Tag Archives: rock

Artist Profiles: War

War – Photo by Jeffrey Mayer

War is an American band that mixes funk, jazz, R&B and rock. The group has sold more than 5 million albums worldwide and been honored with 17 gold platinum and multi-platinum awards.

In 1969 Eric Burdon and War recorded and released their first album entitled “Eric Burdon Declares War” featuring the number one single “Spill The Wine.” Following its release Eric Burdon and War went on an extensive tour of Europe and the UK.

On September 16 1970 Jimi Hendrix joined Eric Burdon and War for a jam session at London’s Famous Ronny Scotts Jazz Club. Regrettably, this would be Jimi’s last jam session as he died later that night. Shocked and overwhelmed by the death of his friend Jimi Hendrix Eric Burdon made the decision to leave the band and return to Los Angeles.

War continued their European tour without their former front man before returning to the states. Following Burdon’s departure War’s career rose dramatically. In the early 1970s the release of Slippin’ into Darkness and Me and Baby Brother represented their thrilling sound and spoke to millions of Americans about the troubled times of Vietnam, Watergate and the ethnic tension that centered around inner cities. Then in 1972 War released The World Is a Ghetto. Its second single, The Cisco Kid, reached gold status and the album made the number one spot as Billboard magazine’s Album of the Year.

Lonnie Jordan, the original lead singer and outstanding keyboardist is the musical director.

War in the 2010s


Eric Burdon Declares War (MGM Records, 1970)
The Black-Man’s Burdon (MGM Records, 1970)
All Day Music (United Artists Records, 1971)
War (United Artists Records, 1971)
The World Is A Ghetto (United Artists Records, 1972)
Deliver The Word (United Artists Records, 1973)
War Live (United Artists Records, 1973)
Why Can’t We Be Friends? (United Artists Records, 1975)
Love Is All Around (ABC Records, 19760
Galaxy (MCA Records, 1977)
Platinum Jazz (Island Records, 1976)
Youngblood, soundtrack (United Artists Records, 1978)
The Music Band (MCA Records, 1979)
The Music Band 2 (MCA Records, 1979)
The Music Band Live (MCA Records, 1980 )
Outlaw (RCA, 1982)
Life (Is So Strange) (RCA Victor, 1983)
The Music Band Jazz (MCA Records, 1983)
Where There’s Smoke (Coco Plum, 1985)
Peace Sign (Avenue Records, 1994)
War Is Coming! – The Best Of War ‎(ARG Records, 1996)
Evolutionary ‎(UMe, 2014)


Artist Profiles: Vassar Clements

Vassar Clements

Vassar Clements was one the United States’ most versatile fiddle players. His career began at a very early age. His phenomenal ability to virtually play any kind of music (bluegrass, country, pop, rock, jazz and swing) garnered him various awards including five Grammy nominations and a track record that involves multitudes of recording performances.

Vassar was a prolific composer of instrumentals and played seven instruments: violin, viola, cello, bass, mandolin, guitar and tenor banjo.

Vassar’s career spanned over fifty years. His association with Bill Monroe began when he was only 14 years old and still in school. He started with Bill as a regular Bluegrass Boy in 1949 and was with him through 1956. From 1957 to 1961 he performed with bluegrass artists Jim & Jesse McReynolds. In 1962 he took leave from his music to pursue other interests but returned to full time music when he decided to make Nashville his home in January 1967.

Vassar did recording sessions and played tenor banjo in Nashville’s Dixieland Landing club until October 1969. He then started touring with Faron Young and doing occasional solo dates when time permitted. In February 1971 he joined John Hartford and his Dobrolic Plectral Society, initiating a professional association and personal friendship that has grew stronger through the years. After ten months and earning an enormous amount of recognition and popularity, the group decided to disband. Vassar then found himself with the legendary Earl Scruggs and the Earl Scruggs Revue.

During that time, one of the most important milestones in his career was his participation on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 1972 Landmark album Will The Circle Be Unbroken. This historical event was produced by William McEuen and featured an extravaganza of bluegrass, country and folk’s greatest artists. It was the turning point that re-kindled Vassar’s career and at the same time introduced him to a much younger non-country audience.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Will The Circle Be Unbroken

Within a few short months Vassar was recording and/or performing with Dicky Betts, Jerry Garcia, The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, David Grisman, Paul McCartney, etc. In May 1973, The classic Old & In The Way album was recorded in San Francisco during a live performance. The Sales from this project have exceeded other albums of like kind and has formed staunch cults that still exist after twenty three years.

