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Finch Platte
04-14-2010, 10:00 AM
Damn it's slow in here & I'm bored, so I'm making a list of CDs I've gotten lately, with guys playing bluesy, alt-country geetars, a sound that I'm liking a lot.

Pete Anderson

AllMusic's got him under country, but this doesn't seem that country to me. Maybe rockin' blues with a hint of country.

AllMusic sez: Pete Anderson was born in Detroit, and grew up to become the creative partner of one of the most significant country artists of the 1980s, Dwight Yoakam. An only child, Anderson's earliest musical memories revolve around the country & western music his father listened to and seeing Elvis on television. The sudden death of his father left the young prodigy to be raised by his mother, who also worked full-time in one of the Motor City's factories.

A natural athlete, Anderson vacillated between sports and music. His first instrument was a Hawaiian guitar, which he promptly knocked out of tune on a regular basis after imitating Elvis for the neighborhood kids who loved to watch him perform. Still, he chose to participate in sports rather than spend his time practicing the guitar. But, as a teenager, the music began to be more meaningful and Anderson joined several bands, including a jug band called the B-52 Blues when he was 17.

After high school, Anderson traveled the U.S. by bus, went to art school, and got married. Shortly thereafter, his then-wife gave birth to a son. Working in the factories, parenting, and playing music filled his life. Gigging around Detroit provided a solid education in the blues. Muddy Waters became the young father's hero. Still, he knew there was more to life than playing in bands in his hometown. As the marriage floundered, Anderson made up his mind to pursue his music at the next level. When his mother finally retired, she moved to Arizona, where the weather was not as severe as what she had known in Detroit. Both father and son followed, and Anderson worked his way up the hierarchy of the Phoenix music scene. Again, he knew that this was not his ultimate destination. With his son in the care of his ex-wife and his mother basking in the southwestern sunshine, Pete Anderson packed up and headed for California, and more specifically, L.A., in May of 1972.

A blues and rock player of some skill, the aggressive guitarist quickly made a name for himself. Wanting to record as much as play live gigs, the future producer honed his studio skills by making tapes and arranging songs. Working with various outfits, he was an important part of Hollywood Gumbo, which broke up on the road somewhere in Canada. He eventually found that he could actually make a living playing the country music that had meant so much to his father. Developing his own rapid-fire style, Anderson was a working musician at night and painting houses when necessary during the daylight hours. His son and ex-wife came west and the small family tried to make a go of it one more time.

It was during this period that Boo Bernstein introduced Anderson to Dwight Yoakam, a struggling, skinny kid from Ohio who had a knack for writing real country songs. Needing a guitar player for a gig at the Cowboy in Orange County, Yoakam remembered Anderson and asked him to do the date with him. That was the start of a partnership that resulted in numerous platinum records, sold-out tours, and some fine music in the Bakersfield and hillbilly traditions. Anderson became known as a top-flight producer who could get the job done. Working not only in country but also in other genres, he was responsible for some outstanding projects by Rosie Flores, Michelle Shocked, the Meat Puppets, the Backsliders, the Lonesome Strangers, and Thelonious Monster. He and Dusty Wakeman were responsible for Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 of the A Town South of Bakersfield compilations, a mid-'80s landmark that resulted in a resurgence of interest in the West Coast country scene and the Bakersfield sound.

In 1993, along with Wakeman, Anderson joined Barbara Hein, a longtime Capitol Records executive with a history in the music business, and engineer Michael Dumas to form Little Dog Records. Recording his first solo CD on his own label in 1995, Anderson placed himself on the road in support of Working Class, a country-blues-rock-roots music extravaganza produced by Wakeman. While continuing to work with Yoakam, being the president of a record label opened new worlds for Anderson. Signing artists that he and his partners believed in gave Anderson the creative freedom he craved. Having to be part businessman and part artist was a difficult part to play every day, but Anderson proved he was up to the challenge when he negotiated a distribution deal with Polygram in 1996.

David Gogo

A tad bluesier than Anderson, top-notch stuff.

Blues guitarist David Gogo was born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, and received his first guitar at the age of five (having been given a ukulele the year before). He honed his skills for the next decade and, by the age of 16, he was gaining work as a professional musician. Inspired by a meeting with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gogo became even more committed, forming a the Persuaders, which went from a post-high school band to one that was soon opening for acts like Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy, and Albert Collins. Following a stint in Europe which found the Persuaders opening for the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Gogo signed a solo deal with EMI Records. While writing material for his debut, Gogo managed to find time to appear on Tom Cochrane's highly successful Mad Mad World album. When David Gogo arrived in 1994, it was a critical success and Gogo earned a Juno nomination. However, due to shifting label personnel, the record was not given a U.S. release and Gogo was being pressured to pursue a more commercial route. Choosing to strike out on his own, Gogo released Dine Under the Stars, which had been recorded live in his hometown, on his own. A distribution deal in France led to a record deal with Canadian independent label Cordova Bay and the subsequent release of Change of Pace, a more rock-oriented affair, and the acoustic Bare Bones, which was a return to his blues roots. In 2002, Gogo issued his fifth album, Skeleton Key, which combined both electric and acoustic arrangements as well as a mixture of original material and covers of songs by artists like Stevie Wonder and Depeche Mode.

