Yesterday was International Women's Day. Mrs. Black-N-Gold commemorated the event by honoring the women of the blues, past and present, especially the Pittsburgh Women of the Blues. The entire month of March celebrates Women's History Month. To honor the occasion, Mrs. Black-N-Gold and the Big Bossman caught a blues show last night. It just so happened that it featured the "Queen of the Pittsburgh Blues Scene", Jill West and Blues Attack. Jill was kind enough to sit down with Mrs. Black-N-Gold and answer a few questions regarding her illustrious career and the state of the current blues scene. I always like to know the influences of the artists that I enjoy. I feel this is a good way to generate word of mouth for other performers and to turn people on to musicians they may not know. Jill listed Big Mama Thornton, Koko Taylor and Etta James as artists that she admires. She paid homage to these ladies later in the evening, she performed Taylor's "Voodoo Woman" from Jill West and Blues Attack's current CD, "Bootleg Blues". She also broke out James' "Damn Your Eyes", always a crowd favorite. Jill also admires some ladies that continue to produce music today, such as Debbie Davies and Denise LaSalle. I explained to Jill that the first time I saw her perform was about 20 odd years ago at the Blue Note. I asked her how she is able to continue to keep the music and her performance so fresh. She responded that the songs "have to mean something to you and your audience." It helps when guest musicians join the band to add a different flavor to keep it sounding fresh. The last question I asked Jill was "Where do you see the blues going, particularly, the Pittsburgh blues scene?" Jill feels that the audiences that frequent the scene are "small, but mighty". Jill West and Blues Attack have a loyal following that are willing to make the trek from near and far to see the "First Lady of Blues in Pittsburgh" wow the crowds from the Boston Waterfront, to Frank's Pub to Moondog's and beyond. We have seen this band several times and Jill West and Blues Attack never disappoint. Last night, they regaled us with several of their own tunes as well as distinct versions of many blues favorites. A number of these tunes are featured on their latest CD, "Bootleg Blues". Big Mama is a Pittsburgh blues institution. Get yourself a Blues Attack at one of their shows or give a listen to some of their CD's. As guitarist Gregg Krupa likes to say, "If you've got the blues, Jill West is the solution". Thank you to Jill West for the sitdown. Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Today is International Women's Day. This day was founded in an effort to celebrate the historic contributions women have made to our society throughout the centuries, politically, socially and economically. The women who have helped shape blues music should be included in that celebration. Women have been singing the blues since as far back as the 1920's. Pioneers include Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and Mamie Smith. In an industry mostly dominated by men, Memphis Minnie stood out not only as a singer but as a songwriter and guitarist. All of these wonderful women took the blues and ran with it. They proved that they were not to be ignored and could stand toe-to-toe with their male counterparts. These ladies paved the way for the likes of Big Mama Thornton, Laverne Baker and Etta James. Today the blues community is bustling with many marvelous female voices such as Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi, Samantha Fish and Beth Hart. These ladies write, play and produce their own music. They have collaborated with each other as well as other performers. Pittsburgh is home to an incredible collection of female blues performers from Barbara Blue to Jill West, Shari Richards, Stevee Wellons, and Miss Freddye. The Pittsburgh blues scene now has Patti Spadaro, Ruby Red, Sweaty Betty and Leigh-Anne Yost carrying the torch. And the list continues to grow. These talented ladies carry on the rich blues tradition in the tri-state area and beyond and can be seen at a blues show near you. Do yourself a favor and see them in action. Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!
Friday, March 7, 2014
Michael, Michael, motorcycle! It's a great day for hockey! Your Pittsburgh Penguins look to get back in the win column tonight as they continue their west coast swing against the Anaheim Ducks. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)The Ducks lead the NHL with 92 points. Show the Ducks they're not all they're quacked up to be! 2)The Pens are on a 1-2-2 streak, giving up a total of 21 goals. Put the "D" back in the defense! 3)Anaheim is 4-5-1 in their last 10 home games. The Pens aren't much better, going 1-2-0 to start their 5-game road trip. Don't forget to pack the Motley Crue and the Goals, Goals, Goals! Let's Go Pens!!!
