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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

In The Beginning....Skip James!


After several months of deliberation, BluePower has come to the conclusion that it would be beneficial to develop a series which exposed the many fine artists who added so much to the rich heritage of the American folk tradition called The Blues.

In order to accomplish our goals in this regard, we needed the product necessary to assemble these pieces of business. Coming to our aid in the form of early Blues product was Mr. Alec Palao and his great company, Ace Records of London, England whom we gratefully thank for their generosity and kindness.

Our first show highlights one of the strangest and most unique Blues artists of all time....Nehemiah Curtis James who came to be known as Skip James.

Born in 1902 in Bentonia, Mississippi, Mr. James struggled all his life to find a place in the world of the Blues. It took him til nearly the end of his life before he was discovered by three, up and coming, young musicians who talked him into taking a giant step to become known.

Listen as BluePower tells a brief history of Mr. Skip James and plays some of his amazing music.

Stay Tuned....
John Rhys

Here's the music:

1)...."Hand Clappin' "....Red Prysock....Mercury Records
2)...."Hard Time Killing Floor Blues....Skip James....Blues From The Delta....Ace Records
3)...."Careless Love"....Skip James....Blues From The Delta....Ace Records
4)...."Devil Got My Woman"....Skip James....Blues From The Delta....Ace Records
5)...."Crow Jane"....Skip James....Blues From The Delta....Ace Records
6)...."I'm So Glad"....Skip James....Blues From The Delta....Ace Records
7)...."I'm So Glad"....Cream....Fresh Cream....Atlantic Records
8)...."Hand Clappin' "....Red Prysock....Mercury Records

Click here to listen to....In The Beginning....The Birth Of The Blues....Skip James!

Click here to go to Ace Records!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

TRI Studios....A Step Into The Future!

Several months ago my son David invited me to record some of my music at a studio complex up near Sebastopol. So on the 12th of  September I made my way to Sebastopol with no real idea as to what to expect.

On the 13th, (Friday), I found myself sitting alongside my son as we headed toward  TRI Studios which is located in San Rafael. We stopped for breakfast which was delicious and finally found ourselves in the parking lot of TRI Studios.

It looked like any other industrial building with hardly any mention that a studio might be located there. David showed me the door and I reluctantly stepped inside.

The first thing I noticed was the road case against the wall with the lettering, Grateful Dead. As my eyes became accustomed to the light, I saw a large room with a keyboard set up on one side, a set of drums in the corner and a small baffle with a vocal mike and a Telefunken mic in the center. Last but not least was a bass set-up for my son.

David and I were the first musicians to arrive and we immediately went to get a cup of coffee. The lounge needs to be described. First of all, there were numerous posters of The Grateful Dead hanging on the walls. Early group shots, a clock made from old 45 records and the best coffee I ever had in a recording studio. I felt as though I were stepping back in time.

We went back into the studio to get set up. Rick Vargas, the engineer came in and introduced himself and showed me where to sit. I sat behind the short baffle and unpacked my guitar. My Tanglewood looked small in this immense room. I was becoming excited. Everywhere I looked was sound reinforcing equipment. In the back of the room, behind me, there was a complete mixing console. I was told it was used when Bob Weir filmed his TV show, Weir Here.

Before the other musicians came, I asked Rick where there might be a set of headphones I could use. His answer was strange. "You won't need headphones", he answered and went back to the control room. I was baffled in more ways than one.

I plugged my guitar into a direct box and asked David how I was supposed to hear myself. A voice came from nowhere and said, "Play!" I started playing and all of a sudden my guitar sounded as though it was in The Hollywood Bowl. It was big and yet all the nuances of my style could be heard. The sound was coming from the ceiling. The voice came back and said, "Sing!" I sang and the vocals were clear and pure with just the right amount of echo. I was astonished! What kind of set-up was this?

David explained that the studio had been built to enhance the musician's sense of playing live music by eliminating the need for both headphones and baffles. This room is set to record live music with no leakage or none that is noticeable. The sound design is by Meyer Sound and the software is Space Map which is utilized by the Constellation System. From what I could tell, the ceiling contains six sections, any of which can be used to reinforce the sound of the musicians and can be moved so that the players can hear their instruments easily without headphones or baffling obstructing their view.

After the musicians arrived and started playing, I began to understand what was happening. Rick came in with an iPad with the Space Command controls installed and as we played he moved our sounds from one section of the ceiling to the other until the balance was correct. The music sounded great and everyone could hear quite well. I wondered about leakage.

