Big Head Todd and the Nebraska Blues Challenge

A new project that may help bridge the gap between old-school blues and new roots fans is the celebration of Robert Johnson’s music by Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Recording under the name Big Head Blues Club, the band drops 100 Years of Robert Johnson (Ryko/Big Records) March 1. The disc is a collaboration between Big Head Todd, some icons of the blues world and some rising stars. Appearing on the CD with Todd Mohr and the band are Charlie Musselwhite, B.B. King, Honeyboy Edwards and Ruthie Foster. Several other artists featured on the disc are touring with the band. Blues at the Crossroads: The Robert Johnson Centennial Concerts hits the Holland Performing Arts Center March 5. Hubert Sumlin, who was Howlin’ Wolf’s guitarist for many years, is part of the March 5 show. Also performing are Cedric Burnside and Lightnin’ Malcolm, whose music is rooted in the North Mississippi Hill Country style. Chicago harmonica master James Cotton has been added as a special guest to this leg of the tour. Johnson is considered one of the fathers of the blues, with a real-life story that played out like a movie script. Johnson only left recordings of 29 songs, made in 1936 and ’37. Those songs are blues standards and some became popular again through artists like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. Part of Johnson’s story is that he supposedly sold his soul to the devil at a highway stop called the Crossroads in exchange for his ability to play the guitar. Johnson died at 27, allegedly poisoned by the jealous husband of a woman he’d been flirting with. That’s the blues. Check bigheadtodd.com for more on the project and omahaperformingarts.org for tickets to the Saturday, March 5, performance by Big Head Todd and friends at the Holland Performing Arts Center. Lucinda and Buddy Two top Americana artists also release new discs March 1. Lucinda Williams’ newest CD, Blessed (Lost Highway), co-produced by Don Was, is out Tuesday. The disc was previewed in its entirety on npr.org. It offers music in the haunting vein Williams is known for, but also finds her reflecting on some positive themes. Guitar great and wonderful songwriter Buddy Miller releases Majestic Silver Strings (New West) March 1. Miller is the long-time guitarist for Emmylou Harris. He most recently was part of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy roots project. Miller is also celebrated for his writing and recording collaborations with his wife Julie Miller. Their recent CD Written in Chalk (New West) is one you should own if you appreciate heartfelt Americana. Find out more at buddymiller.com. Nebraska Blues Challenge The Blues Society of Omaha is participating for the first time in the International Blues Challenge sponsored by the national Blues Foundation. Information and entry applications are online at OmahaBlues.com. Please note that all band entrants must be submitted to the BSO by March 15, so bands should get those entry forms in as soon as possible. See blues.org for more on the Blues Foundation and the IBC, which is a showcase and competition that gives many up and coming regional bands a springboard to the national spotlight. The winner of the Nebraska Blues Challenge will represent the BSO in the 28th International Blues Challenge in Memphis from Jan. 31 through Feb. 4, 2012. Fashion & Art The Waiting Room hosts a special fundraiser for Youth Emergency Services Saturday, March 5. A visual art show begins at 7 p.m. followed by a fashion show at 9 p.m. and a DJ dance party featuring Kobrakyle. See onepercentproductions.com for details. 21st Amendment Blues As noted last week, the New Lift Lounge is under new ownership and a new name: The 21st Amendment. The Thursday blues matinees will continue at the venue, so long as the audience supports them. This week’s show features sizzling guitarists Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King and their band Thursday, March 3. Excellent guitarist Debbie Davies plugs in Thursday, March 10. Thursday, March 17, it’s the horn-driven New Orleans funk and blues of Josh Garrett & The Bottomline. The Thursday shows start at 5:30 p.m. Hot Notes Josh Garrett & The Bottomline are also scheduled for Lincoln’s Zoo Bar Wednesday, March 16, 6-9 p.m. Roots fans should be sure to check out Austin Americana artist Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses Tuesday, March 8, at The Waiting Room. Bingham took home the Oscar last year for his song “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart. Lincoln’s Lil’ Slim Blues Band plays Gator O’Malley’s Thursday, March 3, after 9 p.m. The Mezcal Brothers rock the 5-7 p.m. set at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar Friday, March 4, and the Brad Cordle Band gets funky after 9 p.m. The OK Sisters’ Kate and Karen have a duo show at Havana Garage Friday, March 4.

posted at 08:20 pm
on Friday, March 04th, 2011

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