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On this page: Tony McPhee, Doug Macleod, Woody Mann, Eddie Martin, Michael Messer, John Miller, Lisa Mills, Zoot Money, Big Bill Morganfield, Geoff Muldaur...

AUGUST 2002   TONY TS McPHEE & JOANNA DEACON

"Tony McPhee is an incredible guitar player and all round wizz"
Guitar Magazine

For more information about Tony McPhee check out the  website at www.thegroundhogs.co.uk//ttext 

 June 2004, April 2006          DOUG MACLEOD

"Doug MacLeod, now there's a man who can really play the blues"- David "Honeyboy' Edwards, Delta Blues Legend.

"Compositions that substantially expand the blues repertoire and at times push it out of its traditional confines." - Acoustic Guitar

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Within the blues world, MacLeod is known for his quality recordings that feature superb songwriting, guitar wizardry, warm soulful vocals, wit, and unforgettable live performances.

Doug was born in New York City and was in his early teens when his family moved to St. Louis, where he first heard the blues. In the mid-60's he enlisted in the Navy, and while stationed at Norfolk, VA., began to play acoustic country blues in the coffeehouses in Virginia and Maryland. During this time he met the one-eyed Blues-man Ernest Banks who taught him not only the music of the blues, but also the philosophy of the blues. Doug’s quotes, " Never Play a Note You Don't Believe" and "Never write or sing about what you don't know about." came from those "countrified teachings". Following his service in the Navy, Doug attended school, played the blues guitar part in the show "Grease", explored jazz, and toured with Mary MacGregor supporting her number one hit "Torn Between Two Lovers." After a meeting with Shakey Jake Harris in 1977, Doug returned to his roots and began playing the blues in the Los Angeles area. 
Doug's reputation as a superb guitar player spread quickly as he played with such blues giants as Pee Wee Crayton, Lowell Fulson, Big Mama Thornton, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, and Big Joe Turner. Also in Los Angeles, he met the legendary George "Harmonica" Smith, who became not only one of his best friends, but also a mentor and major influence on his music and his life.

The high calibre of Doug's compositions (now numbering nearly 350) is evident on his ten albums and the works of other artists. His songs have been recorded by Albert King, Albert Collins, Son Seals, Joe Louis Walker, Papa John Creach, Dave Alvin, Eva Cassidy, Coco Montoya, Tabby Thomas, Chris Thomas King and Sun Records veteran Billy Lee Riley and James Armstrong. His material continues to be found on the TV screen in numerous shows and made-for-television films.


For more information about Doug Macleod check out the  website at www.doug-macleod.com 

      WOODY MANN

May 2003, Oct 2004, Nov 2006 

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A guitarist's guitarist.  You may well have one of his tutorial books!

“He blurs the line between jazz, blues, classical, and world music creating his own sound in the process. This is brilliant playing that demands to be heard!” Sing Out!

'Woody Mann had his first musical schooling in the living room of Rev. Gary Davis, the now legendary blues, gospel and ragtime guitarist. Their friendship lasted until Davis' death in 1972, but the man's influence on this young student would be indelible. The passion, energy and artistry of those early Davis songs became a lasting touchstone for a young musician beginning a musical journey of his own.

Woody soon went on to perform with modern day blues musicians John Fahey, British great Jo-Ann Kelly, as well as early masters of the genre like Bukka White and Son House. Complementing the early tutoring by Rev. Davis with formal training at New York's celebrated Juilliard School, he also began a period of intensive study with noted Chicago-born pianist Lennie Tristano. It was Tristano who led him into the world of jazz and its infinite possibilities. 

During this time Mann's early musical grounding began to blossom into an improvisational style all his own. Mann has pursued a career as diverse as his abundant skills - ranging from playing with Jazz great Attila Zoller, servings as an accompanist for songwriter Dori Previn, to being a teacher to recording artist Paul Simon. He has recorded extensively and performed everywhere from the orchestra pits of Broadway to festivals, clubs and concerts through his many tours of Europe and the United States. 