Thursday, March 6, 2014
How much fried chicken can you eat? It's a great day for hockey! Your Pittsburgh Penguins take their show on the road to San Jose to faceoff against the Sharks tonight. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)Both of these teams are a force to be reckoned with in their divisions. The Pens lead the Metropolitan division and the Eastern Conference with a 41-16-4 record and 86 points. San Jose are second in the Western Conference's Pacific Division at 39-17-7 for 85 points. Take a bite out of the Sharks! 2)Both teams are also in the top 10 overall in scoring. The Pens are #4, averaging 3.1 goals per game. San Jose is #8 with 2.9 goals per game. Break out the Crue and the Goals, Goals, Goals! 3)San Jose has a home record of 22-4-4. Both teams are looking to string together 2 wins in a row. Time for a Black-N-Gold home invasion! Let's Go Pens!!!
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
It's time for another geography lesson from Mrs. Black-N-Gold. Question: Where in this country can you find some of the best jazz, dixie land, zydeco and blues music? Why in the heart of New Orleans, LA, of course! New Orleans has a rich musical history to go along with some of the most delicious delicacies in the world. You can take in the sights and sounds that New Orleans has to offer in the French Quarter, on Bourbon Street and at Congo Square while you partake in a po'boy, some gumbo or some cajun entrees. The Big Easy has been home for many legendary performers, most notably, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, The Meters, The Neville Brothers, and Dr. John. The Crescent City has spawned the New Orleans Blues style as well as Swamp Blues. Significant contributors to these genres include Professor Longhair, Guitar Slim, Slim Harpo and Lazy Lester. While NOLA is famous for their Mardi Gras celebration, there are musical events happening around this city 365 days a year. Two of the more well-known are the world-famous New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival. Don't let the name of the former fool you. There is way more than jazz music to entertain your ears. And the latter provides some the latest and greatest the blues scene has to offer. Some of the happening spots that host live blues music are The Famous Door, Bourbon Street Blues Company, The Spotted Cat, and Chickie Wah Wah. Get your krewe to New Orleans and soak up some of the fine blues music they have to offer. Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Great balls of fire! Your Pittsburgh Penguins continue their five-game road trip as they faceoff against the Nashville Predators tonight in Music City. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)Following Saturday's 5-1 drubbing in Chicago, the Pens are winless in their last 3 games. A win tonight would be music to my ears! 2)On Saturday night, the Pens were 0 for 6 on the power play. Take advantage of the man advantage! 3)Preds G Pekka Rinne returns after missing over 4 months with a hip injury. In losing his last 2 games to Pittsburgh, Rinne has surrendered 9 goals out of 61 shots. Break out the Motley Crue and the Goals, Goals, Goals! Let's Go Pens!!!
Monday, March 3, 2014
If ever there were another city in the United States that could challenge Memphis, TN as the Home of the Blues, it would be this Midwestern city. Yes, Mrs. Black-N-Gold brings you another geography lesson. What city am I talking about, boys and girls? If you answered, the Windy City, Chicago, IL, give yourself a gold star. Beginning as far back as the early 1900's, aspiring musicians from the south migrated up north towards the Chicago area in hopes of finding their fame and fortune. Or at least, steady work while they plied their craft in the nightclubs, on the street corners and anywhere else they could be heard. Such blues heavyweights as Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf and Willie Dixon honed their craft in Chi-Town. Chicago has been producing major players on the blues scene ever since. These and other blues greats ended up befriending and mentoring the next generation. They included notables such as Magic Sam, Otis Rush and Buddy Guy. They recorded for historic labels such as Chess, Bluebird, and Cobra. A few labels, such as Delmark and Alligator, still exist today and continue to churn out the latest blues offerings. Of course, Chicago is known for more than just the blues. You can undergo retail therapy on Michigan Ave., take in a Cubs game at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, and enjoy Chicago-style pizza and hot dogs. But the blues lover in you will want to check out some of the highly-touted blues nightclubs like Buddy Guy's Legends (keep your fingers crossed that you are in attendance on a night that Buddy himself graces the stage), Kingston Mines, or B.L.U.E.S. It's been said that you can find live blues here 365 days of the year. Get yourself to Chicago for some of the finest blues around. They don't call it, "Sweet Home Chicago" for nothing. Till next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!