Arhoolie Records has been sold to Smithsonian Folkways Records.
Sure, Sophie Tucker tried to parlay a song title into a nickname, but if you ask most blues fans, Mother Of The Blues Gertrude ‘Ma’ Rainey wins the title.
The blues are very much a part of the respective musical DNA of keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Roy Rogers. The duo shares its take on the genre and behind-the-scenes details about ‘Translucent Blues.’
Dear Diary: It’s good to be Anvil these days. Those days of playing dingy little clubs in front of just a smattering of people are gone … at least for now.
“Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood” — the famous line from the song “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”
For the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, that plea has often fallen on deaf ears.
One of the first successful African-American-owned diskeries, Vee-Jay was strong in every style during its 1953-66 existence — doo-wop (the Spaniels, El Dorados, Magnificents, Dells); blues (Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, Eddie Taylor, Billy Boy Arnold); R&B (Gene Allison, Rosco Gordon, Harold Burrage); Windy City soul (Dee Clark, Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler, Betty Everett); jazz (Eddie Harris) and gospel (Staple Singers, Swan Silvertones).
Vee-Jay eventually even dabbled in surf with Aki Aleong and folk-rock via Hoyt Axton. Licensing hits by the 4 Seasons, Jimmy Hughes and Joe Simon no longer controlled by current owners was a nice touch.
The blues comes in plenty of hues. Devotees of early blues should check Blues Images’ (www.bluesimages.com) 2008 calendar. Each month features a 12” x 12” reproduction of the original illustrated ad for a 1927-32 platter on the accompanying CD — for example, Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “One Dime Blues” and Blind Blake’s “Seaboard Stomp.”
The voice is unmistakably Aretha. Deeply soulful, defiant and proud, at times tender and full of longing and desire, but also wracked with pain — hers is the sound of a woman actually roaring.
An angry Leslie West makes for a loud, rattlesnake-mean guitarist, and that rage, along with other aspects of his personality, is palpable in some of the blues records he’s done on the side in recent years.
“Weepin’” Willie Robinson, a blues singer who performed with Steven Tyler and Bonnie Raitt but also spent time homeless, has died at age 81.