No More Worlds to Conquer Robin Trower

No More Worlds to Conquer Robin Trower

No More Worlds to Conquer Robin Trower

No More Worlds to Conquer

Robin Trower 

As he draws nearer to the age of eighty, guitarist Robin Trower just gains more momentum with consistent studio releases. Remaining sidelined from live performances in the last couple of years due to the pandemic, Robin just uses the downtime to go into the Provogue studio to record the endless number of compositions he keeps writing.

The man responsible for the classic rock 1974 opus Bridge Of Sighs has a special place in the hearts of those of us as teen-agers who had blacklight posters wearing headphones letting songs like “Day Of The Eagle” and “Bridge Of Sighs” transport us to that special place that was an adolescent comfort zone.

Other reviewers have coined the phrase “psychedelic blues” in describing Trower’s music. It’s an old cliche but it best describes Trower’s approach to his Hendrix infused pedal/reverb guitar lines that deeply resonate with soul he imbibes

Letting vocalist Richard Watts sing the tunes that fulfill his vision, the Strat tones shimmer and ride the groove immediately from the onset. The medium paced “Ball Of Fire” opens the party and can become a live staple in Trower’s live sets. The title track can do the same thing with Robin coaxing his reverb drenched notes awash in an elixir he can create.

It’s a long way from the seventies in which he reigned strongly in the concert arenas. Since then, Trower has become comfortable in his role as elder statesman of the blues. Never one for speedy deliveries or a thousand note attacks doesn’t hinder him from transmitting emotion that is strong in his single note attacks. It’s the stuff guitar geeks can soak up when they purchase their Fender guitars and Marshall amps. Add a pedal board to the mix and you have the tools of trade.

While his tunes don’t headbang with the fire and fury of his classic rock yesteryear, Robin lays down his psychedelic blues smoke in the hazy “Birdsong.” The tempo picks up with Robin’s lyrical lines in “Losing You” that segues into the same paced “Waiting For The Rain To Fall.”

These tunes follow the same blueprint. Slow approaches undercut by Robin’s ethereal spacy notes that serve the purpose of creating atmosphere. Not disrupting it.

“Cloud Across The Sun” can be a great addition to Trower’s live sets as it gallops with rocking urgency that recalls a younger Robin in his heyday. Then it’s back to the slow crawl of “Fire To Ashes” with Robin’s ghostly guitar riding the bedrock of rhythm fleshed out by soulful keyboards.

“Razors Edge” with its lyrics pointing fingers at the politicians taking the world in a downward trajectory is the package of blues rock histrionics that could have found a home on Trower’s earlier work. Blues awash in psychedelia that only Robin can play.

The Hendrix influence is strong within the love song “I Will Always Be Your Shelter” that can lull couples into a warm embrace with Trower’s airy guitar painting broad strokes across the canvass.

If one wants to think of Robin as blues of the twenty first century, then it’s an honorable designation to live with.

  • Gary Weeks

 

We Have a Winner!

We Have a Winner!

We Have a Winner!

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Suncoast Blues Society’s 2022 International Blues Challenge Champions, Memphis Lightning, as they took home the award for 2022 Best Self-Produced CD!

 

At the International Blues Challenge, The Blues Foundation awards the affiliate band judged to have submitted the best self-produced recording at that year’s event.

As a Suncoast Blues Society member musician, Memphis Lightning was eligible to have Suncoast Blues Society submit this recording on their behalf. There is no requirement that the band won our regional challenge – there is not even a requirement that the band or solo/duo artist competed at the challenge. However, Blues Foundation Affiliated Blues Societies must submit entries for the Best Self-Produced CD.

If you have a Self-Produced CD and are interested in submitting your recording for consideration in the next International Blues Challenge, please contact events@suncoastblues.org for additional information. The official contest rules are available at https://blues.org/self-produced-cd-award/

Be sure to pick up your copy of Borrowed Time, the 2022 Best Self-Produced CD, the next time you see Memphis Lighting perform.

