Grateful Dead Dave’s Picks Volume 18

Grateful Dead Dave's Picks 18 coverGrateful Dead “Dave’s Picks Volume 18” Orpheum Theatre San Francisco, CA 7/17/76 – 3 CD’s Plus a 4th (limited edition) Bonus disc.

This eighteenth edition of the Dave’s Picks series is taken from the Dead’s “comeback tour,” from a six night stretch at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco. The three CD box consists of two discs of the full nights proceedings from July 17th, disc three has random selections from the prior night. Subscribers at also received the bonus disc that included eight different tracks from July 16th.  *Note:  The Dead had just started to tour after a self-imposed eighteen-month break. The 16th was Friday’s performance, and the 17th was the fifth of the six night extravaganza and “One More Saturday Night.”

Disc One: Per usual the first set offers little to get excited about. The customary war horses; Chuck Berry’s “Promised Land,” “Mama Tried,” “Deal,” Big River,” and another Chuck Berry cover “Johnny B. Goode,” bookends the first segment. The aforementioned tunes are regularly recycled to warm up the band to spark what hopefully would be served-up later.  Typically I’d always look for interplay hints to feel if the band might ignite in their second set. But most of this first set is a laidback leisurely stroll, and I didn’t get a very good impression about what to expect from their second set. Plus the first set must have been short as the last track on disc one is the opening song from the second set “Samson and Delilah,” it didn’t impress.

Disc Two:  My heart sank when I heard the opening notes to; “Comes a Time” not one of my favorites, and the liner-notes booklet indicates that it’s a sixteen minute rendition!  Garcia’s vocals are also off target, but during the instrumental passage Jerry finds a beautiful seam to sow and this “Comes a Time” has found a new plateau that starts to toy with “The Other One” until Lesh unleashes his trademark bass-run and it’s onto “The Other One” in full force albeit (5:46) in length. Their interaction captivates as Lesh leads us into a ten minute free-form “Space” jam that unwinds and settles down into relatively short (7:37) “Eyes of the World.” The “Jam” out of “Eyes of the World” flows in and around the theme and stays coherent and fluent touching back to another short take of “The Other One.” Keith Godchaux is also on his game, but his wife is no-where to be found – and that’s okay. “The Other One” awkwardly transitions to a fiery “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad” and quickly rights itself. It’s Saturday night; and the band wraps this nonstop excursion with a potent yet predictable “One More Saturday Night.” Not done; they encore with a somewhat lethargic “U.S. Blues.” Thank you and goodnight.

Disc Three: Takes us back one night to 7/16. The third disc opens with a lengthy (14:26) “Not Fade Away” that doesn’t segue and is all by itself confidently flowing and (more) superior sounding than any tunes from discs one and two, Weir says goodnight probably meaning this was their set closer – odd. Next is “Big River” (7:02) probably from the first set – sparkles with high-speed and below the radar hijinks from Garcia’s crafty and swift guitar lines. Finally a song from their recent “Blues for Allah” album; “The Music Never Stops” rocks and rolls towards “Scarlet Begonias” that smartly jams – drowning out Donna Godchaux’s short-lived attempts to hijack the instrumental passage with her (too often) moans and groans. Disc three concludes with “U.S. Blues” that unspectacularly and probably ended their first set.

Limited Edition Bonus Disc: Resembling disc three the bonus disc also chooses songs from Friday’s July 16th concert.  The first track “Playing in the Band” veers off to a spontaneous instrumental jam after one introductory vocal chorus. This jam almost lifts towards lost-in-space zones when Lesh fires off a series of bass lines that Garcia picks up and brings the band back to a (more) cohesive reality where all members are contributing to the cause that finally segues to an unimpressive and too lengthy (8:03)  “Cosmic Charlie.” I couldn’t figure if the “Spanish Jam” track came after “Cosmic Charlie” or was taken from another part of the show but after a few minutes of aimless noodling this jam gels well with flying sparks and abundant creativity into a relatively short (3:53) “Drums”  break.  Following “Drums,” “The Wheel” makes a sunrise like glowing appearance as Garcia’s guitar radiates with super clear toned conviction especially during the instrumental passage that cleverly finds its way back to a “Playing in the Band” reprise where it sounds like someone lowered the volume at the end, weird. Subsequently a drawn-out rendition of “High Time” (10:13) was too challenging and impossible to endure. The closing bonus track; finds Lesh and Weir offering happy birthday wishes to Bill Graham then tear into a solid “Sugar Magnolia.” By the way:  Graham wasn’t born on either of these concert dates or in June, he was born in January so the guys were having some sort fun with Graham.

