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Songlist

  1. Trouble With A Capital "T" - 3:48
  2. Back By Popular Demand - 4:05
  3. Toolbox Blues - 3:33
  4. Don't Lead Me On - 5:55
  5. Road Blues - 4:07
  6. Can't Get Your Lovin' Off My Mind - 3:06
  7. Sell My Jewelry - 3:22
  8. From the Delta To The Golden Gates - 4:23
  9. Low Down Cheatin' Blues - 3:34
  10. Drunken Angel - 3:40
  11. Brought Together By The Blues - 3:11
  12. Turtle Blues - 5:14

* Sample Song in music box

I t is a one of a kind, true blue diamond of soul.  Barbara had the great fortune to go to Los Angeles and record with Taj Mahal's  world renowned PHANTOM BLUES BAND. Much Love went into this recording from a Grammy Award winning team.

Bon Appitite! You're gonna like it.

Produced by Tony Braunagel
Engineered by John Porter and Johnny Lee Schell
Mixed by Johnny Lee Schell
Mastered by  L. Nix & Co., Inc./Inside Ardent Studios/Memphis TN 
Recorded at  Ultratone Studio - Studio City, California
Lead Vocals: Barbara Blue
Bass: Larry Fulcher
Keyboards: Mike Finnigan
Guitars: Johnny Lee Schell
Drums and Percussion: Tony Braunagel
Texicali Horns: Joe Sublett, tenor sax and Darrell Leonard, trumpet
Background vocals: Teresa James, and Tamara Champlin on tracks 1,2, and 7 Johnny Lee Schell on tracks 3, and 10
Special guest appearance by John "JUKE" Logan on Harmonica.

Co-producer: Barbara Blue

Executive Producers:

  • Barbara Blue
  • Stephen Day
  • Elayne Campos

Reviews

National Association Rhythm & Blues logoNational Association of Rhythm & Blues DeeJays N.A.R.B. Dee jays Top 50 Songs For The Year 2002 Compiled from the members monthly top tens, reported for 2002 ... more

BluesWax logoBarbara Blue is a fixture of the Memphis Blues scene and performs many nights of the week on historic Beale Street. When you are there you owe it to yourself to check out this classic rockin Blues belter. Until then you can check out her second CD, Sell My Jewelry. It’s been out awhile, but it is worth your time, if only for the great backing by Taj Mahal’s backup band, The Phantom Blues Band.

Blue sets the pace for this album with the opening cut, EG Kight’s and Richard Fleming’s “Trouble With A Capital ‘Ti” Blue sings a bit like Kight, but is more on the dirty side of Blues Street. ,.Joe Sublett of the Texicali Horns offers a tasty solo and the background vocals fill in great. From the outset this album is well produced and the band is tight. This is followed up by a little bit jazzier take on the Jodie Seigel/Tony Bra unagel (who also produced the album and played drums) song, “Back By Popular Demand”.

A couple of songs later Blue gets down and dirty on the slow Blues “Don’t Lead Me On.” The Texicali Horns do a good job of building the chorus up and letting Blues’ voice pick it up in the wake. On the fifth track Blue is back to wailing on her own song, “Road Blues,” but this time with the accompaniment of John “Juke” Logan on harp who really squeezes out the treble end. This is the kind of roaring song that Blue can really get a hold on in a Janis Joplin sort of way. In fact Joplin is one of the most obvious references one falls back on when listening to Blue, and Memphis Minnie, but in a different sort of way. Another good song is the Blue/Braunagekwritten title cut, “Sell My Jewelry,” which swings with some fine honky-tonk piano from Mike Finnigan.

There is also a fine slow slidin’ Blues tribute to John Lee Hooker, “From The Delta To The Golden Gate.” There is some funky Blues on “Cheatin’ Blues;” a nice cover of Honey and Rod Piazza’s “Brought Together By The Blues;” and, a cool slow acoustic Blues version, complete with some more of Juke Logan on harp, of Janis Joplin’s “Turtle Blues.” The latter, along with the opener and fine version of Lucinda Williams’ “Drunken Angel” alone make this album worth a listen. Throw in a great band and a couple of good guests to accompany the power of Barbara Blue’s big, wonderfully deep voice and you have a fine album. This reviewer looks forward to hearing more from this fine artist. Until then there’s always Beale Street.

