ronnie earl

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Eric Bibb: Diamond Days (Telarc/Elite)

Eric Bibb: Diamond Days (Telarc/Elite)

Bibb is one of that new generation of bluesmen who sounds utterly authentic: this despite Bibb growing up in New York, having John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet as an uncle, and studying psychology at Columbia University. But in his late teens -- he's now 55 -- he took off to Europe with his guitar, studied the blues and hooked up with...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007: Tinariwen: Aman Iman/Water is Life (Filter)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007: Tinariwen: Aman Iman/Water is Life (Filter)

The previous album Amassakoul by these extraordinary musicians and desert tribesmen from the southern Sahara was one of the Best of Elsewhere 2006 and turned up in quite a few critics picks of last year. If anything, this album -- dense, driving, intense, poetic and shot through with mercurial, stinging guitar work -- is superior to...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007: Watermelon Slim and the Workers; The Wheel Man (Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007: Watermelon Slim and the Workers; The Wheel Man (Southbound)

To be honest I didn't quite "get" the last, self-titled, album by this rough'n'ready bluesman, but I was clearly in the minority: the album won the Mojo magazine and the Independent Music Awards for blues album of the year, got six nominations at the Blues Music Awards and so on. And this album -- which I have to say I...

Tab Benoit: Power of the Pontchartrain (Elite)

Tab Benoit: Power of the Pontchartrain (Elite)

Bluesman Benoit teams up again with Lousiana's LeRoux, the rockin' outfit he worked with on his swamp-lightnin' album Brother to the Blues of last year which was nominated for a Grammy. This is more of the same, but better: Benoit's guitar has a sharp and stinging quality, he digs into some Cajun-flavoured blues, and on the title track...

Joan Armatrading: Into the Blues (Shock)

Joan Armatrading: Into the Blues (Shock)

For years Armatrading - whose job description includes folk, reggae, rock, jazzy pop and so on -- had been promising herself she would write an album of songs within the the same genre. This is it, her "blues" album. But far from being a monochromatic trawl through same-same songs in a blues style she brings her inclusive musical...

James Luther Dickinson: Killers From Space (Memphis/Elite) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

James Luther Dickinson: Killers From Space (Memphis/Elite) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

In a cover which looks like it was thought up by a couple of drug-addled on-line kids -- and with a title from a B-grade movie -- comes the latest album by one of the great ignored/overlooked/wayward talents from the South. This is a man for whom a never-recorded, whiskey-soaked Sun session overseen by a voodoo priestess with Mick'n'Keith (c...

John Mayall: Live From Austintx (New West/Elite)

John Mayall: Live From Austintx (New West/Elite)

John Mayall (whose Blues From Laurel Canyon in '68 appears as an Essential Elsewhere, see tag) was undeniably the man who founded the British blues boom in the early 60s and on his albums at the time he covered classic and often little known blues material. His bands during those years included Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce (who went on to form...

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters: Hope Radio (Elite)

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters: Hope Radio (Elite)

Okay, all instrumental, guitar-driven blues isn't for everyone I agree -- but if anyone can persuade you to the cause it is Earl and his white-hot band which have their feet firmly in two camps, tough Texas blues where Earl is at home and freewheeling jazz-blues courtesy of pianist and Hammond player Dave Limina. So this is sort of...

BB King, Live (Geffen)

BB King, Live (Geffen)

This may not be the best live album King has made -- there is a case made for another under Essential Elsewhere, see tag -- but from his comments in the tie-in DVD bonus footage it will be his last. In interviews King is breathless and wistful, and he has, at 82, all but retired. He speaks now about when he is gone . . . These concert...

North Mississippi Allstars: Hernando (Songs of the South)

North Mississippi Allstars: Hernando (Songs of the South)

These Allstars aren't really, but two of them are the sons of the great James Luther Dickinson whose last album was one of the Best of Elsewhere 2007: a swirling implosion of country, psychedelic rock, blues and cornmash liquor. The boys haven't fallen too far from the tree but sometimes bring a swag more gritty psychedelic blues into the...

WATERMELON SLIM INTERVIEWED (2007): He's had interesting lives

WATERMELON SLIM INTERVIEWED (2007): He's had interesting lives

“You tell them this,” says 58-year old bluesman Watermelon Slim in a voice which sounds like he has been gargling whisky-soaked nails. “God has blessed me with an extremely full and interesting life. It’s not all been fun or positive and I’m not proud of everything I’ve done. But I’ve been blessed to get...

Louisiana Red: Back to the Black Bayou (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Louisiana Red: Back to the Black Bayou (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

This seventysomething year old has earned to right to sing the blues: his father was lynched by the Klan back home in Alabama when he was boy; he was moved around staying with various relatives; played with John Lee Hooker for a while; has recorded for about as many blues labels as there are; lived in Europe for a while . . . He's...

JOAN ARMTRADING INTERVIEWED (2008): Into and out of the blues

JOAN ARMTRADING INTERVIEWED (2008): Into and out of the blues

Joan Armatrading makes an embarrassing admission for someone whose most recent album Into the Blues debuted at number one on the Billboard blues charts: she doesn’t listen to the blues and while some interviewers have noted the influence of John Lee Hooker in a couple of tracks she couldn’t identify a Hooker song if she was...

Tamikrest: Adagh (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

Tamikrest: Adagh (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

As we know, for every breakthrough band there are a dozen or more who can successfully coattail. Tamikrest come from the same area -- geographical and musical -- as the great Tinariwan and Etra Finatawa so create a kind of hypnotic desert blues . But where their two predecessors have established a genre and staked out territory within it, the...

WATERMELON SLIM AND THE WORKERS; LIVE AT THE GROUND ZERO BLUES CLUB (NorthernBlues/Southbound DVD)

WATERMELON SLIM AND THE WORKERS; LIVE AT THE GROUND ZERO BLUES CLUB (NorthernBlues/Southbound DVD)

Watermelon Slim has lived quite some dangerous and interesting life (see interview here) and he owns a face which, we might charitably described as "lived in". In this DVD of him and his band live at Clarksdale's famous Ground Zero blues club, he tells of once waking up in the local hospital with a dislocated jaw and then driving...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Watermelon Slim and Super Chicken: Okiesippi Blues (NorthernBlues)

Watermelon Slim and Super Chicken: Okiesippi Blues (NorthernBlues)

In Clarksdale, Mississippi I saw a singer/guitarist who called himself Howl N Mudd, which was certainly a man covering his bases. (That story is here.) The juke joint he played in was very popular (be sure to read that piece of graffiti I quote) and recently Elsewhere reviewed a DVD of Watermelon Slim whiuch was filmed there. Slim has a...

Tab Benoit: Medicine (Telarc)

Tab Benoit: Medicine (Telarc)

Soulful blues with a dark bayou twist is Tab Benoit's musical style, but he also locates lyrics in this world, whether it be a relationship going to hell (“We've been fighting over nothing”) or the Louisiana environment on the same path (“Whatcha gonna tell the children/trees/spirits when the heart of the bayou...

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...

Eddie Turner, The Turner Diaries (Northern Blues/Southbound)

Eddie Turner, The Turner Diaries (Northern Blues/Southbound)

Stephen Stills -- of Crosby, Stills and Nash -- says that Turner reminds him of his old friend Jimi Hendrix, and you can certainly hear that sky-scaling Jimi-approach in any number of the blistering tracks on this powerful album. But Turner does pull back in some material -- which still seem to seethe with menace. This album won't be to...

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