Critically Acclaimed Blues-Rock Guitarist, Songwriter and Vocalist Jim Allchin Announces Prime Blues, His Newest LP, for Release September 21, 2018

Produced by Grammy and Blues Music Award Winner Tom Hambridge and featuring a team of veteran studio and touring professionals including special guests
Bobby Rush and Mike Zito

Jim Allchin Prime Blues

SEATTLE, WA, September 12, 2018 /24-7PressRelease/ — Jim Allchin, American guitarist, philanthropist, and a former software executive, is releasing his fourth widely distributed contemporary blues album: Prime Blues. Prime Blues was produced by Producer and Grammy®, ASCAP and Blues Music Award winner Tom Hambridge, whose production credits include: Buddy Guy, Marcia Ball, Susan Tedeschi and James Cotton, among many others.

Prime Blues features 14 new tracks performed by an all-star group of musicians including: bassist Glenn Worf, rhythm guitarists Rob McNelley, Bob Britt and Kenny Greenburg, keyboardist Kevin McKendree, drummer Tom Hambridge, vocalist Mycle Wastman, The Memphis Horns and special guest vocalists Grammy-winner Bobby Rush, and Blues Award winner Mike Zito.

Hambridge stated: “I’m so very proud of this major step forward in Jim’s journey as a Bluesman. We had an absolute blast co-writing some of the songs, planning and recording Prime Blues and we’re anxious for blues fans around the globe to hear these incredible tunes and performances.”

Featured in Apple Music and receiving wide critical acclaim, Allchin’s last LP, Decisions, topped Contemporary Blues and Blues Rock charts for months and was named a Top 20 Blues Rock Album of 2017 by the venerable Roots Music Report (RMR), the number one independent music chart in the world. RMR compiles radio airplay data from radio stations around the globe that play Roots Music and is widely considered a real-time industry barometer.

The reviewers said:
• “Decisions is Jim Allchin’s best release to date!” Blues Bytes Review
• “Lovers of modern blues need to check him out.” Norman Darwen, Blues in the South Review
• “If you decide to hear some great music, here it is!” Smoky Mountain Blues Society
• “Allchin flat out rips!” Rick Bowen, NW Blues

Allchin added: “The title Prime Blues refers to both my love of the blues as well as my love of mathematics. Prime Blues is more concentrated blues than my past albums and at the same time more diverse in terms of style, guitar technique, and guitar tone. Each song tells a story – about an experience, life observation, or my life philosophy in general. I hope you find some of these songs just flat out fun. And about that mathematics reference? Study the grill cloth on the front cover and let us know what you see.”

Prime Blues is widely available from iTunesSpotifyAmazon and the official website, jimallchin.com for digital downloads and CDs.

Founded in 2013, Artisanship Music Nashville is a multimedia production, marketing and distribution company dedicated to uncommonly great music and the artists who love to create and perform for audiences around the globe. We work with both well-established and emerging artists from concept to launch on their musical, entertainment and educational endeavors. Artisanship Music is a proud member of the Americana Music Association, The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, NSAI and ASCAP.

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Out Now: Chris Antonik’s New Release ‘Monarch’

Sarah French

The Toronto-based bluesman’s third album is available on iTunes

Monarch by Chris Antonik

Preview Chris Antonik’s “I’d Burn it All Down (For You)” here

Toronto-based guitarist and songwriter Chris Antonik releases his third album today and has already garnered extensive airplay and positive reviews from critics both at home and abroad.

Here’s what the reviewers are saying:

“Monarch is a classic modern blues album made with wisdom and style.  Antonik has a transcendent understanding of modern electric blues.” – Indie Folk Americana
 
“Antonik’s guitar playing is masterful.” – Toronto Blues Society
 
“One of the best artists we’ve heard from the Great White North.” – American Blues Scene

About Chris Antonik and Monarch:

What does it take to forgive? When is it time to let go and let live? The answers to these questions are always found in deeply personal, closely guarded corners of every heart and mind. Until we shine a light to explore those corners, we just might be driving blind on a collision course with heartbreak.

We can all suffer setbacks in life, but it is in the aftermath where the heart and soul can find healing. While creating his third album Monarch, critically-acclaimed guitarist/singer/songwriter, and Maple Blues award nominee Chris Antonik focused inward on his own deeply personal corners, against the backdrop of a marriage coming to an end.

