Archives for category: Bonnie Bramlett

Throwing the CD in brought back my encounter with Gregg Allman in 2007 at the Alabama Theater in Birmingham, listening and watching Bonnie Bramlett sing from the back wall in the black out of view from the audience, “You know I played on her stuff”, Gregg said as he was leaning on my arm to get a little view from the back curtain, I told him, “Hey, Gregg, we can switch places”, “No, I’m fine” and like clockwork, “Well, I gotta get ready” and he disappeared down into the dressing room as if he had her set memorized because ten minutes later she was done and Gregg was on.

Hanging with Bonnie Bramlett, Alabama Theater 2007

That was the one and only time I hung with him and it felt like hanging with an old friend because history precedes the man.  This was the voice of The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East and “Midnight Rider.” Well, what does this all have to do with this new T-Bone “The hardest working producer in show business” Burnett Produced disc have to do with that show?  Mainly because of the off the cuff, off the set list piece that Gregg asked the horn section if they knew, Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose”, which he sang as if he was ready to be Otis.

Gregg at Alabama Theater 2007

Gregg is one of the most soulful voices there is. He doesn’t have to talk to the audience his voice live is mesmerizing with a mix of Southern Blues and Soul that only a few like him can say they are there, namely Joe Cocker, lesser known Eddie Hinton and maybe you haven’t heard of Topper Price but you should.

Low Country Blues is full of covers that feature horn sections, Hammond B3 and some acoustic instruments and shaky handmade sounding percussion things that would be associated with the Americana thing nowadays. The best parts if dissected remind me of that night in Birmingham with the full horn section, organ and a full band turning out Sixties era Memphis Soul on cuts like “Blind Man” by Texan Record label exec, Don D. Robey who managed Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown back in 1949 and had his biggest success with Big Mama Thornton’s #1 hit “Hound Dog” on his Peacock Records.

Indeed from the roster of songs and the depth of history of blues and soul in the tracks I wonder if it was Gregg saying I always wanted to do this or T-Bone digging into his vast treasure chest. They both had a lot of musicology to bring to the table.

Gregg brings a strong self co-penned with Warren Haynes track “Just Another Rider” which is almost an extension of something Otis might have done after “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay”, with its mix of soul and Lennon/McCartney beat. It was clear Otis was ready to mix it up after Monterey Pop.

Muddy Waters, “I Can’t Be Satisfied” really gets the Americana Acoustic blues treatment that feels more like Hill Country Blues down in the fields of Mississippi then uptown Chicago. This cut should have had Pinetop Perkins on that Piano but you can’t ask for everything. This was only a stone’s throw from 1920’s Memphis Jug Band material.

He really get’s Fifties style B.B. King down on “Please Accept My Love’ with that straight eight Ride and long Sax lines. It really feels like Memphis in the fifties with B.B. King and Fats Domino on the radio and cruising around late at night looking for where the girls are hanging out.

Amos Milburn

Another Texan, Amos Milburn shares the distinction of having a couple of his songs recorded on Rounder Records, many years have passed since George Thorogood recorded “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” until Gregg took on “Tears, Tears, Tears” which continues a lot of threads that connect the late forties and fifties music on this disc with the theme of many a Blues tune “Tears in my eye, Blue as I can be, Just had another woman to walk out on me.” This is where you are going to hear the distinct Hammond B3 of Gregg, in a nice jazzy post-war blues number.

If that wasn’t enough there is Otis Rush represented “Checking on My Baby” with Doyle Bramhall II featured prominently.  It’s amazing that this album came out of Village Recorders when it sounds like it should have come out of Houston, Memphis or maybe a little Chess Records recording out of Chicago.

One of the best ways to get to the root of the blues is the finisher, “Rolling Stone”, treated with a branch between The Allman Brothers band type rhythm and delivery with some Dobro and other spices such as a great walking bass note on the piano that brings things full circle.

It really captures the roots of Soulful blues which represents what Gregg is made of as he was finding his path early on. There is a great story in the liner notes about Gregg and Duane going to a B.B. King Concert in Nashville when they were young and that was their defining or divine moment when you think of what came after.

Did T-Bone do it right? He has done so many records in the last few years, that obviously not everyone is going to be right, but, he does the legend Gregg Allman in a good way that opens the doors for more stuff. He obviously can lead this into the Americana arena but, the best parts are really the Hammond B3, horn section late Sixties Soul feel. Gregg could do that all day and I would never bet bored. I think this is the CD that will make Eric Clapton search out T-Bone for some Production work. I think Eric will be jealous of this one.