Other than a handful of disc one’s first-set volume level glitches, Betty Cantor-Jackson’s original recording offers a lifelike capture of each instrument, with warm vocals, and is detailed and clear throughout. Not sure if Dick “Dick’s Picks” Latvala would have recommended releasing these two nights of performances, as there are several pointless and a few repeated tracks that could have reduced this recording from three CD’s to two discs. That being said: the third disc (from 7/16)  should have excluded throwaway versions of “Brown-Eyed Women,” “Looks Like Rain,” “Peggy-O,” and “U.S. Blues,” besides “Peggy-O,” and “U.S. Blues” already appear on discs one and two.  You already know that I would have left off the ten minute “High Time” from the bonus disc too. Which could have made for a super bonus disc of tunes from 7/16 concert that’s from a different performance found on the main 2 CD box set from 7/17, got it?  Not easy for me to say either…  Bottom line; these jams are (timewise) shorter and concise than previous years, they are also seemingly (more) calculated with less risk taking.  Yet there is a certain laidback and unique elegance that permeates from these two nights. Nonetheless: their creative juices are fluid, as is their fiery dynamics and intuitive interplay. Need I say anything more?

For 17 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal with his Sounds of Blue radio show. Hear new Homegrown Sounds of Blue internet radio shows:
Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune &  Bob was also the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting.  Putignano can be contacted at:




Allen Toussaint “American Tunes”

allentoussaintAllen Toussaint “American Tunes” Nonesuch Records

It would seem that “American Tunes” was/is intended to be the follow up to Toussaint’s 2009 “The Bright Mississippi.” In preparation for this album solo piano sessions were recorded in 2013, plus during the early fall of 2015 full ensemble tracks were assembled, several with special guests. Unfortunately: weeks after the concluding recordings Toussaint suddenly passed away while on tour in Madrid, Spain. What to do?  Producer (Joe Henry) of the previous “The Bright Mississippi” elected to finish what was started – finalizing Toussaint’s posthumous release that (supposedly) is the final chapter/album by the prestigious Allen Toussaint.

Toussaint’s “Delores’ Boyfriend” opens the album with Allen prancing solo on the eighty-eights, his delivery is so subtle yet poignant and light, displaying his underrated piano skills. Fats Waller’s “Viper’s Drag” calls for the trio of: David Piltch’s upright bass and Jay Bellerose’s drums meshes elegantly with understated and refined Toussaint piano revelations. The ballad “Confessin’ (That I Love You)” utilizes the same trio where Piltch gets a moment to step out with a solo from his standup bass. One of the many well-known Crescent City anthems Roy Byrd/Professor Longhair’s “Mardi Gras in New Orleans” is magnificently delivered by Toussaint’s elegant piano phrasings illuminates a gentle tone on this forever classic. Billy Strayhorn’s “Lotus Blossom” adds Charles Lloyd’s tenor to the aforementioned trio ensemble works preciously with fascinating improvisation that beautifully sparks Lloyd’s and Toussaint’s intuitive solos. Bill Evans’s “Waltz for Debby” invites the trio again with Toussaint’s bopping rhythms incorporated into his bright and upbeat piano creations.   Back down south to the Big Easy with Earl King’s classic “Big Chief” effortlessly performed by Toussaint all by his lonesome with superlative and unexpected excursions. Play the Blues on Duke Ellington’s “Rocks in my Bed” with Rhiannon Giddens’ sharp vocals and Bill Frisell’s slide guitar, note the Blues runs from Toussaint’s fingers that help elevate this downhome and greasy chestnut. Professor Longhair/Roy Byrd gets a second helping “Hey Little Girl” that’s unaccompanied performed by Toussaint. Earl “Fatha” Hines’ “Rosetta” is a great waltz for the trio and for Toussaint’s strident piano offerings and solo. I would have thought Toussaint’s “Southern Nights” would have closed this touching recording but nonetheless it’s a stunning solo rendition by Toussaint with additional improvisational crosscurrents that captivate.  The finale is Paul Simon’s title track “American Tune” which is the only vocal track by Toussaint. It also features Adam Levy’s gut-string guitar with Toussaint’s piano performed as a duo. I found this closer to be an odd conclusion, as previously mentioned – I would have preferred “Southern Nights” to complete this otherwise fine demonstration that documents Allen Toussaint’s extraordinary career as one of this nation’s greatest songwriters, and (again)  as a very underrated pianist.

