Archives for category: Muscle Shoals Alabama

debbie bond enjoy the rideDebbie Bond going deep into Alabama Soul Blues Heritage on Enjoy The Ride

Debbie Bond shifts into Northern Alabama soul grooves on the semi-autobiographical Enjoy The Ride – The Muscle Shoals Sessions with increased depth and focus more than ever before with slide guitar, background vocals and deep production reminiscent of what put Muscle Shoals on the map.

`Working with legendary Recording Engineer Billy Lawson [FAME, Muscle Shoals Sound, Wishbone ] as well as Jerry Masters [FAME, Muscle Shoals Sound] and Charles Allen at Big Star Recording Studio, Debbie was able to deliver a timeless slice of Muscle Shoals Soul Blues from the true crossroads of all things true Southern American music.

Debbie Bond’s voice, playing and writing have developed like a fine wine so that with the addition of great horns and background vocals, Debbie continues to cut through everything to keep the focus on her unique style.

Debbie pays homage to Willie King with the best take of “I Am The Blues” that may have ever been recorded while paying tribute to other Alabama Blues mentors Eddie Kirkland and Jody Williams.

The addition of horns and strong background vocals only adds to the dynamics of Debbie Bond’s voice; it’s a revelation of grand proportions.

With guest spots by keyboardist Spooner Oldham, in addition to horn players Brad Guin and Will McFarlane [Bonnie Raitt], Enjoy The Ride – The Muscle Shoals Sessions proves to be a cohesive career defining work with a sound that pulls Alabama Blues and Alabama Soul into one forged weld molten edge of sound.

To be truthful, soul groove has always been a part of what has made Alabama Blues distinctive; music that warms the soul from the inside out like a good meat and three washed down with some sweet tea.

Debbie pulls together the diversity of sound that has put Alabama on the map and shapes it into a well—defined crown of jewels which justifies her calling card as the Ambassador of Alabama Blues to the world. By adding the Muscle Shoals sound and production, this really creates a new chapter much like when Wilson Pickett and Duane Allman jammed all night on “Hey Jude” and started a whole genre that became Southern Rock.

Enjoy The Ride – The Muscle Shoals Sessions ends with “Train Song” which everybody eventually has to write if they have anything to do with Blues or Rock and Roll. Debbie’s train song means it will be time to hit the road, especially in Europe where things are really taking off.

Enjoy The Ride sets a new bar after the Live album That Thing Called Love which put the spotlight on Debbie Bond on stages around the world. This is her finest work yet and delivers on the Alabama promise of pure bliss.

  • Brad Hardisty [The Nashville Bridge, Performer]
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bonnie bramlett vinyl 004“As you may have noticed my daughters are campaigning for their father’s musical legacy. Our Michele has taken the reins and with her sisters right by her side, she has tested the waters (so to speak) to see if she would be embraced by our peers and she has been 🙂

Delaney passed away not long ago and his daughters naturally want to celebrate his life’s work, secure the recognition it deserves and bring it to a wider audience. He made some great music as a solo artist, as well as with Delaney & Bonnie. “– message from Bonnie Bramlett on her official website.

bonnie bramlett vinyl 007An Atco copy of Delaney & Bonnie’s “Only You Know and I Know” obviously well-loved and in fair condition for $1.00 at The Great Escape – Madison location spinning at 45 on the turntable; well worth the dig!

bonnie bramlett vinyl 003bonnie bramlett vinyl 005Hearing Bonnie sing gorgeous harmony  on “Let It Rain” from a vinyl copy of Eric Clapton’s first solo album along with Delaney & Bonnie’s great southern band brothers, Rita Coolidge and Leon Russell on a good condition copy found at Phonoluxe for $4.00…cool!

bonnie bramlett vinyl 010bonnie bramlett vinyl 011I found a well-worn jacket hiding a near mint platter of Bonnie Bramlett’s covers album Lady’s Choice  recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and Capricorn Sound Studio at Fond Object that features the whole Muscle Shoals crew, Johnny Sandlin, David Hood, Jimmy Hall as well as guests Gregg Allman and a Tuscaloosa cat with a current Rolling Stones gig; Chuck Leavell.

bonnie bramlett gregg allman 2bonnie bramlett gregg allman 1Dropping the needle on the duet, “Two Steps From The Blues” with Gregg Allman reminds me of when I was standing on the back wall of the Alabama Theater in 2007 at The Scott Boyer Benefit with Gregg leaning on my arm as we peaked out from behind the horn section to watch Bonnie sing before he was going on. Gregg would whisper to me, “I played on that.” “I remember when we did that one.”  Gregg knew her set as well as Bonnie. I could tell he was a fan. Finally, Gregg said, “Well, I guess I better go get ready.”  $5.99 for vinyl Bonnie Bramlett Muscle Shoals Nirvana; Awesome!

bonnie bramlett backstage 2007Bonnie backstage cupping her hands over my ear and singing “Good Rockin’ Tonight” at The Alabama Theater in 2007 while she was waiting to go onstage…PRICELESS!

bonnie bramlett vinyl 008

all photos of album jackets, vinyl records also photos taken of artwork and Gregg Allman at The Alabama Theater taken by Brad Hardisty.