Mann's reach as a teacher, producer, and writer has been just as sweeping; he is the founder of International Guitar Seminars, been a faculty member at the New School, in New York City, conducted master workshops throughout the world, produced numerous recordings, and has written for most of the major music magazines. The remarkable ease with which he blends such a wide pallet of influences is evident on his two most recent internationally acclaimed solo recordings, "Heading Uptown" and "Stairwell Serenade". 

With his mastery of the guitar and songwriting talents, Woody brings his unique and exciting blend of blues, jazz, and world music to audiences throughout the world. 

Woody has not forgotten those long ago lesson in the Reverend's living room, or the earlier jazz traditions that were his wellspring. He has schooled countless guitarists through his popular books including, "Six Early Blues Guitarists", "The Anthology of Blues Guitar", "The Complete Robert Johnson", "The Blues Fakebook", and "Lisboa - The Acoustic Guitar of Woody Mann", a collection of his original compositions. He has since recorded a series of performance and instructional videos that focus on early master guitar stylists such as Lonnie Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy, Rev Gary Davis, Blind Blake, and Eddie Lang. 

For Woody, their music is more than an echo of an earlier time; it is the creative standard that he continues to advance - bringing the past right up to the present with his own improvisational music of today.'

For more information about Woody Mann check out the  website at www.woodymann.com  

      Eddie Martin

April 2002, December 2003, December 2004, Dec 2005, March 2007

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Multi-instrumentalist Eddie Martin is the most remarkable bluesman of his generation’ Blues in Britain

As an acoustic performer Eddie Martin RA is one of the most unusual and visual acts on the international circuit.

Following the one-man blues band tradition of Dr Ross, Joe Hill Louis and Duster Bennett, he works various percussion effects with his feet, including tap shoes, bass drum/suitcase and tambourine, whilst playing guitar and superb rack-held harmonica to complement his powerful yet soulful singing.

Martin's fluent guitar playing belies years of studying Delta, Piedmont and Texan
bottleneck and finger picking styles. Eddie has recorded and played with veteran Blues stars from both sides of the Atlantic including John Mayall, Junior Wells, Paul Jones and Dick Heckstall-Smith

Twice Nominated UK Blues Guitarist of the Year, with 5 CDs to his name, Eddie is one of the few UK acts to have an established reputation in the USA, where he tours every year.

For more information about Eddie Martin, check out his website at www.eddiemartin.com

May 2002        Michael Messer & Ed Genis

"With Ed playing rhythm guitar and Michael singing and playing slide, this is one of the finest guitar based blues & roots acts in the world."
Time Out

Read the BFBR and the 'Blues Matters!' interviews 

May 2004, March 2006    THE SECOND MIND ACOUSTIC TRIO

MICHAEL MESSER, ED GENIS & LOUIE GENIS

"What I hear here is the real thing. Bare-bones blues gut-bucket rural rock. RA" Johnny Cash - Nashville  

Michael Messer and Ed Genis first started playing music together in 1983. Since then they have worked on seven albums together and toured extensively throughout the United Kingdom, Europe & Canada. Heavily rooted in Mississippi delta & Chicago blues, this duo explores many different genres of roots and world musical styles.

By harnessing elements of American blues, from pre-war Mississippi Delta styles to post-war Chicago sounds, and blending them with contemporary influences and street sounds, with slide guitar as the common link, supported by Ed on rhythm guitar and Louie on decks, Michael Messer creates music which is highly individual, original and universally accessible.

Voted ‘Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year’ 2003 at the British blues awards, Michael has an outstanding reputation amongst musicians and generally people regarded to be ‘in the know’. As well as being an accolade to his world class acoustic blues playing, the British blues award was also an endorsement for his capacity to incorporate styles other than blues into his music. Ideas borrowed from Hawaiian steel guitar, reggae, rock, hip-hop and King Sunny Ade’s worldbeat sound all illuminate his playing. The latter style was particularly evident on the breakthrough album that won him his initial strong notices, Slidedance, released in 1990. The same description could equally apply to his 1993 collaboration with Terry Clarke and Lubbock, Texas guitarist, Jesse Taylor, entitled Rhythm Oil. The tour that accompanied its release saw Messer experiment further with musical elements including house and reggae, with a version of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s ‘Worried Life’ offering "an outstanding distillation of blues and contemporary music". Virgin Encyclopaedia of the Blues

