Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Palestine Blues: The Song Lyrics

Palestine Blues
Lew Jetton & 61 South
Copyright 2017 All rights reserved
All selections writer by Lew Jetton (BMI, Brooks Chapel Music, Coffee Street Records)

1. Will I Go To Hell
I asked the preacher, who's worried about my soul
Will I go to hell, if I lose control, he said, he said

I heard you politician, you yourself did stray
Will I go to hell, if I don't vote your way
He said, he said

Well head on, well head on
Well head on, head on to hell

I might like to drink, good ole southern mash
Will I go to hell, am I just white trash
He said, he said

Sometimes I want to live, sometimes I wanna die
Will I go to hell, if I don't feel like trying
He said, he said

Well head on, well head on
Well head on, head on to hell

Let me talk to Jesus, tell me if it's cool,
Will I go to hell, if I don't follow rules
He said, he said

Is it that I'm different, I am I just a fool,
Will I go to hell, if I'm not just like you,
He said, he said

Well head on, well head on,
Well head on, head on to hell

2. Oh My My
There are days, want to be alone, don't get up, don't leave home,
Oh my my, oh my my,
Is this what it feels like, feels like to die

Hate my job, hate this strife,
Hate this town, hate my life,
Oh my, my, oh my, my
Is this what it feels like, feels like to die,

Maybe someday change my mind,
Maybe come out on the other side,
Maybe darkness turn to light,
Something better but, oh my my...

Another day, another year,
Another season, same old tears,
Oh my my, oh my my,
Is this what it feels like, feels like to die

Oh my my....

3. For The Pain
Here comes the pain again, just like the other times,
Yeah it's my daily grind, that's my life today,

Here comes the pain again, I wonder when it will end,
My addiction is my only friend who always stays by my side

It's just my pain and me, we keep to ourselves,
Doctor, write me up, or I'll do it myself, for the pain, for the pain

It's just my pain and me, we keep to ourselves,
Write me a prescription, or I'll do it myself, for the pain, for the pain,

Here comes that pain again, always here to remind,
To that feeling I am resigned, I will never escape,

Here comes that pain again, I can't pretend to be brave,
and I'll carry it to my grave, please dear lord take me now,

It's just my pain and me, we keep to ourselves,
Doctor, write me up, or I'll do it myself, for the pain, for the pain

4. Mexico
Don't know why I hang around,
Nothing left here in this town,
Someday maybe head on out,
Ain't no use to sit and pout

Every month I get my check,
Living off the government,
I don't want to live this way
I don't know another way,
That's the way, that's the way it goes,
Since my job went to Mexico

Wish I had a brand-new car,
Mine won't get me very far,
Hope I get it fixed someday,
Maybe then I'll run away, that's the way, that's the way it goes,
Since my job went to Mexico,

They say I'm getting rich off you, and I ain't nothing but a fool,
I wish you could understand,
I'm just doing the best I can
That's the way, that's the way it goes,
Since my job went to Mexico,

Want to get so far from here,
Where I go I just don't care,
I know what they think of me,
I see how they look at me,
Thats the way, that's the way it goes,
Since my job went to Mexico

5. Sold Us Out
The politicians in DC done sold us out,
Don't give a damn about you and me, they sold us out,
We taking on more than we can bear,
They make the money and they just don't care,
They want more and more and more

They sold us out, they sold us out,
They sold us out

The corporations with their profit lines done sold us out,
They want to take away my overtime, they sold us out,
It's bout the money and you best beware,
Don't give a damn and they just don't don't care,
They want more and more and more, they sold us out.

This country built by the workingman but they sold us out, we don't fit their financial plan, they sold us out,
They pay less taxes than you and me,
Then hide the money overseas,
They want more and more and more, they sold us out

6. Drinking Again
One for the road, one cause you're mad,
One when you're happy, another when you're sad,
I guess it's a sin, that you're drinking again

One to relax, one to be brave, just one more baby, could take you to your grave,
Well I guess it's a sin, that you're drinking again

I know why you do it, I really do,
I know you can't help it, I don't blame you,
One of these days, unless you make up your mind,
You're headed for trouble, it's just a matter of time

I know I can't stop you, I've tried and I can't,
And I'm just like you baby, I sure ain't no saint,
I guess it's a sin, You know it's a sin, it's a lowdown sin, that we're drinking again