Photo with Bonnie Bramlett backstage at The Alabama Theater – unknown *

Gregg Allman on the back wall of The Alabama Theater 2007 with my arm and one of his best friends -photo –  Tiny

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

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 027 smallDebbie Bond was the guest last Monday night on WRFN Radio Free Nashville’s Mando Blues Show recorded in a huge army tent at Omega Studio high on the top of a peak at an undisclosed location in the nearby Nashville wilderness.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 030 smalldebbie bond mando blues 04082013 028 smallA fantastic crew with Tony Gerber , known for his electronic music compositions, acting as host for the night, went to work on soundcheck with Debbie and her band featuring Rick Asherson on keyboards and Dave Crenshaw on drums getting a much bigger than it looks sound going into the green spec recording layout.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 014 smallOmega has developed a layout for power using not much more than six car batteries, car stereo amplifiers and LED lighting to run at a deceptively low 1600 watts with state of the art recording as can be seen by linking to the net recordings of the summit.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 023 smallDebbie brought much more than just blues experience playing with Willie King and Johnny Shines for almost thirty years in Alabama displaying soulful grooves with a nod to Muscle Shoals, Alabama writers like Eddie Hinton, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham. In this case, the western Alabama juke joint grooves may be at the heart, but, this was soulful blues.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 020 smallDebbie brought three new songs that will be featured on her next album, “Find A Way,” That Thing Called Love” and “Steady Rolling Man,” that fit right in with “I like It Like That” from her days with Willie King as well as some songs from her most current release Hearts Are Wild with a stand-out version of the slow ballad blues of “Falling.”

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 037 smallNashville session saxophonist Tom Pallardy sat in later in the set after a successful collaborative prior night set at The Nashville Jazz and Blues Awards at Bourbon Street in Printers Alley.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 035 smallHost Tony Gerber paid tribute to female blues artists with his in-between tracks that also featured some rare Richie Havens and alternative version material.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 010 smallMando Blues is an esoteric record store workers dream where true collectors and music geeks get to hear all things blues and related materials. They all get a little spotlight. There may be no show quite like this in the world.

An invited group of about 10-12 people got to sit-in on the live recording happening that fit a BBC type production with high production values and plenty of meat in the interview.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 013 smallTony asked the right questions that will give any listener the feeling they knew where Debbie came from and what she is about after listening to the two hour show.

Although there are provided links to watch video of each one of the songs, it is well worth the price of free admission to listen to the entire show to get the interview segments as well as Rick’s “Monty Python meets Muscle Shoals” sense of humor.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 007 smallDebbie is a native of California, but, her time growing up was spent in England and Europe while Rick’s roots are Londontown. Debbie and Rick almost crossed paths in College back in England, but, never actually met until Alabama Bluesman, Willie “Sweet Potato Man” King suggested they get to know one another in Western Alabama.

Roy Wooten aka “Futureman” stopped by to listen in and dug the Alabama soul groove coming out of the eventual four piece band with Rick sometimes playing the utility guy playing bass with one hand on the Nord keyboard and blues harp with the other hand and singing back – up vocals. If he had one more arm, they probably could have a full horn section.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 029 smallTom Pallardy’s sax fit right into the song as if he had been playing with Debbie for years but, in reality he had not heard much of the material. Dave Crenshaw brought down the volume on the drum kit to match the production set up without losing any of the grooves, in fact, it brought out the true dynamics of the songs.

Debbie was so happy with the production and final mix of the material that she has already talked about further recording collaboration with the Omega team.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 039 smallIt can be said, that there is probably know recording studio like it in the world, with its MASH style tent set up and being at the mountain peak as well as a crew with ears straight out of a JBL lab anechoic chamber. They know what they are doing and they love what they are producing.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 016 smallWhile production was going on, some of the staff was busy cooking a meal fit for a king in a wood burning cast iron stove in cast iron pots.  The band and crew were treated to Venison Stew, fresh picked greens and chicken after the final wrap.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 008 small–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

all photos (c) Brad Hardisty

Chips Moman at Country Music Hall of Fame, all photos – Brad Hardisty

Chips Moman was at The Ford Theater in The Country Music Hall of Fame as part of the “Celebrate the King” series on Saturday, August 19th and spent a little over an hour talking about over thirty years worth of work in the music industry. If there were a list of the top 25 people that are responsible for American music today as we know it, Chips would be there.

