Robert Cray Band

Robert Cray has been bridging the lines between blues, soul and R&B for the past four decades, with five Grammy wins and over 20 acclaimed albums. For his latest project, Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm (

Jordan and Cray met in 1987 while working on the concert film Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll, a tribute to Chuck Berry. Steve produced Robert’s Grammy winning Take Your Shoes Off in 1999, and a number of other albums, including the exciting 4 Nights of 40 Years Live. He knew of Robert’s deep love of O.V. Wright and other Memphis soul legends, and suggested they take up residence at Royal Studios, where Wright, Ann Peebles, Al Green, Syl Johnson,

Set inside an old theater, the funky Royal Studios looks much as it did when Al Green was cutting those classics for Hi Records. Guitarist Teenie Hodges has passed away, but his brothers Rev. Charles Hodges (organ and piano) and Leroy “Flick” Hodges (bass), along with cousin Archie “Hubbie” Turner (keyboards), were still there. “It was a soul, rhythm and blues, fantasy camp for us. Those guys have been playing in that room for 50 years,” says Jordan.

Robert penned “You Had My Heart” and “The Way We Are,” two stunning love songs. Many timeless soul songs were statements in a time of turmoil, and so it is again with Cray’s “Just How Low.” The album opens with a driving, soulful version of Bill Withers’ “The Same Love That Made Me Laugh” that sounds as if it was originally from an old Hi Rhythm recording. Jay-Vee Records knows it’s very lucky to have these powerful songs. When Robert chose two Tony Joe White songs for the album, White, a big fan of Cray, came up from Nashville to sit in. First up is the moving ballad “Aspen, Colorado” (the sister song of his “Rainy Night in Georgia”). The other end of the spectrum is the swirling psychedelia of “Don’t Steal My Love.” The tribute to O.V. Wright and Hi Rhythm is the horn-driven version of “You Must Believe in Yourself.” Known for writing “Mustang Sally” and many other songs, Sir Mac Rice’s “I Don’t Care” follows on the album with an unforgettable hook, and Rice’s funky “Honey Bad” features more guitar brilliance from Cray. Moving into early R&B from the 5 Royales, Robert performs “I’m With You Pt. 1” then turns the guitar loose on “I’m With You Pt 2.”

“Robert is a great person besides an extraordinary talent,” says Steve. “People gravitate to his guitar playing first, but I think he’s one of the best singers I’ve heard in my life. Not only because of his singing ability, but his interpretations. He’s an honest soul.”

About Robert Cray:

Growing up in the Northwest, Robert Cray listened to the gospel of the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, Bobby Bland’s soul, Jimi Hendrix’s rock guitar and the Beatles pop sounds. He would bring all of the influences into play throughout his career, but his teenage band was captivated by Southern Soul and the blues. “In the early days of the band we were getting back into O.V. Wright and paying attention to my favorite blues players; Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Albert King and especially Albert Collins,” Cray says.

The Texas-born blues guitarist known as Master of the Telecaster, Albert Collins, sealed the deal on the Cray Band’s early direction. The musical highlight of Cray’s senior year was his class voting to bring Collins in to play a graduation party.

The glow of a career in music began when Cray was a teen, and in 1974 it burst into flames as the Robert Cray Band came together in Eugene, Oregon. How strong was the fire? “Richard and I didn’t own a vehicle, and we were staying with his girlfriend in Eugene. We hitched a ride to Salem, where our drummer Tom Murphy was going to school, to rehearse,” Cray recalls.

With the group’s 1980 debut release, Who’s Been Talkin’, word about the Cray Band began to spread across the Northwest and down in to California. Playing packed bars and roadhouses the Cray Band was thrilling. Yes, fans could hear an Albert Collins guitar riff and a Howlin’ Wolf song but the sound was present. Blues and soul fans showed up religiously, but those steamy raucous sets also drew crowds whose tastes in music ranged from rock to funk and jazz.

Also among the Cray Band admirers were other musicians. John Lee Hooker put his appreciation into action. “The first time we played with Hooker was in Montana. We were opening the set and he was playing solo,” Cray recalls. “We’d never met him before but he just walked on stage and started playing with us. We dug the hell out of the guy, and after that we were friends.”

The Cray Band’s next two releases – Bad Influence and False Accusations – charted, taking the four-piece’s sound across the airways and abroad. The group was on a roll, but the players slept on couches. “We were just road rats,” Cray says with a chuckle. “We’d take a break for two weeks to record, then go back out. We didn’t have a house, a home, any of those responsibilities.” On one of those breaks Cray went into the studio with Collins and another great Texas guitarist and singer, Johnny Clyde Copeland, to record Showdown!, a CD that has become essential to any 80s electric blues collection.

It was the sounds of the blues and soul that first drew attention from artists in the rock arena. In an interview Eric Clapton gives his initial response to Robert Cray saying, “As a blues fan, we’re saved.” The Cray Band’s beginnings did bring the sounds of its mentors into the mainstream, even taking the music of John Lee Hooker, Etta James and Albert Collins to a larger, younger audience. But no one knew how broad the band’s audience would be until the Cray Band opened the ears of rock radio programmers. With the 1986 release of Strong Persuader the Cray Band’s tunes were put in heavy rotation on mega rock stations across the nation. The first hit, “Smoking Gun,” was followed by “I Guess I Showed Her” and “Right Next Door (Because of Me).” The Cray Band’s next two releases, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and Midnight Stroll, brought more radio listeners to record stores, increasing sales of the group’s CDs.

Following the path of fame taken by blues-based rockers like Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cray became a sensation, leading his band in concerts at large arena and rock festival. He was the first African American artist since Jimi Hendrix to rise to such fame in rock music. Was there a change in the band’s direction or had the blues arrived again into the mainstream after more than three decades of being forgotten by radio? “We were doing blues and Rand B from the first,” Crays says. “That’s just part of what we do. If you’re writing a tune it’s only natural to grab something from someplace else. You’re gonna put in some soul changes and some jazz, something you’ve been listening to. With what we do there’s a whole lot of room to move.”

