blues Archive

Todd Cecil: Have a Cigar

Cigar box guitars are very much in vogue now; it’s not at all unusual to see a nationally touring act take the stage with a hand-fashioned instrument featuring a body made from a wooden cigar box. But the instrument favored by Todd Cecil is quite a bit more exotic than most. “That’s the Lowebow,” he

Hundred-word Reviews, November 2018 Part 2

Here we go: even more hundred-word reviews. All new or recent releases, all worth a listen. RC & the Moonpie Band – All This I love me some rock ‘n’ roll. And I like (and occasionally love) the blues. What I enjoy far less often is the point on the Venn Diagram in which the

A Few Moments with Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal (born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks) is equal parts musician, songwriter, folklorist and musicologist. But despite his impeccable credentials, the man has never taken an academic approach to music. With more than 30 albums to his name — solo records, collaborations, live sets — Taj Mahal has created a virtual audio travelogue, exploring the

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 4 / conclusion)

Continued from Part Three… And even though Fantastic Negrito is now a high-profile Grammy-winning performer and recording artist, he still feels and maintains a close connection to that neighborhood. “The people I started my collective label [Blackball Universe] with, they’re all guys I grew up with,” he says. “We did everything – committed crimes and

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 3)

Continued from Part Two… The production on The Last Days of Oakland is “boxy,” and Xavier says that that quality is a deliberate aesthetic choice. “I wanted it to feel like I’m sitting right in someone’s living room,” he says. And I tried to minimize production; I was really going for a sense of urgency,

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 2)

Continued from Part One… A 2014 EP titled Fantastic Negrito debuted Xavier’s new approach. Ostensibly blues, the five-song EP draws from a wider array of influences. Released to enthusiastic critical notices, the EP created a buzz but didn’t break through on a large scale. Undaunted and sure of his musical direction, Xavier created a low-budget

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 1)

(An edited version of this feature appeared in print in Living Blues Magazine.) All photos © Audrey Hermon Kopp Fantastic Negrito is a a lot of things. On the surface, he’s a stage persona, the human means of delivery for songs that chronicle the realities of life. But dig deeper and you’ll find Xavier Dhphrepaulezz,

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2018

Time once again for some 100-word reviews. Please note that I receive many albums each day for review consideration; even when allowing for the fact that 80-90% of them don’t make the cut for coverage/review, there are still far too many to cover. What that means in practical terms is twofold: (1) the only way

World Musician Taj Mahal Gets the Blues

Taj Mahal is a timeless artist who’s always been ahead of his time. The singer-songwriter-guitarist was making Americana and world music long before either musical genre had been coined. He’s earned many accolades—three Grammys, ten Grammy nominations, the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, an honorary Doctorate—and released more than 30 albums under his own

Hundred-word Reviews for August 2018, Part 2

Herewith are ten more 100-word reviews of recent new releases. As they used to say, “Collect ‘em all, kids!” Denny Seiwell Trio — Boomerang Rock fans of a certain age may recognize Seiwell’s name; he was (for a time) the drummer in a ‘70s British group called Wings. That background has nearly zero to do