Archive for August, 2011


seeking the new blues world/monkey junk, kenny blues boss wayne, manzarek/rogers band



The blues must grow. That is a stone cold fact.

The fans and people who spend hard earned dollars still respect the genre, but every fan knows you can’t improve on Howling Wolf, BB King or Muddy Waters.  What that leaves for fans are artists who’s foundation lies in the blues but expand the format.

Make way for the “new” blues world

It comes from a variety of sources.

Newer blues rock comes from artists such as Popa Chubby, Kenny Wayne Shepperd, The Jimmy Bowskill Band or The Shaftmen.

Soul/blues artists include Tommy Castro, jam roots blues comes via Ben Harper, Ronnie Earl rules instrumental blues, blues/jazz from Canadian Jack De Keyzer and of course Joe Bonamassa’s heavy Cream inspired riffs seem to all fit under a new blues banner that continues to keep  fans interested in the genre 

Add to the list Monkey Junk, Manzarek-Rogers Band, and Kenny Blues Boss Wayne. Each of these artsts essentially put their spin on the blues genre.

MonkeyJunk-To Behold- Honestly, MonkeyJunk is the most interesting band to come out of blues based music in the last  3 years.

 It’s pretty simple. Great chops, variety in the songwriting and a natural feel for what grooves. From the low down Chicago style of Your Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave) over to the R & B of With These Hands, the swamp rock  influence of You Don’t Know or even the moody minor chord While You Are Mine  simply can’t miss.

Ray Manzarek-Roy Rogers Band-Translucent Blues-Great muscianship never goes out of style. Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers have been firmly in this category for their entire professional life.  Still, I did not know what to expect from this album.

What you get is “smart” blues rock bravado with flashes of jazz inspiration near the end of the cd.

 Game of Skill borrowing from Manzarek’s Doors legacy and whiplashed by Rogers full blown slide work is one of the best blues rock songs of recent memory. Hell, if that was not enough River of Madness and Fives and Ones will actually have you singing the chorus. How can this be possible?

Trust me it is. I have not taken this cd out of my vehicle since I received it. What is also intersting is that drummer Kevin Hayes and bassist Steve Evans support Rogers and Manzerek’s broad textures while creating a pocket of groove.

Other highlights are George Brook’s sax work on Kick (not the Inxs song)  the funky Blues in My Shoes, and pristine depth jazz influenced instrumental As You Leave, which again features Brook’s sax work.

Translucent Blues is easily one of the best recordings this year in any genre.

Kenny Blues Boss Wayne-An Old Rock On A Roll-To say Wayne is simply a boogie piano player would not do this debut album justice. Sure, the piano is up front.  As it should be.  

Under the superb guidance and smarts of producer Duke Robillard Wayne transforms into a kind of all round new age Fats Domino.

That’s because Wayne’s songs like Devil Woman, the Johnnie Johnson influenced Run Little Joe, the funky blues of Howlin and the jump of Fantasy Meets Reality roll off your tongue and get your foot tapping. This album just feels good.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter/vocalist with The Shaftmen and hosts his own roots and blues show here


THE MIDWAY STATE-atmospheric bliss/CANDELORA-passion rules/reviews by john emms

THE MIDWAY STATE PARIS OR INDIA                                                                                                                                        

I know, there are not a lot of musical surprises anymore. It’s boring. Okay maybe Death Cab for Cutie. Pay attention to this cd. 

The reason is simple. It’s organic, original and you want to play it again. But not because it’s catchy. It is, but hell this band speaks to you from their inside.

Along with the above mentioned Candelora (an indie release)  The Midway State (major label release) should tell you that Canada is again at the forefront of new music (Arcade Fire, City and Colour) 

Superb tracks include the atmospheric Lightning, the glorious Atlantic and one of the best tracks I have heard anywhere this year All Anew. Did I mention the killer title track. 

You can’t pinpoint a distinct influence. The band is all over the map on the cd, but somehow the album makes sense as a piece of music from start to finish.

Pick this up for all the right reasons

Candelora (TOP PHOTO) may not be smiling but they should be. This self titled cd has incredible passion mixed with equal amounts of a band searching for a definitve sound.

Having said that, tracks like Colour of the Sun, the driving Red Northern Lights, Outland Seranade and Mountain Atmosphere simply can’t miss.

Soundwise the band mixes early Coldplay (The Blue Room) with a wee bit of Arcade Fire and even Nova Scotia’s former alt rockers Sandbox.

An exciting release!  This band needs to get out and tour anywhere, anytime. 

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, blues/ roots musician and an online radio host



The secret ingredient to the sound of Bad Company has always been when Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirke, and the late bassist Boz Burrell  grooved, played and wrote their way to an impressive million selling catalogue. At this show filmed in High Definition in April of 2010 at Wembley Arena Rodgers, Kirke and in particular Ralphs aided by the classy guitar work of Howard Leese and the down in the groove bass work of Lynn Sorenson roll out a show high on dynamics and fan appeal.

Paul Rodgers is simply on fire at this show. Rodgers has the soul of old bluesman. If you mix that with extensive chops and his powerhouse voice and also the fact that he loves what he does, watch out.

He remains today one of the classiest players on the planet bar none. Drummer Simon Kirke like legendary drummers such as Levon Helm know the secret that many stick men simply don’t grasp.

What you leave out is as important as to what you leave in. On songs like Gone Gone Gone, Honey Child and  Movin On he and Sorenson own the groove.

Mick Ralphs guitar work has been fueled by the fact that he is a songwriter. He can surprise you but his chops serve the song first. Can’t Get Enough, Ready For Love or on anything he plays, Ralphs is a team player. His guitar work was at the centre of  Bad Company’s huge mid 70′ run, and that is clearly evident at this show.

Howard Leese has had a monster guitar tone since he was a major force with Heart and that continues with his work with Rodgers solo band and is on prime display on this blu-ray. What many people don’t know is that Leese is also an expert arranger.  A lot of his guitar solos build in intensity, while his rhythm work is essential as the tone of a great Hammond b-3 player.  In fact like Tom Petty’s Mike Campbell Leese has become essential to what Rodgers is an artist.

This blu-ray is one of the best looking and sounding discs I own. The DTS 5.1 Master Audio is killer, and the songlist at this show has all the essential tracks plus some very hip album tracks

As a sidenote Rodgers should consider releasing a brand new cd. With the Queen and Bad Company shows since 2000 he has nothing left to prove. In fact, the Paul Rodgers Band on tour is still one of the best concert draws in North America and elsewhere.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, a blues rock songwriter with The Shaftmen and an online blues/roots radio host

August 2011