Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ Out-of-print 1990s Recordings Get a Reissue (Part One)

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (born Jalacy Hawkins in 1929) is one of those artists whose influence would far outpace his commercial success. Trained as a classical pianist and singer with an operatic range, Hawkins instead gained notoriety for his outlandish persona and over-the-top vocal style, exemplified by his 1956 single “I Put a Spell on You.”

Johnny Tucker: Everything Comes from My Soul, Part Three

Continued from Part Two… Tucker made his first solo album, Why You Lookin’ at Me in 2006. It’s cut from a wholly different cloth than Tucker & Thomas and his latest release. Fans of modern-day blues-rock hybrids – complete with pig-squeal lead guitar and horn charts that aim for a Memphis vibe – may enjoy

Johnny Tucker: Everything Comes from My Soul, Part Two

Continued from Part One… Walker, who scored a hit in 1959 with “Hello My Darling,” was playing in and around Los Angeles with a band featuring vocalist Bea Bop (Walker’s wife Ina). Tucker was still a teenager when he first met the guitarist/bandleader in August 1965. “I went to a club and I sat in,”

Johnny Tucker: Everything Comes from My Soul, Part One

Do an internet search on Johnny Tucker, and you won’t find a lot of information that predates the release of Seven Day Blues, his new album on Highjohn Records. But Tucker is a veteran bluesman with a long and colorful back story. His musical journey brought him up close and personal with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins,

Album Review: Crooked Ghost — Skeleton House

When artists describe their music (or have it described by others) as dream-pop, that’s usually a reliable signal that the mood of the music focuses on one of two musical perspectives: it’s either happy and ethereal or—more likely—minor-key, somewhat glacially-paced music that conjures an unsettling, foreboding and deeply textured mood. And by that measure, the

Chasing the Sound of Yes, 50 Years On

Steve Howe laughs when asked what it is that keeps playing in Yes fresh and interesting for him. The guitarist has been a member of Yes for most of the years since 1970; he’s the closest thing the British progressive group has to an original member. The band has embarked on dozens of tour, released

Book Review: Richard Macphail — My Book of Genesis

I really enjoy reading behind-the-scenes and/or personal memoirs about the different corners of the music world. While reading autobiographies by big names has its rewards, I tend to find greater pleasure in the stories as told by those close to those figures as opposed to books authored by the “stars” themselves. I find that just

The Ru-Jac Records Story, Part Two

Continued from Part One… Something Got a Hold on Me covers 1963-1964, the earliest years of Ru-Jac, ones that featured the Kay Keys Band, Little Sonny Daye, Brenda Jones, Parker, the Teardrops Band and several others. Most names won’t be familiar to most outside the Baltimore soul scene of that era, but the quality of

The Ru-Jac Records Story, Part One

Beginning operations in 1963, Baltimore-based Ru-Jac Records was an African American-owned and -operated record label. Founded by Rufus E. Mitchell and Jack Bennett, Ru-Jac was a singles-only label that released dozens of 45 rpm discs, primarily between 1963 and 1974. Much of the label’s output has remained largely unavailable since the label ceased operations in

Album Review: Pale Blue Dot — Anatomy

From a music standpoint, Charlottesville, Virginia is perhaps best known for the jam-band hero Dave Matthews (who’s South African, but is associated with the city). Appalachian music plays a part in the city’s scene as well. So Pale Blue Dot is something of an anomaly. Hard-driving melodic rock and concise songwriting are the hallmarks of