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Bluegrass Pioneer Earl Scruggs Dies at 88
One of the true legends of American music has left us. Earl Scruggs, the legendary banjo player who influenced countless bluegrass, country, folk, and even rock musicians, died on Wednesday (3/28) in a Nashville hospital. He was 88.
Scruggs is arguably the most influential banjo picker and bluegrass artist in music history. Working with his long-time guitar-playing partner Lester Flatt in the Foggy Mountain Boys, Scruggs recorded what has become the definitive bluegrass song, "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." Even many people who've never heard of Earl Scruggs probably heard his work, when he and Flatt recorded "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," the theme song of the 1960s television show "The Beverly Hillbillies."
Scruggs first picked up the banjo at age 4. At age 21, he joined Bill Monroe's (father of bluegrass) band, the Blue Grass Boys, where he met Mr. Flatt. Three years later, Flatt and Scruggs set out on their own, eventually forming the Foggy Mountain Boys. The group soon surpassed Monroe in popularity, and in 1955, they finally joined the Grand Ole Opry. In 1959, the band appeared at the Newport Folk Festival, which further expanded their audience to the youthful folk music revival of the era.
Flatt and Scruggs parted ways in 1969, and Scruggs formed the Earl Scruggs Revue, a mostly acoustic group that also found inspiration from rock and even modern jazz sounds. The group stayed together for the remainder of Scruggs's career, during which time the legend performed at Carnegie Hall and the Wembley Festival in London.
Scruggs is survived by his two sons Gary and Randy, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Robin Trower Farther On Up the Road 3CD Set
Following hot on the heels of last year's momentous Robin Trower set A Tale Untold: The Chrysalis Years 1973-1976 comes the companion collection, Farther On Up the Road: The Chrysalis Years 1977-1983.
Featuring six complete albums, this second volume collects the remaining releases that Trower recorded for the Chrysalis label, including two LPs made with Cream's legendary bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce. The 3CD set kicks off with 1977's In City Dreams, which features the 7" single edit of "Bluebird," available on CD for the first time. It's followed by Caravan to Midnight from 1978. Next up is 1979's Victims of the Fury, which now includes the rare b-side "One in a Million." B.L.T., the first of two albums to feature Jack Bruce, was released in 1981, and was swiftly followed by 1982's Truce.
The set is completed by Back It Up, the sixth album on this release—also his 11th and final LP for Chrysalis. The disc was originally released in 1983 and sees the return of Trower's long-term collaborator Jimmy Dewar, on bass and vocals.
This set is a must-own for die-hard Robin Trower fans and highly recommended for fans of classic rock guitar.
New Pat Metheny Guitar Tab Just Posted
We're excited to announce that we've just posted 15 brand-new Pat Metheny guitar tabs from his 2009 live recording Day Trip/Tokyo Day Trip, with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Antonion Sanchez. Included in this set are the stellar tracks "Son of Thirteen," "Is This America?" and "Tromso."
Browse all of our available Pat Metheny guitar tab here.
If you prefer to order the Day Trip/Tokyo Day Trip tab book from Hal Leonard, click here, or on the cover image below.
Cool New Blues Releases for Spring
Here are five standout blues discs that have just recently hit the shelves. Very good stuff here!
Big Shoes: Walking and Talking the Blues The Scissormen (Vizztone)
This CD/DVD set features daring but elegant fusion of old-time Delta blues with modern, occasionally jazzy and even "outside" musical elements. Throughout, Ted Drozdowski's stunning slide work pulses from subtle to electrifying with a canny sense of dynamics. The accompanying 90-minute DVD, produced and directed by Robert Mugge, combines footage from the road and live gigs with bits of blues history, and well worth the time for any blues fan. Visit Scissormen.com.
Son of the Seventh Son Mud Morganfield (Severn)
Eldest son of the legendary Muddy Waters, Larry "Mud" Morganfield sounds just like ol' Pops on this 12-track collection of Chicago blues, but he does so without consciously trying—it's simply in the genes. Highlights include "Leave Me Alone," "Go Ahead and Blame Me," and "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had." Visit MudMorganfield.com.
