The Best Of Blues Edition #3: Straps, Sirius XM & Susan Tedeschi
Blues enthusiasts have a tendency to look to the past. So much of the music that we love was written by musicians who are now either dead, or too old to perform. These musicians are a vital part of the blues and should always be remembered. But in placing so much emphasis on the past, we risk missing out on the new and exciting blues scene.
I fell into this trap not too long ago. So over the past 6 months, I have been on a mission to engage with the modern blues scene. In the process I’ve discovered some amazing musicians that I want to share with you. As a result, every couple of weeks I’ll be writing about some of the best blues musicians on the modern scene, as well as new guitar gear and tips and tricks to help your playing. Here is what has been on my radar over the past couple of weeks:
Discovering new songs, bands and musicians is one of life’s great pleasures. I have long relied on Spotify and its recommendations to help me on this front, and it has worked brilliantly. But like everyone, I always feel at risk of listening to the same handful of bands on repeat.
Luckily, I have recently found B.B. King’s Bluesville – a blues dedicated radio channel on Sirius XM. This was actually the recommendation of a Happy Bluesman reader, so Kevin – thank you very much!
The channel has really helped to broaden my horizons, thanks to the diversity of blues music that is featured. All of the blues greats make a regular appearance on the station, but there are also specific shows that focus on sub-genres within the blues. As a result I’ve started to listen to more acoustic blues, and have discovered a number of modern players too. To top it all off, Joe Bonamassa has his own show once or twice a week – exploring ‘every facet of the Blues world’.
The show is streamed in the US on Eastern Time zone, but you can easily stream it by following this link here. Have a listen and let me know what you think!
I read an interesting quote in the UK version of Guitarist magazine last month. Talking about guitar straps, one of the writers posed the question:
‘If you have a three grand guitar, why hang it off a £15 length of nylon?’
I think a lot of guitarists (myself included) are guilty of this. We get fixated on amps, pedals and guitars but neglect accessories that whilst simple, can make a big difference to the look or functionality of our rig.
Until recently, guitar straps have not even featured on my gear wish list. I bought my Fender Strat 3 years ago, and have only ever used the free strap that was included in the case. I’ve since decided it’s time for a change. I love my guitar and think it’s time to show it the TLC that it deserves.
So I’ve been looking at Epivo guitar straps.
I stumbled across the brand on Instagram and love the retro vibe and design of their straps, all of which are reminiscent of the psychedelic accessories used by players like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton in the 1960s. The straps come in a wide range of different styles and thicknesses and they are all individually handmade in Germany. Worldwide shipping is free, and the company also offers services like engraving, which is a nice retro touch.
At around $70/£50, these straps are in a slightly higher price bracket. But if you’re looking for a strap that looks amazing and is built to a super high standard, definitely check these guys out.
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to see The Tedeschi Trucks Band at the London Palladium. It was one of the best gigs that I have ever been to. Every element of their performance was flawless. The sound quality was amazing, their set list was beautifully crafted and the level of skill amongst all 12 members of the band was inspiring.
I have been a huge fan of Derek Trucks for the past couple of years, and was blown away by his playing. But I was equally in awe of front woman Susan Tedeschi. She has a perfect voice for the blues – full of soul and emotion, but with a gritty edge to it. Her performance was note perfect.
Following the gig I have been listening to a lot more of Susan Tedeschi’s solo albums. The early albums – like Just Won’t Burn and Hope And Desire showcase Tedeschi’s powerful vocals, as well as her skills as a singer/songwriter. You can hear the influence of those musicians who had a notable impact on Tedeschi – like Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan.
It is however Susan Tedeschi’s last solo album – Back To The River – that is my favourite. Released in 2008, it shot to Number One on the Billboard blues album charts. It also earned Tedeschi a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album.
The album gives a sense of the material that Tedeschi later went on to write with husband Trucks as part of The Tedeschi Trucks Band. All of the songs on the album are brilliant, but some of the standout tracks are People, Love Will and 700 Houses.
This last song is one of my favourite blues songs of all time. It is so full of soul and emotion and perfectly captures the feeling of the blues. If you are looking for new music, then add this album to your playlist. It is one of the best and most interesting blues albums that I’ve heard in a long time.
Well that’s it for this edition. I hope you’ve found it useful and you enjoy listening to Susan Tedeschi and B.B. King’s Bluesville. Have a great week and if you’ve got any questions, just pop them in the comments section below or send me an email on [email protected]