Following up his self-titled debut in 2010 and his sophomore release Better For You in 2013, (named Blues-Rock Chris Antonik Blues GuitaristAlbum of the Year by Canada’s Blues Underground Network), Monarch closes a trilogy of self-expression. Traveling from an earnest desire to give more and make things better to a destination of peace and forgiveness, Monarch embodies an artist moving on with newfound energy, momentum and an understanding of the past. While forgiveness is free, there are most certainly tolls to pay along the journey. The songs on Monarch cover every mile of that emotional terrain as they ride through a rich and varied blues landscape punctuated by Antonik’s searing guitar work.

Joining Antonik are Chuck Keeping (Big Wreck) on drums, Guenther Kapelle (Wild T and the Spirit) on bass, Jesse O’Brien (Colin James) on keyboards, Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar on harmony vocals, and many others. Monarch was recorded by multiple Grammy and Juno award-nominated engineer Jeremy Darby (U2, Pink Floyd), and co-produced by Antonik and Ted Onyszczak.

While Kris Kristofferson may have surmised that “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose,” then perhaps forgiveness is just another word for everything to gain. As we all face increasingly uncertain and unforgiving times, it is Chris Antonik’s sincere hope that Monarch can provide something personally valuable for everyone to gain from the music.

Monarch Track Listing

1. I’d Burn it All Down (For You) (4:56)
2. You’re Killing My Love (3:08)
3. Slow Moving Train (4:25)
4. Gold Star (3:55)
5. The Monarch and the Wrecking Ball (5:19)
6. Love, Bettike (7:07)
7. Forgiveness is Free (3:34)
8. The Art of Letting Go (5:48)
9. All Our Days (4:38)
10. New Religion (5:11)
11. Hungry Ghost (4:45)
12. A Slip in the Rain (4:15)
13. Everywhere I Go (2:49)

Upcoming Tour Dates

April 18 – The Casbah, Hamilton, ON
With special guest Jesse O’Brien
April 21 – Bar Spectacle Le Quartier de Lune, Quebec, QC
April 22 –  The Rainbow, Ottawa, ON
April 26 – The Rivoli, Toronto, ON
With special guests Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar, and opener Spencer MacKenzie
May 5 –  RCHA Club, Kingston, ON
May 18 – Spinoza’s, Riverside, OH
May 19 – Redstone Room, Davenport, IA
May 20 – The Flatted Fifth, Bellevue, IA
May 21 – Buddy Guy’s Legends, Chicago, IL
May 22 – The Alamo, Springfield, IL
May 25 – Chrome Lounge, Omaha, NE
May 26 – BB’s, St Louis, MO
May 27 – BBQ Blues & Bikes Festival, Elizabethtown, KY
June 4 – Orangeville Blues & Jazz Festival, Orangeville, ON
June 9 –  Moriarty’s, Lansing, MI
June 10 – Paddy Flaherty’s, Sarnia, ON
June 23 – The Boathouse, Kitchener, ON
June 24 – The Bar Upstairs, St Catharines, ON
Download hi-res album artwork here
Download hi-res promo photo here
Download liner notes and lyrics here
 
Chris Antonik is available for interviews and station IDs.

For CD or MP3 copies of Monarch contact Sarah French Publicity

ANN VRIEND WINS COBALT PRIZE AT 2017 MAPLE BLUES AWARDS!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Aporia Records Logo imageAporia Records Logo

ANN VRIEND

WINS COBALT PRIZE

AT 2017 MAPLE BLUES AWARDS

Ann Vriend Cobalt Prize


TORONTO – TUESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2017 –
Big Win for Ann Vriend! Following on the heels of her powerful and well-received Blues Summit Eight showcase with Rooster Davis Group (also her backing band), Ann Vriend is more than thrilled that she has won the Toronto Blues Society’s COBALT PRIZE at last night’s Maple Blues Awards. The event took place at Toronto’s Koerner Hall where Vriend was handed the award for Contemporary Blues Composition/Songwriting for her song “All That I Can” (Aporia Records), a soulful gospel tune. For more information please visit: www.annvriend.com / www.aporia-records.com.

The Toronto Blues Society’s annual Cobalt Prize is judged on a song’s ability to creatively utilize blues traditions within the broad contemporary musical landscape. With a focus on melody, song structure, lyric etc. they also choose the song that “will refresh and enrich blues as an art form.”

