The Blues

Of course, it is all music, but Blues fans tend to set themselves apart. The Blues are iconic to American music. There are special blues awards and a blues association in nearly every large city. Blues clubs, blues festivals, all trying to keep the blues alive.

 

Dion

Dion (Dimucci)

“Dion, like a circling star that never fades, generates the energy and fire we need to pull ourselves up and start again.” (Pete Townsend)

Dion may be a household name and Hall of Famer but has earned a post here as he remains relevant at 82.
Currently charting with a new record, Stomping Ground, featuring collaboration with over a dozen major artists.
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Dion DiMucci had a career unlike any other in 20th century popular music, one that took him from harmonizing doo wop on the streets of the Bronx to baring his soul on a series of singer/songwriter albums in the ’70s, spending his later years bringing his blues into the 21st century. First famous for the hits he had as a teen with the Belmonts, “The Wanderer” and “Ruby Baby” were covers that established Dion as a solo star in the late ’50s, while “Runaround Sue” and “Lovers Who Wander,” which he co-wrote, revealed a songwriting talent that would flourish over the years. DiMucci kept recording after the British Invasion changed the rock & roll landscape of the ’60s, but he didn’t have another big hit until the bittersweet “Abraham, Martin and John” in 1968, a single that introduced a period as an idiosyncratic singer/songwriter, an era encapsulated on the 1975 cult classic Born to Be with YouDion spent some time singing Christian music and oldies before returning to fresh material with 1989’s Dave Edmunds-produced Yo Frankie. From that point forward, DiMucci split the difference between R&B throwbacks and new tunes, eventually settling into a blues groove, beginning with 2006’s Bronx in Blue and stretching into 2021’s Stomping Ground.

When Dion began recording in the late ’50s, it was as the lead singer of a group of friends who sang on Bronx street corners. Billing themselves Dion & the Belmonts (Dion had released a previous single with the Timberlanes), their first few records were prime Italian-American doo wop; “I Wonder Why” was their biggest hit in this style. Dion‘s biggest single with the Belmonts was “A Teenager in Love,” which pointed the way for the slightly self-pitying, pained odes to adolescence and early adulthood that would characterize much of his solo work.

Dion went solo in 1960 (the Belmonts did some more doo wop recordings on their own), moving from doo wop to more R&B/pop-oriented tunes with great success. He handled himself with a suave, cocky ease on hits like “The Wanderer,” “Runaround Sue,” “Lovers Who Wander,” “Ruby Baby,” and “Donna the Prima Donna,” which cast him as either the jilted, misunderstood youngster or the macho lover, capable of handling anything that came his way (especially on “The Wanderer”).

In 1963, Dion moved from Laurie to the larger Columbia label, an association that started promisingly with a couple of big hits right off the bat, “Ruby Baby” and “Donna the Prima Donna.” By the mid-’60s, his heroin habit (which he’d developed as a teenager) was getting the best of him, and he did little recording and performing for about five years. When he did make it into the studio, he was moving in some surprisingly bluesy directions; although much of it was overlooked or unissued at the time, it can be heard on the Bronx Blues reissue CD.

In 1968, he kicked heroin and re-emerged as a gentle folk-rocker with a number four hit single, “Abraham, Martin and John.” Dion would focus upon mature, contemporary material on his late-’60s and early-’70s albums, which were released to positive critical feedback, if only moderate sales. The folk phase didn’t last long; in 1972 he reunited with the Belmonts and in the mid-’70s cut a disappointing record with Phil Spector as producer. He recorded and performed fairly often in the years that followed (sometimes singing Christian music), to indifferent commercial results. But his critical rep has risen steadily since the early ’60s, with many noted contemporary musicians showering him with praise and citing his influence, such as Dave Edmunds (who produced one of his periodic comeback albums) and Lou Reed (who guested on that record). Dion continued to be active as the 21st century opened, releasing Déjà Nu in 2000, Under the Influence in 2005, and Bronx in Blue in 2006. His first major-label album since 1989’s Yo FrankieSon of Skip James was released by Verve in 2007, while 2008’s Heroes: Giants of Early Guitar Rock saw him tackling 15 songs from the classic rock & roll era. Influenced by a conversation with rock critic Dave Marsh about his long and still relevant career, and a dare from his wife Susan to prove it, Dion cut Tank Full of Blues, producing and playing the guitars himself on the recording and writing or co-writing all but one track on the set. Issued on Blue Horizon, it is the final recording in the trilogy that began with Bronx in Blue.

