Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Buckingham Blues Bar Is The Go-To Place For Quality Music On A Sunday Afternoon

My third visit to the world famous Buckingham Blues Bar took place on Sunday July 21st. The snowbirds have scattered, although some may have stayed behind just to hear some real music. Yes, real music has retreated to the bars and taverns of America. You won't hear real music on rock stations or the top 40. The music I heard was a celebration of almost every organic style, or some would now call it Americana.

Tommy Lee Cooke, who is the resident storyteller, philosopher, bandleader and proprietor, really knows how to throw an impromptu party. The stage at the triple B wasn't quite big enough to fit all of the musicians who were volunteering their talents on this no-cover free for all. And the locals are on to it. There were few places to sit and only a little extra room to stand. And most of the patrons had a little more than a touch of grey but were rocking along with the band and breaking out into appreciative applause after almost every song. All of these gentleman were quality players. There were too many lead guitarists to count. There was a top shelf sax player and a killer guy on harmonica. One drummer was in the pocket, and he was replaced by a guy who was formerly playing another instrument. And this band covered a lot of ground. From rocking blues, to swing blues and even some funky blues.

One of the highlights of the show was a very fun and satisfying cover of Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Snake Farm". If anything it certainly got the crowd thinking about lyrics. The band could easily pivot off of one genre and find the pocket in another. The three hour Sunday jam session is free of charge which means the bar is subject to the revenue generated from the sale of beer and wine. And people were certainly indulging in large quantities of adult beverages. The Buckingham Blues Bar is a rare outpost, still relying on the sensibilities of people who grew up listening to organic musicians who truly know how to play their respective instruments.

I was digesting each note as if it were a gourmet meal. Honestly I could have listened to this band play for hours. I guess it's one of those inbred things with us purists. We actually love the music. We could care less about image or technology. This place is for old timers who have pretty much gone underground to get their fix. Real music still exists at the Buckingham Blues Bar.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Marty Stokes Should Be A Household Name On The Blues Scene

Marty Stokes is one of these guitar players that plays with both precision and a sense of fun. He wears his influences on this sleeve. His love for blues and classic rock is evidenced by his catalog of music. Steve Miller, Santana, Eric Clapton and John Doe (from the band X) are all well represented in Marty's presentation. Add in a saxophone provided by the great Jazzy Mazzy, and your interest in these songs will not wane. In fact all of the material from the three albums I can find makes a nice playlist if you are into the blues with some jazzy licks.

As a guy who isn't typically impressed by underground music, this stuff is really in a pro-league. The recordings all have great production value. The three albums that I have been playing on repeat shuffle are as follows...Leavin' Blues, Pick Up The Phone and Hear You Callin'. The last of which is done with the Captiva Band featuring the incredible saxophone work of Jennifer Mazziotti. There is heart and soul in these songs. And if you are a music fan with a penchant for blues, rock and R&B you owe it to yourself to listen to these fine songs.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Billy Sherwood Makes The Citizen's Ears Happy

Billy Sherwood is now an entrusted member of the prog rock community. His stints with both Yes and Asia have solidified his credentials as a top tier player. His singing is a cross between the late Chris Squire and Peter Gabriel. His voice is naturally in a place that sounds as if a wizard is dictating the lyrics from a castle dungeon. Sherwood is certainly a guy who keeps busy. He's been a part of World Trade, Yoso, Lodgic and Circa. All of which are progressive rock vehicles for a music mind that apparently never sleeps. Sherwood's 2nd Citizen themed album called The Next Life is a complicated and very adventurous foray into progressive rock with some pop sensibilities.

The 10 tracks on this record are like a dangerous undertow pulling you every which way. The Citizen takes a walk through some heady lyrical terrain. Politics, autonomy, technology and dehumanization are all subjects that accompany a lush array of keyboards, drums and guitars. It's as if old Yes themes have been freshened up both musically and conceptually. From "The Partisan" and his political ranting to "Sophia" and the danger of her technology, The Citizen Listener is exposed to a rich pallet of sounds and ideas. Sherwood's narrative might seem like he's trying too hard to be unique, but the truth is progressive rock has covered a lot of ground and to come up with a decent concept album without recycling a portion of it is a feat in and of itself.

Billy Sherwood is also at home with all of the production on this record including all of the instrumentation. His guitar work on bass, acoustic and electric is definitely above average. I would have wagered that he had help in the studio but I would have been wrong. Other highlights from this album include "Via Hawking", and ode to Stephen Hawking and his ride along with Christopher Columbus, "Sailing The Seas".

In summary this is an album for hardcore progressive rock fans. Casual fans may not be patient enough to really dig into some of these songs. But the more you dig, the more treasure the Citizen finds.

Unruly Child's Big Blue World Is A Reminder That New Catchy Note Progressions Are Possible

In recent years the lament has been, "rock is dead". What's been dead since about 1991 is decent melodic rock being played on American radio stations. Grunge and post grunge changed the whole trajectory of the music business. 1991 was the year Unruly Child was founded. A year later they released a solid effort which was met with indifference by an audience that was lapping up Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Subsequently, the band broke up and then reformed again in 2010. And thanks to the efforts of Frontiers Records, they are back in the spotlight, creating original melodic hooks like few bands today can. Their latest effort, Big Blue World will drop on August 9th. And there is plenty of buzz around this album thanks to the unabashedly 80's pop rocker called "Living In Someone Else's Dream". The hook is big, the chorus is memorable and those guitar parts are auditory bliss. The album contains 10 very strong tracks that will renew your faith in the idea that new music can be easy on your ears. Other highlights on this album include the airy "Breaking The Chains", the mid-tempo rocker "All Over The World" and the pop oriented "Will We Give Up Today". Melody, harmony and the spirit of days gone by, that's what this music is about. Maybe if enough people hear this record it can help start a melodic rock revival. We can only hope. One of the best melodic rock albums of 2019 thus far.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Creye - Holding On (Acoustic Version)

I was so excited about this band last summer. Several months went by and the music finally came. I was impressed but at times the clutter of the production obscured some incredibly melodic moments. And then this dropped today. As if somebody at corporate was listening to me. The lyrics can be heard. The arrangement is organic and will recall some of the classic rock unplugged albums from the early 1990's. I've suggested to the band that they re-do all of their debut album like this. This is the way music should sound. A+++

Monday, July 8, 2019

Graham Bonnet Band - Samurai (Radio Single)

In the old days classic rock stations would jump all over music like this. The immortal Graham Bonnet is back with the vocals of a man half his age. "Samurai" is a Deep Purple-esque rocker with big hooks both instrumentally and vocally on the choruses. The guitar work on this song is certainly better than the original which was recorded with The Michael Schenker Group years ago. This is another impressive release from Bonnet and his band. For fans of Rainbow, Deep Purple and the aforementioned MSG, this track is a must have for your music library. The entire album, Live In Toyko, drops on July 12th courtesy of Frontiers Records and is now available to pre-order.