Essential Collection Omar and the Howlers (Ruf)
Filled to the brim with his signature mix of Texas blues and Americana, this 2-CD collection from Omar Kent Dykes is remarkable more for its strong songcraft than guitar heroism—reminiscent of a bluesier John Fogerty. Highlights include "Magic Man," "Hard Times in the Land of Plenty," "Wall of Pride," and "Mississippi Hoo Doo Man." Visit www.omarandthehowlers.com.
Blues Around the World Bob Margolin with Mike Sponza Band (Vizztone)
"Steady Rollin'" Bob Margolin teams with Italian bluesman Mike Sponza for an eclectic, 12-track blues platter mixing electrifying slide work with fingerstyle country blues, rockabilly blues, funky bites, and myriad sounds in between. Highlights include "Blues Lover," "Rather than Being Free," "While You're Down There," and Muddy Waters's "Rollin' and Tumblin'." Visit BobMargolin.com and MikeSponza.com.
Deeper in the Well Eric Bibb (Stony Plain)
Who says a Yankee can't get down 'n' swampy with the blues? On this new disc, recorded in Louisiana, New York City native Eric Bibb lays down 13 slinky, laid-back, Creole-influenced acoustic blues and folk tunes. Highlights include "Bayou Belle," "Boll Weevil," "No Further," and Taj Mahal's "Every Wind in the River." Visit EricBibb.com.
B.B. King Live at Royal Albert Hall
On July 28, 2011, the original "King of the Blues" B.B. King delighted a sold-out audience at London's historic Royal Albert Hall with the often-imitated-never-duplicated brand of blues that has made B.B. arguably the greatest blues guitarist of all time. B.B. King Live at Royal Albert Hall 2011 was captured by the folks at Shout! Factory and is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and CD.
Following the standard rousing introduction from B.B.'s stellar band, the DVD opens with the Ivory Joe Hunter classic "I Need You So," before going into the slow blues "Key to the Highway," which B.B. opens with several of his signature licks and a dash of his trademark wit.
Watching this performance, you soon realize that even at age 86 (at the time of the show), B.B.'s phrases are as taut, his bends in tune, and his vibrato as fluttery as they were 50 years ago—a true testament to King's artistry and his dedication to his craft.
This performance also featured some very special guests. Susan Tedeschi and her husband Derek Trucks joined B.B. for a little jam in G, also known as the classic "Rock Me Baby," with Trucks's brilliant slide taking the spotlight while Tedeschi covers vocals. After Tedeschi and Trucks perform "You Are My Sunshine" with King, guitarists Slash and Ronnie Wood along with Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall join the party for the remainder of the show, including a jam on "Sweet Sixteen" as well as "The Thrill Is Gone," "Guess Who," and closing gospel number "When the Saints Go Marching In."
Bonus features on the DVD include a backstage chat with King, and interviews with Trucks, Tedeschi, Wood, Hucknall, and Slash.
I Need You So
Key to the Highway
See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
All Over Again
Rock Me Baby
You Are My Sunshine
Jam with Guests
The Thrill Is Gone
When the Saints Go Marching In
Gil Parris Live at B.B. King's in New York City
New York City-based guitarist Gil Parris may be best known for his stellar smooth jazz material as well as being a sideman for artists like Diane Schuur, Joe Cocker, or Blood, Sweat and Tears, but on Thursday, March 22, he let his rock chops take the spotlight during a hometown show at B.B. King's Blues Club.
Covering classic tunes from early rock guitar heroes, Parris opened the show with his soulful take on Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing." While it's a daring move to open a show with what is essentially a ballad, by the third chorus Parris's fiery phrasing comprising daring intervallic play, melodic motifs, and extreme slides had the near sell-out audience cheering like it was an encore.
