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Elsewhere by Graham Reid

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Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

blues in elsewhere

The contents of this page relate to blues in elsewhere.

DEREK TRUCKS INTERVIEWED (2009): Allman and Clapton, but his own man

DEREK TRUCKS INTERVIEWED (2009): Allman and Clapton, but his own man

For someone yet to hit 30, the Jacksonville, Florida-based singer-guitarist Derek Trucks has achieved a lot. But then, he was almost born to it. His uncle is drummer Butch Trucks of the Allman Brothers Band; he was named after Eric Clapton’s pseudonym in Derek and the Dominos; and these days he is married to acclaimed blues singer...

Eddie Turner: Miracles and Demons (Northern Blues/Southbound)

Eddie Turner: Miracles and Demons (Northern Blues/Southbound)

As mentioned previously on the occasion of The Turner Diaries, this singer-guitarist won't be to every blues fan's taste -- and not just because he gets the Hendrix tag a bit (true, but only sometimes and rarely this time out). For every time he unleashes fire there are other times when you feel he is holding far too much back and neither his...

Darren Watson: Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy (Red Rocks)

Darren Watson: Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy (Red Rocks)

It's been far too long between albums for Wellington blues-rocker Watson -- frontman-guitarist for Chicago Smokeshop, later simply Smokeshop -- because his excellent South Pacific Soul album (under his own name) was five years ago. In some ways Watson has mellowed, inasmuch as the vocals and guitar work here are taut as if the passions are...

BUDDY GUY INTERVIEWED (1992): Damn right he's famous

BUDDY GUY INTERVIEWED (1992): Damn right he's famous

Buddy Guy is talking about his club Legends in his home town of Chicago. Every Sunday and Monday it is open for all-comers, just sign at the door, get up there and play your blues. Since Guy won a Grammy for his raw and soulful Damn Right I Got The Blues album this year, he’s seen a few more up-and-corners through the door. He...

Buddy Guy: Living Proof (Silvertone)

Buddy Guy: Living Proof (Silvertone)

The great Guy has been one of blues' most enduring and endearing characters: he upstaged the Stones in his cameo slot on their Shine A Light doco, and way back influenced Hendrix. He's been picking up awards for the past couple of decades, but unlike some others who have become part of the institution (and tailor albums for awards, as...

JACK BRUCE INTERVIEWED (1994): Cream rises to the top

JACK BRUCE INTERVIEWED (1994): Cream rises to the top

Talk to Jack Bruce and the of name of That Band just cannot be avoided. Yet this Band That Dare Not Speak Its Name occupied a mere three years in the life of this 51-year-old musical polymath - and that ending as far back as ’69. Then he took his phenomenal bass playing skills and distinctive, strong tenor voice into a series of...

The Allman Brothers Band: At Fillmore East (1971)

The Allman Brothers Band: At Fillmore East (1971)

When the mobile recording studio was parked outside the Fillmore on New York's 2nd Avenue in March 1971 to record this double vinyl Allman Brothers Band album it was both a beginning and an ending: it was last concert at Bill Graham's Fillmore East (also on the bill were Albert King and the J Geils Band) but also the start of the Allman's ascent...

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: Orange + Experimental Remixes (Shout Factory/Southbound)

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: Orange + Experimental Remixes (Shout Factory/Southbound)

The JSB Explosion's early catalogue has undergone the remastering/expansion process but here's the essential starting point on any investigation: Orange from '94 was their career highpoint, an album which dragged their alt.rock/Elvis-on-speed, rock'n'roll blues into mainstream attention for its concise, harmonica-wheezing, Cramps-like energy and...

GREGG ALLMAN INTERVIEWED (2010): The Road Goes On Forever

GREGG ALLMAN INTERVIEWED (2010): The Road Goes On Forever

Scroll down the Wikipedia entry for Gregg Allman and two things will surprise: first how brief it is for a musician who has lived such a full, creative and often dangerously self-abusive life. And second the interestingly inexact sentence which reads, “Allman has been married at least six times . . .” By the time he was...

Lynyrd Skynyrd: Freebird (demo, 1970)

Lynyrd Skynyrd: Freebird (demo, 1970)

It's a joke that never ages, at a rock concert someone yells out "Free Bird". It's such a standard that the American writer Mitch Myers entitled his collection of rock anecdotes and fiction The Boy Who Cried Free Bird. Whoever that guy is, he's as notorious as the one who shouted "Judas" at Dylan. The joke -- for those...

JOHN LEE HOOKER REMEMBERED: Face to face with the blues

JOHN LEE HOOKER REMEMBERED: Face to face with the blues

John Lennon once said the blues was a chair. Not a fancy chair, just the first chair. No, it doesn't make much sense - but you know what he means. And by making this analogy he placed himself alongside a swag of blues artists who have their own pithy statement: the blues is a feeling, the blues is healing music, and so on. John Lee...