Clapton’s admiration for Cray led to a writing collaboration on the hit “Old Love,” which featured Cray on guitar. A call came from Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards who asked him to be in the film he and Steve Jordan were producing about the rock guitarist Chuck Berry, “Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Concert footage in the film features Richards, Jordan, Clapton, Julian Lennon, Linda Ronstadt and Etta James. Cray performs “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” with Berry. Dressed in a baby blue tuxedo jacket, the young guitarist is the epitome of the tune’s title. Cray also performed on the Tina Turner TV special “Break Every Rule.”

During the 90s the Cray Band was featured in concert with artists like Clapton, the Stones, John Lee Hooker, BB King and Bonnie Raitt, who declared that the band leader is “an original; he’s passionate, he’s a bad ass and puts on one of the best shows you’ll ever see.”

Amidst these accolades, soaring record sales and a packed touring schedule the Cray Band recorded six CDs in the 90s. Cray produced Shame + A Sin, which referenced his blues roots, in 1993. It was followed by two more self-produced recordings, Some Rainy Morning and Sweet Potato Pie. Recorded in Memphis and featuring the famed Memphis Horns Sweet Potato Pie was the Cray Band’s most soulful album to date. The next recording Take Off Your Shoes delved even deeper into Memphis sounds of the 60s. “That was definitely a soul record,” Cray says. “I’d already been writing songs, Jim (Pugh, who was keyboards with the Cray Band from 1989 to 2014) was writing songs, leaning toward soul. Steve (Jordan, producer) heard them and put the icing on the cake.” Jordan, who subsequently produced the Cray Band’s In My Soul, Shoulda Been Home and the first CD in 4 Nights of 40 Years Live, also brought the personification of Memphis soul to the recording session, Willie Mitchell, to help with arrangements for the Memphis Horns. Mitchell discovered and first recorded Al Green along with other Southern Soul singers like Ann Peebles, O.V. Wright and Syl Johnson for the famed Memphis label Hi Records. When he arrived at the Cray recording session, he brought not only the Memphis presence but also a present. “Willie came over – he was wearing a gold jacket – and gave me this song, ‘Love Gone to Waste,’” Cray says. “Then we put some final touches on the CD at his studio in Memphis. It was a great opportunity to see Willie in the studio.”

Both on Take Your Shoes Off and 4 Nights of 40 Years Live, “Love Gone to Waste” showcases Robert Cray’s natural ease with soul ballads. He is intense but smooth in telling the story of love gone bad. Then in a falsetto voice he soars through the sadness into the inevitable pain. It is a song that Cray owns because no other singer has dared try to do it justice. Take Your Shoes Off won a Grammy in 2000.

In the next decade the Cray Band recorded seven CDs, three of them live, and two – Twenty and This Time – were nominated for Grammys. The group’s most recent recordings, Nothing But Love and In My Soul put the band back on the Billboard Charts.

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Eric Burdon

Eric Burdon and the Animals

Eric Burdon, one of the most distinctive and soulful voices in rock and roll, is an accomplished painter, author, recording artist and a traveling bluesman for over 50 years.  His musical journey began in the coal-mining town of Newcastle, England, where he immersed himself in American blues and jazz. Driving force of the Animals, Burdon helped lead the British Invasion with their first international hit, “House of the Rising Sun.” A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member since 1994 and named one of the 100 Greatest Voices of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine, Burdon’s long string of hits includes “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and the Vietnam-era anthem, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.”

His psychedelic-era classics include “San Franciscan Nights,” “Monterey” and the anti-war, “Sky Pilot.”

Founder of  multi-ethnic funk outfit War, Burdon broke new ground with “Spill the Wine.”

Burdon has shared the stage with legends such as Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Witherspoon and Otis Redding – and was cited by cutting edge musicians Patti Smith and Iggy Pop in their personal top tens.

In 2012, Burdon received hard-earned kudos from Bruce Springsteen in his keynote speech at South by Southwest. Burdon joined Springsteen on-stage and was soon back in heavy demand. An EP with garage rockers the Greenhornes was quickly followed up with the acclaimed, full-length LP ‘Til Your River Runs Dry.

“Eric Burdon…. the most physically imposing Voice.”

                                                – Rolling Stone Magazine

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Taj Mahal Trio

In September 2014, some 50 years after moving to Los Angeles to form the band Rising Sons with fellow blues musician Ry Cooder and Jessie Lee Kincaid, Taj Mahal hightailed it to Nashville to receive an honor he called “one of the most powerful and wonderful things that could ever happen in my life.” Celebrating decades of recording and touring that have nearly singlehandedly reshaped the definition and scope of the blues via the infusion of exotic sounds from the Caribbean, Africa and South Pacific, the two-time Grammy winning singer, songwriter, film composer, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist was feted with the Lifetime Achievement for Performance Award at the 13th Annual Americana Honors and Awards.

“I’ve been performing for over 50 years, and to be recognized for the road I’ve traveled means the world to me, says Mahal, who during the show performed “Statesboro Blues” – which he first recorded on his eponymous 1968 debut album – on dobro with a band that included Cooder and Don Was. “I could not have done this without the audience that has been so supportive of me throughout my musical journey. It was a fantastic night and I was thrilled to be there and celebrated among such other outstanding American musical treasures like Jackson Browne and Flaco Jimenez, whose music and talent I am a fan of. It certainly represented a diversity of musical styles and culture. That’s what I’m talking about essay help!”

The night at the legendary Ryman Auditorium capped another extraordinary year for Mahal, which began with a performance at the Gregg Allman Tribute Concert in Atlanta and included playing on the entire Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas album; performing as part of the Bonnaroo Superjam on a bill featuring Derek Trucks with Chaka Khan, Eric Krasno from Soulive,  renowned R&B/blues session drummer James Gadson, David Hidalgo from Los Lobos and Susan Tedeschi; and playing and recording with Van Morrison in Dublin.