Note: The song “American Tune” is based on a melody line from a chorale from Johann Sebastian Bach’s St Matthew Passion, itself a reworking of an earlier secular song, “Mein G’müt ist mir verwirret,” composed by Hans Leo Hassler. The melody used for “American Tune” can be heard quite distinctly. The melody to “American Tune” is practically identical to that of “Mein G’müt ist mir verwirret” and “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.” Although Paul Simon expanded on the tune, credit to the origins of the melody is given on Simon’s album cover.

Sort of unrelated: The only piece missing from Toussaint’s solid back-catalog is a proper compilation of his best tunes performed by Allen and/or those artists who scored with mega top charting hits that were authored by Toussaint.  This (potential) Toussaint tribute album is long overdue, and could easily span two discs.  So why not make it a reality?


For 17 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal with his Sounds of Blue radio show: –  Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune &  Bob was also the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting.  Putignano can be contacted at:








The Paul Butterfield Blues Band “Got a Mind to Give Up Living: Live 1966”

Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Got a Mind to Give Up Living - 1966The Paul Butterfield Blues Band “Got a Mind to Give Up Living: Live 1966”

“Got a Mind to Give Up Living” is a live performance from (fifty years ago) May of 1966 recorded at the Unicorn Coffee House in Boston, MA, two months prior to the groundbreaking Elektra LP “East – West.”  Previously this has been floating around as a bootleg but Real Gone claims that this 2016 edition is the first legitimate version; the physical disc also has the Elektra logo on it too. Thirteen tracks are included with a total runtime of approximately one hour. There aren’t any track lengths listed so I had to make my own clock-time calculations. Butterfield’s band consisted of; guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, organist Mark Naftalin, bassist Jerome Arnold, Chicago drummer Billy Davenport (Sam Lay left after the band’s debut album,) and on vocals and harp; Paul Butterfield.

The opening (1:34) “Instrumental Intro” is followed by a roaring “Look Over Yonders Wall” sets the tone for the evening, Nick Gravenities “Born in Chicago,” features a blazing solos from Butterfeild and Bloomfield.  “Love Her with a Feeling” decelerates the tempo with a tasty Blues guitar introduction by Bloomfield, Butterfield vocals are good but he splits the roof off with another blazing harp solo, not to be outdone Bloomfield responds with his own guitar eruption’s.  The funk from Allen Toussaint’s “Get out My Life Woman” seems a bit out of place and uncomfortable for the band to wrap their chops around. The traditional “Never Say No” sounds like Elvin Bishop’s vocal is sleepy and strange. Smokey Robinson’s “One More Heartache” gets a hardcore makeover and shot of adrenalin. Stretch out time on Nat Adderley’s classic “Work Song” (12:33) mostly known as a Bluesy Jazz tune was uncommon for a Blues band to cover. Yet amidst a few missteps from Bloomfield’s early guitar passage he leaps into upper stratosphere with profound energy, Butterfield retaliates with his own harp blast as they tear it up and remake “Work Song” as if it was their own authored song, especially during the last two minutes where everyone takes short but intense solos. Staying with Jazz covers Ben Tucker’s “Coming Home Baby” (7:18) opens their second set, Bloomfield doesn’t take long to fire searing guitar riffs, Butterfield counters with his own harp frenzy, Natalin’s organ is often weird and his solos are no exception here. Percy Mayfield’s cover of “Memory Pain” is a jaunt that meanders without a rudder and needs a life-raft. The title (traditional) tune is a slow Blues burner (6:36) that takes a little while to ignite, liftoff ensues with Butterfield’s torrid harp solo – followed by Bloomfield’s intense guitar blasts.  The straight Blues of “Walking by Myself” gets the Butter band treatment with riveting chord blasts and another crackling Bloomfield guitar rev-up. The finale: “Got My Mojo Working” is given a Jazzy treatment via Bloomfield’s guitar chords that doesn’t last long as Naftalin’s keyboard fire-up Bloomfield who briefly blasts-off as Butterfield seemingly signals to slow it down and closes the set. Goodnight.

