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We can't help to be moved by music, and we hope the samples of our recent releases get you grooving.
Discover the "perfection" (Goldmine magazine) of Duke Robillard's The Acoustic Blues and Roots of Duke Robillard, the "seriously good record" (ICONfetch.com) that is MonkeyJunk's Moon Turn Red and Colin Linden's "deep, broad spectrum" (Elmore magazine) on Rich In Love.
Or delve into the "deeply felt and beautifully executed" (Living Blues magazine) Father's Day from Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters.
"One of this country's finest songwriters" (Folk Roots, Folk Branches) Ian Tyson turned 82 this year, and also released Carnero Vaquero, on which "you’ll hear the honest voice, singing the honest songs of a real cowboy" (Cashbox Canada).
Having proudly worked with Jeff Healey for a number of years before his untimely death in 2008, it was an honour to release The Best of the Stony Plain Years: Vintage Jazz, Swing and Blues, which exhibited "Healey's staggering command of old-school jazz guitar" (Vintage Guitar magazine).
Then there's Guitar Heroes, a "once-in-a-lifetime gathering" (Sing Out! magazine) of James Burton, Albert Lee, Amos Garrett and David Wilcox from 2013's Vancouver Island Music Fest.
Share. Feel. Hear. Listen. There's always something new to discover.
40 Years of Stony Plain [3 CDs]
Kenny 'Blues Boss' Wayne
Eric Bibb & North Country Far with Danny Thompson
Eric Bibb & JJ Milteau
Guitar Heroes: James Burton, Albert Lee, Amos Garrett, David Wilcox
By Frank Matheis
This is perhaps the most relevant, far-reaching, consciousness-raising, emancipatory music made today, in any genre—a brilliant, compassionate and impassioned statement in these reactionary times.(more)
Eric Bibb is on a roll. He’s made some great records among his 37 releases, and Migration Blues may be his masterpiece. The peaking golden-voiced singer/songwriter Bibb plays guitar, six-string banjo and contrabass guitar, and he again teamed up with virtuosic multi-instrumentalist Michael Jerome Browne (guitars, banjo, mandolin, triangles), himself one of the brilliant acoustic bluesmen of our time. Minimalist harmonica player, JJ Milteau, whose style prefers tastefully understated, languid nuances, again partners. This album is as close to perfect as it gets, starting with CD sleeve’s superb design, complete liner notes and beautiful cover photo. The full lyrics are provided, and in this case that’s the core of what Migration Blues offers—sensitive, eloquent instrumentation and poignant, meaningful lyrics. Anyone who knows Eric Bibb’s recent work, especially with Browne and Milteau, knows that this ensemble is musically refined and elegant. Bibb on his own is remarkable; put maestro Browne next to him, and they morph into the living embodiment of "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Milteau adds light dabs of color accentuation here and there, just where needed. Musically things are quintessential. Every note counts.
Given that musical flawlessness, the album would be superb if it ended here. But, it’s just getting started. Bibb has reached the lyrical and songwriting pinnacle: relevant, timely and socio-critical, inspiring original blues songs, done intelligently and intellectually, yet sensitively and accessible. No haughty preaching or in-your-face sanctimonious politics. Bibb gives us modern acoustic blues with something important to say, with lyrics worth printing, something to get you thinking. He achieves with Brotherly Love a timely follow up to Elvis Costello’s (What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace Love and Understanding and on the same album boldly captures the desperation of a black man fleeing in Delta Getaway, the Strange Fruit of 2017. "Saw a man hangin’/ From a cypress tree / I seen the ones who done it / Now they comin’ after me. With a razor in my hand / I don’t wanna use / Got a song in my bones / Call it the blues."
Each of the songs here deals with migration, with brotherly love and the exact opposite. They expose the human condition in song, no different than Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan did in their time. Not coincidentally, Bibb covers This Land Is Your Land and Masters of War. Bibb explains, "While pondering the current refugee crisis I found myself thinking about the Great Migration, which saw millions of African Americans leaving the brutal segregation and economic misery of the rural South for the industrial cities of the North. Making this connection is what inspired the new songs included here. Whether you’re looking at a former sharecropper, hitchhiking from Clarksdale to Chicago in 1923, or an orphan from Aleppo, in a boat full of refugees in 2016—it’s migration blues."
