Dust-to-Digital Releases Voices of Mississippi & Early Films of William Ferris

Title: Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris
Format: Box set (book, 3 CDs, DVD)
Release date: June 1, 2018

Title: The Early Films of William Ferris, 1968-1975
Format: DVD
Release date: November 2, 2018


Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris is an important addition to the documentation of Southern folklife, culture, and history. The box set includes a CD of blues field recordings, another CD of gospel field recordings, a disc of interviews and oral histories, a DVD with seven short documentary films (1972-1980), and a 120-page hardcover book edited by Ferris that includes transcriptions and annotations for all of the film and album recordings.  A recently released companion DVD, The Early Films of William Ferris, 1968-1975, features rare footage of B.B. King and James “Son” Thomas. Both were produced by Dust-to-Digital in collaboration with the University of North Carolina, which holds the William R. Ferris Collection. Continue reading

Dee Dee Bridgewater – Memphis, Yes I’m Ready

Dee Dee Bridgewater
Title: Memphis, Yes I’m Ready

Artist: Dee Dee Bridgewater

Label: Okeh

Formats: CD, LP, MP3

Release Date: September 15, 2017



Dee Dee Bridgewater, a jazz singer in the same vein as Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and Abby Lincoln, has done it all. She has even appeared on Broadway, earning the respect of peers and critics in a career that has spanned decades. It takes confidence and knowledge of self when an artist decides to step out of their comfort zone, which Bridgewater does on her new release, Memphis, Yes I’m Ready. The 13 track album features Bridgewater singing covers of blues, R&B and gospel classics from the ‘60s with backing by the album’s co-producer, Kirk Whalum, and the Stax Academy Choir.



Bridgewater was born in Memphis, so this project was a homecoming, to say the least—or in the words of the great Sam Cooke, “Bring It On Home.” That she does. Now for the highlights. If you listen very close to “I Can’t Get Next To You,” you’ll hear Bridgewater paying homage to the Al Green version of the song, not the Temptations. Green after all brought the Memphis sound into the ‘70s and Bridgewater is a Memphis gal, so why not. The horns and vocal delivery are downright scary in their precision and intensity.

When Bridgewater says “Yeah, this is for the King,” it’s not the “King” some of you may be thinking of, but rather B.B. King. His signature track, “The Thrill Is Gone,” gets the female perspective from Bridgewater as she sings, “You will be sorry someday.” Clap your hands and tap that foot. Now, speaking of another “King,” Bridgewater covers two of Elvis Presley’s classics. First up is “Don’t Be Cruel.” Who needs the Jordanaires on backing vocals when you can strip this song to its core and make it sound completely new?  “Hound Dog,” as most everyone knows, was originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton, but Elvis had the bigger hit. Bridgewater again steers away from original and makes it a storytelling tune, one that I can now understand.

You can’t go home without taking one for the church, right? Bridgewater closes the album with Thomas Dorsey’s “(Take My Hand) Precious Lord.” This is a song that can bring tears to the eyes, especially since one usually hears it at home-going ceremonies. Testify, Sister Dee Dee!

Memphis, Yes I’m Ready is Bridgewater’s homecoming 101. You better be ready!

Reviewed by Eddie Bowman



Jazz and Blues

Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis.  Two Men WIth the Blues (Blue Note, July 2008)

This album is a great deal of fun, showcasing a completely different side of Willie Nelson as a blues crooner. The jump-blues numbers draw heavily upon the Texas and New Orleans influences of these two legends, and as one might expect, the jazz standards really cook as well. The recordings stem from the January 12 and 13, 2007 Jazz at Lincoln Center concert billed as “Willie Nelson Sings the Blues.” Highlights include Nelson’s rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust,” the classic “Georgia On My Mind,” “Caldonia” and “Rainy Day Blues.”

B.B. King.  One Kind Favor (Geffen Records, August 2008)

The legendary B.B. King never seems to slow his pace, even as an octogenarian, and consequently he’s one of the few elder statemen to receive a Grammy nod for 2009. This album, produced by T Bone Burnett, is a return to the roots of the “King of the blues” and features such classics as Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” T-Bone Walker’s “I Get So Weary,” and Big Bill Broonzy’s “Backwater Blues.” Backing is provided by New Orleans pianist Dr. John, along with Jim Keltner on drums and Nathan East on bass.  The CD should have concluded with the Mississippi Sheiks’ “Sitting on Top of the World” (the penultimate track), since this certainly describes King’s place in the blues lexicon.

The Roy Hargove Quintet.  Ear Food (Emarcy, June 2008)

Jazz trumpeter/bandleader Roy Hargrove’s latest offering includes thirteen tracks of post-bop jazz that bring more than a little soul into the mix.  In addition to seven original tunes, the album includes some great covers, ranging from Cedar Walton’s “I’m Not So Sure” to “Speak Low” (by Kurt Weill & Ogden Nash) to Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home to Me.”  You don’t have to be a hardcore jazz afficionado to enjoy this CD, which appeals to a wide fan base without EVER entering the smooth jazz territory.

S.M.V.   Thunder (Heads Up, August 2008)

S.M.V. is a new jazz-fusion supergroup composed of three of the greatest living bass players: Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, and Victor Wooten.  What more is there to say? This is an album full of virtuoso performances and unique arrangements, with contributions from Chick Corea and George Duke.  And, as one might expect from this crew, there is plenty of funk to go around, plus more than a dash of latin.

Solomon Burke.  Like a Fire (Shout Factory, June 2008)

Pioneering soul singer Solomon Burke has released a wide variety of genre-bending albums in the past, including his country masterpiece Nashville (2006). What is unique about his latest offering is that each track was composed especially for him by an all-star group of songwriters, including Steve Jordan (the producer of the album), Eric Clapton (who wrote the title track), Ben Harper (who also sings with Burke on “A Minute To Rest and a Second To Pray”), and Jesse Harris and Keb’ Mo, who each contribute backing vocals and guitar on their songs. This CD has been nominated for a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category, which is a mystery, since there is nothing bluesy about it.

John Lee Hooker, Jr.  All Odds Against Me (CC/Copycats, August 2008)

The son of famous blues singer John Lee Hooker is poised to carry on the family tradition.  “Born in “Motor” City Detroit with Delta blues-filled blood running through his Motown veins,” John Jr. toured with his father while still a teen but his career was unfortuantely derailed by drugs and alcohol. He returned to the music scene in 2004, winning a number of awards with his debut album Blues With a Vengeance.  His latest comtemporary urban blues release is the first to include all original tracks, and has already garnered a Grammy nomination.

Pine Top Perkins and Friends (Telarc, June 2008)

This album was produced as a tribute to Perkins, who celebrated his 95th birthday on July 7, 2008. There is something to be said for Perkins not reaching out to the wider arena of pop music guests for his “Friends” album, as so many have done. The biggest names here are B.B. King and Eric Clapton, who both sit in for one cut each. Jimmy Vaughn stays for four tracks and provides the most satisfying musical exchanges of the short, ten song album. Also featured are bassist Willie Kent (who passed away in March 2008) and drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith.  Perkins still plays like a master, and his voice isn’t bad either. All in all, a fitting tribute to the legendary blues pianist.

Pay Me No Mind

Title: Pay Me No Mind

Artist: Homemade Jamz Blues Band

Label: Northern Blues

Catalog No.: NBM0048

Date:  2008

The first thing anyone will mention about this band is the age of its members.  The Homemade Jamz Blues Band are kids, literally. Guitar player and lead vocalist Ryan is 16, bass player Kyle is 14, and the drummer Taya is 10.  They are also siblings.  So what we’ve got here is an astonishing amount of talent for their age, with the added novelty that they’re all family. The band began when Ryan, age 9, picked up his fathers’ worn Stratocaster knock-off that he’d gotten in Korea while serving in the military. Under the tutelage and guidance of their parents, the three siblings have broken into a tradition that is usually reserved for musicians twice their age. A discussion of the instruments was also featured in a recent NPR interview.