Journalist Chris Morris orates solid liner notes, plus supposed rare photos add allure to this top-shelf package that I would categorize as “historic” for its content and performance execution, that offered a sixty minute glimpse of what was about to become for Butterfield and his bandmates. This edition of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band time together was far too short, but with fifty years past the performance date – makes this release momentous and essential. Leaving one mystery: How did Real Gone obtain the Elektra imprint utilized on this physical disc?

For 17 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal with his Sounds of Blue radio show: –  Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune &  Bob was also the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting.  Putignano can be contacted at:








Grateful Dead “Dick’s Picks Volume One” Tampa, Florida 12/19/73 (2-CD’s)

Grateful Dead Dick's Picks 1 Tampa, FLGrateful Dead “Dick’s Picks Volume One” Tampa, Florida 12/19/73 (2-CD’s)

This was the first Dick’s Picks edition that was made available at some twenty plus years ago in 1993. It’s also the last of a series of Dick’s Picks reissues from Real Gone Music. Real Gone started their countdown by first offering the last Dick’s Picks (Volume thirty-six) from late 2011 until this 2016 reissue.  * Note: Real Gone is also randomly re-releasing some of their more popular Dick’s Picks again, especially the ones that have sold out on their site.

Titled for the for the official tape archivist “Dick” (who suddenly passed in 1999) Dick Latvala ( was the Grateful Dead’s watchful vault keeper of the Dick’s Picks series; encompassed three dozen entries spanning twenty-three years (1968 — 1991) of live (and sometimes raw and often electrifying) concert recordings.

This inaugural episode is over two hours of “highlights” (not the entire performance) from the band’s final 1973 gig:  12/19 at the Curtis Hixon Convention Center in Tampa, FL. Additionally these “highlights” were not sequenced in the same order they were originally performed. These adjustments/maneuvers angered the Deadheads as they wanted the entire concert unedited and untampered with. Later Dick’s Picks releases were sometimes three and/or four or larger CD box-sets, but this was their debut edition, and it was concluded to not let this album become larger than two discs. Supposedly this necessitated sequence changes, and unwelcome song performance edits which were not greeted kindly by the Deadhead tapers and collectors.

Disc one:  Opens with one of my least favorites “Here Comes Sunshine” (14:13) but after just one vocal chorus the band quickly gels into a sumptuous and extremely tasty jam, so much so that it doesn’t flow like a typical and tardy “Here Comes Sunshine” which is a pleasant surprise. Everyone’s feeding off of each other’s contagious stream of improvisational thoughts, which has me wondering if this was the first set opener or a later inclusion such as a second set dreamy jam? Johnny Cash’s “Big River” cover also finds the band’s intuitive powers sharp, but “Mississippi Half Step” falls flat.  A full “Weather Report Suite” is next (15:56) initially meanders through its intro movements but lifts-off during the “Let It Grow/I Am” segments. Next:  Garcia rocks out on a short (4:08) rendition of “Big Railroad Blues.”  Closing the first disc is “Playing in the Band” (21:10) sans Donna’s screams – who was on maternity leave. This lengthy version became a point of contention because of the supposed hatchet-job bassist Phil Lesh who’s bass solo was reportedly cut and omitted by the request of Lesh himself! Nonetheless this is a sparkly and inspired “Playing in the Band” again each bandmate is contributing and adding to the dynamics of this free-rolling jam. I don’t recall many or any Lesh bass solos from live “Playing in the Band” performances, but he’s righteous and upfront in the mix here, so it would have been interesting to hear his solo contributions here. Anyway based on Weir’s comments – the first set (and first CD) is concluded with this controversial but solid version of “Playing in the Band.”

