Kenny Rogers Dead at 81

Country Music Hall of Famer Kenny Rogers has died. The announcement came via SKH Music co-founder Keith Hagan.

Photo provided by SKH Music

“The Rogers family is sad to announce that Kenny Rogers passed away last night at 10:25PM at the age of 81.  Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family.”

In a career that spanned more than six decades, Kenny Rogers left an indelible mark on the history of American music. His songs have endeared music lovers and touched the lives of millions around the world. Chart-topping hits like “The Gambler,” “Lady,” “Islands In The Stream,” “Lucille,” “She Believes In Me,” and “Through the Years” are just a handful of Kenny Rogers’ songs that have inspired generations of artists and fans alike. Rogers, with twenty-four number-one hits, was a Country Music Hall of Fame member, six-time CMA Awards winner, three-time GRAMMY® Award winner, recipient of the CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, CMT Artist of a Lifetime Award honoree in 2015 and has been voted the Favorite Singer of All Time in a joint poll by readers of both USA Today and People.

Born Kenneth Ray Rogers on August 21, 1938 in Houston, Texas, Kenny had a minor solo hit in 1957 called “That Crazy Feeling.” From there he was part of the jazz group, Bobby Doyle Three, the folk group New Christy Minstrels and in 1967 helped form The New Edition. He launched his solo career after that group disbanded in 1976. Rogers also worked as a producer, writer, and session musician (he played guitar, bass, harmonica, and fiddle) for such artists as Mickey Gilley and Eddie Arnold.

Rogers developed a middle-of-the-road sound that appealed to both country and pop audiences. His first major hit, “Lucille,” went to #1 on the pop charts in twelve countries and sold over 5,000,000 copies. Other major hits followed including “Islands in the Stream,” a duet with Dolly Parton written by the brothers Gibb of Bee Gees fame. Islands topped the Billboard Charts in the Hot Country Songs, Adult Contemporary, and Hot 100 categories.

In all, Kenny Rogers release 39 studio albums and 80 singles. He was also an actor, appearing in 17 films and on television shows including Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Touched by an Angel, and How I Met Your Mother. As an entrepreneur he founded the restaurant chain Kenny Rogers Roasters and put his name to sprint car manufacturer Gambler Chassis Company.

In 2018, doctors advised Rogers to cancel the remaining stops on his The Gambler’s Last Deal tour. Rogers final Nashville concert performance took place at the Bridgestone Arena on October 25, 2017 where he was joined by a bevy of musical guests including Linda Davis, Elle King, Little Big Town, songwriting partner Lionel Richie, Billy Currington, Lee Greenwood, Flaming Lips, Oak Ridge Boys, Justin Moore, Travis Tritt, The Judds, Kris Kristofferson, Alison Krauss, Chris Stapleton, Lady Antebellum, Idina Menzel, Crystal Gayle, Reba McEntire, Jamey Johnson, and long-time friend Dolly Parton.

The family is planning a small private service at this time out of concern for the national COVID-19 emergency.  They look forward to celebrating Kenny’s life publicly with his friends and fans at a later date.

Kenny Rogers

* Feature image Kenny Rogers Instagram

Bruce Springsteen Shares Entire ‘London Calling: Live in Hyde Park’ Concert

If you’re seeking extrication during the new Dark Ages, but you also lead a clean life, Bruce Springsteen has the musical opiate. He’s released his 2009 concert, London Calling: Live in Hyde Park, onto streaming platforms in entirety for the first time. And if the COVID-19 pandemic feels concurrently like a loneliness epidemic, The Boss proves great company. 

Opening with the eponymous “London Calling” by The Clash, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band then kick into classics such as “Badlands,” “The Promised Land,” “Born to Run,” and then favorites “Glory Days” and “Dancing in the Dark” as part of a long encore.

For quality quarantine time, here’s the full London Calling: Live in Hyde Park concert in playlist format:

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Luck Reunion Hosts Virtual Concert With Sets by Willie Nelson and Friends

In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, organizers of the Luck Reunion, the “anti-festival” timed to coincide with SXSW every March, have decided to stage a virtual concert in its place. Luck Presents: ‘Til Further Notice will be live-streamed on Thursday, March 19. Starting at 6:00 PM and ending at 11 PM CT fans can tune in to Luck ReunionTwitch, or Facebook.

