Running with Ben Prestage

Today I noticed that as I went up and down the stairs, my knee did not hurt! Then the rain stopped after work and I thought maybe I’ll try to run! So I cued up the iPod with some blues that I put on it today and took off, hoping to make 30 minutes. Well, I made my goal 33 minutes approximately around 3 miles at slightly over a 10 minute per mile pace. My knee’s not bad and the music One Crow Murder the new album by Ben Prestage was great Here’s what his website says about the album!

The best album to-date, from the world’s greatest one-man-band. Finger-style guitar, Dobro, Lap-Steel, Harmonica, Diddley-Bow. This is real Original American Roots music.

and Leslie Streeter of the Palm Beach Post

“Close your eyes, take a breath and listen to Ben Prestage. Take in the hearty blues twang of the strings of his guitar, the smokyscratchy tone of his voice, the backwoods, juke joint, live and unfettered soulful joy of it all. Be thrilled that there’s a young guy…who’s descended from vaudeville singers, boogiewoogie musicians and a Delta sharecropper, with his own spin on the blues and a very nifty oneman band setup (including a cigar box guitar). Go see him…Be amazed”

Ben Prestage has been soaked in Blues tradition and Mississippi culture since birth.  The grandson of a Mississippi sharecropper,  He grew up in the swamps of south central Florida, Ben began to mix Mississippi Country Blues with his own brand of Florida Swamp Blues. While working as a street musician he became a one man band. In addition to playing guitar he first added a cigarbox guitar (made by Memphian an one-man-band John Lowe) which has stereo guitar and bass strings that can be played independently, at the same time to his show. Then he added a series of four foot pedals that can be manipulated by the heels and toes of both feet to play a drumkit. The final result is Ben playing guitar, bass, and drums while singing his own brand of Blues! Ben has competed in the International Blues Challenge (the world’s largest gathering of Blues musicians) and within three consecutive years took he 4th, 3rd, and 2nd place. Ben is also the only two-time recipient of the Lyon/Pitchford Award for “Best Diddley-Bow Player.” His original songwriting skills netted him “The Most Unique Performer” at “The Song- writers’ Showcase of America” and he has been invited to perform across North America, Europe, and as far as North Africa. Currently the new album is number 16 on the Roots Music Reports Blues Chart, which us where I saw the album and Ben’s name for the first time! Having only listened once I can’t tell you any favorites yet just that you should check the album out if you like real original acoustic blues!!

You can check out his music at Blues Boys and Divas or CdBaby: Ben Prestage

Here’s a taste of Ben’s music!

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Blues Wednesday – Dave Hole, John Hurt and Bill Morrissey


So while I didn’t find any new blues artist today I did listen to some old favorites. First I listened to one of my favorite blues artists Australian slide guitarist Dave Hole. I listened to his most recent release on Blind Pig Records Rough Diamond. I’ve listened to this album several times and each time I like it a little more.
The eleven tracks on the album are a mix of Hole originals and songs from composers that Dave has wanted to record. and on all of them Dave’s slide guitar is great as usual! Whether it’s a slow tune like “Yours For A Song” or an up tempo tune like “White Trash Girl” (which really caught my attention today), Hole’s guitar work is great. I have four other Hole albums in my collection and love them all and whenever I need to hear some blistering guitar I turn on Dave’s music!

“His (Hole’s) playing has unmatched fluidity. The fireworks, laser strikes, and machine-gun blast sound lubricated, and the quiet, sweet riffs are loose and flowing. Maybe it’s the assist of gravity, maybe it’s less friction of drag from his fretting hand – whatever it is, he has something new, and since 1992 he’s taken the slide world by storm.” “BLUES REVIEW”, U.S.A. (SEPT. 2003)

After Rough Diamond I switched to those “Delta Blues” and Mississppi John Hurt’s album Live This is a great recording of Mississippi John Hurt and shows of both his great voice and great acoustic guitar playing. The album comes mostly from a show at Oberlin College in 1965, a couple of years after his rediscovery and one year before his death. The last three tracks — “Hop Joint,” “Trouble, I’ve Had It All My Days,” and “Spike Driver Blues” come from the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. The album includes favorites like “Avalon”, C.C. Rider, “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor”, “My Creole Belle” and of course “Candy Man”. From the liner notes by Billy Altman

“Throughout these performances, one can’t help but marvel at the organic, instinctual relationship between Hurt’s voice and guitar”

Hurt is one of those people who bridge the gap between the blues and folk music and is welcomed by both genres. One of those folkies who was influenced by Hurt’s playing was Tom Paxton and the next thing I listened to was Paxton’s song “Did You Hear John Hurt?” Love that song and I ended the day listening to a great album of covers of Hurt’s music “Songs of Mississippi John Hurt” by another folk favorite Bill Morrissey one of my favorite albums and the album was nominated for a Grammy in 2000 for Best Traditional Folk Album. Bill’s playing was heavily influenced by Hurt and it shows as these songs all just fit Morrissey like a glove and if you didn’t know better you’d swear he wrote them!