Disc two: Mostly consists of a non-stop seven-song jam that clocks at over fifty minutes. Opening with a soft swinging, nearly eleven minute “He’s Gone” that serves as a launching pad for the forever elastic but relatively short (9:18) “Truckin’,” evolves into a Blues jam segueing to Blind Willie Johnson’s (nearly six minute) “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” Out from Blind Willie’s Blues the band streams into a spontaneous and thought provoking instrumental (8:10) “Jam” that hints at and eventually becomes Weir’s vocal choruses of “The Other One” for only two minutes. It’s back to a second (free-form and sci-fi terrifying) “Jam” of a little more than eight minutes. This “Jam” quietly lands onto a (8:45) Garcia/Hunter’s touching and soulful ballad: “Stella Blue.”  Time to head for the doors with Chuck Berry’s “Around and Around” performed as a night ending and energetic cover should be. Garcia obviously loved Berry’s fat rock and roll chord progressions and this version was no exception. So much so:  I thought I could see Jerry’s infectious smile beaming through my speakers. Goodnight everybody!

Musicians: Jerry Garcia – lead guitar, vocals, Keith Godchaux – keyboards, Donna Jean Godchaux – giving birth, Bill Kreutzmann – drums, Phil Lesh – bass, vocals, Bob Weir – guitar, vocals. Produced and Recorded by – Kidd Candelario Recorded Live: December 19, 1973 at the Curtis Hixon Convention Center, Tampa, FL

The rear cover of the CD carries the following Caveat Emptor: “The recording herein has been lovingly remastered directly from the original two-track master tape and is therefore not immune to the various glitches, splices, reel changes and other aural gremlins contained on said original. Dick’s Picks differs from our From The Vault series in that we simply did not have access to complete shows (nor the modern mixing capabilities afforded by multitrack tapes) But we think the historical value and musical quality of these tapes more than compensates for any technical anomalies… In other words what you hear is what you get. And what you get ain’t bad!”

*Note: It’s nearly seventeen years since Dick Latvala suddenly passed at just fifty-six years old. At the time of his passing the Dick’s Picks series had released fourteen volumes. But in memory of Latvala the Grateful Dead issued volumes fifteen (9/3/77,) and sixteen (11/8/69) supposedly Dick’s favorite and most discussed candidates for future volumes. Not long thereafter the series was gradually handed to David Lemieux and the name was eventually changed to Dave’s Picks. Though there was an in-between bridge release(s) of live Dead recordings titled Road Trips. As previously mentioned the Dick’s Picks series concluded with volume thirty-six. As an apparent memorial; most of the Dick’s Picks (volumes fifteen through thirty-six) if you looked closely you’ll see the name “Latvala” carefully hidden in the artwork. Lastly; partly from recent interviews with Latvala’s wife Carol you’ll find more details about Dick’s life and relationship with the Grateful Dead in Jesse Jarnow’s 2016: “Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America.”

For 17 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal with his Sounds of Blue radio show: –  Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune &  Bob was also the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting.  Putignano can be contacted at:





Del McCoury Band Del & Woody

delwoodyDel McCoury Band

Del & Woody

McCoury Music

Woody Guthrie (1912 – 1967) was a singer, songwriter and musician who wrote hundreds of songs. Many are today considered traditional but included were ballads, children’s songs and political tunes. Best known is his song “This Land is Your Land”. Guthrie was a big influence on other songwriters who followed him including Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, Ramblin Jack Elliot, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Tom Paxton, John Mellancamp, Bruce Springsteen and many others.

Guthrie wrote about his experiences in the Dust Bowl era during the Great Depression and published the novel “Bound For Glory”. Although born in Oklahoma he later settled in Brooklyn, New York. He was also a member of The Almanac Singers a folk group and predecessor to The Weavers. He was married three times and fathered eight children including folk musician Arlo Guthrie.