Michael Flynn is a contributing writer at Blues Wax.

Kansas City Blues SocietyAugust 2002 - I tossed this disc in the player like I do so many and headed up the stairs on a mission to clean house. I try to listen to the music I am about to review without 'knowing anything" that might skew my perceptions of what I'm about to hear. That way, I decide if it kicks ass or not based on what I hear. But you know what they say about the best laid plans. My ears perked up instantly when I heard the unmistakable wail of Mike Finnegan's B-3, and I knew this one was something special. Within 10 seconds, I was down the stairs with the case in my hand, and the hell with cleaning the top floor. I went to www.barbarablue.com instead and checked this babe out! It turns out that Barbara Blue is the current reigning Queen of Memphis, performing nightly on historic Beale Street. To record this album, she borrowed the entire Phantom Blues Band from the man himself, Taj Mahal. Besides that, she's the best-kept secret on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. By the middle of the disc, she had a very enthusiastic new fan. Twelve tracks in length, the recording is about evenly split between original material and covers. Versatility is definitely a long suit. Whether she is wailing like Sippie Wallace or singing deep, raw blues from the center of her soul like Janis Joplin, her voice is captivating and powerful. She opens the disc by just flat-out tearing up that Georgia songbird E.G. Kight's "Trouble With A Capital T". James Solberg's "Tool Box Blues" takes a sultry win when she sings it, and Janis Joplin's "Turtle Blues" is very nicely done indeed. But the best track on the album, in my opinion, is Ms. Blue's cover of Lucinda Williams instant classic "Drunken Angel". This track achieves perfection with her voice, the musicians, the arrangement and the song itself all coming together beautifully. A talented songwriter as well as a vibrant and enchanting performer, she offers a heartfelt tribute to the late, great John Lee Hooker with the moving, melodic "From the Delta to the Golden Gates". The title track is a standard 1-4-5 blues number with catchy lyrics and instrumental hooks that will have the listener singing along before the song is through. In fact, most of the songs on the disc can stake that claim. There is not one track on the disc that I skip over when I play the disc, and believe me when I tell you, this one is getting a lot of play!

K.T. "Trouble" Booth

Southwest Blues logoSeptember 2002 - Memphis based singer, Barbara Blue's second CD, Sell My Jewelry, is a fiery mix of Memphis soul, smooth funky blues, and ballads that definitely let the singer show what she's got. Recorded with Taj Mahal's Phantom Blues Band in Los Angeles, Sell My Jewelry not only has great singing, but great performances from the musicians, with arrangements to match. Barbara Blue, or BB (to her fans) is originally from Pittsburgh, PA, but now sings nightly on Beale St. at Silky O'Sullivan's. During a pass through town with her band, she sang at Silky's and was offered a job. What she thought might last several months has turned into a gig lasting over four years. With a voice that can be as smooth as silk, or belt out a growl with the best, Barbara Blue also evokes the sonic power of Janis Joplin, to which she is often compared. Opening with "Trouble With A Capitol "T'," Blue gets funky from the git go. "Back By Popular Demand" is a great blues-soul number, that moves right into the funk and the double meaning of "Tool Box Blues" (you got somethin' in your toolbox that I ain't got in mine). The three songs written by Barbara Blue, "Road Blues", "Sell My Jewelry" and "From The Delta To The Golden Gates" show a great flair for blues writing, with the latter being a tribute to John Lee Hooker, a one key groove that would make the master proud. Another great standout is Lucinda William's "Drunken Angel", an excellent song with a slightly country feel. The CD ends with Janis Joplin's "Turtle Blues". This slow blues burner is where Blue acknowledges her Janis comparisons, but definitely makes the song her own. Barbara Blue is the kind of singer that can bring out all of the emotion that was written into a blues song in the first place. Not something easy to do. And, with comparisons to Janis Joplin, it would be easy to get pigeonholed as a certain type of voice. But Barbara Blue has much more to her singing than just belting out the blues, she's got style. And style can take you as far as you want to go. It can even get you all the way to Memphis and beyond.