John Mayall Interview

John Mayall Interview

John Mayall Interview

John Mayall Interview

Blues Blast Magazine has an excellent interview with John Mayall. Written by the former President of Suncoast Blues Society, Mark Thompson, the piece contains many points of interest about John, former band members, and his songwriting process. Mark’s interview left me wanting to perform a deeper dive into John’s catalog!

You can read the interview at Blues Blast John Mayall.

Recently, SBS published a review of John’s latest (according to John’s discography the 67th!) recording of his career.

The Sun is Shining Down review can be found here SBS CD Review.

When writing about John I would be remiss without remembering our friend, Mike Shivvers. Mike was a huge fan of John Mayall and was all set to film a performance of John’s at The Capital Theatre in Clearwater. A show cancelled due to the pandemic. Forever I will link Mike’s memory with John Mayall and his music.

Mike’s skill as a videographer is evident with a video captured in 2016 of John’s show in Stuart, FL. This show featured Jay Davenport and Greg Rzab – both mentioned by John in his interview with Mark. Mike’s YouTube site has this video, and others of John.

 

  • Scott Morris
2022 Tampa Bay Blues Fest Tickets

2022 Tampa Bay Blues Fest Tickets

2022 Tampa Bay Blues Fest Tickets

*** FINAL DAY FOR TICKETS is March 30th 2022 ***

Tampa Bay Blues Fest is coming soon, and Suncoast Blues Society (SBS) will be back in their usual place next to the artist’s tent.

And what a great lineup – you are not going to want to miss this!

If you are a current member of SBS, you are eligible to receive a $10 discount on your ticket(s) so the cost for members will be:

  • Friday general admission – $50
  • Saturday general admission – $50
  • Sunday general admission – $40

Purchase your tickets through SBS website. (https://suncoastblues.org/product/2022-tampa-bay-blues-fest-tickets/)

You will receive a confirmation and your name will be placed on the “will-call” list at the gate.

If you are not a current member, you can sign up today to take advantage of this offer. https://suncoastblues.org/product/sbs-membership/

If you have any questions, contact Jesse at membership@suncoastblues.org

 

CD Review: Tinsley Ellis Devil May Care

CD Review: Tinsley Ellis Devil May Care

CD Review: Tinsley Ellis Devil May Care

Tinsley Ellis

Devil May Care

Alligator Records

What does a veteran touring musician do when their entire schedule gets wiped out in the blink of an eye? For Tinsley Ellis, who had spent four decades playing hundreds of shows every year, the respite gave him time to sequester in his basement studio, surrounded by his collection of guitars and associated equipment. And he made productive use of time, writing several hundred songs while digging deep into his record collection, listening to old favorites that quickly sparked a revitalized interest in music, especially the sounds that initially fired up his musical imagination.  

Since his return to Alligator Records in 2018, the guitarist has released two top-notch albums, Winning Hand and Ice Cream In Hell. He somehow managed to whittle through his prolific songwriting output to select the ten songs featured on his new release. Once again, the focus is centered on his outstanding guitar work along with his weathered vocals. The songs address familiar themes like love gone bad, heartache, and regret gained in hindsight, often wrapped up in sounds that take listeners back to the glory days of the southern-rock sound.

The opener, “One Less Reason,” has a twin guitar attack, Ellis doing double duty on slide and standard guitar that readily conjures up comparisons to the Allman Brothers Band. His closing guitar solo is an immediate highlight. “Right Down The Drain” offers more of a good thing, culminating in a lengthy Allman-esque six string interplay featuring slide guitar. “Juju” sounds like a long-lost Allman Brothers classic, with plenty of slide guitar and Kevin McKendree‘s always impressive contributions on piano. The ballad “Just Like Rain” is a touching song on the redemptive power of love, featuring Jim Hoke on saxophone and Andrew Carney on trumpet, one of three songs the duo appears on.

Ellis has always shined on the slow blues numbers, and “Don’t Bury Our Love” adds another gripping performance to that list, taut guitar licks echoing his pleading heart-wrenching vocal. Things definitely haven’t improved on “Slow Train To Hell,” which finds Ellis deep in the throes of despair, tired of waiting for the return of his long-gone lover. His searing performance will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on anyone who hears it. “One Last Ride” is the album’s longest cut, with Ellis in an introspective mood, his guitar providing a steady stream of forthright testimony.