Since the release of 2008’s Maestro, his most recent studio recording which received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album, Mahal has been busier than ever touring and recording at a whirlwind pace with old friends and fellow musical sojourners. In 2010, after being nominated for Entertainer of the Year by the Blues Foundation, he joined Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night studio band The Roots as a special musical guest on the Rolling Stones classic “Shine a Light.” He also opened in Lake Tahoe for Bob Dylan. One of the highlights of the following year as performing a special opening solo set for Eric Clapton and Wynton Marsalis at Lincoln Center; Mahal also performed several songs with his two fellow legends. The concert was recorded and released as a CD and CD/DVD entitled “Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Play The Blues – Live From Jazz at Lincoln Center.”

After starting 2012 producing and performing (vocals, guitar and banjo) on Vusi Mahlasela’s live album Say Africa, Mahal joined the critically acclaimed Experience Hendrix tour for a three week run that included performances by everyone from Buddy Guy, Dweezil Zappa and Robby Krieger to Robert Randolph, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Keb’ Mo’ and Living Colour. Energized anew after the Sony Legacy release of two collections celebrating the riches and rarities of his musical legacy – the two disc set The Hidden Treasures of Mahal Mahal 1967-1973, featuring a full live 1970 concert from Royal Albert Hall, and The Complete Columbia Albums Collection box set, featuring all of his LPs from 1968-1976 – the bluesman enjoyed a wildly productive 2013.

That spring found Mahal singing and playing harmonica on “Further Down the Road” from Clapton’s Old Sock album, and performing as a featured guest at Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival at MSG (NYC) where over 30 of the world’s greatest guitarists played sidemen to each other over two nights. Mahal jammed with The Allman Brothers Band featuring David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos and in a special unplugged acoustic set with Keb’ Mo’.

That June marked the release of the all-star soundtrack album to “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” a supernatural blues n’ roots musical featuring music and lyrics by John Mellencamp, a libretto by author Stephen King and production by T-Bone Burnett. Mahal appeared on “Home Again” with Sheryl Crow, Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin, in addition to “Tear This Cabin Down” and “What Kind of Man Am I.” He later performed on “Vicksburg Blues” on actor/recording artist Hugh Laurie’s album Didn’t It Rain and a new rendition of his song “Winding Down” on the Sammy Hagar & Friends recording. He capped the year with “An Evening with Taj Mahal” at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

Mahal’s career has been full of and defined by colorful twists and turns, unexpected whimsical ventures and a commitment to a muse that has long preferred freewheeling innovation to conformity. So there’s always the challenge of finding the right words and phrases to capture just what he’s meant to American music over the past half century. Miles Mellough, who wrote the stark and honest, no holds barred liner notes for The Complete Columbia Albums Collection, captures the complexities perfectly on several posts he penned on his blog Birds with Broken Wings after the box set came out.

“Here’s the thing, plain and simple,” he writes. “Taj Mahal has always been a conundrum; a man who is capable of mirroring many things to many people, and the reason why is because he’s an enigma — an alchemist and a contrarian…Through his music he’s been a dirt farmer, a man of gentry, and a Mississippi riverboat gambler. He’s played the role of the pious country preacher of old South camp meetings to a chain gang prisoner breaking rocks in the hot, midday sun. He’s been a hard-boiled harp player with a gold tooth and process blowing gritty on the South side of Chicago to a West Indies fishing boat captain sipping Banana Daiquiri’s with a St. Kitts woman…Like the blues tree with its many roots, Mahal has become the sum of many parts. But if you were to strip him of the elements that have come to define him publicly, you’d no doubt find that beneath it all he’s really just a simple man with a harp, a steel guitar, and a banjo in his rucksack; a man making music with a whole hell of a lot of heart and soul.”

In another post, Mellough ruminated on the global fusion approach Mahal has taken to the blues, which has caused its share of controversy: “While purists may have sometimes had issues with his unusual blend of acoustic blues mingled with the sweet sounds of Africa, the West Indies and South Pacific Islands, I believe Mahal elevated the music form to an entirely new plane. By approaching the blues from a global perspective, Mahal presents it as part of a broader musical palette, a world canvas. Using traditional country blues as a starting place, Mahal perfumes the pot by mixing a spicy concoction of Afrocentric roots music, a blues gumbo kissed by reggae, Latin, R&B, Cajun, Caribbean rhythms, gospel, West African folk, jazz, calypso, and Hawaiian slack key. The savory dish he serves is both a satisfying and uplifting stew that actually transforms ‘singin’ the blues’ into something to be very happy about.”

The Early Years

The parents of Harlem born Henry St. Claire Fredericks, Jr. (Mahal’s given name until his dreams of Gandhi, India and social tolerance inspired him to change it) came of age during the Harlem Renaissance and instilled in their son a sense of pride in his West Indian and African ancestry. Growing up in Springfield Massachusetts, Mahal’s father was a jazz pianist, composer and arranger of Caribbean descent (called “The Genius” by Ella Fitzgerald) who frequently hosted musicians from the Caribbean, Africa and the U.S. His mother was a schoolteacher and gospel singer from South Carolina. Henry Sr. had an extensive record collection and a shortwave radio that brought sounds from across the world into their home.

Back in the 1950s, Springfield was full of recent arrivals from all over the globe, allowing Mahal to understand and appreciate many world cultures. “We spoke several dialects in my house – Southern, Caribbean, African – and we heard dialects from eastern and western Europe,” he says. In addition, musicians from the Caribbean, Africa and all over the U.S. frequently visited the Fredericks home, and Mahal became even more fascinated with roots – the origins of the various forms of music he was hearing, the path they took to reach their current form, and how they influenced each other along the way. He threw himself into the study of older forms of African-American music, which the major record companies of the day largely ignored.