Since 1973 when Vassar signed his first major label deal with Mercury/Polygram records his personal discography ranged from country, waltzes, swing to jazz. Ironically, in 1992 he recorded his only straight bluegrass recording for Rounder Records titled Grass Routes.

His early experience growing with jazz and swing music left an indelible mark on his style. Vassar said: “bands like Glen Miller, Les Brown, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James and Artie Shaw were very popular when I was a kid. I always loved rhythm so I guess in the back of my mind the swing and jazz subconsciously comes out when I play because when I was learning I was always trying to emulate the big band sounds I heard on my fiddle.” Understandably the form of jazz music created by Clements was a mix of the diverse influences that touched him throughout his career but particularly his affinity for the jazz and swing music of his youth.

Therefore it is no surprise that even though early in his career, as he learned and developed bluegrass and country styles, he also gained respect as a jazz player. Hence classic number two: Once In A While which resulted from a jam session with Miles Davis’s ex-band members Dave Holland, John Abercrombie and Jimmy Cobb. Classic number three: Together At Last. with Stephane Grappelli was produced by Tim Yaquinto and recorded in Vassar’s former studio.

Back Porch Swing was Vassar’s first album to feature the Little Big Band. Recorded between September 1997 and September 1998 at the Historic RCA Studio B in Nashville Back Porch Swing was performed almost entirely live with the exception of vocal and string overdubs.

Vassar Clements participated in Dead Grass (2000) a bluegrass twist on some Grateful Dead favorites.

Full Circle (OMS Records) released in 2001 had Vassar returning to his bluegrass roots with an all star cast that included Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Bryan Sutton, Peter Rowan, John Cowan, Josh Graves, Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden, J. D. Crowe, Billy Troy, Alan O’Bryant, Ricky Skaggs, Jim & Jesse and Jake Landers.

In May of 2004 Runaway Fiddle (OMS Records) came out. This project was a labor of love of two of the greatest American fiddle players of modern times Vassar Clements and Buddy Spicher. Buddy Spicher is one of Nashville’s most recorded session artists and arrangers. On Runaway Fiddle these two legends teamed up to record tunes they grew up loving playing and internalizing but for the most part never recording. Selections include 192’s show tunes Western Swing Dixieland. Several songs are interpretations of songs popularized by country music icon Bob Wills who created the new art form called Western Swing.

His CD Livin’ With The Blues (Acoustic Disc) was released in August of 2004. It was his first blues album. While Vassar Clements has often been considered the ?bluesiest? of the bluegrass fiddlers it wasn?t until producer Grisman asked him what kind of record he wanted to make that the soft spoken septuagenarian replied “I’ve always wanted to make a blues record.”

Livin? With The Blues includes Skip James? swampy “Cypress Grove ” with Vassar’s lonesome fiddle accompanied by Bob Brozman’s slide guitar. Elvin Bishop cleans house with his own “Dirty Drawers” and “That?s My Thing ” while Maria Muldaursings with Vassar on “Honey Babe Blues” and Bessie Smith?s “I Ain?t Gonna Play No Second Fiddle.” Other tracks include Roy Rogers desolate take on Robert Johnson?s “Phonograph Blues ” “Mambo Boogie” featuring Dave Mathews and the Booker T. Jones classic “Green Onions ” given a new twist by Charlie Musselwhite and Vassar. “Rube’s Blues” featured blues guitar whiz David Jacob-Strain (who was 19 at the time) helping Vassar reinvent a bluegrass standard and Norton Buffalo with his unique soul treatment of his own “Don’t Stand Behind A Mule.”

In November of 2004 Vassar Clements joined bluegrass quartet The Biscuit Burners onstage at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Vassar played on two of the band’s original songs “Come On Darlin'” and “Red Mountain Wine”. The surprise appearance was part of the historic Ryman Auditorium’s $1 on the 1th Mystery Artist Series celebrating the 1 year anniversary of the legendary theater’s renovation.

On March 11, 2005 Vassar was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died at his home August 16th, 2005 at 8:25 am. He was 77.