Pete "Bootlegger" Barbeck

Memphis Flyer logoDecember 4th 2002 -

Standing on stage at Silky O'Sullivan's on a recent Saturday night, a human jukebox for a mid-size audience of tourists, Barbara Blue has a table of Canadians in the corner, who are more interested in sucking on Silky's ribs than paying attention to her, and a gentleman from Chicago standing at the bar who just can't get it right.

"Play a Bee Gees song!" he yells, to which Blue, glancing at her tip jar and rolling her eyes behind dark shades, responds, "Boy, you better go to the money machine." A few songs later he tries again, calling out for something from Midwestern teenybopper blues singer Shannon Curfman. "I don't even know who the hell that is," Blue says.

But Barbara Blue has seen rougher crowds. Along the road from her native Pittsburgh to her regular gig at Silky's, Blue once worked a biker bar in Detroit where the bartender kept a gun under the counter and instructed Blue, "If I ever tell you to get down, hit the floor and don't get up until the bullets stop flying."

Blue, whose new album, Sell My Jewelry, might be the strongest blues record to come out of Memphis this year, passed through town several times with her previous band, playing blues contests. On one trip through, she sang at Silky O'Sullivan's -- and Sullivan offered her a job. Blue accepted, anticipating a six-month adventure that has turned into four-and-a-half years and counting, and Blue doesn't plan on returning to Pittsburgh. As her mother told her after a visit, "This is where you belong."

Blue describes her Silky's gig as "blues singer turned musical prostitute." She sings what she wants and might do songs the audience requests, but $5 in the tip jar will almost certainly get your song sung. On this Saturday, Blue is accompanied only by piano player Nat Kerr and is backing herself on percussion through a mix of handclaps, footstomps, and tambourine.

Her set is diverse, as it would have to be to please both herself and the patrons who have gathered to hear her. There are predictable touches -- Memphis soul nuggets ("I Can't Stand The Rain," "I'm Your Puppet"), blues standards ("I Just Want to Make Love to You"), and the ubiquitous "Walking In Memphis." But Blue also strays far afield of the blues, everything from Fleetwood Mac and Roger Miller to John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery," and, on this night anyway, "Rocky Top."

"Rocky Top" is a request from an animated couple from Mississippi -- Jonathan and Dana -- who Blue says are regulars at her weekend gigs. They seemingly want to celebrate the University of Tennessee's football victory over Florida hours earlier. The man from Chicago can't stand it and puts $5 in the tip jar to stop the song. Jonathan throws in another $10 to get it started back up and taunts his Northern nemesis.

Blue seems to be having fun working the crowd, a touristy mix that, on this night, ranges from Philadelphia to Florida to Alaska. "I know what I'm doing up there," Blue says after the show. "I know how to pull the energy out of a crowd, and I love that. I can tell pretty quick who I want to talk to and who I don't. The thing is to get what I want out of them. I like to let everybody be who they are up to a point, but if they start to cross the line, I'll back off them."

Blue was doing fine in Pittsburgh, playing six nights a week with a full band, and it was there that she recorded her only prior record, Out Of the Blue. But she says her Beale gig affords more opportunity than was available in Pittsburgh. "There weren't any promoters or record company people coming through Pittsburgh," she says. Working in Memphis, by contrast, has helped Blue take her music overseas, to Norway, Australia, and England. Memphis also provides a connection to blues roots that
Blue cherishes. "Here I get to hang out with the Fieldstones and go to juke joints in Mississippi and sing," Blue says.

Blue traveled to Los Angeles last October and spent 10 days recording Sell My Jewelry with Taj Mahal's Phantom Blues Band, this year's Handy Award winner for blues band of the year. Blue credits this coup to her friendship with Mahal, whom she met six or seven years ago aboard a blues-themed cruise where Mahal was performing and she was, well, cruising.

