JERRY DOUGLAS – Traveler

Jerry Douglas TravelerWhen you’ve got a little black book loaded with contacts you use them don’t you? And in the case of dobro maestro Jerry Douglas that’s quite some book. Paul Simon, Alison Krauss, Eric Clapton etc they’re all in there and only too pleased to lend a hand on this, his thirteenth solo album. I first became aware of Jerry’s playing in 1987 on Davy Spillane’s “Atlantic Bridge” album and was stunned by the musicality and expression on what I thought at the time was a pretty anodyne instrument. Of course, since then I’ve become an avid fan and Mr Douglas’s collaborations are without doubt some of the most stimulating I have encountered anywhere captured on numerous silver disks. From the opening blues of Huddie Ledbetter’s “On A Monday” it’s pleasing to hear his vocal talents coming to the fore. OK, so he may not be Alfie Boe or Andrea Bocelli but then again I’m sure he’s not trying to be…just happy in the knowledge that he’s able to hold a song for solo projects. If I was to choose a favourite track then I’d go for “Right On Time” where Jerry is joined by vocalist Marc Cohn showing an almost empathic restraint on lap steel guitar. This is the kind of album in which the listener feels proud in the knowledge that they know something the greater public are unaware of and in this respect I mean Jerry has enriched our lives and although not a ‘star’ in the truest sense of the word the world of country and folk music would be a poorer place without him. The accolades for this album will doubtless come thick and fast and personally speaking none more deservedly so.

PETE FYFE

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Artist’s website: www.jerrydouglas.com

The new debut album from Dan Raza

Dan has already established a considerable reputation on the UK singer songwriter and folk roots scene. His distinctive approach has won him many fans and led to his supporting Joan Armatrading on a recent European tour, as well as opening for artists such as Mary Gauthier, Badly Drawn Boy, Cara Dillon, Chris Farlowe and Slaid Cleaves at concerts throughout the UK and USA. He also had a song, Every Little Dog endorsed by Neil Young when Shakey chose it for his ‘Living with War’ website.

His live performances are noted for their strong emotional impact and his songs are informed by literary influences such as Ben Okri and also the influence of painters like Marc Chagall. Indeed, Dan’s songs receive colourful treatment on this his first album. From the enigmatic longing of 40 Miles to the vibrant energy of Cool Dark Night and No-One Shed A Tear, the intense originality of his writing is balanced by strong and varied musical texture.

Dan is of mixed Indian and British origin. Many of his songs draw on images from his turbulent childhood and reflect on a search for belonging that remains elusive. There is a wistfulness and yearning at the heart of his writing which reveals itself strongly in songs like Home, Again. The lyrics of this track look back on his journey since moving away from his native Bedfordshire as a teenager and see him trying to make peace with his roots. In a similar vein is Rivertown which follows one man’s restless spirit as he travels through the rubble of the past trying to make sense of where he’s been so he can see where he’s going. The song has an almost supernatural quality and lyrics that fuse otherworldly images with an undertone of loss: ‘help me sweep the ashes from the floor/help me see the way I did before.’ The record concludes with the beautiful closing track, Can’t Go Back, which features the West African Griot musician, Mosi Conde, on kora. Written in Texas while on tour, it was inspired by the themes of displacement he heard in so many country songs while there and the personal experience of leaving behind all he knew, to follow someone, only to see it come apart.

A chance meeting at a gig in South London led Dan to record his debut album with Charlie Hart, who has worked previously with Ronnie Lane, Ian Dury, Eric Clapton and Mose Allison. It features a stellar array of guest appearances from Geraint Watkins (Van Morrison, Paul McCartney), BJ Cole (Dolly Parton, Martin Simpson) Steve Simpson (Eric Bibb, Ronnie Lane), Frank Mead (Albert King, Eric Clapton) and Mosi Conde (Mory Kante, Salif Keita).

Dan Raza has waited a long time to make his first full album after earning plaudits from some of the most notable songwriters on both sides of the Atlantic. There is no doubt he has a lot of promise. This is the first clue to what he might do with it.

 “One of the best support acts I’ve seen in two or three years…an artist that makes you take note and listen to the songs.” Slaid Cleaves

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Artist Web link: www.danraza.com

Sam Sallon

Sam Sallon, an up and coming acoustic singer/songwriter from North London, who is creating quite a buzz on the acoustic music scene. Sam has a new album that is scheduled to be released in April called One For The Road, which we’ll be checking out shortly.

Sam has quite a pedigree already as he has toured with Rodrigo y Gabriela, Pete Doherty, Nouvelle Vague, Dot Allison and Lyle Lovett. Last year he played Cheltenham Folk, The Secret Garden Party, Big Chill and Wilderness and Beacon Festivals.