Everyone’s favorite outlaw country outlier, Willie Nelson, hosts the annual event and collective. Willie, his family members, and personal team strive to preserve traditions in American roots music, food, and craftsmanship. With six stages and under 4,000 attendees, the event offers respite from the sometimes overwhelming nature of SXSW. Luck Reunion is situated in the old west town of Luck, TX, A.K.A. Willie Nelson’s backyard on the outskirts of Austin. Luck, TX was built in 1985 as the backdrop for Red Headed Stranger, the film version of Willie’s breakthrough concept album of the same title.

Luck Productions co-founder Matt Bizer made this statement: “Everyone in our community is gutted. We are gutted. We couldn’t just sit around on Thursday when our event was supposed to take place, knowing that other producers and artists in our industry are also isolated and out of work. This is our effort to bring back a bit of the Luck spirit, and to try to raise money for the people and charities we care about so deeply.”

The performers of ‘Til Further Notice, including Jewel, Willie Nelson, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, etc., will play call-in sets from their respective homes. The artists will donate digital tips from fans to charities of their choice. Also confirmed for ‘Til Further Notice are Lucinda Williams, Paul Simon & Edie Brickell, Nathaniel Rateliff, Margo Price & Jeremy Ivey, Randy Houser, Paul Cauthen, David Ramirez, Ida Mae, Tre Burt, Ian Ferguson, Devon Gilfillian, Early James, and Sunny War. 

“While the majority of the acts will be performing and recording from living rooms, bedrooms, or home studios, a small number of local acts are slated to (safely) broadcast from Austin’s premier recording facility, Arlyn Studios. Luck and Arlyn are working in tandem to do what they can to preserve the energy and camaraderie that is intrinsic in Austin’s creative community.” – Luck Reunion

The Enduring Beauty of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

As a musician and a writer, it took me a few years to find a cool part-time job as a professor of rock ‘n’ roll (at what shall remain an unnamed college in Manhattan). Each semester I suggest something to my students that I’m not sure the school would appreciate. I suggest that my pupils take a semester off to read every book, see every film, and study the art and philosophy of each person who appears on the cover of Sgt. Pepper and promise them they’ll be much smarter and hipper for it. I advise they begin their home-study with the writings of Edgar Allen Poe, William S. Burroughs, Yogananda and Terry Southern, before moving on to the movies of Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, W.C. Fields and Mae West. And then there’s always Lenny Bruce, Karl Marx and Alistair Crowley to round out their education. If they get stuck, I assure them there are plenty of easy to use guides on the Internet to help decipher who’s who amongst that diverse crowd of strange faces.

Beyond the occasional overly-cheerful McCartney ditty, the Beatles rarely, if ever underestimated the intelligence of their fans. You could learn a lot from the ad-hoc crew of gurus, movie stars, musicians, boxers and comedians on the front of Sgt. Pepper. Chosen by the Beatles and assembled by artist Peter Blake, the classic cover revealed many of the band’s wide-ranging inspirations. Standing beside wax replicas of their former selves fashioned by Madame Tussaud, the Beatles, clad in bright satin Edwardian marching uniforms and sporting droopy mustaches, presented their obsessed fans with the notion that they belonged to, and were only a small part of the greater whole. 

   This was not the first time we’d seen artists publicly pay homage to their peers and heroes. In the blurry cover photo to his 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home, Bob Dylan, suddenly looking more surrealist poet than Okie songster, sat amongst piles of his favorite albums, recordings by Delta blues man Robert Johnson, German chanteuse Lotte Lenya, the soul/gospel group, the Impressions, sitar master Ravi Shankar and stand-up comedian/ philosopher Lord Buckley. Bob was slyly hipping us to a new world of music and consciousness, if you were smart enough to pick up on his lead. There was some pretty strange stuff in that mix, but I figured if Dylan dug it, it was good enough for me.

   Being the most expensive record cover in the history of pop (£3,000 at a time when £50 was the norm) Sgt. Pepper sported a gatefold photo of the band, plus a fun insert of cardboard cut-out pictures of the group, with a mustache and sergeant stripes, along with another first, the song lyrics printed as a libretto on the back sleeve. Not even the poet laureate of folk-rock, Bob Dylan, had published his verse for his fans to painstakingly analyze.

