Archive for Blues

A Mess O’ Monday Blues

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , on May 23, 2011 by 30daysout

The apocalypse has come and gone, we’re still here. Gasoline prices are still high, the bills are still unpaid and we have to go to work. What better reason to have the blues on a Monday …

MP3: “Snatch It Back and Hold It” by Junior Wells

MP3: “Fixin’ To Die Blues” by Bukka White

MP3: “Liberation Conversation” by Marlena Shaw

MP3: “Key To The Highway” by Big Bill Broonzy

MP3: “Fattening Frogs For Snakes” by Sonny Boy Williamson

MP3: “Gun Slinger” by Bo Diddley

MP3: “Tom Cat” by Muddy Waters

MP3: “Whiskey and Wimmen” by John Lee Hooker

MP3: “Tears, Tears, Tears” by Gregg Allman

MP3: “You’re My Best Poker Hand” by T-Bone Walker

MP3: “Bright Lights Big City” by Jimmy Reed

MP3: “I Got What It Takes” by Koko Taylor

Repost: On the Trail of the Hellhound

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2010 by 30daysout

(Editor’s Note: Recently John Mellencamp has been in the news, promoting his new album No Better Than This, which comes out in August.  He recorded a couple of songs for the new album in Room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, where legendary bluesman Robert Johnson supposedly recorded some of his greatest songs.  We’ve been told repeatedly that nobody knows where the recordings really took place, and there is no explanation in the press material for the album how they identified this particular room.  But who cares, really – here’s our original post from 2008.)

Perhaps no musician is as influential as the bluesman Robert Johnson.  Supposedly he sold his soul to the Devil so he could play his guitar like no one else.  And maybe he did – his songs “Cross Road Blues,” “Love In Vain,” “Sweet Home Chicago” and “Dust My Broom” are part of the bedrock of American music.  Johnson’s songs have been covered by the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin, among many others.

His music comes from the heart of the Mississippi Delta where Johnson lived and played until he died in 1938 under mysterious circumstances.  However, his entire catalog was recorded in Texas, during two short sessions in San Antonio and Dallas.  The San Antonio sessions produced some of the songs listed above.  Writer Dave Marsh once said, “Has there been any other single recording session that produced music so beautiful, so tortured, … so historically resonant?  No.”

Johnson first recorded in November 1936 at San Antonio’s Gunter Hotel, located just a few blocks from Alamo Plaza.  Now called the Sheraton Gunter Hotel, it has a few more floors than it did in Johnson’s day but it is still a nice place.

Some years back, I decided to stay a few nights in the Gunter close to where Johnson cut some of his most famous songs.  I had long since replaced the hellhound on my trail with two rugrats on the back seat – so I took my family.

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Review: Keeping the Blue Flame Alive

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on April 29, 2008 by 30daysout


Today’s blues artists are the best living link to the giants of the past.  Some of the old guys are still around, still playing the old sound, but the new guys offer great hope for the future of this vital American music.

David “Honeyboy” Edwards is perhaps the oldest of the old-timers.  On his new album Roamin’ And Ramblin’, this 93-year-old Delta bluesman reaches back on songs like “Crawling Kingsnake” for the classic acoustic sound championed by people he once played with, like Little Walter and the great Robert Johnson.  This album combines new sessions with older live tracks, and has plenty of guests.

Elmore James Jr. has a pure lineage – he is the undisputed son of the legendary Elmore James, father of the electric slide guitar.  “Going Back Home,” which comes early on Daddy Gave Me The Blues, recalls his dad’s classic “Dust My Broom.”  The apple didn’t fall far from this blues tree; Junior’s got his own stinging style on the guitar.  Although things get a little slick at times, this solid Chicago-style blues album rarely loses its energy.

Slick is perhaps a better description for Lowdown Feelin’, the third studio release from The Mannish Boys, a group of veteran blues players including guitarist Kid Ramos.  “These Kind of Blues,” the opener, kicks off with a flamenco guitar and a Mexicali horn that makes you wonder if you wandered into the wrong album by mistake.  Other songs take you on a tour through various blues (and other) styles – it’s all very competently played.  What’s missing is the feelin’, lowdown or otherwise.

And our little blues tour winds up down in the Louisiana bayou, where Tab Benoit rides the Night Train To Nashville.  This live recording is propelled by Benoit’s fiery guitar and boosted by guest spots from Kim Wilson, Jim Lauderdale and a band that’s a New Orleans legend: Louisiana’s LeRoux.  This is the best one of the bunch; it rocks from beginning to end and even tosses in, for the old timers, a faithful cover of the LeRoux standard “New Orleans Ladies.”  This one’s a keeper.


MP3: Crawling Kingsnake by David “Honeyboy” Edwards

MP3: Going Back Home (electric) by Elmore James Jr.

MP3: Fine Lookin’ Woman by The Mannish Boys

MP3: New Orleans Ladies by Tab Benoit w/Louisiana’s LeRoux



Remembering The Blues

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 27, 2008 by 30daysout

America’s great national music is the blues.  Without the blues, there would be no rock and roll, and no hip-hop.  The first generation of the blues masters (Robert Johnson) is pretty much the exclusive territory of college professors and fawning Brits, and latter-day giants like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf have virtually disappeared into the catalogs of countless rockers from the 1960s and 1970s.  It’s tough to hear the blues on the radio, too, unless you venture over to the far left side of the FM dial (think NPR). 

No question: the blues is definitely an endangered art form, although not totally extinct.  Modern artists like Marcia Ball and Jimmie Vaughan keep the faith in Texas, and up in Chicago luminaries like Lonnie Brooks (with his sons) and John Primer are fighting the good fight.  You have Elmore James Jr., son of the great guitarist, and David “Honeyboy” Edwards too.  Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton and sometimes John Mayer put the blues on a national stage. 

So let’s celebrate our great national resource with some classic blues artists.  Pay attention, because later this week we will take a look at new albums by some current blues artists and see how they connect to the past.

MP3: I Just Wanna Make Love To You by Muddy Waters

MP3: Knockin’ At Your Door by Elmore James

MP3: Ball And Chain by Etta James

MP3: Hoodoo Man by Junior Wells

MP3: Watergate Blues by Howlin’ Wolf

MP3: Nine Below Zero by Sonny Boy Williamson