The Cobalt Prize judges decided that Edmonton-based Ann Vriend’s “All That I Can” achieved just that, and selected it as first place winner among 75 entries from across Canada. Shocked and ecstatic from the win, Vriend gave a speech noting the inspiration from the African-American community, reminding the audience that they were all there because of a music that came out of great hardship, slavery, and abuse of the African-American people – and yet blues music has had the most profound influence on almost all genres of music world-wide than any other genre.

“All That I Can” is a new track from AV’s upcoming EP release via Aporia Records. It will also be released in Australia next month, alongside four other original tracks, in an EP entitled Anybody’s Different, licensed by David Hand Productions from Aporia Records. With the vocals recorded in primarily one take, the song has a live-off-the-floor feeling and falls into the category of gospel blues with its 6/8 time signature. The music is very traditional gospel, but the lyrics are secular. The Hammond organ combined with upright piano and AV’s soul vocals are reminiscent of early gospel and soul recordings in the era of Sam Cooke. However, there is also a contemporary twist in the sound too – since the drums used on this track are sampled in the style of retro hip hop, and eq’ed to give the song a rough low-fi edge, in contrast with Vriend’s smooth and sweet (though powerful) vocals.

The lyrics of the song are an earnest promise to a lover to do “all that I can” if the lover is willing to “take me just as I am” – a plea to be a true friend and companion in a world where “sometimes I think they wanna break me, just to see if they can.” Though Vriend points out: “but they mistake me as a weak and silly woman,” which could be taken as a slight jab at the misogyny that is sadly, still so prevalent in the world.

Following this very fruitful weekend in Toronto, is a showcase tonight at Aporia Record Label, 714 Gerrard Street East, Toronto, at 6:30 pm. Then Vriend will tour Australia with the Rooster Davis Group next month for a five-week tour, to support the Anybody’s Different EP followed by a European Tour from May 13-29, 2017.

More on “All That I Can”

Composer: Ann Vriend
Producer: Tino Zolfo
Mixing engineer: Brandon Unis, Cylinder Sound
Film mastering engineer: Peter Letros, Wreckhouse Mastering
Label: Aporia Records 

Musicians

Vocals and Piano: Ann Vriend
Organ: Rooster Davis (David Aide)
Programming: Tino Zolfo

Upcoming Dates

February 9 – March 12 – Australia EP Release Tour

Artist Links

Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/annvriend/all-that-i-canwav

https://soundcloud.com/aporia-records/ann-vriend-will-you-be-there

https://soundcloud.com/aporia-records/ann-vriend-anybodys-different/s-dEJII

Spotify: https://play.spotify.com/artist/3vjHMysd98leqhwDotu9fZ

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/AnnVriend

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnVriend

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnVriend #WillYouBeThere #AllThatICan

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annvriend  

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For more information, photos, mp3s, WAV files, interviews, please contact:

MEDIA CONTACT:

Beverly Kreller, Publicist | SPEAK Music
bev@speak-music.com | 416-922-3620
Twitter: @SPEAKMusicPR
Facebook: www.facebook.com/beverly.kreller

 

 

Dalannah BOWEN BLUES BENEFIT: How You Can Help

Dalannah Bowen Blues Benefit

Dalannah BOWEN BLUES BENEFIT
Tues., April 5, 2016
The Fairview Pub
898 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 1J8

7:00pm to 1:30am / Doors open at 6:00pm
Donation at the Door (minimum $15)


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2016

[Vancouver, BC]  Shortly after the 30th Annual Blues For Christmas Benefit, organizer and performer Dalannah Gail Bowen was hospitalized with a stroke; and experienced a second stroke this February.  Her mobility and speech has been heavily affected and rehabilitation will take an extended period of time.  For musicians, taking away our ability to perform not only stifles our hearts and creativity but greatly tightens our pocket books as  well, leaving us with the inability to provide for ourselves.

Dalannah Gail Bowen is a much-loved and acclaimed singer/songwriter, delighting audiences throughout the Lower Mainland for over thirty years. A devoted community activist, particularly on the Downtown East Side, Dalannah works tirelessly as a performer, producer and organizer for local charities. (www.dalannahgailbowen.com) There are many faces and many personalities to this Vancouver-based blues singer. All of those personalities have something in common – a spark, joy, determination and a fire inside.

