blues

Shari Kane and Dave Steele
courtesy of the artist

Warm and delicious as hot buttered cinnamon toast, as easy and relaxed as a rewarding after-dinner talk and as soothing as Sunday morning.  That’s my immediate reaction to Feels Like Home, the new album by Shari Kane and Dave Steele.  It’s a perfect complement to the couple’s first recording, Four Hands Blues.  They continue their loving exploration of classic American music including Piedmont and Delta blues along with mountain gospel, Appalachian ballads and ragtime swing guitar.  What differentiates Feels Like Home from Four Hands Blues is the home setting.  Shari and Dave actually built a home studio and took their good sweet time working through each song as we eavesdrop on their intimate conversation involving call and response from acoustic guitar to mandolin to voice.  

If you gave $150 or more to WEMU this spring, your admission for two is a bonus premium and your name is on the guest list for the Blues Barbecue Thursday, June 11th, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. outside at the EMU Convocation Center (In the atrium in case of rain). 

It was 1989, I was a member of Etta James' Roots Band and we were touring Europe. Etta had mounted a big comeback and she was starting to receive what she so richly deserved. She had recently signed with Island and "Seven Year Itch" was hot. We were playing great festivals and gigs. She and the band absolutely tore it up the night before at the Montreux Jazz Festival. At that time, the band was comprised of Tom Poole and Ronnie Butacavolli on trumpets, Richard Howell on tenor sax, Kraig Kilby on trombone, Bobby Vega on bass, Herman Ernest on drums, Donto James on percussion, Jim Pugh on keyboards and our bandleader, Josh Sklair and myself handling the guitar chores. This was as fine an ensemble I had ever played with and the band was definitely firing on all cylinders. It was also my first time in Europe and I was having the time of my life. We all were. It was an incredible night.

B.B. King
Kasra Ganjavi/Wikimedia Commons

Watch President Obama join in on "Sweet Home Chicago" at In Performance at the White House: Red, White & Blues, courtesy of PBS.

H C Porter
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Blues fans and those that want a unique look at life in Mississippi need look no further than Ann Arbor's North University this week.  Vibrant colors pop out of the dark backgrounds, bringing to life the feeling of the blues and the south.  


This morning we salute friends…those people who understand us, help us through rough times, cheer us up and tell us the truth even when we don’t want to hear it.  The important power of friendship this morning on 89.1 Jazz with Linda Yohn streaming on wemu.org and on 89.1, WEMU.

Sunday Wilde

Sunday Wilde’s new CD, He Gave Me A Blue Nightgown was just perfect for a Friday premiere on WEMU when we play it a little loose and fun getting ready for the weekend

Blue is more than a color – it is a basic musical form and blue is a mood. Madeleine Peyroux explores all aspects of blue with her new CD The Blue Room. However, this isn’t a blues CD.

José James is simply beyond category. No Beginning No End is a culmination of his career and life weaving threads of jazz, balladry, R&B, classic and neo-soul plus hip-hop into a sensual stream of consciousness.

whiskeyjacques.com

Although “Three Free Amigos” is only six songs long, this E.P.

teenytucker.com

This Tuesday was a perfect blues day on WEMU.  The cold and the clouds called for down-home story-filled music.  Our playlist this morning included local blues luminaries Johnnie Bassett and George Bedard along with Columbus Ohio’s blues emissary, Teeny Tucker.

www.brooklynvegan.com

With their snaky rhythms, spooky harmonies and catchy licks, Brooklyn’s Menahan Street Band once again takes the top spot on WEMU’s “Sweet 16” for “The Crossing”.  All of the time spent backing up R&B and soul sensation Charles Bradley has sparked a giant leap of creativity and risk-taking in this leading soul/jazz/funk band. 

Dragon Lady via www.ericburdon.com

"'Til Your River Runs Dry" by Eric Burdon is the most revealing, personal and blues-drenched recording the former lead singer of The Animals and War has ever released.  Most of the songs deal with personal demons, release from self-destruction and potential salvation.  However, Eric Burdon remains true to form with  songs commenting on the ills of today's society such as "Water",  "Memorial Day", "Invitation To The White House" and "In The Ground".   Recorded in New Orleans and Los Angeles in 2010 and 2011, the disc was released in the U.K. in 2012.  It is officially released in the U.S.