7. Don't Need No Devil
Don't need no devil, to take me down to hell,
Don't need no devil, to take me down to hell,
I don't need no help at all, I done it to myself,

Don't need no hangman, to take the breath from me,
Don't need no hangman, to take the breath from me,
Don't need no help at all, I can hardly breathe,

You know there ain't no whiskey, can take away my pain,
Ain't no whiskey, can take away my pain,
It just makes it worse, and the pain well it just stays,

Sweet sweet Lori, she can't stop the hurt,
Sweet sweet Lori, she can't stop the hurt,
When the heart is hurting, it only makes it worse

Don't need no devil to take me down to hell,
Don't need no devil to take me down to hell,
I don't need no help at all, I done it to myself

8. Christ Have Mercy
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy, for what I did and did not do

It's my own fault, and no one else,
I am on my own, and I need help, Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy, for what I did and did not do

Please don't send me down to hell,
Where I am now, I'm already there,
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy, for what I did and did not do

This here life is hard to take,
The devils grip is hard to break,
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy, for what I did and did not do

It's my despair, wrought at my hands,
I don't expect you to understand, Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy, for what I did and did not do

9. Drama
Don't want no drama around me,
Don't want no drama around me,
Don't want no drama around me,
Don't want no drama around me,
Baby let me be, can't you see,
Don't want no drama around me,

Now don't be playing no games,
Now don't be playing no games
Now don't be playing no games,
Now don't be playing no games,
Sayin Im to blame, just the same,
Now don't be playing no games

Well now all you want is all you can get,
I ain't no fool, my ways are set
If you're thinking I'm a fool, I've had it baby, now, get a clue

Don't want no drama around me,
Don't want no drama around me,
Don't want no drama around me,
Don't want no drama around me,
Baby let me be, can't you see, don't want no drama around me

10. Bout Time
Bout time, for me to let it go,
Bout time, for me to let it go,
Time to move on, time to let things,all alone

Bout time, to stop feeling bad,
Bout time, to stop feeling bad,
Change my way of thinking before it drives me mad,

Time to stop a life that just can't last,
Slow down my mind, stop living in the past,
Put the bottle down and pick myself up,
I want to do it now but I'm just too beat up, bout time

Bout time, you know they all say the same,
Bout time, they all say the same,
But it's easy to say when you ain't the one in pain

Talking About Palestine Blues, the New Album From Lew Jetton & 61 South

Great interview with Luke Williams of WKYQ on Palestine Blues.  Here's the transcipt.

WKYQ's Luke Williams interviews Coffee Street Records recording artist Lew Jetton upon the release of Palestine Blues, the new album from Lew Jetton & 61 South.

Luke: "Why the title? Palestine Blues."

Lew: "Palestine is a small community near where I live in Fulton County, Kentucky. There used to be a church there but it's abandoned now. All that's there is the graveyard. I thought it seemed right because Palestine is also a place of historical significance and conflict since biblical times. I thought it was a good metaphor for a period in my life,"

Luke: "Up until this album, almost all of your albums have included some humorous songs, some happy songs. This one seems to have no happiness at all. What is this by design?"

Lew: "I don't know if it was by design necessarily. I had actually finished writing all of the songs for this album before we got into the recording of my last album. I guess I was just at a time or in a real creative mode and so a lot of music was flowing from me. After I finished writing the songs for Rain, I started reflecting on the previous ten-year period in my life.

My wife started having some health problems and eventually passed away. Also during that time, I was laid off from my job, and she could already not work because of her health. Lots of problems besetting us and also family and friends: depression, alcoholism, opioid abuse. I guess sometimes the blues really are the blues. This album is not happy at all but it is reflective. Maybe some will hear it and it'll strike a chord with them."

Luke: "Also, compared to your previous work, this is pretty stark. Just guitar, bass and drums although JD Wilkes, an original member of 61 South returns to add a little harmonica."

Lew: "Yeah, going basically three-piece on this wasn't something we set out to do, but as we rehearsed the songs with just the rhythm section, it became apparent, that was the way these songs should be done. I've said it before, I'm not a "guitar-slinger," I'm the "song-guy" and I thought the message of these songs came through best this way. Plus Heath Glisson at Coffee Street Studios got such great bass and drum sounds, it just sounded so full with minimum instrumentation.

