Amoeblog

Women of the Blues Part II

Posted by Billyjam, March 31, 2012 06:31pm | Post a Comment

Etta James "I'd Rather Go Blind" (live 1992)

As part of the ongoing Amoeblog series honoring Women's History Month (Which ends today, March 31st), this blog is the second part of the two celebrating women blues artists. The first, earlier this week, focused on women from the classic blues era (circa 1920s), while this one takes a look/listen at women blues artists spanning the decades since.


Koko Taylor "Blues Never Die" (1975)


Big Mama Thornton "Bumble Bee Blues" (with Muddy Waters Band, 1966)

"When you in trouble blues is a girl's best friend" sings Koko Taylor on her 1975 recording of "Blues Never Die" (audio above). Taylor, like many of the longtime blues women here (including Big Mama Thornton, whose track "Bumble Bee Blues" with Muddy Waters Band is also above) have also been categorized over the years as rhythm and blues, rock & roll, and jazz. The late great Etta James, who we lost just two months ago, is an example of a blues artist who was also classified as jazz, rhythm & blues, rock n roll, and gospel too. A 1992 concert version of her singing "I'd Rather Go Blind" - written by Ellington Jordan and co-credited to Billy Foster but first recorded by Etta James in 1968 - appears above. As we know, the moving song has in the years since become a standard for countless artists to cover.

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Black [gay] History Month, 2012

Posted by Job O Brother, January 29, 2012 04:30pm | Post a Comment
black history gay

Ethel Merman’s voice makes my stomach acids sour and the very idea of shopping for clothes gives me a panic attack; despite these and other suspicious facts, I am a member of the LGBT community. For this reason, the issue of equal rights is ever-present in my mind.

There’s been a lot written and said about comparing the history of intolerance between racial minorities and the gay community, most especially in late 2008 when Prop. 8 was passed in the state of California amidst reports that large numbers of black people, urged by their church heads, voted to end the briefly instituted marriage equality of the state.

There were, of course, many exceptions to this and I don’t mean to angle this as a blacks-versus-gays situation – it's far more complicated than anything I'll do justice to here – but it did shine a light on an issue that often ruffles feathers. Knowing my place here on the Amoeblog as “light entertainment,” I will eschew any prolonged essays on the matter (for great, long-winded crap like that you should check out Charles Reece’s blog), but I will say that equal rights for all people is not only a victimless proposition, it’s one that benefits all people. Whether you think it’s appropriate to compare the struggle for gay equality with those of racial minorities, the fact is that everyone should have the same basic, human rights.

It would be one thing if a child was struck with bone marrow cancer every time two lesbians kissed, but kids, that’s just not the way it is and the sooner we let the gays get married, the sooner they can set up homes that will raise the property value of your block.

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New R. Crumb Robert Johnson T-Shirt Exclusively at Amoeba

Posted by Amoebite, December 15, 2011 05:47pm | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music is now carrying an exclusive new T-shirt with artwork by the King of Underground Comics, R. Crumb, featuring the King of the Delta Blues, Robert Johnson!

Amoeba Music has partnered with filmmaker Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, Ghost World, Bad Santa) in producing a T-shirt of iconic Delta blues singer Robert Johnson drawn by underground comic artist R. Crumb from the first found photo of Johnson. This T-shirt is an Amoeba Music exclusive, available only through Amoeba.com or at all three Amoeba stores.

R. Crumb Robert Johnson t-shirt

Here's a brief history of the image on the shirt. Up until 1973, there was no known photo of Robert Johnson, the haunting, mysterious Delta blues singer lionized by countless rock and roll bands. A postage stamp size photo taken by Johnson himself in a photo booth in the early 1930s turned up in 1973 and was published in Rolling Stone in 1986. After it was published, underground comix artist R. Crumb, a life-long 78 collector and blues fan, drew it as a cover for a highly specialized collector's publication called 78 Quarterly, a magazine specializing in stories on rare pre-war blues and jazz artists and their impossibly rare, highly coveted 78s. 
78 Quarterly Robert Johnson

After publication of the 78 Quarterly issue with the Robert Johnson R. Crumb drawing, Terry Zwigoff got permission from both the publisher and Crumb to produce T-shirts with the image, and they were available for a few years in the mid-1990s. Since then, the T-shirts with the R. Crumb rendering of the Robert Johnson photo have been unavailable. Terry is a friend of Amoeba and recently a deal was struck to produce the shirt again. It is now available on a high quality 100% Egyptian cotton T-shirt as an Amoeba exclusive.

