by Jim Swanson
Blues Boulevard

A sad day in the music world with the announcement of the Legendary George Duke passing away at age 67.

In 2008, we interviewed Mr. Duke for our previous website Progressive News Daily (which no longer exists).
It was a true delight to speak with George about all aspects of his career and his music.

You can hear the interview by clicking on the podcast link above. The interview lasts about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

For more on George’s passing, you can read the story from the L.A. Times HERE.

Posted by Jim, filed under Interview, Music, Music Special, News, Podcast. Date: August 6, 2013, 11:46 am | No Comments »

A Letter From The Recording Academy

It has come to our attention that satellite broadcaster Sirius/XM is seeking to bypass the standard system of paying royalties. If they are allowed to do so, it will likely result in substantially reduced payments to artists and producers, a lowering of the value of performance royalties, and unnecessary conflict between artists and their labels.

What’s the issue:
Currently, satellite radio pays sound recording performance royalties to the nonprofit collective SoundExchange, which in turn pays 50% to the artists on the recording and 50% to the copyright owner (usually a record label). SoundExchange pays the artists the full 50%, even if the artist has unrecouped royalty balances, and also pays producers their share as directed by the artist. The system has resulted in an important new income stream for creators.

Sirius is now seeking to use the option of direct licensing with certain independent labels instead of using the system created by Congress that ensures fair payment to all parties. Artists should be concerned about direct licensing; 100% of the royalties would be paid to the record label which in turn may pay artists at a lower rate, subject to recoupment. And labels should be concerned as well; the lower rate being offered could have the effect of lowering the value of performance royalties to all parties.

What you can do:
If you are an artist signed to the independent label…
You can call your label today and request that it not direct license your recordings. In the interest of fairness and transparency, your label should continue to license through SoundExchange.

If you own or manage an independent label…
It is in your interest to refrain from direct licensing. While Sirius may be offering positive terms, the long-term effect of accepting a rate lower than the compulsory rate could be to reduce rates overall in the future. Creating downward pressure on the value of music may be good for Sirius/XM, but it’s bad for artists and labels. Please see the following statement from the American Association of Independent Music: http://a2im.org/2011/08/09/statutory-rates-versus-direct-licenses-for-digital-music-streaming/

Thank you for considering this important matter to further our goals of ensuring creators are compensated fairly and the value of music is protected.

Kind regards,

Neil Portnow
President/CEO
The Recording Academy

Posted by Jim, filed under Music, News, Special Feature. Date: November 7, 2011, 10:30 pm | No Comments »

posted by Jim Swanson
Blues Boulevard

The Blues Foundation will honor 17 individuals and organizations with its 2012 Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) Award during a recognition brunch Saturday, February 4, 2012, in Memphis, Tennessee. Each year, The Blues Foundation presents the KBA Awards to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to blues music. The KBA ceremony will be held in conjunction with the 28th International Blues Challenge (IBC), which begins January 31 and features the final rounds of the world’s largest and most prestigious blues music competition, as well as seminars, showcases, and receptions for blues societies, fans, and professionals.

The KBAs are awarded on the basis of merit by a select panel of blues professionals to those working to actively promote and document the music.

The 2012 Keeping the Blues Alive Awards recipients are:

Agent: Rodgers Redding – Macon, Georgia
Club: Red’s Lounge – Clarksdale, Mississippi
Education: Dan Treanor – Arvada, Colorado
Festival-US: White Mountain Boogie ‘N Blues Festival – North Thornton, New Hampshire
Festival-International: Rawa Blues Festival – Katowice, Poland
Film, Television and Video: Treme, David Simon and Eric Overmyer, Executive Producers – New Orleans, Louisiana
International: Mike Lecuyer – Saint Michel de Montaigne, France
Journalism: Scott Barretta – Oxford, Mississippi
Literature: Life by Keith Richards – New York, New York
Manager: Toni Ann Mamary – Totowa, New Jersey
Organization: Blues Society of Western New York – Buffalo, New York
Photography: Aigars Lapsa – Riga, Latvia
Print Media: Soul Bag – Clichy, France
Promoter: George Wein -New York, New York
Radio: Commercial: Ted Todd–KKZX-FM – Spokane, Washington
Radio: Public: Harvey Stauffer–WVPE-FM – Elkhart, Indiana
Record Label: Severn Records – Annapolis, Maryland

Tickets to the KBA ceremony are sold only as part of the IBC Big Blue ticket package, available online at www.blues.org or by calling 901.527.2583.

Posted by Jim, filed under Music, News. Date: November 7, 2011, 10:23 pm | No Comments »

by Jim Swanson
Blues Boulevard

Hello, Blueslovers!

It’s been awhile since we last posted, but now things are somewhat straightened out in our lives, so we’re ready to bring you some great podcasts and keep you informed of what’s going on with artists, labels, new releases, concert and club appearances by some of your favorite Blues singers and six string slingers.

Let’s start off with a little BLUES NEWS:

2011 Blues Blast Music Award Winners

This year’s winners were announced at the awards ceremonies at Buddy Guy’s Legends, Chicago on October 27. Winners were chosen by more than 6,500 Blues Blast Magazine readers voting online.