[Biography adapted from Vassar Clement’s official biography].


Vassar (Mercury Records)
Superbow (Mercury Records)
Southern Waltzes (Rhythm Records)
Vassar Clements John Hartford & Dave Holland (Rounder Records)
Crossing The Catskills (Rounder Records 1972)
Vassar Clements (MCA Records)
The Bluegrass Session (Flying Records 1977)
Grass Routes (Rounder Records)
Saturday Night Shuffle – A Celebration of Merle Travis (Shanachie Records)
Hillbilly Jazz (Flying Records 1978)
Hillbilly Jazz Rides Again (Flying Records)
New Hillbilly Jazz (Shikata Records)
Together At Last with Stephane Grappelli (Flying Records 1987)
Nashville Jam (Flying Records)
Westport Drive (Mind Dust Records)
The Man The Legend (Vassillie Productions)
Country Classics (Vassillie Productions)
Vassar Clements Reunion With Dixie Gentlemen (Old Homestead)
Once In A While, Jam with Miles Davis’ ex-band members (Flying Fish Records 1992)
Live in Telluride 1979 (Vassillie Productions 1979)
Music City USA (Vassillie Productions)
Old And In The Way – Volume 1 (BMG Music)
Old and In The Way – That High Lonesome Sound – Volume 2 (Acoustic Disc)
Old and In The Way – Breakdown – Volume 3 (Acoustic Disc)
An Americana Christmas with Norman Blake (Winter Harvest)
The Bottom Line Encore Collection (Bottom line 1999)
Vassar’s Jazz – Golden Anniversary (Winter Harvest)
Back Porch Swing (Chrome Records 2000)
Dead Grass (Cedar Glen Music Group)
20 Fiddle Tunes & Waltz Favorites
Full Circle (OMS Records 2001)
Will The Circle Be Unbroken – Volume II – 3th Anniversary Edition (Capitol Records)
Will The Circle Be Unbroken (United Artists)
Will The Circle Be Unbroken – Volume III (Capitol Records)
Old & In The Gray (Acoustic Disc)
Runaway Fiddle with Buddy Spicher (OMS Records)
Livin’ With The Blues (Acoustic Disc 2004)
The Fiddle According to Vassar (Homespun Tapes). Taught By Vassar Clements. 9-minute DVD or VHS Includes music book
Vassar Clements In Concert – Vassar Swings (Shikata Records)
Vassar Clements In Concert – Ramblin’ 81 (Shanachie Records)


Artist Profiles: Robert Plant

Robert Plant – Photo Credit by Pamela Springsteen

Robert Anthony Plant was born August 2, 1948 in West Bromwich, West Midlands, England. He is a rock singer most famous for being the lead singer of one of the most influential rock bands of all time. Led Zeppelin. Robert is known for his powerful style, with a wide vocal range that embodies folk and blues passion at its finest. The British musician has a great appreciation for world music, especially African music.

In 1966 Plant became a professionalmusician. By 1967 he hformed the Band of Joy with John Bonham and created two fundamental working partnerships. The first such partnership was with Terry Reid – the two became friends playing on the progressive music circuit of the mid-1960s; the second was with bandleader Alexis Korner with whom Plant worked as harmonica player and co-vocalist in various Korner ventures many of which featured pianist Steve Miller and were featured as the opening act for the band Free.

In early 1968, Plant’s psychedelic dream ended. Bonham left the Band of Joy to tour with Tim Rose while Plant continued to work with Korner. Plant’s friend, Terry Reid recommended Plant to Jimmy Page for a revised Yardbirds line-up, declining the gig himself to pursue what looked to be a promising solo career. Plant in turn recommended Bonham and with Page’s fellow session musician John Paul Jones on bass, what began life as ‘The New Yardbirds” became the creative force known as Led Zeppelin.

Plant was influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien, which inspired some lyrics on early Led Zeppelin albums. The passion for diverse musical experiences drove Plant and Page to explore the African continent, specifically Morocco which they both revisited during their reunion album No Quarter in 1994. From blues to folk to African tribal music, Plant enjoyed diverse influences.
Led Zeppelin’s greatest success came with “Stairway to Heaven,” an epic fantasy song that draws influence from folk, blues, Celtic, traditional music and hard rock among other genres. While never released as a single, the song has topped charts as one of the greatest songs of all time on various polls around the world.

