Tag: Buddy Guy

New Video: Chicago’s Joanna Connor Releases a Roaring, Boogie Blues

Joanna Connor is a Brooklyn-born, Worcester, MA-raised, Chicago, IL-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has publicly cited her mom (who I’ve actually met) and her mom’s record collection as being a major influence on her life and music. “She listed to blues, folk and rock as much as she could,” Connor recalls on her website. “So I heard Buddy Guy and Taj Mahal when I was kid, and got into the more obscure artists as I went on. And I saw all the Chicago bands, who came through town.” By the time, she was in her mid-teens, Connor was playing the Worcester and Boston club scene with her own band before relocating to Chicago in 1984.

Upon her arrival to Chicago, Connor was mentored by a number of blues legends, sitting in with James Cotton, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. After a stint in Dion Payton’s band, Connor went solo with her own band, releasing her full-length debut, 1989’s Believe It, which began a string of critically applauded albums released through Blind Pig Records. Connor’s 2002 effort The Joanna Connor Band found Connor displaying the full extent of her influences as it featured “Different Kind of War” and a funky cover of “Slippin’ Into Darkness.” But just as the buzz and accolades were growing, Connor began a touring hiatus. “There were several factors: 9/11 had just gone down, the economy was changing and clubs were closing. But most of all, my daughter was pretty young at the time. She wound up deciding that she wanted to become a big-time basketball player, so that required dedication on both of our parts,” the Chicago-based singer/songwriter and guitarist explains on her website. That dream has come true: Connor’s daughter was awarded a basketball scholarship at Indiana State University, and Connor has pursued her career with a renewed fervor.

Although Connor wasn’t touring, she discovered that audiences were coming out to see her play renowned Chicago blues club Kingston Mines, where she began playing a weekly three night residency most weekends, between gigs at larger clubs and festivals. “It’s become kind of an institution: You go to Chicago, you go to Wrigley Field and then you go see Joanna Connor,” the Chicago-based singer/songwriter and guitarist says. “The schedule is kind of brutal, but it’s great—Usually a packed house, with lots of adrenaling pumping. When it gets to be around midnight, the audience starts getting younger. And I love that—My son is 29, and he gets people looking at him and saying, ‘That’s your mom’?” (And the schedule is brutal indeed: we’re talking about 3 two hour sets between 7:00pm and 5:00pm Fridays and Saturdays — and until 4:00am on Sundays.)

The crowds increased after a video featuring a live version of “Walkin’ Blues” was posted by a Massachusetts-based fan on YouTube. “It was just a phenomenal thing that happened. I was getting calls from America’s Got Talent and movie people reaching out; I even had a Russian billionaire fly me to Spain to play a birthday party. I think people loved the combination: Here’s a woman who looks like somebody’s mom, and she’s playing like this. What I remember most was that it was 90 degrees that day, so I was wearing the coolest dress I had.”

Connor’s 14th album, the Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith co-produced 4801 South Indiana Avenue is slated for a February 26, 2021 release through Joe Bonamassa’s new blues label Keeping The Blues Alive. Recorded at Nashville’s Ocean Way Recording Studios, 4801 South Indiana Avenue derives its name from the actual address of hallowed, Chicago blues club Theresa’s Lounge — and the album reportedly finds Connor, Bonamassa, Smith and an impressive array of musicians digging deeply to conjure an authentic, ass kicking non-derivative set of good ol’ Chicago blues. “We want the listener to open that door, walk in, and feel to their core some of the magic that a place like that brought night after night. It was an honor to bring this to you, the listener,” Connor says in press notes. “This album is a homage to the blues school that I attended in Chicago,” Connor adds. “We attempted to capture the spirit of tradition and inject it with raw energy and passion.

“I Feel So Good,” 4801 South Indiana Avenue’s latest single is a boozy, breakneck boogie woogie centered around Connor’s blistering solos and dexterous guitar work and her powerhouse vocal while Lemar Carter (drums) holds his own with a rapid-fire hi-hat driven pattern reminiscent of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher.” For me the track not only captures a self-assured lady, who kicks ass and takes names and wants to have herself a good time, it captures a moment I miss dearly when you open the door to the club and see that it’s rocking. The booze is flowing copiously. People are sweating and dancing. The band is roaring. And everyone desperately wants it to never end.