Randall Bramblett

Randall Bramblett is an accomplished singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist whose credits include work with Sea Level, Steve Winwood, Gregg Allman, and Robbie Robertson. Bramblett released his third solo album, See Through Me, in 1997, two decades after his previous solo release. During that 20-year period, Bramblett was a member of the Southern jazz fusion group Sea Level and a touring member of the reunited Traffic, as well as a busy studio musician. He was born in Jesup, GA, and heavily influenced by R&B music, gospel, blues, and folk. Bramblett plays keyboards, saxophones, guitar, mandolin, and harmonica. His songwriting is often moody and cinematic, as is evidenced on albums for New West: 2001's No More Mr. Lucky, 2004's Thin Places, 2006's Rich Someday and 2008's Now It's Tomorrow.

There is a temptation to consider Randall Bramblett's seventh solo album a continuation of his last, 2006's impressive Rich Someday. He sticks with the identical band, drummer/producer (Gerry Hanson), and Atlanta-based studio. It's even mixed by the same person. The songs are likewise a comparable set of dusky, thought-provoking funky/jazzy Southern ballads and midtempo rockers based around multi-instrumentalist Bramblett's smoky voice, keys, acoustic guitar, and occasional reeds. While some might complain that this similarly styled disc finds Bramblett treading water, his performance and the songs are strong enough to justify a follow-up to his previous release. The sound is often harder here, with rockers such as "Mess About It" pushing Bramblett's vocals into falsetto as the band churns out tough, psychedelicized licks. The opening drumbeat sets the tone for "Sun Runs," a somewhat tortured love song that establishes the disc's sober qualities. The mix of Steely Dan-styled jazz piano and rock percussion on "Blue Road" is another Bramblett trait, perhaps acquired when he worked with Steve Winwood both in and out of Traffic. It's extremely effective, especially played against his frisky words and singalong "doo doo doo" chorus. There's still an overriding sense of darkness to the mood, both musically and lyrically, as he sings "I'm not sure where I'm going now/All my direction was taken from me" on the minor-key "Visions." The cautionary "You Better Move" has Bramblett warning a friend to come out of his shell and get psychological help, all against a driving, funky backbeat. It's not an easy album to warm up to, but like his last one, additional spins help heighten the appreciation of Bramblett's generally shadowy themes set against pensive, winding melodies. Tunes such as the contemplative "Don't Waste Your Time" need to work their way into your brain but once they do, they stick around. The closing melancholy ballad "Where a Life Goes" reiterates the yellow/sun motif of the opening track, giving the disc a circular feel and encouraging the listener to return to an album best appreciated with lyric sheet in hand.

Got a couple more I want to add, but the info's at home.

How 'bout you- got any recs along these lines (and don't say Mark Knoffler. Not my cuppa Koolaid.)?

04-14-2010, 10:25 AM
Somewhere in the back of mind I knew there was a connection between Dwight Yoakam and the Meat Puppets.

Finch Platte
04-15-2010, 10:16 AM
If you remember the band Tribal Tech, you'll remember Scott Henderson. This is a facking awesome disc, and the cover is focking awesome as well. What it doesn't show is when you open the cover, on either side of that torn up house are houses that look perfectly normal, with green grass & beautiful backyards. Ficking awesome!

This album resonates with sheer power. Like a steamroller tearing down a house, Scott Henderson and company comes shining through with Tore Down House, a gripping list of songs that beg the listener to truly appreciate the blues. Throughout the compilation, Henderson explores his diverse range of blues improvisation, using a plethora of pedals and effects, but not as so to diminish the full strength of the classic Fender Strat sound. "Dolemite" gets the jam going with a spontaneous free-for-all blues session. "I Hate You" is a romantic, witty ballad seemingly coming from the lost decade of the '50s. "Darling you ruined my life/so I hate you and I always will," sings guest Thelma Houston with chants of "You suck" in the background, granting a message of what one would feel about those who can't stand to be around that certain someone that's destroying their life. "Take this job and shove it./I'm going to guitar school," shouts the fiery Henderson in the rocking blues breaker, "Gittar School." With six other surprises featured on Tore Down House, it's a sure bet the first time listener of this artist's art will become a longtime fan. His band features a splendid group of experienced blues rockers, such as the likes of Pat O'Brien on harmonica, Dave Carpenter on bass, Kirk Covington on drums, Scott Kinsley on keyboards, and a host of sax, trumpet, and other brass players. This is a hands down classic blues album and a must for those who are crazy for the genre.