Ben de la Cour SHADOW LAND

Ben de la Cour
Shadow Land
Flour Sack Cape Records

A Satisfying, Yet Disturbing Trip Into the Dark Heart of Small Town America

The first time I came across Ben de la Cour was a couple of years back when he was playing a short unofficial fringe slot at the 5 Spot in East Nashville. The place was dark; last night’s beer smell was drifting through the space and apart from myself, the attendance was pretty sparse for this late afternoon show.
Elements of that noirish atmosphere lace this 2020 release (2021 in Europe).
“God’s Only Son” opens with a Calexico-flavoured tale of criminal behaviour, with a voice that is soaked in rawness and melody. “High Heels Down the Holler” doesn’t get any brighter – A Tom Waits trashcan rhythm and grinding guitar, evokes a mood of sexual danger and exploitation
If you’re looking for a little fun on Friday night”…but you really wouldn’t want to go there….
“The Last Chance Farm” is Rod Picott like in its melodic delivery and narrative tale of a first day in rehab
The kingdom of salvation
Hangs upon a rusty nail
Beneath a proud old painting
Of a ship with golden sails
Let them have their revelations~
in the television light
The last chance farm is waiting.
– it’s dark world with only glimmers of light.
“In God We Trust.. …All Others Pay Cash” is a Bluesy boogie which isn’t going to find favour amongst those with a neoliberal capitalist worldview, because it’s like
putting candles on dog shit and calling it cake.
The delicate finger-picking of “Amazing Grace (Slight return) is a Guy Clark alike story of the kind of relationship that you know is doomed to fail, yet in itself has a kind of inevitable tragic beauty.
Title track “Shadow Land” pulls the trick of cheerful West Coast melody and even darker lyrics such as
It’s an empty world
Getting emptier every day”.
“Basin Lounge” rocks along in the style of Hayes Carll’s “KMAG YOYO,” with its subterranean homesick lyrical avalanche and boogie piano.
Things get darker and harder on “Swan Dive” which opens with an account of watching someone falling to their death from a height in a suicide fall, which in turn becomes a visual metaphor for the effect of emotional let-down
it’s a whole new world when you peek through the cracks”.
There’s little let up in the resignation and wry observation of “From Now On”
is it going to be this way
from now on?
most definitely, it seems.
“Anderson’s Small Ritual” is Prine-like in its picking and couplets and focus on and celebration of eccentricity
Never trust any man
If he don’t have no scars
and finds a purpose and celebration in being out beyond the edge because
tomorrow ain’t a promise
The life you save might be your own.”
Musically, “Harmless Indian Medicine Blues” with its distorted fuzzy vocals is Jim Morrison in intent and is a crazy messed up free-form psychotic nightmare put to words and music – it’s what it’s like to be on the edge and about to fall
“I Woke Up Screaming From an Opium Dream” – the final track again is situated on the brink of life/death and salvation and is struggling for purpose in a world where a “man’s a monkey on his dunghill”.
“Shadow Land” isn’t an easy listen – and a Google search will help the listener to gauge how much is persona and how much is from within – Ben de la Cour has lived a life that allows him to speak from authority about that which he sings; and hopefully there’s catharsis and healing in this satisfying yet quite disturbing trip into the dark heart of small town America.

Review by Nick Barber
Released April 9th 2021



Chris Smither
Signature Sounds/Mighty Albert

Timeless Songs Full of Rustic Charm and Tattered Love.

