October 11, 2016

New York, NY (Top40 Charts) Back when Keb' Mo' shot up to number one on the Americana chart I thought man this guy is on to something. Equally when the Grammy membership supported celebrating the blues by opening a museum in Mississippi I thought there could be synergy between the Foundation and the Grammy folks. Enter Barbara Newman and the 2016 Board. Man have things moved forward folks. I noticed a marked difference in external communications when a Grammy meeting was hosted by the Chicago chapter of the Grammy organization at the Blues Music Awards this past May. If you were in that meeting room then you know the chat between the blues pros and the Grammy panel was real - I mean right to the point. Soon afterward the Grammy organization announced an expanded set of choices for those submitting blues genre. That was cool. Next I noticed that Blues Foundation Board Members were going to be at the Americana Music Association meeting this month. My point is that this board is building...

October 10, 2016

Eighty-two is not an age when most musicians feel like trying something completely new.

Not John Mayall. Earlier this spring, his guitarist couldn’t make it to a gig. So for the first time in a career that spans more than half a century, the legendary British bluesman led his band through a full show as a trio.  “I’d never even thought about it until I did it,” he said in a recent call from his home in Los Angeles. “My god, looking back, I can’t remember any instance where I’ve gone any smaller than a quartet.”  Now, though, it’s all he wants to do. When Mayall hits the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater on Thursday (click here for details), he’ll be joined by bassist Greg Rzab, drummer Jay Davenport, and no one else.

“They’re a really special rhythm section,” Mayall said. “We’ve been together many, many years, and it’s just the interplay and the way we work together that makes it all very cohesive.”

High praise from a man who’s best known as one of the blues’ foremost pack rats of talent...

June 13, 2016

The odds were always stacked against him.

Ann Arbor's Laith Al-Saadi was one of tens of thousands of singers who applied during the open call for "The Voice" season 10. He made the cut, guaranteeinga blind audition in front of coaches Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams and Blake Shelton.

Hemade it through the battle rounds, the knockouts, and finally to the live performance shows. He made it through week after week of popular voting, as the field narrowed from twenty to ten and then down to the final four.

And every week, the coaches, host Carson Daly, bloggers and entertainment writers would refer to Laith Al-Saadi as an unlikely success.

Laith Al-Saadi doesn'tdance. He doesn't preen. He's 38 years old, has a long beard and long hair. He doesn't sing Bruno Mars songs. Instead, he employs a powerful, well-trained voice and phenomenal guitar chops to perform authentic rock, soul and blues music.

On a show like "The Voice," that made Laith Al-Saadi an unlikely success. But it...

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