Blues in Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Hugh Laurie: Didn't It Rain (Warners)

13 May 2013  |  1 min read

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 min read  |  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 min read  |  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  |  1 min read  |  1

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 min read  |  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  |  2 min read  |  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  |  <1 min read

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  |  1 min read

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  |  <1 min read

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  |  <1 min read

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  |  1 min read

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 min read  |  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 min read  |  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  |  1 min read

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

BIG DADDY WILSON INTERVIEWED (2012): Blues sprechen here

11 Apr 2012  |  7 min read

Wilson Blount – aka Big Daddy Wilson – is certainly a bluesman with a point of difference. He may have been a Southern black kid and born in North Carolina, but he's honest enough to admit he didn't even hear the blues until he was in his Thirties and living in Germany where he'd gone to serve time in the military. And as he tells us in this candid interview, the first... > Read more

This is How I Live

Louisiana Red and Little Victor's Juke Joint: Memphis Mojo (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

8 Feb 2012  |  1 min read

Almost an octogenerian, Louisiana Red (aka Iverson Minter) has understandably become a fixture on blues circuits. Born in Alabama and his father lynched by the Klan, he once recorded for Chess in 1949 before doing military service, and after that just kept playing the blues. It wasn't until more recent times however that he became better known, but you'd have to say that might be for... > Read more

I'm Gettin' Tired

CHAMPION JACK DUPREE REMEMBERED: Seconds out of the ring . . .

31 Jan 2012  |  4 min read  |  1

Blues pianist Champion Jack Dupree could always upset a few expectations. While his few remaining colleagues in the old blues game disavowed alcohol, Dupree told me in 1988 -- when he was approximately 80, his birth date seemed flexible – he still fancied a taste, but with a couple of crucial exceptions. "I drink cognac and beer," he said cheerily, "but I never... > Read more

Barrelhouse Woman

Savoy Brown: Voodoo Moon (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

30 Jan 2012  |  1 min read  |  3

Many years ago Pete Frame would produce books of meticulously drawn family trees of rock bands. His Sabbath Bloody Sabbath tree filled two tightly written gatefold A5 pages and traced Black Sabbath back to bands that Ronnie Dio and Bill Ward were in around '64. I don't recall ever seeing a Frame family tree for the British blues band Savoy Brown (although they did get a passing reference in... > Read more


Omar and the Howlers: Essential Collection (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

17 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

Out of Mississippi by way of the Lone Star State, Omar Kent Dykes is one of the tough Texas blues guitar players whose no nonsense style is perfectly complemented by his various line-ups (usually small) around his core band. This non-chronological double disc collection -- which opens with a head-down 1991 live version of his Magic Man which owes a debt to that clenched-fist macho strut of... > Read more

Sugar Ditch

HOWLIN' WOLF IN LONDON, 1970: When worlds collide

11 Jan 2012  |  3 min read  |  2

One of the most beloved blues albums of the early Seventies was a super-session recorded when Howlin' Wolf went to London to work with the Stones' rhythm section of Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman, guitarist Eric Clapton, and others including Stones' pianoman Ian Stewart. And an uncredited Ringo Starr on I Ain't Superstitious. The subsequent album The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions was... > Read more

Killing Floor