Plant enjoyed great success with the band throughout the 1970s but it ended abruptly when Plant and his wife Maureen were seriously injured in a car crash in Rhodes, Greece on August 4, 1975. This halted production of Led Zeppelin’s album Presence for a few months while he recovered. Things also took a turn for the worse in 1977, when his oldest son Karac died of a stomach infection. Karac’s death later inspired him to write the Led Zeppelin song “All My Love” in tribute.

Bonham’s unfortunate death in 1980 brought the Led Zeppelin era to a close. Following the band’s breakup”, Plant pursued a successful solo career. Plant formed a short-lived all-star group, The Honeydrippers, that had a Top Ten hit with a remake of “Sea Of Love”.

Plant and Jimmy Page renewed their long-time partnership in 1995 for four years in the No Quarter project, a mix of North African, Egyptian, and folk roots sounds.

Plant’s wide-ranging enthusiasm for non-Western musics, including the music of Morocco, met with his lifelong fascination with American West Coast psychedelic rock to form a new fusion of styles and colors known as Strange Sensation. Their first album Dreamland received great critical acclaim and two Grammy nominations in January 2003.

Plant recorded with Afro Celt Sound System and along with Skin and Justin Adams traveled to north of Timbuktu in Mali to participate in the 2nd Festival of the Desert, a gathering of African, Saharan and assorted musicians that included Oumou Sangare, Ali Farka Toure, Tinariwen and Tartit. This project ultimately became a CD compilation Festival in the Desert on the Harmonia Mundi label.

In 2003, Plant released the retrospective Sixty Six to Timbuktu that included a selection of Plant’s solo work from his first recording date to his appearance in Mali.

In October of 2004, Plant revived his long-dormant Es Paranza label for its first release in many years. May of 2005 saw the release of Plant and the Strange Sensation’s album Mighty Rearranger that featured twelve new original songs. A major year-long tour followed. At the close of 2005, the critically acclaimed Mighty Rearranger received two Grammy nominations in vocal categories.

In 2006, Robert and the band embark on a new adventure with a series of dates across Europe and beyond. A stopover in Sweden in late May saw Robert, along with the other members of Led Zeppelin receive the prestigious Polar Music Prize. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden presented the award to Led Zeppelin in the presence of other dignitaries with the following words: ‘The 2006 Polar Music Prize is awarded to the British group Led Zeppelin, one of the great pioneers of rock. Their playful and experimental music combined with highly eclectic elements has two essential themes: mysticism and primal energy.”

In October of 2006 Rounder/Zoe Vision released Plant and the Strange Sensation DVD, a ten-camera High Definition shoot for USA Soundstage productions. This was the first commercial DVD in Robert’s career. This continued the critical recognition of the work of Plant and the Strange Sensation.

2006 closed with the worldwide release of Nine Lives (Rhino), a beautifully designed boxed set containing all of Plant’s solo work since 1980, accompanied by outtakes live cuts and a DVD with contributions from Tori Amos, Phil Collins, Roger Daltrey, Bobby Gillespie and Lenny Kravitz among others.

In 2007, Robert worked on album number three with Strange Sensation.

Raising Sand, a project and partnership with Grammy Award winning bluegrass artist Alison Krauss was released in October 2007 on Rounder Records. Produced by T-Bone Burnett, Raising Sand includes blues, country and folk-rock.


Pictures at Eleven (Swan Song Records, 1982)
The Principle of Moments (Es Paranza Records, 1983)
Shaken ‘n’ Stirred (Es Paranza Records, 1985)
Now and Zen (Es Paranza Records, 1988)
Manic Nirvana (Es Paranza Records, 1990)
Fate of Nations (Es Paranza Records, 1993)
Dreamland (Mercury Records, 2002)
Mighty ReArranger (Sanctuary Records, 2005)
Raising Sand, with Alison Krauss (Rounder Records, 2007)
Band of Joy (Rounder Records, 2010)
Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar (Nonesuch Records, 2014)
Carry Fire (Nonesuch Records, 2017)


Re-energized Brownout

Brownout – Over The Covers (2017)

Brownout, the Tejano kings of funk rock have a new EP released this month titled Over The Covers. The new recording features 4 superb tracks inspired by funk beats and guitars, soul, psychedelic rock, 1970s West Coast Chicano rock, Afrobeat brass, Latin American beats, and a final instrumental that has a delicious psychedelic prog rock flavor.

