Life would have no dimension if everyone occupied the center of the frame. We need those folks on the side and in the background; the ones who hold up the proceedings while adding clever and often profound asides. For more than 50 years, Donnie Fritts has moved freely in those spaces, creating a rich body of work in collaboration with some of popular music's most beloved stars — as well as a smaller but equally rich stream of his own recordings.
One sun-baked residential street in South Central Los Angeles is regularly bombarded by the chorus of jets cruising toward Los Angeles International Airport. Unless you're in Franklin Bell's garage, where the walls soak up the raw, earthy chords of L.A. blues.
Austin bluesman Gary Clark Jr.'s long-awaited new album, The Story Of Sonny Boy Slim, came out last week. It's Clark's first album since his debut, 2012's Blak & Blu, which spawned many festival appearances in the last few years.
Gary Clark Jr.'s latest video, for the song "Church," is a sweet and soulful portrait of a man trying to come to terms with his own missteps and a lifetime of regret. Directed by photographer and filmmaker Danny Clinch, the black and white video is a simple but deeply moving look at the singer as he makes a plea for strength to be the man he knows he can never be.
Gary Clark Jr., the blues-guitar wunderkind from Austin, Texas, who grew up into a solo star, titled his latest LP The Story of Sonny Boy Slim in a nod to his own nickname and whirlwind ascent. But there's a song on the album whose name might better represent its overall tone: "The Healing."
It's too soon to tell whether Outskirts Of Love is the end of a trilogy or simply the next chapter in an ongoing saga. All we know for sure is that it's the third album to find Shemekia Copeland extending her definition of modern blues to include a sort of pan-Americana approach. Her first few records hewed closer to contemporary blues, but since 2009's portentously titled Never Going Back, the daughter of the late Texas blues-guitar titan Johnny Clyde Copeland has been moving in a wider world.
Mike Flanigin has been a working musician for two decades. His first gig was at a Holiday Inn in Dallas, Texas, followed by a stint in the house band at Antone's in Austin. And for eight years he made his Hammond B3 organ growl and purr for the crowds at the Continental Club Gallery.