Bibb and his fellow songwriters, Milteau and Browne, have entered into the realm of the literary in the tradition of the blues vocabulary of writers like Amiri Baraka and James Baldwin. This is perhaps the most relevant, far-reaching, consciousness-raising, emancipatory music made today, in any genre—a brilliant, compassionate and impassioned statement in these reactionary times.
Bibb and his fellow songwriters, Milteau and Browne, have entered into the realm of the literary in the tradition of the blues vocabulary of writers like Amiri Baraka and James Baldwin. This is perhaps the most relevant, far-reaching, consciousness-raising, emancipatory music made today, in any genre—a brilliant, compassionate and impassioned statement in these reactionary times.(less)
By John Mitchell
"The whole album is a delight but the two openers find Ronnie at the very top of his game.This is an album that should be added to the collection of all Ronnie Earl fans and deserves to bring his playing to a new audience."(more)
A new Ronnie Earl disc is always welcome and Maxwell Street is another stellar entry in Ronnie’s long discography. On 2015’s Father’s Day Ronnie worked with horns for the first time in many years but this time around it is the core of the Broadcasters that we hear: Ronnie on guitar, Dave Limina on keys, Lorne Entress on drums and Jim Mouradian on bass; sadly Jim passed away after the release of this album so this may be his last recording. As has been the case for several years now Diane Blue provides vocals (here on five cuts, the rest being instrumentals) and Nicholas Tabarias plays second guitar on some tracks. The title of the album references the late David Maxwell who played with The Broadcasters, as well as the one-time meeting place for blues musicians in Chicago. Ronnie wrote five songs here (one with Diane), there is one by Dave and four covers from a typically diverse range of sources.
The whole album is a delight but the two openers find Ronnie at the very top of his game: “Mother Angel” recalls mid to late 70’s Santana (think Borboletta) as Ronnie exchanges intricate guitar stylings with Nicholas all over a warm organ and percussion wash; Dave’s “Elegy For A Bluesman” features Dave’s piano and Ronnie digging hard into his most emotional playing as they develop this fine tribute to David Maxwell. Ronnie pays his own respects later on with “Blues For David Maxwell”, as well as paying tribute to another fallen giant “In Memory Of T-Bone”. Diane’s first vocal is on her co-write with Ronnie “Kismet”, a straight blues with Diane’s strong, almost gospel vocal suiting the semi-religious lyrics and some terrific blues guitar from Ronnie. Otis Rush’s “Double Trouble” has been recorded many times but this is a ‘luxury edition’ which takes its time (it is 11.42 minutes long!), Diane again excellent on the familiar lyrics, Dave’s organ and Ronnie’s anguished guitar centrepiece supported sympathetically by the rhythm section.
Gladys Knight scored a hit with “(I’ve Got To Use My) Imagination” which is probably the most upbeat tune here with Diane’s sultry vocal and Ronnie’s punchy lead lines and acts as something of a break from the more intense slower tunes that dominate the album. Ronnie’s instrumental “Brojoe” is also an upbeat tune, a driving shuffle with Ronnie playing some tough guitar and Dave taking a percolating organ solo. Eddy Arnold’s country ballad “You Know Me” has another excellent vocal performance by Diane underpinned by Dave’s piano and Ronnie’s brooding guitar which sits just behind the vocal when listening on headphones. Another blues classic, Deadric Malone’s “As The Years Go Passing By” closes the album with a final winning vocal/guitar combination.
As with most Ronnie Earl albums this one makes great late-night listening and probably features as much great guitar playing as any of his extensive discography. With the bonus of the excellent Broadcasters and Diane Blue’s vocals on half the tracks this is an album that should be added to the collection of all Ronnie Earl fans and deserves to bring his playing to a new audience.(less)
By John Mitchell
Whatever style he adopts Duke is a wonderful player, able to adapt across the spectrum of blues and jazz styles and this is another strong album from him. Recommended.(more)
Duke Robillard spent over a year unable to play guitar following a serious shoulder injury and this album had to be delayed until further recording sessions had taken place once Duke had recovered. In terms of releases the gap was filled by the excellent The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard but this is the album that Duke planned to release. Tracks were recorded before and after Duke’s enforced lay-off but the personnel throughout is unchanged with Duke on guitar and vocals and his long-standing band in support: Bruce Bears on keys, Mark Teixeira on drums and Brad Hallen on bass. There are some guests who feature on one track each: Sugar Ray Norcia (vocals), Kelley Hunt (vocals/piano), Jimmie Vaughan (guitar), Sax Gordon Beadle (tenor/baritone sax) and Doug James (baritone sax). Duke wrote all the material apart from two covers and one shared writing credit with Jimmie.