The band features a new lead singer and songwriter named Alex Marrero, who fits perfectly well.



Over The Covers leaves you wanting to listen more of this excellent multi-faceted band from Austin.



Buy the digital download version of Over The Covers


Artist profiles: Hoven Droven

Hoven Droven in 2001 – Photo by Peder Majiet

Hoven Droven’s music is a unique and powerful blend of traditional folk and fierce hard rock where violin and electric guitar duel for the audience’s attention. This combination is complemented by a diverse background created by sax, Hammond organ, drums, percussion and bass.

The band’s name is a slang phrase which means uh “whatever” (at least in the province of Jämtland in northern Sweden). In their case it could just as well mean “things will take care of themselves.” Despite sometimes chaotic organizational methods none of them are able to explain how they have managed to perform on almost every major Swedish television and radio program and in North America. Looking at their individual schedules it’s a wonder that the band can get together to play at all.

Their first Swedish album “Hia Hia” was released in 1995 recorded at Peak Studios with engineer/producer Erik Benholm. Early in 1996 they got together again to record “Grov.” Selections from both of these releases are included on NorthSide’s 70+ minute compilation titled Groove — their first North American record release and one of NorthSide’s first releases.

Summer 1999 saw the band at the Winnipeg Folk Festival where they had 8 people on their feet hands raised high above their heads doing an ancient Swedish mosquito-killing dance. On their return home to Östersund they began recording their newest album.

More Happy Moments with Hoven Droven marks a number of departures for the band. Trumpet player Gustav Hylén left the band to spend more time with his family and set up Home Studios in Revsund where the disc was made. (You can see a “home movie” from the recording sessions on the NorthSide enhanced CD). New member Janne Strömstedt’s organ work now underpins the band’s sound making it heavier and more elegant all at the same time. For this release also the band decided to work with vocalists. On three tracks they are joined by the lovely female voices of Ulrika Bodén and Sofia Sandén (from Ranarim and Rosenberg 7.) Swedish music legend Stefan Sundström can be heard with the band on two of the five extra MP3 tracks which are included on the enhanced CD.
The English translation of the band’s name -helter skelter or, whatever – also happens to describe the band’s relationship to their Swedish roots.

Hoven Droven are:

Björn Höglund (drums and percussion) has toured with Swedish funk-rocker Paulo Mendonca and worships Peter Criss.

Guitarist Bo Lindberg claims he is a star in Japan with his former avant-rock band Myrbein. If the truth be known he’s a music teacher who’s been in almost every band to come out of Östersund in the past 1 years.

Saxophonist Jens Comén is often seen in rock-pop-jazz-big band-punk bands around town displaying his natural gifts (with his instrument).

Pedro Blom is the band’s bassist and plays in other roots music groups. Otherwise he’s a big fan of AC/DC and Mötorhead.

Hoven Droven’s violin-playing front man is Kjell-Erik Eriksson. His original interest in Swedish folk music has taken on a stronger bite and higher volume with Hoven Droven. He also plays traditional acoustic music in the band Triakel.

Janne Strömstedt (Hammond Organ) likes to play everything from salsa to country. In April 2000 Janne made the difficult decision to leave the band: “For a long time I’ve found it difficult to find a good way of combining the particular conditions under which HD is touring with the rest of my life. Unlike most of the others in the band I have a busy everyday life with another job apart from the music. I´m also touring quite a lot with Triakel.”


Hia-Hia (Xource/MNW XOUCD 110, 1994)
Grov (Xource/MNW XOUCD 114, 1996)
Groove, compilation (NorthSide NSD 6002, 1997)
More Happy Moments with Hoven Droven (Home 013 / NorthSide NSD 6043, 1999)
Hippa (Home 020 / NorthSide NSD 6062, 2001)
Turbo (Home 032, 2004)
Jumping at the Cedar, 2-CD live compilation (Home 044 / NorthSide NSD 6090, 2006)
Rost (Westpark PGM-87217, 2011)



Southern Rock Icon Gregg Allman Dies at 69

Gregg Allman – Photo by Danny Clinch

Legendary Southern rock guitarist and singer-songwriter Gregg Allman passed away on May 27, 2017.