His album, One For The Road, was produced by David Watson, who has worked with Eric Clapton and the late Bert Jansch, the album features some well-known musicians, such as Paul Wassif, Neil Cowley and Kami Thompson and so far the reviews have been glowing.

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


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For more information and to listen to more of Sam’s music check out his website at http://samsallon.com/news/

Two more blues/R & B legends gone….

On Friday January 20th Etta James died at the age of 73, from complications from leukaemia. She was also suffering with dementia and hepatitis C. The equally legendary Johnny Otis, the “Godfather of rhythm and blues” – and the man who discovered Etta James – died just four days before. He was 90 years old. Johnny, who wrote and recorded the R&B classic “Willie and the Hand Jive”, was white, and grew up in a black section of Berkeley, in the San Francisco Bay Area. . He changed his name because “it sounded more black“.

Otis was leading his own band in 1945 when he scored his first big hit, “Harlem Nocturne.” In 1950, 10 of his songs made Billboard Magazine’s R&B chart. His “Willie and the Hand Jive” sold more than 1.5 million copies and was covered years later by Eric Clapton. He later wrote “Every Beat of My Heart,” which was a hit for Gladys Knight & the Pips.
However, Johnny was blessed with the ability to recognize talent. As well as Etta James, Johnny discovered Hank Ballard, The Coasters, and Big Mama Thornton, whose original recording of “Hound Dog” later became a huge hit for Elvis.

Johnny Otis found the 15-year-old Etta James singing on San Francisco street corners with a couple of girlfriends in the early 1950s. Johnny told Etta to get her mother’s permission to accompany him to Los Angeles to make a recording. Instead, Etta went home and forged her mother’s name on a note claiming she was 18.

Etta initially toured with Otis’ revue, but in 1959, when she signed with the Chess label, with many successful releases following. She scored her first hit when she was just a teenager with “The Wallflower”, but it was her remake of a 1941 standard “At Last” that started the legend. President Barack Obama and the first lady danced to a version of “At Last” performed by Beyonce (much to Etta’s annoyance…) at his inauguration ball.

In 1967, she cut one of the most highly regarded soul albums of all time, “Tell Mama”

Sadly she was addicted to heroin from 1960 for over 20 years.

However, in 1984, she was asked to sing the national anthem at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and her career got the boost it needed, though she got hooked on painkillers in the late 1980s. She also struggled with her weight, and often performed from a wheelchair as she got older and heavier. In the early 2000s, she had weight-loss surgery and shed over 14 stone!!!!!

In October 2011, Etta retired from recording. A final studio recording, “The Dreamer,” was released, with the singer taking on classic songs – from Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Dreamer” to Guns N’ Roses “Welcome To the Jungle” – and still rocking, a fitting end to her career.

Sadly, just after this Etta’s health was such that she was being cared for at home by a personal doctor, as she needed help with basic tasks, such as feeding, dressing and hygiene.

In later years her original mentor, Johnny Otis,  toured with his sons Shuggie and Nicky, and also had a regular show playing records on the Pacifica Radio Network’s stations until failing health prompted him to retire in 2005.

Etta, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, died in hospital, with her husband and sons at her side.

Johnny Otis died at his home on the outskirts of Los Angeles, where he is survived by his wife and sons.

Just watch the following for a real treat…. Etta performs the DEFINITIVE version of “I Would Rather Go Blind”…

R.I.P., Etta and Johnny….

Kristy Gallacher – ‘Fending off the Frost’

Kristy Gallacher is a singer/songwriter from Coventry. I was impressed with her new video of a song called ‘Fending off the Frost’ and thought I would share it with you below…

Kristy signed to the independent record label, Broken Player Records (www.brokenplayerrecords.com) in 2008 and each release since have been on the label. Kristy regularly performs on the acoustic circuit to sell out audiences across the UK and has supported Scott Matthews, Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze), Ed Sheeran, I Am Kloot’s John Bramwell, Miles and Erica (Wonderstuff) Mark Morriss (Bluetones), Nerina Pallot, Polly Paulusma and Nizlopi.

In May 2010 Kristy won the LG Arena’s singer/songwriter competition and played before Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and John Mayer on separate nights at the LG Arena in Birmingham. Subsequent to the competition win, Kristy was invited back to the LG Arena’s Forum live to play before Paul Weller. The title track of Kristy’s 2008 debut album ‘Emotional Gun’ has been selected for the British Library Project which achieves significant new music. In 2009 Kristy’s first live CD was recorded (by Nova Music) at the historic Troubadour, Earls Court, London. Kristy has formal musical training with a degree in Music Composition gained at Coventry University.

For more about Kristy visit: www.kristygallacher.com or www.brokenplayerrecords.com