Chips, who grew up in La Grange, Georgia, got a ukulele when he was three and a guitar when he was four, hitchhiked to Memphis to stay with his Aunt when he was just fourteen. When asked why he decided to go to Memphis, Chips just said, “I had never been there before.”

Scotty Moore and Brad Hardisty at Chips Moman Interview

Chips, who rarely does such interviews, drew a five star crowd of musicians that worked with him, especially in the Memphis years. Original guitarist for Elvis, Scotty Moore as well, the members of The Memphis Boys, sessions cats from the American Sound Studio years featuring guitarist, Reggie Young. Also, Gary Talley from The Box Tops.

James Burton, the other prominent guitarist in Elvis Presley’s career was also there.

Chips, who grew up listening to Les Paul & Mary Ford on the radio as a young boy, was also asked when he first heard Black Music. Chips just said, “I guess it was while I was picking cotton when I was a boy,” which brought a little laughter. It was hard to get a straight answer when one of the architects of the Memphis Sound was just going to play off your last statement.

Johnny Burnette & The Rock and Roll Trio

Chips Moman started playing guitar on some Sun Sessions for Warren Smith. In those early days, he played guitar in road bands for Gene Vincent and The Burnette Brothers.

Chips left Memphis for a while and headed out to California and worked at Gold Star studios as a session player while learning the studio experience where Phil Spector would develop the “Wall of Sound” production techniques.

With that experience, Chips was ready to work with somebody to start an R&B label when he got back to Memphis. Chips had talked Jim Stewart into buying a tape machine and went to scope out a place for a studio with Paul Ritchie and it was really under Chips insistence that they purchased the Theater on McLemore Avenue in Memphis that would serve as the recording studio for Satellite and Stax releases.

Defining the Stax Sound,Chips writes “Last Night”

In fact Chips wrote the first big hit, “Last Night” by The Markeys that was on Satellite Records and helped to establish the Memphis Sound with the driving beat, horns and locked in guitar, bass and drums.

Chips was a true visionary able to play guitar, compose music, run a label and act as Producer for well over 100 Billboard hits during the sixties and seventies.

A little inside story, Chips owned a little British sports car where Booker T. & The MG’s got their name from.

When asked why he left Stax, the simple answer was that he wasn’t getting paid.

 

The first hit record out of American Sound Studio.

What happened next was the founding of his own studio, American Sound Studio, where not only did Chips continue composing and Producing, but, other great American Producers such as Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd worked to create some magic including the classic album, Dusty in Memphis by Dusty Springfield.

Elvis with The Memphis Boys at American

If you ever wondered how Elvis Presley ended up recording in Memphis, Marty Lacker, Elvis’ confidante who ran the day to day operations of the Memphis Mafia put that one together and delivered one of his finest albums in 1969, the Chips Moman Produced, From Elvis in Memphis, which featured some of Elvis’ greatest late career recordings, “Suspicious Minds,” “In The Ghetto” and “Kentucky Rain.”

After the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination, the vibe had changed in Memphis and so did the music business. Chips began spending more time in Nashville and Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  Chips co-wrote “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” for Aretha Franklin whom he said was one his favorite singers at that time. Chips played guitar on that track along with tracks by Wilson Pickett.

Produced by Chips Moman

Although, Chips would have liked to see things get back the way they were in Memphis, they never did turn around and later on, Chips ended up producing a lot of great recordings by Willie Nelson, Gary Stewart, Tammy Wynette, Ronnie Milsap, and The Highwaymen.

Chips discussing Waylon Jennings

Chips penned, “ Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love)” for Waylon Jennings after hearing him talk about the place.

Chips earned a Grammy for writing the B.J. Thomas hit, “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Done Somebody Wrong Song.”

Chips moved seamlessly from musician to songwriter to producer to studio owner in the triumvirate domain that was Memphis, Muscle Shoals and Nashville speaking in R&B, Pop and Country like it was water out of the same stream.

On the current state of Memphis…”It aint Nashville.”  Without being critical of Memphis itself, that statement was enough that not much else needs to be said. Chips went back in the 80’s to try to turn it around, but, although there are still some quality music coming out of studios in Memphis, the infrastructure that was there from the 60’s through to the early 70’s may never happen again.

Chips finally settled back down in La Grange, Texas where he raises horses. Chips said, “My Walking Horses are running and my Running Horses are walking.”

