Tag: North Mississippi All Stars

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Blue Stones Return with an Explosive and Anthemic Single

JOVM mainstays The Blue Stones — longtime friends Tarek Jafer (vocals, guitar) and Justin Tessier (drums, percussion, backing vocals) — can trace their origins to when the duo met while in college, and decided to start a band together. As the story, the duo then spent the next seven years honing and perfecting their sound and approach — with the result ending with their self-released debut EP. 

2017 saw the release of their highly-anticipated full-length debut Black Holes, an effort that featured “Rolling With The Punches,” which received placements on USA Network‘s Suits, Showtime‘s Shameless and ESPN‘s Monday Night Football, lead single and album title track “Black Holes (Solid Ground), which amassed 8 million streams, and “Be My Fire,” a track that brought The Black Keys, Jimi Hendrix, and North Mississippi All Stars to mind — although the song was actually an urgent and plaintive yearning for someone just out of reach. Interestingly, as confident and self-assured as Black Holes’ material was, the album in its own way, was also very much about the duo finding themselves both musically and personally — with the members of hte band deciding to pursue their lifelong dream of music but jumping into the unknown rather than a more ordinary life. 

“Shaking Off the Rust” is the first bit of original material since the release of  Black Holes and while continuing in the same incredibly confident and self-assured, arena rock friendly vein — but while expanding a bit upon the sound that has won them attention across the blogosphere. The song possesses a much more nuanced and textured take on their sound with the band employing a grunge rock song structure — quiet, loud, quiet, along with the addition of strummed acoustic guitar, which sets up the song’s explosive hook and 808 like beats. In fact, the song finds the band actively moving away from the “just another blues rock duo” off their previously released material. 

“There were times along the way where I felt I wasn’t good enough, “ the band’s Tarek Jafar explains, “or that I didn’t deserve any happiness or success. This song is about battling those thoughts in your head that make you doubt yourself, and coming through with the confidence to make something great.”

Directed by James Villeneuve, the recently released video rehearsing and then playing for a live crowd in virtual reality — including fitting with fans. Is it a view into our increasingly disconnected digital world?  

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. 

Live Footage: The Blue Stones Perform “Be My Fire” on SiriusXM’s The Verge Channel

I’ve written a bit about up-and-coming alt rock duo The Blue Stones and as you may recall, the band which is comprised of high school friends Tarek Jafer (vocals, guitar) and Justin Tessier (drums, percussion, backing vocals) can trace their origins to when the duo decided that they should start a musical project together, while attending college. Jafar and Tessier spent seven years honing and perfecting their sound, a period which they wrote and recorded an independently released EP. 

Building upon several years of hard work and dedication, the duo released their full-length debut Black Holes last October — and the album features two previously released, attention-grabbing singles, Rolling With The Punches,” a single that received placements on USA Network‘s Suits, Showtime‘s Shameless and ESPN‘s Monday Night Football and lead single and album title track “Black Holes (Solid Ground), which has amassed 8 million streams, furthered cement the duo’s growing profile for  playing blues rock that as the duo’s Justin Tessier says is “lean, raw, tight, without a wasted note.”

Throughout 2017 and 2018, the members of The Blue Stones played sets across the national festival circuit with stops at Carolina Rebellion, Northern Invasion, Winnetka Music Festival and Bonnaroo Festival. Black Holes’ third single, the sultry and anthemic “Be My Fire,” is centered around the sort of enormous power chords, thundering drumming and arena rock friendly hooks that bring The Black Keys, Jimi Hendrix, and North Mississippi All Stars to mind — although the song is actually an urgent and plaintive yearning for someone just out of reach. Recently, the members of the up-and-coming alt rock duo were invited to SiriusXM’s The Verge Channel, where they performed several singles from their full-length debut, including the aforementioned “Be My Fire,” and a cover of The Rolling Stones’ classic “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction).” Check out some live footage of The Blue Stones performing “Be My Fire.” 

New Video: Kings of Spade Release Semi-Autobiographical Visuals for “Strange Bird”

Comprised of founding members Kasi “KC” Nunes (vocals) Matt Kato (drums) and Jasio Savio (guitar) with Tim Corker (bass), Ken Lykes (keys) and DJ Packo, the Honolulu, HI-based sextet Kings Of Spade can trace their origins back to when Nunes,  a self-described “somber, closeted queer kid, who felt soul and blues music,” was bartending at Honolulu’s Anna Bananas and was pulled up on the stage to sing. “They started playing ‘Sweet Child O’Mine,” Nunes says in press notes.  “I started singing and was like ‘Hey, I sound pretty good.”

