Bluepower Blog

  • Paying For The Privilegeā€¦.Crooked-Eye Tommy!

    I haven't been doing reviews for a while. I had a bad attitude. Couldn't seem to find anything I liked. Perhaps I hadn't gotten the old blues out of my system and was still listening for the 40s and 50s? Fat chance. For the most part, that's all gone now. Down that dark, railroad track of time.

    So many bands today are releasing blues CDs. I guess because the format is relatively simple and there aren't that many changes. But believe me, the blues just isn't all that simple. If you have never really felt the blues deep down inside, how do you expect to convey those feelings to an audience? Do you wonder why you don't receive the respect you think you deserve?

    A couple of weeks ago, a marketing friend sent me a CD he thought I would like. At first listen, I didn't. Perhaps I thought I would hear something along the lines of Stevie Ray Vaughan. I should have known better. There was only one Stevie Ray. And to be honest, I should have been listening to the group on the CD and "NOT" superimposing what I would have liked to have heard. I should be listening for anything that meant something along the blues tradition.

    After listening twice, I decided to call Tommy Marsh (Crooked Eye Tommy). While I was speaking with Mr. Marsh he mentioned that his band was paying for the privilege to play the blues by working various day jobs. I liked his honesty and straightforwardness. He said the learning curve (since this was their their first CD) was mighty steep and there were all sorts of lessons to be learned. Selecting the right studio and engineer was primary. Picking tunes in different keys so the album didn't sound the same was also necessary. I decided to listen again.

    On this third listen I was amazed to find several cuts which I could get behind.

    The first cut on the CD titled, "Crooked Eye Tommy" tells the story of Tommy's young life and, if it's true, gives Tommy the right to sing the blues.

    The second cut I like is "Somebody's Got To Pay". There are a lot of crooks in the American corporate system that have gotten away with lots of good, hard-working folks cash, homes, autos and lives. So far, no one is paying.

    The third cut is number 9 on the CD. It's title, "Mad And Disgusted" covers most of America's attitude today.

    You should check out Crooked Eye Tommy and their new CD, Butterflies And Snakes

    I am changing my attitude. I'm going to listen more to the new artists as they have just as much to say as the old guys from way back when. All you have to do is listen without preconceptions. You'll be surprised.

    But I will always bear in mind....the blues ain't easy to play....honestly.

    John Rhys Eddins

  • Bobby Jameson, A Man Of Trial And Tribulation!

    Bobby Jameson 2.jpg

    I first met Bobby Jameson in Detroit in 1963. His second record had just been released and my roomate, Terry Knight, loved the record and was playing it constantly on his radio show at CKLW in Windsor, Ontario.

    One afternoon, Terry invited me to Boblo Island to meet Bobby who was performing his new disc in the park on Boblo. After his performance, I was introduced to Bobby and we had a few words together. I liked him.

    It was almost ten years later that I met him again in Hollywood. We were both at GRT Records on Sunset trying to collect monies that were long over due. In this office we started our relationship again and it continued until Bobby's untimely demise on the 12th of May, 2015. 

    Bobby survived his brother Bill's death promptly followed by the passing of his mom. I had never heard him so down. Bobby was now completely alone familywise and when we last spoke I admit I was afraid for him. Bobby was not known to be the most stable of humans at best and would often become so angry I couldn't talk him down. He had every right to be angry as he had never received a penny for any of the many songs he had written and only tiny advances for the several LPs he had recorded for several record companies. People released his albums without his permission and kept any and all profits for themselves. Bobby had every right to be upset.

    There was a side of Bobby only a few of us ever saw. That was the kind-hearted poet, the lover of anything artistic and a true talent.

    Bobby and I wrote several songs together but there is only one which will explain my deep feelings for a man almost everyone thought was crazy. The link is below.
  • BB Kingā€¦.America' s Ambassador Of Music! Gone, But Not Forgotten!

    B.B. KING is an American icon. He has won more awards than his home in Las Vegas will hold. He has been named "America's Ambassador Of Music" by the President of the United States. With all these achievements, the man remains the utmost in humility. In this most articulate interview, Mr. King speaks of the South in the 50's, Racemusic, and lists his major influences. Recorded after a tremendous performance at The Mirage Hotel, a remarkable man tells the truth about his life as an original bluesman. (Please click on our sponsor. It helps keep us alive during this critical period.) ESI Event Services (Go to B.B.'s own web site! Click on the link in blue.)B.B. King

    Listen to Part 1

    Listen to Part 2

  • In The Beginning....Skip James!

    After several months of deliberation, BluePower has come to the conclusion that it would be beneficial to develop a series which exposed the many fine artists who added so much to the rich heritage of the American folk tradition called The Blues.

    In order to accomplish our goals in this regard, we needed the product necessary to assemble these pieces of business. Coming to our aid in the form of early Blues product was Mr. Alec Palao and his great company, Ace Records of London, England whom we gratefully thank for their generosity and kindness.

    Our first show highlights one of the strangest and most unique Blues artists of all time....Nehemiah Curtis James who came to be known as Skip James.

    Born in 1902 in Bentonia, Mississippi, Mr. James struggled all his life to find a place in the world of the Blues. It took him til nearly the end of his life before he was discovered by three, up and coming, young musicians who talked him into taking a giant step to become known.

    Listen as BluePower tells a brief history of Mr. Skip James and plays some of his amazing music.