The Doobie Brothers: World Gone Crazy (Shock)

The Doobie Brothers: World Gone Crazy (Shock)

The Doobies' great Listen to the Music, Long Train Running and China Grove in the late 60s/early 70s were driven by urgent guitars and hammering keyboards delivering a forward momentum (which denied the stoner reference of their chosen name). But surely no old fans could fall for the limp, lame and geriatric opener here A Brighter Day...

T-Model Ford and GravelRoad: Taledragger (Alive/Southbound)

T-Model Ford and GravelRoad: Taledragger (Alive/Southbound)

At 90, the great and late-discovered bluesman T-Model Ford still sounds like he is one man who isn't going to let the road of life weary him. Here with his touring band GravelRoad, he delivers a short sharp shock: eight songs, two hitting past the seven minute mark, closing with a nasty-edged Little Red Rooster. This is roadhouse blues which...

Gregg Allman: Low Country Blues (Universal)

Gregg Allman: Low Country Blues (Universal)

Gregg Allman is as well known for his marriage to Cher in the 70s and battles with drug'n'alcohol as he is for co-founding the seminal Southern blues-rock Allman Brothers Band with his long-gone sibling Duane. Sober and straight these past 15 years (and a new liver installed last year), the 63-year old singer/keyboard player here...

Joanne Shaw Taylor: Diamonds in the Dirt (Ruf)

Joanne Shaw Taylor: Diamonds in the Dirt (Ruf)

It would be easy to describe -- and acclaim -- this fiery British singer-guitarist as a blues artist, and she is. But there's more to her than that. Certainly she can peel off blazing solos like Stevie Ray Vaughan (whose producer Jim Gaines is again on hand here) and can also conjure up the more gentle blues-soul of Hendrix (World on Fire)....

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters: Spread the Love (Stony Plain)

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters: Spread the Love (Stony Plain)

Blues guitarist Earl opens this typically free-wheeling, jazz-inflected instrumental album with a swinging treatment of Albert Collins' burning Backstroke -- then gets into a low mood on Blues For Dr Donna before the Hammond organ of Dave Limina kicks in for the sultry, midnight groove of Chitlins Con Carne . . . and we away go on another...

ERIC CLAPTON, LAYLA 40 YEARS ON (2011): I don't want to fade away

ERIC CLAPTON, LAYLA 40 YEARS ON (2011): I don't want to fade away

By the time Eric Clapton flew to Miami in 1970 to record what would become the Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs double album, he had spent six years in an emotional wringer: he was the acclaimed guitarist in the Yardbirds before he abruptly quit over dissatisfaction with their pop direction; took time out; joined John Mayall in his Blues...

Son House: Levee Camp Moan (1970)

Son House: Levee Camp Moan (1970)

By 1964 when the British blues explosion was starting to take off, the great and tetchy Son House was living in retirement and spent most of days drinking. He hadn't played much since his friend Willie Brown had died more than a decade previous. He'd preached some but mostly got drunk, he hadn't played guitar in five years. But when his...

Left Lane Cruiser: Junkyard Speed Ball (Alive/Southbound)

Left Lane Cruiser: Junkyard Speed Ball (Alive/Southbound)

Judge a band by its cover? Sure, why not? Here the raucous blues-rock duo of guitarist Freddy J IV and drummer Brenn "Sauasage Paw" Beck out of Indiana are almost horizontal in a bathroom sharing a bottle of Jameson whisky on the inner sleeve of the cover, and the album features tracks with the titles Lost My Mind, 24HR, Weed Vodka,...

ALLIGATOR RECORDS 1971 - 2011: Four decades of brittle and often brilliant blues

ALLIGATOR RECORDS 1971 - 2011: Four decades of brittle and often brilliant blues

In his excellent book More Miles Than Money, subtitled “journeys through American music”, the expat London-based writer Garth Cartwright meets Bruce Iglauer who founded the Alligator blues label in Chicago which became that city's most important label after Chess went belly-up in 1975. As Cartwright notes, the label was home...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Barnaby Weir

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Barnaby Weir

Barnaby Weir out of Wellington, New Zealand, is best known as the man who steers the ambitious musical carnivals that are The Black Seeds and Fly My Pretties. But his 2011 debut solo album shows a very different side to his talents in songs which owe a debt to alt.country (and sometimes straight country) and have an emotional directness....

KOKO TAYLOR (1928-2009): The queen from Chi-town

KOKO TAYLOR (1928-2009): The queen from Chi-town

Koko Taylor, the self-styled Queen of the Blues, lets out a hoarse barking laugh and roars, “Yes, I'm feelin' fine, thank God, and everybody is doing nicely. “I've been back at work about six weeks now and it feels good. I got bored staying at home. After 25 years out there doin' it you can get bored easily at home. I needed...

