THORBJORN RISAGER - TRACK RECORD
The time has come for Thorbjorn Risager’s fifth CD. Ever since the debut, this great Danish vocalist and his equally outstanding band is delivering new albums with about a year’s interval, full of new compositions. How they find time for this – especially the composing – in spite of their intense touring, is a bit of a mystery. But life on the road is definitely a source of inspiration, which some of the songs, and even the cover photos, are reflecting – even though they don’t do so much of their travelling by train…
So far they have played live in 15 countries and their CD’s have been played and reviewed in 20 and they are getting enthusiastic reactions everywhere which proves that their music is truly convincing!
But the 38-year-old Dane had other plans for his life. He studied to be a school teacher, and worked in this profession for some years, before he decided to let the music take over. He studied at the Rhythmic Conservatory in Copenhagen, a quite unique education where many of the teachers are jazz or rock musicians, and where the emphasis is on Rhythmic music of all genres. In 2003 he started his band, selected musicians he liked both musically and personally, and the fact that up until today only one of them left and was replaced, at an early stage of the band’s career, proves that the choice was excellent. But of course Thorbjørn’s musical interest started long before this. He played the saxophone from the age of 12, then guitar – but the singing was more of a coincidence at first. He was exposed to the blues through a neighbour, a middle-aged gentleman who was friends with his parents, and who started playing blues records to the young Thorbjørn. That’s how his life-long love story with the blues started, with B B King as his biggest hero. Ray Charles is one of his other obvious influences, but today, with almost 40 recorded songs from his own pen, he has definitely defined his own sound and style. His mixture of genres (blues, soul, gospel, rock, R&B and funk) is something that is sometimes mentioned by critics, who are looking for something of more homogenity. But this is Thorbjørn’s deliberate choice.
Track Record was recorded in Medley Studios in Copenhagen, which has an excellent reputation. And so does the producer, Lars Skjærbæk (and you thought that Thorbjørn had a strange name…? By the way, after having received many inquiries about the pronounciation of Thorbjørn’s name, we added a link on www.risager.info to an audio file where he pronounces his own name…)
As usual, nearly all the songs are written by Thorbjorn and/or the band. The only exception is a brilliant version of the classical « Baby Please Don’t Go ». As usual, Thorbjorn displays a wide range of blues styles, but the opening track, « Rock And Roll Ride », brings him into a heavier, more rootsy sound, which can also be found on « Let’s Go Down ». The soul influences are, as always, obvious, especially on the ballad « Stand Beside Me ». And the energetic « scorcher » type of songs are always present, here represented by tracks like « Eyes That Turned Away ».
Influences from many great blues, R&B and soul artists can be detected, but with each new CD, Thorbjorn is taking several steps towards defining a genre that’s completely his own. Well, many listeners would agree that he is already there, together with his fabulous band!
MAGIC SLIM - RAISING THE BAR
Magic Slim is the greatest living proponent of the intense, electrified, Mississippi-to-Chicago blues style that spawned much of the music played by modern blues artists and rockers. It’s no wonder that Magic Slim and the Teardrops, considered by many "the last real Chicago blues band," have become one of the busiest and best-loved blues bands around. As Blues Revue wrote, "Whoever the house band in blues heaven may be, even money says they’re wearing out Magic Slim albums trying to get that Teardrops sound down cold."
Magic Slim was born Morris Holt in Torrence, Mississippi, on August 7, 1937. He took an early interest in music, singing in the church choir, and fashioning a guitar for himself with baling wire from a broom, which he nailed to the wall. "Mama whooped me for that," recalls Slim. His first love was the piano, but having lost the little finger on his right hand in a cotton gin accident he found it difficult to play properly. Undaunted, he simply switched to guitar, working in the cotton fields during the week and playing the blues at house parties on weekends.
When he was 11, Holt moved to Grenada, Mississippi, where he met and became friends with Magic Sam, who gave him a few pointers on guitar. Slim recalls, "We used to sit up under the tree Sunday afternoons and play our little acoustic guitars. Magic Sam told me don’t try to play like him, don’t try to play like nobody. Get a sound of your own." And that he did - a trademark guitar tone, featuring the meanest vibrato in blues, coupled with the raw, earthy power in his vocals.
Years later the two would hook up again in Chicago, where Sam would have a major influence on Slim’s career. When Slim made his first trip to Chicago in 1955, Sam offered his friend encouragement, letting Slim play bass in his band and even giving the then lanky Magic Slim his nickname. But Slim found it rough going on the highly competitive blues scene and returned, discouraged, to Mississippi to perfect his craft. Demonstrating his characteristic determination, Slim spent the next five years practicing guitar and teaching his younger brothers, Nick and Douglas (Lee Baby) to play bass and drums respectively.
Confident in his abilities, Slim returned to Chicago and established himself as a formidable player on the scene. In 1967, Slim put his own band together called the Teardrops, which included his younger brothers. In 1972, he began playing regularly at a tiny South Side club called Florence’s, initially filling in for Hound Dog Taylor on occasion, and eventually taking over the gig when Hound Dog left the club for a safer and more lucrative career on the road. Slim’s aggressive, boisterous style was the perfect compliment to the often rowdy atmosphere at Florence’s.