Here’s Bill with “Candy Man Blues”

and here’s Mississippi John Hurt with “Spike Driver Blues” which closes the Live album. This clip is from Pete Seeger’s show Rainbow Quest in the 60s.

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Blues Wednesday – Big Daddy “O” and Eddie Turner

So today I really didn’t get a chance to listen to any music. As a matter of fact my headphones were still in my bookbag until a few minutes ago. Anyone I started listening to two albums that seemed pretty good on the first brief listen. The first name I saw on the Roots Music Report Blues Chart was Big Daddy “O” and his new album Used Bluesbu when I went to Rhapsody the new album was no available so I listened to his third album What You Gotta Go Through. Seems that Big Daddy has been playing bars and roadhouses near the Mississippi/ Lousiana border and only recently been putting out albums with his new one being his fourth. Here’s quote about that album from his website:

Owen “Big Daddy O” Tufts ranks among the most underrated and underappreciated blues artists in south Louisiana. He has crafted a succession of unpretentious, extremely listenable excursions in both acoustic and electric formats. His latest finds his inviting voice couched in sympathetic arrangements built with organs, saxophones, guitars and drums. The sly “Better Off With the Blues” is indicative of his understated approach. So,too, his swinging cover of “Johnny B. Goode.”

From the first listen What You Gotta Go Through is a folksy blues album. The song I’m listening to right now “Attitude” is a really nice track! I know I’m going to be listening to it tomorrow and write more later!

The second album is a more conventional blues album from Eddie Turner and is his recent release Miracles and DemonsHere’s what it says about his guitar work at his website:

“Otherworldly”, “scorching”, “polyrhythmic” and “chilling” have all been used to describe Eddie Turner’s guitar playing. His ethereal style is an amalgam of the Afro-Cuban rhythms of his heritage and the music that influenced him as a teenager: Chicago blues, jazz, r&b and psychedelic rock. The Cuban-born singer/guitarist cut his teeth in several rock bands contributing what Slate magazine describes as “spacey-yet-resounding solos.”

Again my listening today was limited but from the few tracks I heard the album sounded pretty damn good! So I will put it on the player and listen to it tomorrow along with Big Daddy “O”.

Here’s a song from Eddie Turner

and Here’s Big Daddy “O” Who should I listen to first!

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Eric Bibb – Booker’s Guitar

Ok so, Eric Bibb is another of those artists who music I don’t have in my library simply because, say it with me now!  there’s too much music – too little time! Generally. I don’t listen to a lot of acoustic blues no Keb’ Mo’  or Reverend Gary Davis in my library, there is however, Mississippi John Hurt, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry and one of my favorite Bill Morrissey album’s is Songs of Mississippi John Hurt. Oh and I forgot my new friends Moreland and Arbuckle! Anyway yesterday after listening to some different? acoustic blues Seasick Steve I wanted to listen to something a little more standard and I had been thinking about Eric Bibb, so I download his latest album Booker’s Guitar and have really enjoyed it!

Eric was born in 1951 (he is actually 45 days older than me his birthday is August 16 and mine October 1) in New York and is the son of Leon Bibb, who was active in the New York folk scene and another absentee in my library! (Note to self – look-up Leon Bibb). Anyway, rather than having their albums around the house Eric had the actual PEOPLE like Pete Seeger, Odetta and Paul Robson (his godfather) around the house! Booker’s Guitar is his seventeenth studio album since his first release in 1996 Good Stuff and that’s what Booker’s Guitar is good stuff! The majority of the album features Eric on guitar with Grant Dermody on harmonica (second note to self look up Grant Dermody) and his work is great! Here are some career highlights  from  website:

In 2005 Eric released A Ship Called Love and toured the world as ever, including a major US tour with John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers and Robben Ford. A Ship Called Love was nominated for Acoustic Album of the Year in the 2006 Blues Music Awards.


Diamond Days
was released in 2006 and has become the biggest selling album of the Eric’s lengthy career, receiving universal critical acclaim. The album entered both Australian (National) and US charts (Blues). Eric has been nominated for Acoustic Artist of the Year in the 2008 Blues Music Awards.

Booker’s Guitar starts with the title track “Booker’s Guitar” a half spoken half sung song about finding and playing on the track a guitar owned by Booker (Bukka) White and it is a great song! I love the imagery of having a paper taped onto the side of the guitar with the songs White is famous for!  Of the remaining fourteen tracks 12 are Eric Bibb originals. The two that aren’t are a great version of “Wayfaring Stranger” and Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”

All of the songs work for me but the tracks that stood out the most include “Flood Water” which until the end of the song and mention is made of 1927, I thought it was about Katrina instead of the Mississippi Flood 0f 1927. Karmody’s harmonica on this track is great! I also enjoyed “Turning Pages” a song is praise of reading! “Tell Riley” and “A Good Woman”

So if you’ve never listened to Eric Bibb go find him and give him a listen. As for me I have sixteen other albums to listen to along with some from father Leon and then I’m starting on Josh White, Jr and Daddy Josh!