Interestingly, Jasio Savio frequently sat in with the bar’s house band. “He wasn’t old enough to drink,” Nunes recalls. “But he would start and rip these Johnny Cash tunes.” As the story goes, they were both impressed by each other. “You feel this energy when she sings,” Savio says. “My first thought was ‘Damn, she’s going to be famous.’” Nunes approached Savio and suggested they start a band. They recruited Matt Kato, a local punk rock drummer and played with a revolving door of bassists until they found Tim Corker. As a quartet that played power chord-based blues riff rock, they didn’t find their hometown to be very receptive to their sound — although Nunes took it upon herself to book club shows that featured the band alongside local DJs, artists and other bands. After amassing a decent local following, the band relocated to Southern California in 2006 to chase their dreams. But as Nunes and Kato quickly found out, the big city isn’t very welcoming; in fact, they were barely scraping by — and they were forced to sell their blood for cash. “Everyone at the clinic looked down-on-their-luck,” Nunes remembers. “I was hooked up to a plasma machine, reading the self-help books. This was the lowest point in my life.”

After three years of crushing let-downs and disappointment, Nunes, Savio and Kato quit their jobs and gave up their shared apartment in preparation for a lengthy tour that was just booked by their new manager; however, he disappeared once they figured out that there wasn’t an actual tour. They returned home to Hawaii, and ironically enough, upon their return, they finally began to have much better fortune. Several years later, the band played at SXSW, where former Headbanger’s Ball host and MTV VJ Riki Rachtman caught them — and after catching them, he booked them to play a show commemorating the 30th anniversary of his old metal club, The Cathouse, best known for giving rise to Guns N’ Roses. Around the same time, they met Sue Damon, the ex-wife of The Beach Boys‘ Mike Love. “She was a huge supporter of ours, bought us a new drum set. She was a total free spirit, who could party all of us under under the table. She ended up passing away. But all of us have her initials tattooed on us.”

The band’s self-titled Dave Cobb-produced full-length was recorded in Nashville over the course of two weeks.  “He produced a band I like, Rival Sons, which had this old-school sound with modern energy—like, analog-tape soul built into it,” Jesse says, admiringly. t Album single “Bottom’s Up,” was a swaggering and stomping bluesy ripper and party anthem inspired by their late friend and patron Sue Damon, and their own experiences partying ridiculously hard that sounds as though it were influenced by Highway to Hell-era AC/DC, Electric Blue Watermelon-era North Mississippi All Stars and The Black Keys — all while further cementing their reputation for boozy, power chord centered, riff-based rock. Released in time for National Coming Out Day, the album’s latest single “Strange Bird,” is a anthemic song centered around Led Zeppelin-like power chords and Nunes’ own experiences coming out, that proudly says “go out there and march to the beat of your own drum because life is short!” May this song be a call for arms for anyone, who’s struggling to find themselves in an unforgiving world. As Nunes says in press notes about the song, “‘Strange Bird’ is my big queer anthem – a song about being true to who your are no matter what it costs. It’s about self-love and growing into a person who is proud to be different. I always tell my coming out story before we play this song at a live show. It starts off so tragic I end up going back in the closet until way later in life. The beauty is coming around so far that I can tell the story on stage in front of a crowd of people cheering me on for it. After every show there is always people who share their own strange bird stories with me. That connection is everything. It’s why I play music and love being in a band.”

Directed by Vincent Ricafort, the recently released video draws from Nunes’ own experience as a young person,  feeling forced to hide who she really was, before finding the courage to defiantly and proudly be the person she needs to be, finding herself and making connections through music.  Additionally, the video suggests that music has always been a way for the strange and uncompromisingly individual to find comfort, as well. 

New Audio: Honolulu’s Kings of Spade Release an Anthemic Party Ripper

Comprised of founding members Kasi “KC” Nunes (vocals) Matt Kato (drums) and Jasio Savio (guitar) with Tim Corker (bass), Ken Lykes (keys) and DJ Packo, the Honolulu, HI-based sextet Kings of Spade can trace their origins back to when Nunes,  a self-described “somber, closeted queer kid, who felt soul and blues music,” was bartending at Honolulu’s Anna Bananas and was pulled up on the stage to sing. “They started playing ‘Sweet Child O’Mine,” Nunes says in press notes.  “I started singing and was like ‘Hey, I sound pretty good.”