After Guthrie’s death his daughter Nora found hundred’s of unpublished songs in his notebooks. Some of them were later recorded and released by Billy Bragg. Nora states that “when Del recorded with Steve Earle she really discovered him”. Del was later invited to perform at a Woody Guthrie Centennial concert and Nora had the opportunity to hear Del sing a few of her father’s songs.

This collection of Woody’s lyrics was set to music by Del McCoury. Arlo states “the entire album goes back to a place and time that these days are an almost forgotten era. But, Del’s high bluegrass voice brings it all back”. Del was the rhythm guitarist and featured vocalist with Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys in 1963. He went on his own and recorded as Del McCoury and The Dixie Pals until his sons joined him and in 1980 he renamed the band, The Del McCoury Band. Today the band includes Del, vocals and guitar; Ronnie McCoury, mandolin; Rob McCoury, banjo; Jason Carter, fiddle; and Alan Bartram, upright bass.

The opening track “The New York Trains” was previously released as part of an audio book “My Name is New York; Ramblin’ Around Woody Guthrie’s Town”. The song was nominated for a Grammy at the 57th Grammy Awards for Best American Roots Song.

The other songs have titles like “Left in This World Alone”; “California Gold”; The Government Road”; “Family Reunion”; “Wimmen’s Hats”; “Little Fellow” and “Hoecake Fritters”.

After many years of sitting on a shelf Del McCoury brings these Woody Guthrie songs to life.

Richard Ludmerer







Ivas John – ‘Good Days a Comin”

5575fdac9bc5a.imageWhile Ivas John is new to me, Good Days a Comin’  is actually his fifth. It is the first, however, to be completely acoustic. The trend to a return to acoustic music more often is a welcome one, allowing listeners to experience once again the power of this less embellished form in the hands of master players.

On this album, John is accompanied not only by his touring band of Jamie Pender on bass guitar, Shannon Meyer on guitar, and Charlie Morrill on drums,  but also by husband-and-wife folk duo the Gordons,  Robert Bowlin, Tim Crouch, David Davis, and Ross Sermons, who lives in Tasmania and plays stand-up bass. He and John communicated and recorded by Skype a thoroughly modern touch for what is basically a traditional roots album..Former Bill Monroe fiddle man Bowlin provides amazing fiddle here along with Tim Crouch, who also provides mandolin. Gary Gordon provides Dobro (and also produced the album.)

All of these guest musicians are older than John y at least 25 years, but his mastery of finger-picking and flat-pick guitar show him the equal of any of them, sometime stirring memories for roots music fans of the great Doc Watson or Mississippi John Hurt. His nimble vocals are never overwhelmed by the music either, allowing both the words and the melodies to shine.

The album contains 12 original songs by John, four of which he wrote with his father, Edward John, and four outstanding covers. The covers are Merle Travis’ “Dark As A Dungeon,” (my absolute, jaw-dropping favorite track on the album,) Tom Paxton’s “Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound,” “Greenville Trestle High” ( James Jett ) and Allen Reynolds’ “Wrong Road Again.” It would be worth getting the album just for these  songs but the originals  are equally strong. I particularly  liked “”Going Back to Arkansas,” “”Keep Your Train Movin’,” “Payday Boogie,” and “Sunday Morning Blues,” but there is not a weak song in the bunch.

The album mixes blues, folk, Western swing and bluegrass influences seamlessly. Often, John and his musicians reminded me of Asleep At the Wheel, but not so powerfully that I forgot the artist I was  hearing.

Good Days a Comin’ is hopefully a prophetic title for John, because he deserves many good days or giving us this excellent album.






Joe Kidd and Sheila Burke – ‘Everybody Has A Purpose’

9_26_15_ebhap_front_cover_phone_photo_2Joe Kidd and Sheila Burke’s album is called Everybody Has A Purpose, and it is clear from the first listen that they believe this, and also that every word and note also has a purpose. From the haunting “Veteran’s Song,” sung by Burke alone in her pure, soaring voice and telling a story about the cost of war that is truly timeless, to the ode to the working man that is “Grandpa Was a Coal Miner” to the more personal “Sad Too Long” and “Just Want to Be Myself,” these are thought-provoking songs that most of all, touch the heart.