Mahal’s parents started him out on classical piano lessons, but he soon expanded his scope to include clarinet, trombone and harmonica and discovered his talent for singing. His stepfather (his mother remarried after Henry Sr. was killed in a tragic accident) owned a guitar and Mahal began playing it in his early teens, becoming serious when a guitarist from North Carolina moved in next door and taught him the various styles of Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed and other titans of Delta and Chicago blues.

Before music became a viable option, Mahal – who first began working on a dairy farm at 16 and was a foreman by 19 – thought about pursuing a career in farming. Over the years, this ongoing passion has led to him performing regularly at Farm Aid concerts. In the early 60s, he studied agriculture (minoring in veterinary science and agronomy) at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he formed the popular U. Mass party band, the Elektras. After graduating, he headed west in 1964 to Los Angeles, where he formed the Rising Sons, a six-piece outfit that included guitarist Ry Cooder.

The band opened for numerous high-profile touring artists of the ‘60s, including Otis Redding, the Temptations and Martha and the Vandellas. Around this same time, Mahal also mingled with various blues legends, including Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Sleepy John Estes. He and Cooder also worked during this period with the Rolling Stones, and in 1968, he performed in the classic film “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.”

This diversity of musical experience served as the bedrock for Mahal’s first three recordings: Taj Mahal (1967), The Natch’l Blues (1968) and Giant Step (1969). Drawing on the eclectic sounds and styles he’d absorbed as a child and a young adult, these early albums showed signs of the musical exploration that would become Mahal’s hallmark in the years to come. In the 1970s, Mahal carved out a unique musical niche with a string of adventurous recordings, including Happy To be Just Like I Am (1971), Recycling the Blues and Other Related Stuff (1972), the GRAMMY®-nominated soundtrack to the movie Sounder (1973), Mo’ Roots (1974), Music Fuh Ya (Music Para Tu) (1977) and Evolution (The Most Recent) (1978). The type of blues he was playing in the early 70s showed an aptitude for spicing the mix with exotic flavors that kept him from being an out and out mainstream genre performer.

Mahal’s recorded output slowed somewhat during the 1980s as he toured relentlessly and immersed himself in the music and culture of his new home in Hawaii. Still, that decade saw the well-received release of Mahal in 1987, as well as the first three of his celebrated children’s albums on the Music For Little People label. He returned to a full recording and touring schedule in the 1990s, including such projects as the musical scores for the Langston Hughes/Zora Neale Hurston play Mule Bone (1991) and the movie Zebrahead (1992). Later in the decade, Mahal released a series of recordings with the Phantom Blues Band, including Dancing the Blues (1993), Phantom Blues (1996), and the two GRAMMY® winners, Señor Blues (1997) and the live Shoutin’ in Key (2000). Overall, he has been nominated for nine GRAMMY® Awards.

During this same period, Mahal continued to expand his multicultural horizons by joining Indian classical musicians on Mumtaz Mahal in 1995, and recording Sacred Island, a blend of Hawaiian music and blues, with the Hula Blues Band in 1998. Kulanjan, released in 1999, was a collaborative project with Malian kora master Toumani Diabate (the kora is a 21-string west African harp). Mahal felt that this recording embodied his musical and cultural spirit arriving full circle. He recorded a second album with the Hula Blues Band, Hanapepe Dream, in 2003, followed by the European release Zanzibar in 2005. His 2008 Heads Up International recording Maestro marked the 40th anniversary of his recording career and featured performances by Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Angelique Kidjo, Los Lobos, Ziggy Marley and others – many of whom have been directly influenced by Mahal’s music and guidance.

“What inspires me most about my career is that I’ve been able to make a living playing the music that I always loved and wanted to play since the early 50s,” Mahal says. “And the fact that I still am involved in enjoying an exciting career at this point in time is truly priceless. I’m doing this the old fashioned way and it ain’t easy. I work it and I earn it.  My relationship with my audience has been fun, with great respect going both ways! I am extremely lucky to have fans who have listened to the music I choose to play and have stayed with me for 50 years. These fans have also introduced their children, grandchildren and in some cases great-grand children to this fabulous treasure of music that I am privileged to represent. It’s very exciting, to say the least.

“Like ancient culture,” he adds, “the people are as much a part of the performance as the music. Live communication through music, oh yeah, it’s right up there with oxygen!”

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Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio

Elvin Bishop has been travelling the Blues road longer than most, and he’s got the stories to prove it – many of which are contained within the songs on this release. Stops along the way include his work as a founding member of the groundbreaking Paul Butterfield Blues Band in the early ‘60s, recordings with legends such as Clifton Chenier, John Lee Hooker, and The Allman Brothers, and Pop success with his own 1976 smash hit “Fooled Around and Fell In Love”. Bishop’s long and varied career has included plenty of side trips along the way as well, from deep down gutbucket Blues played in smoky South Side Chicago taverns, to raucous roadhouse R&B, to good time Rock & Roll on concert stages and festivals around the world. And at every stage along the way, he’s instilled all of his music with passion, creativity, and a healthy helping of wisdom, wit, and good humor.

Elvin was born in Glendale, California, and grew up on a farm near Elliott, Iowa. His family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he was ten years old. His earliest exposure to music came from the family’s radio, where in between “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” young Elvin could sometimes catch classic records of Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. Once he’d got his feet wet, there was no turning back. He quickly acquired his first guitar and on his own began working out the basic outlines of the Blues, R&B and Rock & Roll that had captured his soul.

By the time he was preparing for college in the late 1950s, Bishop had earned a National Merit Scholarship that allowed him to go to almost any school he chose – and the only choice on Elvin’s mind was the prestigious University of Chicago, which just happened to be located on Chicago’s South Side, ground zero for much of the urban Blues Elvin had so far been studying only from a distance. He arrived in Chicago in 1959, and before long crossed paths with a fellow student Paul Butterfield. Together, they explored the taverns and Blues joints in the black neighborhoods surrounding the university campus at a time when Blues giants like Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Otis Rush, Magic Sam and Howlin’ Wolf could be found playing in corner bars for a $2 cover charge just about any night of the week.