In recent years, with her singing career rekindled, Dalannah was described as “a surprise hit at the Vancouver Folk Festival”; gave “can’t miss performances” for the Vancouver International Jazz Festival; was described as “…one of Vancouver’s finest talents” by the Vancouver Sun and was named one of Vancouver’s Thirty Inspiring Women. Her latest CD, Been Around A While, received outstanding reviews around the globe. Her vocals, alongside a simple rhythm of bass tracks supplied by Owen Owen, was the sound that won over The Memphis Blues folks and put her in the Blues Hall of Fame just last year.

The  Fairview  Pub and the Vancouver  Music  Community  are  banding  together  to give back to Dalannah so she can concentrate on recovery without financial worry.

ThPerformerareJim  Byrnes, Murray  Porter, Kenny  “Blues  Boss”  Wayne, Candus Churchill, Catherine Bowers, Cecile Larochelle, Billy Dixon, Wes MacKey, Damian Azriel, Jason Buie, Jayleen Stonehouse, Jessi  Nicholson, Jim Foster, Joani Bye, Keith Bennett, Steve Sainas, and Taylor James.

The Stellar Musicians are: Billy Mendoza, Brock Miller, Cameron Hood, Chris Nordquist, Dave Say, Don Hardy,  Johnny Ferreira, Leonard Saidman, Lindsay Mitchell, Malcolm Aiken, Marko Ibarra, Michael Creber, Olaf de Shield, Owen Owen Owen, Ray Ayotte, Ross Langbell, Shawn Soucy, and Steve Daily.

Concert goers will also be able to support Dalannah Gail Bowen by purchasing 50/50 tickets.  The general public will be able to participate in an online auction for items including a One Week Luxury Stay in Mexico, valued at $4200, purchase music downloads donated by local musicians or donate directly to an online donations site.

Please join us for this wonderful evening, purchase items from the online auction at bowenbluesbenefit2016.eflea.ca from March 13 to April 13 or donate directly www.dalannahgailbowen.com/Donate.html.  Collectively giving a bit translates into a whole lot!

www.dalannahgailbowen.com

Sherman & Lee Were Just Meant To Be: Lost and Found on CD Baby Now

Sherman and LeeSome things are just meant to be.

At a time when most Baby Boomers are looking to retire, David Sherman and Nancy Lee packed up the van and hit the road, touring towns in Ontario to share their love of music — and each other.

A former journalist and editor, Sherman, 62, saw the writing on the wall when newspapers began downsizing and used his love for words to propel him into becoming a successful playwright and a songwriter musician Lee, 55, had been a professional musician songwriter in her early 20s, until settling down to raise a family. But when her husband died a few years ago, she picked up her guitar and began playing in cafes near her home.

That’s when serendipity stepped in — Sherman met Lee one frozen February night two years ago as they shared a bill playing a gig in farm country outside of Montreal.

“I just found her looks and soulful singing mesmerizing,” said Sherman, of the woman with whom he now shares his personal and professional life.

“And I found his songs and voice fascinating,” said Lee.

After exchanging email addresses, they met again, and again, and soon started performing together.

The result has been the creation of Sherman & Lee, a creative, collaborative team where they compose and perform songs of the magic and misery that is love, of disintegrating cities and broken dreams, of lost souls and magic moments.

“One night, at a sold out dinner show in Montreal, Guy Sprung, the artistic director of Infinitheatre where I am the writer-in-residence, suggested Nancy and I string the stories together into a narrative and do a musical theatre piece,” recalls Sherman.

“He called it ‘docutheatre.’”

The idea resonated with the couple; they had come from hard times, they were older and a little wiser and there were stories to tell.

“Mixed with a little fiction, we created Lost and Found,” explains Sherman of the 90-minute musical that will be directed by Guy Sprung and performed in Montreal next winter.

“We were lucky to have some of Montreal’s best musicians — Stephen Barry and Andrew Cowan of the Stephen Barry Blues Band and John McColgan, a former member of the band, a drummer and producer — who workshopped the play in front of an audiences. Lost and Found is the soundtrack CD to the play,” says Sherman.

Lost and Found is available now on CD Baby. A captivating and bluesy blendLost and Found by Sherman & Lee of folk, roots, country and pop that combines the sweet vocals of Lee and the edgy vocals and soul-touching lyrics of Sherman, creating an original sound that lingers long after the last note.

