eric johnson

 

Music, like all the arts in general, is able to express its very best when an artist trusts his instinct and let the immediacy flow in his works in total free form.

Truth to be told, Eric Johnson has never before been widely known as a musician who composes music and record his songs after one or two takes in studio but rather as an artist that likes to control minutely every single aspect of the making of an album, before he decides to release it.

The fact that Johnson, after thirty years since the release of his masterpiece album Tones has finally decided to record and release his very first acoustic album is already an event in itself. Moreover, the fact that his new album has been recorded almost entirely live in the studio, without recording separately the vocals from the music is something truly exceptional, for a perfectionist like the Texan artist.

EJ, Johnson's new record, reveals an intimate side of the Guitar Maestro in this stripped-to-the-bone album. In the 13 songs included in the album, 9 of them original, Johnson gives free rein to all his phenomenal artistic background, through a series of sonic captions that express and confirm, once again, Johnson's great compositional talent.

The fact that Eric Johnson is such a great guitar player has never been a mystery for anyone. His guitar seems to speak the language of his soul when he plays it on the few instrumental pieces included in the album. The tone of Johnson's guitar is classy and composed at the same time, without indulging himself in long and articulated guitar scales. There is the distinctive feeling that Johnson is very relaxed and enjoys himself throughout the whole record, either when homaging artists with whom he grew up musically, like Simon & Garfunkel, through a beautiful version of the classic Mrs. Robinson or when chiseling authentic original masterpieces like Once Upon A Time In Texas or the Spanish-infused Serinidad, beautifully executed on a Ramirez nylon-string guitar.

EJ is a record that keeps on gifting relentlessly the listeners also through original songs performed sometimes with just piano and voice, such as the magnificent Water Under The Bridge or through more sophisticated arrangements a bit more rootsy and perhaps closer to the concept of World Music, in another splendid track like One Rainy Wish.

Johnson continues to distill musical pearls one after the other on EJ, like the most perfect music machine. His reinterpretation of another Simon & Garfunkel's classic,  Scarborough Fair/Canticle is breathtaking and Johnson manages brilliantly to model the song in an arrangement that fits perfectly to his singing style.

A music feast like the one Johnson has prepared on his new album couldn't finish without a tasty musical dessert. To seal a truly wonderful record like this, Johnson chooses another instrumental tune, Song For Irene, a composition played with such grace and delicacy by Johnson's magic fingers to leave any music lover totally breathless.

The reason why Johnson waited all these years to record an acoustic album of such beauty remains a mystery. EJ is a record that shows in full the Texan artist's unconditional love for music all around and reveals unknown artistic aspects of one of the most soulful, skilled and inspired musicians of the past half century of music. A record that marks the return of Johnson at very great artistic heights.

 

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

 

 

EJ is due to be released 7th October 2016 worldwide and it is available via Mascot Label Group/Provogue

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

You can always detect when an artist truly feels the music within and is committed to it, either when playing on a studio album or in a live performance. There are certainly not many musicians out there able to do that as well as Albert Castiglia, combining artistic honesty, passion and integrity with so much genuine talent, either when he is recording a studio album or when he's playing live.

Castiglia's new record is called Big Dog and it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the pinnacle of his career so far and the perfect portrait of an artist in constant growth. Produced by a giant of the genre, his lifelong friend, fellow guitarist and singer/songwriter Mike Zito, Big Dog reveals many different angles of Castiglia's artistry, both as a guitarist and as a singer/songwriter.

The Florida-based Guitar Prodigy is one of the most inspired and eclectic blues/rock musicians of the current blues/rock music scene and among the very few artists able to cleverly add, here and there in his songs, little funky sections to his unmistakable high-fuelled guitar style. As he so well does, for example, in the album's opener, Let The Big Dog Eat.

bridget kelly band

 

2014 has been a memorable year for the Bridget Kelly Band. Their second album Forever In Blues received numerous accolades, both from the press and blues fans in the United States. making many believe that the band must have been feeling slightly under pressure through the making of their third album.

Outta The Blues, their new record, confirms once more the elegance and class of a band that is able to spread their music wings even further on their new offer, by combining the unmistakable trademark sound coming from Beale Street in Memphis with a more robust Texan blues/rock one.

The outcome is a wonderfully crafted album, in which the arrival of a brand new rhythm section made by Mark Ambrecht on bass and Alex Klausner on drums, add the perfect sonic ground to the silky, smooth voice of band leader Bridget Kelly and the powerful guitar sound of that magician of the instrument that is Tim Fik.