   With the release of the 50th Anniversary box set, the Beatles have at long last driven a stake through the heart of the Rolling Stones’ flawed (but hauntingly beautiful) foray into psychedelia, Their Satanic Majesties Request. Released in December 1967, six months after Sgt. Pepper, Satanic Majesties was a glorious mess, thanks to their voracious consumption of drugs of every variety, and being hauled in and out of various courts and jail at the time. The Stones claim they remember very little about making the record. But one thing their album had that no other band boasted at the time was a lenticular 3-D cover. But the Beatles have now stripped them of that distinction with the new repackaging of Sgt. Pepper. Both images, having been created by the late British photographer Michael Cooper, only provoked the acerbic John Lennon to further criticize the Stones for routinely copying his band.

   Following their August 1966 performance at Candle Stick Park in San Francisco, the lads from Liverpool (who had since migrated south to London) were fed up with being fab. The mayhem of their concerts prevented the Beatles from progressing as a live act. Taking refuge in Abbey Road, the recording studio offered a much-needed haven from struggling to play the hits over the din of screaming teenagers. A creative heady atmosphere engulfed the band, as new songs and sounds quickly developed, thanks in part to their fondness for pot and LSD, and new technological leaps in overdubbing with 4-track tape.    

   Paul McCartney apparently had a brainstorm. By creating an alter-ego, the band could liberate it from the tight corner they’d found themselves in. Some claim their new identity was inspired by Doctor Pepper, a favorite soda unavailable in the U.K. at the time, which British movie and rock stars shipped across the Atlantic by the case-full. In the copious liner notes to the new box set, Paul explained that he’d misheard the band’s faithful bear-like roadie Mal Evans say, “Sergeant Pepper” when he actually mumbled something about passing the “salt ‘n’ pepper.”

   McCartney had recently hung out in Haight Ashbury with the new bands who sported longer hair and long names like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Suddenly the idea of the Beatles seemed rather “old hat” and thus, a new direction began to take shape.

   With the arrival of Sgt. Pepper on June 2, 1967, the album poured out of every window and every car radio, wherever you went. I was with my mother in Woolworth’s Department Store in Asbury Park when I first got a glimpse of the famous album cover.

   My mom told me to put the record back on the rack. “It’s not the Beatles,” she said. “Look at them. It’s a bunch of old men with glasses and beards. It’s somebody called Sgt. Peeper’s Lonely Band.”

   Fifty years later we were presented with the release of the new Sgt. Pepper boxset with remixes by Giles Martin (Sir George’s son). Beyond the lovely packaging, the redux offered a compelling argument for McCartney and Starr as one of rock’s finest rhythm sections. Paul’s melodic bass parts and Ringo’s drums really popped out, in a few “new” places, particularly on “Fixing a Hole,” and “Good Morning, Good Morning.” Sonically the mix offers a bit more depth and sparkle. Certain details, like the swoop of strings and the cacophonous horns on “A Day in the Life,” as well as the fox hunt in “Good Morning, Good Morning” that caught your ear a bit differently.

   But what struck me all these years later about the album known as “Rock’s Greatest Masterpiece,” is how little actual rock, or “rock attitude” could be found on its tracks. More often than not, brass, sitars, harpsichords and a variety of organs regularly replace the guitar. McCartney’s bass often plays a two-fold role, bumping the song’s rhythm along while playing catchy melodic riffs that manage to simultaneously support and stay out of the way of the vocals. 