As regular readers will know I listen to albums a couple of times, so as to pass judgement before picking up the accompanying Press Release.
Today, this caused some consternation as I thought/presumed that this was a brand new, shiny album from one of our favourite singer-songwriters; but apparantly these are actually leftovers from 2013’s SONGS FROM THE LEVEE sessions, which actually begat a fabulous Double Album; and without giving the game away too early ……… that must have been some special water Smither was drinking at that time if this collection weren’t deemed good enough to make the ‘initial final cut’!
I couldn’t stop thinking about ‘that’ this morning when I sat down to start writing and listened again to opening track Caveman.
Come on guys; if 99% of other songwriters had written this song; and even sung it in the way Smither does, it would be a career highlight!
But for Chris Smither it only made the reserve list! Such is his quality threshold.
In fairness you can play a 20 year old Chris Smither album and his songs don’t sound like they’ve aged a day; such is the timeless quality of his writing and singing; which is why I presumed that Father’s Day and Lonely Time; which are all full of Smither’s trademarked quintessential rustic charm were brand new songs written and performed this year.
Perhaps I missed something when I first heard and fell in love with the gloriously downbeat Old Man Down; which actually has a Leonard Cohen vibe to it; but it will also touch the hearts and souls of most listeners of my generation as Chris digs deeper than most other songwriters can; or even dare.
Of course that ‘sitting on the back porch’ ‘easy come/easy go’ feeling that saturated SONGS FROM THE LEVEE is still here; especially so on Hey Hey Hey and What I Do; where Chris just oozes effortless cool in every word and note.
But; I’m going to the darker edges of the album to choose a Favourite Song.
As you’d expect the ‘aging process’ is something of a shadow here; although yer man never feels sorry for himself; and nor should we as he celebrates a ‘life well lived’ in one form or another on the tattered and inspirational Lonely Time and, the song that squeezed the the actual oxygen out of my heart the second time I played it and understood it ………. Confirmation; with its delightful twangy melody and toe-tapping beat; but listen to Smithers clever and introspective words and …….. phew ……… this is a song that’s well worth the entrance fee alone.
Just like the opening track Caveman; it’s staggering to think that songs this good weren’t deemed good enough to be included in the original Double Album; and to be fair ……. they weren’t even missed; where they?
There is actually one brand spanking new song here; and it closes the album just perfectly’ as What I Do fits in like an aging hand into a well worn leather glove.

Released September 25th 2020



Pokey LaFarge
New West Records

Soundtrack To a Soul in Crisis

Pokey LaFarge is another one of those acts that I appear to have seen live a couple of times, but don’t appear to have ever owned anything from their recorded output.
Which; I suppose means that I have nothing to compare his latest release to.
It’s interesting that, as usual I played this twice before looking at the Press Release; and my thoughts that these songs were somehow ‘darker’ than I’d expected; come from the fact that Pokey wrote the core to ‘document his overindulgence and despair‘ during a ‘downward spiral‘ after moving to LA from St Louis.
For most of us, what he went through would have been something we would have wanted to close the book on; but being a Singer-Songwriter he’s got a fascinating album out of his experiences!
There’s actually an orchestral underscore that opens the title track, Rock Bottom Rhapsody; which totally surprised me; but that quickly leads into LaFarge’s trademarked toe-tapping and melodious Rootsy Americana, which is the first of a series of very dark stories.
I’ll give you a clue; as he sings;
I’m making light of my misery
Shining bright for the whole world to see
hope that I die on stage singing the last song I know.

By the time you hear Pokey sing this on stage, I’m sure he will claim it’s ‘tongue in cheek’ ….. but it did come from a dark time in his life; and the lyrics amplify that.
When you pick apart the lyrics here; you are left wondering why he didn’t go for a full on Southern Gothic doom and gloom mix; but with Joel Paterson on geetar and The Master Jimmy Sutton on bass; I guess they couldn’t do anything else but wrap everything up in Honky-Tonky and N’Orleans style tunes.
Take Bluebird as a for instance; you will find yourself shaking your booty to it as you do the washing up; then one day the lyrics will hit you like a left hook to the jaw and your knees will wobble!
Perhaps I’m wrong; but I think of Pokey LaFarge as a Good Time Charlie; and my memories of his Jumpin’ Hot Club gigs are very much along those lines; so in many ways this is a very brave album for him to release …… but when the songs are as good as Lucky Sometimes, which sounds like it could be from a Bogart movie; or the spiky Fallen Angel which is just waiting for Scorsese to add it to a film soundtrack.
As I said earlier I don’t know where this fits in LaFarge’s canon of work; but I hope his fans appreciate the strength of will it must have taken to not just write; but then record and release Ain’t Comin’ Home and the single; F*ck Me Up; although I doubt it got any airplay! My world is actually a better place for having both close by.
While most songs here are what we used to call ‘Album tracks’ there are sill a couple of commercial cuts that could easily fit into daytime radio schedules quite easily; because the world loves a great breakup song don’t they? Which is what Just The Same and Lost In The Crowd sound like to me.
I’ve had my own ‘issues’ over the years; and the current Medical Pandemic sweeping the world isn’t helping; but what often gets me through is music; and I know that’s true of many other sufferers; so that’s what I had in mind when it came to selecting a Favourite Song; because the 60’s pastiche Carry On sounds quite charming at first; but peel back the veneer and Pokey is singing just for me, and me alone ….. or perhaps it could be you; and you alone. Such is the raw strength and power in his delicate words.
Obviously this album has been scheduled for an April release for several months now; but coming out at the height of the craziest time in living memory when we are all confined to our homes going ‘stir crazy’ just may be the perfect time for this wonderful and brave set of songs.
I’ve mentioned the ‘cinematic quality’ of many of these songs; and with hindsight the judicious use of book-ending the songs with the orchestral Rock Bottom Rhapsody itself, and sliding in a mini-version half way through makes this sound like the Soundtrack to a memorable part of Pokey LaFarge’s life; but a part that is best remembered in song ……. rather than deeds.