In the mid-70’s Slim began to hit his stride as a guitarist, performer, bandleader, and recording artist, launching a career that has taken him across the country and overseas to national and international recognition and acclaim. He began touring Europe, where his rough and tumble authenticity was well appreciated. Today he’s one of the most sought-after headliners for festivals in the U.K., Poland, Scandinavia, France, Holland, Belgium, and Greece. By the late 80’s he was also touring Japan and South America. On his first trip to Brazil in 1989, he became an instant hero, appearing on television, in a dozen magazine articles and every major newspaper in the country. The press said he stole the show from the likes of Buddy Guy, Etta James, and Albert Collins. He’s returned several times to Brazil, easily selling out all venues. Slim’s live shows are so electrifying that Eddie Vetter invited Slim to open Pearl Jam’s concert in Chicago after catching the Teardrops’ performance at a local nightclub.
Slim’s recording career began with the 1966 recording of the song "Scufflin’," followed by a number of singles in the mid-70’s. He recorded his first album in 1977, Born Under A Bad Sign, for the French MCM label. During the 80’s, Slim released titles on Alligator, Rooster Blues and Wolf Records and won the first of his five W.C. Handy Awards. Critics often remark on the consistency of Slim’s performances, reflected in his band’s yearly nominations for W.C. Handy Award as "Blues Band of the Year."
Slim’s first album on Blind Pig Records, Gravel Road, was released in 1990. Its title track was one of the first tunes he learned to play on his baling wire guitar in Mississippi. The album was well received by the press, garnering a passel of glowing reviews and landing on several year-end Top 10 lists. Billboard magazine said, "The well-traveled Chicago blues singer/guitarist is near the top of his form on this delightful album, which comes close to capturing the late-night ambience of Slim’s live set."
In 1996, Slim’s career came full-circle with the release of Scufflin’ on Blind Pig, the title track being a remake of the song which began his recording career thirty years earlier. Living Blues said the album "should bring a smile to the face of even the most jaded listener." 1998’s Black Tornado was released to similar accolades in both the blues and mainstream press. An Associated Press review noted that "Magic Slim has never been better than on Black Tornado and that is a lot to say." Downbeat called Slim "a true all star; a guitarist of considerable authority whose lines snap like a crocodile’s mighty jaw and a singer with a persuasive capacity for wrenching every bit of emotion out of his lyrics."
Snakebite, Slim’s fourth album for Blind Pig Records, was released in 2000. Critical reaction was typified by this quote in Jazz & Blues Report: "Slim sings and plays at a level that makes this among the best albums in a career spanning over three decades" Perhaps Living Blues said it best: "A Magic Slim disc is the next best thing to a Saturday night in a backstreet juke along with a half-pint of whiskey, a pig-ear sandwich, and a sexy companion. It’s best if you can gather together as many of these accessories as possible - but the only indispensable one is the music, and this disc delivers it in force."
With the release of his newest CD, Raising The Bar, Magic Slim and his label Blind Pig (often represented by Dixiefrog in Europe) are celebrating their twenty year collaboration. The album proposes an outstanding collection of older and newer songs culled from Slim’s vast repertoire. From R&B gems like "Breaking Up Somebody’s Home" and Little Milton’s "4:59 A.M." to Roosevelt Sykes’ "Sunny Road Blues" and J.B. Lenoir’s "Mama Talk To Your Daughter" to his own perennial crowd favorites, "Shame", "Do You Mean It" and "Treat Me The Way You Do", Slim once again proves that when it comes to complete mastery of the blues in all its aspects and truly genre defining power of performance, he has few if any equals on the scene today. The title’smeaning is double-edged; over the last two decades, Slim and the Teardrops have been constantly raising the bar for other blues bands with their consistently incendiary performances, and whether it’s a college town tavern, out of the way roadhouse or international blues festival, patrons go home feeling like the joint was razed - Slim and the boys give their all every night.
FRED CHAPPELIER - BILLY PRICE - LIVE ON STAGE ( CD +DVD )
Billy Price was the featured vocalist with the Roy Buchanan band for many years, winning over audiences everywhere with his soul-drenched blues tenor. A studio album recently chronicled his encounter with Fred Chapellier, one of the top French guitarists today. Their music has now been captured live on this high-octane energy set. For the same price, you also get to see them in action on the free DVD!
Blue-eyed soul man Billy Price has been a high-profile singer on the Pittsburgh PA scene for the past three decades. Billy was the lead singer with the Roy Buchanan band for three years, appearing on the late Buchanan’s legendary Livestock set (recorded in New York City in 1975) and That’s What I’m Here For album. Price then went on to record several blues/soul sets under his own name, pocketing a handful of awards on the way.
Fred Chapellier is hardly an unknown in blues circles. One of the best guitar players on the French scene today, he was awarded the “Electric Guitar Player” Prize at the French Blues Trophies in 2004, and he has shared the stage with major stars at various festivals in the past. Many considered his recently published Tribute to Roy Buchanan CD the best French blues recording of 2007. In addition to a long list of celebrated guests (Tom Principato, Neal Black, Gib Wharton…), Fred insisted on the presence of Billy Price for this project.
This encounter led Fred and Billy to program concerts together in Europe and the US, especially after Billy toured France with Fred’s band following the release of Tribute to Roy Buchanan.
After the tour Billy and Fred decided to record an album together. After several months of writing for this new project, Fred Chapellier joined Billy Price and his band in June of 2008 at the Mojo Boneyard studio in Pittsburgh. Fred was back in Pennsylvania for the mixing sessions three months later, just before making the rounds of East Coast clubs with Billy. In the meantime, soul legend Otis Clay and Mark Wenner of the Nighthawks had made their own imprint on the record.
The resulting was Night Work. Now, here is “Live on stage” the live version of this fruitful collaboration and true friendship including the Night Work songs plus a lot of other little gems…!