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Monday, September 12, 2016

Meeting Steve Peskoff Again

Steve Peskoff Trio at Beit Haamudim

The first time I met Steve Peskoff was at the Jerusalem Cinematheque in the fall of 1987. I was playing a regular weekly gig there on Sunday nights, backing up the singer Libi on guitar. Libi knew everyone in the Jerusalem music scene, and would call up different musical guests each time to sit in with us. One Sunday day night, she called up Steve Peskoff, as I took a break and sat down in the front row to listen. Now, for the sake of full disclosure, I did have a little bit of 'weed' earlier in the evening, but that certainly should not diminish my estimation of Steve's playing, quite the opposite, it may have made my reaction to his playing much more extreme...





As I watched this tall skinny man and his Pedulla custom guitar playing through a few changes and going into a long solo, I suddenly found myself in total awe. He seemed to be saying something to himself over and over as he got deeper immersed in the music, maybe chanting or even praying to himself. After about 20 minutes, I said to myself: "I'm going to go home, burn all of my guitars, and never ever play another note, ever!


Steve Peskoff Trio at Beit Haamudim

Well, as the years passed, and I got to know Steve, and performed with him on stage from time to time, I sort of relaxed, and of course, didn't burn my guitars, and continued to play. On one or two occasions where I managed to put together some sort of band, and invited Steve to be a part of it, having him next to me on stage felt like I had a safety net under me - like I could do no wrong as long as he was there. That is just how good Steve is, but unfortunately, not very many people have heard him in the last 10 or so years, and not enough people really see what a gem of a musician and a person he really is.




After so many years of not seeing Steve in person, this evening I got to hear Steve performing live in a trio with his son Haim on drums, and Michael Edward on bass, and it was nothing short of refreshing and wonderful. (A new Jazz series has opened up at the Beit Haamudim on Rambam St. near Nahalat Binyamin, with shows every night of the week)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Son Seals and the Tel Aviv tour that never happened

Son Seals had a birthday a couple of days ago, he would have been 74 years old, and as I played his recordings, listening to his powerful screaming guitar solos and his rich unique voice, I couldn't help but thinking about the meeting that ALMOST was...


I think it was in the winter of 1998/99 - I was asked to recommend a number of Blues artists that the Camelot club in Tel Aviv could bring over for a week's stay. Son Seals was one of the names I suggested, and one day the Camelot club phoned to ask me to prepare some questions for a phone interview with a Chicago based artist who might come to perform here. I soon found out it was Son Seals I was about to interview for the monthly Camelot music magazine. They set a date for the tour, sometime in mid winter, when he wouldn't be too busy with festivals and touring the USA. At the end of the phone interview, we both said "See you soon in Tel Aviv..."

Son Seals - Friday Again

Well, the night of his arrival came and went, I kept calling the Camelot management to see if maybe his flight was delayed due to winter conditions, but no news was to be had... I started sending out emails to people in the Blues community, including Bruce Iglauer the owner/founder of Alligator Records, where Son Seals was on contract for over 35 years...finally, word got out that Seals was hospitalized and had his lower leg amputated due to complications with diabetes. Son recorded one more album, but he stopped touring, and the show in Tel Aviv never happened... Son Seals had a fairly hard life, went through many serious troubles, and passed away at the end of 2004, leaving behind a small treasure of ten albums, 2 of them live albums recorded in downtown Chicago.

the Son Seals story



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Refreshing Blues from Lazy Lester

My new car radio seems to have a mind of its own, completely! I cannot figure out the logic it uses for selecting the next song or next folder to play from my USB flash drive... It's certainly not sorting by any kind of alphabetical, and not by numerical order...my 32GB USB drive can hold at least 200 different albums in MP3 format, and I don't always remember which ones are on there... so I play a game of musical roulette each day on my way to work, clicking the forward and back buttons until I land on an album I want to hear...
Sometimes I land on something that is a very nice surprise or a 'blast from the past', like the three Lazy Lester albums that I recently landed on by coincidence while searching the treasures on this drive...
As the week went by, I found myself listening to more and more of these Lazy Lester albums, which include originals by Lester, as well as covers of classic blues like Five Long Years or Scratch My Back by Slim Harpo, who was a fellow Louisianna "Swamp Blues" singer, and someone Lester recorded with on occasion. Lester also recorded and toured with Lightnin Slim, Katie Webster,
Lonesome Sundown, Whispering Smith, Silas Hogan, Henry Gray, and many others.
Lazy Lester circa 1960

I find Lester's music to be very refreshing - good solid old Blues of the 50's-60's variety with the slight difference that Lester comes from the Lousianna "Swamp Blues" tradition.
His most recent album is You Better Listen released in 2011, and
Lazy Lester at 83 years old still seems to be going strong!
Lazy Lester today

Here are a few Lazy Lester hits to give you an idea -
Lazy Lester - Sugar Coated Love
Lazy Lester - They Call Me Lazy

this classic song by Lazy Lester from the early 60's has an eerie kind of premonition about the science of cloning!
Lazy Lester - The Same Thing Could Happen To You

"...now when you cut your toenails off, don't ever leave 'em in a crack,
because before you leave the jailhouse, man,
you're going to meet yourself coming back..."