Released April 10th 2020

Robbie Fulks 16

Robbie Fulks
Self Release/Bloodshot Records

Surprisingly Emotional Re-Imagining of Bob Dylan’s Street Legal.

Well, indeedy!
Mr Robbie Fulks was one of my earliest ‘gateway acts’ into what we now lovingly call Alt. Country; and while loving most, if not everything he’s released since The Very Best of in 2000 or thereabouts; he’s never released an album that wasn’t as imminently listenable as they are interesting; and that’s a fair summation of his latest album; 16 – a brave re-imagining of Bob Dylan’s Street Legal.
Before I start; I bet good money that I’m the only reviewer NEVER to have heard the original album!
Seriously …… not a single note or word; His Bobness just leaves me cold …… but I do know he can write a damn fine song.
16 opens with the delicately beautiful Changing of The Guard; and the biggest surprise is that Fulks plays it absolutely straight as a dye. No tongue cheek. No sly wink to the side of the stage …… it’s obvious this early that he loves these songs; and while putting his own unmistakable stamp on them; he’s also paying homage to his musical hero.
In my humble opinion; like Roger McGuinn before him; Robbie Fulks has a voice that’s a perfect match for Dylan’s intricate musings.
Is Your Love In Vain is a big ole production, with Fulks dragging as much pathos as possible out of every single couplet; and on True Love Tends To Forget we find girly backing singers and a cool horn section, which somehow makes this sound like Van Morrison, if our Northern Irish friend could actually enunciate his vowels.
Yet with We Better Talk This Through, Fulks and band attempt to rock the bloody doors off!
Even the first time I heard these songs I knew that they were all very special indeed; especially the dark and brooding slice of contemporary Alt. Country New Pony; and Fulks delves really deep to do these lyrics justice and manages with ease and grace.
As we all know Bob Dylan is a poet at heart; and that comes across all to well in the bedazzling Where Are You Tonight (Journey Through Dark Heat) which has more than a nod to the 60’s Beat Poets and even Sir Leonard Cohen too, in the way Fulks taps out a hypnotic beat with his vocals.
My copy doesn’t include a list of the players behind Robbie Fulks; but it’s constantly obvious that they are all A Lister’s and the production is pin sharp from start to finish.
As per usual it’s never easy to choose a Favourite Track as there are no ‘obvious singles’ as we used to say; this is as ‘Grown Up’ an album as I or you will hear this or any other year.
But; there are two songs that captured my attention that first night and again today; Baby Stop Crying is everything my Bob Dylan loving friends tell me I should like about his work; but it’s taken the delicate touch of Robbie Fulks to now, possibly get me on board in the way he makes it sound Alt. Country and Jazz Lite at exactly the same time!
The other; which I have decided is the actual RMHQ Favourite Song is ……… Senor (Tales of Yankee Power); again we go back to the poetry of Dylan’s lyrics to get at the heart of this almost Gothic tale; and when you unravel the story (I think I have, but I could be wrong) this could possibly be one of Bob Dylan’s Masterworks; but only because Robbie Fulks allows us in with his almost Edith Piaf style handling.
This is quite unlike anything I’ve heard from Robbie Fulks before, but possibly because of that I’ve sat enthralled all afternoon just ‘listening’ to it; which is a rarity in this office.

Released November 1st 2019

Buy 16 here


Ida Mae
Chasing Lights
VRR/Thirty Tigers

Transcendental and Emotionally Raw Songs from Britain’s Musical Roots.