“Beat the Devil” has a compelling arrangement with McKendree fleshing out the sound with thick chords on the organ while the horns supply plenty of sharp accents behind the leader’s rousing vocal. The rhythm section of Steve Mackey on bass and Lynn Williams on drums lay down some funkier grooves on the driving “Step Up,” then Ellis breaks out his wah-wah pedal, injecting “28 Days” with a full tilt, ferocious guitar attack from start to finish.

Over the years, Tinsley Ellis has stuck with the same approach. Give listeners a batch of rousing original songs, delivered with raw, robust vocals, and plenty of dynamic fretwork. He has the chops to keep the winning formula rolling along, a point made abundantly clear throughout this fine new release.

– written by Mark Thompson

(Mark Thompson is a past president of Suncoast Blues Society, and is a frequent contributor to Blues Blast Magazine)

CDs, including autographed copies are available at Alligator Records

 

Concert Review: Tom Craig Band Art’s Garage – Delray Beach, February 6, 2022

Concert Review: Tom Craig Band Art’s Garage – Delray Beach, February 6, 2022

Concert Review: Tom Craig Band Art’s Garage – Delray Beach, February 6, 2022

Tom Craig Band

Art’s Garage – Delray Beach, February 6, 2022

Pennsylvania bluesman Tom Craig returned to Florida for a series of shows, one of which was his debut with his band at the iconic Art’s Garage in Delray Beach.

For this show Tom brought from Pennsylvania Drummer Jay and included Suncoast Blues Society members “Detroit” Mike Hepner on keyboards and Bill Hubbard on bass. The day got off to an interesting start as during sound check Mike noticed the grand piano on stage and asked for the piano to be wired for sound. This surprise was a sign of fun things to come during this performance.

With one exception, Tom’s show on this evening contained all original material. After beginning the show with “Working Too Hard” the band continued with the next song from Good Man Gone Bad,  “What a Man’s Gotta Do.” This song was notable for Mike’s outstanding solo on the grand piano.

Switching to Tom’s first recording (with Soul Patch) Get Ready for Me, “She Did it To Me” Tom provided back story for this song and the storytelling continued throughout the evening as the crowd embraced this part of the show. Fresh off The Legendary Blues Cruise, Kat Riggins entered the venue and that put an additional spark into Tom’s already on point performance.

On this night Tom’s vocals during the ballad “Ballroom Dancer” were among the best that I’ve heard. Already a soulful singer and songwriter, Tom seemed to have provided an extra bit of emotion into the performance of this song. It carried his vocals to a higher level and gave this reviewer a deeper appreciation for the song.

“Soul In My Blues” got the crowd up dancing, and additional crowd favorites included “Can’t Help Myself,” a deeply bluesy and quite pleasing version of “Nothing That a Man Can’t Do,” and wonderfully told back stories for “Louita” and “Headhunter.”

On this evening, the title track “Good Man Gone Bad” was exceptional. The inclusion of Mike Hepner’s playing on the grand piano gave this song a unique quality – one that I hope to hear again. This song and that instrument are meant for each other.

Deep into what became a single set performance, Tom introduced to the stage Keesha Pratt, and the band launched into a trio of songs, including a mash-up of Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason” and “The Thrill Is Gone.” Keesha departed the stage after the audience participated in a smart version of “Stand by Me.”

Tom concluded this fantastic night of crowd-pleasing music with “Treat Your Daddy Nice,” “It’s All My Fault” – notable for the marvelous samba beat laid down by Jay  –  and the band left the stage to a standing ovation after “When You Love a Bluesman.”

This was a different performance than when Tom last toured Florida. Many of the songs were the same but Tom changed beats, tones, and emphasis and that put a different spin on favorites. Tom continues to evolve as a musician and that produced to a nice evening and fun times at Art’s Garage.

(Tom Craig Band will be appearing at Cottonmouth Southern Soul Kitchen on Friday, February 11, 2022. Reservations can be made at https://cottonmouthsoul.com/reservations/)

  • Scott Morris, Suncoast Blues Society