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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 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

" 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"
"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
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..."