Ida Mae’s website tells you nearly as much as the accompanying Press Release about this enigmatic duo …….. nothing!
So, a tiny bit of detective work has discovered that the married couple of Stephanie Jean and Chris Turpin were the mainstays in a British Blues Rock band called Kill It Kid (3 albums) but have now gone renegade in a quest to make the music of their heart’s desire; which is a twist on Rootsy Americana, if my ears don’t deceive me.
I certainly wasn’t prepared for the loud and raucous grittiness of opening track Boom, Boom, Boom (although the title should have been a clue) …….. this is raw 21st Century Rock n Roll that sounds like the White Stripes covering an Imelda Mae song; and it’s followed by My Girl is a Heartbreak; which is much slower and a lot more intense but Turpin’s vocals are just as powerful and gritty, in a velvety manner.
You are in for a treat, as the couple’s songwriting is quite extraordinarily ‘good’, with clever narratives and tips of the hat towards poetry on a couple of songs too, plus the guitar playing throughout is deceptively brilliant at times too.
It took me a couple of plays to understand the highs and lows of the mood swings that Ida Mae deliberately create here; with the dark ballad Easily in Love following the magnetic drum heavy and hypnotic Higher Than the Light, and preceding the swelling harmonies of Love is Still a Hard Road, which sounds like the couple are singing too and with each other without a care that anyone is listening.
‘Love’ in all its mysterious guises features in many, if not all the songs here; sometimes it’s ‘what it says on the tin’ via the title; the raw Delta Blues of Sick in Love and If You Don’t Love are obvious choices, but never cliched, with Chris ringing every ounce of emotion out of both.
But, such is the articulate and smart way the couple create a song, the heartfelt Rightfully, Honestly will feel like a stiletto to your heart when you hear it for the first time; yet on Reaching Chris sounds like he could explode as he hits notes that only dogs will hear; but the delicate title track Chasing Lights has the ability to make you stop breathing while you listen and take in the duos compelling story.
That song was very nearly the RMHQ Favourite song; but then I listened again to final track Baby Be Mine, which has Stephanie Jean taking lead and Chris supplying winsome harmonies; and…. well……. it falls just short of being a tearjerker; but I think it won’t be long before I’m reaching for it one cold evening just as I uncork a bottle of wine.
As well as Chris and Stephanie Jean Turpin; a huge round of applause must go to the simple bass playing of Nick Pink and the extraordinary guitar interludes from one Dweezil Zappa but most of all the understated production by Ethan Johns, who also supplies drums, keys and even ukulele too!
If you don’t already know Ida Mae; as I didn’t, but they cover a heady mix of sounds that will remind you at different times of the White Stripes, The Civil Wars and even John Martyn and Nick Drake; so strap yourself in for a bunch of songs that will not just challenge your emotions, but make you sing, dance and every old thing, too!

Released 12th July 2019


Terry Robb
Confessin’ My Dues

Acoustic Blues Don’t Get Much Finer Than This!

I kept picking this album up and putting it down again; not because I didn’t think I’d like it ….. quite the opposite actually; I just needed to be in the right place at the right time, and most importantly the right frame of mind to do it justice, as this type of Blues needs to be cherished, admired and savoured like a fine wine.
Even though I’d not heard of Terry Robb before, it comes as no surprise to find this is his 15th album ….. yes ……FIFTEENTH!
Right from the first two instrumental tracks here Butch Holler Stomp and Still On 101 Terry Robb shows what not just an accomplished Blues guitarist he is; but with his majestic flourishes quite experimental too without ever deviating from the path carved out by Robert Johnson nearly 100 years ago. Damn right this is The Blues, with a capital T and B.
By track #3 How a Free Man Feels, Robb actually sings; and wowza what a voice he has too; clean and crystal clear which is perfect for the way he delivers this age old story.
While only ever playing an acoustic or Resonator and occasionally supported by a stand-up bass and drums, Robb can kick up quite a storm with his variant on Country Blues, with the title track Confessin’ My Dues and Keep Your Judgement both being the type of song that will fill the dancefloor at a dive bar or Honky-Tonk; and on Three Times The Blues aficionados of all persuasions will sit open mouthed at his mastery of the wooden instrument.
I’ve heard a lot of guitarists ‘like’ Terry Robb, from Stefan Grossman through to Joe Bonamassa but very few times have I been as awestruck as I was the first time I heard Death of Blind Arthur, as Robb flits between the Blues, Jazz and Classical in the blink of an eye.
Two entirely different songs tie for the title of RMHQ Favourite track; Heart Made of Steel is an acoustic trio sounding as ‘heavy’ as Cream ever managed with a lorry load of Marshall amps; and the track that precedes it, It Might Get Sweaty sounds like that’s exactly how these three cats felt in the studio at the end of the recording session; and it still leaves plenty of room for expansion when played live!
It’s when I discover acts like Terry Robb and records like this I despair when the Awards Season comes along and the ‘experts opinion’ of what constitutes The Blues is 100 miles apart from my own interpretation; but I can’t do any more than advise you to invest your hard earned money in this album to discover what Blues Music can and does sound like in 2019.

