The two artists talk about their collaboration and their brand of upbeat blues
This clip from the PBS NewsHour beautifully captures the spirit of Taj Mahal’s and Keb’ Mo’s collaboration album TajMo and their ongoing tour. I can’t wait to see these two amazing artists at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. tomorrow night.
Taj Majal: “Life brings a lot of strive. In the digital age it’s even more intense. A lot of people don’t know how to get loose. So our job as musicians is to help them get loose and have a good time, and think good about themselves.”
Keb’ Mo’: “There is something working in life, in the universe, in the bigger picture that has nothing to do with commerce and money. And for me, I’ve found after 20 years of going after money that the faster I ran after money, the faster the money ran.”
Sources: PBS NewsHour, YouTube
Muddy Magnolias is one of the most exciting acts I came across last year when I read about them in Rolling Stone. I was reminded of this powerful urban-R&B-meets-country-and-delta-blues duo when listening to Memphis soul and blues act Southern Avenue, which I’ve done quite extensively over the past few days. I’m not saying the two sound the same, but there are some similarities.
Broken People is the title track from Muddy Magnolias’ excellent full-length debut album, which was released on Third Generation Records in October last year. It was produced by Rick Beato, with support from Mario Marchetti and Butch Walker, and recorded in Atlanta and Nashville in late spring 2016. Last Friday, the album’s latest single Shine On! appeared.
Muddy Magnolias was formed in Nashville in 2014 by two singer-songwriters: Brooklyn, New York native Jessy Wilson, who has an R&B background and is a protegee of John Legend, and Kallie North, who grew up in West Texas, listening to country and folk music. After their performance at CMA Music Festival in August that year, Rolling Stone called them the best unsigned duo, comparing their blend of styles to The Rolling Stones inhabiting Indigo Girls. Looking forward to more music from this act.
Sources: Wikipedia, Muddy Magnolias web site, Rolling Stone, YouTube
In a short amount of time, Southern Avenue has become one of my favorite new band. It all started when fellow blogger Music Enthusiast included this firecracker Memphis blues and soul quintet and their tune Don’t Give Up in a recent post. I immediately liked what I heard.
Don’t Give Up and the tune I’d like to highlight in this post, 80 Miles From Memphis, an uptempo blues with a cool groove and amazing singing, are both on the band’s eponymous debut album. Produced by Kevin Houston and released in February this year, the record appeared on none other than Stax Records, the storied Memphis soul label (now based in Los Angeles) that in its heyday had artists like Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Booker T. & the M.G.’s and Albert King under contract. According to a story in the Commercial Appeal, Southern Avenue is the first Memphis act signed to Stax in five decades – pretty incredible! For more on Stax, see my recent post.
Named after the street that runs from the east of Memphis to Soulsville, the original home of Stax, Southern Avenue was formed in 2015. The band’s line-up includes Ori Naftaly, an Israeli blues guitarist who came to the U.S. in 2013; Tierinii Jackson (lead vocals); her sister Tikyra Jackson (drums, vocals) and Jeremy Powell (keyboards). Daniel McKee, who plays bass on the recording, has since left Southern Avenue. The band is currently relying on a couple of different bassists during shows.
I just find it very refreshing to listen to these guys. Oh, by the way, their album entered the U.S. Billboard Top Blues Albums Chart at no. 6 during the week ended March 18 and remained in the chart for four weeks. Not bad for a debut – I hope they’re just getting started!
Sources: Wikipedia, Commercial Appeal, Billboard Charts, YouTube
Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo‘ perform Diving Duck Blues, a tune from their excellent collaboration album TajMo, which was released on May 5 and is hands-down one of my favorite 2017 records. I previously reviewed it here. Watching these two “old hands” playing together side by side in such a relaxed and joyful manner is just priceless to me and makes me want to grab my acoustic guitar. I’m not saying I could play like this – not even close!
Originally, Diving Duck Blues was written and released by country blues artist Sleepy John Estes – not sure when. The earliest recording reference I could find was a 1962 album called The Legend of Sleepy John Estes. Mahal also included the track on his eponymous debut album from 1968, as did electric blues rock dynamo Johnny Winter on his 1978 release White, Hot and Blue.
Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’ are currently touring together, and I’m set to see them next Thursday at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Can’t wait!
Sources: Wikipedia, Discogs, YouTube
The Southern rockers turned up the heat at The Classic West
Nice clip of The Doobie Brothers playing China Grove at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday as part of their show at The Classic West. China Grove was included on 1973’s The Captain and Me, the band’s third studio album, and was also released as the record’s second single. The tune was written by Tom Johnston (guitar, vocals), one of the band’s remaining original members; the other one is Patrick Simmons (guitar, vocals). Since last year, the Doobie Brothers have been a six-piece band.
Sources: Wikipedia, Setlist.fm, YouTube
The rocker from Rumours still rocks mightily, 40 years after its initial release
Cool clip of Fleetwood Mac performing Don’t Stop at The Classic West at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday night. It was the encore of their gig at the festival. Written by Christine McVie, the song first appeared on Rumours, their 11th and most successful studio album that appeared in February 1977. It was also released separately as the record’s third single in April that year.
Sources: Wikipedia, Setlist.fm, YouTube
A Mellencamp classic from his 1983 studio album Uh-huh
Awesome clip of John Mellencamp’s Pink Houses performed together with Carlene Carter during a recent show from his ongoing Sad Clowns & Hillbillies 2017 Summer Tour. While the song was written more than 30 years ago, its lyrics remain relevant in present-day America. I’m going the see the man in Philly this evening, so he’s very much on my mind!
Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube