conqueroo

music publicity since 6:30 this morning

Twitter Facebook

artists

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2015

GRAMMY-NOMINATED FUNK COLLECTIVE BLINDDOG SMOKIN’
MAKES HIGH-ENERGY ROOTS MUSIC
WITH HUMOR, DEPTH AND SOUL


High Steppin’ features wild-man raconteur Carl Gustafson’s epic tales plus eclectic sounds; reunites band with producer Donny Markowitz;
set for July 17 release date on Silver Talon Records exclusively
distributed by City Hall Records in tandem with The Orchard

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Blinddog Smokin’s larger-than-life new album High Steppin’ is a kaleidoscopic romp through the wild side of roots music. The disc’s nine songs ricochet from rock ’n’ roll to juke joint blues to New Orleans jazz to raw Americana, all supported by the band’s twin pillars: hot ’n’ greasy funk and frontman Carl Gustafson’s epic storytelling.

High Steppin’ follows 2014’s Decisions, a collaboration with soul-blues legend Bobby Rush that earned a Grammy nomination for Best Blues Album. Decisions includes the song “Another Murder in New Orleans,” which enlisted another legend, Dr. John, to tell its tale of street violence. The tune was widely played on Americana and blues radio, and was used by the New Orleans Crimestoppers organization to raise awareness. Blinddog Smokin’s imaginative video for “Another Murder in New Orleans” mixes performance footage, cartoons and live action actors, and has received more than 110,000 views on YouTube.

Blinddog Smokin’s 11th release, High Steppin’ kicks off with “Pimp Shoes,” an ebullient, percolating funk gem that displays the group’s spectacular ensemble. “’Pimp Shoes’ is not about pimps or shoes,” says Gustafson. “It’s about attitude. When a man becomes the captain of his soul, and he’s mastered who he is, it comes out in his posture, in his pose, in his walk. That’s what that song’s about.” On a more literal note, there’s “Big Behind,” an ode to a lady’s posterior largess that straddles funky soul-blues, rock and — with its sweeping pedal steel guitar — honky-tonk country. High Steppin’ is set for a July 17th release date on Silver Talon Records exclusively distributed by City Hall Records in tandem with The Orchard.

“I Caught Her Lyin’” goes deeper into the country tradition to offer Blinddog Smokin’s version of a mountain lament — surrounding Gustafson’s heartbroken yarn with an Americana-perfect framework of crying violin, grinding guitar and his appealing worn-leather voice. “Lady’s Playin’” changes the locale to New Orleans. That song’s a Crescent City funk powerhouse, with bold horns, a scalding six-string solo and chanting group vocals that celebrate la difference. Similarly, “Don’t Put No Money on Me” — a wickedly funny loser’s lament — sounds like a drunken Mardi Gras street parade, while “Tell ’em Shuffle” is a straight-up Chicago blues.

Blinddog Smokin’s marvelously eclectic sound and approach is the result of Gustafson’s literal and musical world travels. He and the band have toured the planet numerous times since 1994, putting more than a million road miles on their vehicles — which include Gustafson’s bicycle.


“When we get to a new town, I like to take my bike off the bus and ride the backstreets,” he says. “When you travel the alleys, you learn about people. The front yard is for show; the backyard shows the way they live. And when I run into old-timers, I stop and listen to their stories.”

Gustafson, who describes himself as an adventurer and philosopher, has plenty of tales of his own. And his book It Ain’t Just the Blues, It’s Showtime: Hard Times, Heartache and Glory Along the Blue Highwaychronicles Blinddog Smokin’s experiences on the road.


“I come from a time before television, when telling stories was part of the fabric of life,” he offers. “So I’m a songwriting machine. I’m constantly coming up with new lyrics and our producer and friend, Donny Markowitz, has provided much of the music based on his skills and his knowledge of how we think and play as a band.”


That knowledge is deep. Markowitz is the Oscar-, Grammy- and Golden Globe-winning writer of the song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and the composer of soundtracks for the hit Steve Carell film Crazy, Stupid, Love and many others. And High Steppin’ is the third album in a row he’s produced for Blinddog Smokin’. “We didn’t hit our stride in the studio until we started working with Donny,” Gustafson says.


The other essential ingredient to Blinddog Smokin’s broad stylistic mastery is the ability of its players. The core members of the group comprise one of the finest modern bands in American roots music. Dynamic drummer and vocalist Chuck Gullens started with the Blinddogs in 1994 in Laramie, Wyoming, shortly after Gustafson and the band, then named Bluestone , returned from traveling the Middle East and Mediterranean, playing for troops on a 49 day DOD tour. Versatile bassist Roland Pritzker joined in 2000, followed by keyboardist and exceptional vocalist, Mo Beeks — whose own, earlier band, Lock & Chain, gave R&B singer Chaka Kahn her start back in 1972. In 2009 came back-up singer and bassist Chris White, and virtuoso guitarist Chalo Ortiz also entered the fold, followed quickly by backing vocalist Linda Gustafson, who plays feminine yin to her husband’s hot-dogging, high stepping yang in concert.


“I couldn’t ask for a better group of performers to share the stage with,” says Gustafson. “They can go anywhere at any time, and get along, and that’s a rare thing in any style of music.”

Gustafson’s own musical tale begins in Laramie, his hometown. “My first exposure to blues was hearing Willie Dixon,” he recounts. “My parents went to a little club outside Cheyenne, and my brother and I — we were six and eight years old — stayed in the car. When we heard the music, we were absolutely fascinated by it, so we peeked in the windows. Then I started sneaking around listening to blues whenever I could. I had to sneak, because my father was a classical pianist and said the blues was ‘Satan’s music’ and ‘not culturally acceptable.’ He’d only gone to the club to socialize with relatives.
“When I was 16 I ran away from home,” Gustafson continues. “There was a little after-hours café down by the railroad tracks called the Pic-a-Rib. I went down there and lived with a black boy I played football with, whose mother, Miss Peggy, ran the café. I stayed with them, hiding from my mom and dad, and I learned how to appreciate blues. I learned how to dance. I learned how to sing. It was a really cool, isolated pocket, of black culture in a completely white conservative environment.”

Gustafson says that High Steppin’ reflects those early life lessons and the myriad others he’s learned along the way. “This album shows me as a philosopher; as somebody who analyzes life and adjusts from honest vulnerability to establish a fun swagger. There’s a journey here that can only happen to an introspective person who loves life, people, stories, and never believes that you have to stay in the station where you are. And until the day I die, I plan to grow as an artist and storyteller.”

BLINDDOG SMOKIN’ TOUR DATES
Wed., June 24 PHOENIX, AZ The Rhythm Room
Thurs., June 25 NEW ORLEANS, LA Old U.S. Mint
Mon., June 29 CHICAGO, IL Martyr’s
Fri., July 3 OKLAHOMA CITY, OK Bourbon Street
Sat., July 4 MCPHERSON, KS
Fri., July 10 LARAMIE, WY Jubilee Days
Sat., July 11 LARAMEE, WY Jubilee Days
Tues., July 14 OVERLAND PARK, KS Kanza Hall
Thurs., July 16 JACKSON, MS Underground 119
Thurs., July 23 TORONTO, ON Hard Rock Café
Thurs., July 30 RAWLINS, WY Rawlins in the Park
Fri., July 31 LARAMIE, WY Alibi
Sat., Aug. 8 ROCK SPRINGS, WY Blues & Brews Festival
Thurs., Aug. 13 THEMOPOLIS, WY
Fri., Aug. 14 CASPER, WY The Attic
Sat., Aug. 15 SINCLAIR, WY Platte River Festival
Sun., Aug. 16 CENTINNIAL, WY Bear Tree
Sun., Sept. 6 LARAMIE, WY Snowy Range Music Festival
Sat., Nov. 15 HIGH POINT, NC High Point Theatre

# # #

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 11, 2014

BLUES LEGEND BOBBY RUSH GARNERS
SECOND CONSECUTIVE BEST BLUES ALBUM
GRAMMY NOMINATION

Rush’s Decisions, recorded with funk band Blinddog Smokin’
and special guest Dr. John,
continues to grab accolades with four Blues Music Award nominations

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Twenty years in the making, Decisions, the first collaboration between blues legend Bobby Rush and Southern California band Blinddog Smokin’, featuring six-time Grammy winner Dr. John, is being rewarded with end-of-the-year music industry honors including a recent Grammy nomination in the Best Blues Album category.

Also this week, Bobby Rush picked up four Blues Music Awards from the Blues Foundation, including B.B. King Entertainer of the Year and Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year. Decisions secured a Best Soul Blues nod and Best Song nom for “Another Murder in New Orleans,” written by Carl Gustafson and Donald Markowitz, performed by Rush and Dr. John w/Blinddog Smokin’.

Gustafson, the band leader, vocalist, and harmonica player of Blinddog Smokin,’ says, “I’d really like to see people in the United States take a look at [Bobby Rush and Dr. John] and see what they have before they’re gone, and feel their power, feel their love . . . Who knows how long Bobby or Mac are going to last? Now we have a chance. We have the two of them together for the first time in their careers, and they’re two of the rarest characters in American music culture.”

“Just to be in the running and to be involved is meaningful,” says Rush on receiving his third Grammy nod. “It makes me feel like a winner already. I want to thank everyone in the category, the voters, and anyone that had anything to do with helping me get to where I am right now. I want to thank everyone from a fan standpoint and from a voter standpoint for everything they have done for Bobby Rush. I’m happy to be an old man but this makes me feel young again.”

In October, Decisions won Best Soul Blues Album at the Blues Blast Music Awards, where Rush was also singled out with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Decisions is the first-ever teaming on record of three unlikely friends united by their love of the blues — Rush and Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack were both born in the same town of Homer, Louisiana.

Rush, 80 years old, continues his late-career emergence from the Chitlin’ Circuit underground to music mainstream. His crossover arguably began after achieving a Grammy nomination in 2000 for his album Hoochie Man, being featured in the “Road to Memphis” segment of the 2004 Martin Scorcese documentary The Blues, and last year’s Grammy-nominated record Down in Louisiana, which recently won Soul Blues Album of the Year at this year’s Blues Music Awards.

Rush performed in July on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon with Dan Aykroyd and The Roots, as a part of the promo for the film Get On Up. Dan Aykroyd noted, “Okay, so like James Brown is gone, eh, and Richard Penniman a.k.a Little Richard … he’s not going to tour no more, and B.B. King is slowing down.Bobby Rush is the last one left of that generation.”

In September the documentary Take Me to the River came out in theaters nationwide, with a soundtrack on Stax Records/Concord Music Group. The film is about the soul of American music and follows the recording of a new album featuring legends from Stax Records and Memphis, mentoring and passing on their musical magic to stars and artists of today. Rush co-stars alongside Terrence Howard, Snoop Dogg, the late Bobby “Blue” Bland, Mavis Staples, Charlie Musselwhite, among others.

Rush, born Emmett Ellis, Jr., started playing music in his early teens, changing his name out of respect for his preacher father and fronting, for a time, a band that featured a young Elmore James on guitar. In his 20s, Rush landed in the booming Chicago blues scene where he bumped up against Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and, most notably, a back-alley neighbor, blues harmonica great Little Walter, whose example inspired Rush to master the instrument. In the ’80s Rush relocated to his current home of Jackson, Mississippi, where he embarked on the hard-touring career that has earned him the title of King of the Chitlin' Circuit.

Meanwhile, about the time Rush was making his name in Chicago, Blinddog Smokin’ leader Carl Gustafson was learning the blues in, of all places, Laramie, Wyoming. He ran away from home at 16, making it as far as the railroad tracks and the Pic-A-Rib Café. Through the owner, Miss Peggy, and her son Ricky, Gustafson learned about African-American culture and through the establishment’s jukebox he discovered the sounds of American blues and R&B, an experience detailed in Gustafson’s 2010 memoir Ain’t Just Blues, It’s Showtime: Hard times, heartache, and glory along Blues Highway .

In 1964, Gustafson started his first band, a James Brown-inspired 13-piece revue called Ali Baba & the Thieves. In 1993 he founded Blinddog Smokin’, which has become a force on the blues scene, playing 200-320 dates a year at juke joints, clubs, and festivals around the world, including the Snowy Range Music Festival (which Gustafson directs) in Laramie, and the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, where in 1995 he met Bobby Rush.

“Bobby was performing, and I was just mesmerized with his show,” Gustafson recalls. “I met him afterwards, and it’s a weird thing: we just had a connection and struck up a friendship. We started calling each other and checking in on each other, and over the years started touring together. One thing led to another, and we just got this strong bond between us.”

Nineteen years later that friendship finally spilled over into the recording studio, with Gustafson and his band — including drummer “Chicago” Chuck Gullens, bassist Roland “Junior Bacon” Pritzker,keyboardist/vocalist Mo Beeks, guitarist Chalo Ortiz, and backing vocalists Chris White (nephew of folk singer Josh White) and Gustafson’s wife Linda — backing Rush on ten songs plus a bonus song on Decisions.

The leadoff track, “Another Murder in New Orleans,” paired Rush with another longtime friend, New Orleans music legend Dr. John. Two of the most colorful figures in the blues, Rush and Dr. John — whose real name is Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack Jr. — have known each other for more than 50 years, first meeting as young men in their 20s on the early 1960s R&B circuit and remaining good friends ever since.
“When they’re telling stories it’s hilarious because they’re talking about bluesmen so ugly they had to turn their backs to the audience to play guitar,” says Gustafson, a mutual friend of both men. “And in some cases running from the same women.”

Despite their decades-long relationship, Rush and Dr. John had never recorded together until “Another Murder in New Orleans.” Written by Gustafson and Decisions producer Donald Markowitz (an Oscar, Golden Globe, and Grammy winner for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack smash “I’ve Had the Time of My Life”), the song addresses in graphic terms the street violence that has ravaged that city post-Hurricane Katrina, offering a message for change. The track was cut in New Orleans in 2012 around Mardi Gras. The setting inspired Gustafson to ask if Rush’s old friend might want to guest on the song, which the 74-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer eagerly did.

“We come up as kids together, man, but I never even thought about recording together before,” says Rush. “How great is it that this late in the game we can do something together while we can still talk about it and smile about it and laugh about it? It came to pass, and I’m so proud I did this with Dr. John.”

“Another Murder in New Orleans” and Rush’s morals-seeking title track “Decisions” are the rare serious notes on an otherwise light-hearted blues romp that is rooted in Rush and Gustafson’s friendship. Other songs include the autobiographical “Bobby Rush’s Bus,” about the singer’s constantly-moving tour vehicle, “Funky Old Man,” the rap-flavored “Dr. Rush,” the acoustic jam “Too Much Weekend,” and “Skinny Little Women,” which tackles an issue Rush has been preoccupied with for some time.

“Little bitty woman why you always in the mirror talking ’bout how good you look/You ought to be doing like that fat woman in the kitchen seeing ’bout how good you cook,” sings Rush, who had one of his biggest successes in the ’90s with the album Lovin’ a Big Fat Woman. “It’s a joke-y thing. But if you notice that little skinny ladies all the time they look cute and good and smell good and look good. All that’s good but the big lady has got somebody, too. She needs some lovin’, too.”
Bobby Rush continues to perform more than 200 concerts a year and into 2015 will do so in support of the latest Grammy nominated album Decisions, see his upcoming announced dates below. On the horizon, be on the lookout for a definitive anthology of Bobby Rush.

BOBBY RUSH on tour
December 19 – JACKSON, MS – Christmas Party
December 20 – MEMPHIS, TN – Minglewood Hall
December 23 – NEW ORLEANS, LA – Loyola University Hospital Holiday Party
December 27 – LULA, MS – Isle of Capri Casino
January 10 – TALLAHASSEE, FL - BCC January 17 – Robinsonville, MS – Sam’s Town Casino
January 18 – 25 – Blues Cruise from Ft. Lauderdale, FL
March 13 – DETRTOIT, MI – Detroit Opera House
March 14 – MERRILVILLE, IN (CHICAGO metro) – The Blues is Alright Tour
April 17 – CHICAGO, IL – Buddy Guy’s Legends
April 16 – JACKSON, MI – UAW Hall (7pm & 10pm)
April 25 – SARASOTA, FL – SunCoast Blues Festival
September 10-12 – Las Vegas, NV – Big Blues Bender (specific date TBA)

# # #

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2014

BOBBY RUSH WITH BLINDDOG SMOKIN’
UNITE FOR NEW ALBUM, DECISIONS,
OUT ON APRIL 15, 2014

Dr. John joins Bobby Rush with Blinddog Smokin’ on
the track “Another Murder in New Orleans”;
new music video debuts

LOS ANGELES, Calif. —Louisiana music legends Bobby Rush and Dr. John, two of the most colorful figures in the blues, have known each other for more than 50 years. They met as young men in their 20s on the early 1960s R&B circuit and have remained good friends ever since.

“When they’re telling stories it’s hilarious because they’re talking about bluesmen so ugly they had to turn their backs to the audience to play guitar,” says mutual friend Carl Gustafson of the Southern California band Blinddog Smokin’. “And in some cases running from the same women.”

Yet despite their decades-long relationship, Rush and Dr. John had never recorded together until this year’s “Another Murder in New Orleans.” A collaboration between Rush and acclaimed blues band Blinddog Smokin’, the track was cut in New Orleans in 2012 around Mardi Gras. The setting inspired Gustafson to ask if Rush’s old friend might want to guest on the song, which the 73-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer — whose real name is Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack Jr. — eagerly did.

“We come up as kids together, man, but I never even thought about recording together before,” says Rush, a chitlin’ circuit legend who is pushing 80-years-old. “How great is it that this late in the game we can do something together while we can still talk about it and smile about it and laugh about it? It came to pass, and I’m so proud I did this with Dr. John.”

The song that finally brought these two masters of the blues together is the first single from Decisions, the first album teaming of Rush and Blinddog Smokin’, due in stores April 15, 2014. As with “Another Murder In New Orleans,” Decisions is also the culmination of a long friendship rooted in the blues, this one between Rush and Gustafson, who both became obsessed with roots music early in life.

Rush, born Emmett Ellis, Jr. in Homer, Louisiana, started playing in his early teens, changing his name out of respect for his preacher father and fronting, for a time, a band that featured a young Elmore James on guitar. In his 20s, Rush landed in the booming Chicago blues scene where he bumped up against Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and, most notably his back-alley neighbor, blues harmonica great Little Walter, whose example inspired Rush to master the instrument. In the ’80s Rush relocated to his current home of Jackson, Mississippi, where he embarked on the hard-touring career that has earned him the title of King of the Chitlin' Circuit.

Meanwhile, about the time Rush was making his name in Chicago, Gustafson was learning the blues in, of all places, Laramie, Wyoming. He ran away from home at 16, making it as far as the railroad tracks and the Pic-A-Rib Café. Through the owner, Miss Peggy, and her son Ricky, Gustafson learned about African-American culture and through the establishment’s jukebox he discovered the sounds of American blues and R&B, an experience detailed in Gustafson’s 2010 memoir Ain’t Just The Blues, It’s Showtime: Hard times, heartache, and glory along Blues Highway.

In 1964, Gustafson started his first band, a James Brown-inspired 14-piece revue called Ali Baba & the Thieves. In 1993 he founded Blinddog Smokin’, which has become a force on the blues scene, playing 200-320 dates a year at juke joints, clubs, and festivals around the world, including Gustafson’s Snowy Range Music Festival in Laramie, and the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, where in 1995 he met Bobby Rush.

“Bobby was performing, and I was just mesmerized with his show,” Gustafson recalls. “I met him afterwards, and it’s a weird thing: we just had a connection and struck up a friendship. We started calling each other and checking in on each other, and over the years started touring together. One thing led to another, and we just got this strong bond between us.”

Nineteen years later that friendship has finally spilled over into the recording studio, with Gustafson and his band — including drummer “Chicago” Chuck Gullens, bassist Roland “Junior Bacon” Pritzker, keyboardist/vocalist Mo Beeks, guitarist Chalo Ortiz, and backing vocalists Chris White (nephew of folk singer Josh White) and Gustafson’s wife Linda — backing Rush on ten songs on the album.

The leadoff “Another Murder in New Orleans” addresses in graphic terms the street violence that has ravaged that city post-Hurricane Katrina, and debuted last Fall at a fundraiser for Crimestoppers. It was written by Gustafson and Decisions producer Donald Markowitz, who won the Oscar for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack smash “I’ve Had the Time of My Life.”

“When [Carl] first approached me about singing this I was leery about it because I didn’t want to sing a song that would make people think bad about Louisiana,” says Rush. “But when I listened to the lyrics and the story I changed my mind … wherever senseless violence happens, that’s your New Orleans. You could be in the country, a small town, or Timbuktu …”

In September, director Jennifer DeLia and producer Julie Pacino, who is the daughter of Oscar-winning actor Al Pacino, shot a video for the song in the French Quarter that will debut early 2014.

“I think it’s important to know that the video and the song have a lot to do with hope,” says Gustafson. “Not just despair.”

“Another Murder in New Orleans” and Rush’s morals-seeking title track, “
Decisions,” are the rare serious notes on an otherwise light-hearted blues romp that is rooted in Rush and Gustafson’s unlikely friendship. Other songs include the autobiographical “Bobby Rush’s Bus” about the singer’s constantly-moving tour vehicle, “Funky Old Man,” the rap-flavored “Dr. Rush,” the acoustic jam “Too Much Weekend,” and “Skinny Little Women,” which tackles an issue Rush has been pre-occupied with for some time.

“Little bitty woman why you always in the mirror talking ’bout how good you look/You ought to be doing like that fat woman in the kitchen seeing ’bout how good you cook,” sings Rush, who had one of his biggest successes in the ’90s with the album Lovin’ a Big Fat Woman
. “It’s a joke-y thing. But if you notice that little skinny ladies all the time they look cute and good and smell good and look good. All that’s good but the big lady has got somebody, too. She needs some lovin’, too.”

Decisions comes as Rush continues his late-career emergence from the chitlin’ circuit underground to music mainstream. Having previously been featured in the “Road to Memphis” segment of the Martin Scorcese documentary “The Blues,” Rush enjoyed perhaps the biggest success of his career last year with the Grammy-nominated record Down in Louisiana.

With plans for Rush and Blinddog Smokin’ to reunite for national tour dates this year, Gustafson says this is the chance for people who have not already discovered Rush to do so.

“I’d really like to see people in the United States take a look at these two characters and see what they have before they’re gone, and feel their power, feel their love,” he says. “Who knows how long Bobby or Mac is going to last? Now we have a chance. We have the two of them together for the first time in their careers, and they’re two of the rarest characters in American music culture.”

Bobby Rush is a current Grammy nominee (Best Blues Album) for his album Down in Louisiana.

# # #

 

Artist Photo