Released May 31st 2019

The Blues Foundation Awards 2019

Our friend Cary Baker from the prestigious Conqueroo Company was at the Blues Foundation Awards Ceremony in Memphis TN on Thursday night; and here’s his report on the show and the Winners in each category.

First-time winners Ben Harper and Sugaray Rayford joined veteran BMA honorees Buddy Guy and Marcia Ball among the triumphant

musicians at the gala ceremony hosted by Little Steven Van Zandt on Thursday night.
The Memphis Cook Convention Center was packed with blues musicians, fans, and music-world luminaries on May 9th anxious to see who would be announced as winners at the 40th Annual Blues Music Awards. For the second consecutive year, Little Steven Van Zandt emceed the festivities, with such notable musicians as Maria Muldaur, Latimore, Colin Linden, Scott Barnhart, Colin James, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Victor Wainwright serving as presenters. Besides awarding honors in 25 categories, the BMAs, as is its tradition, featured performances from many nominees, with the gala ending in jubilant all-star jam.
 The night’s joyful celebration, however, also held a note of sadness. This year’s top award winner was Michael Ledbetter, who passed away in January. Ledbetter was honored with the Instrumentalist-Vocals award and named B.B. King Entertainer of the Year while his group, The Welch-Ledbetter Connection, were victors as the Band of the Year. Additionally, his co-bandleader, Monster Mike Welch, topped the Instrumentalist-Guitar category. At the ceremony, Welch noted of his late musical partner: “I am the guitarist I am in 2019 because I had to keep up with Mike Ledbetter.” Shemekia Copeland earned two BMAs for her acclaimed album America’s Child, which was first recognized as Contemporary Blues Album and then took home top honors as Album of the Year.
The evening’s only other double winner was Danielle Nicole, who took home the Instrumentalist-Bass and Contemporary Blues Female Artist honors.
Ruthie Foster was the sole musician to retain their title as she again received the Koko Taylor Award for Traditional Blues Female ArtistCedric Burnside and Kenny Neal, meanwhile, re-gained their 2017 crowns for Instrumentalist-Drums and Contemporary Blues Male Artist, respectively.
 Amanda Fish, whose album Free was proclaimed the Best Emerging Artist Album, followed in the footsteps of her sister Samantha, last year’s Contemporary Blues Female Artist recipient. Eric Gales (Blues Rock Artist), Dennis Gruenling (Instrumentalist-Harmonica), Vanessa Collier (Instrumentalist-Horn), Annika Chambers (Soul Blues Female Artist) also made their debuts as BMA awardees, while Billy F Gibbons, of ZZ Top fame, won Blues Rock Album for The Big Bad Blues.
 The road to winning a BMA was far longer for Nick Moss (Traditional Blues Male Artist) and Sugaray Rayford (Soul Blues Male Artist), whose triumphs came after years of nominations.
Although Johnny Rawls had won before, he had been nominated more than a dozen times between receiving the Soul Blues Album prize in 2010 and this year for the aptly titled I’m Still Around.
 Several musicians added to their collections of BMA honors. Rory Block was picked as the top Acoustic Artist and the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year went to Marcia BallBuddy Guy, the all-time leader in BMA awards, had his release, The Blues Is Alive and Well, chosen the best Traditional Blues Album. Guy was not the only victorious Blues Hall of Famer this year.
 Joe Louis Walker won in the Acoustic Album category for Journeys to the Heart of the Blues, a project he did with Bruce Katz and Giles RobsonCharlie Musselwhite, who ranks with Guy among prolific BMA winners, had his collaboration with first-time winner Ben Harper on Harper’s tune “No Mercy in This Land” honored as Song of the Year
 Here is the complete list of Blues Music Award winners (final)
1. Acoustic Album: Journeys to the Heart of the Blues – Joe Louis Walker/Bruce Katz/Giles Robson
 2.     Acoustic Artist:  Rory Block
 3.     Album:  America’s Child – Shemekia Copeland
 4.     B.B. King Entertainer: Michael Ledbetter 
 5.     Band: Welch-Ledbetter Connection
6.     Best Emerging Artist AlbumFree – Amanda Fish
 7.     Blues Rock Album: The Big Bad Blues – Billy F Gibbons
 8.     Blues Rock Artist: Eric Gales
9.     Contemporary Blues AlbumAmerica’s Child – Shemekia Copeland
10.  Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Danielle Nicole 
11.  Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Kenny Neal
12.   Instrumentalist-Bass: Danielle Nicole           
13.   Instrumentalist-Drums: Cedric Burnside     
14.   Instrumentalist-Guitar: Monster Mike Welch        
15.   Instrumentalist-Harmonica: Dennis Gruenling         
16.   Instrumentalist-Horn: Vanessa Collier        
17.   Instrumentalist- Pinetop Perkins Piano Player: Marcia Ball
18.   Instrumentalist-Vocals: Michael Ledbetter       
19.   Song: “No Mercy In This Land” Written By Ben Harper and Performed by Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite 
20.   Soul Blues Album: I’m Still Around – Johnny Rawls     
21.   Soul Blues Female Artist: Annika Chambers    
22.   Soul Blues Male Artist:  Sugaray Rayford                                      
23.   Traditional Blues Album: The Blues is Alive and Well – Buddy Guy 24.   Koko Taylor Award for Traditional Blues Female Artist: Ruthie Foster          
25.   Traditional Blues Male Artist: Nick Moss