Recorded in their hometown, Tupelo, Miss., Pay Me No Mind is an energetic debut of fresh and up and coming talent. All songs were written by their father, Renaud Perry, except for the last track, a fired up version of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom.” Renaud also makes an appearance on four songs, blowing a very “proud papa” harmonica. The album is reminiscent of sixties electric blues with bright tones from the leads, a strong walking bass, and a simple back beat keeping time. Sixteen-year-old Ryan’s voice has a rich and full quality that cuts and growls and will only blossom as he gets older.

One of the most interesting things about Homemade Jamz is their instruments.  Ryan plays what appears to be a muffler, welded and wired into an electric guitar, while Kyle plays “Thunder,” a six string bass that has been fashioned out of what looks like a Ford muffler. Both instruments were handmade by Renaud, and speak to a “homemade aesthetic” that connects the band to a greater blues tradition. Renaud cites that he had intended to re-build a car with his son but when the muffler came in, he took one look at thought it was just the right size for a guitar. He was even more satisfied with the sound it produced.

The Perry family band has been hard at work with a grueling tour schedule of festivals and club dates that have landed them third place at the 3rd Annual MS Delta Blues Society of Indianola’s Blues Challenge in 2006, second place at the 2007 International Blues Challenge, and they were recently voted Best New Artist of the year at the 2008 West Coast Blues Hall of Fame. More than just a gimmick, these kids have talent, and with nods of encouragement from the likes of legendary bluesman B.B. King, this passing of the torch ensures that a new generation will carry on in the blues tradition.

Posted by Thomas Grant Richardson and Heather O’Sullivan

The Blues Roots of the Rolling Stones

Title: The Blues Roots of the Rolling Stones
Artists: Various Artists
Label: Snapper Music
Catalog No.: SBLUECD047
Release date: March 10, 2008

“We got heavily into the blues – Chicago blues particularly because every major, modern blues artist was coming out of Chicago. . . we weren’t writing our own songs then. We were just playing mostly blues & rock ‘n roll-Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters stuff.” – Keith Richards

“We used to watch Chuck Berry films over and over and over to see how he would play certain licks. Keith [Richards] and I would go to the cinema like 6 or 9 times just to see the Chuck Berry section. . . to see how he put his hands on the guitar, and how he played this part and this solo.” – Mick Jagger

The Blues Roots of the Rolling Stones is Michael Hendon’s valiant effort to bring together the most formative blues and rock influences on the members of this seminal rock band onto a single disk for Snapper Music’s Complete Blues series. Included among them are, of course, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, and Bo Diddley, but also Buddy Holly, Slim Harpo, B.B. King, Blind Boy Fuller, Robert Johnson, Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell, and Robert Wilkins.

Far from a smattering of well-known singles from these (mostly) heavily-compiled artists, Hendon’s liner notes make clear that the songs selected for this compilation were chosen carefully. Throughout, Hendon expends great effort to explicitly connect each song to the Stones and thus support the reason for its inclusion – usually either because the Stones frequently performed and/or recorded the song or because it is emblematic of the sound of a particular artist that was an important influence on the band.

Appropriately enough, the disk opens with Muddy Waters’ “Rolling Stone” and closes with another of his classics – “I Want to be Loved” (a version of which appeared as the B side of the Stones’ first single). The songs of Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley formed over half of the Stones’ early set lists, and Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me” was also featured on their third album (The Rolling Stones, Now!, 1965). Slim Harpo’s “I’m a King Bee” was featured on the Stones’ first album (England’s Newest Hit Makers, 1964) as was Jimmy Reed’s “Honest I Do.” In addition to this more urban-centered blues/rock spread, I especially like the attention paid on this compilation to the Delta/country blues influence on the Stones’ sound. One of the highlights in that regard is Robert Wilkins’ crackling 1928 recording “Rolling Stone – Part 1.”

Though Stones enthusiasts will undoubtedly notice omissions on The Blues Roots of the Rolling Stones, I think it is a perfect starting point for those who wish to trace the British blues explosion of the early 1960s back to the sounds that inspired it.

Posted by Anthony Guest-Scott