 ‘Second Mind’ follows the widespread success of 2001’s ‘King Guitar’ album that established Michael as one of the most respected and innovative slide guitarists around. This highly anticipated album was recorded with a band stocked with world-class musicians, including the great Ruby Turner on backing vocals. On ‘Second Mind’, Michael delivered a set of recordings that stretch across the musical landscape. Deeply rooted in and inflected with the blues, the album incorporates a rich and diverse texture of different styles that appeal to an array of musical tastes.

Check out Michael's new CD 'Lucky Charms' on Cooking Vinyl, and his 'Play The Blues' 'King Guitar' and 'Second Mind' albums 

 

For more information about Michael Messer, check out his website at http://www.michaelmesser.co.uk

 

May 2004        JOHN  MILLER

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He has few peers for percussive right-hand work or beautifully voiced harmonies.  This is not the boy on the magazine cover but the guy the pros admire and cop licks from (I can attest to this).”  Guitarist Duck Baker

Read the BFBR interview!

“John Miller is one of the most exciting and innovative guitarists performing today.”  So began an article by Bob and Richard Carlin about me in the November-1979 issue of Pickin’ magazine.  At the time, I was 28 years old, and had just finished releasing my fifth solo album in five years.  I don’t think I would have believed you if you had told me then that it would be twenty-five years before I would do my next solo recording.  That’s the way it has turned out though.

I started out playing Country Blues and Old-Time music, self-taught and picking up everything I could from recordings. Before I completed college, I was approached by two record labels with offers to record solo albums. After stating confidently on my first album that I would never do anything but Blues, I was recording an album of Jazz Standards within two years.  My interests kept shifting, and I pursued them as they changed.  At the same time, I was beginning to feel hungry for the camaraderie and shared excitement of group music-making.  After moving to Seattle in 1983, I concentrated on ensemble work, playing with the Jazz quartet, Wide Awake, the trio, Catwalk, duos with Jazz vocalist Rebecca Kilgore, violinist Ruthie Dornfeld, and mandolinist John Reischman, and recording well received CDs in each of these configurations (except Wide Awake).  I continued to play solo music, but except for an occasional restaurant gig, pretty much stopped performing public solo shows.

In 2001, I was touring Japan with John Reischman, and met a Japanese fan, Kazi Goda, with whom I had corresponded via e-mail.  One of the first things Kazi asked me was why I had quit making solo recordings.  I didn’t have any very good reason, and he assured me that I had to start recording and performing solo again.  Something of the certainty with which he said this brought me up short, and I thought, “You know, he’s right!”  Upon returning from Japan, I began to think about and plan what that CD would be.  I decided on a CD of Jazz Standards, particular favourites of mine sung and played by me alone.  Now that I’ve made the CD, I’m excited about it, and I’m lining up solo shows so that I can sell it and keep making more CDs and playing more shows.  It all makes sense to me.

In terms of what I’m going for musically, I want to share a musical experience with an audience—songs and tunes from a variety of sources and styles, what I feel and hear in the music I love. I hope it comes across.  

July 2005        LISA MILLS

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When Lisa Mills opens her mouth to sing, the words that follow become irrelevant in the wake of her compelling bluesy delivery.” That’s how one writer for The Mississippi Press described Lisa’s incredible talent and passion for music.

To those who are first introduced to her music, she’s that exceptional blues singer who plays damn good guitar.  Her raspy voice with an unbelievable range that is shared by few and her talent with the guitar can be intimidating to good musicians. Lisa’s musical influences include such greats as Etta James, Billie Holiday, Brenda Lee, and Bonnie Raitt, and those influences can be heard in Lisa’s music.