Gregory LeNoir Allman was one of the founding members of the Allman Brothers Band. Based in Macon, Georgia, the Allman Brothers Band was a pioneer of Southern rock, a remarkable mix of rock, blues, jazz and soul.

Some of the best known songs he performed include “Midnight Rider” and “Whipping Post.” The Allman Brothers Band won a GRAMMY Award in 1995 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for “Jessica.”

We have lost a pioneering force in American music, and our condolences go out to Gregg’s family, friends, colleagues, and music fans everywhere,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy.

The family recommends that tributes to Gregg can be made to the Gregg Allman Scholarship Fund at The University of Georgia or the Allman/Lehman Endowed Scholarship at Syracuse University.


Tedeschi Trucks Band Live, a Special Experience

Tedeschi Trucks Band – Tedeschi Trucks Band Live From the Fox Oakland (Fantasy Records, 2017)

With summer just around the corner many of you are planning to head off to the beach, to the mountains or to grandma’s house while others are planning backyard barbecues, family reunions or pool parties so you are in desperate need of some tunes. As luck would have it I have your smoking raging down the highway, sizzling grilling chicken and hey someone needs to get that Frisbee off the roof tunes for your summer fun. The double-CD set Tedeschi Trucks Band Live from the Fox Oakland is your ticket to some kickass, razor sharp tunes.

Fans know the Jacksonville, Florida blues/rock Tedeschi Trucks Band from past offerings like Let Me Get, Midnight in Harlem, Revelator, Made Up and Everybody’s Talkin. Their latest offering is the fruits of their labors from a 2016 live performance at Oakland, California’s Fox Theater.

Guitarist Derek Trucks explains the springboard for the recording, “We’ve been wanting to properly document the progress of this ban for a while and it really felt like we were hitting our stride and firing on all cylinders last fall.”

Guitarist and vocalist Susan Tedeschi adds, “It was special capturing the live performance from Oakland. The audience was great and the band played with passion. I am thankful we captured the band at this moment in time.”

Headed up by Ms. Tedeschi and Mr. Trucks, The Tedeschi Trucks Band is full of the usual suspects with Kofi Burbridge on keyboards and flute, Tyler “Falcon” Greenwell on drums and percussion, J.J. Johnson on drums and percussion, Tim Lefebvre on bass guitar, Mike Mattison on vocals and acoustic guitar, Mark Rivers on vocals, Alecia Chakour on vocals, Kebbi Williams on saxophone, Elizabeth Lea on trombone and Ephraim Owens on trumpet. Fans get a treat with guest musician Alam Khan on sarode on “These Walls.”

Live at the Fox Oakland is savagely good and kickass cool. Chocked full of the goodness of “Don’t Know What It Means,” “Keep on Growing,” “Bird on the Wire” and “Anyhow,” and that’s just CD 1, the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s sound is tight and razor sharp. With rocking guitar licks, sizzling rhythms, soulful vocals, sassy backing vocals and brass lines so sweet they’ll probably keep the mosquitos away, Live at the Fox Oakland is all you need to get your mojo working again. CD 2 is just as fabulous with offerings like “Leavin’ Trunk,” “Don’t Drift Away,” “I Want More (Soul Sacrifice Outro)” and the rich and rewarding “Ali.”

For fans wanting to get a little live action of the Tedeschi Trucks band should check their local concert venues because the band is currently on a U.S. tour and will have upcoming concerts in places like Philadelphia, Saratoga, Rochester, Virginia Beach, Raleigh, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Albuquerque this June and July.

It’s doubtful that Live at the Fox Oakland will make your teeth whiter, your kids smarter, help you find the love of a good woman or improve your posture – but you never know because I think I’m sitting a little straighter right now.

Buy Tedeschi Trucks Band Live From the Fox Oakland


Artist Profiles: Billy Preston

Billy Preston

Billy Preston’s career spanned five decades, starting as a child prodigy playing the movie role of young W.C. Handy and then playing organ for Ray Charles and Little Richard. His accomplishments are highlighted by a seriesg of hits, including collaborating with some of the most celebrated names in the music industry, The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, The Jackson Five, Sly and the Family Stone, Barbara Streisand, Sammy Davis Jr., Quincy Jones and perhaps the most famous of all, The Beatles.