Whether they perform as a duo or are backed up by some of Montreal’s finest musicians, Sherman & Lee entertain with an entrancing combination of blues, folk, roots, and pop.

Their love is real, their stories are true and audiences are drawn in by their lyrics, their haunting harmonies and the duo’s captivating stage presence. A Sherman & Lee show makes them laugh, makes them cry and makes them come back for more.

Check them out at www.shermanandlee.com, LIKE their page on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @ShermanandLee.

April Wine Co-Founder & Juno Hall of Fame Inductee Jim Henman to Play Ben’s Pub on Thurs. Nov. 28

Jim Henman at Ben's Pub in KingstonApril Wine co-founder and Juno Hall of Fame Inductee Jim Henman will be performing a solo show at Ben’s Pub in Kingston on Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 7:30 pm. Jim’s country blues solo work is featured on his latest album, Same Old Feeling, (Ravenwood Records) and can be streamed here. 

Tickets for Jim’s Ben’s Pub appearance are $15 and available by contacting jill_relyea@hotmail.com.

Somewhere between the rhymthic yodeling of “The Singing Brakeman,” Jimmie Rodgers and the flavorful grooves of ragtime guitarist/singer, Blind Blake lies the roots of Jim Henman’s musical beginnings. Writing his first tune, at age 12, Jim spent much of his youth strumming a Stella acoustic guitar on the sandy shores of Clam Harbour, Nova Scotia. By the mid-60s, Jim, with high school friends Myles Goodwyn, Greg Stephen, Dave Dodsworth & Doug Grace started the top 40 band, “Woodies Termites.” Jim and Myles went on to co-found the Canadian rock band, April Wine, in the fall of 1969 with Jim’s cousins, David and Ritchie Henman. Jim, David and Ritchie, along with George Mack, had formed the band Prism from late 1968 until summer 1969.  April Wine moved to Montréal in 1970, signing with Aquarius Records.

Shortly after the release of their debut album in 1971, Jim decided to leave the band, moving back to the East Coast to start a family and pursue a career in Medical Technology. While his career as a professional musician may have been put on hiatus, Jim remained connected to the musical community in Halifax, continuing to write music and performing locally.

Jim officially re-emerged onto the East Coast music scene in the 90s, co-writing and co-producing the album, More Than My Share for Cape Breton singer, Jeannie Beks. He also co-wrote the music for “Death the Musical,” a stage production performed both at Halifax’s Neptune Theatre and in French, at Théâtre Génération in Montréal. This musical score was later released on CD. In addition to writing and producing, Jim also began performing in songwriters’ circles throughout Nova Scotia, alongside artists such as Terry Kelly, Laura Smith and Cheryl Gaudet.

Despite the mainstream success of April Wine, Jim’s contribution to the band can hardly be deemed his greatest musical accomplishment. Over the past thirty years, Jim has dedicated his passion, enthusiasm and expertise to numerous projects, much of which hold special meaning in his life. One such project, “Night to Remember,” was a musical event (held annually for four years) that Jim co-produced along with Halifax entrepreneur Joe Graves, in support of recovery homes for men and women in Halifax.

In keeping a promise to his late friend, Canadian blues artist, Rick Jeffery, Jim completed and produced Rick’s final album, 13 Vultures in 2009. The CD/DVD was released at the Dutch Mason Blues Festival in July 2009 with a twenty member tribute band who performed select tracks from the album. The tribute band included various artists from the Maritime Blues scene, including, Joe Murphy, Thersea Melenfant, Pam Marsh, Wayne Nicholson, Carter Chaplin, A. Jardine, Charlie Phillips, Mike Legget, and Shirley Jackson.

In 2009 Jim was installed along with April Wine in to the Canadian Music Industry Hall Of Fame and in April 2010, Jim had the great honour of receiving a Juno award, commemorating April Wine’s induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Indeed, this is the ultimate achievement for any musician.

For Jim, this award has been somewhat bittersweet; prompting sentiments of accomplishment and nostalgia. Yet, in many ways, this award has also provided a sense of closure on this chapter of his musical career, while  providing the ideal momentum for propelling him into new directions and establishing new beginnings as a solo artist.

Georgette Fry – AT LAST: A Tribute to Etta James

Georgette Fry Sings Etta JamesAT LAST! After a sold-out show at the 2013 Kingston Jazz Festival, Juno-nominated Georgette Fry, winner of the 2013 CBMA Blues Awards for Singer of the Year  will take to the stage at The Octave with her amazing “Georgette Sings Etta” concert.

