Cream of Scottish Blues Perform Live at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival Online Celebration December 3-6

Opening with “Where’s Your Man,” it is clear from his guitar and vocal style that Jed Potts is steeped in down home authentic blues having traveled extensively across America to learn and develop his skills. He signifies his intentions with trademark tasteful guitar interludes and subtle changes of pace while adding light and shade.

“It Won’t Be Long” is based around a Howlin’ Wolf groove with echoes of “Smokestack Lightning,” but given a new interpretation courtesy of the excellent rhythm section, Jonny Christie’s drums, and Charlie Wild on bass.

Jed Potts live shot courtesy of David Scott

Jed is a consummate storyteller with an easy conversational style so “How’mi’mentuh” is the perfect platform for this fictional narrative set in New Orleans. Potts even manages to play boogie-style piano on his guitar to emulate a Professor Longhair vibe. It takes an exceptional guitarist to attempt an instrumental, which will inevitably draw comparisons with Freddie King, but Jed nails it on “Splash-Down!” — partly because of the perfect synchronization of the complex rhythm patterns by Jonny and Charlie.

Another States-influenced song, courtesy of working with Brandon Santini, is “Swashbucklin’” which Jed uses as a metaphor in his lyrics to describe how good someone can make you feel. A distinctly country feel permeates “To The Mountains” and highlights the versatility of this power trio. A fitting finale is the heavy blues rocking “Won’t Be No Use” proving that Jed is right up there with the best when it comes to slide guitar prowess as he gives a master class in speed and technique.

The atmosphere in the La Belle Angele is electric and one can only imagine the anticipation and excitement of the thousands of virtual viewers waiting to watch the first public appearance of Gerry Jablonski’s band alongside Glaswegian Alan Nimmo. Gerry takes the stage first and launches straight into a scintillating guitar solo on “Breaking The Stones,” his equally enthralling vocals soon competing in call and response mode with Peter Narojczyk’s turbo-charged harp blasts.

Peter Narojczyk live shot courtesy of David Scott

There is no sign of lockdown rustiness as Lewis Fraser hits the groove with immaculate dynamics and precision while Grigor Leslie lays down his usual effortless, pulsating rhythm. The biggest bonus is that the expert videographers and sound engineers are bringing the show to life, covering multiple angles and using imaginative, atmospheric lighting effects. Feeling part of the audience at a live show again is the biggest thrill of all, knowing that normality is as close as it can be in this environment, albeit for a short time but nevertheless very welcome after nine months without a gig.

The mesmeric beat of “Higher They Climb,” a fan favorite, provides the platform for more guitar and harmonica pyrotechnics before the mood switches to “Angel of Love,” with its quiet introduction soon giving way to Jablonski’s impassioned vocals and searing axe work alongside Peter’s complementary anguished harp. The pace increases dramatically with “Slave To The Rhythm,” a big test for the band’s stamina after a long period of isolation but the adrenaline starts kicking in. Jablonski is renowned for his online guitar lessons including the “Secrets of Jeff Beck.” Clearly he is learning fast as his fingers are becoming more nimble than those of the legendary English rock guitarist. 

The tension rises as Jablonski introduces his special guest, blues giant Alan Nimmo which is understandable given that this is the American equivalent of Joe Bonamassa meets the Allman Brothers; in other words a clash of titans. Jablonski and his band start singing his self-penned classic “Heavy Water” and after a few bars Nimmo takes over, his powerful vocals and killer, muscular guitar licks exploding into action.

It is not surprising that Alan’s star is in the ascendancy as he oozes talent and charisma, working tirelessly over the past two decades to hone the virtuosic skills he possesses today. Now it is possible to conjure up the ghosts of Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan as everyone raises their game even further for a memorable version of “The Sky Is Crying.” The energy in the room is palpable, the fiery fretwork never falters and the interplay between the two lead guitarists is phenomenal. 