Recorded at Alpha Sun Studios in Gainesville, FL, Outta The Blues is a record that dazzles the listeners in many ways, either by offering moments of flawless vocal deliveries by the very talented Bridget Kelly, such as in tunes like When The Nighttime Comes, Lovely Time In June and Sweet River Blues or through the many thunderous guitar solos of Tim Fik. Fik's pinnacle of artistry on guitar reaches the absolute best in the song Dangerous Man, containing an authentic killer solo.

The band is in great form and there are moments of sheer brilliancy on the album. The cover version of Up And Gone/Smokestack Lightning is truly inspired. The song is the perfect fit for Bridget Kelly's singing style and the musical ability of each individual band member.

Touches of funk emerge here and there on Outta The Blues, making tunes like If You See My Baby or Hard Time In The City sound even more palatable and entertaining, ulterior signs of an artistic maturity that gets better and better on each passing albums of the Bridget Kelly Band.

The powerful Rocket To The Moon closess the record in the best way possible, through another excellent performance of the whole band in a tune that fully showcases the band's craftmanship in all its beauty.

Outta The Blues is a message of love and passion for the blues and also a record that confirms, once again, the Bridget Kelly Band as among the best blues crusaders worldwide.

 

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

 

 

 

Outta The Blues is out now and it is available via Amazon

 

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Tweed Funk are a 6 piece Memphis blues-n-soul outfit by way of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Fronted by Curtis Mayfield alumni vocalist, Joseph “Smokey” Holman, their horn driven sound effortlessly finds a home in the soul and blues genre.

The recipient of 5 WAMI awards in their native state affirms these guys are hardcore and love their art. Their most recent output is the aptly titled, Come Together.

Special guests here on their fourth outing, Come Together, are Doug Woolverton, of Room Full of Blues fame, and backing vocalists, Chrissy Dzioba and Sara Molianen of The Whiskeybelles. This augmented edition lends an indispensable helping hand here in form of jazzy, soulful performances.

live at the greek theatre

Joe Bonamassa is not just one of the most celebrated guitarists of this generation but also somebody that likes to express his talent through venues of a certain grandiosity. Last time he chose to record a live album in a fairly small club was few years ago at The Borderline in London, UK, at the time of The Tour De Force project. Since then, all of his live albums have been recorded in some of the most important music venues worldwide.

Located few miles away from where the Guitar Maestro lives, The Greek Theatre is a magnificent structure situated almost opposite to Berkeley University in California, the perfect place for Bonamassa to end the 14-dates Three Kings Tour, dedicated to Albert King, Freddie King and B.B. King's music.

In comparison to his previous live release, a tribute to Howlin' Wolf's wide discography, Live At The Greek Theatre shows a greater determination and passion in honouring three of all-time giants of the blues genre.

Although the choice of songs selected by Bonamassa maybe sometimes debatable for each of the Three Kings, there is no doubts that the 10 musicians accompaining Bonamassa on stage put their very best effort and craftmanship to please the crowd in this very special night of music.

The show is divided in three different segments of six songs each, starting with Freddie King, continuing to Albert King and concluding with Bonamassa's most favourite Blues Guitar Hero B.B. King. Out of the whole setlist, there are some serious highlights and occasional little disappointments, mostly due to a bit too much over-arrangements on some of the tracks perforrmed.

Sittin' On The Boat Dock is one of those tunes that should have given more justice and retribution to Freddie King's talent, at the time the song was released and it is great to see Bonamassa paying respect to this music jewel by performing a splendid version of this great song at this show. Albert King's Breaking Up Somebody's Home and Angel Of Mercy are, though, the real stand out tracks of the entire show, with the latter especially played with such intensity and passion by the American guitarist, something that Bonamassa has reserved just to defining moments of his live activity, like the 2009's Royal Albert Hall concert, for example.

As one would expect, Bonamassa leaves the B.B. King section for last, with some highs and lows. While Hummingbird's arrangement is a little bit too overstretched, on the other end Nobody Loves Me But My Mother, one of Bonamassa's most favourite B.B. King songs, is pitch perfect and shows, once again, the reason why the blues genre and Bonamassa's talent are a match made in heaven.

The encore includes three songs, one for each of The Three Kings, in which the instrumental Freddie King's Hide Away is the perfect platform to showcase, once again, Bonamassa's majesty on guitar.

Live At The Greek Theatre is a highly entertaining show but we already knew very well Joe Bonamassa's stature as a performer or his artistry as a guitarist, prior to this new release. The American guitarist seems to be able to express his very best, artistically speaking, particularly when he feels a song close to his heart and soul, a little like he does on Angel Of Mercy, as previously stated and that is the Bonamassa that so many music fans love and respect.

