Tomorrow’s show is ready! You’ve got Buddy Whittington, Half Deaf Clatch, Jackie Greene, Paul Lamb and the Kingsnakes, Walter Trout, Mud Morganfield, Magic Slim, Otis Grand, The Untouchables, Grana Louise and mach much more! Tune in from 9pm UK time tomorrow onwww.europejazzradio.eu

Tomorrow’s show is ready! You’ve got Buddy Whittington, Half Deaf Clatch, Jackie Greene, Paul Lamb and the Kingsnakes, Walter Trout, Mud Morganfield, Magic Slim, Otis Grand, The Untouchables, Grana Louise and mach much more! Tune in from 9pm UK time tomorrow onwww.europejazzradio.eu


Thorbjørn Risager - Too Many Roads

I have been told by some big names in the blues that Scandinavia is the place to go for the real thing. The part of the world where the good stuff is played with the right intention and feel by all the local bands, and the music matters more than the style or fame. On the evidence of the new album from Thorbjørn RIsager, Too Many Roads, I’m inclined to believe them.

Now, saying that the blues is played properly in that area implies that it’s all old school and decidedly traditional, rooted and tied to the old ways of doing things, but that really isn’t the case. If it was then we’d all be listening to blues exclusively played on acoustic instruments by itinerant musicians, and really the blues, even in it’s traditional forms, has been subject to the forces of evolution. There has always been a thread that ties together the real stuff, and intangible bond that honours the old without slavishly copying it. That’s what this album has, a bond with the past combined with an uncanny talent for finding just the right amount of modernisation to keep it relevant.

Thorbjørn’s voice is the first of the instrument that strikes you. it’s deep and rich, dripping with emotion  and with a delivery that owes more to Tom Waits than BB King it’s employed in a direct and emotive fashion. He’s backed by a band that, as you may expect, combine tightness with a real sense of what the blues is, displaying lots of the lopsided pendulum swing that makes out a great blues rhythm section and some virtuosic performances that match their leaders ability for direct emotional connection. It’s a big sounding band, with horns, keys and guitars all to the fore, but all deftly not treading on each other’s toes and therefore forming a textural landscape that rewards repeated listens.

The modernity comes in the textures, buried in there are touches of synth bass, and a crossing of genres in the guitars that combine the delta and Chicago into something new and unexplored to the best of my knowledge. The upshot is an eerie familiarity, but an utter freshness. It seems right. It’s like you were always expecting this to happen and now it has you’re left confused by the fact it hasn’t before. It’s a natty trick, and no-one ids going to find themselves offended by this, or feeling bored by the derivativeness of the music on off.

This is an easy album to recommend, if people can keep modernising the blues in a way that doesn’t throw away the traditions, or end up with heavy rock getting the wrong label then the future is assured. I just wish more people were as able to do it as well Mr Risager.


Robert Cray - In My Soul

Robert Cray has produced the finest album of his long career. Unlike many acts who peak early on, it’s his latest release, In My Soul, that, for me, gains the title. This isn’t hyperbole, marketing payoff or any of the things that making a statement like this will get accused of being. I’m genuine here, Robert Cray has hit his peak.

I hear a lot of music, for a large part my life revolves around it. I play it, I write about it, I broadcast it and I spend a huge chunk of my leisure time listening to it for pleasure. However it isn’t all that common that something stops me dead in my tracks, but that’s what In My Soul did. I was walking across the Jubilee Bridge in London, listening to the album on my iPod, for the first time in it’s entirety, and I just had to stop, take a deep breath and let the music do it’s thing, because if I didn’t it would be a case of blundering into tourists and causing havoc. There was no way my brain could process the emotion and handle walking in a crowd.

Taken at face value some people have described it as a lightweight record, focussed more on Roberts soulful pipes than his stinging guitar. They’re right it does focus on the song more than the virtuosity, but that’s what makes it so special. It isn’t lightweight at all, it’s as if some of us have become immune to anything other than bombast and theatre from our blues acts, and this is the antidote to that. No frippery, no flash, not ostentatious, just genuine. 