B.B. King: Makin' Love is Good For You (SBird/Southbound)

B.B. King: Makin' Love is Good For You (SBird/Southbound)

With the great B.B. King due to arrive in Australasia for concerts, this now-readily available album from 2000 is timely. It caught him on a career high with his road-tested band in the studio just peeling off some tough-minded songs which had been part of their repertoire for while, as well as some new songs. Set aside King if you can and...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Darren Watson

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Darren Watson

Darren Watson of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, has long been a multiple-threat; powerful and souldful singer; excellent blues guitarist; great songwriter. He first came to attention in Chicago Smokeshop (an appropriate name for a blues band from another city full of politicians) which later became Smokeshop, and released a series...

The Thomas Oliver Band: Baby, I'll Play (Rhythmethod)

The Thomas Oliver Band: Baby, I'll Play (Rhythmethod)

As with his fellow Wellingtonian Darren Watson, Thomas Oliver is a finalist in the blues category of the International Song Writing Competition to be judged in April 2011. The song is Goin' Home - which kicks off this rootsy, bluesy and alt.country-tinged album -- and the video of it released a year ago was named among the top 30...

Geeshie Wylie: Skinny Leg Blues (1930)

Geeshie Wylie: Skinny Leg Blues (1930)

Blues singer Geeshie Wylie -- probably not her real name, more likely a nickname because she was of the Gullah people of South Carolina and Georgia -- recorded even fewer songs than Robert Johnson. Just six known recordings and no photograph of her exists either. She may have been with a traveling medicine show in the Twenties but, other...

Jelly Roll Morton: I'm Alabama Bound (date unknown)

Jelly Roll Morton: I'm Alabama Bound (date unknown)

The origins of jazz are lost in the mists and of course few would be so bold as to say it started on any particular date. One who did however was pianist Jelly Roll Morton who claimed to have invented jazz and was even happy to give a date when asked. Morton was, like so many blues players at the time, not averse to borrowing and adapting...

JIMI HENDRIX; SOUTH SATURN DELTA (2011): The sun rises again

JIMI HENDRIX; SOUTH SATURN DELTA (2011): The sun rises again

As with Bob Marley's "catalogue", it seems only right that Jimi Hendrix's messy existence -- he seemed to a sign a contract at the drop of an offer, and would record with whomever when the mood took him -- should be reined in and given some coherence. So when the Hendrix family finally wrestled a measure of control after years of...

STEVE WINWOOD PROFILED (2011): From teen-soul boy to mainstream man

STEVE WINWOOD PROFILED (2011): From teen-soul boy to mainstream man

When the salty bluesman Howlin' Wolf growled “the men don't know, but the little girls understand” on the 1961 Willie Dixon-penned Back Door Man we know he was talking about something more earthy and sexual than pop singers like Justin Bieber. But when Bieberfever arrived to what appeared to be the surprise of anyone over...

Joe Bonamassa: Dust Bowl (J&R/Southbound)

Joe Bonamassa: Dust Bowl (J&R/Southbound)

There are some extraordinary guitar talents -- Roy Buchanan comes to mind immediately -- whose gift just seems to go right past an audience you know would appreciate it, if they just shifted their attention in that direction. Bonamassa -- who also has lungs like leather and can write terrific blues rock songs also -- is another. He's...

Howlin' Wolf: The Howlin' Wolf Album (Set on Down)

Howlin' Wolf: The Howlin' Wolf Album (Set on Down)

One of the assertions on the cover of this album – released in 69, reissued after a long absence – isn't true. Bluesman Howlin' Wolf had been an “early adopter” of electric guitar. What is true is he didn't care for this album (“dog shit” was his considered judgment) which had him being made over in...

Tedeschi Trucks Band: Revelator (Masterworks)

Tedeschi Trucks Band: Revelator (Masterworks)

Anyone who caught the husband and wife team of Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi in New Zealand recently were perhaps familiar with guitarist Trucks' impressive Allman Brothers/Eric Clapton pedigree, but she came as something of a surprise to most. Looking like what Americans call a "soccer mom", the slight Tedeschi could sing...

Samantha Fish, Cassie Taylor, Dani Wilde: Girls with Guitars (Ruf)

Samantha Fish, Cassie Taylor, Dani Wilde: Girls with Guitars (Ruf)

Nothing like naming your album with a product description, right? This lead/bass/rhythm trio (with drummer Jamie Little) bridge sultry blues, a soul-kiss and rock'n'roll blues (bassist Cassie the daughter of the great Otis). Wilde's Stax/Aretha/sexy vocals impress and she's a double threat, pulling out mercurial and razor sharp lead...

