New Blues News – 11/24/2020
Leyla McCalla – Vari-Colored Songs (a tribute to langston hughes) – (Smithsonian Folkways): “Leyla McCalla’s Vari-Colored Songs is a celebration of the complexity of Black culture and identity, and a tribute to the legacy of poet and thinker Langston Hughes. A songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, McCalla sets Hughes’ poems to her own spare yet profound compositions. She juxtaposes these with arrangements of folk songs from Haiti, the first independent Black nation and the homeland of her parents, tapping into the nuances of Black experience. McCalla’s music elegantly weaves Haitian influences together with American folk music, just as Hughes incorporated Black vernacular into his remarkable poetry, and the way the Haitian Kreyòl is a beacon for the survival of African identity through the brutal legacy of colonialism. This is music of reclamation, imbued with a quiet power that grapples with the immense weight of history. Vari-Colored Songs had a limited release in 2013, with the New York Times proclaiming that “[McCalla’s] magnificently transparent music holds tidings of family, memory, solitude and the inexorability of time: weighty thoughts handled with the lightest touch imaginable.” The recording is being brought to a wider audience by Smithsonian Folkways at a time when the history McCalla explores is more relevant than ever. As she states in the album’s liner notes, “The wisdom and truth that Langston Hughes continues to provide us through his prolific output inspires us to celebrate the assumedly mundane and stigmatized parts of our society. The future has always been uncertain, and it has always been up to us to push for the changes that we want to see in the world.” (https://leylamccalla.com/) This collection is a certified Professor Bebop “Wax Devoid of Cracks”! Click here to listen to “Song for a Dark Girl” from this release.
Artur Menezes – Fading Away (VizzTone): Artur Menezes is a hard rock blues-infused player who can blow the roof off and sings in a strong declarative style but is not a screamer. Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith join him on one song each otherwise he is backed by Blues rockers. “As a highly energetic guitarist, singer and songwriter, Art impresses the crowds with his feeling and showmanship. Although very much influenced by blues, he crosses genres with psychedelic rock, funk and brazilian rhythms such as “baião”, creating his own voice and sound, which has been attracting younger audiences and helping to keep the blues alive.” (https://www.arturmenezes.com/2020/) He composed all of the songs on this disc and he is backed up by Gui Bodi (bass), Lemar Carter (drums) and Carey Frank (Hammond B3, with piano), and Revel Day and Kesha Shantell (backing vocals). This is big sound blues rock. Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.
Miss Emily – Live At The Isabel (Self-produced): “In February of 2020 at the Maple Blues Awards in Toronto, Miss Emily walked away with Female Vocalist of the Year, New Artist of the Year and the Sapphire Canadian Blues Music Video Award. This national recognition hearkened back to her early days of county fair singing competitions. In 1993 a then 12 year- old Emily Fennell was winning accolades not by emulating Whitney Houston or Celine Dion like her peers but by channeling Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin; belting out song choices that belied her age. Those traditional influences would be the foundation of a career characterized by fearless honesty and a constant connection to the roots of popular music.” (https://www.isrbx.net/3137834093-miss-emily-live-at-the-isabel-2020.html) Bombastic and obviously commanding in live performance, Miss Emily sends out her live performance and invites you to join in. Powerful, dynamic and uptown. Click here to listen to “The Sellout” an original composition by Miss Emily and part of the set on this release.
Sir Rod & The Blues Doctors – Come Together (Self-produced): “Sir Rod and the Blues Doctors’ Come Together is a hugely enjoyable and energetic, harmonica-driven blues celebration which combines both originals and covers. It’s a talented and eclectic threesome, which features Roderick Patterson, a singer, dancer and motivational speaker, Alan Gross, guitarist and cigar-box guitar maker, and Adam Gussow, overblown blues harmonica specialist and Old Miss professor. Patterson – Sir Rod – happens to be the nephew of Sterling Magee, former playing partner of Adam Gussow in the duo Satan and Adam, whose heart-warming story is told in the documentary available on Netflix. The pair played together on the streets of New York City, and featured in the U2 Rattle and Hum documentary before going on tour and recording three albums. The Blues Doctors are Gussow and Gross, who’ve played together for some years and have released two previous albums.” (https://downatthecrossroads.wordpress.com/sir-rod-and-the-blues-doctors-come-together/) Click here to listen to the opening song on this disc.
Steve Strongman – Tired Of Talkin’ (Stony Plain): “JUNO Award-winning Canadian bluesman Steve Strongman is a versatile talent… Beyond Strongman’s talent as a songwriter, guitarist and front man is his ability to engage his audience and deliver an outstanding performance at every live show.” (https://www.stevestrongman.com/epk-bio) This disc is his seventh release and it’s a rockin’and sometimes bluesy offering. This set was recorded in in two locations, Nashville and Hamilton, Ontario. The Nashville recordings featured Dave King (drums, vocal), Pat Sansone (keys, guitar), Audley Freed (guitar) and James Haggerty (bass) and the Ontario recordings featured Dave King (drums, vocals), Colin Lapsley (bass, backing vocals) and Jesse O’Brien (piano). Straight ahead bluesy rock. Click here to listen to the songs on this release.