In-depth Discussion with Author Denise Sullivan on Her Latest Book, "Keep on Pushing (Black Power Music - From Blues To Hip-Hop)"

Posted by Billyjam, September 17, 2011 04:00pm | Post a Comment
The recently published Keep On Pushing (Black Power Music - From Blues To Hip-Hop) (Lawrence Hill Books/IPG) is the latest book from longtime California music journalist/author Denise Sullivan whose last book was 2004's The White Stripes: Sweethearts of the Blues. This ever-engaging book by the Crawdaddy columnist and self-described "record geek" could as easily be filed under American political history or American music history (she thinks the latter to be more fitting) as it explores how American history of the past numerous decades is so closely intertwined with protest/revolutionary music (from the early blues, through the musical soundtrack of the civil rights movement, up to the role of contemporary hip-hop as voice of protest).

In Keep On Pushing, the "Nor Cal through and through" music writer examines the cultural interchanges of black and white musicians (many Bay Area artists included) and, along the way, takes numerous enlightening tangents uncovering tidbits of musical history not normally unearthed.
This week I caught up with the author, who tomorrow (Sunday, September 18th) will be at  Stories Books & Cafe on 1716 Sunset Blvd from 4pm to 7pm  and next month at both D.G. Wills Books in San Diego and at San Francisco's literary festival LitQuake, for an in-depth discussion on Keep On Pushing and many of the areas it explores.


Amoeblog: Following a book on the White Stripes, how did you decide on the theme of this book next? How long did you work on this book for?
 
Denise Sullivan: It's complicated, which is the exact thing I noted in the White Stripes book when I was writing about them covering "Your Southern Can is Mine" by Blind Willie McTell. Matters of race and the sexes, the Great Migration, what was once called the "American Dream," industry, ingenuity, and the entire great American songbook are of deep interest to me and all are tied up in the White Stripes story. Keep on Pushing is a similar story, only it has a lot more people (many of them black, others are Native American, women, or economically strapped, most all of them are trying to survive America), and music is big part of their toolkit. Specifically though, in the case of both books, it was fine art photography that initially inspired me to launch my investigations: American Ruins by Camilo Jose Vergara, and The Black Panthers by Stephen Shames.

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Gary Clarke Jr's "The Bright Lights EP" Proves That The Austin, Texas Artist's Got Soul & Truly Feels The Blues

Posted by Billyjam, August 31, 2011 08:42am | Post a Comment
        

Before even hearing Gary Clark Jr.'s music any artist whose musical influences range from John Lee Hooker and Curtis Mayfield to Snoop Dogg is definitely deserving of one's attention. And in the case of this 27 year old Austin, Texas blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist that attention is more than deserving as witnessed by his numerous recent soulful performances such as the concert video below of "When My Train Pulls In" at Bardot Hollywood (not too far from Amoeba) earlier this year) or the above rendition in of "Bright Lights" live from Dave Matthews Band Caravan in Chicago just last month.

The artist's recently released major label debut EP of the same name, The Bright Lights EP on Warner, was released three weeks ago and is self-produced with the exception of the title track which was produced by Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Dave Matthews Band, etc). Leaving you longing for more this all too short EP release is essentially a teaser for the young bluesman's (who has been accurately compared to a "Frosty" era Albert Collins)  full-length Warner album debut that is expected to drop sometime in the Spring of 2012.



Gary Clark Jr. "When My Train Pulls In" (Live at Bardot Hollywood) (2011)


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