Moore:Music ®

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How did that happen?

Josh Rowand

I was working yesterday on “XXX”. quite an involved track for the Blue Odyssey project, and I was kind of hitting a wall with it. I sat there noodling about on the guitar, and a riff came to me. By the end of the afternoon, I had another song for the project, appropriately entitled “Blue me away”!

I really feel the creative juices flowing right now, it’s great. I need to try and squeeze this onto the album, it’s looking like it will clock in at just under 80 minutes, which is the absolute max for a single CD, so any other ideas I have will have to wait for the next one!  The lyrics fit right in to the theme of the album – this one is about watching the bands down on Beale Street in Memphis during the International Blues Challenge, and in particular one guitarist who caught my eye (or should that be ear?) playing with the Nico Wayne Toussaint Band – Josh “Pitbull of Blues” Rowand.  He really had all the chops, and it’s always a pleasure to listen to someone who really knows their instrument.  He used the old trick of playing a solo with a bottle of beer, so I wrote that into the storyline of the song, I take him a beer, and instead of drinking it, he plays the solo with it!

I can’t claim to come anywhere near the standard of Josh’s playing, and although I got to compliment him on his set, I didn’t get to buy him a beer in real life, but well, if you’re reading this mate – you inspired a song!

Kev Moore

August 2, 2010 Posted by | Blue Odyssey CD, blues, Home Studio, Music, Recording, Rock, Writing | , , | 4 Comments

A Gathering of the Blues – The International Blues Challenge in Memphis

We have been extraordinarily lucky with our timing on this trip, being in Nashville for the Colgate Country showdown final, and now, being in Memphis for the International Blues Challenge – an amazing gathering of hundreds of blues bands and musicians from all over the world, playing over several nights in all of the venues of Beale Street. Simply buying a $10 dollar wristband gained you entry at will to any and all of the venues to watch the competition unfold. Each band has the task over two nights, of  ‘winning their venue’ and then progressing to the grand final at the Orpheum theatre. 

Words can hardly describe how I felt as I stepped onto Beale last night, it was alive with blues afficianados, wandering from club to club, or simply hanging in the streets soaking it all up.  I opted to start the night in BB King’s – the legendary bluesman’s original club, where I chugged down a beer and a Beale street sub sandwich while I watched Ali Penney and the Moneymakers and The R & K  Brew Co.   The standard was high, and I looked forward to the rest of the night, opting to head out of BB’s and into the Superior, two doors down.  There I saw a few numbers by Art Harris and the Z – tones, who were more of a swing outfit, boasting a huge double bass, theatrically manipulated by its owner, and sax, and certainly had the house rocking.

Next up was a return to the Rum Boogie Cafe, where Miki and I had eaten the other night.  The place was absolutely bouncing, courtesy of the Nico Wayne Toussaint Band, who were absolutely  ripping the place up, the best band I saw all night, great blues harp from front man Nico, a man possessed, dressed in a red suit and bizzarely reminiscent of the late British actor Leonard Rossiter, dancing like a dervish, ably assisted by his band, and a sh*t-hot guitarist to boot. They had the audience in the palm of their hand, and I will be surprised if they don’t win their venue this week.  They take the stage again tomorrow night, and I hope to be there.

Nico Wayne Toussaint at the Rum Boogie Cafe

They were followed by the Crossroads blues band, with a frontman also dressed in red , topped by a red fedora, making him look a little like Junior Wells in Blues Brothers 2000.  Their guitarist wasn’t up to the standard of Nico’s and their set was a little slow to get going, but their ‘me and baby brother’-style funk-tinged closer was excellent. For my taste, a full set of that stuff would’ve been great.

I headed further down Beale into the Hard Rock Cafe where I grabbed a coffee to offset the beers, unsure of the driving regs over here, and caught a few songs by Cee Cee James. Her band was pretty good and her voice, every now and then strayed into Janis territory. I felt that when she pushed it she sounded pretty good, but it’s not easy singing like that! The band that followed, Jen and Tonic,  really didn’t do it for me, so I drained the coffee and headed to Alfred’s.