I have been an engineer since 1960 and worked in studios all over the world but never had I witnessed anything like this. Virtually no leakage at all appeared on the recordings we made and the masters are as clean as I've ever heard. New technology ain't all bad.

Let me speak of the musicians with whom I had the pleasure to play. Jeff Chimenti played the keyboards, Jason Crosby played viola, Jay Lane played drums and Dave Schools played bass. Never before have I played with a more consummate group of musicians. I had the time of my life.

I found my son David has become a natural producer. Never, for one moment, did I feel stress of any kind and that, too, reminded me of the old days. My son's quiet guidance helped this old man through two days of intense work. I am proud of both David and myself.

May I also mention the fact that the recorders and the cameras never stopped rolling the entire time I was recording or even in the room. You've got to wonder where all that material is being stored. Those are some huge files.

My personal thanks to Rick Vargas (chief engineer) and to Justin Kreutzmann (video director) for their help in making this project a leap of love.

And to my son, Dave Schools, for making his old man as happy as he's been for a long time.

I will keep you all posted as to the outcome of this session. I am told I must go back to TRI for more work to which I am most assuredly....looking forward.

John Rhys Eddins
BluePower.com

Click here to visit TRI Studio!

Here is an explanation of the Constellation System!

A few corrections....

Space map is a feature within the Constellation System program. It allows you to insert a signal ie: vocal or guitar into the system at the same time giving u the option of choosing the location from which u hear it coming. There are 4 external inputs available in the system. The whole system itself is the Meyer Sound Constellation System. 20 DPA microphones pick sound up and 72 speakers (in real time) play reverb back to the musician. This is just the Constellation System alone. When recording, microphones are added and I can buss those signals into the available external inputs. The room is split in half so if there's an audience, they can hear the ambiance differently than the musicians. This is also good for creating slap back to mimic stadiums.

Rick Vargas
PopWorks Music
@rolemodelrick

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jackie Lomax, An Honorable Man!



It was late in 1975 that I found a gentleman waiting in the lobby of my small studio in Hollywood, California. The man was of English decent and said he understood that I was also British. After a cup of coffee, he discussed his reason for coming to me.

It seemed he needed to make a demo for submission to record companies so that he could procure a record deal for himself. His name was Jackie Lomax. He then proceeded to play some of the tunes he wished to record. I was astounded! Being a record producer most of my life, I looked for artists who were gifted writers and performers. Jackie was both.

He asked if I would front the studio time for the demos and he would return the favor by paying the studio back at full bore plus 15%. Of course I knew of whom Jackie was as I had been a Capitol Records producer during the time of The Beatles and the beginnings of Apple Records on which Jackie Lomax had one of the first releases as an independent artist. In essence, I knew Jackie was an artist of note and therefore decided I would take the shot.

The studio time was arranged and Jackie said he had all the musicians but the keyboard player. I suggested Johnny Stephenson, a phenomenal player who resided in Hollywood. Johnny signed on to the project and we were off.

The night for tracking came and all the musicians were in place. Roy Alfred, a young and gifted engineer who worked for me at Hollywood Central set up the studio as Jackie and I worked with the musicians.

The tracks we cut came out beautifully and Jackie laid down his lead vocals like a pro.

When the tracks were complete, young Roy Alfred mixed the tracks to perfection and the masters were given to Jackie. He said he would return when he had secured a record deal from someone. Roy and I sat that night in the control room after everyone was gone and we had secured the studio discussing whether or not Jackie would ever come back to repay the loan. One never knew.

Several months later, Jackie walked in to the studio with a big smile, telling us he had done a deal with Capitol Records and then commenced to cut us a check for the full amount agreed. Jackie Lomax was not only terrifically talented but also....an honorable man.

What is sad in this story is the record that was finally released by Capitol had none of the original demo's energy and seemed to stray completely from Jackie's original intent. I have no idea why but it made me sad.

For years, I have kept the original demos in my vault and never released them to the world. I must do that now that Jackie is gone so that people will know how the original versions of these songs sounded.

I am truly sorry that the musicians list disappeared through the years. I hope that someone who was on that session can fill me in and I will list them all, as the players were as good as they come.

Here are the original recordings as they were mixed in 1975. Enjoy!

Click titles to play!

1...."Soul Light"
2...."More (Livin' For Lovin')
3...."California"
4...."Who's Foolin' Who"

Please help us find who the band members are. Reports are starting to come in a bit at a time. If you played this session, please let us know.

Lead vocals....Jackie Lomax
Bass................Kim Gardner
Slide guitar, guitar....Paul Barrere 
BGs.....Lea Santos (strong on "Soul Light")
Drums....Stu (someone) 

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

This Was American Radio....John Richbourg, WLAC!