Joe Louis Walker's Blues Conspiracy: Live on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise (Stony Plain)

Joe Louis Walker's Blues Conspiracy: Live on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise (Stony Plain)

That this was recorded on a Caribbean cruise might tell you all you need about its crowd-pleasing nature. But Walker's guests (guitarists Johnny Winter, Tab Benoit and Duke Robillard, Watermelon Slim on harmonica among them) get away serious six-string savagery and down low dirty vocals. Yes, crowd-pleasing – but songs like A Poor...

RUTHIE FOSTER: LIVE AT ANTONE'S (Fuse DVD)

RUTHIE FOSTER: LIVE AT ANTONE'S (Fuse DVD)

Many who witnessed the sad and rather shameful "performance" by BB King in Auckland's Civic this year (see review here) have walked away embarrassed for King  . . . but thrilled by his opening act, the great Ruthie Foster. Her joyous, powerful and good humoured (but also deeply sensitive) set of gospel, soul, blues and...

Rory Block: Shake 'Em on Down (Stony Plain)

Rory Block: Shake 'Em on Down (Stony Plain)

Singer-guitarist Rory Block learned directly from Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Bukka White and others and here – through originals and retooled covers – acknowledges the great innovator Mississippi Fred McDowell who (despite singing I Do Not Play No Rock'n'Roll) influenced blues-rock musicians like the young Stones, and...

Boyd Rivers: Fire Shed in my Bones (1985)

Boyd Rivers: Fire Shed in my Bones (1985)

Not a lot is known about the Mississippi-based country-blues and gospel singer Boyd Rivers who died in '93, but his growling voice seems to belong to a much older time. He was born near the town of Pickens in December '43 and after being injured at his casket-making job in '72 he lived off his music and the pay-out. He was also a Reverend....

The Nudge: Big Nudge Pie (Keen)

The Nudge: Big Nudge Pie (Keen)

The primal, almost otherwordly moan most often over a relentless thudding rhythm – the sound of rural blues – or a gutteral growl which harks back to something more primitive have seldom been heard from New Zealand bands. Blues artists here generally aim for the raw edge of Chicago blues or the tough twang of Texas...

Duke Robillard: Passport to the Blues (Stony Plain)

Duke Robillard: Passport to the Blues (Stony Plain)

Multiple award winner Robillard founded Roomful of Blues in the late Sixties, was in the Fabulous Thunderbirds and has been playing for more than four decades, and shows no signs of slowing with this fist-tight collection of (mostly) originals. He's toured with Tom Waits (an influence on the gritty Hong Kong Suit, and whose Make It Rain...

CHICAGO SOUL, BLUES AND FUNK IN THE SIXTIES: Moving the Chess pieces

CHICAGO SOUL, BLUES AND FUNK IN THE SIXTIES: Moving the Chess pieces

In 2002 after a Rolling Stones concert in Chicago I asked my friend, who lived in the city, to take me down to 2120 South Michigan Avenue, the old home of Chess Records. Aside from wanting to see this legendary place where Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, Etta James, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon once held court, I also half thought...

Big Daddy Wilson: Thumb a Ride (Ruf)

Big Daddy Wilson: Thumb a Ride (Ruf)

This big bluesman with a sometimes gentle and soulful voice has appeared at Elsewhere previously with his fine Love is the Key which featured Eric Bibb, a singer he is close in spirit to. This all acoustic outing recorded in Germany (where he has lived for many years) with his touring band (and a studio percussion player) continues his...

Koko Taylor: Wang Dang Doodle (1960)

Koko Taylor: Wang Dang Doodle (1960)

Although you never need an excuse to play this strutting Willie Dixon-penned classic from Chess Records' studio with the great Koko Taylor growling her way through it, it does seem timely on this very day as Tom Waits' new album Bad As Me has a terrific track inspired in part by its raw spirit. Waits' Satisfied might nod to the Rolling...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Johnny Winter; Original Album Classics

THE BARGAIN BUY: Johnny Winter; Original Album Classics

As the sole proprietor of Elsewhere and a massive Bob Seger fan, I would never casually doubt My Bob-Man who sang "rock'n'roll never forgets". But Bob, in truth it does. For anyone who wasn't there for Bob Seger's exceptional period in the early Eightes when he articulated pre-Springsteen blue-collar rock'n'soul (outta Detroit in...

B.B. King, Live at the Regal (1965)

B.B. King, Live at the Regal (1965)

With his royal surname, a 60-year career which has earned him Godfather status, a sophisticated demeanour and dapper suits, and his own chain of nightclubs it is hard to see BB King as an earthy and edgy blueman: the guy who used to play 300 nights a year, who has fathered at least a dozen children to as many different women, the...

Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings (2011 reissue)

Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings (2011 reissue)

Those who were there say everything changed when he walked in the room and started to play. He’d been away a long time -- learning guitar was what they said -- but the last time anyone had seen him he was an uppity kid and not that good. You can imagine how it must have been that Saturday night in a small run-down club in Banks,...

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