Monday, August 29, 2011

Your Next Door Neighbor Who Happens to be a Blues Guitar Phenom

Blacks, Whites & The Blues--Mark T. Small--Want to get a feel for blues history without chasing down records from scores of artists? Getting Blacks, Whites & The Blues by Narrows fave--and guitar wunderkind--Mark T. Small should be on your to-do list. "Blues is a 20th century music with roots in the 1880s and 1890s," he writes in the recording's notes. "My intention is to highlight various pieces and styles that have shaped my guitar playing," pieces and styles that, in fact, include songs not usually associated with the blues e.g. a Scott Joplin composition.

Some of the more familiar influences are "Bang Bang Bang Bang" by John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon's "Little Red Rooster," and Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago," all included. For those interested in the tunes' history, Mark has helpfully included write ups about the original version e.g. noting that Roy Hawkins was the first to hit the charts--back in 1951--with "The Thrill is Gone," usually associated with B.B. King. By the way, Mark does an adventurous and surprising interpretation of this classic, which Mr. King had success with about 1970.

Blacks, Whites & The Blues feels like your next-door-neighbor, who happens to be an under-appreciated guitar wizard and blues scholar--stopped by for pickin' and conversation.

If you've never seen Mark, check out this video from a festival out in Arizona:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pre-Hurricane Blues Blowout!

Friday night, August 26, 2011, was tense as the area prepared for Hurricane Irene, which, at the time, looked like it might hit us squarely between the guitar strings.

Folks needed to to relax--and our therapists were (photo left) Tommy Castro and the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Review--guitarist Joe Louis Walker, harpist Rick Estrin, saxophonist/keyboardist Deanna Bogart and a rocking band.

This was Tommy Castro's show and band, but he was more than generous in showcasing his colleagues who showed why they're stars on their own.

Check out this video from a 2010 blue cruise to get a feel for the evening:

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Tommy Malone, of the subdudes, playing without the group this time, Thursday night at the Narrows.

The subdudes, out of Louisiana, should be back touring next year. No doubt they'll be at the Narrows, since they have a strong fan base around these parts.

He kicked off a Narrows three show weekend, which includes the Holmes Brothers and David Wilcox.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Long Ago Sounds Today and Vice Versa

Carolina Chocolate Drops/Luminescent Orchestrii (EP)--Carolina Chocolate Drops & Luminescent Orchestrii--An energetic collaboration that at times merges roots with rap. Both groups are new traditionalists who--one might say--make long ago sound today and make today sound long ago. The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Narrows alums (photo from September, 2010 visit) and purveyors of the black string band tradition, and the Luminescent Orchestrii, who describe themselves as "Romanian Gypsy Punks from NYC," may be serious musicians, but they never forget to entertain on this recording. Check 'em out performing a song from the EP, "Short Dress Gal." Recorded live and lively, this EP is an exciting pleasure. The Drops, who just performed at the Newport Folk Festival, return to our stage in March. Get this and be there.

Friday, August 05, 2011

What Did the Dow Do Today?

So Late It Hurts--the 'Mericans--These old ears hear the 'Mericans as sounding like the Byrds--harmonies, jingly-jangly--without the optimism. Maybe not much to be optimistic about. Gee--ya think? What did the Dow do today? Any other city besides Central Falls file for bankruptcy? Did your brother get a job yet? At the Narrows we're spotting a trend among some of the younger performers--volume down. Perhaps waiting to hear the next shoe drop? In person, the group's prime mover Chris Daltry (photo, August 4, 2011 at the Narrows) doesn't seem particularly depressed. He shouldn't be. This recording is to be proud of. And he and his group--who can rock pretty good live--have a spiffy interview in August's SOCO magazine to boot, and positive reviews for So Late It Hurts, including this one. They're based in the Providence area, so if you live in these parts you can likely easily catch 'em live at the Narrows or another nearby venue.