The format here is small band blues with a selection of shuffles, slow and rocking blues, Duke’s guitar reflecting each song’s mood perfectly. He really is one of the masters of this sort of ensemble playing, possibly the best example being the extended "Shufflin’ And Scufflin’" which comes from an as yet unreleased session with Jimmie Vaughan, both guitarists getting plenty of space alongside Doug James’ bubbling baritone. Kelley Hunt wrote a tune dedicated to Duke’s recording studio "The Mood Room" and Duke invited her to revisit the song with his band, Kelley’s piano taking the lead on an upbeat tribute to the “hippest joint in town”. Sugar Ray Norcia is on vocals for a cover of Jimmy ‘Baby Face’ Lewis’ Last Night which is a stand-out cut with Ray’s suave vocal and Sax Gordon’s great sax work behind Duke’s swinging guitar.
Duke’s familiar deeper vocals are featured on the remaining tracks which include the amusingly cynical "Fool About My Money" on which the band adopts a New Orleans rhythm and the slow blues tribute to Guitar Slim, "Blues For Eddie Jones". "Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me" opens the album on a funky note courtesy of Bruce’s piano and Duke’s searing guitar fills before the rolling blues of "Rain Keeps Falling", Bruce’s piano again spot on for the tune and Duke bending the strings impressively. The pace drops for the slow blues of "Mourning Dove" but not the intensity of Duke’s playing and the swinging "No More Tears" harks back to Duke’s original incarnation of Roomful Of Blues, without the horns. Duke’s tough guitar and Bruce’s almost ragtime piano on "You Used To Be Sugar" is a winning (and swinging!) combination and "Come With Me Baby' closes the album with another trademark rolling blues.
Whatever style he adopts Duke is a wonderful player, able to adapt across the spectrum of blues and jazz styles and this is anot(less)
By Richard Ludmerer
Rory Block hails from Princeton, NJ but spent a lot of her formative years as part of the Greenwich Village folk music scene. At the age of fourteen she was introduced to the music of the Mississippi Delta. She recorded for Elektra, RCA, Blue Goose and Chrysalis before signing with Rounder Records in 1981. Between 2003 and 2005 Block released three albums on Telarc Records including my favorite “From the Dust”. In 2008 Block signed with Stony Plain Records and started her “Mentor Series” saluting those blues masters whom have had “a profound impact on her music”.
Block has a total of twenty-one Blues Music Award nominations having won that award five times. This is Block’s 34th overall recording and sixth in her “Mentor Series”. This time she salutes “Bukka” White.
White was born Booker T. Washington “Bukka” White in November 1906 in Houston, Mississippi and named after the African-American educator and civil rights activist. White was a first cousin to B.B. King’s mother. He played slide on a Resonator guitar. White first recorded for Victor Records in 1930.
Block plays a Martin Signature OM-40 guitar named after her. All guitars and vocals heard are by Block who also adds percussion by slapping her guitar; she calls it “guitar bongos”. She also strikes various boxes with wooden spoons and salad forks. Block states that White inspired her to write new songs. Block opens the recording with two originals, the percussive title track “Keepin’ Outta Trouble” with the lyric “give the big man some room”, and “Bukka’s Day”.
Only then do we get to hear Block’s versions of White’s songs. “Aberdeen, Mississippi Blues” is the song John Fahey used to find and re-discover him. White became part of the 1960’s folk revival and died in 1977 at the age of 70 in Memphis.
“Fixin to Die Blues” written by White was recorded by Bob Dylan in 1963 and it appears on Dylan’s Columbia Records debut.
“Parchman Farm Blues” was written by White while he was serving time for assault at The Mississippi State Penitentiary and it appears in Harry Smith’s “Anthology of American Folk Music”. Other songs of White’s covered by Block are “Panama, Ltd” and “New Frisco Train”.
Block’s other originals include “Gonna Be Some Walkin Done” inspired by the guitar part from Booker’s “Jitterbug Swing”; “Spooky Rhythm” and the closer “Back to Memphis”.