This is a slow simmer, best heard late on a moonlight drive maybe through the southlands of Northern Florida or Southern Georgia; if you can’t be there you can sure feel it. Well done T-Bone! You done Gregg right. I always have in mind what will be my top ten for the end of the year. It is only January and this is one Allman flavored contender.

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

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Eddie Hinton,white shirt w/ Wayne Perkins

Before heading down to Helena, Alabama to visit my sister and pickup my Soldano speaker cabinet, I picked up the latest Oxford American Magazine, their annual music issue because it was all about Alabama music not only in written word but featured a CD with 27 tracks, some of them extremely rare all telling different stories from different times and different parts of the state, not just regional but a mix of Blues, Rock, Gospel and even Zappa label material.

I threw in the CD as I headed down 65 towards Birmingham and took the ride through the Birmingham soul of Ralph “Soul” Jackson to Curley Money out of Dothan, Alabama. It was a wonderful ride and I learned things I didn’t even know being in the Birmingham Scene for a few years. I was happy to see the story told about how the Indie Rock Scene started with Jim Bob and The Leisure Suits with drummer, Matt Kimbrell (RIP). I saw his brother, Mark Kimbrell play  in 2007 at a Sunday night Jazz Jam with Chris Fryar (then of The Allman Brothers Band now The Zac Brown Band) at Marty’s in the Five Points area.

 Blues cannot be any rarer than Dan Pickett and Country more honest than Charlie Louvin and they all are here. Well at least for what one can do on a single CD without going to the obvious such as Brother Kane or The Commodores.

Eddie Hinton ID shot

As the music went on and I read the great essays, I kept asking myself where is Eddie Hinton? Obscure or not, the story of Muscle Shoals or the heart and soul of what is Alabama cannot be told without Tuscaloosa bred Eddie Hinton.  It is possible for somebody looking at Alabama from the outside to miss the mark but if somebody is a serious Muscle Shoals or Alabama music fan or musician you cannot escape learning the story of Eddie Hinton.

“When I first came to Muscle Shoals it didn’t take very long before I became aware of Eddie’s singular talents- as a composer, lyricist and gifted Composer- and was touched by his original, offbeat and engaging personality…When the greatest artists came to Muscle Shoals they would hone in on Eddie – Aretha, Cher, Lulu, Bob Dylan would end up on the back porch of the Jackson Highway Studio with Eddie, pickin’ guitars and communing quietly in the Alabama evening. To this day I still play his records with great enjoyment. He remains unique – a white boy who truly sang and played in the spirit of the great black soul artists he venerated. With Eddie, it wasn’t imitation; it was totally created, with a fire and fury that was as real as Otis Redding’s and Wilson Pickett’s.”- Jerry Wexler, Producer with Atlantic Records.

Where’s Eddie? Can you find him?

I had heard, in reverence, several times about Eddie Hinton. Local Musicians in Birmingham would say “He was the greatest.” The most important revelation was when I talked to the “Swampers”, the Musicians that knew and worked with him at Muscle Shoals Sound.

On April 18th 2007, there was a benefit for Scott Boyer, who was a songwriter and played in Cowboy on Capricorn Records back in the Seventies. I had the opportunity to be part of the stage crew where a Muscle Shoals all star line up with everybody from David Hood, Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham and a cast of characters played with Bonnie Bramlett and Gregg Allman headlining.

I caught story after story from a time going back thirty plus years. I got into conversations and often asked who the most important player was during the Muscle Shoals era and over and over again the name Eddie Hinton came up. His story is one of triumph, tragedy and post mortem glory. In the last few years his recordings have been gathered from out of print Capricorn Records to rare self released material and put onto a collection of CD’s.  They are not easy to find but one can start with Anthology-1969-1998 A Mighty Field of Vision.

Marian McKay

Late last Saturday I went and saw Charlemagne Records’  Marian McKay singing jazz standards at Crestwood Coffee Company with The Mood Swings.  Charlemagne Records is the one of last independent record stores in Birmingham not unlike Grimey’s  it has a long rich history when Marian, her brother  and a best  friend started the shop in 1977 and it has remained at the same location in the Five Points area since then. The shop has lately seen a resurgence as vinyl is becoming increasingly popular among collectors.