 In some ways, the Beatles seem profoundly out of touch with the pivotal moment in which the album was made. Amid the sixties sexual revolution, they are happily proposing marriage to the sound of old timey clarinets on “When I’m Sixty-Four.” In “Lovely Rita” McCartney invites a cute meter maid to tea and winds up “sitting on a sofa with a sister or two.” It’s all very quaint when compared to the Doors who dared us to “Break on through to the other side,” while Hendrix had that itching desire to “Stand next to your fire.” “She’s Leaving Home,” featured a cascading harp and shimmering string section over which McCartney addressed the problem of teen runaways from the parent’s perspective. As spring 1967 blossomed into the Summer of Love, middle-class refugees across America headed for San Francisco (with or without flowers in their hair) to live on the street and dig the free dope and free love to be found in Haight Ashbury. Nobody gave a damn about their parents, they were just part of “the Establishment.” In comparison, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band hardly seemed radical. But within its grooves lay a few masterworks, like “A Day in the Life” (along with the double A-sided single “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever,” released months earlier in February) which transported us to new realms of consciousness, beyond the “marmalade skies” as John sang in “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

George Harrison’s lone contribution, “Within You Without You,” (after “Only a Northern Song” was axed) was stunning, unlike anything on the album musically and lyrically. Since picking up the sitar in 1965 after succumbing to its mesmerizing drone while on the set of their second film, Help, “The Quiet Beatle” began a rigorous study of Eastern spirituality. Such a powerful rejection of materialism coming from a twenty-something rock star who could have anything or anyone he desired, was nothing short of unimaginable. Once more, as with Revolver’s “Love You To,” George relied solely upon Indian musicians to help create his hypnotic prayer for peace and love, without help from any of his bandmates. The track ends with a round of hysterical laughter tacked on, as if to say his lilting philosophy lecture was all a cosmic joke.  

In a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, David Crosby addressed whatever naiveté lay beneath the era’s idealism when he confessed; “I would’ve thought Sergeant Pepper could’ve stopped the [Vietnam] war, just by putting too many good vibes in the air for anybody to have a war around. Somehow it didn’t work. Somebody isn’t listening. I’m not saying stop trying, but the inertia we’re up against, I think everybody’s kind of underestimated it.”

In some ways, times haven’t changed much over the last five decades.

John Kruth is a singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist with eleven solo albums to his name. Kruth is also the author of three musical biographies including To Live’s To Fly – The Ballad of the Late, Great Townes Van Zandt (recipient of the ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award – 2007 – DaCapo Press), and Rhapsody in Black – The Life & Music of Roy Orbison (2013 – BackBeat/Hal Leonard Books). In 2015 BackBeat published Kruth’s Rubber SoulThis Bird Has Flown, followed by A Friend of the Devil – The Glorification of the Outlaw in Song from Robin Hood to Rap, published September 2017. Kruth’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Wire (UK), No Depression, Sing Out!, Wax Poetics, and Folk Roots (UK).

Pet Shops Boys Maintains Mastery of Musical Niche

Pet Shop Boys | Hotspot | x2

4 out of 5

There are certain bands that have mastered a musical niche that never quite goes out of style. The Pet Shop Boys is one of those bands, as its newest, Hotspot, proves. It helps that the Boys – Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe – are in particularly fine form here, while the formula that they first mined back in the ’80s still sounds as invigorating as ever.

The Pet Shop Boys have always traded in synth-pop a bit moodier than the norm. Tennant’s songs have a lot on their minds, but they never skimp on danceability. Case in point: the driving opening track of Hotspot, “Will O’ The Wisp,” which features a trenchant character sketch of someone desperately clinging to a way of life that the narrator finds both foolish and intriguing. But you’re OK if you don’t even focus on the lyrics, as the yearning melody of the verses contrasts the sung-spoke choruses in alluring fashion.

“I don’t wanna go dancing,” Tennant protests at one point, but the sprightly beats are relentless. Most of the time the propulsive rhythms are contrasted by minor keys and Tennant’s deadpan delivery. When Tennant does a little strutting on “Monkey Business” (“They tell me I’m a legend ‘round these parts/I start the party and I end up breaking hearts,”) it’s tongue-in-cheek and winning.

Tennant and Lowe also show their facility with romantic sentiments on pretty tracks like “You Are The One” and “Only The Dark.” When they bring the acoustic guitars up a bit higher in the mix on “Burning The Heather,” the bittersweet beauty feels like another highlight in a career full of them. Good stuff all around from a band that makes it look easy by keeping true to what got it here in the first place.

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Guns N Roses Play “So Fine” For The First Time In 27 Years, But They Really Shouldn’t Be Playing At All

The Mexico City festival Vive Latino went ahead as planned this weekend despite basically every other large gathering in the world being cancelled due to the coronavirus epidemic. At least a dozen acts dropped off the bill and critics called for it to be cancelled, as well, but the show went on, with headliners Guns N Roses, Vicentico and Tucanes de Tijuana all scheduled to perform.

