Hairy Larry and George plus guests
Live at Jazz Thursday, February 28, 2013
At TheArts@311 in Jonesboro, Arkansas
Three songs from Astral Weeks
06-The Way Young Lovers Do
Hairy Larry - guitar, harmonica, vocals
George - bass vocals
Mike Watson - pennywhistle
Otis and The Stringdusters
Rick Burns aka Otis - cello
Marcia Burns - viola
Tanja McKay - violin
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So pretty much everyone and their brother are putting out tribute recordings these days, with the key word in this sentence being brother. Â However, this is not The Whipping Posts paying tribute to The Allman Brothers; it is not The Satisfaction Seekers paying tribute to the Rolling Stones; and it is not The Thrillers paying tribute to Michael Jackson. This is Benny Turner paying tribute to his brother, and decades long band mate, the late and legendary Freddie King. Â Unlike others, who are only familiar with the music on those tribute recordings they release, Benny Turner has lived it. Â Â
“My Brother’s Blues” is a collection of eleven songs that were recorded by, and very often associated with, Freddie King. Â The songs were composed by a handful of recognizable songwriters of which Freddie himself is one. Â Equally recognizable will be the names of the many musicians involved. Â They are: Benny Turner on bass, lead and background vocals and tambourine; June Yamagishi on lead guitar; Derwin “Big D” Perkins on rhythm guitar; Barney Floyd and Tracy Griffin on trumpet; Jason Mingledorff and Greg Dawson on saxophone; Jeffery “Jellybean” Alexander on drums; Earl Smith on background vocals; Jack Miele on lead and rhythm guitar; Alonzo Johnson on bass; Davell Crawford on B3; Joe Krown on B3 and keyboards; Otis Clay and Marva Wright on lead vocals; Roosevelt Collier on lap steel; Carolyn Wonderland on lead & rhythm guitar and background vocals; Kathy Murray on background vocals; and Chizuko Yoshihiro on piano. Â Lots of good players making lots of good music.
“Have You Ever Loved A Woman” (B. Myles) was always one of my personal favorites of Freddie’s so it’s no surprise that I enjoyed this version as well. Â Besides that, it’s got a lot going on: Vocally, the feeling and emotion Benny’s putting into it had me believing it was actually him suffering through the pain of loving someone else’s woman; Also vocally, he and Earl are all over the soulful backup harmonies on the chorus line; As would be the case when you not only add a horn section but two keyboards as well, the rhythm is profoundly powerful; and then there’s it being it’s six minutes of unadulterated slow blues with the appropriate blues guitar licks. Â Like I said, it’s got a lot going.
Just as you couldn’t release a tribute to Freddie King and not include “Tore Down” (S. Thompson), you can’t do a review of it and not mention it either…especially when it features two late greats - Otis Clay and Marva Wright - teaming up with Benny on the vocals. Â Individually, then collectively, the three take turns belting the hell out of the lead and backup vocals. Â It’s another rhythm fueled smoker with Benny and Jellybean boosting up the bottom, Davell and Keiko creating chaos on the keys, Barney and Jason blowing fire out of their horns Â In the meantime, rounding out this rocker, June’s kicking in with some serious ass kickin’ guitar.
In addition to having been recorded by so many artists, “You’ve Got To Love Her With A Feeling” (F. King & S. Thompson) has had a handful of them take credit for writing it as well. Â Including Freddie’s, I personally have several other renditions that I’m particularly fond of and now - with the arrangement I just heard here - that list now has a new addition. Â Â Â
“See, See, Baby” (S. Thompson & F. King) is the kind of song that stops me in my tracks. Â It comes on and I have to drop whatever it is I’m doing and start tapping my fingers and feet and sway to the music. Â It’s nothing fancy, it’s just the perfect blues band ensemble: a guitarist, bassist and vocalist (Benny); a rhythm guitarist (Jack); a keyboardist (Joe); a trumpet and sax player (Barney and Jason); and a drummer (Jellybean); all locking into a perfectly tight groove while performing a precision perfect shuffle. Â It’s all I need for my blues boat to float. Â
Although the amazingly soulful vocals Benny, Carolyn and Kathy have going on are reason enough alone to listen to “Wee Baby Blues”, there are others. Â The melding of the lead (Benny) Rhythm (Jack) and lap steel (Roosevelt) guitars are another. Â Â
Another of Freddie’s greatest recordings was the Don Nix classic “Same Old Blues”. Â I swear, when this one came on Benny and the guys lifted me up and dropped me right back into that front row seat I was in at My Father’s Place in Roslyn NY on June 15th, 1973. Â Now I’m kind of wondering, were you there Benny? Â Â
Other tracks on “My Brother’s Blues” include: “Big Legged Woman” (J. Williams), “It’s Your Move” (J. Ragovoy & J. Levine), “I’m Ready” (W. Dixon), “Mojo Boogie”, (J. B. Lenoir), and “Ghetto Woman” Â (B.B. King & D Clark).