We talked about the Alabama issue of Oxford American and how fantastic it was and the people they didn’t forget but when I brought up the fact that Eddie Hinton was not included there was nothing but silence. Eddie was the elephant in the room. Obviously, there were others left out but he was the one who sat in the doorway of Muscle Shoals Sound trading licks and stories, had Duane Allman crashing on his floor when he came to do session work and had style and songs that only fit in Muscle Shoals, where when he ended up moving because of a small marijuana bust in the seventies that forced him to leave town kind of lost his stride and place in the world. He remained an Alabaman to the core even if it meant living in his van in Birmingham in later years before he passed away in 1995.

Eddie with his trusted Tele

There are so many tracks not known by most the world but worthy to wave the Muscle Shoals flag such as “Concept World”, “Sad and Lonesome” or “Heavy Makes You Happy.” It is singular talents such as Eddie Hinton that I discovered while living in Alabama that make me proud that I was a part of that scene for some years.

The State of Alabama has gotten behind this presentation and declared 2011 “The Year of Alabama Music”. I am going to do my part by spotlighting at least one artist a month with roots in Alabama past and present.  I may have been born in California but Alabama is where I met Gregg Allman, Willie King, Tim Boykin, Mark Kimbrell, Chris Fryar, Adam Guthrie, Mandi Rae, Ian, Rick Carter, Kendra Sutton, Topper Price, Rickie Castrillo, Marty, Nathan Whitmore, Rick Kurtz, Rooster, Perch, Billy, Heath Green, David Hood, Kelvin Holly, Jesse Payne and Taylor Hollingsworth.  Alabama, the beautiful, where I got my “Mojo”.

Marian McKay & Her Mood Swings/ Live/ Birmingham,AL 1/8/2011

I may call Tennessee home but my heart is in Alabama.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, Tennessee     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Okay, after reading about the 180 degree turn taken by Robert Plant from the anticipated follow up of “Raising Sand”, I was a little anxious to listen and look at what was wrought in East Nashville these last few months by Mr. Plant at the venerable Woodland Studios.  The studio where Bob Dylan recorded “Nashville Skyline” is now privately owned by musical artists David Rawlings (The Dave Rawlings Machine) and Gillian Welch.

As I opened up the CD, it reminded me of Buddy and Julie Miller’s “Written in Chalk” that turned a CD booklet into a little hard back book with a good 30 minutes worth of reading and photos to help guide you into the world created in Miller’s living room.

The design in this case was by Robert Plant with a look of crinkled muted blue pages and an illustrated clown that looked like something out of Ringling Brother’s Circus circa 1900.  The booklet features easy to read lyrics of songs by Los Lobos, Richard Thompson, and Townes Van Zandt with a little Uncle Dave Macon to go.

Robert Plant & Buddy Miller

Buddy Miller brought the house band together from some of the finest in Nashville featuring vocalist Patty Griffin and multi instrumentalist Darrell Scott who played the role of David Lindley on this sublime outing. If anyone were looking for a mirror reflection to the past, it would be found in guest vocalist, Bekka Bramlett who is featured on tracks one and two. If pinged back almost 30 years, you would find her mother

Backstage with Bonnie, Alabama Theater, 2007

 Bonnie Bramlett recording as Delaney and Bonnie in Muscle Shoals, Alabama with guitarist Eric Clapton in the early Seventies. Eric Clapton, as you probably know, shared the same slot Jimmy Page eventually did in The Yardbirds.

So if you look at it this way, “Band of Joy” which was named in honor of the band Robert and future Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham played in before the storm is in a way a Hebraic chiasm. The CD encompasses in the end what was in the beginning.  A Hebraic Chiasm reinforces the truth of a doctrine by repeating the doctrine at the end of the verse in reverse much like a mirror reflection. It can be found all over the Old Testament and it can be found in the song choices of this CD.