She has also been compared to Janis Joplin, and that likeness has afforded her some wonderful opportunities. Listeners may hear the influence of some of her favourite artists and musicians in her music, but Lisa has, undeniably, a style that is as unique and haunting as she is. Although she performs great cover tunes that her audience adores, she has also written and performs some fantastic original tunes that are just as well received. Her ambition is to be able to write more original songs and eventually have her own blues band.

Since a very young age, Lisa has always known what she wanted to do with her life. Music is her passion. At 14, Lisa joined a band and began playing and singing in the local bars.

Since then, she has travelled the world playing with internationally known bands such as Janis Joplin’s first band, Big Brother and The Holding Company in both the United States and overseas. When asked how she felt about being compared to Joplin, Lisa explained that she “didn’t want to be an imitation of anyone” but she understood where she thought people found the similarity in their music. Lisa said that she identified with Joplin’s emotionalism. “That’s pure and honest and you can’t change that or take it away.” Lisa feels that Joplin had “a God-given talent for empathy and expressing herself,’ and Lisa sees herself as having those same traits.

Although Lisa admits that having the opportunity to sing in Europe and Germany in front of 40,000 people was a monumental experience, she is also honest in telling people that one of the benefits that she likes best about what she does is the opportunity that she has to meet people and connect with her audience. Sometimes that’s easier with a crowd of 40 than with one of 40,000. However, Lisa Mills is just as comfortable at one end of the spectrum as she is the other. She loves sharing her music with anyone who wants to listen.

More impressive than anything else about her, Lisa is real. She can touch your soul with her music. It evokes a mood of warmth, depth, and passion. She has a magic ability to intoxicate and captivate her audience and leave them only wanting more.

Lisa has recorded two live CDs, and she has made one studio recording. “Blues and Ballads” was her first live recording that includes many of Lisa’s favorite songs of other artists who have been very influential in her music career.  This entire album is pure Lisa—guitar and vocals.  She has no other accompaniment on the CD, and many of her fans say that’s the Lisa they like best! Her second CD was a studio recording that features another side of Lisa’s talent.  She performs some jazzy tunes on this great album.

Her latest CD, which was another live recording, features Lisa and the Trio.  Lisa fondly refers to the Trio as “Lisa Mills with Sister Phyllis and Daddy T.K.”  This CD, that Lisa calls “Live at Traders,” consists of the accompaniment of two other very talented musicians and friends of Lisa’s;  T.K. Lively, drummer and Phyllis Linton, keyboardist.  This CD also features some of Lisa’s original songs.   

Lisa currently resides on the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast. She has two children, of whom she is very proud, and one worn out Volvo, of which she is also very proud

For more information about Lisa Mills check out her website at www.lisamills.com 

June 2005, Nov 2007        ZOOT MONEY        

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Quite simply the biggest character on the British rhythm and blues scene since the early 1960s, Zoot Money was born George Bruno Money on 17 July 1942 in Bournemouth, Dorset, England. Part of a large and noisy family, both his parents were Italian immigrants, although his father's family (really called Money) were originally English.

At school Zoot played the French horn and sang in the choir, but it wasn't long before he heard the call from the pied pipers of rock and roll (aka Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles - what a combination!) and found himself transformed into a leading light on Bournemouth's vibrant music scene.

In 1961 Zoot formed the first incarnation of the Big Roll band; over the next two years the line-up settled into Andy Summers (guitar), Nick Newall (saxophone) and Colin Allen (drums), with Zoot on piano and Hammond organ. These dramatis personae continued for a few years with various interruptions. The first was when Zoot, spotted by "British Blues Godfather" Alexis Korner's then manager, was invited to play with Korner's seminal Blues Incorporated for a temporary spell. Zoot decided to stay in London, and the other Big Rollers soon joined him.

Before long The Big Roll Band, alongside those other luminaries of the Soho blues scene of the time, Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames and The Animals, had become permanent fixtures at the Flamingo Club in Wardour Street. Zoot's shows were famed far and wide for his combination of outrageous antics (including "shocking" trouser activity that predated PJ Proby by several years), tight musicianship and passionate vocal delivery. At that time, to be seen - let alone to play - at the Flamingo was just about as achingly hip as it got. Two new members, Paul Williams (bass/vocals) and Clive Burrows (saxophone), were added to the line-up, and things really began to take off.