    Stay Tuned....
    John Rhys

    Here's the music:

    1)...."Hand Clappin' "....Red Prysock....Mercury Records
    2)...."Hard Time Killing Floor Blues....Skip James....Blues From The Delta....Ace Records
    3)...."Careless Love"....Skip James....Blues From The Delta....Ace Records
    4)...."Devil Got My Woman"....Skip James....Blues From The Delta....Ace Records
    5)...."Crow Jane"....Skip James....Blues From The Delta....Ace Records
    6)...."I'm So Glad"....Skip James....Blues From The Delta....Ace Records
    7)...."I'm So Glad"....Cream....Fresh Cream....Atlantic Records
    8)...."Hand Clappin' "....Red Prysock....Mercury Records

    Click here to go to Ace Records!
  • TRI Studios....A Step Into The Future!

    Several months ago my son David invited me to record some of my music at a studio complex up near Sebastopol. So on the 12th of  September I made my way to Sebastopol with no real idea as to what to expect.

    On the 13th, (Friday), I found myself sitting alongside my son as we headed toward  TRI Studios which is located in San Rafael. We stopped for breakfast which was delicious and finally found ourselves in the parking lot of TRI Studios.

    It looked like any other industrial building with hardly any mention that a studio might be located there. David showed me the door and I reluctantly stepped inside.

    The first thing I noticed was the road case against the wall with the lettering, Grateful Dead. As my eyes became accustomed to the light, I saw a large room with a keyboard set up on one side, a set of drums in the corner and a small baffle with a vocal mike and a Telefunken mic in the center. Last but not least was a bass set-up for my son.

    David and I were the first musicians to arrive and we immediately went to get a cup of coffee. The lounge needs to be described. First of all, there were numerous posters of The Grateful Dead hanging on the walls. Early group shots, a clock made from old 45 records and the best coffee I ever had in a recording studio. I felt as though I were stepping back in time.

    We went back into the studio to get set up. Rick Vargas, the engineer came in and introduced himself and showed me where to sit. I sat behind the short baffle and unpacked my guitar. My Tanglewood looked small in this immense room. I was becoming excited. Everywhere I looked was sound reinforcing equipment. In the back of the room, behind me, there was a complete mixing console. I was told it was used when Bob Weir filmed his TV show, Weir Here.

    Before the other musicians came, I asked Rick where there might be a set of headphones I could use. His answer was strange. "You won't need headphones", he answered and went back to the control room. I was baffled in more ways than one.

    I plugged my guitar into a direct box and asked David how I was supposed to hear myself. A voice came from nowhere and said, "Play!" I started playing and all of a sudden my guitar sounded as though it was in The Hollywood Bowl. It was big and yet all the nuances of my style could be heard. The sound was coming from the ceiling. The voice came back and said, "Sing!" I sang and the vocals were clear and pure with just the right amount of echo. I was astonished! What kind of set-up was this?

    David explained that the studio had been built to enhance the musician's sense of playing live music by eliminating the need for both headphones and baffles. This room is set to record live music with no leakage or none that is noticeable. The sound design is by Meyer Sound and the software is Space Map which is utilized by the Constellation System. From what I could tell, the ceiling contains six sections, any of which can be used to reinforce the sound of the musicians and can be moved so that the players can hear their instruments easily without headphones or baffling obstructing their view.

    After the musicians arrived and started playing, I began to understand what was happening. Rick came in with an iPad with the Space Command controls installed and as we played he moved our sounds from one section of the ceiling to the other until the balance was correct. The music sounded great and everyone could hear quite well. I wondered about leakage.

    I have been an engineer since 1960 and worked in studios all over the world but never had I witnessed anything like this. Virtually no leakage at all appeared on the recordings we made and the masters are as clean as I've ever heard. New technology ain't all bad.

    Let me speak of the musicians with whom I had the pleasure to play. Jeff Chimenti played the keyboards, Jason Crosby played viola, Jay Lane played drums and Dave Schools played bass. Never before have I played with a more consummate group of musicians. I had the time of my life.

    I found my son David has become a natural producer. Never, for one moment, did I feel stress of any kind and that, too, reminded me of the old days. My son's quiet guidance helped this old man through two days of intense work. I am proud of both David and myself.

    May I also mention the fact that the recorders and the cameras never stopped rolling the entire time I was recording or even in the room. You've got to wonder where all that material is being stored. Those are some huge files.

    My personal thanks to Rick Vargas (chief engineer) and to Justin Kreutzmann (video director) for their help in making this project a leap of love.

    And to my son, Dave Schools, for making his old man as happy as he's been for a long time.

    I will keep you all posted as to the outcome of this session. I am told I must go back to TRI for more work to which I am most assuredly....looking forward.

    John Rhys Eddins

    Click here to visit TRI Studio!

    Here is an explanation of the Constellation System!

    A few corrections....

    Space map is a feature within the Constellation System program. It allows you to insert a signal ie: vocal or guitar into the system at the same time giving u the option of choosing the location from which u hear it coming. There are 4 external inputs available in the system. The whole system itself is the Meyer Sound Constellation System. 20 DPA microphones pick sound up and 72 speakers (in real time) play reverb back to the musician. This is just the Constellation System alone. When recording, microphones are added and I can buss those signals into the available external inputs. The room is split in half so if there's an audience, they can hear the ambiance differently than the musicians. This is also good for creating slap back to mimic stadiums.

    Rick Vargas
    PopWorks Music