I was ten years old when I heard WLAC for the first time. My mother and I were on our way home to Tallahassee, Florida from somewhere in Georgia when I turned the radio on in the car. It was late in the evening as I searched for some music to help keep my mom awake. I turned the dial all the way to the end and was just about to turn it the other way when I heard, "Have Mercy Baby" and a spiel about baby chicks neither my mom or I could believe. We laughed and laughed not realizing the ad was for real and that many good folks actually bought the unbelievable deals broadcast from WLAC, Nashville, Tennessee.

That was the first of my long-lasting, nightly sojourns to the world of blues and R&B. John R. quickly became my favorite but I loved all the jocks at that illustrious broadcast station. Most of all I loved the music they played.

Many musicians such as Joe Bennett of The Sparkletones remembers how important WLAC was to road musicians who were always traveling from one town to the next.

WLAC also helped spawn hundreds of independent record labels and break even more young artists into a career of performance and songwriting.

Listen now as BluePower takes you back through time to an era when there were hundreds of indie labels and the record business was not controlled by a handful of "major" labels.

John Rhys/BluePower.com

Listen to....An Evening With WLAC Radio's, John Richbourg (Part 1)!

Listen to....An Evening With WLAC Radio's, John Richbourg (Part 2)!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Uncle Tom....Setting Music Back 50 Years!

My name is John Rhys. I retired from business in 2007 and was immediately bored stiff. I now had quite a bit of reasonably free time so I contacted my old friend, Eddie Ponder to see if he would like to get together and play some music. Seems he was as bored as I and we decided to meet a couple of times a week to jam some tunes.

Eddie and I had actually been working together since 1973. I had acquired a piece of a small studio in Hollywood called Hollywood Central Recorders and during a musician's jam we held every Tuesday evening, I met Eddie. We became fast friends and I used Eddie on most of my sessions for years.

Now it came to pass that Eddie and I started playing quite well together and we took to going out and playing open mic nights in the Valley. We had fun! A couple of older, dignified gentlemen, playing out and about. And yes....we did get a bit of "Watch out old guys! We're young and we're gonna dust you!", comments. Eddie and I are tighter than a gnat's ass. That alone should tell you what happened. Youthful exuberance toppled by a pair of calm, cool and professional musicians that were there for love of the music alone. We already had our fifteen minutes of fame each and now we just play for the love of playing.

I met Steve Smith in Santa Monica one Sunday afternoon. I was inspired by his ethereal spirit and the fact that he played harp in a very unusual way. We got together one evening and I knew then that there was something special in that man. We have been playing together now for over two years and I must admit, I have never had so much fun in my life.



The name,"Uncle Tom" is based on the fact that my son, David calls me The Old Man. When Eddie, Steve and I decided to go out and perform together we knew we would need a name and I picked Uncle Tom.  Folks have grown used to the name by now and we hardly receive jibes anymore. And besides....We've all been an "Uncle Tom" at one point or another in our lives.

I've been in the music business since 1960. I've been a promoter, producer, publisher and player for all this time and I must say for sure, I enjoy playing most of all.

So here are a few new things on which we've been working and we hope you enjoy them.

Here's a song called "Cut The Deck". It was written by Robert Hunter....lyrics. With Mickey Hart, Ben Yonas and Cliff Goldmacher doing melodic duty. This is a video! However, we discussed the fact that we lip-synced this video as we had no idea as to how to approach the camera while we were recording initially.

View.... "Cut The Deck"

Another video is "Ain't It Funny What A Little Blues Will Do". For some reason my son David, who co-produced this session with me wanted me alone on this song but I decided to over-dub Steve Smith on Harp. This a song we all do together normally. This too is a video.

View...."Ain't It Funny What A Little Blues Will Do"
This song was written by John Rhys. Published by: Hollywood Allstar Music.

Next, there are three songs not yet edited to the film we made but you can listen to them by clicking on the links. They have not been mixed to video, thus they are untouched so you can hear how the songs sounded prior to mixing.

Listen to...."Broadway Social Hall"
Written by Richard Trees. Published by : Hollywood Allstar Music

Listen to...."Honky Red"
Written by Murray McLauchan. Publisher unknown.

Listen to...."When Red Turns Blue"
Written by John Rhys and Bob Verne. Published by: Hollywood Allstar Music and Beanbag Music.

Now....the last three videos:

View...."Honky Red"
You might like to know that since we never really filmed "Honky Red" on the first session, we went back in and did a fairly masterful job of lip-syncing. Check it out.