“Authorities are telling us that we are in Phase 1 [of the Coronavirus epidemic] and we can move forward and that’s what we’re doing,” the festival’s founder and director Jordi Puig told Billboard in an interview.

Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said in a press conference earlier in the week that “suspending mass events is not necessary.” “Vive Latino will take place this weekend and some other activities, that were planned, that don’t have economic impact, those will be postponed,” she said.

Per Billboard, precautions taken for the event include attendees getting their temperature checked before entering the festival grounds, drivers wearing masks and gloves, and having access to dressing rooms restricted to only artists and their teams.

Nonetheless, Guns N Roses took the stage on Saturday night and they broke out the Use Your Illusion II track “So Fine” for the first time in 27 years. Seems like it could have waited a few more weeks! The band’s next scheduled show in San Jose, Costa Rica has been postponed, but their tour of South America and Central America is seemingly going ahead as planned, minus areas where the government has mandated they cannot perform.

Here’s video:

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Bob Dylan Set to Tour U.S. With Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

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Bob Dylan has announced a 2020 tour in the U.S. with soulful roots rockers Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. Hot Club of Cowtown, a Western swing trio who toured with Dylan back in 2004, will also be supporting the bard. Nathaniel recently released a solo album, And It’s Still Alright, and is presently on a headlining tour.

Dylan’s tour commences June 4 in Bend, Oregon and ends at the site of the original Woodstock, The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, on July 12. Dylan’s 25-date Never Ending tour includes two nights in Berkeley, California on June 13 and 14. Tickets go on sale this Friday, March 13 at 10am with presales beforehand.

Bob Dylan 2020 US Tour Dates:

June 4 — Les Schwab Amphitheater, Bend, OR
June 6 — Sunlight Supply Amphitheatre, Ridgefield, WA
June 7 — White River Amphitheatre, Auburn, WA
June 9 — Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR
June 12 — Harveys Outdoor Amphtheatre, Stateline, NV
June 13 & 14 — Greek Theatre, Berkley, CA
June 17 — Pechanga Arena San Diego, CA
June 18 — Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA
June 20 — Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, NV
June 21 — Gila River Arena, Glendale, AZ
June 23 — Tingley Arena, Albuquerque, NM
June 24 — Amarillo Civic Center, Amarillo, TX
June 26 — The Pavilion at Toyota Music Center, Irving, TX
June 27 — Simmons Bank Arena, Little Rock, AR
June 28 — BankPlus Amphitheatre at Snowden Grove, Southhaven, MS
July 2 — Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN
July 3 — Ameris Bank Amphitheatre, Alpharetta, GA
July 5 — Veterans United Home Loan Amphitheatre, Virgina Beach, VA
July 7 — Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, PA
July 8 — Forest Hills Stadium, Queens, NY
July 9 — Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga, NY
July 11 — Champlain Valley Exposition, Essex Junction, VT
July 12 — Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel Woods, NY

Greg Guy – Blues Trailblazing

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Greg Guy is a recipient of the 2014 Chicago Blues Hall of Fame as an Honorary Master of Blues, and his guitar playing is greatly influenced by Prince — aside from being the son of the Living Legend Buddy Guy. One of Chicago’s own Sons of the Blues, Greg Guy has been playing music most of his life, as it’s in his DNA. He started playing his guitar publicly on the Buddy Guy’s Legends stage in 2009 during his father’s January Residency shows. With prior attempts he built the courage to join his father. He has toured the world with his father in the following places: São Paulo, Brazil, California, Texas, Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, Indiana, Utah, Colorado, and Louisiana.