By 1963, Bishop and Butterfield were ready to graduate – not from the university, but from their apprenticeship under Chicago’s Blues veterans. They made their first recordings that year, doing a session with veterans Billy Boy Arnold and James Cotton. That same year, they recruited Howlin’ Wolf’s former rhythm section of Sam Lay on drums and Jerome Arnold on bass, and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band was born. In 1965, after adding Mike Bloomfield and Mark Naftalin to the lineup, their revolutionary debut LP was released, opening the door for virtually all the young white Blues bands that followed. Bishop remained in the fold for three albums with the Butterfield band, including their innovative “East-West” release (on which Bishop and Bloomfield’s intertwining guitars helped set the stage for the Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead, among many others who followed), before getting the itch to move on and venturing out on his own. Elvin released several well-received albums in the early ‘70s, before experiencing his biggest Pop success, the gold-record earning national hit “Fooled Around and Fell In Love” from his 1976 LP “Struttin’ My Stuff.”

Road work kept Elvin busy through the ‘80s, and as time went by his journey led him back to the Blues that were at the root of all his musical endeavors. And that fertile territory has been his focus ever since.

Delta Groove Productions president Randy Chortkoff has been a fan and follower of Elvin’s music through all the many phases of his career, beginning with Butterfield Blues Band in the mid 1960s, and when the opportunity arose to bring Elvin into the Delta Groove fold, Chortkoff jumped at the opportunity. The result was Elvin’s Grammy-nominated 2008 CD “The Blues Rolls On,” and a flurry of other awards and accolades, including being named 2009 Male Blues Artist of the Year by Blues Blast magazine. Elvin’s new releases are exciting next steps in his Blues journey.

Right out of the gate, on “Red Dog Speaks”, Bishop leaves no doubt where his heart is, cleverly introducing his long-time cohort “Red Dog” with a gritty slow blues calculated to set the pace for what’s to come. Along the way he smoothly steers the way from strutting Blues and R&B , through a good dose of good-time Rock & Roll, and even an occasional detour through Doo-Wop, Zydeco, and Gospel. Elvin has made plenty of talented friends over the years, and many of them jumped at the chance to help out on “Red Dog Speaks”; Buckwheat Zydeco, Tommy Castro, Ronnie Baker Brooks, and John Németh all make guest appearances. And all of it adds up to an amalgam that can only be called “Elvin Bishop music.”

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Chris Cain

Chris Cain, nominated as 2018 Guitarist of the Year by Blues Music Awards, offers up a soulful stew of Memphis style electric blues. His powerfully deep vocals and jazz inspired, blues guitar riffs are unforgettable; uniquely his own, while reminiscent of the legendary BB King and Albert King.

As a child, Chris Cain attended concerts with his dad to hear many of the great blues artists of the time. When Cain burst onto the blues scene in 1987 with his award winning debut album, he soon found himself sharing the stage and trading licks with a few of those legends, including Albert King and Albert Collins. Chris Cain has released a dozen albums, each filled with soul-stirring songs pulled from his own blues drenched heart. Chris Cain’s brand of blues is unforgettable. 

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Kara Grainger

With sultry, mesmerizing vocals, engaging songwriting talent, and fiery slide guitar work, Kara Grainger boasts an impressive set of skills. This Australian singer, songwriter and guitarist may evoke comparisons to Bonnie Raitt, but she bears a style all her own, a relentlessly seductive,distinctly modern take on roots, blues and soul music.

New Album Release May 18…​Kara is very excited to announce her latest studio recording entitled “Living With Your Ghost”, which is due for release May 18th 2018. The album was co-produced by the incredibly talented The Anders Osborne, who also lends his incredibly soulful guitar and vocal skills to the project. The recording also features Ivan Neville from “DumpstaFunk”, Dave Monsey on bass and the world renowned drummer JJ Johnson, who also is a staple member of the Tedeschi Trucks band.The CD was recorded in Austin Texas at Wire Recording Studio, and also features the Texas horns.

Some people just have music running through their veins. kara’s music journey has taken her all around the globe. From her inner city beginnings in the town of Balmain, Sydney Australia, she’s since performed and toured in Japan, Indonesia, India, Switzerland, Germany, the Uk and the US where shes currently based. Her soulful vocals and unique style of slide guitar has caught the attention of many well renowned artists, she’s opened the show for Peter Frampton, Buddy Guy ,Johnny Lang , Taj Mahal, Marc Cohen and Eric Johnson to name a few.

At the age of 16 Kara Joined with her brother Mitch to form the band “Papa Lips”. The band regularly toured the sunny east coast of Australia and received national radio play. In 2008 Kara signed to Australian label “Craving Records” with whom Kara released her debut recording ” Grand and Green River”. The recording was co produced in the US with David Kalish and remained in the top 30 of the Americana Charts for 38 straight weeks.

Since then she has made two further albums whilst residing in the US. Her second recording ”LA Blues” was performed live at Studio City Sound and engineered by producer Tom Weir. The recording paid tribute to some of Kara’s earliest blues inspirations. In 2013 kara recorded and released “Shiver and Sigh” through Los Angeles record label “Eclecto Groove.” The album was produced by grammy award winning producer David Z and featured some of LA’s finest musicians including Mike Finnigan, Hutch Hutchinson, James Gadson and Kirk Fletcher among others.

In 2012 she toured Japan with “The Swampers and Donnie Fritts”, the infamous house Rhythm section for “Fame Recordings” in Muscle Shoals…She has taken her band to Switzerland where she performed at the “Sierre Blues Festival” as well as “Lucerne”. The band has also toured in Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Canada and Spain.. In 2015 Kara performed at the “Beautiful swamp Festival” in Calais France and also to sell out crowds on her debut tour of the Uk. One of the highlights was performing at “Ronnie Scotts”, London’s premier blues and jazz venue. 2018 will see Kara returning to to tour the Uk for a third time.