View...."Broadway Social Hall"  
This video was shot at the time we were recording the tracks with a single, static camera on all three of us. You can see the mic positioning and how it was recorded. A good video to watch if you really want to see Uncle Tom in "live" mode.

View...."When Red Turns Blue"
The same goes for "When Red Turns Blue". This song has become one of our audience favorites and one of ours. 








A BluePower CD Profile....Kemp Harris', Edenton!


 In a world where most people pander their wares to buyers, there occasionally comes someone who just doesn't care about convention and delivers a product so startlingly real, the markets shy away in fear.

Kemp Harris has combined traditional blues and gospel and come up with a most chilling description of the world today.

Edenton shines as a true and authentic blues work. No pretty gloss here, just the raw, crying of a man with a desperate need to be heard. And these songs should be heard. Every radio station in America should play this album, but they won't because the music will scare them and the lyrics will shock them to the core of their mediocre hearts.

This album hearkens back to a time when the blues was a reality; when folks had to say something about the discord and privation in this, the land of the free. Back to the true blues messenger. Back to the truth.

Edenton....It's the real deal!

Here's the music:

1)...."Sometimes"....Kemp Harris
2)...."Tryin' Times"....Kemp Harris

3)...."Mother Earth"....Kemp Harris

4)...."Sweet Weepin' Jesus"....Kemp Harris

5)...."Ruthie's"....Kemp Harris

6)...."Didn't It Rain"....Kemp Harris w/Mabel Marshall & Eleanor Mapp 7)...."Edenton"....Kemp Harris

The musicians are:

Kemp Harris........Vocals & Piano
Jim Lucchese.......Drums

Josh Stoltzfus......Guitar

Brian Verrochi.....Bass

With Special Guests: The Holmes Brothers (backing vocals), Adam Oh (harp) and Lydia Harrell (backing vocals)

Produced by: Kemp Harris, Jim Lucchese and Josh Stoltzfus

Click here to listen to....Kemp Harris', Edenton!

Record company has granted BluePower the right to play the music for promotional purposes!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

8 Ball Aitken....Rebel With A Cause!



 For months now, we at BluePower have been searching for product we could enthusiastically endorse. Though receiving plenty of product, nothing stood out as being new and exciting; that is until we heard 8 Ball Aitken's CD. After listening to it a dozen or so times, I knew I had found the product for which I had been looking.

I remembered back to when I was a young record promo man in the Deep South, hauling boxes of new product into radio stations hoping to get some airplay. In those days, good songs always received significant airplay. The CD we're playing today is what I would then call my "Ace in the hole" because it is an album of great songs. Nothing intense or heavy, just fine writing of  some good-time, heart-felt music.

Hailing from "way down under", 8 Ball Aitken has copped some of Australia's finest music awards. (Check out his website to see all.)  His playing, though straight-forward, is pure and goes to the heart of the music. 8 Ball has done his homework, the man rocks without going over the top. Something which has not been prevalent on the American music scene for some time.


Congratulations to all those involved with this product. It's a mighty fine piece of work!

John Rhys/BluePower.com

Here's the music:

1)...."Hand Clappin' "....Red Prysock....Mercury Records
2)...."Cyclone Country"....8 Ball Aitken....Phoenix Movement Records
3)...."Hands On Top Of The Wheel"....8 Ball Aitken....Phoenix Movement Records
4)...."Black Swamp Creek"....8 Ball Aitken....Phoenix Movement Records
5)...."Yellow Moon"....8 Ball Aitken....Phoenix Movement Records
6)...."The Party"....8 Ball Aitken....Phoenix Movement Records
7)...."Hand Clappin' "....Red Prysock....Mercury Records

Click here to play....8 Ball Aitken....Rebel With A Cause!

Click here to see...."Heart In Heaven And Hands On Top Of The Wheel"

Click here to go to 8 Ball Aitken's website!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

BluePower Re-Run....An Evening With Barry McCabe!



The strength of the Blues can be determined by the sheer amount of ground the music has covered in the last 80 years. In that time, this purely American art-form has managed to blossom in nearly every country in the world. The Blues has been transformed into nearly every language and is understood by every man and woman ever born. No one can honestly say they "have not" had the Blues at one time or another.

In this presentation, BluePower honors a man for his contributions to the Blues and Rock from the beautiful country of Ireland. Barry McCabe was born in Virginia, Co. Cavan, Ireland and has managed to travel the world bringing his music to hundreds of thousands of people. Barry's music can best be described as Rock and Blues with a Celtic twist.

This show features music from many of Barry's CDs but primarily from his new release, Beyond The Tears.