Appearing with Georgette: Kevin Head, Mariko Ohtake, Anna Sudac (Vocals), Jon Stewart (Sax), James Wannamaker (Sax), Janet McRae (Trumpet), Dave Barton (Guitar), Zak Colbert (Bass), Ken Hall (Organ), Al McCain (Piano), Duncan Holt (Drums), Shout Sister! Choir (Gospel Back-up)

“I just want to say that I saw Georgette Fry’s tribute to Etta James at the Grand Theatre in Kingston last night and it was, without a doubt, the best show I’ve seen this year!

Georgette was SENSATIONAL and she received two standing ovations! This is definitely a MUST SEE show! …This show isn’t just for Etta James fans (of which I am)

but for anyone who wants to witness a spectacular night of blues, R&B, jazz, soul and gospel music.” C. Bode, Scully Love Promo

Watch Georgette sing “Something’s Got A Hold On Me” live on Vimeo, here

October 5th at 7:30 pm
The Octave Theatre (711 Dalton Ave)

Tickets $30 at Brian’s Record Option, Novel Idea, Renaissance Music, Tara Natural Food and at the door.For more information contact:

Nancy Greig at 613-453-6570
njgreig@absolutelymusic.on.ca

“At Last” Georgette Fry Sings Etta James and She’s SENSATIONAL!!

Georgette Fry & Shout Sister Choir

Photo from Picton Regent Theatre performance

“At Last”

Georgette Fry Sings Etta James

Brockville Arts Centre
June 22, 2013 – Showtime 7:30 pm

Market Hall, Peterborough
June 29, 2013 – Showtime 8:00 pm


Juno nominated
Georgette Fry has been described as a “powerful and expressive singer.”   She returns to the stage with a Tribute to Etta James, accompanied by an eight-piece band, three accomplished vocalists (Tabby Johnson, Mariko Ohtake and Anna Sudac), and the Shout Sister! Choir providing the gospel backups! 

Georgette’s concerts highlight the ease with which she bridges the gap between jazz and blues.  Sandy MacDonald, Halifax Daily News writes, “With her luscious singing voice, she explores the soulful grey area between blues and jazz, where artists like Etta James and Ray Charles and Bonnie Raitt have staked their careers.”  Long recognized as one Canada’s best blues vocalists, Georgette was most recently named “2013 Singer of the Year” by the Calgary Blues Music Association.

Etta James’ career spanned six decades, during which she had several top ten hits, a dozen nominations and three Grammy Awards and a Grammy “Lifetime Achievement” Award; in 2008, her first hit, “The Wallflower” (aka “Dance With Me Henry”) was also given the Grammy Hall of Fame Award.  Etta James passed away in January of 2012, leaving a lasting legacy.

Tickets for the Brockville show are $29.00 and are available at the Box Office at 613-342-7122.

Tickets for the Peterborough show are $33.00 and are available at the Box Office at 705-749-1146 or Moondance Records at 705-742-9425 (cash only).

For interviews contact: Nancy Greig, Manager – 613-453-6570

 njgreig@absolutelymusic.on.ca

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I saw Georgette Fry’s tribute to Etta James at the The Grand Theatre in Kingston on Thursday, June 20th and it was, without a doubt, the best show I’ve seen this year! Georgette was SENSATIONAL and she received two standing ovations! This is definitely a MUST SEE show. I was almost moved to tears during several songs as Georgette has put so much heart, soul and BLUES into her show. It blew me away. This show isn’t just for Etta James fans (of which I am) but for anyone who wants to witness a spectacular night of blues, R&B, jazz, soul and gospel music. Georgette’s back-up singers Tabby Johnson and Anna Sudac were excellent too. The whole show should really be filmed and made available on DVD, it’s that good!

My Cross To Bear by Greg Allmann

Book Review
Title: My Cross to Bear
Author:  Gregg Allman
Publisher: William Morrow
Released: May 1, 2012
Pages: 320
ISBN-10: 0062112031
ISBN-13: 978-0062112033
Stars:  5.0

It’s no secret that I love music so it goes without saying that I really enjoy reading autobiographies of musicians, and I’ve read quite a few.  But none has been as worthy of note, so brutally honest, poignant and impressive as Gregg Allman’s, who with the help of Alan Light, writes about his remarkable life in My Cross to Bear.