In the US Kara has performed at several major Festivals such as The Portland Waterfront Blues Festival’, Austin City Limits and Blues from the Top’ in Colorado where she is once again returning to perform in June of this year. Her new record release will have Kara and her band touring throughout the states this summer, and also internationally to Canada, Australia and the UK.

But the highlight was Aussie soul slinger Kara Grainger, her groove-rooted sound, mean slide guitar and sultry vocals melting hearts and minds, a true delight to see”. – Zaki Zufri, Timbre Rock & Roots Fest

​“I love ​Kara’s voice! She has that rare quality that evokes a distant warm memory and connects you with her personally as well as musically. A fantastic guitar player and beautiful songs! A treat to work with.”- Anders Osborne

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The Goo Goo Dolls

The GOO GOO DOLLS have become one of the most globally respected and influential forces in popular music history, selling more than 10 million albums since 1986.

They have had an unprecedented string of 14 Number One and Top Ten multi-format hit singles including “Name,” “Slide”, “Black Balloon”, ”Broadway,” “Here Is Gone,” “Big Machine,” “Sympathy,” “Stay With You”, “Let Love In”, “Before It’s Too Late”, “Jim’s Theme” (Treasure Planet),” and “Better Days,” which, due to its uplifting lyrical spirit, was adopted by CNN as an music bed anthem of sorts for the news channel’s Hurricane Katrina recovery coverage. “Iris,” from the City Of Angels soundtrack, spent nearly 12 straight months on the Billboard charts and held the Number One position for 17 consecutive weeks. By that point, sales of the soundtrack exceeded a phenomenal 10 million copies worldwide. Recently IRIS was also reported by Billboard magazine to be the biggest pop radio song of the last 20 years.

The band has toured the globe countless times, performed in front of millions of fans, received numerous awards (including four Grammy Award nominations), recorded and released 11 studio albums, plus they have appeared and performed on nearly every influential late-night talk show over the course of their career, including twenty performances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and nine performances on The Late Late Show with David Letterman to date.

The Goo Goo Dolls are:
John Rzeznik – Guitar and Vocals
Robby Takac – Bass and Vocals

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Shaggy

With a commanding presence, a distinctive voice that is recognizable throughout the world and titles such as artist, businessman, philanthropist and Grammy Award winner, Shaggy is and has been a forced to be reckoned with. A son of the brambly streets of Kingston, Jamaica, his discipline-which he credits to his military background-has been the foundation of his success.

In 1993, Shaggy exploded on the music scene with his debut album “Pure Pleasure.” His remix of the Ska classic Oh Carolina from that album was an instant hit in England and other countries. Shaggy followed up with his sophomore album “Boombastic” in 1995. “Boombastic” went certified platinum, won a Grammy Award in 1996 for Best Reggae Album and topped an impressive chart list that included the Top 40 Rhythmic charts, Hot 100, Billboard 200, among others.

Wanting to take a more hands on approach with his career, Shaggy, along with his manager Robert Livingston and legendary producer Sting International formed Big Yard Music Group in 1996. With its state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained staff, Big Yard set out to “create a central space filled with opportunities” and has been instrumental in the careers of artists such as Brian & Tony Gold, Kiprich, Rayvon, Rik Rok and Voicemail. Today, the label is responsible for the careers of Richie Loop, Christopher Martin and D-Major.

With the formation of Big Yard Music Group and the success of “Boombastic,” Shaggy forged ahead and recorded his third installment “Midnight Lover” in 1997. Fast forward to 2000, Shaggy released his fourth album “Hotshot” on MCA Records label. “Hotshot” went Diamond worldwide and Platinum 6 times in the United States. Notable singles from that album included It Wasn’t Me and Angel. It Wasn’t Me received a Grammy nomination. Single Luv Me, Luv Me featuring Janet Jackson was released on the Soundtrack for the movie “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” The album also won best selling album at the 2002 Juno Awards.

In 2002 and 2005 Shaggy released “Lucky Day” and “Clothes Drop” respectively. “Lucky Day” went certified Gold while single Strength Of A Woman made the Top 40 mainstream charts. “Clothes Drop” received a Grammy Nomination for Best Reggae Album. Thereafter, Shaggy busied himself in the studio recording his next album entitled “Intoxication.”

“Intoxication” was released in 2007 and debuted at number 1 on Billboard’s Top Reggae Albums chart, was nominated for Best Reggae Album at the 51st Grammy Awards in 2008 and was the number 1 download on UK iTunes Reggae chart. The first single, Church Heathen, from the album received rave reviews. The song peaked at number 1 on various music charts and won the Best Music Video at the International Reggae and World Music Awards in 2008. The second single Bonafide Girl also made its way to number 1 on music charts. That same year, Shaggy recorded and released single Feel The Rush which was used as the original anthem for the UEFA Euro Cup. The single was featured on various charts throughout Europe and India.

Undaunted by the success of his business ventures and his music, Shaggy has always lived on the premise that “to whom much is giving, much is required.” With this belief, Shaggy took on the role of philanthropist. What began as donations of medical equipment and visits to the Bustamante Hospital For Children to distribute gifts during the holidays, paint rooms, donate beds and creation of a garden, gave birth to the Shaggy Foundation. Developed in 2008, Shaggy recruited business associates, fellow recording artists and sponsors to assist in hosting an annual charity event in which all proceeds are donated to the hospital to help defray the cost of medical equipment. To date, the Shaggy Foundation has been instrumental in raising over $85 million (JMD = $1 million USD) for the hospital.

Shaggy sought other avenues to raise funds. For example, he co-wrote a book and CD set entitled “Shaggy Parrot and the Reggae Band.” Sales from the book and CD set benefits the Bustamante Hospital in Jamaica and Tatiana McIntosh Scholarship Fund in Florida. The book was also donated to basic schools in Jamaica to be used as part of their curriculum. Additionally, the artist partnered with Pan Caribbean Financial planners for their 11th annual SIGMA Corporate Run. With a 5k course that attracted 9500 runners, walker and wheelchair participants, the event raised $14 million (JMD)/$165,000 (USD) for the Bustamante Hospital.