Dion signed to Instant Records in 2015 and immediately set to recording a new studio album. Entitled New York Is My Home, its first single and title track — a duet with Paul Simon — was pre-released in November digitally and as a striking video. The album was issued in the winter of 2016.

Then the singer/songwriter and Norton Records surprised everyone. In 1965, DiMucci was signed to Columbia, and had cut 15 new songs — all produced by Tom Wilson, who was recording Bob Dylan in the same studios at roughly the same time — for an album that the label, for whatever reason, decided not to release. Dion left the label over the decision. Some tracks were issued on singles, others later on various compilations. But for over 50 years, the tapes sat. That’s where Norton’s Miriam Linna and Billy Miller came in. They received the rights to release the entire record as it was originally intended, completely remastered from the original tapes. Featuring ten originals, one by Mort Shuman (who had co-written “Teenager in Love” with Doc Pomus for Dion & the Belmonts), and three by Dylan (who had been enamored with Dion since the ’50s). Though Miller passed before it was issued, Kickin’ Child: The Lost Columbia Album 1965 was released by the label in May.

In 2020, Dion released Blues with Friends, a collection of original blues songs performed as duets with such superstar pals as Bruce SpringsteenPaul SimonVan Morrison, and Billy Gibbons. The album was released by KTBA Records (it stands for “Keeping the Blues Alive”), which brought out a similar set in November 2021, Stomping Ground. Another star-sprinkled set of original songs, Stomping Ground featured guest appearances from Rickie Lee JonesBoz ScaggsKeb’ Mo’Mark Knopfler, and many more. In between those two albums, in November 2020, Dion issued a Christmas single, featuring his versions of “Hello Christmas” (featuring Amy Grant) and “You Know It’s Christmas

Artist Biography by Richie Unterberger – via All Music Guide

 

Marcus King

Lead singer and guitarist for The Marcus King Band, 25-year-old Marcus King has a lot of experience under his belt despite his young age. With over a decade of performing live, King has already made a name for himself among today’s top indie artists. Not many musicians can claim to be a professional by the age of eleven! With King’s dedication to his craft, he has sought to revamp the indie music industry through his unique spin on the genre. Read on to learn more about The Marcus King band from Roaming the Arts.

Marcus King And The Early Years Of His Life

Music was a huge factor in King’s upbringing. With a four-generation legacy of musicians in the family, King seemed to be destined to leave his mark on music as well. Learning from both his father and his grandfather, Marcus King learned how to play the guitar by the tender age of just four years old. His passion for the guitar has only grown with time, prompting the design of the Marcus King Gibson ES 345, a custom vintage design inspired by the Blue Ridge Mountains King called home. Talent for string instruments can be traced back to King’s great-grandfather, who was an avid fiddler. With his grandfather transitioning from fiddle to guitar, and dear ol’ dad being a professional guitarist himself, King certainly had a lot of talent to learn from.

Further Inspiration For King’s Unique Brand Of Music

Through his upbringing in Greenville, South Carolina, much of the influence for The Marcus King Band can be attributed to his hometown. The indie music artist can be described as a powerhouse combination of classic rock-n-roll blended with soul and country influences. Some inspiration for this sound can be seen from King’s father, guitarist and singer Marvin King, who is known for his own band, Marvin King and The Blues Revival. King’s grandfather lent his guitar expertise to the country scene, contributing again to the type of music King would later showcase. 