Billy’s relationship with The Beatles led to his signing with Apple Records in the 1960s. Billy is widely acknowledged as the “Fifth Beatle” having been the only party to ever hand his name included in the label credits of the Let It Be and the Abbey Road albums as well as the landmark The White Album. Billy also appeared with them in the films “The Complete Beatles” and Let It Be as well as performing as part of them during their historic rooftop final concert.

In the late 1960s Billy worked with John Lennon and Yoko Ono on their solo Plastic Ono Band album as well as Ringo Starr’s solo single “Oh My My” and he participated in George Harrison’s American Tour. In addition Billy Preston was a leading character in the movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band also featuring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees, performing a stunning version of “Get Back”.

Preston’s name and fame were solidified as a solo artist when he scored a series of Number 1 hit singles including the Grammy winning “Outta Space”, “Will It Go Round In Circles”, “Nothing From Nothing” and “Space Race”.




A prolific writer, Billy Preston composed the multi-platinum standard “You Are So Beautiful” that was performed by his friend Joe Cocker. He also wrote the title songs for a series of box office hits  including “Never Gonna Say Goodbye” “Fast Break” and “O’Hara’s Wide”. The title song from “Fast Break” became a Preston classic hit when performed as a duet with the late Syreeta Wright. Billy also co-wrote the score for the Sidney Poitier movie “They Call Me Mr. Tibbs” with Quincy Jones.



Billy Preston was the first black musical director of a late night television show “Nightlife” starring David Brenner, was a regular on the UPN series “Good News” and made a cameo appearance in “Blues Brothers 2” as part of the super group that included Eric Clapton and Stevie Winwood and B.B. King among others.

Billy’s participation in the tribute concert “Concert for George Harrison” at Royal Albert Hall and his performance of “My Sweet Lord” received critical acclaim. Billy recorded on the last album his mentor Ray Charles was to record, toured with The Funk Brothers and Stevie Winwood in Europe in early 2004 and then hit the road, touring extensively and garnering rave reviews for his performances with his dear friend Eric Clapton through Europe and North America. Billy’s keyboard dominance was highlighted with the release of the “Let It Be–Naked” album issue.

With his extensive touring and studio involvement Billy Preston found the time to create special project tribute to his dear friends The Beatles. He even wrote two new songs, one in tribute to George Harrison and another to all four of the fab fellows, “John, Paul, George and Ringo”.

Billy Preston died June 6, 2006.


Artist Profiles: Toubab Krewe

Toubab Krewe

Toubab Krewe is an instrumental quintet based in Asheville, North Carolina, that fuses West African music with American rock. The five members, who are childhood friends and long-term musical collaborators who joined up in 2005, have spent extended periods studying with musical masters in Mali, Ivory Coast, and Guinea and learning traditional instruments such as the kora (a 21-string harp) and the kamel ngoni (a lute).

Their recording ‘Live At The Orange Peel’ (2008) features eight previously unreleased tracks and continue to mix American rock with the West African musical traditions the band fell in love with on their travels. Along the way, they explore the worlds of surf and zydeco. Live At The Orange Peel features collaborations with legendary spoken word artist Umar Bin Hassan of The Last Poets and fiddler Rayna Gellert of Uncle Earl. It was produced by Grammy winning producer Steven Heller, who also produced the band’s debut.

With many friends, teachers, and collaborators living in Mali and affected by the 2012 Malian crisis, the band felt called to do something to help. Inspired by the encouragement of Toumani Diabate, Toubab Krewe’s Luke Quaranta envisioned and launched “Musicians for Mali,” an initiative to increase awareness about the current crisis in Mali, and raise money for refugees.

Teal Brown – drum set
Drew Heller – electric guitar and soku
Justin Perkins – kora, kamelengoni, and electric guitar
David Pransky – electric bass guitar
Luke Quaranta – percussion


* Toubab Krewe (Upstream Records, 2005)
* Live At The Orange Peel (Upstream Records, 2009)
* TK2 (Nat Geo Music, 2011)

Web sites: www.toubabkrewe.com