Since the 1980s, during which he notably acted as musical director for "Tutti Frutti", the BBC TV drama which first catapulted Hollywood favourites Emma Thompson and Robbie Coltrane to fame, Zoot has continued to appear regularly worldwide, both as a featured artist with groups such as (among others) the Spencer Davis Band, Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames, Mick Taylor, Alan Price's Electric Blues Band, Humble Pie, The Blues Band, The Foundations and Geno Washington's Soul Train, and in his own right with a new-look Big Roll Band.

The present Big Roll line-up is Paul MacCallum, (bass), Steve Laffy (drums), Gary Foote (sax) and Ronnie Johnson (guitar), although this is subject to variation. The extended Roll Band "squad" also includes: Mike Stock and Phil Mulford on bass, Martin Wild and Jeff Allen on drums, Mornington Lockett and Pat Crumly on sax. Zoot accepts no substitute for Ronnie Johnson on guitar, though Bobby Tench has been known to help out from time to time. Right now The Big Roll Band is enjoying a monthly residency with surprise guests at the famous Bull's Head in Barnes, West London, where two years ago the surprise was on Zoot when friends and family conspired to startle him for his sixtieth birthday.

In a departure from his usual haunts, last year witnessed Zoot embarking on a new solo venture, touring his new one-man blues show around Britain on an occasional basis, and also joining forces with old pals Paul Williams, Ray Dorset and John Baldry for the "British Legends of Rhythm & Blues" UK-wide tour.

Constant gigging coupled with the recent CD re-issues of a number of his vintage recordings has brought renewed interest and fresh critical acclaim for Zoot, who is now enjoying success with a new generation of fans in addition to his loyal following.

2004 has seen further touring with ever-changing line-ups, kicking off with an appearance at the new Bluescene in January, regular outings with Alan Price and Papa George, a European tour with Albie Donnelly in February and a tour of Denmark, alongside Cliff Bennett and Tony Sheridan, as special guests of Danish 60s star Peter Belli, plus numerous all-star one-offs. More retro surprises are in the pipeline. And in between all that, the Big Roll Band keeps on rolling out the good times to music lovers of taste and distinction all over the UK.

 For more information about Zoot Money check out his website at www.zootmoney.org

May 2004        BIG BILL MORGANFIELD

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"A distinctive, window-rattling voice, a scintillating slide guitar RA

"I think I sound like my dad, but art is so hard to duplicate. To create is a better thing. So you create your own style, with the influence of others. I learned from my daddy, but I wanted to create myself." 

"Blues in the blood indeed."

Read the article!

Born in Chicago in 1956, Morganfield was raised by his grandmother in southern Florida and now resides in the Atlanta area. "Daddy always wished that one of his kids would follow him and play music," says Bill. "A few years after he died, I bought myself a guitar and started playing a bit. In my mind, I said I want to do a tribute to him. But it was years before I got a chance to do anything. I kind of locked myself away for about six years and taught myself."

He became stage-struck after performing with Lonnie Mack on Atlanta's Center Stage before a crowd of a thousand people. "I sang and played and the people went crazy. I was dancing around like a jumping bean. I realized I've got a love for this."

He first formed a band that played contemporary blues but that lasted only three months. He was unhappy with the sound of the music "so I dedicated myself to playing at a higher level." He retreated to his room to devote his energy to perfecting his guitar playing and sharpening his raw but undeniable talent. In the meantime, he used his bachelor's degrees in English from Tuskegee University and Communications from Auburn University to make a living as a teacher while he learned to play traditional blues. He spent countless hours methodically studying, ripping apart, and reconstructing songs. Immersing himself in this work, Bill learned the art of songwriting.

His father's legacy lives on in the tools of his art. Big Bill has both Muddy's touring amp and the guitars on which he composed some of his earliest works. More importantly, Bill carries Muddy's spirit and love for the blues, and says he feels a spiritual bond with his father when he's on stage.

