Blind Raccoon Nola Blue Collection Volume One is a two-disc promotional sampler containing a total of 22 tracks from Nola Blue artists’ recordings released over the last two years. Let's have a look at some of them--all according to Tom Hambridge's motto: Blues Been Mighty Good To Me!
Benny Turner & Cash McCall
After careers spanning six decades, BMA nominee Benny Turner and Grammy-winning co-producer Cash McCall return to their roots in this inspired collection of Chicago treasures.
Producer Benny Turner says, “A death in the gospel world inspired me to contact my old friend Cash. I had no idea about his health problems and wanted to do whatever I could to help. Getting him involved in a music project seems to have been the best medicine in the world for him, because he is really excited about it. I asked Billy Branch if he was available to be a special guest on the record, and he didn’t hesitate for a minute to say, ‘Count me in!’”
Blues legends Benny Turner and Cash McCall’s friendship began in Chicago over sixty years ago. The pair reunited to revisit their roots and the songs they once played nightly in South and West Side nightspots for their album “Going Back Home.” The joyous blues summit took place at studios in Memphis, New Orleans and Chicago with an array of the finest players and special guests including, pianist Joe Krown, drummer Rodd Bland and three-time Grammy nominee Billy Branch. The duo trade off on lead vocals with Cash handling guitar and Turner laying down the bass as he did for years in his big brother Freddie King’s band. The ten songs each hold a special place for Cash and Turner and are a collection of Chicago era favorites and rare gems from the treasured songbook of the Blues Standards.
Michele D’Amour And The Love Dealers
Never being afraid of seizing the moment and capitalizing on an opportunity is a quality one must have to succeed in today’s harried climate and certainly a surefire way to fulfill your dreams. The emerging Northwest group Michele D’Amour And The Love Dealers took advantage of their trip to the birth place of the blues during IBC week in January of 2019 by snatching up some available studio time at the legendary Royal Studios with owner, engineer and producer Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell. D’Amour and her core band were in Memphis on a promotional tour that turned into an inspirational journey of discovery, now documented as the “Heart Of Memphis.”
The collection of seven new originals and the cover of a King Curtis classic ‘Memphis Soul Stew’ were recorded live off the floor at Royal on a Friday night by vocalist and award-winning songwriter Michele D’Amour and her stalwart Love Dealers band that features Patrick McDanel on bass, Dave Delzotto on drums, guitar man Jeff Cornell, keyboardist Brian Olendorf, keyboards, and Noel Barnes on saxophone. They took those inspired tracks back to Seattle, where they added a bit of spice and mixed them.
Tiffany Pollack & Eric Johanson
There is a long tradition of vocal duos in country and folk music, with groups like Sugarland and Shovels and Rope continuing to see success and popularity with the formula. Tiffany Pollack, an acclaimed New Orleans jazz singer, and Eric Johanson (performing courtesy of Whiskey Bayou Records), former lead guitarist for Cyril Neville, have teamed up to bring that winning tactic to the blues and roots world on their new album “Blues In My Blood.” Eleven tracks of original and select standards showcase the depth of each one’s talent with a new collaboration that is fresh and natural. The Louisiana natives, who each have been building a strong career, met when Pollack was reunited with her biological family at 25, and discovered they are cousins and third-generation members of a musical family with a rich history. After years of the cousins’ mothers pushing for them to work together, the duo project has come to fruition for a very personal family project in celebration of the blues.
This inspirational duo of Tiffany Pollack and Eric Johanson bring an indie, roots-based approach to the blues, both honoring and expanding the traditions they learned growing up in Louisiana. Their powerful songwriting is a gift that flows from the undeniable blues in their blood.
Originally from the Finger Lakes of NY State, singer/songwriter/guitarist Meg Williams (now based in Nashville), has signed with Nola Blue Records for her debut full-length album, “Take Me As I Am: The Muscle Shoals Sessions.” Her 2017 EP, “Maybe Someday,” opened many doors for Williams, including the chance to compete in the 2019 International Blues Challenge (Memphis, TN), representing the Kentucky Blues Society, and become the house band director for the Women In Blues Showcase.
Williams, who draws instant comparisons to Susan Tedeschi and Bonnie Raitt, was obviously inspired during her sessions at FAME Recording Studios to take full advantage of the aesthetic of the space that gave birth to 100’s of hit records and is home to the world-renowned Swampers rhythm section, and its formula for rocking soul and R&B.
The sessions, produced by Meg and engineered by John Gifford Ill, has Williams backed by an all-star rhythm section including Will McFarlane on guitar, Bob Wray on bass, Clayton Ivey on keys and Justin Holder on drums. Also appearing are Dan Wecht on guitar/slide guitar and Sara Rogers on background vocals. The album is a collection of 12 original songs, penned by Williams alone or in collaboration with Nashville-based songwriters Claire Kelly, Scott Barrier, Chase Walker, Terry Goose Downing, and Jenny Teator, that includes new versions of ‘l Feel A Heartache Coming’ and ‘Little Bit Of The Devil’ from the EP.
Photo Credits: (1) Blind Raccoon/Nola Blue, (2) Benny Turner, (3) Tiffany Pollack, (4) Michele D’Amour And The Love Dealers, (5) Cash McCall, (6) Meg Williams (unknown/website).