Contemporary Blues CD
Buddy Guy – Living Proof

Traditional Blues CD
Pinetop Perkins & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith – Joined At The Hip

Song Of The Year
Living Proof – Tom Hambridge & Buddy Guy

New Artist Debut Release
Chris O’Leary Band – Mr. Used to Be

Female Blues Artist
Robin Rogers

Male Blues Artist
Buddy Guy

Blues Band Of The Year
Trampled Under Foot

Sean Costello Rising Star Award
Trampled Under Foot

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT BLIND RACCOON RECORDS’ WEBSITE. JUST CLICK ON THE LOGO BELOW.

Posted by Jim, filed under Music, Music Video, News, Special Feature. Date: November 7, 2011, 10:13 pm | No Comments »

by Jim Swanson
Blues Boulevard

Have a listen to a sampling of Joe Bonamassa’s New CD “Black Rock” below. Song Clip Order is as follows: “”Steal Your Heart Away“, “I Know A Place“, “Quarryman’s Lament“, “Three Times A Fool“, “Night Life” (with B.B. King), “Blue and Evil“.

Aside from being one of the nicest, most approachable and caring musicians in today’s music world, guitarist extraordinaire, Joe Bonamassa continues his growth in creativity and pushing the envelope for his fans.

His latest CD release is “Black Rock”, an eclectic album of Blues/Rock recorded at Black Rock Studios (hence the CD’s title) on a tiny island about 200 miles Southeast of Athina, Greece. But don’t let the word eclectic scare you away.

Utilizing Greek musical instruments as well as Greek musicians, Joe pulls off every single cut with loud reckless abandon but very a organized sound.

Teamed once again with Producer Kevin Shirley, Bonamassa stretches both his creativity in his writing (five of the songs are penned by Joe) and his six string prowess to deliver a set that, from beginning to end, stands out as one of the finest albums of the year in any genre.

Plenty of Joe’s brand of Blues and Blues/Rock are there with the Otis Rush classic Three Times a Fool”; “Night Life”, where he shares both vocals and guitar licks with old pal and living legend, B.B. King; and Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On A Wire”, where Bonamassa makes this classic song his very own. He also winds up owning Jeff Beck’s “Spanish Boots” as well as John Hiatt’s I Know A Place”.

Bonamassa is also one of the last true artists who put together “an album”. Not just four or five songs that could be singles followed by several “filler songs” just to make the CD length worth the price.

His philosophy on making “albums” was explained to me by Joe during a September 2009 interview I conducted for Blues Boulevard:

“I’m really not a huge fan of listening to a CD that’s kind of put together with maybe three or four really good song and a bunch of filler”, states Joe. “I like to challenge the audience. There’s plenty of room on a CD for a little experimentation and a little self-reflection. (i.e. “Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter” from “The Ballad of John Henry”) If people don’t dig that particular track, I think there’s enough other good tracks that they can latch on to. And that’s always how I’ve made my records. There’s always a track that’s a little bit outside the box for them, but ultimately you kind of swing for the fences. Sometimes you hit a home run and sometimes you say ‘Uh, we shouldn’t have put that on there.'”

Every cut belongs on this album that flows incredibly well. Fans of Joe’s, as well as new listeners of Bonamassa’s music would do themselves a favor by sitting down and listening to this set from beginning to end. As for sequencing the songs to be entertaining, Joe told me in that same interview that,

“We recorded “The Ballad of John Henry” (title song from his previous album) first, to set the tone for the record. We didn’t just pull songs out of a hat. Hey, ya know what? I don’t care how they listen to it just as long as they dig it. But if I had my choice, I’d prefer they listened to it in the order of which we intended.”

The opening track shows what Bonamassa is about. He hits you first with the Bobby Parker penned Steal Your Heart Away”, an in-your-face powerhouse tune that, as Joe mentioned, sets the tone for the album.

Later on in the set “Quarryman’s Lament”, one of the five Bonamassa written songs, shows off Joe’s creativity as the song opens with Greek musician Thanasis Vasilopoulos on the nei, a Greek flute-like instrument that is quite reminiscent of Ian Anderson’s (Jethro Tull) playing.

The album’s ebb and flow hits hard with another Bonamassa written song “Blue and Evil” as the opening has Joe on acoustic guitar trading licks with Manolis Karadinis playing bouzouki (think mandolin or Indian instrument sarod), before that traded lick changes to Joe’s trademark Les Paul sound as all hell breaks loose. You can almost visualize Bonamassa playing and sing standing at the gates of Hell with an invitation to “come on in”.

Ending the CD and setting you down easy is a great, joyous and lilting cover of Blind Boy Fuller’s “Baby You Gotta Change Your Mind”.

As for the other musicians on the set, the usual suspects (Joe’s touring band) lend incredible creative cohesion. Carmine Rojas on Bass, Rick Melick on keyboards and Bogie Bowles on drums with appearances by “Late Night with David Letterman” and session ace drummer Anton Fig and, of course, B.B. King.

A strong suggestion for any listener who purchases a copy of “Black Rock” is to buy TWO copies. I guarantee that when you lend one out to a friend, you’ll never see it again.

Jim Swanson is a guitarist and 22 year veteran of radio.

Posted by Jim, filed under Artist Spotlight, CD Review, Music. Date: March 31, 2010, 9:21 am | No Comments »