Greg Guy at 2018 Buddy Guy’s January Residency shows at Buddy Guy’s Legends. Photo Credit: John “Nunu” Zomot

In 2019, Greg played with Kenny “Beedy-Eyes” Smith at the Chicago Blues Fest and
stacked up recording credits with chart-topping Irish traditional musician Sharon Shannon on “Sacred Earth”; Dave Weld and The Imperial Flames on “Slip Into A Dream”; Chris Wragg and Greg Copeland’s “Deep In The Blood”; and the critically acclaimed new release “Drop The Hammer,” by another of Chicago’s Sons of the Blues, the great Kenny Smith. Greg ventured on his own building musical relationships overseas in Rome and London, taking his guitar playing to new heights. Currently, Greg Guy and The Robert Fetzer Band can be found at Chicago local blues venues collaborating together in the tradition of “Keeping the Blues Alive.” Greg Guy is proving to audiences everywhere he’s one of the hottest young guitar-slinging blues artists on set today, and rightful heir to the greatest name in blues music.

Brant Buckley:

It sounds like Prince was the reason you picked up the guitar: How did you find your way into Blues?

Greg Guy:

Well actually it was my dad. The story goes when I was young I just knew him as my dad. I didn’t know he was this Buddy Guy guy. He played the guitar and I really liked guitar. My dad gave me one and it sat around and collected dust. Prince was always an influence. My dad told me to check out Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, and many other guitar players. At the time I thought Prince was the main guitar player. As time went on, I started checking out other guitar players. If what my dad was listening to when he was young still sounded good, I realized I had to play music like that. It’s music that will be around forever.

Who are your favorite Blues artists?

There are so many. I like Kingfish and Jamiah Rogers. They are the next generation. There are many guys who play extremely well and you do not hear much about them. I wonder why these players aren’t mentioned around the Blues circuit. There is a guy named Tony Palmer who is electrifying. Carlos Johnson is another. All of these players are amazing and I learn from them all. The list goes on and on with me as far as guitar players.

What are you currently working on with Jimmy Burns?

Jimmy and I just started about a week ago and I am currently in the studio. I put a track together that I could see him singing to in a real soulful bluesy old school kind of way. I could hear his voice on the track. I play with him at Buddy Guy’s Legends and I realized he would be perfect for the song. Jimmy Burns is one of my favorites.

How do you approach electric guitar playing and how would you describe your style?

I like Stratocasters and Telecasters. When I play, I never play the same thing twice. Every time I hit the stage I present something new on the guitar no matter who I am with or where I am playing. People notice I have a style. I listen and play with my heart and soul. I open up and let my fingers do the walking so to speak. I also like the acoustic guitar and alternative music. I am always listening. When I get onstage I never approach someone and say let’s play this song in F, A, or D. I get onstage and ask them what key they are playing in. They tell me the key and I play as if I am at home coming up with ideas. One time I thought I was in trouble when I played with my dad. He told me he needed to talk with me. I was biting my nails. We get in the car and he told me, “Whatever it is you are doing on the guitar don’t stop because people like it.” Now I keep going and don’t stop.

You also write songs? What’s your songwriting process?

I have been writing songs for a while. I just didn’t know what category to put them in. I didn’t know if they were considered Alternative, Blues, Pop, or Jazz. I take all of the styles of music and create. It’s like a pot of gumbo you put the shrimp and sauce in and it all tastes good.

How would you describe the current Chicago Blues Scene?

It’s fine and cool. It’s not a bad place. We have several locations here. We have my dad’s place, Buddy Guy’s Legends, Kingston Mines, and B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted. All of these places have great Blues. Hit or miss you may not always have a great show but these places are fun to go to and hear up and coming artists and different styles of music.

Greg Guy and Buddy Guy in Lettsworth, Louisiana Christmas Day, 2019 Same location as Buddy Guy’s ‘Blues is Alive and Well’ album cover (Mistaken as his home but it was the only local store for miles when Buddy was a child) Photo Credit: Vicky Guy

What’s your greatest musical moment?

It had to be with my dad, Charlie Musselwhite, and Jimmie Vaughan in California. It was a great experience to be onstage with those guys. I would have given myself a fifty-fifty shot meeting those guys without my dad. Being my dad’s son, I had a ten percent boost. My dad put me onstage with them and he doesn’t care who he puts me onstage with. He calls me up and tells me to just play what you play.

Musically where do you want to be in: 5 years? 10 years?

I would like to start my own album project and I would like write all of the songs. I would like to get some vocal lessons. Also, I would like to work with artists that have not been heard. I would love to work with Tony Palmer and present him a track. Hopefully in ten to twenty years I would like to be producing, writing, and helping many different artists; even Alternative and Rock music. I’ve produced Rock, R&B, and Jazz. I would like to hire a piano player to work with.