Bonamassa has showed on this album, once again, that when it comes to put up a sumptuous live show, very few are able to do so as well as it does in nowaday's music business and credit to him for doing always a lot for the blues and the survival of the genre. Now it's time for the Guitar Maestro to concentrate his attention on following up his latest studio album, Blues Of Desperation and write again his own masterpieces, like he did on albums like You And Me, The Ballad Of John Henry or Black Rock, for example. Because we are sure that Bonamassa has got still plenty left to gift the fans with, as a songwriter. Until then, let's enjoy his personal homage to The Three Kings through the beautiful Greek Theatre show.

 

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

 

Live At The Greek Theatre is due to be released on 23rd September 2016 and it is available via Mascot Label Group/Provogue

 

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

 

Music was considered back in the days one of the most powerful arts, able to bring people together everywhere in the world. That was a time when artists would come on stage at a music festival, armed just with a guitar and their voices to bring joy in the lives of thousands of people. The sound was simple, direct, without any artefacts of any sort, pure stripped-down music right to its bone.

This recipe has been at the heart of any music genres, folk, rock, blues, you name it. Times and technology have then, through the years, partially dismantled the concept of that straight-to-your-face music approach and because of this, it is an absolute joy to see that, in this present time of the world, there are artists brave enough willingly to play simple and wonderful music belonging to a sadly bygone era.

Holly Hyatt and Jon Burden from Canada, on their third official release called Shufflin' The Blues, bring back, under form of a live concert, the purity and beauty of playing acoustic and semi-electric blues without any overdubs or programming in a 9-tracks live performance recorded at The Silverton Gallery in British Columbia.

little mike

 

Every time Muddy Waters chose to take an artist under his protective wing, his choice was never dictated by chance but by an immediate gut feeling for pure talent. The twenty years-old from Queens, New York that he chose back in the days, has come a long way. Mike Markowitz, aka Little Mike, has not only perfectly assimilated the lesson of his all-time idols, such as John Lee Hooker and Pinetop Perkins, to name a few but also had the privilege of playing with them.

Through the musical path that led him to play with the cream of the blues and blues/rock worldwide and to become one of the most loved and respected multi-instrumentalist blues in the whole blues scene, since the mid-eighties Little Mike has been one of the greatest torchbearers of the genre, along with his own band, The Tornadoes. The American artist has been carrying religiously the traditions of the American blues, thanks to his immense talent and a deep understanding of the roots of the genre, incorporating in his own music formula the sound of the Delta Blues, the big-band and foot-stomping sound of the Chicago Blues and even the more contemporary New York style.

How Long ?, Little Mike's new solo album, is the perfect reflection of what Markowitz loves musically the most: an insane passion for blues united to the greatest respect for those blues masters which have inspired him professionally and personally. The album is a true homage to blues, although it als offers, at times, interesting insights about Little Mike's universal love for music through different sonic elements embroided in his style and in his songs. 

When it comes to play harmonica or piano, everybody knows that Little Mike is a real phenomenon but often many forget how much of an excellent singer the American artist is too. On thie latter, his great skills as a vocalist can be fully admired in tracks like When My Baby Left, Eddie Taylor's cover Bad Boy and the song that closes the album, Sittin 'Here Baby, the definite proof that we face a true artist in many respects.

How Long? gives many moments of high artistic level, together with those already mentioned above. The class of the New York born and raised bluesman emerges repeatedly on both the instrumental Cotton Mouth and Sam's Blues, where his superb harmonica playing dictates the music tempos to the talented musicians that have accompanied him in the studio for this album. Smokin 'is perhaps the song that symbolizes the most Little Mike's charisma, with the artist tailoring a wonderful blues uptempo, built with his favourite instruments, harmonica and piano in a rousing and highly entertaining tune.

One of the most beautiful surprises of the album is the song Not What Mama Planned, a track that incorporates shades of blues, jazz, funk and even tinges of Southern Rock. Whatcha' Gonna Do also offers a different angle of Little Mike's vast music background, by carrying throughout the song a beautiful, harmonius and solid R&B sonic carpet. Two songs which are true testimony of the musical impact that artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robert Cray, with which Little Mike has performed with throughout his career, have also given to the rich and eclectic sound of this very talented artist.

How Long? is a record that entertains, captivates, surprises and moves at the same time. The album is a timeless journey in the traditions and history of the blues, performed by an artist at the peak of his career and able to understand the artistic importance and the social impact that a genre like blues gave and still gives to all the music coming from every part of the planet. How Long? is more than a record, it is food for soul because written, played and sang by the soul of a true bluesman.

 

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

 

 

 

How Long? is out now and it is available via Amazon and ELROB Records.

 

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Remember to support your favorite artists through buying their products.
A good place to start is searching BestBuy.com and Amazon.com.