An afternoon with one of the greats – Chips Moman

With such a well respected lifespan in the music business there were certainly many milestones rather than one single event in the life of Chips Moman.

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

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Mercy Lounge – Photo/ Brad Hardisty

Thursday night would mark three years since the first time I saw Jason Isbell (former Drive-By Truckers) and his then “new” band, The 400 Unit in 2009.  Jason was at Mercy Lounge last night at what he called his first “hometown” gig, I might be wrong, but, I think he said since he moved here.

Whether or not that is correct, Jason was playing a Nashville “insider” guitar, a session guy’s new secret weapon, a Duesenberg Gold Top with the futuristic looking German engineered vibrato arm. The retro looking euro-high tech guitars were first popularized by Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) but are making their way into Nashville via Rock Block Guitars in a big way.

Jason has always been known for tasty guitar licks, but, he has really developed some deft country licks without going pure Brent Mason. It still has that Muscle Shoals “where Soul meets Country thang” going on.

I was excited to see where he was at since hearing his new project back in 2009. Back then, it was like he was excited to kind of graft in the family tree of Muscle Shoals legends with something akin to The Band or The Heartbreakers (Tom Petty not Johnny Thunders) but now, three albums in and four years on the road, The 400 Unit (named after the former Psychiatric Ward at Florence, Alabama’s Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital) is a crackerjack five piece band, tight and lucid like the heir apparent to The Decoys, that features classic Muscle Shoals players, David Hood, Scott Boyer, Kelvin Holly and sometimes even Spooner Oldham on keys.

Jason has put a lot of weight on his shoulders by putting himself squarely in the middle of a heavy tradition with writers and players like Eddie Hinton, Dan Penn and Donnie Fritts. I have to say it is working out much better than the first time I heard him.  The set was great, the tone, the crowd and the band. I’m glad that he is doing what he is doing. He has refined the dynamics and is now digging a little deeper than the Gibson Les Paul into a Fender thing.

In fact, he pulled a 1970’s era classic Muscle Shoals tune out of his hat as well as a little “Stone Free” on the bridge of the last song before the encores. There was even an ounce of continuity or deja vu for me between that 2009 set at The State Room in Salt Lake City and the one in Nashville the other night.

Justin Townes Earle, The State Room, Salt Lake City, 2009 – Photo / Brad Hardisty

Justin Townes Earle opened for Jason Isbell back on that tour as he was taking off with The Good Life   then Jason Isbell played on Justin’s Harlem River Blues and  Justin was their last night for Jason’s set just catching it from the back.  It’s hard to miss Justin, he’s a tall presence, back then, he had a little Hank Williams style going on, now, it was an overcoat and fedora flair.

Hey, but, let’s get back to Jason. The Country music business is going about creating their own brand of country while there is this parallel universe where most of the Country Artists out of Texas, as well as newcomers, the august, and independent folks like Adam Hood and Jason Isbell pack them in when they come to Nashville.

Jason is some country, some soul and some heart wrenching lyrics, in reality, it’s all about Alabama, with a nod to Hank Williams-style sad lyrics, Duane Allman style ( Jason rocked on this, sometimes with a slide on two different fingers)slide guitar and a country boy from Greenhill, Alabama telling life stories that makes this worth listening too.  He has some solid fans in Nashville.

Dead Fingers, Mercy Lounge, 2012 – Photo / Brad Hardisty

Openers, Dead Fingers, Taylor Hollingsworth and Kate Taylor from Birmingham, Alabama got the invite and as Taylor said, “Alabama, represent!” Taylor has some of his own style going on, incorporating some Mississippi Hill Country Blues and rawhide Country into some Indie folk goings on.

Kate sang probably the strongest set I have heard her do so far; a real standout and an accomplishment at six months pregnant.  Kate has a great mix of Emmylou Harris and sixties vibe queens like Elaine “Spanky” McFarlane of Spank & Our Gang somewhere in that voce bella.

Dead Fingers were just at The Basement two weeks ago. Nashville is looking forward to hearing some more tracks in the future. You could say they are Birmingham’s Civil Wars, but, that would put them too much into a box after all the true Mississippi connections Taylor has made as well as his work with Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band.

Taylor’s slide playing was a standout last night. One of the fun things about Taylor’s playing is when you know his songs, you know when he is experimenting or seeing if the band will go wherever he wanders off too. He didn’t too much of that last night, but, he still looked like he was having fun and there were plenty of Nashvillians and probably some Bowling Green patrons wandering south for the night in the audience when they went on at 9 PM. 

Great Alabama-centric night at Mercy Lounge!

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