JD is such a monster player and one of my best friends. He was an original member of 61 South and was with them when I joined in the mid 90s. He's been on all our albums. He stopped by to record a couple of songs during a break from touring with his band, The Legendary Shack Shakers."

Luke: "The first song, "Will I Go To Hell." You're repeatedly asking if you are going to hell and yet you're not getting an answer"

Lew: "Actually that song is about others judging me and you. So willing to pass judgement and condemn others. Judging others because their religious or political views might be different. Judging others because there might be an aspect of another's life they don't like. It's wrong. Lots of folks have told me I'm going to Hell but none of them were named Jesus."

Luke: "Oh My My" seems more about personal depression. Almost suicidal."

Lew: "Yeah its about depression but it's not really about suicide although there is the line "is this what it feels like to die." I've had battles with depression off and on my whole life and while sometimes, yeah, you feel like you're dying, there's a big difference between that and suicide. The other stuff is very real at times. Don't want to get outta bed, don't want to leave home, etc."

Luke: "For The Pain" seems to be about painkillers. Have you had problems with painkillers?

Lew: "It's more about self-medication in general. I never had problems with painkillers but I've known several who did. Have I ever "self medicated" with other things like alcohol? Yes. That's why the line "write me a prescription or I'll do it myself." I've known others who DID forge prescriptions. I was dealing with a lot of painful things for a time in my life. At times, lots of us are. We do what we can to dull the pain."

Luke: "Obviously "Mexico" is about job loss and that struggle. Of course, in your case, you went through a period where you were laid off, but it was NOT because your job was sent to another country."

Lew: "Yeah the parallel is that I lost my job but like them, through no fault of my own and like them, I went on government assistance for a while. In my case it was unemployment and I had a time getting that in that the place where I was laid off from kept trying to get me to sign an agreement where I was not entitled to unemployment benefits. This was after I was promised unemployment benefits. I was very lucky in that, although my wife was ill, she was also an attorney, and kept reviewing the documents and advising me on getting the changes made in the severance agreement so I could receive unemployment benefits, as promised when I was laid off.

Although in the end, I was only unemployed and on government assistance for a few weeks, it was enough for me to feel the shame and stigma of honest workers, laid off and on assistance. I was ashamed. I didn't want to have to accept it, but it was take it or lose my house and go without food, so I did. At the same time, there were those who labeled me and those in my position as "freeloaders." It's tough. I was trying so hard to get another job and yet I was maligned because I applied for unemployment. I only wanted to save my home, feed my family and make sure my wife got the medical treatment she needed which was taken away when I lost my job. I can't imagine what the stress is like for families who have been in that situation for months or years."

Luke: "And that leads us to "Sold Us Out," a kind of anthem for the "working man," which indicts Washington and suggests no one really cares about the middle class, blue collar workers."

Lew: "Well that is my feeling, until someone in Washington steps up and proves they really do care for the working man and the middle class. We are the ones who built this country. Without us there would be no America. Sorry but that's the way I feel and I don't want to hear words. I want to see the figures of our class's median income rising. I want to see it on our paychecks."

Luke: "Drinking Again" seems like a personal, tragic song."

Lew: "It is. I don't want to get too far into it except to say it kinda gets back to the self medication thing, and I'm sure many people can relate."

Luke: "Don't Need No Devil" sent shivers up my spine. Seems like an earlier song when you're struggling with depression,"

Lew: "It is. It's an expression on that time in my life. I was feeling like I was in hell. I was choked by depression and the circumstances of my my life. I was locked in a battle with the my personal demons. I was in my own personal hell, as low as I could go. I'm sure there are plenty of people going through the darkest times of their lives who can relate.

Luke: "Who is Sweet Lorrie?"

Lew: "Loritab."

Luke: "Then it's like the album does a pivot. "Christ Have Mercy" is like a confession and a prayer."

Lew: "It is. It's an expansion of the Catholic Kyrie. Asking forgiveness for the things I did and also the things I should have done but did not. For those who are not particularly religious it might equate to one's feelings of regret."

Luke: "The last 2 songs "Drama" and "Bout Time" seem like a resolution. Are you at a happier time in your life now?"