Organist Chester "CT" Thompson Tops Sweet 16

Dec 12, 2012

While many media outlets are putting 2012 "to bed" for the next month, WEMU hosts continue to discover exciting new music to keep you grooving in 2013.  One of our recent discoveries is "Mixology" by veteran jazz organist Chester "CT" Thompson.   

Bettye LaVette again claims "Sweet 16" top spot

Dec 4, 2012

As we WEMU hosts continue to be grateful to you, our listeners for your generous support, the new CD "Thankful 'N Thoughtful" by former Detroiter Bettye LaVette resonates with us.  Her new disc was the most-played recording on WEMU from November 26th through December 1st.  This week's "Sweet 16" is a fine cross-section of WEMU offerings from the modern-day boogie-woogie and roots music of pianist and singer Julian Fauth to the supremely soulful organ jazz sessions from home town hero, saxophonist Ben Jansson and the first-time appearance of west-coast jazz organ legend Chester "CT" Thompson

When I opened the package containing "Everybody Ought To Treat A Stranger Right" by pianist, singer and guitarist Julian Fauth, I knew that WEMU hosts would be happy to find this in the library.  His 2005 CD, "Songs Of Vice And Sorrow" was a host and listener favorite even though Julian was then a relatively young and unknown performer.  When I put the 2012  sound of Julian Fauth into the player, I was fully convinced.  This disc is tailor-made for WEMU. 

Bettye LaVette back on top of WEMU "Sweet 16"

Nov 14, 2012

Former Detroiter Bettye LaVette has always defied description and categorization.  While many of her contemporaries followed the dictates of their record label or management, Bettye forged her own identity.  There was always a dark edge to Bettye's voice - even in her early R&B sessions such as "My Man - He's A Lovin' Man", recorded when she was 16 years old. 

Supporting regional musicians with airplay remains a highest priority at WEMU.  As you peruse the "Sweet 16" for October 15th through the 21st, take note of the many recordings on the list with regional connections including the topper, "Thankful 'N Thoughtful" by Detroiter, soul siren Bettye LaVette.

Buoyed by being selected as WEMU's blues fundraising premium, Robert Cray's newest CD, "Nothin' But Love" was the most played disc this past week on 89.1.   Even if Cray's recording hadn't been chosen as a WEMU "thank-you gift", it would likely have risen to the top of our "Sweet Sixteen" by virtue of it's excellence.

In anticipation of her appearance at The Ark on October 11th, WEMU hosts featured the outstanding new CD "33 1/3" by the new "Queen of the Blues", Shemekia Copeland.   Ms. Copeland actually comes from blues royalty  --  her father is the legendary blues guitarist and composer, Johnny Clyde Copeland.  

We knew it was just a matter of time, but the WEMU staff knew that "33 1/3" by Shemekia Copeland would eventually claim the top spot on our "Sweet 16".  If any CD validates her standing as the successor to Koko Taylor as "Queen Of The Blues", this one surely does.  She has emerged on a new label with new repertoire, but her commitment to true, deep blues is as strong as ever. 

When The Dirty Dozen Brass Band returned to Southeastern Michigan for a show at The Magic Bag Theater, WEMU hosts seized the opportunity to play selections from one of their favorite bands of all times.  We doubt that WEMU listeners minded hearing the ensemble again, as the band was beloved at venues such as The Ark, The Frog Island Music Festival, The Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival and Sully's in Dearborn. 

It was a bittersweet occasion when Detroit blues great Johnnie Bassett's new CD "I Can Make That Happen" once again topped WEMU's "Sweet 16" of most-played CDs for the week.  Just after the disc was released nationally, Johnnie passed away on August 4th due to cancer. 

"Rebirth" by living reggae legend, Jimmy Cliff is a fully rewarding listening experience.  He has lost none of his supple vocal quality and range.  Time has deepened his lower range imbuing his words with deeper meaning and insight.  His Jamaican message remains consistent - that love, peace and truth will conquer all.  The production of this date is immaculate, but the music is free flowing and relaxed.  You can see why WEMU hosts collectively wanted to share this excellent new music with you. 

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