Monday, December 31, 2007

Boston bluesman dies in house fire

"Weepin'" Willie Robinson, an elder statesman of Boston blues, died Sunday, Dec. 30, 2007, in a house fire. He was 81.

According to The Boston Globe, Robinson died in bed in a fire caused by his own cigarette in his Boston rest home.

A fixture on the Boston blues scene since 1959, Robinson didn't record his first solo album until 1999 at age 72. "At Last, On Time," released on the APO label, featured Mighty Sam McClain, Susan Tedeschi and Jimmy D. Lane.

Boston Globe article

APO Records

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Help save Internet radio!

Blues fans -- and fans of music typically not heard on commercial radio stations -- should be alarmed by a recent decision by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB).

On March 2, 2007, the CRB, which oversees sound recording royalties paid by Internet radio services, increased royalties for Internet radio stations. According to Jason Fry of the Wall Street Journal, an online radio station would pay .08 cent per song per listener for 2006 (the rates are retroactive), .11 cent in 2007, .14 in 2008, .18 cents in 2009 and .19 cents in 2010.

Currently, under a deal brokered in 2002, small Webcasters are paying artists and record labels 12% of their revenue, but the new rules would do away with that exemption. The new system could increase royalties for Internet radio stations by between 300 and 1200 percent.

So, why does this matter to the blues? Quite simply, these higher fees would bankrupt many Internet radio providers, as the proposed royalties would exceed revenues for most independent net radio providers. Some of these providers feature music typically not heard on regular, over-the-air radio stations, includes blues. The surviving Internet radio stations would be run by larger, commercial interests that are less likely to play diverse styles of music.

This all seems grim, but there is a glimmer of hope. The Internet Radio Equality Act has recently been introduced in both the House (H.R. 2060) and Senate (S. 1353) to save the Internet radio industry.

This bipartisan effort is being led by Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.) and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). Their legislation would set Internet radio royalty rates at 7.5 percent of revenue, the same as those of satellite radio.

If you'd like to support the effort, please consider calling your representatives in Congress and tell them that you support the legislation. You can get more information, including contact information, from, a coalition of artists, labels, listeners and webcasters in support of Internet Radio.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

It's time for a blues road trip

We're introducing a new feature on called "Scenes from the Road." We're sharing some of the many photos we've taken over the years, ranging from juke joints in Mississippi to blues clubs in Chicago.

Our first photo was taken by Steve Sharp, who is a frequent contributor to our Web site as well as Living Blues and other blues publications. This photo was taken from Chicago's Maxwell Street, described by Steve as a "little bluesy street scene ... I shot back in July of 1995, a summer morning of blues, tacos and beer in a bag."

Follow this link to view the photo.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ike Turner, Irma Thomas win blues Grammys

At this year's GRAMMY Awards, held at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, Ike Turner won best traditional blues album for "Risin' With The Blues" (Zoho Roots). Turner beat out Tab Benoit With Louisiana's Leroux, Dion, James Hunter and Duke Robillard.

Also, Irma Thomas won a Grammy for "After The Rain" (Rounder) for best contemporary blues album. Her competition was the Robert Cray Band, Dr. John & The Lower 911, Keb' Mo' and Susan Tedeschi.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Buddy Guy plans return to studio this summer

Buddy Guy is planning to return to the studio in a few months to record a follow-up to his 2005 Silverstone album, "Bring 'Em In," according to

"I want to go in the studio now and be more creative than I have been," Guy tells "I'm asking my record company now, just give me a shot like (Jimi) Hendrix and Eric (Clapton) and stop having too many people trying to teach me in the studio. You don't see a boxer learn how to box when he gets in the ring, so I just really want to go into the studio and have a chance at four or five of my own songs with nobody saying a damn thing to me, except for me and my guitar."

The 70-year-old Guy, who doesn't have a label at this point, said he plans to wait until at least May to record because the cold weather doesn't help his singing. ""I've never had the greatest voice and this kind of weather don't help it. So my recording, we'll probably start putting something together about May, June, July and August when the temperature don't fool with you," Guy said.