Robert is on fine form and when he does take a solo, they cut just like they used to when he started out. He’s not sounding tired or trotting out cliches, just digging deep and only employing the guitar where and when it’s needed. His voice too is better than good, it’s matured and mellowed, and now has more gravitas, meaning that the genuine subjects on which the songs muse are delivered with an authority unlike any of his contemporaries. It’s truly, deeply moving to listen to this record.

Some have called it the perfect music for summer sun and picnics, but it’s so much more than that. You can consume it without paying attention and let the beautiful production and warm sound wash over you or you can listen and devour one of the finest records ever made. It’s anything but typical Cray, it’s everything Cray has to offer, all at once.


Showw 224

Tomorrow night’s show has the big announcement of the finalists for Album of the Year in the British Blues Awards, with some amazing acts and their amazing records receiving a well deserved nod. Of course I can’t spill the beans just yet, so you’ll have to tune in. There is some Eric Clapton, Thorbjorn Risager, Blues Overdrive, Otis Rush, Stevie Ray Vaughan and his big brother Jimmie, but if I told you more it would be too much. Tune in to find out who’s going to get excited, tomorrow from 9pm on www.europejazzradio.eu


British Blues Awards

It’s BBA season again and I’ve been lucky enough to receive the honour of announcing the nominees in the Album of the Year category.

You can hear them in tomorrow night’s show from 9pm (UK TIME) on www.europejazzradio.eu


This week the show has some Walter Trout, along with news about a benefit gig next month, there’s some Robert Cray, Sunday WildeSimon Campbell, Tweed Funk, Jimmy Rogers, Freddie King, Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey, Doug MacLeod all packed in around a classic collection from Howling Wolf. Tune in tomorrow at 9pm UK time onwww.europejazzradio.eu


Walter Trout Fundraiser, May 4th

        A Blues-rock Benefit for Walter Trout at Shepherds Bush Empire

The international Rock blues community comes together on Sunday the 4th of May to present a special benefit show in London for the blues-rock legend Walter Trout who is awaiting a liver transplant.

This special show features Roger Chapman, Otis Grand, Bernie Marsden, Ian Parker, Kim Simmons, Danny Bryant, Stevie Smith, Marcus Malone, Mitch Laddie, Lawrence Jones, and others to be announced along with The Flamingo Club All Stars House band featuring John O’Leary and Alan Glenn. Proceeds will go to towards the ailing icon’s emergency liver transplant fund and his subsequent recuperation.

The goal of the evening is to pull together some great blues-rock musicians to help raise money and awareness of Walter Trout’s current predicament. This year marked the 25th anniversary of his solo career, but he is currently fighting for his life. It is hoped that the event at Shepherds Bush will be well supported by musicians and fans alike as everyone in the music community come together to show their love for Walter and to help raise monies for himself and his Family.


Walter Trout recently confirmed the release of his new CD entitled “The Blues Came Callin’” which will be launched as planned on June 2 despite his continuing health issues.

 

AN EVENING FOR WALTER TROUT – takes place on SUNDAY 4th MAY at the 02 SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE, Shepherds Bush Green, London W12 8TT

Doors 7.00pm for a 7.30pm start.Tickets £17.50 advance £20.00 on the door

Box Office 0844 477 2000 (24 hours)


This kind of singing may well be why she’s in tonight’s Blues is the Truth. Paloma Faith may seem an odd choice for the show, but hey, I like her and it’s my choice. Check us out from 9pm UK Time on www.europejazzradio.eu 


Corey Harris doing Robert Johnson. It’s from a musical teaching site but hey, it’s a great performance, and probably well worth learning!