Sell My Jewelry was produced by Mahal percussionist Tony Braunagel (who also co-wrote the title track with Blue). Other significant Phantom Bluesers who play on the record include keyboard veteran Mike Finnigan, who has worked with a host of A-list artists, including Etta James and Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and guitarist Johnny Lee Schnell, who has worked with Blue favorites Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams. Blue wasn't intimidated by her accomplished supporting cast but did find a difference in approach. "I cut five tracks in one day and they all thought I was crazy," Blue says, "but I'm used to going three straight hours without taking a break. I can't afford to be a prima donna."

The result is a very strong modern blues record that balances smooth soul-blues a la Robert Cray ("Back By Popular Demand") and bar blues crowd-pleasers ("Trouble With a Capital 'T'," "Brought Together By the Blues"). Blue also contributes some original compositions to the project, most notably the slow-groove John Lee Hooker tribute "From the Delta To the Golden Gates." But Sell My Jewelry might be at its most interesting when it strays further from the blues base. Blue's cover of local singer-songwriter Nancy Apple's spare and beautiful "Don't Lead Me On" is a slow-burning stunner, sounding like a lost early soul classic from (if the gender was inverted) Bobby Bland or Garnet Mimms. And Blue also includes a fantastic rendition of Lucinda Williams' "Drunken Angel," another Silky's staple.

"I'd do ['Drunken Angel'] live and people would come up to buy my old record, hoping it was on there," Blue says. "I'd send them off to get [Lucinda Williams'] Car Wheels On a Gravel Road and they'd come back and say, 'We like this, but we like the way you sing it better.' I like to say that if I had $5 for every time I've been asked to sing [the Janis Joplin-identified] 'Me and Bobby McGhee,' I wouldn't be driving a '94 Dodge. But I think 'Drunken Angel' may be replacing it as my most requested song. I had a guy awhile back who gave me $160 to sing it three times in a row."

But if there's any singer whom Blue most evokes, it would have to be Joplin. Blue straddles blues, rock, and soul like Joplin did, and when she bears down hard, the vocal comparison is unmistakable. Blue closes Sell My Jewelry with a Joplin song ("Turtle Blues") and her Silky's sets include Joplin tunes. "Here they say I sound like Janis," Blue admits. "But when I went out to L.A. they said I sounded like Etta James, and that was a relief. It's okay, though. I love Janis. It's a soul thing with Janis. She wasn't afraid. Period."

Blue will be pulling out all the stops for her record release party Monday, December 10th, at the Lounge, recruiting an all-star local band that will include Howard Grimes on drums, Leroy Hodges on bass, Jack Holder on guitar, Robert Nighthawk on B-3 organ and harmonica, Dedrick Davis and Richie Hale from James Govan's band on horns, and a back-up vocal trio of Nancy Apple, Susan Marshall, and Reba Russell.

It also has the air of a coming-out party for Blue herself. "I finally feel that I'm getting recognition from the major Memphis music people, that they realize that I'm not a flash in the pan," Blue says. "I love Memphis and want to keep living here. I want that big house on the South bluffs."

Chris Herrington

blues bytes logoMarch 2002 Volume 7, Number 3

Memphis-based singer Barbara Blue has a hot new CD called Sell My Jewelry (BIG Blue Records) that effortlessly moves between gritty urban blues and smoky Memphis soul. A great vocalist, Blue has been compared with singers Etta James and Janis Joplin (I would lean more toward Etta). Blue handles everything here with ease, be it E.G. Kight's "Trouble With a Capital 'T'," the double entendre-laden "Tool Box Blues," the slow groove "From the Delta to the Golden Gates" (a tribute to John Lee Hooker), the funky "Cheatin' Blues," and even a song from the Janis Joplin catalog ("Turtle Blues"). The highlights for me though were the soulful "Don't Lead Me On," which would be a hit single in a perfect world, and Lucinda William's "Drunken Angel." Tony Braunagel, drummer for Taj Mahal's Phantom Blues Band, produced this CD. He is just one of several current and former Phantom Blues Band members playing on the CD, including Mike Finnigan on keyboards, guitarist Johnny Lee Schnell, bassist Larry Fulcher, and the Texicali Horns (Joe Sublett and Darrell Leonard), so, needless to say, Blue has some great support. In short, this is a strong, well-produced CD from a young lady that you'll be seeing and hearing a lot more of.