 The Blues Music Awards represented just one of the many highlights of the Blues Foundation’s exciting Blues Music Week.
The festivities kicked off May 8th with its Blues Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The BHOF 40th class included the iconic singer Aretha Franklin, the renowned composer/pianist/bandleader Count Basie, 1920s-era blues queen Ida Cox, influential guitarist Pee Wee Crayton, and the revered Memphis-based band Booker T. & the MG’s. 
In a moving moment, MG’s guitarist and Memphis music legend Steve Cropper represented his band at the induction ceremony. “We didn’t see color over at Stax,” he said in a short but emotionally charged acceptance speech. “We were family.” 
The classic recordings that the Blues Hall of Fame honored this year were B.B. King’s “Every Day I Have the Blues,” Muddy Waters’ Rollin’ Stone,” Ray Charles’ “I Got a Woman,” Bessie Smith’s “The St. Louis Blues,” and Elmore James’ “Shake Your Moneymaker” as well as James’ album The Sky Is Crying.
Folkways Records founder Moses Moe” Asch was this year’s non-performing individual inductee and 2019’s Classics of Blues Literature entrant was Lost Delta Found: Rediscovering the Fisk University — Library of Congress Coahoma County Study, 1941-1942compiled by John W. Work, Lewis Wade Jones, and Samuel C. Adams, Jr.  
The Blues Hall of Fame Museum saluted the opening of its new exhibit, “The Blues According to Arhoolie,” on May 8th with a meet-and-greet Q&A with label founder and Blues Hall of Famer Chris Strachwitz. It also hosted a Dick Waterman: A Life in Blues book signing, featuring author Tammy L. Turner and her subject, the noted blues historian/photographer Dick Waterman. 
Another prominent label founder, Alligator Records’ Bruce Iglauer, also appeared at the BHOF to celebrate his new memoir, Bitten by the Blues.  
A particularly notable Blue Music Week event was “The Blues and Race” panel. Continuing the keynote discussion that took place at January’s International Blues Challenge, this spirited dialogue explored the significance of race within the blues genre. Noelle Trent, PhD., the National Civil Rights Museum’s Director of Interpretation, Collections and Education, again acted as the moderator, with musicians Bobby Rush, Billy Branch, Thornetta Davis, Terrie Odabi, and concert promoter Paul Benjamin participating on this lively panel. Rush cited ’60s club dates during which he and is band played behind a curtain so that the audience could not see he and his band were black. According to Odabi, an educator as well as an artist: “When we came to America, our culture was taken away from us. We created the blues out of nothing. Our history has not been taught.” 
About the Blues Foundation: This world-renowned, Memphis-based organization upholds a mission to preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recordings and performances, expand worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form. Founded in 1980, the Blues Foundation has more than 4,000 individual members, with 183 affiliated blues societies representing another 50,000 fans and professionals around the world. Its signature honors and events — the Blues Music Awards, Blues Hall of Fame, International Blues Challenge, and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards — make it the international center of blues music. Its HART Fund provides the blues community with medical assistance for musicians in need, while Blues in the Schools programs and Generation Blues Scholarships expose new generations to blues music.
The recent opening of the Blues Hall of Fame Museum, in Memphis, Tenn., now adds the opportunity for music lovers of all ages to interact with the music and the history. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the global blues community with answers, information, and news.Support the Blues Foundation by becoming an affiliated organization, corporate, or individual member, or simply by making a charitable donation. 
About the Blues Hall of Fame Museum: Since opening in May of 2015, the Blues Hall of Fame Museum has become a must-see destination for blues aficionados and casual fans alike. Through its ten permanent galleries and the Upstairs Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise Gallery’s temporary exhibit space, the museum both educates and entertains visitors, providing them a unique way to learn about blues culture and history, while also highlighting the 400+ BHOF inductees.
Visitors can explore 10 individualized galleries where they can use interactive touchscreens to access databases that allow them to hear music, watch videos, and read stories about every museum’s inductees. Guests can also view one-of-a-kind memorabilia, from musical instruments and tour attire to awards and artwork. Located at 421 S. Main St., the Memphis-based museum is open seven days a week (Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 1-5 p.m.).Admission is $10 per person; free for children (12 and younger with an adult) and Blues Foundation members. For more information, call 901-527-2583.