Lewis Fraser takes over the vocals on “Little Wing,” his mellifluous tones adding variation and an extra musical dimension to the evening’s entertainment. However, this night was always going to be about an uber jam and “Soul Sister” provides the extravaganza finale everyone is waiting for. With two of the most highly rated British bluesmen on stage, both exuding swagger and confidence when it comes to performing, the potential for a competition is inevitable.

It is great credit to Jablonski and Nimmo that this is not a duel at two socially distanced paces but rather five professional musicians giving their all to create the best experience they can to the fans they love and respect and who in turn support them. Overall, an unforgettable experience and one which this reviewer can proudly declare, “I was there” because that is exactly what it felt like.

King King

Jed Potts & the Hillman Hunters

Gerry Jablonski and the Electric Band

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival Online

*Feature image: Screengrab of promo video



World Premiere Video: Tony Holiday ‘The Hustle’

Memphis based Tony Holiday came to international attention with his 2019 VizzTone release, the star-studded Porch Sessions, in which he established himself as a top-notch harmonica player and producer of modern field recordings.

With Soul Service, Holiday also proves to be a powerful, soulful singer, and a songwriter of smart, moving roots music songs that expand his palette beyond blues to show his diverse influences. Produced by Grammy nominee Ori Naftaly (Southern Avenue, Stax Records) at Zebra Ranch, the Dickinson family studio in Independence, Mississippi, the album features Holiday on lead vocals and harmonica, Landon Stone on guitar, Max Kaplan on bass and background vocals, Danny Banks (John Nemeth band) on drums, and special guests producer Ori Naftaly on guitar and Grammy nominee Victor Wainwright on keys.

Track six from Soul Service is “The Hustle,” a syncopated soul blues track with Holiday’s harmonica dropped in throughout. There’s also a powerful, overblown harp solo about two-thirds of the way in.

“The Hustle” is a song I wrote a few years ago and recently recorded on my debut album ‘Soul Service.’ It’s about someone who is on the road a lot leaving a family behind , and noticing things they left broken at home, are fixed when they return, a person who noticed certain things and problems tend to mend themselves and move on without you when you’re gone all the time. – Tony Holiday

Today is Tony’s birthday, and we’re pleased to bring you the world premiere of “The Hustle.”

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Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” Tops ASCAP’s Most Played Holiday Songs of 2020

Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” earned the top spot on the Top 25 most played ASCAP holiday songs of 2020. Perennial favorites, including “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” “Jingle Bell Rock” and others that have been interpreted by artists across all genres, fill out the list, as announced by the performing rights organization today.

Carey’s song, written with Walter Afanasieff and released in 1994, has become the modern earworm song for the holidays and it’s only gained steam in recent years. In fact, the song topped Billboard’s Top 100 charts last year, a first for a holiday song since 1958.

Carey shared a special holiday message to fans about the song on @ASCAP on Instagram, saying “I’m deeply grateful… and just so thankful that it is still bringing joy to so many people around the world and I know that we need that more than ever right now.”

 “Feliz Navidad,” written by José Feliciano and released 50 years ago, returns to the top 25 once again. In honor of the milestone, Feliciano recently released a star-studded re-recording titled “Feliz Navidad 50th Anniversary (FN50).”

Below are the top 25 most played ASCAP holiday songs of 2020*, all written or co- written by ASCAP songwriters and composers. Each song lists ASCAP songwriter credits and copyright date.