Further demonstrating his diverse stylistic palette, Parris leapt right into some train-whistle blues-infused country pickin', followed by the jazzy "C-Jam Blues" that segued into Miles Davis's "So What" via an envelope filtered scratch groove. Next up was Santana's beautiful ballad, "Europa," which after a short piano montuno turned into a spicy and ferocious Latin dish flavored with slippery, wide-interval legato shred lines.
After a tight, funky groove-fest on The Meters' "Cissy Strut," Parris handed the spotlight to his stellar band for a few numbers, including a monster bass solo from Kip Sophos on "Crosstown Traffic" and soulful vocals from percussionist/singer Josh Dion on the Jeff Beck/Rod Stewart version of "People Get Ready" as well as on the Blood, Sweat & Tears classic "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know."
Parris next brought special guests Bernie Williams (guitar) and Curtis Winchester (vocals) for "I Don't Need No Doctor," which featured the ex-Yankee using cool chromatic passages to bridge bluesy Mixolydian licks in a solid albeit way too low in the mix solo. The night's jam session continued with guitarist André Lassalle joining in the fun, before the evening came to a close with a Latin take on Wayne Shorter's "Footprints."
To keep up with the latest news and Gil's tour schedule, check out his official Facebook page.
Photo by Rick Misrok
Frank Gambale and Wife BOCA to Release Collection of Jazzy Pop
Palm Springs, CA (21 March 2012): Respected and recognized as one of music's most innovative guitarists, Grammy winner Frank Gambale returned to his roots for his 20th solo album by delivering an exquisitely crafted vocal collection comprised of original jazzy adult pop songs. Soulmine, which will be released May 22nd on the artist's Wombat Records, was written and produced with his collaborating vocalist BOCA. Award winning director Nigel Dick (Guns N' Roses, Britney Spears, Oasis, Cher) lensed the tantalizing video for the disc's debut single, "Forbidden Kiss" (see video below).
Now in his 26th year as a solo artist and best known for his revolutionary instrumental recordings and audacious live performances with jazz fusion icons including Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, and Return To Forever (with Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Jean-Luc Ponty), Gambale began his career playing in vocal groups. The genesis of Soulmine has ruminated in the gifted composer's consciousness for decades. When he met and married his soul mate, BOCA, the guitar maverick had finally found the voice for which he had longed.
"This is the album that I've wanted to make for about 30 years. Soulmine has all my favorite elements: cool grooves, hip changes, vocal harmonies and lots of guitar. I especially like the way the voice and guitar dialogue. I haven't done it up until now because there was a major ingredient missing and that is BOCA. BOCA is the perfect voice for this music, the perfect collaborator, and she really captured the right sentiments in the music," said Gambale, who will preview the album at a May 3rd performance with BOCA at Anthology in San Diego.
As expected from a Gambale record, the musicianship on Soulmine is masterful. Gambale's passionate guitar-work is cool-toned, poised and restrained juxtaposed with melodic shrieking and crying with ferocious fire and desire. The deep rhythmic pockets are dug with precision by bassist Victor Wooten and drummer Joel Taylor. A large portion of the keyboards are astute Gambale etchings. Gambale's and BOCA's ensnaring melodies are further embellished by graceful piano flourishes courtesy of Otmaro Ruiz and a roof-raising organ solo from Brian Auger (on "Live Your Dream"). The instrumental beds made from fresh sheets of cosmopolitan jazz, funky R&B, shimmering pop, and sultry Latin and Brazilian nuances allow BOCA's sensual vocals to caress the sophisticated scales with heartfelt warmth and emotion. Her lyrical muse explores expressive love songs and sunshine laced messages of inspiration, empowerment, and hope in the pursuit of dreams and life. The pair's meticulous production is richly realized, layered and visceral allowing the songs to unfold sublimely.
Learn more at www.frankgambale.com and www.frankgambalesoulmine.com.
Love Set Me Free
Live Your Dream
All In The Game Of Life
Be The Change
Sun Will Shine
Keep Leadin' Me On
Save Me From Myself
Open Your Mind