Where The Marcus King Band Is Today

Alongside Marcus King (guitar and vocals), The Marcus King Band is made up of members Stephen Campbell (bass), Dean Mitchell (sax and guitar), Justin Johnson (trombone and trumpet), and Jack Ryan (drummer). The five musicians have been performing together since 2013 – That’s 8 years performing as the Marcus King Band! Their record, El Dorado, is out now and available to be enjoyed by music lovers everywhere! The group is currently located in Nashville, Tennessee, where they continue to write and perform music regularly. Concert information can be found on their website, along with all of the latest updates on The Marcus King Band.

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Allman Betts Band

Allman Betts Band

Devon Allman and Duane Betts unite in this exciting band.

Back in the Road.

The Allman Betts Band includes Devon Allman & Duane Betts on guitars and vocals, Berry Oakley Jr. on bass, Johnny Stachela on slide guitar, John Ginty on Hammond B3 (Robert Randolph/Dixie Chicks) and Devon Allman Project percussionists R. Scott Bryan (Sheryl Crow) and John Lum.  The show features original music from their two recent BMG albums, songs from their solo projects as well as classic songs by The Allman Brothers Band, the legendary group founded by Devon and Duane’s fathers, Gregg Allman & Dickey Betts.

Their sophomore album, Bless Your Heart, was released on August 28, 2020.  Like their debut album, Bless Your Heart was recorded at the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and produced by Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, John Prine and Elvis Presley).

“This is The Allman Betts Band’s best offering yet, showcasing a band still tethered to their legacy but finding their own way with a sound that honors their roots without stepping all over them.” – No Depression

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Samantha Fish

Samantha Fish

A blues musician from Kansas City, Missouri, Samantha Fish impressed industry professionals as a teenager before scoring her first Billboard blues number one in her mid-twenties. Fish grew up in a musical family with a variety of genres, including a steady diet of classic rock radio. Her father played guitar and would sometimes jam with friends at home. Young Samantha started out as a drummer but switched to guitar at the age of 15. As a teen, she would sneak into local blues landmark the Knuckleheads Saloon to hear touring musicians, and she began sitting in with them from time to time after she became legal at 18.

Girls with Guitars In 2009, Fish recorded the live album Live Bait as the Samantha Fish Blues Band, and the rock-edged guitar work brought her to the attention of Ruf Records. The label featured her alongside Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde on the 2011 release Girls with Guitars, which featured covers of the Rolling Stones and the Steve Miller Band as well as original material from the three guitarist/singer/songwriters. Later that same year, Fish released her solo debut, Runaway, also with Ruf Records. It was produced by mentor and frequent collaborator Mike Zito.

Black Wind Howlin' She saw her first chart success with her sophomore LP, Black Wind Howlin’, also produced by Zito. It hit the Billboard Heatseekers chart and reached the Top Ten of the blues albums chart upon release in 2013. She followed it with Wild at Heart in 2015, which became a blues number one. In 2017, she returned with her fourth studio album, Chills & Fever. Recorded in Detroit with members of the Detroit Cobras it featured covers of obscure pop and soul tunes.

Also in 2017, Fish issued Belle of the West, recorded in Missouri with Luther Dickinson and featuring musical contributions by guitarist/harmonica player Lightnin’ Malcolm, former-Squirrel Nut Zipper Jimbo Mathus, violinist Lillie Mae Rische, and others. The album helped the guitarist pick up a 2018 Blues Music Association award for Contemporary Female Artist of the Year. Fish‘s seventh studio album, Kill or Be Kind, arrived in 2019 and found her working with producer Scott Billington in Memphis.

Artist Biography by Marcy Donelson

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Marcia Ball

Marcia Ball

“Fifty years have passed in a flash,” says Texas-born, Louisiana-raised pianist, songwriter and vocalist Marcia Ball of her long and storied career. Ball, the 2018 Texas State Musician Of The Year, has won worldwide fame and countless fans for her ability to ignite a full-scale roadhouse rhythm and blues party every time she takes the stage. Her rollicking Texas boogies, swampy New Orleans ballads and groove-laden Gulf Coast blues have made her a one-of-a-kind favorite with music lovers all over the world. With each new release, her reputation as a profoundly soulful singer, a boundlessly talented pianist and a courageous, inventive songwriter continues to grow. Her love of the road has led to years of soul-satisfying performances at festivals, concert halls and clubs. 