Now at the peak of his career, Shaggy has been approached with various endorsement deals. This gave him the opportunity to flex his boardroom muscles, adding “businessman” to his repertoire. In 2009, he recorded single Fly High which was used in a television commercial for Ferrero Rocher’s Ice Cream Bar, Maxi King. Not only did he record the single to be used in the commercial, Shaggy also appeared in the 30 second advertisement. Fly High, which is available on iTunes and in rotation on MTV, was used for Ferrero’s trailer campaign on VIVA (a television network in Germany co-owned by Viacom). Shaggy also acted as the international icon for Ultimate Ear products for brand Logitech. In summer 2008, Shaggy contributed a song, which was a remake of the 1974 classic Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas, for Pepsi Cola, He appeared in the television commercial alongside T-Pain and Tami Chynn.

An exemplary career that has spanned well over a decade, Shaggy has enjoyed cross-over success. But getting to the top hasn’t been easy, “everything changes when you are a reggae artist that falls under the American gaze. The recognition in Jamaica, while paramount, does not measure to the US’s validation of an artist.” This validation has catapulted Shaggy’s career – he is the only certified Diamond-selling Dancehall Reggae artist. However, Shaggy has remained humble, taking his career in strides. He has defied the odds, succeeded on his own terms and continues to break down barriers for those who dare to follow in his footsteps.

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The California Honeydrops

Lech Wierzynski — lead vocal, trumpet, guitar | Ben Malament — drums, washboard, percussion
Johnny Bones — tenor saxophone, clarinet | Lorenzo Loera — keys, melodica
Beau Bradbury — bass, percussion
At times touring with the band: Andrae Murchison — trombone | Leon Cotter — tenor saxophone

The California Honeydrops celebrate their 10th year together with the release of their 7th studio album and first ever double album, “Call It Home: Vol. 1 & 2” and continue to tour worldwide. Led by dynamic vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Lech Wierzynski, and drawing on diverse musical influences from Bay Area R&B, funk, Southern soul, Delta blues, and New Orleans second-line, the Honeydrops bring vibrant energy and infectious dance-party vibes to their shows. They’ve taken the party all over the world, playing festivals of all kinds and touring widely across North America, Europe and Australia. In 2016 & 2017 the Honeydrops were honored to support Bonnie Raitt on her North America release tour—and in the past have been privileged to support the likes of B.B. King, Allen Toussaint, Buddy Guy, and Dr. John. Whether in those high-profile performances or in more intimate venues where the band itself can leave the stage and get down on the dance floor, the California Honeydrops’ shared vision and purpose remain: to make the audience dance and sing.

The Honeydrops have come a long way since guitarist and trumpeter Lech Wierzynkski and drummer Ben Malament started busking in an Oakland subway station, but the band has stayed true to that organic, street-level feel. Listening to Lech sing, it can be a surprise that he was born in Warsaw, Poland, and raised by Polish political refugees. He learned his vocal stylings from contraband American recordings of Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Louis Armstrong, and later at Oberlin College and on the club circuit in Oakland, California. With the additions of Johnny Bones on tenor sax and clarinet, Lorenzo Loera on keyboards, and Beau Bradbury on bass, they’ve built a powerful full-band sound to support Wierzynski’s vocals. More like parties than traditional concerts, their shows feature extensive off-stage jamming and crowd interaction. “The whole point is to erase the boundaries between the crowd and us,” Wierzynski says. “We don’t make setlists. We want requests. We want crowd involvement, to make people become a part of the whole thing by dancing along, singing, picking the songs and generally coming out of their shells.”

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Royal Jelly Jive

     Few bands have the ability to evoke an old-school throwback vibe and yet sound entirely fresh and new at the same time. Royal Jelly Jive is one of those bands. Combining elements of Soul, Rock, Swing and Hip-Hop, Royal Jelly Jive shakes up every dance-party and grooves harder than your typical rock n’ roll band dares to go. It is all fronted by enigmatic singer Lauren Bjelde, whose sultry voice and songwriting lands somewhere in-between Amy Winehouse and Tom Waits. The infectious sounds of swingin’ horns, gritty keys and a bumpin’ rhythm section carry a crowd into bliss… creating an unforgettable live experience that will leave you wanting more.

     Since forming in San Francisco’s own Boom Boom Room in the summer of 2013, Royal Jelly Jive has quickly ascended to become one of the Bay Area’s most anticipated acts. After releasing their debut album to a packed house at Slims in late 2014, they hit the road and and have been touring non-stop ever since. Playing hi-energy shows and festivals in cities and towns all across the West Coast, they have captivated the ears and hearts of almost all who hear them, intoxicating the masses with their unique and infectious music. They have been lucky enough to share stages with notable acts such as Michael Franti, Rebrirth Brass Band, The California Honeydrops as well as performing at Bottlerock Music Festival, Outsidelands Music Festival, Joshua Tree Music Festival and Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival. With the release of their new album “Stand Up” this past summer, Royal Jelly Jive is off to making 2017 their biggest and best year yet!

“…Jazzy, cabaret sounds blend with hints of funk, traces of rock, and smidgens of soul to create a unique album that is every bit as retro as it is modern.”

-SF Weekly

“Royal Jelly Jive create exciting musical earworms that can light up a dancefloor or accomany a pleasureful night of gin cocktails.”

– Popmatters.com

“Royal Jelly Jive delights in creating a danceable vibe that defies easy description.”

– American Songwriter Magazine

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David Luning Band

John Prine forced David Luning to drop out of college. Not at gunpoint or anything—the two had never even met—but the effect of hearing the songwriting legend’s music for the first time had an equally compelling effect on Luning, who was studying film scoring at the Berklee College of Music in Boston at the time. Now an accomplished artist in his own right, Luning is preparing to release his most dynamic and gripping collection to date, ‘Restless,’ and he can trace it all back to one fateful night that changed everything.

