Sunday, January 31, 2010

Blues GRAMMYs go to Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Derek Trucks Band

If you're interested in learning who took home the GRAMMY awards for best blues albums in 2009, don't bother watching tonight's show. (Unless you want to see the rumored Lady Gaga-Elton John duet.) Don't despair, however, as we have the scoop here:

The GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Blues Album went to "Already Free" by The Derek Trucks Band [Victor Records].

Other nominees were "This Time" by The Robert Cray Band [Nozzle Records/Vanguard]; "The Truth According To Ruthie Foster" by Ruthie Foster [Blue Corn Music]; "Live: Hope At The Hideout" by Mavis Staples [ANTI]; and "Back To The River" by Susan Tedeschi [Verve Forecast].

The Best Traditional Blues Album GRAMMY went to "A Stranger Here" by Ramblin' Jack Elliott [ANTI].

Other nominees were " "Blue Again" by The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band Featuring Rick Vito [429 Records]; "Rough & Tough" by John Hammond [Chesky Records]; "Stomp! The Blues Tonight" by Duke Robillard [Stony Plain Records]; and "Chicago Blues: A Living History" by Billy Boy Arnold, Lurrie Bell, Billy Branch & John Primer, Larry Skoller, producer [Raisin' Music].

Another blues recording won in the category of Best Historical Album. "The Complete Chess Masters (1950-1967),"
a Little Walter compilation from Hip-O Select, took top honors. However, the soundtrack for "Cadillac Records" did not win for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or other Visual Media, losing out to "Slumdog Millionaire."

By the way, I watched some of the pre-telecast online at the GRAMMY Web site and probably enjoyed it more than the actual show with all of its star power. We got to see a few gospel, R&B and folk performances, along with some award presentations by Mick Fleetwood and Robert Flack. Taylor Swift even showed up to collect her first two GRAMMYs ever and no one even took the microphone away from her!

GRAMMY Web site

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tail Dragger DVD puts viewer smack dab in Chicago blues club

Are you in the mood for some authentic Chicago blues, but don't want to visit the Windy City in January? A good alternative is the latest DVD from Tail Dragger, "Live At Rooster's Lounge." This stellar release from Delmark puts the viewer right in the middle of the west side Chicago blues club for a raw and raucous performance from James Yancey Jones, the aforementioned Tail Dragger.

The DVD is a follow-up to Tail Dragger’s first Delmark DVD, "My Head Is Bald - Live at Vern's Friendly Lounge." "My Head is Bald" was named best blues DVD by Living Blues magazine in 2005 and "Rooster's Lounge" is just as good. (Both titles also can be purchased as separate audio CDs.)

Thanks to the excellent camera work, “Live at Rooster’s Lounge” almost makes it seem as if the viewer is sitting in the lounge, as Tail Dragger stalks the premises not unlike his mentor, the late, great Howlin’ Wolf. The video captures Tail Dragger as he works the crowd and even flirts with the ladies. You can almost taste the beer and soul food as it’s served to the patrons.

Tail Dragger’s vocals are backed ably by guitarists Rockin' Johnny Burgin and Kevin Shanahan, harpist Martin Lang, bass player Todd Fackler and drummer Rob Lorenz. Dragger’s good friend, West Side blues legend Jimmy Dawkins, contributes his distinctive guitar sound to one song, “Wander,” a Tail Dragger original.

The set list includes a nice mixture of originals and covers from Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Joe Williams, John Lee Hooker and Little Walter.

Delmark Web site

Tail Draggers’ Web site