1. “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff (1994)
2. “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” by Meredith Willson (1951)
3. “A Holly Jolly Christmas” by Johnny Marks (1962)
4. “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson and Mitchell Parish (1948)
5. “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne (1945)
6. “Jingle Bell Rock” by Joseph Carleton Beal and James Ross Boothe (1958)
7. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Johnny Marks (1958)
8. “Last Christmas” by George Michael (1984)
9. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Edward Pola and George Wyle (1963)
10. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin (1944)
11. “Winter Wonderland” by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith (1934)
12. “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” by Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie (1934)
13.“White Christmas” by Irving Berlin (1941)
14.“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Johnny Marks (1949)
15. “The Christmas Song” by Mel Tormé and Robert Wells (1946)
16.“Here Comes Santa Claus (Down Santa Claus Lane)” by Oakley Haldeman and Gene Autry (1947)
17. “Home for the Holidays” by Robert Allen and Al Stillman (1954)
18.“Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano (1970)
19. “Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season” by Kay Tompson and Irving Berlin (1942)
20. “Santa Baby” by Joan Javits, Anthony Springer and Philip Springer (1953)
21.“Frosty the Snowman” by Steve Nelson and Walter E. Rollins (1950)
22.“Jingle Bells” by James Lord Pierpont; Frank Sinatra version arranged by Gordon Jenkins (ASCAP, 1958)
23. “Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson and Greg Kurstin (2013)
24. “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by Dr. Seuss and Albert Hague (1966)
25. “Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande and Savan Kotecha (2013)
*Based on an analysis of ASCAP streaming and terrestrial radio data.



2021 GRAMMY Nominations in Our Favorite Categories

“When recording this cover my mom had made a visit to Montana and I made her agree to sing harmonies on it. The full circle moment of having her finally record a song with me, and it being a Randy Travis song means more than I can express.” – Drew McManus



Watch Four Sheryl Crows Cover Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels”

Tom Petty’s estate finally released Wildflowers & All The Rest, the expanded version of 1991’s Wildflowers that Petty himself had been planning before his death, last month. And although Petty himself obviously can’t go on late-night shows to promote it, other artists can do it for him. Last night, Sheryl Crow was the musical guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and she paid tribute to Petty with a remote performance of Wildflowers‘ “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” the original 8-track demo of which is featured on the new box set. And she did it with some help from … herself, with four different Sheryl Crows playing various instruments. Watch below.



‘Small Town Saturday Night’ Singer Hal Ketchum Dies Aged 67

After a battle with dementia, country singer/songwriter/drummer Hal Ketchum has passed away at the age of 67. His wife, Andrea, confirmed in a statement today, “With great sadness and grief we announce that Hal passed away peacefully last night at home due to complications of Dementia.” Continuing, “May his music live on forever in your hearts and bring you peace.”

Raised in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York, Ketchum began drumming at age 15. He went to Nashville in 1986 to write songs, and a few years years later released his debut album, Threadbare Alibis.

Ketchum released nine albums for Curb Records. He released his first Curb album, Past the Point of Rescue, in 1991. The first single, “Small Town Saturday Night,” reached number two. The second single, “I Know Where Love Lies,” reached number 13. In 1992, he scored two more hits and released his third album, Sure, Love, which earned three Top 20 hits, including “Hearts Are Gonna Roll.” In 1994, he released his fourth album, Every Little Word, producing two Top 40 hits. That same year he got inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.

Another song, “Stay Forever” (written with Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), reached the country top ten in 1995.

Ketchum has acted, appearing in the films Heartbreak Hotel and Maverick. He’s also collaborated with singers Dolly Parton and Shelby Lynne.

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*Feature image: Grand Ole Opry’s Twitter



Bobby Lewis, ‘Tossin’ and Turnin” Singer, Dead at 95

Bobby Lewis, the R&B singer behind “Tossin’ and Turnin’” — one of the biggest hits of the early Sixties — died in late April at the age of 95.

Billboard confirmed Lewis’ death Saturday, nearly two months after the singer died after a bout with pneumonia.

The Indianapolis-born singer is best known for the original version of “Tossin’ and Turnin’,” which he recorded in the fall of 1960; in the summer of 1961, the single began a seven-week run atop the Billboard Hot 100. “Tossin’ and Turnin’” was also named Billboard’s Number One single of 1961, besting songs like Dion’s “Runaround Sue,” Del Shannon’s “Runaway,” the Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and Elvis Presley’s “Surrender.”

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In 2019, Rolling Stone placed “Tossin’ and Turnin’” at Number One on our list celebrating the 20 Biggest Songs of the Summer: The 1960s, acknowledging its lengthy reign atop the Hot 100 and its 3 million copies sold.