Daddy Long Legs LOWDOWN WAYS

Daddy Long Legs
Lowdown Ways
Yep Roc

Red Raw Rock & Roll, a Side-Order Of Fiery Cajun Tunes and Plenty of Sizzling Country Blues Too.

YOWZA! YOWZA! and indeed YOWZA!
This album arrived twice in the same week from both the US and UK publicists and both included personal notes ‘suggesting RMHQ will like this a lot’ …… how well some people know me now.
First of all, Mrs. Magpie suggested I turn it off last week …….. which is usually a good sign, plus I love the arrogance of any Rock n Roll band who start an album with their very own signature tune; which is what we get here with the Theme From Daddy Long Legs; and I’m buggered if I can actually describe this Voodoo drenched red raw, Rhythm AND Blues which both rocks and rolls in a way I’ve not heard in eons.
Then, things only get weirder!
I have no idea what this Pink Lemonade that vocalist Brian Hurd sings about but I’d love a big glass please.
Daddy Long Legs’s influences are far too many and far too diverse to list; but I certainly hear Howlin’ Wolf, Capt. Beefheart and JD Wilkes from the Legendary Shackshakers in Glad Rag Ball and Snagglepuss; but I’m sure you will find your own Roots, Rock Weirdo’s inhabiting Be Gone, Glad Rag Ball and Mornin’, Noon & Nite; but at the end of the day who out their doesn’t wear their influences on their sleeves? This is one highly complex Gumbo from start to finish and the only sounds you will care about is the firecrackers that Daddy Long Legs keep setting off in your head.
Even when Daddy Long Legs pour their hearts out in a ballad, with Back Door Fool you half expect it to become a murder ballad; and I’m not 100% sure it’s not actually.
Just when you are getting your head around Daddy Long Legs’s potent brew they throw in a fiery Cajun tune in the guise of Celaphine; and I defy anyone to keep up with this wicked tempo when tapping their toes, never mind dancing.
Not for the first time, this is an album that I could put a blindfold on to choose a Favourite Song; but I’m going to actually select two songs (then instantly regret my choices I’m sure!).
First there’s the feisty Ding Dong Dong which sounds like something from one of Alan Lomax’s field recordings; but I’m assured it’s brand new; and it will make you want to dance like young Forest Gump; trust me.
The other is nearly ‘contemporary’ by comparison; and if you play Bad Neighbourhood loud enough you will scare the Bejasus out of your neighbours …… I know; because I did quite by accident when I opened my car door one night!
For a NYC trio Daddy Long Legs sure sound like authentic they come from a swamp somewhere off the map in the Deep, deep South, and they are going to be the band that will blow you away at some Festival this summer.