In addition to this new release, Benny Turner also has a brand new book out titled “Survivor - The Benny Turner Story”. Â You can find out more about the disc, the book and the man himself by going to www.bennyturner.com. Â You can also follow Benny by searching him on Facebook. Â Once you do all this, tell him and Sallie that the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient
After their second release back in 2012, Big City Rhythm & Blues referred to Altered Five as being “Hands Down, one of the best newer blues/R&B bands” and that statement apparently echoed throughout the blues world. Â The bands third release, “Cryin’ Mercy”, not only earned them numerous nominations in various awards competitions but it also won the Blues Foundation’s 2015 “Best Self Produced CD” award. Â Now some may think that momentum like that may be hard to maintain, but Altered Five don’t seem to think so and neither do I. Â From what I just heard, their newest release - “Charmed and Dangerous” - could very well be their best yet. Â
The Altered Five Blues Band are: Jeff Taylor on lead vocals; Jeff Schroedl on guitar; Mark Solveson on electric & upright bass, Raymond Tevich on keyboards; and the disc’s producer, Grammy Award winner Tom Hambridge on drums & percussion. Â Joining them are special guests Steve Cohen on harmonica and Candice Smith on backing vocals. Â "Charmed and Dangerous" contains thirteen all original tracks covering a variety of blues styles,
If this song were a personal ad, and it surely sounds like one, it certainly beats the hell out of that “I like long walks on the beach and sunsets” crap.“ Â Proudly and powerfully boasting his apparently desirable assets, this is how Jeff Taylor tells it: "I’m a wanted man, six foot two. Â Double barrel chest, wolverine tattoo. Â Ride an iron horse chopper, walk a blood hound dog. Â Got all the gun powder one man’s allowed. Â I’m ‘Charmed And Dangerous’, I want to be your bad boy. Â I promise ya darlin’, I’ll fill you full of joy.” Â And that’s just the first several similar verses! Â Of course lyrics as bold as those should have to be backed by bold music as well, and with their gutsy guitar leads and robust rhythm, the guys were all over that.
Affectionate verse such as “'If Your Heart Went Public’”, I’d buy a hundred shares of stock" make this a wonderfully written and beautifully performed love song. Â With the sincerity I’m hearing in his voice, I can’t imagine any woman not melting upon hearing those words come from JT. Â Musically, it’s just as beautiful. Â I’ll be shocked, as well as disappointed, if I don’t see several of this bands names on upcoming BMA ballots. Â
“My Wallet’s like an onion, open it up and it will make you cry; But my lovin’ is just like cinnamon, you want it soft and sweet baby I’m your guy”; is not something you’ll ever hear Bobby Flay tell Giada De Laurentis on a Food Network show but that, along with other culinary catch phrases like: “I haven’t got much bread, but my heart is warm as toast”; “I’m just a poor small potato, a speck of dirt is all I’m worth”; and “I don’t bring home much bacon, my credit’s a little lean”; are some of the reasons JT has no business “Cookin’ In Your Kitchin”. Â That said, using his soulful and gravely voiced vocals to belt the hell out of some slow blues is indeed his business. Â Musically, with the guys in a tight rhythm groove behind them, Jeff and Raymond - with some stinging guitar and piano leads - are getting in on some of that business as well. Â Good, old school, traditional blues at it’s best. Â
The rhythm section that has been absolutely profound throughout the disc, amazingly enough, take it up a notch on “She’s Still Crazy”. Â That’s due to Â Mark, Raymond and Tom just flat out beating up on the bass, organ and drums. Â Throw in Jeff and Steve going toe to toe with smokin’ guitar and harp leads and you’re now listening to the disc’s best musical production.
Although this one is about a very special lady, it’s title - “Eighth Wonder of the World” - could just as well be a description of Jeff Taylor’s voice. Â Not that he even remotely needs any help, but with his compelling and emotional vocals being angelically backed up by Candice, this is an absolutely flawless and stunning vocal performance. Â Right about now my ultimate “this is song of the year material” compliment would be quite appropriate.
JT, I can relate to you my brother. Â Just like you, I’m always telling my wife……okay, maybe it’s her always telling me…..but whichever the case “Look What You Made Me Do” is a commonly spoken phrase at the house of Blewzz. Â This is one of the more relaxed tracks of the lot. Â As JT offers us an insight into some of his not uncommon frustrations, the band is softly laying down a very smooth blues groove behind him.
By now you may have noticed that by the many references I’ve made to lyrics, the writing on this disc has completely impressed me. Â That said, I was even impressed with the lyrics of the songs I didn’t mention, and they are: “Mint Condition”, “Three Forks”, “On My List to Quit”, “Gonna Lose My Lady”, “Three Alarm Desire”, “Small Talk” and “Rotten”.
