Thursday, December 21, 2006

Billy Jones - Prime Suspect For The Blues

Here is the latest from North Little Rock; Arkansas’s Billy Jones titled Prime Suspect For The Blues. I found Billy’s music to be very entertaining. His use of soul, R&B and Blues to create a wonderful mix is truly outstanding.

This cd sizzles from the opening track I’m Gonna Marry My Mother In Law all the way through Breakdown which closes the cd. You will be treated to great vocals, smokin’ Hammond B3 organ and great guitar playing along the way. Billy has assembled a great group of musicians to back him and the results show a very tight arrangement.

He opens with I’m Gonna Marry My Mother In Law, a very cleverly written song of a mother in law who treats her son in law better than his roaming wife. This song has great guitar, awesome Hammond B3 solos and a very smooth sound. Next is Slip Away, a more R&B sounding song with tons of soul. He follows with Come Back Tonight. This has an R&B sound with a soul feel, the combination is dynamite. I found myself listening to this track many times. Next up is Doin’ Alright Again and is one of my personal favorites. This is a true blues sound as is the first track. Billy has a great sound and feel for blues music. This little shuffle is awesome. Let’s Straighten It Out is next, and is a very soulful blues number. He has achieved a perfect melding of Blues and Soul here. Ain’t Good Lookin’ follows and is a funky song with the same tight sound arrangement we have come to expect by now. Next up is Her Daddy’s Alligator Farm. This is another straight up shuffle in true delta style. The One For Me is next and is another soul/R&B number with a great sound. Be Your Man follows and is another shuffle at a slightly faster tempo. Next is Don’t Answer The Door. Another straight up blues song in fine style. I think Billy really shines on these shuffle blues numbers as he has a sound that works very well in this context. The piano here is a great addition too. Anything You Say is next and is another shuffle. This song made me do a double take as I could have swore I was hearing Roomful Of Blues. A higher compliment cannot be made. The Rumor is next and is a great R&B number. Make Love Tonight is next and is a great shuffle with an old style sound that works well. Next up is Barnyard Love. I laughed at this title when I read it but the song wasn’t a joke. This is another awesome blues number. It features some neat lyrics that elicit a smile but this is as blues as blues gets. He leaves us with Breakdown, a neat funky rhythm with more great organ. I found this offering to be one of the best I have had the opportunity to listen to.

This cd is a great one for anyone who likes Blues, R&B and Soul music. It travels well in any setting from intimate to the dance club. My hats off to Black & Tan records for seeing what I see in Billy Jones, a very bright future for blues music. This isn’t your granddad’s blues for sure, but this is a great new sound with delta charm. I have never heard a cd that has the potential that this one has for drawing new fans to blues music and for crossover success.

Visit Billy Jones’s web site at:

Try Prime Suspect For The Blues at:

Homesick James Passes

It is truly sad the number of blues greats we have lost this year. We now must add Homesick James to that long list.

Homesick James died December 13, 2006. He was in his mid 90's and said to have been resting comfortably at home in Springfield, Missouri. I will reprint the biographical information from the Blueswax article as it is about the best available.

"Born in Somerville, Tennessee, he began playing guitar at around age ten and soon ran away from home, eventually becoming the last of the Delta players who made their way from Mississippi via Memphis to Chicago, and transformed the sound of post-war Blues. His slide guitar was the sound of Maxwell Street in its heyday. He gave various birthdates, but April 30, 1910, is generally accepted; some sources give his real name as James A. Williamson, others as James (or John) William Henderson. He was said to be a cousin of Sonny Boy Williamson, and claimed to be a cousin of Elmore James, to whom he was very close and who was certainly a major influence. He was also acquainted with Robert Johnson.

He played with virtually everybody, often as a sideman. He made his own first recordings for RCA Victor in 1937 and acquired his nickname from his classic "Homesick," recorded for Chance Records in 1952-53, said to be among his finest sessions. He recorded for many labels, including an album for Prestige in 1964, four tracks for an anthology on Vanguard in 1965, and as recently as 2004 on Fedora.

The funeral will take place on December 23 in Covington, Tennessee; and then an era will be well and truly over."

Rest in peace Homesick.

Tina Mayfield Passes

This appeared in Blueswax today and I felt deserving of mention.

Tina Mayfield died this week in California of cancer. She was the widow of Percy Mayfield (1920-84), and also looked after Lowell Fulson (1921-99) after Fulson's wife Sadie passed on. Blues wives don't get enough credit for everything they do, and Tina was one of the greats. She will be missed.

There are always great ladies behind the men, and Tina was an exceptionally great lady.