“No, I’m no angel
No I’m not stranger to the streets
I’ve got my label
So I won’t crumble at your feet
And I know baby
So I’ve got scars upon my cheek
And I’m half crazy
Come on and love me baby

No I’m no angel
No I’m no stranger to the dark
Let me rock your cradle
Let me start a fire with your spark
Oh come on baby
Come and let me show you my tattoo
Let me drive you crazy
Come on and love me baby”

The legendary front man for The Allman Brothers Band has lived a very hard yet rewarding life, filled with ecstasies and tragedies, and in My Cross to Bear he doesn’t sugar coat one single bit of it.  He allows us to see who Gregory really is, flaws and all, and I was so impressed by that.  Reading this book is like sitting down and listening to the man talk directly to you, leading you to believe that he considers you a friend.  I was so captivated by Gregory’s voice and humour that I have been experiencing a re-appreciation of his music that has left me with a little crush on this 64-year-old, long blonde-haired, tattooed man.

Gregory LeNoir Allman hails from Nashville, TN where he was born on December 8, 1947.  Since then he’s spent a large part of his life in Georgia which he calls home.  He’s a true southern gentleman and he writes with his own distinctive southern voice.  You can feel the heat in it, the whiskey, the cigarettes, along with sadness, joy, and hope that he’s still got time left to continue to work at being a better man and a better artist.

Gregory, as he’s known by his friends, is a rock and blues singer, keyboardist, guitarist and songwriter, and one of the founding members of The Allman Brothers Band – the band who founded Southern Rock.  Inducted with the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, Gregory has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Music Hall of Fame (2006), a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Americana Awards, and his idiosyncratic voice landed him at No. 70 of Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”.  And he truly is.  His latest album, Low Country Blues, produced by T-Bone Burnett, is a masterpiece.

Gregory explores his fatherless youth (his dad was murdered by a hitchhiker), his stint in military school, the birth of his first bands, and the subsequent evolution of the revolving cast of players in The Allman Brothers.  He revisits the untimely and tragic motorcycle deaths of both his older brother, guitarist Duane Allman in 1971 and band mate, bassist Berry Oakley, a year later.  He is forthcoming about his alcohol and drug addictions including his many unsuccessful attempts at rehab – although he’s been sober since the mid-1990s – the band’s excessive drug use, his reputation for being a “pussy hound”, and his unabashed love for the Hammond B-3 organ.

The Ramblin’ Man also discusses the challenge of working with guitarist Dickey Betts, the highs and lows of touring, skirmishes with the law, and his critically acclaimed solo work.  He professes his love for his mother, his five children (Michael Sean Allman – whom he never met until Michael was a grown man – Devon Lane Allman, Elijah Blue Allman – who he confesses that he doesn’t know very well – Delilah Island Allman – who he describes as the light of his life, and Layla Brooklyn Allman), all of whom have a different mother, his friends, his dogs and Harley Davidson motorcycles.  The man has been married six times, most famously to Cher (1975-79) whom he still respects and gets along with.  Although he’s been tied to the whipping post many times, he doesn’t like to be alone.  He is now engaged to 24-year-old Shannon Williams, who he says will be his first wife.

Gregory, who doesn’t pretend to be anyone other than himself in his autobiography, has dabbled in acting and most notably appeared in the 1991 film Rush directed by Lili Fini Zanuck, starring Jason Patric, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Sam Elliott.  Although he had very little dialogue in the film, his presence made a huge impact on the story as he was absolutely perfect for the role of the drug dealing, criminal heavyweight, Gaines.  I love this movie and have watched it many times, enjoying all of the cast’s performances as well as its memorable soundtrack by Eric Clapton.

Allman has been battling a number of health issues in recent years and was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in late 2007, the result of an infection from a dirty tattoo needle.  In 2010 he had a liver transplant.  Through it all, he continues to make music and to tour, both as a solo artist and with The Allman Brothers.

Gregory Allman is a firm believer in everything happening for a reason.  It’s obvious that he’s done a lot of soul-searching since he’s been sober, even finding God in the Episcopal Church.  He lives every day with the grief of the loss of his big brother Duane, someone who continues to inspire the enlightened rogue, and yet just gets on with living his life.  He is truly inspirational.