Instead of suggesting, as I usually do, I’m going to politely insist that you go to www.alteredfive.com to learn more about the band. Â It’s just something ya gotta do! Â Once you’re there, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you and that I’m hoping to see them in Memphis this coming May…..they’ll know what I mean.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient
On this day in music history: August 28, 1971 - âSpanish Harlemâ by Aretha Franklin hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 3 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on September 11, 1971. Written by Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector, it is the eleventh R&B chart topper and eleventh million selling single for âThe Queen Of Soulâ. Franklinâs cover of the Ben E. King classic is recorded on February 16, 1971 at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL. with a group of musicians that includes Donny Hathaway, Bernard Purdie, Cornell Dupree, Ralph MacDonald and Chuck Rainey. Recorded during the sessions for the âYoung, Gifted And Blackâ album, the song is initially issued as a stand alone single in July of 1971, and makes its LP debut as one of three new songs included on âArethaâs Greatest Hitsâ released in September 1971. An instant smash on the R&B and pop charts, the single is held off the top of the Hot 100 by Donny Osmondâs âGo Away Little Girlâ. âSpanish Harlemâ is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
Because they are located all over the world, I donât get to see too many of the bands whose CDs I review. Â That said, at the Blind Raccoon Showcase hosted by Betsie Brown during IBC week, I did have the pleasure of catching the Jon Spear Band live and I now envy those of you who can do so on a regular basis. Â That, combined with having reviewed their debut release, had me looking very forward to working with âHot Sauceâ - the bandâs newest CD.
âHot Sauceâ consists of twelve original tracks with various members of the band putting their pens to work. Â And since thereâs no reason to fix anything thatâs not broke, the band has stayed intact for all of its three releases. Â They are: Jon Spear on rhythm and lead guitar and vocals; Dara James on lead guitar, harp and vocals; Andy Burdetsky on bass and backing vocals; and John Stubblefield on drums and backing vocals. Â Additional artists include: Ron Holloway on sax; Nate Brown on congas; Butch Taylor on keyboards; Matty Metcalfe on accordion; and Nathaniel Star and Yolanda Jones on backing vocals. Â Â
If you are so sick of the crap thatâs going on around you and youâre feeling like you just gotta get the hell out of this place before you explode, then you just might need a âGeographical Cureâ. Â Just as an apple a day is said to keep the doctor away, thereâs also nothing like a change of scenery every once in a while. Â If you allow it, along with its lyrics, the island beat on this one can be transcending. Â As a matter of fact, I myself am already feeling better.
This oneâs called âIt Was A Really Great Gigâ but itâs the next line - âAt least thatâs how it started outâ - that really tells the story. Â You see, the lead singer and a pretty girl were flirting from the stage. Â This girl just happened to be the girlfriend of the local gang leader who saw it all go down. Â As the punk grabbed the singers leg, he whacked him in the head with the mic stand. Â Oh yeah, it gets worse but youâll have to hear the rest for yourself. Â Musically, like the story, itâs a feisty one. Â The exuberant rhythm and rollicking guitars are the perfect accompaniment to the raucous tale.
I once asked another artist how his âStop that grinninâ, drop some denim, letâs get it onâ pick up line went, now here I am wondering how âCould you be my âHot Sauceâ tonight?â worked for Jon Spear? Â Although the song does mention several varieties of chili peppers, itâs the music causing the real heat. Â Along with some very soulful vocals, Daraâs laying down some of the discs more fiery guitar licks; Andy and John pounding out some burning rhythm and guest star Ron is blowing flames out of that sax of his. Â As the title track should be, this is one of the discâs best. Â
âHello!â Â Hello?â Â "Hello, are you there?â Â Helloooooooo, I hear you in the background.â Â "Damn it, 'Butt-Dial Kyleâ is it again. Â Yep, Iâm sure all of us know, and/or have been, a Kyle ourselves at many times. Â Clever and very humorous lyrics about a very common situation. Â Along with the usual great rhythm and guitar leads, this one features several organ and piano highlights from Butch. Â
Being a veteran myself, like Jon and the guys, I also have the "Blues For A Soldierâ. Â This one pays homage to all of the brave Americanâs - and their families - who sacrifice so much of their lives in order to keep the rest of us out of harmâs way. Â Like the lyrics, and the way theyâre being sung by Dara, the music is compelling as well. Â Simply said, this is a very powerfully presented powerful message. Â Thanks!
Now the smell of âCheap Whisky And Stale Cigarettesâ may remind you of some of the juke joints you frequent, but the song is actually about putting a bad situation behind you. Â Another very well written and well done track that features strong vocals from Jon and sharp harp blowinâ by Dara.
Other tracks on âHot Sauceâ include: âBottom Of The Bottleâ, âNoahâs Bluesâ, âPierre Jourdanâ, âHit The Quarterâ, âWintertimeâ and âNatchez Burningâ.
You can find The Jon Spear Band simply by going to www.jonspearband.com
or liking their FB page by searching âJon Spear Bandâ. Â Once you do, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter âBlewzzmanâ Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient
âLonesome Day Bluesâ was recorded by Blind Willie McTell (as Hot Shot Willie) with his wife, Kate McTell, on February 22, 1932 in Atlanta. âRollinâ Mama Blues,â âMama Let Me Scoop For You,â and âSearching the Desert for the Blues,â also collaborations with Kate, were recorded in the same session. pretty much my favorites of Blind Willie McTell, if not the genre.