There are not a lot of musicians out there making true acoustic folk music these days but Burke and Kidd do that. These songs are influenced by , Appalachian folk music and 60’s folk, bluegrass, country , Celtic and gospel. Most of the songs feature their exquisite harmonies, which are especially impressive on “They Call It Romantic,” which reminded me forcefully of the early Everly Brothers (my highest compliment.)  They also take turns taking verses before joining together on the mystic and mesmerizing “Shadow At The End of the Road,” a perfectly constructed country song which also features some tasty guitar. “Everybody Has A Purpose,” the title song, is an uplifting number that makes effective use of harmonica as well, while “Waiting For the Flower to Bloom”  makes very good use of the auto-harp.

Other highlights of the CD include “Soldiers in the Army of Mercy and Peace and the gospel bluegrass “When the Secret Is Revealed.”

Themes on this album are struggle, love, ad redemption. These are universal themes indeed and Kidd and Burke deliver them with tremendous grace, musicality and style.

Joe Kidd contacted me on Facebook about this album and he and Sheila subsequently sent it to me for an honest review. I am happy to honestly say that it is a treasure, an important record, and one that you will be happy to own.







The Rides Pierced Arrow

original (1)The Rides

Pierced Arrow

429 Records

The Rides a bonafide super group with youth, legendary hit making, and chops are comprised of:

Thirty-five year old, five time Grammy nominated and two-time Blues Music Award winning, guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd who has recorded with Hubert Sumlin and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith.

Two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, 71 year old guitarist and songwriter Stephen Stills, a member of the ground breaking Buffalo Springfield “For What It’s Worth” and later Crosby, Stills, and Nash; and of his own solo recordings including “Love The One You’re With”.

Add 73 year old keyboard wizard Barry Goldberg, whose credits include The Electric Flag, Bob Dylan, and The Chicago Blues Re-union; and stir.

Long ago manager Elliot Roberts, who managed both Stills and Goldberg, suggested the veteran musicians work together. They both appeared on the 1968 album “Super Session” alongside Michael Bloomfield although not on the same tracks.

Stills met Shepherd at a private party before the 2007 Superbowl. The trio united in 2013 and recorded their first album “Can’t Get Enough”. Among the best tracks were covers of Muddy Waters “Honey Bee” and Elmore James’ “Talk to Me Baby”.

The Rides also include the rhythm section of bassist and co-producer Kevin McCormick; and drummer Chris Layton whose credits include Shepherd’s band and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Double Trouble”. Now with improved songwriting from band members they have exceeded all expectations.

The opening two songs “Kick Out of Here” and “Riva Diva” are shuffles. More important then the lyrics are the band’s collective musicianship. The rhythm section lays down the foundation for the interplay between Stills lofty fretwork and Shepherd’s lead guitar. Goldberg on the keys adds the coloration to complete their sound.

“Virtual World” sounds like Crosby, Stills and Nash; while “Mr. Policeman” has a sixties vibe reminiscent of Buffalo Springfield. “Game On” includes Kim Wilson on harmonica.

“By My Side” and “I Need Your Lovin” were composed by Shepherd and Goldberg while “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” is an older song written by Goldberg and Gerald Goffin.

The only cover is a jazzy version of Willie Dixon’s “My Babe”; unless you are fortunate enough to have the Deluxe Edition. The three bonus tracks include Nick Gravenites “Born in Chicago” which opened the Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s first album; and Jimmy Reed’s “Take out Some Insurance”.

Make sure you catch these guys when they’re out on tour this summer.


Richard Ludmerer









Music Review: Darryl Purpose – “Still the Birds”

When a person is as unusual as Darryl  Purpose,  you can expect his music to be as different as he is, and it is.

Courtesy o Blue Rock Records
Courtesy o Blue Rock Records

Purpose is a member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame who has been banned from casinos in six continents. After spending years sleeping in his truck and playing anywhere he could for tips, he won  a couple million dollars and started concentrating on his music full-time.