Monday, July 25, 2016

Re-Appreciating Fred Neil

I think that anyone who has ever heard one of Fred Neil's original recordings has felt real awe at the depth and clarity of his voice, as well as the energy and originality of his singing style. The problem of course, is that not enough people have ever heard those recordings, and Fred Neal's self-imposed semi-retirement after 1970 did not help matters at all. (The main reason for his retirement - Fred had a big interest in protecting Dolphins, and apparently Neil and Ric O'Barry founded the Dolphin Research Project in 1970, an organization dedicated to stopping the capture, trafficking and exploitation of dolphins worldwide.



Just to give you a reference point on Fred - in 1966 he wrote the classic "Everybody's Talkin' " which only became a hit when Harry Nilsson recorded it in 1968, and became even more popular when it was included in the soundtrack of the hit movie "Midnight Cowboy" in 1969. According to the Bob Dylan biography Chronicles, Fred Neil was instrumental in helping the young Dylan to find cafe gigs, food, and shelter back in his first years in New York city.
Aside from "Everybody's Talkin' ", here are links to some of Fred Neil's classics that I can point you to:
"Blues on the Ceiling"
"Other Side to This Life"
"Ba-di-da"
"That's the Bag I'm In"
"I've Got a Secret"
"The Dolphins"
In this age of countless CD reissues, a fantastic 2-CD set ("the Many Sides of Fred Neil" - Collectors' Choice Music 1999) has been released which encompasses 3 of Fred Neil's original albums, plus a number of rare singles and outtakes, and I highly recommend it. The set includes:
 - "Fred Neil" - 2nd solo album 1966
 - "Sessions" - 1967
 - "The Other Side of This Life"
 (live recording released in 1971)

Ba De Da
I get so tired
Hangin’ around this town
All this old city life
Should bring us fellow down
Badada dada
Dadada dada
Dadada dada
Ba-de-da
I get so tired
Trying to sleep at night
All this old city life
They keep on burning bright
Badada dada…
I get so tired
Hangin’ around this town
All this old city life
Sure brings a fellow down
Badada dada…

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Real true Blues by Mickey Shaviv in Tel Aviv

I first heard Mickey Shaviv on Israeli radio back in the early 1980's when he had a hit making pop-rock power trio named Tango...Mickey was an in demand bass player at the time for a number of prominent Israeli singers and stars. A few years later, I heard him at a private party singing a couple of original Blues songs in Hebrew and accompanying himself on hot guitar.
Fade to 1989, and Mickey had a fresh young band called 'the Blue Eyed Brotherhood', and I was finally introduced to him by my good buddy Avner Strauss. I was fascinated at the time by Mickey's repertoire- nobody else in Israel but me knew about any of those songs or the artists that wrote them...I instantly felt there was a special connection there.
Mickey moved to Canada for a good number of years, disappearing from our local music scene...
Mickey returned sometime in the late 90's, and I booked him to play at my SummerBlues festival in the summer of 2003 or 2004. We finally had a good 'sit down' and discovered we had so many musical influences and interests in common - like the phenomenal Jazz guitarist Lenny Breau, or Jazz-Blues artist Mose Allison. or the Downchild Blues Band that has been running for almost 50 years, and was an inspiration to the  Blues Brothers...Very few people on this earth truly appreciate Lenny Breau's guitar playing sensibilities, but Mickey is one of them, and he incorporates some nice Lenny style Jazz 'comping' and harmonies in his Blues playing.  
...So now it's a Sunday night in late July 2016, and I'm sitting in a small Tel Aviv pub at the end of the bar next to the band, listening to Mickey Shaviv fingerpicking a vintage Fender Strat guitar with contrabass and drums backing him, playing an eclectic mix of jazzy arrangements to Blues standards and more. Classic, classic, classic, this is how the Blues should be played.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Buddy Guy is still awesome at 80!!!

Buddy Guy turns 80 in 2 weeks on July 30, 2016.
I had the good fortune to see and hear Buddy at the ancient Roman built Caesarea Amphitheater in Israel, and WOW! I mean WOW! We should all be so lucky to have his stamina, presence of mind, and his voice at age 80!!!