Block states that not only is she grateful to the musicians who created this music that she loves but also to those who traveled the back roads and documented this art form; people like John and Alan Lomax, and Harry Smith. This is the final chapter in her series. Who or what will inspire her next?(less)
By Steve Jones
"Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne flamboyantly jumps and bops through this fine new swing recording on Canada’s Stony Plain Records.(more)
Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne - Jumpin’ & Boppin’
13 tracks/45 minutes
Born in Spokane, Washington, schooled and trained in New Orleans and now based in British Columbia, Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne flamboyantly jumps and bops through this fine new swing recording on Canada’s Stony Plain Records. Featuring the great Duke Robillard on guitar along with Russell Jackson on bass, Charlie Jacobson on guitar, Joey DiMarco on drums, Sherman Ducette on harp, and Dave Babcock on sax, this is a fine ensemble of players backing this great keyboard player and vocalist.
This is Kenny’s third outing on Stony Plain and his tenth overall recording. He has self produced this one and the last and he’s done a fine job with both of them. Duke Robillard adds a lot with his guitar work and the talents of all the musicians really shine brightly.
The album opens with “Blues Boss Shuffle,” a sweet instrumental where everyone gets a chance to impress the listener. Wayne’s piano, Babcock’s sax and Robillard’s guitar offer up well done solos. “Bankrupted Blues” follows, a tune about losing jobs, cars and homes. It’s a sign of the times and the band gives us a great performance. Robillard has an extended solo that was cool. “Jumpin’ & Boppin’ With Joy” is a high energy cut with frantic vocal that Wayne does a good job with. Robillard comes in for a swinging solo then Wayne takes over on the keys. “Blues Stew” slows things down and offers a bit of a respite. Wayne paces things out nicely as he let’s the piano take the lead in this more thoughtful cut.
“You Don’t Know Me,” the albums’ lone cover, is a fine slow blues with some great sax accompanying the vocals. This is very smooth and sultry stuff. “Blackmail Blues” is a swinging mid tempo piece with guitar, organ and piano up front leading the charge. Evenly paced, it’s an interesting number. The boys jump and jive with “Look Out! There’s A Train Coming.” Horns and keys trade licks and Robillard's smooth guitar gives this one a fantastic feel. “I Need Your Lovin’” continues in that vein with the organ laying out a groove and a nice piano solo and later guitar solo to spice things up. “Ciao, Ciao Baby” slows things down a tad as Wayne sways though this one nicely on vocals. The saxes and guitar add a nice dimension again; Robillard offers a prolonged solo that was quite nice.
Slow blues return with “Back To Square One.” Thoughtful piano and guitar work well together to open this one. Wayne comes in on vocals and struts his stuff and then Robillard offers another keenly smooth solo. Harp opens “I’m Comin’ Home” and the band lays it on in this jump cut. The harp blows sweetly for it’s solo and maintains a steady groove throughout. “Rock, Rock Little Girl” features some big boogie woogie piano, sax and guitar in this rocking number. Kenny testifies to us in this 50’s style rocking jump blues with a rocking guitar solo. The CD closes with “Boogie To Gloryland,” a keen instrumental that Wayne drives from the piano bench. It’s a whirlwind ride up and down the 88 keys as he does an impressive job on this boogie tune.
This is a fine jump blues album with some great new songs. Wayne, Robillard and friends do a dynamite job and offer up some outstanding work on this album. The interplay and balance is sublime and fun. I thoroughly enjoyed this CD!
Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.(less)
By Bob Mersereau
Weary ballad Blue Lights Go Down has one of those smart changes into the chorus, which lifts up the mood. The first time through, Tony D puts on a smart, Santana-like solo, while on the second pass, Steve Mariner plays an Eastern-flavoured harmonica to end it off in a questioning way. Up next is Pray For Rain, which starts with some ringing, sitar-like guitar, before verses that remind me of those great Clapton parts on the Layla album.
Sharp-eared fans will also notice it's the first album (in their five) to include electric bass all the way through. In some ways, it puts them further in the blues roots, allowing them the full sound to explore a cover of Albert King's The Hunter, but it also meant building bigger tracks, giving them more room to explore their ideas, like on the soulful Can't Call You Baby. File them under originality. (less)