Darrell Scott

Robert starts the CD with the song “Angel Dance” written by Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and Louis Perez which lovingly refers to children as angels among the daily chaos, “Tomorrow will bring us a brand new day, We can run and play”, while at the end of the CD comes “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down” a traditional black hymn where Robert sings with banjo to the front and Patty Griffin on Backing vocals “I’m gonna shout ‘til they tear your kingdom down, Shout ‘til they tear your kingdom down, I heard the voice of Jesus Christ say, Satan your kingdom must come down”, finally ending the album with a plaintive start of Robert’s voice and a John Bonham type groove snare drum on Theodore Tilton’s “Even This Shall Pass Away” with the final lines comes a hint of the eternal truth, “Life is done so what is death?, Then in answer to the king, Fell a sunbeam on his ring, Blinding light through fading grey: Even this shall pass away.”

Patty Griffin

As a setup to Act 3, Robert obviously brings out a little Tom Petty with a beautiful duet featuring Patty Griffin on Townes Van Zandt’s “Harm’s Swift Way” in the reflecting lines “Time will go it never stays, Memory locked in her passing, Try, oh try to cling to her, Until she becomes everlasting.”

In the middle of all this Robert spoke about wanting to not only bring about the jam sound of the original Band of Joy but also the mood of Led Zeppelin III that featured “Tangerine”.  You don’t have to go any further than tracks two and three. The Zeppelin groove is there on “House of Cards” and the Robert Plant and Buddy Miller penned obvious ode to Led Zep III, “Central Two-O-Nine”.

Don’t get too comfortable, the next song may be a compass that leads Bono and U2 to Nashville for the next release after the disconnect of their previous outing. “Silver Rider” while reminding me of Englishman Terry Reid starts out sonically something akin to The Edge playing through one of T Bone Burnett’s old amps with worn out tubes and capacitors and rust smoothing out the long delay follow. Robert’s hushed duet style with Patty Griffin is the closest track vocally to “Raising Sand” on the disc but sung over a “U2-American scenic highway” stretch. Robert has found more sweet spots in his vocal range and style the last couple of years.

Okay, next up is definitely a tribute to The Beatles with a fairly unknown song by Billy and Bobby Babineaux titled “You Can’t Buy My Love” written as a response to “Can’t Buy Me Love”. That type of response song was common in Blues and Country up till about the mid 60’s.

Rather than move forward time wise, Robert stays in the mid 60’s and brings it back to Tennessee with the absolutely crossed Memphis Soul and Nashville Pedal Steel with a Gospel Quartet on “Falling in Love Again” that would make Elvis and The Stamps proud. I don’t really know if there ever was a song quite done this way with such a perfect half way point on I-40 between Nashville and Memphis. I know that if Elvis could hear it, he would be proud. I would say this is the most unique blend since Otis Redding and Duane Allman’s all-nighter at Muscle Shoals Sound that ended up with a complete retake on “Hey Jude” that beget Southern Rock.

If Randy Travis sang “The Only Sound That Matters” it would be on Country radio coast to coast but Plant makes it his own realizing that “Americana Music” means be yourself and it doesn’t hurt to be different in a genre that is what San Francisco was in the Sixties with its mix of Folk, Blues and just throw in some Graham Parsons for Cosmic Cowboy sake.

Robert pulls back towards the trance rock he was doing before Allison Krauss with the”  Tomorrow Never Knows” bloom of “Monkey”. It can be said that Robert was doing an album in Nashville without trying to be controlled by Americana’s boundaries or worrying if every track would fit in a corporately controlled radio structure. This is a low decibel duet with Patty Griffin over the non machine groove of real musicians sharing a communal vibe.

Uncle Dave Macon

Before ending the song cycle, Robert digs way back to the origins of Americana and dusts off Uncle Dave Macon’s “Cindy, I’ll Marry You Someday”. There is an added twist with the line “Come all the way from England, to steal your pretty hand”, somehow Robert is now in the traditional Appalachian tune with its roots in Scottish pub music, an Englishman would definitely be an outsider. This is a sparser offering instead of the drive and clogging codas from those early 78’s.

There is enough Led Zeppelin, Trance, Cosmic Cowboy and Americana for anybody to dig in and find something tasty. Just like the restaurants in Nashville that range from good Southern Fried Chicken and corn bread, to regional “Hot Chicken” and the Indian and Egyptian Buffets that form the melting pot of not only Nashville in 2010 but also this fine album that will be a shot heard around the world. You can do anything in Nashville. If you have lost your Mojo, try the capital of not only Country Music but songwriting and publishing, Music City.  Nashville is a vast mine of gems and Robert Plant has brought forth a well worn diamond with his co-pilot Buddy Miller and the rest of the crew in East Nashville.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN      thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com