“Tossin’ and Turnin’” would later be covered by artists like the Supremes, the Kingsmen, the Marvelettes and Kiss’ Peter Criss and feature in early Sixties paeans like National Lampoon’s Animal House and American Graffiti.

Despite the success of the track, Lewis would only release one more Top 10 single during his career, 1961’s “One Track Mind”; both singles were released on Beltone Records, which folded by 1963. Lewis recorded one single on the ABC-Paramount label (“Stark Raving Wild”) before his recording career came to a halt.

In a 2011 interview with NJ.com, Lewis, then nearly blind and living in Newark, New Jersey, reflected on the song’s history and its enduring legacy.

American Graffiti kept it going. When it came out in Animal House, I took my tape recorder to the theater. I wished I had a video camera. I taped it off the screen. What a beautiful scene — John Belushi in a garage all by himself, just sittin’ and listenin’ to ‘Tossin’ and Turnin’,’” Lewis said.

“They never stopped playing it. They haven’t stopped yet. They’re still playing it.”

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Bruce Springsteen Discusses Dion, The Saxophone, His Wife Patti’s Vocal Production And Playing Guitar On Dion’s ‘Blues With Friends’

My good friend and writer Alan Paul, who I’ve known and worked with for many years, interviewed Dion for the Wall Street Journal and managed to also grab some phone time with Bruce Springsteen, who appears on Dion’s fabulous new record Blues With Friends. Springsteen was very candid in revealing how his wife Patti was the driving force behind the entire session for the song “Hymn To Him,” working out her stacked vocal harmonies and guiding him through his guitar solo, performed on a Gretsch guitar.

Here are a few excerpts from Alan’s full conversation with Springsteen, taken from his personal blog and reprinted with his approval. Do check out the full interview. Alan has also written excellent biographies of the Allman Brothers Band (One Way Out) and Stevie Ray Vaughan (Texas Flood) (with Andy Aledort), available at bookstores, online and his personal site.

Alan’s entire Dion story is available at the Wall Street Journal here.

The Recording Session:

“Patti was really kind of producing the session, so she gave me a lot of direction as to where to go. She’s quite good at production.”

She had all these different vocal parts and it was just incredibly creative. It was really something… I didn’t know where she was going with it until she was finished, and she spent quite a few hours just very carefully layering part after part after part until something really happened. It was a great day in the studio.”

Playing the guitar solo:

“I picked up a Gretsch guitar, which has a tremolo bar on it. That’s what Duane Eddy played, so that defines a little bit the sound you’re going to get, where you’re going sonically, and Patti was assisting melodically and just telling me what she was hearing, and I really was there supporting her.”

“She made it easy and it was fun. It’s an incredible song and it’s really just very, very difficult to write well about that subject and not sound preachy. He just wrote a beautiful hymn.”

The saxophone solos on Dion’s classic hits:

“First of all, it all swung like crazy. You put on “Ruby Baby,” “The Wanderer, “Runaround Sue” … all of these things have a swing, you know? And then the other thing is the sax… the great, great sax solos.”

The need for saxophone in his music:

“Obviously when Clarence and I got together, and after Clarence passed away and Jake [Clemons] got in the band, I said, “These are some essential saxophone parts that you just need to know if you are going to work in our band.” The sax solos from the Dion records are certainly part of that.”

“I wanted those big, swinging sax solos. That sound! All of these solos… you can hum them. They’re melodic and built from such concrete melodically. [Sings “The Wanderer” sax solo.] You can sing them and I wanted people to be able to sing Clarence’s solos. They’re formal. They are not improvisations. They’re actually quite formal. That just, I don’t know, it just ingested into my music somehow.”

Dion’s influence:

“I love Dion and I have, gosh, since I heard ‘Teenager in Love’ on my mom’s radio as a small boy. That was the first thing I heard, and you know we became friendly over the years and he’s just one of those guys whose artistic curiosity has never left him, which is very unusual for musicians. It usually fades, or they lose it somehow, but Dion has remained musically curious throughout his entire life and made all kinds of different kinds of records and has continued using what is probably one of the great white pop voices of all times in creative ways. That’s very inspiring.”