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Blues Wednesday Mix!

So usually on Blues Wednesday I find one artist or album and listen to it enough write a  review but today I don’t think I listened to CDs enough to know how I really feel about them! I started the day by checking Billboard’s Blues Chart and the name that jumped out was Seasick Steve (Steven Gene Wold) and his album Man From Another Time. Wold plays acoustic blues on a variety of homemade instruments and the result is well different and I think it’s going to take several listens until I know how I feel about the album in total. I did like the instrumentation on the album. Wikipedia says that three of the instruments that he plays are the: “Three-Stringed Trance Wonder”, This is a normal guitar that resembles a Fender Coronado, but with only three strings One-Stringed Diddley Bow” This is a one stringed string instrument played with a slide (He uses an old screwdriver for this purpose). It consists of a 2 foot long 2×4, with a semi-loose piece of broom wire nailed to it at both ends. It was made especially for him by James ‘Super Chikan’ Johnson. The Mississippi Drun Machine (MDM)  A small wooden box that is stomped upon, providing percussion. It is decorated with a Mississippi motorcycle license plate (“MC33583″), and a small piece of carpet. Here He is playing the diddley bow! So like I said this CD is gonna take some getting used to – I’ll let you know later what I think! So after listening to Seasick Steve, I said that I need some blues that I know! So I checked out the mp3 player and there near the bottom of the artist list sat a favorite Walter Trout and his album Unspoiled by Progress – 20 Years of Hardcore Blues. And I’ve been a fan for the last 3-4 years of those twenty, sure wish I had found him sooner! Anyway Trout is a great guitarist and I like his vocals, too so it’s a good listen all around!! I listened to the first three tracks “They Call Us The Working Class”, “Goin’ Down” and “Life in the Jungle” all great tracks!

After that I listened briefly to some Robben Ford, who is a great blues guitarist who blends blues and jazz together with a nice result! Now if you ask me what tracks, from what albums, I don’t think I could tell you! But they were good!

I ended the day with Eric Bibb’s new CD Booker’s Guitar. Now Eric Bibb is another of those artists who I never got around to listening to – (too much music, too little time!) I don’t listen to a lot of acoustic blues but usually what I listen to I like, i.e. Brownie McGee and Sonny Terry, Mississippi John Hurt and one of my favorite Bill Morrissey’s album’s is Songs of Mississippi John  Hurt! So why I have no Eric Bibb in my library I don’t know. I really like this album and will be listening to it some more and then I will report!

So it was a strange blues day, but enjoyable and I have some more listening to do of both Seasick Steve and Eric Bibb!

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Blues Wednesday – Tab and Buddy

As I was heading down Hartford Road this morning toward the site I was going to in Medford, I was checking out the wooded wetlands along the way. After two days of rain they looked a lot like the Louisiana Bayou and I knew I had the right CD playing, Night Train to Nashville by Tab Benoit. This is a favorite (aren’t they all?) and captures Benoit at his best. The album has a great mix of music (I’ll write more about the album tomorrow when I get my notes!) I do know that three songs that really stood out again today aside from the title track were “Too Sweet for Me” with outstanding harp work from the Fabulous Thunderbird’s Kim Wilson (who I left out of Sunday’s shopping mix because it was on the way home!), “Fever for the Bayou” and “Muddy Bottom Blues”

Here’s a youtube video of “Night Train”

Another album I listened to today was Buddy Guy’s Skin Deep. I am not a big Buddy Guy fan and I really don’t know why not! I guess there’s too much good music and not enough time! Anyway every time I listen to this album I like it a little more, like the Benoit album I”ll try to write more tomorrow when I review my notes.

So it’s off to some yoga now!

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Blues Wednesday – Moreland and Arbuckle

So, I was on the No Depression website the other day and on the sidebar was an advertisement for a new CD  Flood by Moreland and Arbuckle, it looked interesting so I headed over to emusic.com and searched for the CD and found it and downloaded several of the songs and all I can say is WOW! Mississippi Delta Blues at its finest! The trio consists of leaders Aaron Moreland on guitars, Dustin Arbuckle on harp and vocals and drummer Brad Horner. You can read the band’s bio at their website. While they are from Wichita, Kansas they live in the Mississippi delta in spirit. Their songs and playing are great! Moreland plays Telecaster and Les Paul guitars and a Cigar Box guitar consisting of four strings, one of which goes to a bass amp and the other three to a guitar amp. This guitar really adds to the great original sound of the group. Dustin Arbuckle’s vocals are top notch but his harp playing is extraordinary and would make his heroes Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson proud. His playing takes the band to another level for me.

Flood is their first release on Telarc records a part of the Concord Music Group. Previously they have released three self-produced albums Caney Valley Blues in 2005, Floyd’s Market in 2006 and 1861 in 2008.  I listened to Caney Valley Blues yesterday also and again that rich Delta Blues sound was there!   I plan on listening to 1861 this afternoon and I’m sure I won’t be disappointed, color me a fan! So check them out!

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