Prince plays the blues – Chocolate Drops, Wynton, Clapton, too

The blues is big-time pop again -- processed to a triumphant apotheosis by Prince at Madison Square Garden as I detail in my new City Arts column -- (but did it ever go away? Here's the Artist with James Brown and Michael Jackson in 1983)   -- reinvigorated in acoustic revivalist and hybrid form by the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who kick off a three-month US tour at Lincoln Center's American Songbook Series on Wednesday, Feb 2 --    … [Read more...]

Robert Johnson on speed

Musicologists are convinced blues icon Robert Johnson's recordings as released are 20% faster than he performed in two solo sessions in 1936 and 1937. It's unclear whether they were sped up intentionally (to push their excitement, which seems hardly necessary) or accidentally at some point in the chain between microphone and pressing plant. What is obvious is that since only 11 of the 41 existent Johnson takes were issued by Vocalion on 78 rpm discs during his lifetime (and one posthumously), his complete documented repertoire of 29 tunes … [Read more...]

What if B.B. King and Buddy Guy played NYC and nobody came?

B.B. King, 84 yr old #1 living blues icon of the world, and Buddy Guy, 73 yr old 1st runner-up, concertized in New York City last weekend, but there's been a near-total news blackout. Here's a review from the Financial Times of London. Meanwhile, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, British blues pretenders (as in pretenders to the throne) rated a three-column photo and full front page New York Times arts section review, … [Read more...]