“This is one heavy boogie tune,” Connor says. “The opening note I held was a fun challenge! This tune absolutely burns. Joe used some interesting microphone technique on the vocal and overdrove it purposely. The drummer (Lemar Carter) and I were flying by the seat of our pants so to speak and miraculously ended the fade out together. I particularly love the way the musicians come roaring back- all Joe’s idea!”

Shot in Kingston Mines, the recently released video features Connor in a white faux fur coat, green dress and silver “these-were-made-for-walking-all-over-you” boots rocking out all night. And it accurately captures her live stage presence. Simply put, Connor is can flat out play those blues.

New Video: Boston’s GA-20 Releases a Stomping Blues Number

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past 12-18 months or so, you would have come across a handful of posts about the Boston-based bandleader, songwriter, composer and guitarist Matthew Stubbs. Stubbs has played in the backing bands of a number of legendary blues artists, including Charlie Musselwhite, John Hammond, James Cotton, Junior Watson and James Harman.

As a solo artist, Stubbs has released two instrumental albums — 2008’s Soulbender released through Vizztone Records and 2010’s Medford and Main released through Chicago, IL-based Blue Bella Records that drew from the  Memphis, TN soul/blues sound. Over the past couple of years, he has received attention for leading his own band, Matthew Stubbs and The Antiguas, an instrumental rock act influenced by Duane Eddy, Link Wray, Booker T, B movie soundtracks and Afrobeat that features Just Lopes (organ), Chris Rivelli (drums) and Marc Hickox (bass). 

Stubbs latest project GA-20 finds the Boston-based JOVM mainstay collaborating with his longtime friend Pat Faherty. Bonding over their mutual love of traditional blues, 50s and 60s R&B and the work of Lazy Lester, J.B. Lenoir, Earl Hooker, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush and Junior Wells the duo set out to write and record a modernized version of the blues — with the same passion and earnestness on stage and in the studio of the genre’s heyday. Their latest album Lonely Soul is slated for an October 18, 2019 release through Karma Chief Records, a subsidiary of Colemine Records. Album title track and latest single “Lonely Soul” is a stomping blues that’s one part Black Keys, one part Chubby Checker, one part old school blues — and while paying homage to the sound that has influenced all of the music we love, the song is centered by earnest intentions of bringing that sound to a younger audience, who may not be all too familiar. 

The recently released video by Luke Boggia employs a familiar concept — the members of the band performing the song in a studio. But interestingly enough, it gives the listener a sense of the band’s live sound. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Matthew Stubbs Teams Up with Pat Faherty, Charlie Musselwhite, and Luther Dickinson on a Boogie Blues Number

Last year, I wrote a bit about the Boston-based bandleader, songwriter, composer and guitarist Matthew Stubbs. Stubbs has spent the past 11 years as a member of Charlie Musselwhite’s backing band, and he’s played in the backings bands for a number of other blues legends including of John Hammond, James cotton, Junior Watson and James Harman. Stubbs has also released two solo instrumental albums 2008’s Soulbender released through Vizztone Records and 2010’s Medford and Main released through Chicago, IL-based Blue Bella Records that drew from the  Memphis, TN soul/blues sound. And as you may recall, Stubbs formed his own band The Antiguas, a Duane Eddy, Link Wray, and Booker T meets garage rock, B movie soundtracks and Afrobeat-inspired act that features Just Lopes (organ), Chris Rivelli (drums) and Marc Hickox (bass). 

The Boston-based composer, songwriter and guitarist’s latest musical project GA-20 is a collaboration with his longtime friend Pat Faherty. Formed last year, the project is centered around the duo’s mutual love of traditional blues, R&B, 50s and 60s and their love of the work of Lazy Lester, J.B. Lenoir, Earl Hooker, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush and Junior Wells. Feeling a void in contemporary music, the duo set out to write, record and perform a modernized version of the blues — with the same sort of passion and earnestness on stage and in the studio of the genre’s heyday.

GA-20’s full-length debut is slated for release later this summer through Karma Chief Records, and the album’s latest single is the shuffling, “Naggin’ On My Mind.” Indebted to Earl Hooker and John Lee Hooker, the track features the imitable and explosive harmonica playing of Charlie Musselwhite, and from North Mississippi All Stars’ Luther Dickinson — and is built around a looping 12 bar blues, a slide guitar solo and a stomping rhythm. Simply put, it’s blues the way I love it — a boozy boogie stomp.