The New York Times says, “Marcia Ball plays two-fisted New Orleans barrelhouse piano and sings in a husky, knowing voice about all the trouble men and women can get into on the way to a good time.” 

The Houston Chronicle says simply, “She’s as perfect as an artist can be.”

Mike Zito

Mike Zito

He may be one of the most lauded artists in the contemporary blues arena today, and rightfully so, but for Mike Zito, the thing that counts the most is maintaining his honesty, authenticity and integrity. Those are the qualities that have steered Zito’s career since the beginning and continue to define every effort he’s offered since.

​“I have nothing to hide; it seems my honesty is what people relate to most,” he once told Vintage Guitar magazine. “Anders (Osborne) told me early on, ‘If you don’t believe what you’re singing, you’ll never be a good singer.’ I try not to write fluff; I try to make every word count.”

​That point became convincingly clear with his last record 2018’s First Class Life, a collection of songs that detailed his journey from addiction to sobriety and the subsequent success he achieved through his award-winning body of work. A multiple award winner and nominee, Zito has built his career on an ability to tap into tradition while maintaining contemporary credence all at the same time.

Deanna Bogart

Deanna Bogart

When it comes to Deanna Bogart, everyone wants to claim her as their own — her hometown, her fans, her fellow musicians and even her instruments. She’s that good–and that good-natured.

Born in Detroit, Deanna spent her early years in Phoenix and New York City, climbing on any available piano bench to plunk and play with preternatural panache.  Around the age of six,  she was “gently removed” from the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music for playing piano by ear instead of learning to read music. While in middle school, Deanna yearned to play the saxophone. Typical of those times though, she was told, “Girls play the clarinet, not the sax.” Thankfully for us all, that tide has changed.

Today, Deanna Bogart is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist and multifaceted musician whose fans value the diversity of her genre-free zone.  As a bandleader/singer/songwriter/producer/pianist/sax player, Deanna combines the best of boogie-woogie, contemporary blues, country and jazz into a splendid blend she calls “blusion.”

Deanna’s fusion of blusion — spontaneous, sophisticated, fearless and fun — has garnered her three consecutive Blues Music Awards’ Horn Instrumentalist of the Year for 2008, 2009 and 2010 and an endorsement contract with Rico Reeds. She has won, at last count, more than 20 Wammies, the music awards for the hotly contested Washington, D.C. region.

Recognized for her dazzling keyboards, soulful saxophone, smoky vocals and cut-above songwriting, Deanna easily wins the hearts of fans on land and at sea on chartered cruises.  She is a featured player in the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Revue, jamming with Tommy Castro, Magic Dick (founding member of the J. Geils Band), as well as prominent guitar slingers. Deanna remembers well her early years as a budding musician and is an avid educator and mentor, sharing her insight and wisdom with students of all ages.

 

Hot Tuna/Jorma Kaukonen & Jack Casady

Jorma & Jack (aka Hot Tuna)

Hot Tuna is an American blues band formed in 1969 by former Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady. Although it has always been a fluid aggregation, with musicians coming and going over the years, the band’s name has essentially become a metonym for Kaukonen and Casady’s ongoing collaboration. Wikipedia

Don’t miss Hesitation Blues -circa 1970

Tab Benoit

Tab Benoit

One of the most impressive guitarists to emerge from the rich Bayous of Southern Louisiana in recent years, Tab Benoit’s guitar tone can be recognized before his Otis-Redding-ish voice resonates from the speakers. He doesn’t rely on any effects and his set up is simple. It consists of a guitar, cord, and Category 5 Amplifier. The effects that you hear come from his fingers.

Chris Smither

Chris Smither

William Christopher Smither is an American folk/blues singer, guitarist, and songwriter. His music draws deeply from the blues, American folk music, and modern poets and philosophers. Wikipedia

 

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