 

“A couple of friends invited me over to share some songs at their apartment, and that was the first time I’d ever really listened to Americana music or folk or country or whatever you want to call it,” remembers Luning. “They showed me John Prine, and it just resonated with me so much. I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is what I have to do with my life.’ I just figured it out in that moment.”

 

Luning dropped out of school almost immediately, moved back to his native California, and devoted himself to songwriting and performing. He worked his way up through open mics to large festival performances, piecing together a band to flesh out his songs along the way and hitting the road to tour with a fierce determination. His self-released debut album, ‘Just Drop On By,’ garnered acclaim from both critics and fellow musicians alike, with country megastar Keith Urban hailing Luning’s “staunch originality.” Songs from the album landed numerous film and TV placements, most recently on NBC’s ‘Grimm,’ and Luning’s reputation for exhilarating live performances earned him dates with luminaries like Jackie Greene, Dave and Phil Alvin, and Elvin Bishop, along with a slew of festival performances up and down the West Coast.

 

If ‘Just Drop On by’ announced the arrival of a promising new talent, ‘Restless’ delivers on that potential and then some. Recorded under the guidance of engineer/producer Karl Derfler (Tom Waits, Dave Matthews) and with Luning’s longtime live bandmates—Ben Dubin (bass & harmonica), Linden Reed (drums), and Dave Sampson (guitar & mandolin)—the album marks a major step forward, both sonically and emotionally.

 

“With the first record, I produced and engineered everything myself,” explains Luning. “I’d never worked with an outside producer before, so it was nerve-racking going into the studio with Karl for the first time, but it was just a perfect fit. It was like he knew what I wanted in my music before I even did, and he could push my performances where they needed to go and really take my music to another level.”

 

Luning and his band set up shop at the stunning Panoramic Studios in Stinson, California, crafting a darker, grittier vibe for the music and exploring a wider palette than ever before. While many of Luning’s songs are inspired by the lives and stories of the men and women he’s grown up with in California or met on the road, the lyrics are all filtered through his own unique perspective and reflect his remarkable personal journey. Perhaps no track fits that bill more directly than “Driftin,'” an infectious road warrior’s anthem that find’s Luning singing, “I wanna keep on drifting like a rambling man.”


“I had so much fun on tour going from place to place and playing to new people all the time and I got into the rhythm of it all, so when it ended and we came home I wasn’t ready to stop,” he explains. “We pulled into Ben’s house to unload our gear and I said, ‘Ben, we’re packing up and we’re gonna go somewhere tomorrow right? We’re gonna keep on going right?'”

 

Much of the album is uptempo and exuberant—”Almost Sounds Like Laughing” is a foot-stomping folk tune with the energy of a runaway train—but Luning shows off his remarkable depth and range on some of the record’s more restrained tracks, like the slow-burning “Brother In Chains” and delicate “Gonna Forget About You,” which finds him pulling his vocals back to an intimate near-whisper that conveys a world of heartache and regret. “In Hell I Am” started life as an acoustic blues on a resonator guitar before morphing into a fiery, electric rocker, while “Bet It All On Black” takes on a harder, Southern edge, with Luning repeating the mantra, “Ain’t no use in holding back.”

 

“It’s essentially about a person who’s kind of carefree,” he says, “and they know that something might not be the best thing to do, but they’re going all in with it anyway. They’re just going for it, regardless of the outcome and any repercussions they might face.”

 

If that sounds familiar, perhaps like the attitude of a man who might risk everything to drop out of school and move across the country to pursue a dream, it’s no coincidence. With songs this good, it’s a safe bet that a restless soul like David Luning is going to keep on traveling for a long time to come.

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Kingsborough

Forged from the soul and tradition of rock n’ roll legends before them, KINGSBOROUGH breathes new life into the music that has inspired generations. As an emerging band from the San Francisco Bay Area, their raw high-energy performances and powerhouse vocals have made KINGSBOROUGH a standout among their peers. They seduce with their rhythm-heavy rock n’ roll mixed with soulful harmonious instrumentation and storytelling lyrics. No Depression hails; “The vintage elegance of Kingsborough’s music sets an endearing reminiscence of boundless regularities that has been altered to appeal to an ever-changing musical audience.” The band has quickly become a fan and critic favorite with singles such as “Low Down” and “Subtle Lies” off their current album, which spent 6 weeks on college radio Top 200 and is currently featured on Spotify’s “Blues & Roots Rock” playlist.

Building a reputation for an incomparable live concert experience has lead KINGSBOROUGH to perform at BottleRock Napa Valley, opening for Joan Jett and being awarded the opening slot with ZZ Top at the sold out Wells Fargo Center in their hometown Santa Rosa, CA. BAM magazine describes their performance as “rocking it like the big boys used to… in the same way that Springsteen has always done.” Front man, Billy Kingsborough, has once even been described as being “Joe Cocker’s soul re-incarnated”.

Teaming up with Grammy Nominated producer, Damien Page Lewis (Rihanna, The Wood Brothers, Katy Perry), KINGSBOROUGH created their most urgent, energetic album to-date, recorded at the legendary Laughing Tiger Studios in San Rafael, CA. The album’s title “1544″, refers to the address where all four band members resided for the past two years writing and composing. As a result, “1544”, is a reflection on the stories, feelings and emotions of a band evolving together both musically and personally. As the band explains “the album really came to life once they stepped into studio. We were able to take advantage of the studio’s isolated and expansive tracking room to give the album a massive atmospheric presence. It allowed us to explore sonic textures in a way we hadn’t done before, leading to layered guitar tones and dynamic distortion and reverb effects that help the album stay fresh and compelling throughout. The album is a way to let loose,” they say. “That’s what music is to us.”

Billy Kingsborough // Vocals, Guitar

Alex Leach // Guitar, Vocals

Chris Magione // Bass Guitar, Vocals

John Whitney // Drums, Vocals

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