Beth Hart: She Sure Can Sing

Beth Hart is my new blues obsession. Her voice is a burnt-honey gravel — the perfect sound for a good blues song. A couple of years ago, she was voted 20th best blues voice. (I’m not sure it shouldn’t be higher.) I found her by accident, just like all the best things in life are found. I was checking out the guitarist, Joe Bonamassa and there was this awesome woman singing with him and I was hooked. That big voice just screams the blues, and if you watch the video,…

Robert Johnson: Down at the Crossroads

I can’t think of a better subject on the eve of Halloween than Robert Johnson, the Mississippi blues guitarist who was said to have sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for learning to play guitar. It’s an old story. The myth that just won’t die. But how did this myth about a nefarious, midnight meeting at a Mississippi Crossroads between Johnson and Old Scratch that resulted in a contract, in which Johnson becomes a great guitar player and the Devil gets his soul, become the story that defined…

Big Mama Thornton: Everything Gonna Be Alright

  Today you are in for a treat. You may think you don’t know Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, but you do. Big Mama was the first person to record Hound Dog years before Elvis Presley prettied it up and made it palpable for a white audience. Not only did she record it, she sold 2 million copies in the four years before it was recorded by Elvis and rocketed to fame in the mainstream listening audience. Elvis made millions off Hound Dog. Big Mama made only $500.00. Listen to…

Muddy Waters: They Called Him Mud

Ask about McKinley Morganfield and you’ll probably get a blank stare. But ask about Muddy Waters and you’ll probably get at least a spark of recognition. People may not know exactly who Muddy Waters is or what he did, but the name stills rings familiar. He did something. Muddy Waters gave us the names of two of our most enigmatic rock institutions: Rolling Stone Magazine and The Rolling Stones. Yes, Muddy Waters put his stamp on American blues music and opened the door for the British rock invasion of the…

Stevie Ray Vaughan: “I Just Play”

When my son, Travis was in the 6th grade, he played the saxophone. I loved it. Until one afternoon when I pulled up to the school to find him playing a sultry tune while the cheerleaders danced seductively. (Oh the trials of mothers of musicians!) By 7th grade, Travis had jumped a couple feet in height, and he decided to add football to band and basketball. He would switch his football jersey for his middle school band tee shirt during half-time to play sax in the band and then run…