting (and Eric Bibb was doing much... > Read more

Blood Side Out

Dani Wilde/Victoria Smith/Samantha Fish: Girls with Guitars Live (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

14 Dec 2012

As mentioned about a previous album of this concept of gals with guitars, there's nothing like giving 'em what it says on the box. And yep, these three are blues-rock women with guitars and that Girls With Guitars label is a flexible membership (currently Cassie Taylor out, Victoria Smith in). This CD/DVD set is blues-based but this time the version of the Stones' Bitch which opens the CD... > Read more

I Put a Spell on You

Joanne Shaw Taylor: Almost Always Never (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

10 Dec 2012    1

Until you are told otherwise, just on listening to this tough, sassy and earthy blues singer and fiery guitarist you'd assume she was black American, probably forged in the fires of Chicago clubs and constant touring down South. Almost right. She's blonde, British-born and now lives in Detroit. As noted about her earlier and excellent Diamonds in the Dirt, the States is her natural home... > Read more

Maybe Tomorrow

Billy TK Jnr and the Groove Shakers: Blues Benediction (Southbound)

5 Nov 2012    1

You might think being the guitarist son of Billy TK -- whose name is usually preceded by the phrase "the legendary Maori guitarist" -- might be a serious hindrance to a career under your own name, but Billy TK Jnr long ago lit out on his own directions. While his dad drew favourable comparisons with Hendrix back in the late Sixties/early Seventies (in Human Instinct, later Ticket... > Read more

Little Wing

Joe Louis Walker: Hellfire (Alligator)

19 Sep 2012

From the opening title track this often incendiary album is a conflagration fed by tough blues, psychedelic guitar playing and Walker's frequently soulful voice. He reaches to the fist-tight Chicago style (I Won't Do That) but also invites in Elvis' backing group the Jordanaires for the raw testifying of Soldier for Jesus ("on the frontline fightin' the devil all the time") and... > Read more

Soldier for Jesus

Oli Brown: Here I Am (Ruf)

3 Sep 2012

On the back of his 2010 album Heads I Win Tails You Lose, Elsewhere noted that while this young, hard-edged blues guitarist came up a little short in the originality stakes he was certainly one to watch because he delivered more than enough to be impressive. Still only in his early 20s, Englishman Brown of course has ample room to grow but this is yet another step up in his playing (and his... > Read more

Mr Wilson

Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials: Jump Start (Alligator)

16 Jul 2012

When Bruce Iglauer founded Alligator Records in Chicago 40 years ago it was to release albums by the likes of Hound Dog Taylor and Albert Collins who were burning up local clubs with their incendiary and tough minded playing. In 1986 singer-guitarist Lil' Ed and his band were invited to record a song but, treating the studio like stage, they stormed through a whole set which became... > Read more

House of Cards

Joe Bonamassa: Driving Towards the Daylight (J&R Adventures)

25 Jun 2012

Gutsy, earthy and steeped in the blues, singer-guitarist Bonamassa seems an unstoppable force. He fires off albums under his own name (this his third in two years) and with Black Country Communion (two albums and double live in Europe in the same period). He also puts himself about as a guest player, and his album with leather larynxed Beth Hart, Don't Explain, got a favourable notice... > Read more

Stones in My Passway

Ash Grunwald: Trouble's Door (Grunwald/Border)

10 Jun 2012

Australian Grunwald is a one-man dreadlocked folk, rock and boilied-up blues singer-guitarist, and live he certainly delivered well received sets at the recent Womad. But, as with so many Womad acts, he captures you in the moment but it doesn't quite translate on repeat encounters. I saw both of his sets and was blown away by the first and watched quite dispassionately at a repeat showing... > Read more

Trouble's Door

Luther Allison: Songs From the Road (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

6 Jun 2012    1

It's a peculiar thing, but the music which gave the world rock'n'roll and rock as we know it -- the blues, in case you missed the connection -- seems utterly marginalised in the media. Even more odd is that when the best blues musicians -- and even some fairly indifferent ones, or legends passing into a belated retirement -- play a concert that people turn out in their hundreds in... > Read more

Low Down and Dirty

Michael Bloomfield: Blues at the Fillmore 1968-69 (Raven/EMI)

31 May 2012    1

For those who weren't there at the time, some small explanation may be necesary. In the late Sixties it seemed obligatory that every student dive or flat would have a copy of an album featuring guitarist Mike Bloomfield and/or keyboard player Al Kooper. They had impeccable pedigree: Bloomfield a gifted slide player who had been in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, had played with early... > Read more

Work Me Lord

Otis Taylor: Otis Taylor's Contra Band (Telarc)

21 May 2012

Singer-guitarist Taylor is nominally posted here under Blues in Elsewhere, but -- as always, see previous reviews here -- he doesn't easily fit into the prescription, broad though it might be. Here, for example, he leans towards African sounds on Yell Your Name (just him, drums and cornet on a chant-like song) and sometimes has a djembe player alongside pedal steel, organ and fiddle.... > Read more

Blind Piano Teacher