Buddy gave us a wide sampling from his musical legacy and history, doing a stream of consciousness medley of songs fading or segueing from one song to the next, He had quite a few "hot licks and dirty tricks" up his sleeve too - masterfully playing the guitar in many different modes - from heavy rock to delicate slow Blues soloing, and also a little "playing with" the guitar - strumming or tapping the strings with a drum stick, a handkerchief, rubbing the guitar on his shirt, his pants, playing with his teeth, or walking the stage while playing the guitar behind his back. He also took a stroll around through the crowd at one point, never stopping the guitar playing, and at one point singing a few lines with a wireless mic.
Buddy is also a master at demonstrating or musically "quoting" the styles of other famous players, such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and more...each one accompanied by a little story of his experiences with that artist.

In addition to his music, Buddy gave us a message of love, kindness, and understanding for each and every human being.

to quote Buddy:
"Do you have to suffer to sing the Blues?
NO! Just keep living..."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

200th Show - Traveling Blues on IDC International Radio!!!

Join me tonight at 20:00 (Jerusalem time) for a special 2 hour show of Traveling Blues with live musical guests to celebrate the 200th show - it'll be fun!!!

Tune is via streaming on this page:
http://1062fm.co.il/en



Monday, March 17, 2014

Accept no substitute! Jackson Browne - there is only one!

I recently received a digital copy of a double CD tribute album honoring the life work of Jackson Browne.
I listened to all 23 tracks of "Looking Into You: A Tribute to Jackson Browne" over and over again for two or three days, and I keep coming up with the same inescapable conclusion - there is one and only one Jackson Browne.

Most of the tribute album left me feeling completely indifferent, cold, or even disgusted...although the tracks covered by Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, Keb 'Mo, Lyle Lovett, and Bruce Springsteen came close, they still didn't really satisfy me deep inside. Something crucial was missing - that special intonation, the timing, the diction, the soulfulness in the vocals, and the musical arrangements and instrumentation on the original recordings by Jackson Browne...

I went back to the source this morning, and collected my favorites from Jackson Browne's early 1970's recordings, and listened to a few in the car on the way to work.
Ahhhhh, now that really hits the spot... that's the way I like to hear "Fountain of Sorrow", "The Pretender", and "Running on Empty"...

Sometimes there is just no substitute for the real thing, the original...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Traveling Blues show no. 67 , October 17, 2012

The podcast is available here:
Traveling Blues show no. 67 , October 17, 2012

On tonight's Traveling Blues, we celebrated the birthdays of Johnny Moore, Bernie Pearl,
Kenny Neal, Victoria Spivey, Jelly Roll Morton, Big Joe Williams, and the Reverend KM Williams,
who will be arriving in Israel in January.  We featured a new album by resophonic guitar expert Bob Brozman,
and some tracks by Jorma Kaukonen, who will be performing in Israel in mid December.


here's our playlist:

01. Johnny Moore - How Blue Can You Get
02. Bernie Pearl - Crosscut Saw
03. Kenny Neal - Things Have Got To Change
04. Kenny Neal - Ain't Nothing You Can Do
05. Victoria Spivey  - Got The Blues So Bad
06. Jelly Roll Morton - Buddy Bolden's Blues
07. Big Joe Williams w/Robert Petway - Hollow Log Blues
08. KM Williams - Goin' Away Baby
09. Bob Brozman - Ow! My Ukes On Fire
10. Bob Brozman - Memory Blues
11. Jason King - Steppin' Out
12. Jorma Kaukonen - I'll Be Alright
13. Jorma Kaukonen - Bread Line Blues

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Traveling Blues show no.66, October 10, 2012

The podcast is available here:
Traveling Blues show no.66, October 10, 2012


Traveling Blues, show no. 66, October 10, 2012

On tonight's show, we celebrated the birthdays of John Lennon and Nappy Brown (Napoleon Culp).
I also "dug up" some historic recordings by the sadly under-recognized guitarist Hollywood Fats (Michael Mann).
We featured new recordings by Blues diva Shemekia Copeland, harmonica ace Sugar Blue, young Brit Blues lady Joanne Shaw Taylor,
and the deep voiced Hans Theessink with Terry Evans  (not Terry King as I may have said on air) and Ry Cooder.

here's our playlist:

01. Hollywood Fats (Michael Mann) - Hideaway
02. Liz Mandeville - Corner Bar Blues
03. The Beatles/John Lennon - Yer Blues
04. Nappy Brown - Keep On Pleasin' You
05. Nick Gravenites - Buried Alive In The Blues
06. Sugar Blue - One More Mile
07. Hans Theessink/Terry Evans - Blues Stay Away From Me
08. Hans Theessink/Terry Evans - Pouring Water On A Drowning Man
09. Joanne Shaw Taylor -
10. Shemekia Copeland - I Sing The Blues
11. Hollywood Fats (Micheal Mann) - Sidetracked

CLICK THE GREEN ICONS AT THE BOTTOM TO STREAM (EARPHONES ICON) OR DOWNLOAD (ARROW ICON) THE PODCAST