 Music is my life’s blood.  I love music.  I love to play good music, and I love to play music for people who appreciate it.  And when it’s all said and done, I’ll go to my grave and my brother will greet me, saying, “Nice work, little brother – you did all right.

My Cross to Bear is everything that a rock’n’roll memoir should be: well-written, interesting, entertaining, emotive, chock full of stimulating music references, filled with great photos, rated R, and above all, unforgettable.  This is a must read for all music lovers!


Watch Gregg Allman talk about his memoir on CBS This Morning here.

Lyle Lovett’s Release Me Releases Him From Contract With Curb

CD Review
Title: Release Me
Artist:  Lyle Lovett
Label: Curb/Lost Highway
Released: February 28, 2012
Stars:  3.5

Release Me is Texan singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett’s 15th album.  I remember playing Pontiac (1987) when it was first released over and over…couldn’t get enough of his saddle smooth voice, wry sense of humour, and superb medley of genres.  I followed him quite closely throughout the release of his following four albums (Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Joshua Judges Ruth, I Love Everybody, and The Road To Ensenada), and saw him in concert in Vancouver in 1995.  However, for some inexplicable reason, he fell off my radar for quite a while and I’m not familiar with the music he made after 1996.  I guess I was missing him.  After giving Release Me a good listen I remember why I loved him so much.

While Release Me doesn’t mean as much to me as the previous recordings I mentioned, as Lovett mostly covers other people’s songs here, it does have a few gems among its generous 14 track listing, that span from dour to droll, as well as a couple of Christmas songs which were, truthfully, a bit mystifying.  The CD’s black and white artwork features Lovett looking forlorn, standing on a country dirt road, bound by a very long piece of rope which is more than likely a metaphor for the place he now finds himself in his career.

Release Me opens on an upbeat note with a rollicking country instrumental reel highlighted by Luke Bulla’s fiddle called “Garfield’s Blackberry Blossom”.  Immediately your toes start tapping and they don’t stop as it segues into the title track, “Release Me”.  The country classic is interpreted by Lovett and k.d. lang, but for all intents and purposes is one of two throw away tracks on the album in my humble opinion.  I’m a big fan of k.d. lang too, but this is neither lang’s nor Lovett’s most memorable performance.  However, I’m completely captivated by “White Boy Lost In The Blues”, a sexy, cool blues number with harmonies by Arnold McCuller and Dean Parks’ slick electric slide guitar.  It’s my favourite track and I could push repeat on my iPhone and listen to it all day long!

Track 4, which I thought was a little out of place and could be classified as another one to toss, (though it’s certainly not bad) is the jazz standard, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, a Christmas duet with Kat Edmonson.  Later on in the album (Track 11), Lovett offers up his own Christmas song, “The Girl With The Holiday Smile”, a New Orleans style, boogie-woogie about a hooker in a grocery store.  Love it and will most certainly add it to my holiday playlist, but still can’t understand why he’d put Christmas songs on an album released in February.

Lovett is no stranger to the relationship blues and we hear more about them in the pretty and poignant ballads “Understand You” and “Dress of Laces”, a heartrending murder epic featuring harmony vocals by Sara Watkins.  He’s always been a master storyteller as well and spins more familiar yarns with “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” and “One Way Gal”.

“Night’s Lullaby” is exactly that, a lullaby with backing vocals by Sean and Sara Watkins (of Nickel Creek) while “Keep It Clean” is a Traditional standard arranged by Lovett featuring upbeat jazzy blues with whimsical, jaunty lyrics.  “Isn’t That So” is exceptionally good swinging, soulful blues that scream classic Lovett and is another favourite of mine on the album along with “White Freightliner Blues”, a frenetic country blues duet with Keith Sewell & Luke Bulla, written by Townes Van Zandt and featuring some fantastic drumming by Ross Kunkel.  Release Me closes with the gospel piano ballad, “Keep Us Steadfast”, written by Martin Luther featuring Luke Bulla on harmonies, but it’s a track I could have done without as I’d rather the album ended on a more exulted note.

Singer-songwriters as intelligent and charming as Lyle Lovett are as rare as white tigers, but I prefer to hear him sing his own songs.  Regardless, I’ll love Lyle’s style forever.  Release Me is definitely worth listening to and it’ll be interesting to see what he does as a free agent, now that his contract with Curb has ended and a new chapter is waiting to begin.