Aside from winning gambling fame, he has walked across the country to promote peace and studied with spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh. As a musician, he played the first stadium concert in the former Soviet Union with Bonnie Raitt and Santana, and co-founded the Second Strings Project to provide strings to musicians in third world countries

Every bit of that experience helps explain why Purpose writes about subjects that deal with the human condition, spirituality, literary icons, history, and, always, the tension between dark and light and good and evil,  without any fear of controversy. While the music and style are similar  to James Taylor or, at times, Jimmy Buffet, the lyrics are like nothing this  reporter has ever heard before.

For instance, a definite highlight  of the album is “When Buddha Smiled At The Elephant,”  in which love (Buddha) overcomes the weapons of war and hate (the elephant.)  Then there are the songs that deal further with war, as a Vietnam draft-dodger loses his mind in “Hours In A Day” and history is brilliantly  captured in the Civil War story, “Shiloh.” A different sort of war is depicted in the LA gang saga “Evergreen Avenue.”

Dylan Thomas and Edgar Allan Poe were no strangers to the struggle between light and dark. Like  Purpose, they realized that it is more important to write truth than to avoid controversy. Purpose pays tribute to  Thomas in “Prince of the Apple Towns” and to Poe in “Baltimore.”

All 11 of the songs here, written by Purpose and his partner Paul Zollo, are intriguing, the words filled with brilliant imagery while Purpose;s laid-back, warm vocal style  imbues  the whole album with an underlying sense of deep compassion for the human condition.

Get this album and listen with care. If you like lyrics that demand attention and that will make you think, Purpose is going to  make you very happy.

This review was originally written for Blogcritics Magazine.








Festival Express New Line Entertainment

61TZFCBT1JLFestival Express

New Line Entertainment


In 1970 the following bands got on a train and rode across Canada stopping to play in Toronto, Winnepeg and Calgary. The film which shows footage of them both in Concert and “ridin that train”, sat in a garage for thirty years. Imagine being on a week long train ride with The Grateful Dead, The Band, Delanie & Bonnie and Friends, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Buddy Guy Blues Band, Ian & Sylvia & The Great Speckled Bird, Janis Joplin and The Full Tilt Boogie Band, Mashmakan, Sha Na Na, Seatrain, The New Riders, Eric Anderson, Tom Rush, Leslie West, Alvin Lee, and Kenny Gradney.

“Casey Jones” is the film’s theme song, as the train pulls out of the station, and as it’s heading down the track Delanie Bramlett sings “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” which fades out to the Grateful Dead in concert with Jerry singing “Don’t Ease Me In”. The Grateful Dead then perform “Friend of The Devil”. Then the Band is up next with “Slippin & Slidin”. It is thrilling to see the Dead with Ron McKernan (Pigpen), and the original “Band” with Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson.

Mashmakan, a terrific Canadian Jam band does “Comin’ Home Baby”, Buddy Guy sings “Money”, and then The Flying Burrito Brothers (sans Gram) perform “Lazy Day”. The Band’s Levon Helm and Rick Danko sing “The Weight”. Janis Joplin’s footage is unbelievable as she sing’s “Cry Baby”. Later that night comes an incredible jam with Rick singing “Ain’t No more Cane on the Brazos” with Janis and Jerry. “Sha Na Na” does their Na Na Na. The Grateful Dead are up again with the “New Speedway Boogie”. Jerry Garcia then sits in with Ian & Sylvia and The Great Speckled Bird on “C C Rider”. Then Richard Manuel sings lead with the Band on “I Shall Be Released”. The film concludes with Janis Joplin singing “Tell Mama”.

Outtakes include Seatrain with Peter Rowan and Richard Greene. Tom Rush sings “Child’s Song”, and Eric Anderson performs “Thirsty Boots”. Buddy Guy sings “Hoochie Coochie Man”. The Grateful Dead with Ron McKernan singing and playing harmonica on two songs is also a must have. The outtakes conclude with additional footage of Janis Joplin in concert. This is a “time capsule” for everyone who remembers what we had in 1970.

Richard Ludmerer