--- Graham Clarke ---

Gritz logoGritz - The Online Southern Music Magazine

May 2002

The most impressive thing to see when you're in Memphis is…the Mississippi River, right? Not even close-the tides and currents, they say, slow down, when Barbara Blue is on stage and doing a number. The lady may sing the blues, and some wicked funk, too; be warned, though, because she's more infrared, and liable to make the Greenhouse Effect look like an afterthought on the thermometer. Barbara may say she's blue, but I don't know if there's a measurement yet for this musical heat on the spectrum.

This is a new voice-one that would make that ol' Big Muddy river go back for a second look-she commands, demands, and gets attention. It's the kind of effect a vixen named Circe did for twelve months to a wandering sailor named Ulysses. She wove some potent spells, that woman. In another similar way, if friend and heartbreak E.G. Kight has the pipes of a brass horn, then Barbara is alongside with an alto saxophone for vocal cords, and you will follow her beckon and call. Why? Same as E.G. did: here's another one who's "Trouble with a Capital 'T'". Oh, Lord, this should have been a signal that I was about to beg for mercy, and Mike Finnegan's chilling B-3 acts as Barbara's high priest to draw you to your knees. That's the Texacali Horns who weave and sway behind her (Joe Sublett and Darrell Leonard), and there's no choice but to obey Barbara's wishes. Joe sneers and jeers at your fate, but Barbara holds the power to be pleased: you can't get away, and she's also "Back by Popular Demand." Those three snake charmers who serve their mistress so effectively are Larry Fulcher on bass, working alongside Tony Braunagal's rhythmic drumming and Johnny Lee Schell's weaving guitar.

What would she bid you to do? She has the "Tool Box Blues," (although I think she's not worried about it). 'Just stick around, baby, you've got something in your tool box (that turns her love light on) and you might come in handy some time.' No need to guess what her workbench is, brother, and you're gonna be changing more than oil. But see here: as I said, the woman knows what she wants; she's for real and down-to-earth, and the diamond solitaire on this disc comes from the sweetest chords you can find when Barbara and her men roll out the carpet for "Don't Lead Me On." This is what it's all about: she's got a heart of 24-carat, and that's worth a royal ransom. Power and beauty do have a match, and despite all the worries and fears of losing herself, staying true (and blue) to Barbara could be the finest thing a man could find.

So now you're committed and hooked, and there is something sweeter than sugar coming when Barbara gets over her "Road Blues." You can sway and grind because she's got you in that magic spell, and John "Juke" Logan's harmonica wails like a pet songbird that has just seen the light of a new dawn in the window. Maybe that's you on the perch, looking for favors, and if Barbara's going places, so is her main squeeze, because she "Can't Get Your Lovin' Off My Mind." Accessories are one thing, but love is a commodity, and the self-titled Memphis Queen has her expectations-and fulfillment is a noble priority. There are more dangerous things to do than disappoint her (with a CD like this, honoring her sensuous decrees will become the next Olympic Extreme Sport event).

Barbara has some spiritual musical guardians watching over her, and you don't mess with the vamp and sermon of John Lee Hooker, who must be smiling down on this earthly messenger. Taking a mosaic look at the Hook's titles in a throbbing molten lecture, "From the Delta to the Golden Gates" drills deep into the heart of the blues master's soul in tribute and love. She's also more than capable of handling any tomcattin,' and I pity the fool who instigated the angry manhunt and threats from "Cheatin' Blues." You need some serious insurance to double-down in love on a woman with more tattoos on her arm than you have. She's still a romantic, in spite of all the wounds, and there's a "Drunken Angel" in the picture. Staggering, twisting organ and a gorgeous ballad tune are the medicine Barbara needs. So, since she's feeling alive again, it's because she's been "Brought Together By the Blues," and Honey and Rod Piazza have penned a magical recipe for her.
Just in case that doesn't keep 'em crawling back for more, Godmother Janis Joplin will cast down the judgment of "Turtle Blues," and Barbara won't turn the other cheek. If anything, she's ready to sock you on the jaw.