Show 222

Tomorrow night the show begins at 9 o’clock. That’s normal, so is the massive selection of great music, including Fleetwod Mac, Clare Free, Michael Katon, The Proof (with Paul Cox), 3am, Johnny Max Band, Mud Morganfield, Howling Wolf and Paloma Faith. Yup, Paloma Faith in a blues show, I have my reasons and you can find out what by tuning in from 9pm UK time tomorrow on www.europejazzradio.eu and don’t forget to join the chat in our Facebook grouphttps://www.facebook.com/groups/bluesisthetruth/


Walter Trout - Not Letting Illness Top Him

All the news surrounding Walter recently has been doom and gloom, his fight against liver disease has reached a tipping point, and there have been appeals to raise money for his treatment. 

There has been positivity too, the appeal saw the blues community rally round and reach the donation target in days and it continues to grow, and future proof Walter’s treatment and his family’s well being. Better still, plans have not stopped for the release of a new album and book release marking Walter’s 25th year in the business. 

You can find details about the record, and the book here http://www.noblepr.co.uk/Press_Releases/provogue/thebluescamecallin.htm


Saiichi Sugiyama - The Smokehouse Sessions

Saiichi Sugiyama has been described by some as a Japanese Clapton, and to a certain extent that is borne out by the music on his latest disc, The Smokehouse Sessions. If you can imagine a female fronted version of Cream had decided to get funky and employ Lenny Kravitz, you’d be in about the right place, but it’s a hell of a lot more than a copycat release.

Tonally and in his phrasing Saiichi owes a great debt to the music of the mid 60’s blues boom. His guitar sound is all about a Les Paul into an overloaded Marshall amplifier, and his phrasing is very much taken from early Clapton but with Paul Kossoff’s vibrato. It’s familiar territory, but unlike the other players who take a similar approach none of this seems slavish or forced, it doesn’t seem like a conscious attempt to recreate something that’s already been done, it flows and it’s fiery just like the original article, and I think that a large part of this freshness can be laid at the door of the material the band is performing.

Whereas most acts that take the blues boom approach to music produce songs and records that come across as a selection of rejects cadged from the floor of a Jack Bruce or Plant/Page writing session, this is a band that aren’t afraid to blend and innovate. While it’s hard to put your finger on exactly how they do this, it’s a sense of rhythm, a certain verve, that they bring to the songs, it is readily apparent that they stand out from the pack. It doesn’t sound tired, not even when the two fairly straight covers of Born Under a Bad Sign and Hideaway make it obvious how much Saiichi is enamoured with early Eric. 

The record is well produced and everyone turns in a great performance. It’s tight and punchy, with great clarity and separation. It has a very direct sound, and fits in well with it’s lineage, as do many of it’s contemporaries but this has something different. I think it’s the obvious joy that’s on display, everything is played with excitement and passion, and nothing is held back. Saiichi and his band aren’t playing at being Brit bluesmen, they’re living it with every fibre of their being.

People can learn something from this disc. It is OK to ape your mentors, to take from them and produce something closely akin to their work, but only if you do it with all your heart. By doing so you will satisfy both yourself and your listeners, because, when you give yourself to the task fully, it goes beyond simply making a pastiche. That’s what has happened here, The Smokehouse Sessions deftly skirt every trap they could fall into, and give us a joyous, at once familiar and fresh, experience.


New Edition

I’ve just dispatched tomorrows show and I think you’ll like it! The classic disc comes from Bobby Blue Bland, but the rest of the show is decidedly modern. There are tracks from the Tangiers Blues Band, Morblus, Erja Lyytinen, The European Blues Challenge, The Damned and Dirty, Big Mama Thornton, Robin Banks, Charlie Parr, The Bare Bones Boogie Band and news of gigs later in the week from The Proof and The BBBB. Tune in tomorrow from 9pm GMT on www.europejazzradio.eu



Join in a chat…

My show is about to begin on Europe Jazz Radio, and you can join in for a chat too on the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/bluesisthetruth