Tune in to this masterful player, writer and performer as he guides us through many stories of life and the pursuit of happiness. A true storyteller in every sense of the word, Barry McCabe gives his all to his art; to our benefit.

John Rhys/BluePower.com

The songs are:

1)...."Sunrise"....Barry McCabe/Davey Spillane
2)...."In The Dead Of Night"....Barry McCabe
3)...."Oh Well"....Barry McCabe written by Peter Green

4)...."Sheilagh"....Barry McCabe

5)...."Rollin'"....Barry McCabe
6)...."Trouble"....Barry McCabe

7)...."The Emigrant"....Barry McCabe/Davey Spillane

8)...."Talkin' Woman Blues"....Barry McCabe

9)...."Full Moon On Main Street"....Barry McCabe

10)..."Arthur"....Barry McCabe

11)..."Tempted"....Barry McCabe
Listen to....BluePower Presents....An Evening With Barry McCabe!

To Find more on Barry McCabe....Click here!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy New Year 2007 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 etc!

Alright! So it takes me a few days to recover from the actual New Year's celebration. With all I have to do, it's a wonder it didn't take six months.

We have a good show this time so I hope you enjoy it.

Happy New Year to all our friends. May you all have a healthy and prosperous time. I know I didn't have time to mention everyone and for that I apologize. Please know you're in my heart.

John Rhys-Eddins/BluePower.com

Here's the playlist:

1)...."Hand Clappin' "....Red Prysock....Mercury
2)...."The House Is Rockin' "....Stevie Ray Vaughan....Epic
3)...."Rack My Mind"....The Yardbirds....Epic
4)...."Mau-Mau Boogie"....Matt Lucas....Ten-O-Nine
5)...."Big Chief" (Parts 1&2)....Professor Longhair....Watch Records
6)...."Why Are People Like That"....Junior Wells....Telarc
7)...."Credit Card Blues"....Terry Evans....Telarc
8)...."Teardrops From My Eyes"....Ruth Brown....Atlantic
9)...."Money Honey"....Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters....Atlantic
10)..."Think"....James Brown....King
11)..."Ride Sally Ride"....Willie King....BlueRoot
12)..."Angel"....Eric Bibb....Ruf
13)..."Driving Wheel"....Robert Lockwood, Jr. ....HOB
14)..."Oh How Happy"....Shades Of Blue....Impact
15)..."Why We Sing"....Kirk Franklin & The Family....GospelCentric

Listen to....Happy New Year 2012!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Can you believe it? Another year has passed quickly away. Where did the time go? I'll have to check my diary.

I know we lost a lot of good folks somewhere along the way this year and I surely hope they have passed this mortal coil in a positive direction.

Myself....Well I consider it lucky now if I just wake up every day and feel pretty good. I am not unique in that regard.

I did want to put a little something together for Christmas just in case a few folks would like to hear a few tunes which are not ordinarily played off the normal channels.

Please join me on this beautiful California, laid back, Christmas Eve.

Thanks for listening....John Rhys-Eddins

Here are the players and performers for this show....:)

1)...."Hand Clappin' "....Red Prysock....Mercury
2)...."Christmas Celebration"....BB King....HOB
3)...."Santa Clause Wants Some Lovin' "....Albert King....HOB

4)...."Sonny Boy's Christmas Blues"....Sonny Boy Williamson....HOB

5)...."Boogie Wopogie Santa Clause"....Mabel Scott....HOB

6)...."Santa Claus, Santa Claus"....Louis Jordan....HOB

7)...."Winter Wonderland"....The Ronnie Cole Trio....Paula Records

8)...."Please Come Home For Christmas"....Charles Brown....Paula Records
9)...."Lonesome Christmas" (Pt. 1)....Lowell Fulsom....Paula Records 10)..."Lonesome Christmas" (Pt. 2)....Lowell Fulsom....Paula Records
11)..."All I Want For Christjmas Is You"....Vince Vance....Waldoxy

12)..."Merry Christmas Baby"....Charles Brown....Paula Records

13)..."Let's Make Christmas Merry Baby"....Amos Milburn....HOB

14)..."Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"....The Saint John's Choir....Savannah, Georgia

15)..."Santa"....Lightnin' Hopkins....HOB

16)..."Santa's Messin' With The Kid"....Eddie C. Campbell....HOB

17)..."White Christmas"....Sugar Boy Crawford...Paula Records

18)..."What Child Is This/Greensleeves"....The Saint John's Choir (organist unknown)

Listen to....A Laid Back Christmas Eve, 2012!