Sunday, 06 April 2014
ELDER MUSIC: Celebrate the Curves
This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
I would like to say at the outset that the name of this column was suggested by Norma, the Assistant Musicologist. Not just the name of the column, she chose the music as well. For a change, she’s also written some of it too. Not a great deal of it, mind you, I had to write most of it.
As she says in her opening statement:
“I started out thinking of this column as a bluesy follow up to our earlier selections of blues women where we heard some early blues singers, then newer interpretations of the old songs.
“But as I listened to some favourite blues and R&B artists, some of the songs that said, "Play me, play me!" tended more towards the ballads or soul-tinged efforts. “So be it. The bluesier set is still in the works.
“Once again, I've had the fun of selecting the tracks, leaving Peter to fill this out with facts and photos.”
Peter here again. We'll kick off today with LOU ANN BARTON, another of the many musicians out of Texas. Way back in the seventies, she worked with blues bands like Double Trouble and Roomful of Blues.
Today's track, Brand New Lover, is from her album “Old Enough” which apparently didn't sell all that well, but the A.M. liked it. So did I.
MARCIA BALL got together with IRMA THOMAS and TRACY NELSON to produce an album called “Sing It!”
Why settle for one great singer when you can have three of them? Not only that, we also have the best of Memphis and New Orleans session musicians backing them on the album.
The three women have said that they were fans of each others' music but their paths had rarely crossed before this album. That’s a bit of a pity; imagine the great music that could have been made.
However, we have this terrific album. The track is Love Maker.
The first of our “Australian content” tracks today is the effervescent LIL' FI.
Lil' Fi is a fine blues/roots musician from Queensland. Unusually, for a front person, Fi is a drummer. She doesn’t lug around the full modo; just a basic setup plus feather boas, is all she really needs.
Fi co-founded The Flannelettes, a large a capella group. She is also the co-founder of the East-Coast Queen Bees which brings together Australia's finest women blues musicians all in the one band.
This is Lil' Fi with Celebrate the Curves and I can now see where the A.M. got the name for the column.
What can I say about BONNIE RAITT that hasn’t been said before? She’s a fine singer and a great guitarist, especially when she plays slide guitar, something she learnt from Fred McDowell, the master of this musical form.
After more than 20 years of performing, Bonnie became an overnight success in 1989 with the release of the album “Nick of Time.” The fans knew her long before that.
I remember seeing her in Albuquerque way back playing to a packed house. The rest of the world finally caught up. Here she performs Home.
ELLEN MCILWAINE often gets a guernsey in the A.M.’s selected columns.
Like Bonnie, Ellen plays a mean slide guitar. Born in Nashville, she grew up in Japan where she was exposed to Japanese and other international music as well as a variety of American rhythm and blues and country music.
Back in the US, she spent a while in the 1960s playing in Greenwich Village with the young Jimi Hendrix and opening for a number of the older bluesmen. These days she lives in Canada and is still performing and recording.
Here she is with Steal Him Away.
Ah, now we have someone who really does live up to the promise of the title of this column, KATE CEBERANO. However, she’s actually been included because she’s a terrific singer.
We've played Kate here before, and on this track she is joined by another Oz singer, DEBRA BYRNE. Debra started out on a junior talent show on TV, then was a teenage pop star, but has moved on to a broader career on stage and TV, both singing and acting.
They sing You've Always Got the Blues.
MARCIA BALL again, this time on her own or, to be more precise, without Tracy and Irma.
Marcia was born in Texas but grew up in Louisiana and it’s the music from both those areas that influence her playing and singing.
She started playing the piano when she was only five years old and was, not unnaturally, hugely influenced by Fats Domino, Professor Longhair and other New Orleans pianists.
Irma Thomas was an inspiration on her vocal style and since recording the album mentioned above, they have collaborated on several projects. Here is Marcia with Why Women Cry.
JANIVA MAGNESS was unknown to me until recently, I’m ashamed to admit, because she’s a wonderful singer. It seems I’m not the only one who thinks that. The A.M. happened upon a CD several years ago.
Janiva’s from Detroit with influences from Motown, blues and country music. She has a right to sing the blues, having had a tough early life.
She has said she was saved by music when, upon seeing an Otis Rush blues show, she knew that’s what she wanted to do. Fortunately, she had the talent to carry this through.
This is Slipped, Tripped and Fell In Love.
It's been quite a few years since we first heard Susan Tedeschi with her rootsy singing and guitar. These days, with marriage and kids, she and hubby guitarist Derek Trucks have combined to record and tour together as the TEDESCHI-TRUCKS BAND instead of separately, and what a good idea that has been.
Derek learnt his guitar style in the Allman Brothers Band where his uncle was one of the original drummers. From their first joint CD, “Revelator,” we'll hear Midnight in Harlem.
TONI PRICE took her performing name when she entered a local talent quest as a kid. When the compere asked her name, she said Toni, after the advertisements for Toni home perms. The A.M. says she remembers the ads in women's magazines, but doesn't know of anybody who used the product.
Toni took her musical inspiration from Bonnie Raitt. Well, you could do a lot worse. Then she went back to the source and found Victoria Spivey, Sippie Wallace and others, and came in the other direction to check out Aretha Franklin, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and Patsy Cline.
Given all that, Toni's a bit hard to categorise, not that I like doing that sort of thing, so I find that refreshing. There's country in there, definitely some blues and some raunchy rock & roll. Something for almost everyone.
Toni's song today is Richest One.