Released May 10th 2019

Will Kimbrough I LIKE IT DOWN HERE

Will Kimbrough
I Like It Down Here
Daphne Records/Soundly Music

Songs of The South in All It’s Poetic and Ragged Glory.

Regardless of the content, I’m always going to like a Will Kimbrough album, that’s just how I roll.
As per usual I’d played this disc three times before I got around to reading the Press Release, and I’m glad I did…….. as it got to join some very oblique dots for me.
First and foremost I never knew Kimbrough was from Alabama, and Lower Alabama at that; but you actually need to know that detail to ‘buy into’ this ‘Love Letter and Prayer to The South’ as he quaintly describes his beautifully motley collection of heartfelt songs.
The shimmering opening track Hey Trouble is a good ole fashioned ‘bad luck’ Blues song wrapped up in an Americana melody and chock full of Kimbrough’s trademark guitar licks. What’s not to like?
But….. put your emotional seat-belt on for what is to follow.
The title track I Like It Down Here follows with the opening stanza confirming the theme of what this album is generally about,
She asked me when’s the bad luck stop
When do we rise to the top?
It’s awful hard work pulling up the rear.”

It’s actually a love song of sorts; and one of those songs that will stick in the memory bank for years; coming back to haunt you when you least expect it.
There’s so much going on in Will Kimbrough’s professional life, that he didn’t need to write and record a solo album; but with so much happening politically and socially in his beloved South and especially his home State of Alabama he appears to have got the itch to write about things in his very own and deeply personal manner, going back to his Roots basically.
Oddly enough this gives him the opportunity to drop musical surprises, with the jaunty I’m Not Running Away, the Soulful – When I Get To Memphis, the thoughtful – Star, and indeed the wistful in Saltwater & Sand which I’d never have really expected in advance.
On any other album his two Southern Blues Deluxe tracks, Buddha Blues and It’s a Sin would truly be deemed exceptional, with the latter starting with the gut-wrenching lines:
“Innocent babies come into this world
Singing their little hearts out
Daddy says it’s a sin …… to kill Mockingbirds
I have no reason to doubt”

Attach those stinging words to a a pleading singer and funereal paced N’Orleans melody and you have a song that will break every heart that hears it.
But…….takes a deep breath….. there’s also a song here that is probably the cornerstone to this very record, with everything else depending on it’s unyielding power to allow them to breathe on their own.
I feel guilty calling Alabama (For *Michael Donald) my Favourite Song here; because it’s much, much more than that.
As you do when you first play an album the songs drift in and out of your consciousness but not this one…… phew, Kimbrough’s words and this horrible true story knocked me sideways immediatly. I don’t intend spoiling anything for you, but you simply MUST LISTEN to this song; it just might change your life a little bit.
If Will Kimbrough had only ever written and created this one song, he could still die a happy and proud man indeed.
When you check out the credits you will see a myriad of Guest Vocalists that are household names; but ignore that……. this is very much Will Kimbrough’s career defining album and his alone.
I come from a mining village in NW Durham whose ‘reputation precedes it’ in our region; but it’s my homeland and I’m therefore allowed to openly criticise it….. but God Help anyone else who does; and that’s how this special songwriter and storyteller shows his love for his own Homeland ….. he’s allowed to tell it how it is, warts and all.

Released 19th April 2019

Single of the Day LASHES – Daydreamer

Daydreamer (single)

I’ve been having ‘one of those mornings’ doing grown-up things, like sorting out my Embezzled Pension, finding a new Life Insurance Policy, finishing off some ironing and reminding Son #1 that it’s his Mam’s birthday next week….. making me all harassed, when this belting slice of Southern/Country Rock arrived in the e-mail.
It’s pretty much exactly what I needed and will go straight into the Summer ‘Driving’ playlist for the car.
Being busy I didn’t read the Press Release until I’d played it three times…… WHAAAATTTT? These guys are from London? London, England? No way dude! If it’s true; and I have no reason to doubt the source……. Brit -Country has some Stars in the Waiting!
This is pretty damn authentic Classic Country Rock that sounds like it comes from Alabama or Memphis, not Croydon or Kensal Green! Apparently there’s an album in the offing, and if this is the starter then the main course is going to be like a red raw T-Bone steak; and I can’t wait.

Released March 1st 2019