Interestingly, Jasio Savio frequently sat in with the bar’s house band. “He wasn’t old enough to drink,” Nunes recalls. “But he would start and rip these Johnny Cash tunes.” As the story goes, they were both impressed by each other. “You feel this energy when she sings,” Savio says. “My first thought was ‘Damn, she’s going to be famous.'” As the story goes Nunes approached Savio and suggested they start a band. They recruited Matt Kato, a local punk rock drummer and played with a revolving door of bassists until they found Tim Corker. As a quartet that played power chord-based blues riff rock, they didn’t find their hometown to be very receptive to their sound — although Nunes took it upon herself to book club shows that featured the band alongside local DJs, artists and other bands. After amassing a decent local following, the band relocated to Southern California in 2006 to chase their dreams. But as Nunes and Kato quickly found out, the big city isn’t very welcoming; in fact, they were barely scarping by — and they were forced to sell their blood for cash. “Everyone at the clinic looked down-on-their-luck,” Nunes remembers. “I was hooked up to a plasma machine, reading the self-help books. This was the lowest point in my life.”

After three years of crushing let-downs and disappointment, Nunes, Savio and Kato quit their jobs and gave up their shared apartment in preparation for a lengthy tour that was just booked by their new manager; however, he disappeared once they figured out that there wasn’t an actual tour. They returned home to Hawaii, and ironically enough, upon their return, they finally fell into some good fortune. Several years later, the band played at SXSW, where former Headbanger’s Ball host and MTV VJ Riki Rachtman caught them — and after catching them, he booked them to play a show commemorating the 30th anniversary of his old metal club, The Cathouse, best known for giving rise to Guns N’ Roses. Around the same time, they met Sue Damon, the ex-wife of The Beach Boys’ Mike Love. “She was a huge supporter of ours, bought us a new drum set. She was a total free spirit, who could party all of us under under the table. She ended up passing away. But all of us have her initials tattooed on us.”

Interestingly, the band’s self-titled Dave Cobb-produced full-length was recorded in Nashville over the course of two weeks.  “He produced a band I like, Rival Sons, which had this old-school sound with modern energy—like, analog-tape soul built into it,” Jesse says, admiringly. Interestingly, the album’s latest single, the swaggering and stomping, bluesy  ripper “Bottom’s Up” is raucous, party anthem that’s inspired by their late friend and patron Sue Damon, and their own experiences partying ridiculously hard that sounds as though it were influenced by Highway to Hell-era AC/DC, Electric Blue Watermelon-era North Mississippi All Stars and The Black Keys — all while further cementing their reputation for boozy, power chord centered, riff-based rock. 

Comprised of Henry Hill Kammerer (guitar, vocals) and John Johnson (drums, percussion), the Portland, OR-based folk and blues duo Hillstomp have received attention regionally and nationally for a gritty and sincere,  rock ‘n’ roll-take on Americana/roots music that draws from hill country blues stomp, North Mississippi trance blues, Appalachian folk and blues, rockabilly and punkabiliy played on a drum kit made from assorted buckets, cans, BBQ lids and other ephemera and slide guitar. And over their 17 years together, the duo have toured with Reverend Horton Heat, JOVM mainstays The Devil Makes Three, and Southern Culture on the Skids among others.

Slated for an October 19, 2018 release through their longtime label home Fluff and Gravy Records, Kammerer and Johnson’s sixth full-length Hillstomp album Monster Receiver was recorded by Juniana Lanning and John Shepski with mixing engineer john Askew — and the album finds the band pushing their sound and songwriting into even more experimental territory with the album’s material seamlessly flowing from grungy folk, garage rock and intimate and tender ballads while featuring guest spots from Anna Tivel (violin), Hook & Anchor‘s Eric Clampitt (pedal steel) and I Can Lick Any Son of a Bitch in the House’s David Lipkind (harmonica). Interestingly, the album’s first single “Hagler,” is a grimy, psych blues stomp centered around shuffling drumming, chugging guitar and an explosive guitar solo that recalls the North Mississippi All Stars and fellow labelmate Drunken Prayer as its full of piss, vinegar and whiskey.