Watch Margo Price Cover Bob Dylan On CBS This Morning

Country star Margo Price was supposed to release her new album That’s How Rumors Get Started last month. The world had other plans. Not only did the pandemic force her to delay the LP, but her husband, guitarist Jeremy Ivey, got sick.

Things are just getting back on track for Price. Her husband is finally getting better, and That’s How Rumors Get Started has a new July release date. And today, she went on CBS This Morning to talk about dealing with COVID-19 and play a few songs.

After the interview section, Price and her band performed remotely from their own respective porches and living rooms for the show’s recurring Saturday Sessions segment. She covered Bob Dylan’s “Things Have Changed” and played her own songs “Drifter” and “Letting Me Down.” Watch below.



Travis Return With New Album ’10 Songs’

Beloved Scottish band Travis are back with the first new music from their stunning ninth studio album 10 Songs – out October 9th on BMG. The first single from 10 Songs is “A Ghost”, which arrives with an impressively animated video directed and drawn by frontman Fran Healy, with his 14 year old son Clay leading the beautiful cinematography work – all done whilst in Covid-19 isolation.

Co-produced by both Fran and Robin Baynton (Coldplay, Florence & The Machine), and recorded at RAK Studios as 2019 turned into 2020, 10 Songs is an album about the way life comes at love and what love does to weather those challenges. It’s grown-up. There’s sizzling synergy in abundance, and many of it’s songs benefit from the almost psychic sense of mutual attunement that comes from being in a band whose line-up hasn’t changed in its entire collective lifetime.

There’s also inspired cameos to be found, including synth work from Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle, lap steel from Greg Leisz (Beck, Emmylou Harris, Bruce Springsteen) and vocals from Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles that came about from a chance exchange on Twitter.

It’s been twenty-five years since the four members of Travis first set foot in a Glaswegian rehearsal room. At various points along the trajectory between then and now, the band have sold millions of albums, they’ve been the subject of the award-winning feature length documentary Almost Fashionable and Fran has elicited acclaim from Paul McCartney, Elton John and Graham Nash – all songwriters whose ability to divine a timeless melody out of thin air has sustained them through the decades.

And today marks another new chapter in the band’s extraordinarily prolific and unflappable career. 10 Songs is yet another body of work that showcases Travis as one of the UK’s finest songwriting exports.

Of the intensive work that went into making the video for “A Ghost”, Fran says:

The video for ‘A Ghost’ started out as a mocked up picture of me and three ghosts playing the last chorus of the song in a deserted alleyway. It looked cool so I took that image and back engineered a story out of it. Just when everything was ready to shoot, the world went into lockdown, so we had this great song with no way to make a video. Frustrated and in an act of desperation, I decided to draw it. I did a test to calculate how long it might take me. 16 hours for each, 10 seconds of footage. It worked out that it would take around 30 days which landed exactly on the deadline date. So I drew and drew and drew and drew. 2,500 drawings later, it was done.

One day, I was watching a sequence back and when it got to the end of what I had drawn, it flashed and went into live action. It looked great. This was the moment I realised I could shoot the mock up picture of me playing with my band of ghosts in the alleyway. This helped in 3 ways. 1. Filming the last 47 seconds would save me 10 days of drawing. 2. I could recruit my 14 year old son, Clay as the cameraman. He has a drone camera so could shoot it remotely and could use it as part of his school video project 3. Most importantly, we could film it socially distant.

It was the most bizarre video shoot I have ever worked on. You realise how important proximity is to getting things done when it’s taken out of the equation. But we did it and it turned out great. Clay has to wait till we release the song to hand in his video project.

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Travis are Fran Healy (guitar/vox), Andy Dunlop (guitar), Dougie Payne (bass) and Neil Primrose (drums).

10 Songs comes available as Standard CD, Heavyweight vinyl plus Deluxe 2CD and Deluxe 2LP (red and blue vinyl) including 10 Demos.  Pre-Order 10 Songs HERE.

Travis

*Feature image courtesy of Grandstand HQ



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