So when they say, what are the great sights out west, there are monuments, statues, natural resources, and other wonders-but none of them sing. And none of them are as magnificent as this woman, who deserves, earns, and offers a package of value that has a price tag that's worn in her heart. Just think: she would sell her jewels for your love at www.barbarablue.com-and she's one helluva glittering gem herself. She'll wear you with pride, too, and that's why blue is going to be your favorite color. Barbara's gonna tell you so.

Mitch Lopate

 

Queensland Blues logoJune 2002 -

Barbara Blue spends most nights of the week performing in her favorite clubs on Beale St in Memphis Tennessee, as she has done for years. When she's not there she's back home in Pittsburgh doing the same thing or contemplating another trip to the land of Aus. In 1999 she look a holiday to Perth and with some Aussie friends cruised down to Bridgetown for the annual Bluesfest. A born performer she couldn't keep off the stage and soaked up the atmosphere of one of our treasured blues events. She made some great connections there and in 2000 revisited having toured and performed at many blues venues starting in Sydney, taking in Melbourne and finishing in the West. Whilst in Perth in 1999 I had the pleasure of seeing her perform at the Blues Club at the Charles Hotel. With top billing, she transformed the normally pleasantly subdued clientele into dance freaks. Her ability to capture the audience is a special quality only singers of her calibre possess. Ta] Mahal, James Cotton and Jeff Healy have shared the stage with this diva. She has a powerful voice and gives the impression she means business. Her rendition of You Can Have My Husband (but Please Don't Mess with My Man) emulates her assertiveness. With a great sense of humour and positive outlook, her focus is on music and this is portrayed in her latest release Sell My Jewelry. The CD kicks off with Trouble With A Capital 'I'-an appropriate introduction with some funky keyboards, resonating sax and subtle rhythm guitar. Straight away you get the gist of where this Lady is! Back By Popular Demand, with a great guitar riff as a melody and with some coloured-girl harmonies and more keyboards, has you tappin' to its beat. More sax and horns-you're starting to turn the volume up already. The next song, Tool Box Blues, suits her to a tee and its satirical lyrics put a smile on your dial. Some more funky guitar and love those horns. Nancy Apple's Don't Lead Me On brings out the woman in Barbara Blue, Beautiful guitar work and seductive sax combine with passionate vocals to present a blues love song of note. First of her originals, Road Blues, gets down to it. We'd almost forgotten the harmonica, but it shows up at the right time here, twelve bar at its best. For you guitar freaks, the Fender is unleashed on Can't Get Your Lovin' Off My Mind, Love the rhythm here, this song just rips. Then to the title song, another original Sell My Jewelry. The keyboards lead the entourage here, backed by some nice bass work. By now Barbara is warmed up and belting it out. Next original From The Delta to the Golden Sates slows it down a little. Some interesting sounds from that Fender and some good earthy Mississippi bass. Cheatin' Blues, sung from the soul, features a strong horn section, groovy keyboards, but the voice is the instrument here. The next song I hit the repeat button every time. With moving lyrics and Johnny Lee Schell on guitar and backing vocals Drunken Angel has you singing along every time with some beautiful chords, rhythm guitar, a nice guitar rift near the end, and that sorrowful keyboard. She has found her range with this one. Rod Piazza's Brought Together by the Blues is done justice by this version. Some nice drum work and more harmonica keeps this rockin . . . As an old fan of Janis Joplin's, you can see the influence in the last song. Steel guitar and harmonica take you hack on Turtle Blues. One could safely say there's not an over-abundance of female blues artists struttin' their stuff, well not a lot that catches my ear. Etta James and this lady have a lot In common vocally. This CD has been well recorded at Ultratone Studios in Studio City California with Ta] Mahal's multi-award winning Phantom Blues Band, Johnny Lee Schell on guitar, Tony Braunagel on drums, Larry Fulcher on bass, Mike Finnigan on B3 and piano with a special guest appearance by John 'Juke' Logan on harmonica. Mastering was performed by Larry and Kevin Nix in the Ardent Studio compound Memphis. This CD was produced by Tony Braunagel and co-produced by Barbara Blue. It's neither too funky nor too heavy, but it's sincerely blues and worthy of occupying a place in my collection. I purchased my copy from Barbara Blue's web site and had a good browse whilst there. Rumour has it that she is touring Australia again this year and including Brisbane as a port of call. I've got the feeling we'll be hearing more of Barbara Blue. Enjoy.