Lew: "I'm not sure. Maybe "settled" is a better description? For sure I don't want anymore drama in my life. I want peace in the future and closure for my past. That's my hope and prayer. Not only for me but for all of us. A peaceful and better future. Time will tell."

The Recording of Palestine Blues

Thrilled to be releasing our 4th studio album, Palestine Blues, in August.  Without a doubt the most personal project I've ever done.  It deals with a particularly difficult 10 year stretch of my life.  All 10 songs are original and it's not a happy record at all.

If anything, it's painful.  Sometimes it's very painful for me to listen to, but maybe some can relate.  In life, we go through hard times, including problems with drugs, alcohol, joblessness, struggles with depression and between the profane and the spiritual.  Over the last 10 years, I or someone close to me has dealt with many of those.

Palestine Blues is set for release August 7th.  I hope it touches a chord with some folks, especially those dealing with life's difficulties themselves. I hope they realize they are not alone.  I hope they realize they can pull out of that spiral.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A "blow by blow" of recording our album, Rain

I thought it might be fun to, before I forgot, write down all I could remember about recording our 2016 album, Rain.  As with every album, it's a learning experience, and for this project, I had not recorded in 10 years, so LOTS of things had changed technology wise.  I took my time.  Did some experimenting with different guitar/amp combinations and gave the engineer, Heath Glisson the freedom to do some experimenting too.  The end result, was a pretty doggone good album which is STILL hanging around on the charts.  I'll go song by song, but begin by saying I played rhythm guitar on every track (except "It's Raining") and played more lead guitar than I have in the past.  On every song, I tried different combinations of guitars and amps until I finally got the sound where I wanted! I don't use a whole lot of effects and most I use are battle worn standard stuff. OK!  Lets go song by song!  Here is the finished project on iTunes.

1. "Who's Texting You":  I wrote this song a year or two earlier.  Just a basic play off the cheating woman or man story, with the implementation of modern technology of texting.  Part of this was because I see so many couples fussing over one or both of them constantly being on the cellphone, even if cheating is never involved.  My late wife, Bridget, even used to get on me for staying on the iPhone too much.  As usual, she was right!  I tried to curtail my use, especially around her.  On this one, I'm playing a Phil Jones Lower Broadcaster on the rhythm guitar, through a 1980 "red knob" twin reverb amp.  On the lead parts, I do the intro lead with an Eric Clapton "Blackie" through a Fulltone OCD into the same red knob Alonzo Pennington plays, using his custom made Harper guitar through my OCD and red knob twin. 

Danny Bell plays keyboards, and also the harmony guitar parts which walk up and down.  James Sullivan plays bass, and Erik Eicholtz plays drums on this, and all of the tracks.
twin. On the lead break, I play the first part with the same setup, then

2. "Move On Yvonne": This is a cajun feel song I wrote a couple years earlier too.  I hit on the phrase, Move on Yvonne, and then  built around it.  I was surprised no one had ever hit on the phrase before because it was so rhythmic and told a story within itself.  I debated on whether to use a more cajun drum roll, but in the end decided on more of a traditional beat. The harmonica of course is Colonel JD Wilkes from the Legendary Shack Shakers, who was an original member of 61 South back in the 90s! The cool thing about his harmonica on this CD was the amp he used was  an old Western Auto  store solid-state Truetone amp about the size of a lunchbox. So there is no manipulation at all to the sound on the recording. It
really is that ratty sounding!  The piano is Solon Smith,  A former multi instrumentalist with the Johnny Hiland band.  The part of Yvonne is sung by Miranda Louise, a great singer out of Nashville and a former back up singer for the great Lonnie Mack.   Miranda is a little peck of dynamite with a powerful voice that will blow the doors off. I'm playing the Phil Jones strat through the red knob twin and James is on bass.

3. "Mississippi Rain":   This was a very strange song in that I did not have any idea of how or if it would come together. In fact for the longest time I actually thought this song would stink!  I wanted to do something that would connect the Delta blues with the Choctaw Native American heritage in Mississippi.  That's the reason for the different drum cadences. I played rhythm guitar on the Phil Jones straight through the red knob twin reverb, and that's the same combination I used on the lead as well. On the rhythm I played through a Fulltone OCD  and for the lead I ran that same set up through a Boss tremolo.  I use several boss petals, which is something I found out later that I have in common with Prince!  They are very solid, very rugged, and cannot be torn up! Plus they sound good.   For the longest time the lead on this song never did sound good and then one night I was practicing along to the basic track to try to figure out what I was going to do for the lead break, and when I turned my practice amp on it just happened to have the tremolo already on. Then the lightbulb went off in my head and I thought that's it!  JD plays harmonica, Danny Bell plays keyboards and James plays bass on this one.

