William Shatner has a blues album out. That pretty much sums up the strange realities of 2020 right there. The 89-year-old Shatner puts his signature dramatic style to good use on cuts like “I Put a Spell on You.” His producers also rounded up an array of real blues talent to back him up, including high-octane guitarists like Kirk Fletcher, Sonny Landreth, Ronnie Earl, Steve Cropper, Arthur Adams, Albert Lee and more. You can check out the disc, The Blues, at williamshatner.bandcamp.com.
Now that I have your attention, lots of real blues artists are delivering recorded music this fall.
Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal has launched a campaign to get pre-paid subscribers for production of a limited vinyl release of their newest project, Natural Born Hustler, recorded last year and produced by Eddie Roberts of the New Mastersounds on his Color Red Music label. Hoyer said, “Although we cannot be on the road and see each other for the time being, I am confident this collection of songs will speak to your Soul. This album is about Perseverance, Change, Thankfulness and Love. Although written before the whole world changed, it seems as if some of these songs were guided by premonition. Please consider preordering. It will help us and ideally be good medicine for you and yours.”
Joyofviolentmovement.com wrote of the record, “music written for grown-ass folks written-by grown-ass folks rooted in earnest and honest songwriting.”
You can find project singles on Spotify. For details and updates, you can search color-red.com (where you’ll also find a dialogue between Hoyer and Roberts) or see facebook.com/joshhoyerandsoulcolossal.
Summer and fall of 2020 have offered notable CD releases you can check out while supporting artists who are also hunkered down at home, just like most of us. If you missed it, look for the debut release from The Proven Ones, You Ain’t Done, which hit #1 on the Billboard Blues Charts. The Proven Ones are a new blues supergroup featuring Kid Ramos, Brian Templeton, Anthony Geraci, Willi J. Campbell and Jimi Bott. Check out theprovenones.com.
Dave Alvin’s From an Old Guitar: Rare and Unreleased Recordings features 16 tracks and a cover photo taken at a Zoo Bar anniversary ZooFest by Omaha’s Chip Duden. Two blues heavyweights, Charlie Musselwhite and Elvin Bishop, teamed up to release an acclaimed new disc, 100 Years of Blues (Alligator) in August. There’s also new music from Kim Wilson, Take Me Back, Chris Smither, More from the Levee, and Walter Trout, Ordinary Madness. Acclaimed Pacific Northwest guitarist Lloyd Jones just dropped the disc Tennessee Run. Legendary songwriter Dan Penn has his first new disc of material out in years called Living on Mercy. Guitarist Alastair Green’s The New World Blues was produced by Tab Benoit for Benoit’s Whiskey Bayou Records.
Sonny Landreth, Robert Cray, Tinsley Ellis, Mike Zito, Ruthie Foster and popular younger artists Larkin Poe all put out new releases this year. If you are able, buy some vinyl or a CD, buy some merch, and help keep some income coming in for artists.
Anchondo & More on NET Digital Series
Héctor Anchondo was one of several local artists invited to record live, in-studio for an online extension of NET’s new “Jam” music series. You can also catch sets by Hope Dunbar, Jocelyn and Lloyd McCarter & The Honky Tonk Revival.
View the digital series at netnebraska.org/jam.
We are still in the middle of a pandemic. If we’ve stayed healthy, we are tired and worn down. Please take directed health measures seriously. Please wear a mask, wash your hands, and keep your physical distance from others, especially if you are attending any type of public event or in a place with people who aren’t part of your household. I’ve been cautious, staying home and I’d like to get back to experiencing live music again soon.
The Blues Society of Omaha continues to work out their November live shows. Currently on the schedule are rockabilly with The Eskimo Brothers Thursday, Nov. 5, and Oye Coma Va, A Santana Tribute Band, Thursday, Nov. 19. Both shows are 6-9 p.m. at Stocks ‘n’ Bonds. Find updates at www.facebook.com/BluesSocietyOfOmaha/and other area show listings at omahablues.com.
Lincoln’s historic blues bar, The Zoo Bar, is open for afternoon and evening bar service following local directed health measures. The Zoo hosts occasional pop-up shows with social distancing. See zoobar.com and facebook.com/zoobarblues.
Toy Drive for Pine Ridge
Lash LaRue’s annual Toy Drive and emergency propane fund fundraisers for the Pine Ridge reservation reported on Facebook on Oct. 17 that “with being in the middle of a pandemic that by most accounts will be getting worse, we will be rethinking how we go about things this year. This has been difficult for a non-profit that has been built on using live music to help others, but we’re going to do the best we can. Everything will be all about toy drop off locations, website donations for the propane fund, and our usual radio show on 89.7 The River/Rick Galusha’s PS Blues.” Find toy drop off sites and updates at facebook.com/toydriveforpineridge, the 501(c)(3) charity’s website, toydriveforpineridge.org, is available for those wishing to donate support.
Apparently unrelated to the pandemic are two notable closings. The Barley Street Tavern has been sold to new owners and closed October 15, with owner Greg Jones planning to retire.
One of the finest recording studios in the Midwest, Ware House Productions, has also closed its doors with the retirement of owner Tom Ware. The future of the space near Farnam and S. 44th has not been disclosed, but it has been a preeminent recording studio for both local and national artists including work with Snoop Dog and a Grammy nomination for the session with Lady Gaga for “You & I.” Originally built by Don Sears and legendary studio designer Bill Putnam, the main studio boasts 40,000 cubic feet of space designed for high quality recording. For more on the studio at warehouseproductions.net.