The Blues is Alive and Well like my dad said. I am going to be part of The Blues with my contributions. I have a different style as I can shift from Muddy Waters to the new sound. These younger kids are playing the older stuff, but they are speeding it up and creating their own riffs. It’s not going anywhere. When my dad was four or five he was listening to Slim Harpo. When I heard it I didn’t think the guy could have been around when my dad was young because it sounded so good. The younger generations are playing the same things. The Blues isn’t going anywhere.

Greg Guy on Facebook

*Feature image Vicky Guy 2019 Chicago Blues Festival

Tampa Bay Blues Festival Rescheduled

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Another major festival has been affected by concerns over COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. The Tampa Bay Blues Festival, scheduled for April 3-5 has been rescheduled. The official statement from the organizers, released yesterday, reads:

After consultations with the Mayor’s office for the City of St Petersburg, we have learned that our festival scheduled for April 3, 4, 5, 2020 must be rescheduled for a later date. We did everything within our power to save the event, but the corona virus and health concerns in Florida have mandated this result.

All ticket and VIP buyers will be honored on our rescheduled date. We do believe the festival will return on April 9, 10, 11, 2021. For those desiring a refund, arrangements will be made to return monies paid to us through Etix or otherwise. Details will be provided here, as soon as we have more information.

We are very saddened by this development, but these circumstances are beyond our control. Our City manages the use of Vinoy Park, and has removed the venue as an option for us.

We are so very grateful for our tremendously loyal fans and sponsors who support us every year. Your well-being is paramount in our thinking and we hope you’ll join us again at the next Tampa Bay Blues Festival. Please stay safe and know that we truly care about each of you. Best wishes!

This year’s event was to feature headliners, JJ Grey & MOFRO, Aaron Neville, and Larkin Poe. No information has yet been released as to who will be performing on the festivals rescheduled dates.

Tampa Bay Blues Festival

*Feature image © MJ Stringer

World Premiere Video – Amy Black Feat. Blind Boys of Alabama “I Have a Choice”

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Singer-songwriter Amy Black wants you to know that you have a choice. A choice to do what? To turn your back on hate and pride and clothe yourself with love and joy. Black’s new single, “I Have a Choice,” featuring Blind Boys of Alabama, drops today, March 13, National Good Samaritan Day.

Black explains, “I wrote this song because I wanted to remind myself that I always have a choice of who I’m going to be, how I’m going to act, and how I’m going to respond to whatever life throws my way. I was inspired when I thought of my mom and dad and many others who came before me. It’s encouraging to look at the choices they made, and are still making, to live in kindness and love. I can’t control what others do, I can’t even control my own mind, but I do get to control how I live.”

When Black wrote the song, she imagined one of her greatest influences, Mavis Staples, singing it (and she would still love to see that happen). But upon deciding to record it herself, she immediately knew who would be perfect to join the project: Blind Boys of Alabama. Black had opened a few shows for the fabled gospel act and had the chance to sing with them on stage. After a Washington D.C. show, she sang her song to Blind Boy Jimmy Carter in the green room and he exclaimed, “That sounds like a Blind Boys song!” It was all she needed to start the wheels in motion.

Black enlisted Nashville producer and guitar maverick Joe McMahan to co-produce, engineer, mix and play guitar. She lined up a stellar group of Nashville musicians: Jimmy Matt Rolland on organ and piano (Todd Snider, Bobby Bare Junior), Robbie Crowell on bass (Midland, Jim Lauderdale, Deer Tick), and Josh Hunt on drums (Alison Krauss and Union Station). They weren’t in Memphis, but gospel was in the air.

Once the music was complete, Black met up with Blind Boys of Alabama while they were on tour with Marc Cohn in New England. They rendezvoused at the Wellspring Studio in Acton, Massachusetts, on an off day and recorded the song. The studio was just a few miles from where Black lived as a teen when her family relocated from Alabama to Massachusetts.

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“I Have a Choice,” on iTunes:

“I Have a Choice,” on Spotify:

Amy Black

Blind Boys of Alabama

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