Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Playlist: April 28, 2010

Jeff Healey, Hong Kong Blues
      from the new album Last Call
Jeff Healey, Sittin' On Top Of The World
Phil Berkowitz, Always A First Time
      Wed 5/05 @ Ashkenaz
George Cole & The Hot Club, Borsalino
      Wed 5/05 on Fog City Blues

Garrick Davis, Gd's Blues
      Thu-Fri 4/29-30 @ The Union Room
      Sat-Sun 5/01-02 @ Transfiguration Episcopal Church of San Mateo
Quinn Deveaux and the Blue Beat Review, Can't Be Satisfied
      Thu 4/29 @ Red Devil Lounge
      Fri 4/30 @ The Crepe Place
Ralph Carney's Serious Jass Project, Blow Big Ralph aka Blow Big Jay
      Sat 5/01 @ Rite Spot Cafe
Big Jay McNeely & Band, Deacon's Hop

Ma Rainey, See See Rider Blues
Leadbelly, Easy Rider (See See Rider)
Lightnin' Hopkins, See See Rider
Chuck Berry, C.C. Rider (live)
Chambers Brothers, See See Rider
Tin Cup Serenade, Stack O' Lee Blues
      Sat 5/01 @ Enrico's Sidewalk Cafe

Otis Rush, Tore Up
Otis Rush, All Your Love (I Miss Loving) (live)
Fleetwood Mac, Black Magic Woman
Bob Dylan, Beyond Here Lies Nothin'

Albert King, Watermelon Man / Why You So Mean To Me
Jimi Hendrix, Born Under A Bad Sign
Lefty Dizz, Cloudy Weather
Johnny Jenkins, I Walk On Gilded Splinters
Eddy 'The Chief' Clearwater, A Good Leavin' Alone
Elizabeth Cotten, Shake Sugaree

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Left Behind

Epiphone Lefty Dot 
Archtop Electric Guitar, CherryLike Albert King, whose birthday was this past weekend, I am an unreformed lefty, playing guitar left-handed. But unlike Albert I go through the trouble and expense of getting actual left-handed guitars, like this Epiphone that recently replaced my 20-year-old imitation Strat.

This all comes to mind as I'm putting together a little tribute to classic left-handed blues guitarists for tomorrow's show, centered around the birthdays of two of the best-known, Albert King and Otis Rush. But I can't tell whether or not to be surprised about how few other candidates there are: Lefty Dizz, Johnny Jenkins, Elizabeth Cotten, and, inevitably, Jimi Hendrix (he played upside-down but re-strung, of course). But who else -- Paul McCartney? In baseball you've got righties learning to bat left-handed so they can take advantage of the majority righty pitchers. But in music it's the opposite: with just about all the hardware built for right-handed play, there's even more pressure than with writing (where the instruments, let's not forget, are hand-neutral) not to play left-handed. Listen, I couldn't help it: at age 16 I picked up a guitar and played it upside-down for a month before getting hold of a genuine lefty. Hey, it's just a mirror image -- kind of like my clock.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Please Baby

A Tribute to The 
Mississippi Sheiks - Things About Comin' My WayOpened the show last night with a couple of tracks by Madeleine Peyroux, who's playing this week at Yoshi's in San Francisco (we'll be catching the late show Saturday).
First track was from a recent tribute album to the Mississippi Sheiks, Things About Comin' My Way. She sings Please Baby "accompanied" by a house band whose guitarist, Steve Dawson, put the tribute together (I interviewed him for the House of Blues Radio Hour). The second song, Instead, was the first track on her most recent album, Bare Bones. Both those recordings were, in both the broad and narrow sense of the term, very bluesy. Yet somehow I rarely hear her name uttered in the same breath as "blues singer/musician." The Billie Holiday comparisons have been around from the get-go, and she's obviously been embraced as a "standards" bearer, but the blues label hasn't quite adhered to her, it seems. The same way that early Tom Waits kind of evades the blues label. Now the one time I've seen Madeleine Peyroux play, it was at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. She played an acoustic (nylon?) guitar accompanied by piano, bass, and drum -- sure, a jazz-y brush drum, but a blues-y repertoire.
Bare BonesThat performance seemed to suffer from a combination of the Paramount not being a great venue for live music, and something amiss in the band -- she was pretty tentative, without much stage presence. But I chalked it up to an off-night, and now 3+ years later, I'm willing to give it another shot... of blues.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Playlist: April 21, 2010

Madeleine Peyroux, Please Baby
Madeleine Peyroux, Instead
      Wed-Sat 4/21-24 @ Yoshi's San Francisco
Leon Redbone, My Walking Stick
      Sun 4/25 @ Tower Theatre
      Mon 4/26 @ Great American Music Hall

Peter Karp & Sue Foley, Treat Me Right
      from the new album He Said She Said
Peter Karp, I Ain't Deep
Sue Foley, Time To Travel
Peter Karp & Sue Foley, Rules of Engagement
      Sat 4/24 @ Freight & Salvage: West Coast Live
      Sun 4/25 @ Biscuits and Blues
Tommy Castro, Trimmin' Fat
      Fri 4/23 @ Last Day Saloon
      Sat 4/24 @ Center for the Arts
Rick Estrin and The Nightcats, A Ton Of Money
      Fri 4/23 @ Black Oak Casino
      Sat 4/24 @ Biscuits and Blues
Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings, Down Home Girl
      Fri 4/23 @ Empress Theatre
      Sat 4/24 @ Moe's Alley
Rory Block, Moon's Goin' Down
      Thu 4/22 @ Don Quixote's International Hall of Music
      Fri 4/23 @ Palms Playhouse

George 'Harmonica' Smith, I Left My Heart In San Francisco
Bacon Fat, Up The Line
William Clarke, Lonesome Bedroom Blues (live)
Doug MacLeod, Dubb's Talkin' Politician Blues
Muddy Waters, Rock Me (live)

Little Walter, Can't Hold Out Much Longer
Mark Hummel, Roller Coaster
Leroy Carr, Six Cold Feet In The Ground
Bill Gaither, After The Sun's Gone Down
Bill Gaither, Champ Joe Louis
Roy Orbison & The Teen Kings, Go! Go! Go!
Janiva Magness, I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down
      from the new album Devil Is An Angel Too
Holmes Brothers, Dark Cloud
      from the new album Feed My Soul

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Head Hunters revisited

This past Monday was Herbie Hancock's 70th birthday, and last night we played Watermelon Man from his landmark 1973 album Head Hunters. That album was recently selected for inclusion in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress, and we produced a short documentary that aired on NPR's All Things Considered, featuring interviews with Herbie himself, producer David Rubinson, and Steve Pond, author of Head Hunters: The Making of Jazz's First Platinum Album. You can listen to the documentary here.