Lisa Mills is a soul/blues singer who belts out her music in a raw, melodic and soulfully-honest way with blues, gospel and soul influences. Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, she now lives in Alabama. We first talked with Lisa back with her I’m Changing album in 2014.
Her latest project, you might call a soul/blues tour de force – The Triangle. With the guidance of producer Fred Mollin, the idea was to travel, in one week’s time, to three different musical hotbeds – Memphis, Tennessee; Jackson, Mississippi; and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and record there. But, they took this idea a step further – only recording songs that were originally recorded in each of those cities. The result is easily the finest, most passionate set of songs Lisa has ever put together.
We chat with Lisa from her temporary home in Germany about picking all the great soul covers on the album, plus how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the album’s promotion.
Marty Stuart has won multiple Grammys, had big hits on the Country charts, like “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin” with Travis Tritt, and has played with a who’s who of country legends. In 1999, Stuart recorded a concept album called The Pilgrim. Based on true events from his hometown of Philadelphia, Mississippi, the album is a story of tragedy, loss and redemption. Featuring guest performances from Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Ralph Stanley, and more, it was a heady project for sure.
Unfortunately, the album was deemed out of step by his then-record label, who didn’t know what to do with it. Yet, the album’s commercial failure help set Stuart on a truer path musically. Now, 20 years later, he’s revisiting project in a beautiful, hard cover book called The Pilgrim, a Wall to Wall Odyssey from BMG books. The 187 page coffee table item is chock full of essays about the writing and recording process, plus fantastic photographs, many that Stuart took himself. In addition, the set comes with a bonus CD of this landmark album.
We talk to Stuart about the events that led to The Pilgrim, how he chose the guest artists, and what advice Johnny Cash gave him after the album’s commercial failure.
Out of Chicago come The Claudettes – their music grabs elements of jazz, blues, surf rock and punk, and the results are what the band likes to call “garage cabaret.” They’ve just recorded their fifth record, called High Times in the Dark, for Forty Below Records. It was helmed by Ted Hutt, who’s produced Old Crow Medicine Show, the Violent Femmes and the Dropkick Murphys.
The results of the collaboration is easily their best album to date – a perfect showcase for singer Berit Ulseth. Johnny Iguana is the keyboardist, he also writes all the songs. He has an impressive list of collaborations, including being Junior Wells’ piano player, as well as stints with BB King and Buddy Guy.
Canadian rocker Sass Jordan is probably best known in the States for a pair of gritty albums in the mid-90’s and hit singles like “Make You a Believer” and “High Road Easy.” She won a Juno award for Most Promising Female Vocalist of 1989, she’s portrayed Janis Joplin in the off-Broadway musical Love Janis, and she dueted with Joe Cocker on a song from the Bodyguard soundtrack. But, all along, the best word to describe Sass is REAL.
Her latest project, Rebel Moon Blues, embodies that description, featuring seven blues covers, casting a wide net over the genre – from Willie Dixon and Elmore James, to Rory Gallagher and Taj Mahal. Plus, she’s written a brand new original that fits in perfect with this hallowed material. Everything was done live in the studio with her signature, whiskey-soaked vocals over top.
Sass talks about the origin of this project and the fun process of picking the songs. Plus she talks about how she was able to have raw rock hits, even during the height of Grunge.
Robin McAuley is probably best known for his stint in the McAuley Schenker Group in the late 80s/early 90s – putting songs on rock radio like “Anytime” and “When I’m Gone.” McAuley has also spent time in Grand Prix, Survivor and Far Corporation.
His latest project is a star-studded affair – Black Swan features McAuley on lead vocals along with Reb Beach of Winger and Whitesnake on guitars, Jeff Pilson of Dokken and Foreginer on bass, and Matt Starr of Ace Frehley and Mr. Big on drums. The combination of all four of these great musicians manages to sound both familiar and fresh.
McAuley talks about how this all-star lineup came about, how vampires inspired one of the new songs, and how he almost died earlier in the year!