4. "Lay Me Down":  this is probably the most personal song on the album. This has to do with my dealing with my grief since the passing of my late wife, Bridget, and how with that situation I got to the point to where I did not fear death and in some ways almost look forward to it so that I will be at rest and will see her again.  She had beautiful blue eyes, and really loved summertime, so that's the reason for those references.  She also had a very distinctive voice, which as you can imagine I can close my eyes and hear all the time. The other part of the song, "Lay Me Down," comes from the first prayer my grandmother ever taught me as a little child. "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep."  For the rhythm I used the Phil Jones strat through the red knob twin and Sam Moore played lead on this track with a Gibson 59 reissue through a Marshall.  Sam has a very unique playing style which is very percussive and unconventional. It fit this song perfectly!

5. "Glory Train":  I wanted this song to reflect a  Sister Rosetta Tharpe type feel  as I talked about my re-connection with the Lord during my grieving process.   The beginning of the song is an actual clip from the radio show of the Reverend JoAnn Green, who had a long time show on WDXR-AM in Paducah, Kentucky.  Sometimes I like to layer songs, by adding a new layer during every verse or turn, and that's kind of what we did here. It started out with my guitar, then brought in the vocal, then the drums, then Alonzo on guitar and finally, Miranda. I played the 79 anniversary strat through the twin while Alonzo played his Harper through my twin.

6. "Feels Like Rain":   Originally I wasn't going to put any cover songs on this album, but so many fans have requested we play this one. It is a cover of John Hiatt's "Feels Like Rain."  I was very hesitant to include it because it has been recorded by several different artist. In the end I'm glad we did. Many of our fans absolutely loved it and  I was really humbled by how many of the critics really loved our version of the song. In fact some said they liked our version better than John Hiatt's  and that is the highest compliment of all.  I played the Phil Jones Lower Broadcaster, through a Boss Tremolo and into a Fender Hot Rod Junior. Sam played lead as only he can, with a 59 LP reissue through a Marshall.
Greg Walker was his usual solid self on bass and Dan Bell always does a perfect job on organ on this one. One interesting thing about the Phil Jones custom built guitar is its great sound with DiMarzio single coils on the neck and middle and a Motor City Humbucker on the bridge.  Inside, the guitar it is signed by Jones, and also the other guy who worked on it, Steve Uncapher, who is actually the guitar tech for Taylor Swift!

7. "Done Done It":  The inspiration for this song actually came from several years ago when I was working for the transit authority in Paducah Kentucky. Several of the girls who work there, when asked if they had completed a certain task at work,  would always say " I done done it" and that stuck with me and of course one day it ended up in a song! The other thing I was going for here was a Rolling Stones meets Fabulous Thunderbirds type thing, so one rhythm guitar is standard while the other is in Open G. I like how it turned out! I think it is Greg on bass on this one.

8. "Sandy Lee":  Very unusual story behind this one. It began a couple of years earlier when the office manager where I worked said that I should write a song about her. And I told her jokingly that I would. And then one day of course I was messing around and came up with the story behind this one about how she was responsible for getting my money to me.   I played a 1970 Gibson J 50. Solon Smith is on piano. Greg Walker on bass.  The last line about the gun was kind of funny. The engineer, Heath Glisson had misunderstood me and thought I said that in the demo recording, and then thought about it and said why don't you really say that in the song, so I did .

 9. "Keeping Me Awake": Age old man problem.  Man wants to sleep. Woman wants to talk... I actually used the Phil Jones guitar through a Bugera head and cabinet.  Alonzo played on the lead, and played through the Harper through the red knob twin.

James played bass and as on all tracks on the album, Erik Eicholtz was on drums!