"My dad had a reputation for being a very dignified person, a very proud man. He gave us kids all a certain inner strength to go out and do whatever we needed to do." Musically, his father's influence came somewhat later. "Whenever I got the chance to hear him, it struck me strongly." But Bill didn't start off with the idea of being a professional musician until years later. It wasn't until after his father's death in 1983 that Bill decided to explore his musical heritage. "It gave me such an empty feeling, like someone had pulled the bones out of my body, like something was missing. I never sat down and asked all the questions I had for him. Now I feel like I get a chance to talk to him through my music."

In 1999 Big Bill's debut recording, Rising Son, was cut in Chicago. Muddy’s long time guitarist, Bob Margolin, who also played on the record, produced the album. Three other former members of the Muddy Waters Blues Band also joined Bill in the studio: Willie "Big Eyes" Smith on drums, Paul Oscher on harmonica and Pinetop Perkins on piano. Bill said of the sessions, "It was so inspiring playing with these musicians. Working with them in the studio was a special experience. They really brought out the best in me; those sessions left me with memories I'll never forget."

Recent release Blues In The Blood fulfills the promise of greatness displayed in his debut recording. It not only features Bill's distinctive, window-rattling voice and scintillating slide guitar, but also showcases him as a songwriter, with all the songs having been penned by Morganfield except for one Muddy Waters cover.

"I think it's in the genes," says Bill. "I think I sound like my dad, but art is so hard to duplicate. To create is a better thing. So you create your own style, with the influence of others. I learned from my daddy, but I wanted to create myself." Blues in the blood indeed.

For more information about Big Bill Morganfield check out his website at www.bigbillmorganfield.net

May 2006        GEOFF MULDAUR

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Geoff Muldaur is one of the great voices and musical forces to emerge from the folk, blues and folk-rock scenes centred in Cambridge, MA and Woodstock, NY. During the 1960's and '70's, Geoff made a series of highly influential recordings as a founding member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and the Paul Butterfield's Better Days group, as well as collaborations with then-wife Maria Muldaur and other notables (Bonnie Raitt, Eric Von Schmidt, Jerry Garcia, etc.). 

He left the stage and recording world in the mid-1980's for a working sabbatical but continued, however, to hone his craft, albeit 'flying beneath radar'. He composed scores for film and television, garnering an Emmy in the process, and produced off-beat albums for the likes of Lenny Pickett and the Borneo Horns and the Richard Greene String Quartet. And his definitive recording of "Brazil" provided the seed for - and was featured in - Terry Gilliam's film of the same title.

With his magical voice and singular approach to American music intact, Geoff is once again touring the world. Recent performances have included The Lincoln Center in New York City, The Getty Art Center in Los Angeles, Royal Festival Hall in London, as well as folk and blues festivals in Newport RI, Edmonton Canada, Dublin Ireland, San Francisco CA, Bergen and Notodden Norway to name a few. Geoff may be heard regularly as a guest on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" and has been featured on a variety of National Public Radio shows, including Weekend Edition and All Things Considered.

Geoff's newest albums have met with high critical acclaim and feature Geoff's unusually crafted interpretations of classic, oftentimes obscure, American material as well as his own unique compositions. The recordings include performances by David Lindley, The McGarrigle Sisters, John Sebastian, Van Dyke Parks, Roswell Rudd, Amos Garrett, Lenny Pickett and Howard Johnson in supporting roles.

In addition to tours and recording, Geoff continues to apply his arranging skills to a variety of projects for albums and film. Although he is known as a musicians musician, it is clearly his voice that most identifies him. About his albums, the New York Times noted: Geoff Muldaur "...succeeds not because he copies the timbre and inflections of a down-home African American but because his voice - reedy, quavering, otherworldly - is so unusual that [the music] he sings becomes little more than a context, a jumping-off point." 

And about a recent performance in London, The London Times wrote, "Immaculate guitar picking was matched by vocals that were rich, and bore out the guitarist, Richard Thompson's praise for him: 'There are only three white blues singers, and Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them.'"

For more information about Geoff check out his website at www.geofmuldaur.com