2020 marks Johnny Mathis’ 64th anniversary as a recording artist. He has never stopped touring and recording since his first album was released back in 1956. “Chances Are,” “Misty,” “It’s Not For Me To Say,” and “Wonderful, Wonderful” are just a smattering of his timeless hits.
He continues to stay busy in many ways – he’s recently dueted with both Freda Payne and Dionne Warwick on two new songs, plus Second Disc and Real Gone Music have been reissuing some of Johnny’s albums from the Seventies, including a “lost” record with him and the funk band Chic. In addition, he’s recently guested on the season finale of Criminal Minds.
Johnny is currently on the road with his Voice of Romance Tour, coming to a city near you.
We talk with Mathis about the “Voice of Romance” moniker, plus he tells us how he beat out NBA legend Bill Russell in a high jumping competition (and what he thinks of the hoopster’s singing ability!). Mathis also talks about his other interests outside of music and gives us the story behind his classic song, “Misty.”
Marshall Crenshaw has spent the last 40 years creating memorable, melodic-laden rock songs, scoring hits with songs like “Someday, Someway” and “Whenever You’re on My Mind.” Plus, he co-wrote “Til I Hear it From You,” a big hit for the Gin Blossoms, and he’s had several bit parts in some Hollywood movies, like La Bamba and Peggy Sue Got Married.
Well everything old is new again – when Crenshaw was issuing albums in the 1990’s and early 2000s, vinyl was dead – so those records only came out on CD. Now, he’s regained the rights to those albums and has started reissuing them, with bonus tracks – and on…you guessed it, vinyl. The first in the series of reissues is Crenshaw’s 1996 album, Miracle of Science, which also features some brand new material.
Myles Goodwyn has been a guiding force behind Canadian rockers, April Wine, for 50 years running now, scoring hits in the US, like “Just Between You and Me,” “Roller,” and “You Could’ve Been a Lady.” In 2018, Goodwyn issued a solo album titled Myles Goodwyn – Friends of the Blues, which garnered an East Coast Music Award and a Juno nomination. Now, he’s back with Friends of the Blues 2, and once again he’s assembled a who’s who of Canadian blues giants, including Jack De Keyzer, Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne and Angel Forrest.
Goodwyn, who’s known more for his rock music, talks about how this blues project came about. He also tells us the origin of April Wine’s first hit, “You Could’ve Been a Lady,” and how the band was embraced in the early days of MTV.
Franke Previte was a founding member of Franke & the Knockouts, who had a top ten smash in 1981 with “Sweetheart.” “You’re My Girl” and “Without You,” also charted on the Top 40, plus the songs “Come Back” and “Never Had it Better” got significant play on rock radio back in the day. In all, the band issued three albums for major labels, two on Millennium and one for MCA.
After the band’s demise, Previte worked on his songwriting craft, co-writing the two big hits off the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and “Hungry Eyes” (the former hit won an Academy Award for Best Song in 1987).
If you try and find any of the Franke & the Knockouts albums online, you’ll find that they’re fetching a lot of money. That motivated Previte to issue Franke & the Knockouts – The Complete Collection from Friday Music.
Featuring all three albums, plus some choice bonus tracks – this fantastic music is back in print. Plus, part of the proceeds from each collection will go to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in honor of his friend, Patrick Swayze, who succumbed to the disease.
Savoy Brown, one of the longest-running British Blues Rock bands. Formed in 1965 by guitarist Kim Simmonds, the band achieved success with songs like “Train to Nowhere,” “I’m Tired,” and “Hellbound Train.” Former band members have gone on to success with groups like Yes, Fleetwood Mac, and several members forming Foghat. But, through all this, Simmonds has remained the one constant, guiding force.
The band’s 40th album, City Night, has just come out on Quarto Valley Records, and Simmonds searing guitar is once again, front and center, augmented by Pat DeSalvo on bass and Garnett Grimm on drums, the most consistent lineup in the group’s history The band is also in the midst of a US tour.
We chat about how Simmonds saw the Rolling Stones very early in their career, plus how he was influenced by Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac, and why he doesn’t play his signature Flying V guitar much anymore.