Ray Jack
BASEQ member

Living Blues logoJune 2002 -

A Pittsburgh native who has relocated to Memphis and its reconstructed Beale Street blues scene (she recently won the city's Premier Player award for best newcomer - Ed.), Barbara Blue traveled to California to make this recording in the expert company of Taj Mahal's Phantom Blues (sans leader), harp man John "Juke" Logan, and the Texicali horns. While she evokes Ann Peebles' Hi recordings on Back By Popular Demand and gets into a downhome bag to salute John Lee Hooker on From The Delta To The Golden Gate, Blue's main influence seems to be Janis Joplin, whose Turtle Blues closes the set

JDK

Bay Area Whip Dance logoApril/May 2002

Ray’s Review — CD Pick by Ray Coker, BAWDC Dance Director & National Assoc of R&B DJs Director

Just when I think I have heard about all the good blues singers that there are out there, along comes another that raises the bar. I received a package in the mail just after my wife, Kay, and I returned home from the Delbert McClinton Sandy Beaches Cruise, which was the third week of January. In the package was a CD by an entertainer I had just briefly heard about from Tom Polzin, president of the National Association of Rhythm & Blues Dee Jays. Along with the CD was a nice personal letter signed by the singer inviting me to listen to her latest release, Sell My Jewelry. That entertainer/vocalist was the never to be forgotten Barbara Blue, or better known to her fans as BB. I did a little research on Barbara and found that she is originally from Pittsburgh, PA. She has performed with the likes of Taj Mahal, Jeff Healey, Marcia Ball, Maceo Parker, James Cotton, The Nighthawks... the list goes on and on.

Barbara formed her own band in 1989. Her debut album, Out Of The Blue, reached audiences worldwide. When this album sells out, from what I understand, they will not be reprinted. If you want a copy of her debut album, the time is now. I will tell you how to order at the end of this review. Now residing in Memphis TN, she performs nightly on historical Beale Street. One of the interesting things about Barbara’s latest release, Sell My Jewelry, is that she was recorded in Los Angeles with Taj Mahal’s world renowned Phantom Blues Band. Ms Blue’s musical sets are very diverse. According to a review in The Memphis Flyer, she sings a wide array of songs for her audiences. She once sang Rocky Top as a request from a couple from Mississippi who was celebrating the University of Tennessee Volunteers football victory over the Florida Gators that had occurred just a few short hours earlier. That’s another story. Back to the CD - here is the rundown from the dancers point of view... The title cut Sell My Jewelry is a very good dance song for most dance styles at 120 bpm. My favorites on the CD are Cut #1 Trouble With A Capital T at 108 bpm and the one for which I get the most questions and requests, Cut #3 Tool Box Blues at 100 bpm. Both of these songs have breaks in the music making them fun dance tunes. Cut #6 Can’t Get Your Lovin’ Off My Mind at 104 bpm and Cut #11 Brought Together By The Blues at 120 bpm are good for Bop, Swing, Whip, Push, Jamaica and Shag. All the dance cuts are bluesy with a smooth funky rhythm and double licks on the bass. For the DJs, a little creative pitch
control or tempo control, depending on what the part of the country you are playing, works well with the dance cuts. You will find a couple of good ballads on this CD. One in particular stands out. It is the cover of songwriter Nancy Apple’s beautiful Don’t Lead Me On. This song will run shivers up and down your spine. Barbara Blue is a cross between Janis Joplin and Etta James. One song she might sound as rough as a rocky road and the next as smooth and clear as a mountain stream. I found the CD to be very valuable to my collection. I think you will, too. But only you, the dancer, listener or DJ, can be the final judge. Make
arrangements for your copy today. For the dancer, it is a good value for your music dollar. You will discover that eight of the cuts are good dance tunes. Not bad when you consider we often buy a CD for just one song. Give it a spin... ENJOY!