In an extremely rare event we missed a STAR BLUES on New Year's Night so for this blog we're gonna draw a line under the turning point of 2011 and have a squint into what 2012 may bring.
There's a bit to be hopeful about too! It's time to expose the myth that young African Americans are only interested in smoove R&B or caustic rap and hip hop- far from being "uncle Tom" or "outdated", blues is back on the agenda too. The three piece Homemade Jamz Band are all teenagers already with three full albums for Northern Blues. I've read that this band is a game changer and I won't argue with that assessment. Drummer Tara Perry "gets" it and their most recent album ("The Game" from 2010) is a very accomplished piece that got them award nominations, trophies won't be long in coming if they keep it up.
Marquise Knox is 20, comes from St. Louis, also has two albums in his canon, and is signed to the APO label. He learnt from the likes of Henry Townsend and Sam Lay and can play acoustic just as effectively as electric. His second project "Here I Am" came out in 2011 and got onto the shortlist at STAR BLUES for album of the year.
Brandon O. Bailey is just into his 20s and already has a distinctive style of blues harp playing -he literally creates every sound on his debut album "Memphis Groove", he obviously listens to other types of music as he is not afraid to bring other elements to this project. I've come to his album in the last week or so but the disc hasn't left my player yet.
The DELMARK label scooped our Label of the Year 2011 bangle for some delicious reissues and their strong roster of talent in the younger generation. A good example is Quintus McCormick, he hails from Chicago with a soulful voice and guitar tone just as at home being edgy as funky. His second album "Put It On Me" came out in 2011 last year and he has an enviable live reputation. Eddie Taylor was a star of Chicago blues scene from the Fifties forward, his daughter Demetria did her debut album for Delmark in 2011; her singing style has the power of Koko Taylor and her version of Luther Allison's "Cherry Red Wine" is a highpoint of that "Bad Girl" album. She's been honing her craft for a while and we hope her time has come. Albeit from a different vintage, more fresh names as far as STAR BLUES is concerned, Toronzo Cannon and James Kinds, are two more artists on Bob Koester's label who both had albums of the month in Blues & Rhythm magazine. You can check out "Leaving Mood" and "Love You from The Top" (respectively) with confidence!
Sharon Lewis got rave notices as part of the Women in Blues tribute to Koko and has signed to the Delmark imprint as well, her first for them "The Real Deal" has guest appearances from Dave Specter and Billy Branch (a measure of highly she is regarded). 2012 will start off with a series of Stateside gigs that we can hope will lead to something on this side of the pond?
Talk of which leads me seamlessly to mention a couple of guys flying the flag over here: Jackson Sloan and Giles Robson. Neither man has gone down the road of long loud needlessly flashy noodling: Jackson has a nice retro approach that Swings with a capital F, if memory serves he is based in my home county of Essex that said if you like Joe Williams or Big Joe Turner, Jackson is your man. Giles is a young harp man with an agile tone, he leads a tight band (the Dirty Aces). During 2011 we got their projects for the first time and we are looking forward to more soon. If they come your way, worth a look I reckon.
Everyone here at STAR BLUES wishes you a safe, happy and healthy year - we'll do our best to fill it with blues, starting this upcoming Sunday at 10pm (GMT). Me and the white tee shirt will be waiting, hope you can make it along. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you