I was just in time to see a band who I thought was the  Thornetta Davis band take the stage, but as Thornetta herself has pointed out to me, I was completely wrong, it was someone else!   As they spoke before starting it sounded like a couple of them were English, but they were introduced as from somewhere in the States. In any event, the girl vocal just didn’t work in a blues format for me at all, and I was out before the second chorus. I missed the Thornetta Davis band because the evening was running late at Alfreds, but you should check out her album on the link she provides in the comments on my follow up article over on Cafe Crem.

As I walked up the street, I poked my head in Rum Boogie, Club 152, Superior, as artists continued to give their best. Blues filled the night air, and I felt the ghosts of Memphis walking Beale proudly, surveying the keepers of their legacy.

A final stop at BB’s before driving home and I managed to catch a band called  Blackburn – who were indeed three brothers from Toronto and a black bassist – amusingly introduced as their ‘brother from another mother’!! I only stayed for one song, but I certainly want to check them out next time.  The guitarist attacked his Strat with a Townsend-style  frenzy chopping out great blues-funk chords that cut through you like razor-wire. Great stuff.

As I walked off into the night, I felt like I’d been dipped in a great vat of Blues Gumbo, filled with every variety of the genre, every influence from far and wide, all brought together here on this street which taught the world that black and white could not only live together, but make sweet music.

Why not read about the Second night of the challenge over on Cafe Crem?

Kev Moore

January 22, 2010 Posted by | Music, Recording, Uncategorized, Writing | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Return to Beale St.

What a blessing, to be able to jump in the car, head 15 minutes up the highway, and be on Beale St, ready to soak up the evening’s music?!! That’s what Miki and I did the other night, heading into the Rum Boogie Cafe to watch the house band, which was actually a duo. One guy, who looked like Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, handled acoustic guitar and bass and vocals, and the other guy, called Eric, sporting a pork pie hat handled, well, pretty much everything else, vocals, blues harp, dobro, guitar, washboard, kazoo, you name it.

Lettin' the blues wash over me....

The walls (and ceiling) were festooned with guitars of all shapes and sizes, all signed by musical luminaries. The Rum Boogie was a favourite haunt of Stevie Ray Vaughn, and his guitar hung on the wall as a reminder. I was reminded of my late friend Keith Webb, who spent a month in Texas jamming and rehearsing with a 17 year-old SRV. ” He was incredible even then” he told me. There was also an old guitar signed by Billy Joel up there, next to Santana’s.  I guess there was no room for a piano…..

Well-known guitarist Billy Joel........?

They were great, Eric’s blues harp a thing of beauty, and numbers from Dylan to Nine Inch nails interspersed with great humour really made our evening.  We also ordered the “every goddam appetizer on the menu platter” – at least that’s what it looked like. The chicken wings were to die for, and I asked the waitress if they cross-bred the chickens with pterodactyls, they were so huge!

Either side of our evening at the Boogie, we wandered up and down Beale street once again, watching the fairly tale horse drawn coaches come and go and the kids performing acrobatics in the streetswhile also  trying to avoid the shysters trying to sell us the free guide to Memphis and pretending the money was going to orphans. Do I really look that dumb? Guess so.

Kev Moore

January 21, 2010 Posted by | Music, Recording, Rock, Writing | , , , , | 1 Comment

Beale St.Boogie

Just so much music oozing out of every pore in this great city. If Memphis is the blues, then Beale street is its heart, pumping away nightly with its infectious rhythms, served up with catfish and chicken wings. Walking down Beale is like a living history lesson.

A band ply their trade in the outdoor pavilion, overlooked by a statue of W C Handy

 Strolling down this boulevard of memories, you notice the golden notes embedded in the sidewalk commemorating all the famous names that have graced the stages, and large signposts that tell you their history.

 As we approached the New Daisy theatre, we noticed a band set up on the sidewalk playing some real down home original blues. Big Jerry and his band were in town, purveyors of the genuine article, right there in the street. It was exactly as I’d hoped. I went over and bought their CD, and they asked where I was from.” UK, via Spain, I replied, and this is the fulfillment of a dream.”

Big Jerry jus' doin' his thang......

 At the top end of Beale sits Elvis Presley plaza, where a statue of the King of Rock’n’Roll strums his guitar a respectful distance from the legends who pre-dated and inspired him.

………..but more on Elvis later, as we pay our respects just a couple of weeks after what would have been his 75th birthday.

Kev Moore

January 20, 2010 Posted by | Music, Rock, Writing | , , , , | 1 Comment