10. "It's Raining":  The other cover on the CD was Allen Toussaint's "It's Raining."  It's a song that I have always loved. I think the first time I heard it it was actually Lou Ann Barton doing a cover of the song. Later I heard Irma Thomas, and finally I heard Allen playing and singing the song himself. I thought that was the most powerful so I wanted to do it that way with just me and a piano.  Solon Smith  plays the piano. The only thing that I struggled with on this song was to try to get it as slow as I wanted.  In fact even now sometimes I listen to it and think to myself I really wish I had slow that down  a bit more.  In the end I thought we got it pretty close to what I envisioned.  The picture is of Solon, who is a killer guitar player in addition to piano player.

Prior to Rain, I did not like the actual recording process much, but I really enjoyed this project. I guess because I thought we had strong songs and I was in no hurry.  I got the entire album as close to what I envisioned as possible.  Alot of the credit for that goes to my engineer, Heath Glisson, who did a great job and made it into a labor of love for himself and shared my vision!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The International Blues Challenge in Memphis

Took a little road trip last week to the Blues Foundation's  International Blues Challenge in Memphis.  Always wanted to go, but always had conflicts or other reasons I couldn't make it.  Not this time!  Pulled into town on Tuesday night and spent the rest of the week on Beale Street checking out the bands, workshops, showcases and of course the food!

 Food seems like a great place to start.  Found myself eating at Blues City Cafe the most.  Although Rendezvous Ribs are the most famous in Memphis, and I do like them a lot, I actually favor the ribs at Blues City Cafe.  They are "wet" ribs and are more "falling off the bone" then Rendezvous.  I love raw oysters but prefer them on the Gulf or ocean, however, Memphis is the northern border of where I will get them, and usually at Silky O'Sullivan's.  For some reason, until this past week, I had never tried the tamales at Blues City Cafe.  I won't put them off again.  They were delicious!

 Saw some people I hadn't seen in a while, and met some nice new people.  I last met Kenny Neal at the Hot August Blues Festival in Aurora, KY in the mid 90s.  As the festival wound down, we sat on a picnic table, had a couple of cold ones and played harmonicas. Such fun.  He's still one of the nicest people I ever met in the blues and has come through his health problems strong. I was asking him how he stayed so young looking and he shared his secret with me.
 Frank Roszak is my publicist.  In my mind, he's the best in the biz.  He won the Foundation's Keeping The Blues Alive Award in 2014 for his work, and he did an outstanding job with our latest album, Rain, which as of this past Monday, recorded it's 28th straight week on the Roots Music Report's Contemporary Blues Chart!  More than 6 months and still going strong.  Thanks Frank!  You're the best and really enjoyed lunch with you!

 Elam McKnight is a great friend in the blues.  For one thing, he lives in my hometown of Trenton, TN. Over the years, we've appeared together on several festival bills.  Love his music, his dedication to the art and his enthusiasm. 
No doubt many of you have seen the youtube videos of the amazing young guitarist known as Christone "Kingfish" Ingram.  I actually saw him live last spring when we played  at the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, MS. I believe he's 20 years old now and he keeps getting better! In person he's really a nice young man.  He said he hopes to play more events soon, and I told him I hoped someday I can play as good as him!

Before the competition began, I got to have a little fun playing with some of my friends on Beale Street, Little Boys Blue.  They're a great band out of Jackson, TN.  I've known JD Taylor more than 20 years, and I've known the drummer, Mark Brooks for more than (gulp) 35 years!  They always kill it, and I can't believe I'd never played with them before.  It was a really good time!

I'll be honest.  The bands I saw on the first night of competition were underwhelming.  The most unique band I saw was this one, a German trio of guitar, harmonica and "beat box."  It was refreshing and it was really good! Most of the other bands all had a major flaw.  Either the guitar player was weak, or the singer was weak, or the harp player was weak.  You get it.  The original songs for the most part were also pretty weak. Lot's of cliches, cliches, cliches...

No doubt the most inspirational band I saw was the United By Music North America band.  Kenny Neal helped out.  Kingfish Ingram added some guitar too, and Marlana Vanhoose sang and played.  lf you don't know Marlana's story, read  it here, and listen to her sing here, but I will warn you, you might want to have a tissue ready!

Went to a showing of the movie "Sidemen" Thursday afternoon.  It's the story of Pinetop Perkins, Big Eyes Smith and Hubert Sumlin backing up Blues greats Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf.  Great movie.  I'm so fortunate to have met all three before their passing. More than anything I remember those smiles.  The movie needs donations for the rights to be shown nationwide.  Please consider contributing to their Kickstarter fund to help!

Thursday night was the second night of quarterfinal competition and we moved over to Jerry Lee Lewis'.  The bands were MUCH BETTER.  In fact, I thought almost all of them I saw here should have been in the semifinals.  I really enjoyed hearing Laurie Jane and the 45s from the Kentuckiana Blues Society. I appeared on the same bill as them a year or two ago, so I already knew how good they were.  They did a great job.   I thought they should have made the semifinals.

One of the events I went to was a session about Blues Music as a healer and it was really inspirational.  I always thought Walter Trout was a great guitar player, but came away with a newfound respect for him after hearing his story of overcoming not the best of childhoods, years of drug and alcohol abuse and hepatitis C, which almost took his life.  He got a transplant, just in time to save his life, then had to "re learn" now to speak and play the guitar.

The semifinals on Friday night were good music wise, but horrible comfort wise.  It was elbow elbow...no it was tighter than that.  It was so uncomfortable, I will probably skip the band semifinals in favor of the solo/duo semifinals if I return.  Of course, the whole situation of overcrowding was NOT helped by Garth Brooks 4 night stand at the Fed Ex Forum that week.  That meant a long wait for a table and for food if you dared to eat near Beale between 4:30 and 7pm. Maybe they should look into something to ease the overcrowding on Friday night.  Like so many, I offer NO solutions, just complain about the problem!  Among my favorites on Friday night were Amanda Fish, Polly O'Keary and Akeem Kemp.

After the semis, headed to Rum Boogie for the Vizztone label group showcase.  Great fun. Lot's of talent. I met Rosey Rosenblatt earlier in the week.  Nice man. To be fair, I've also met Bruce Iglauer of Alligator Records and he's also very nice and wrote me a very nice note about my music once!

On to the finals on Saturday, which started at 12 and went to about 6:30 for the acts, the presentations around 8pm.  I have to say, I was in complete agreement with the judges!  I thought the winner of the solo/duo, Al Hill, of the Nashville Blues Society was phenomenal, killing it on guitar and especially piano.

In the band competition, I only heard one band which I thought had no business in the finals, and from what I heard, they killed it the previous 2 nights and just picked the wrong night to have a bad night.  I really enjoyed the 3rd place band, The Souliz Band featuring Sugar and Spice from the Suncoast Blues Society.

There was no doubt about the winner though.  Dawn Tyler Watson from the Montreal Blues Society was head shoulders above everyone.  One of the judging criteria is whether the act could headline a blues festival and this band was better than 90% of the headliners I've seen at MAJOR blues festivals.  Unbelieveable.

All in all I had a great week!  Lots of fun, lots of good food, lots of friends.  To be honest, most of the time, I like to stand in the back and kinda watch and listen.  I am rather shy unless I am playing.  This week it was nice to stand in the back and listen to some really good bands! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

New CD In The Works

Although we're really excited our CD, Rain is STILL on the charts, a new CD is already in the works. I'm putting the finishing touches on the songs and recording demos, in preparation to head back to the studio. The next CD will be a departure from previous albums in several ways.  First of all it will be very stripped down and stark. Secondly, it will be very dark, as the songs, for the most part will deal with tribulations over the past 10 years, since the second CD, which myself or those close to me have gone through over that time, as well as the struggles between the holy and the profane in dealing with some of these adversities.  There won't be any silly songs, or much happiness, for a change, but I have to say, it was very cleansing for me, going through the process of writing these songs....  Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Booking & Etc

Booking is going well for 2017.  Looks like we could wind up at some festivals we've never played and in some different regions!  Part of that is we're actively pursuing playing other parts of the country and yes, possibly even overseas, and part of it is the success of our album, Rain, which as of this week is STILL on the RMR charts (25 weeks straight and counting).

In the meantime, we're getting ready to begin recording the NEXT album, and I'm really excited about the project.  It will be quite a departure from the first three CDs in that it will be much more stripped down, and actually quite dark, but it was actually very therapeutic to write about some of the dark times I've gone through over the past 10 years, since the 2006 CD, Tales From A 2 Lane.  More about that later.

In the meantime, if you or your festival would like to book us this coming year, better act fast!  I only play a limited live schedule throughout the year!