Blues Caravan

For fans of: Warren Haynes, Joe Bonamassa, Jeff Healey

During the past two years, the popular "Girls with Guitars Tour" put a thoroughly feminine stamp on the Blues Caravan. But it’s time to reshuffle the cards. On the latest edition of the annual tour presented by Ruf Records, a couple of rough-and-tumble guitarists from North America will go head-to-head with a dynamic British female singer and guitar player whose every show is a display of raw and emotional power. Rest assured: When this trio of hard-nosed pros step into the ring, they won’t be pulling any punches.

Bart Walker, whose 2012 debut album Who I Am has been well-received by critics, adds a down-home, earthy touch to the Caravan lineup. At the 2012 International Blues Challenge, this Nashville-based guitar standout took home the coveted Best Guitarist honors. In recent years, he’s provided brilliant support to country-rocker Bo Bice while honing his skills as a writer of powerful songs full of southern flair. Former Stevie Ray Vaughan band member Reese Wynans was so impressed with Walker’s talents as a singer, songwriter and guitarist that he promptly decided to join his band. "When I saw Bart Walker, I saw something special, so I jumped at the chance," says the legendary Double Trouble keyboardist.

Joanne Shaw Taylor, the only girl with a guitar on this year’s tour, is no stranger to the Blues Caravan: The 2009 tour was an important step in her budding career. Hailing from England, Taylor now resides in Texas and it was there that she perfected her brand of spirited, hard rocking blues on the recently released Almost Always Never. "I started playing little clubs in the UK when I was 14 or 15. But the sound of this album is a better representation of what I always wanted to be as an artist," says Taylor, who recently played lead guitar for Annie Lennox at the Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II. The album, her third for Ruf, has solidified her standing as the shooting star of modern blues.

CJ Wilder, the newest addition to the Blues Caravan, adds a hearty dose of soul and R&B to the mix in this blender of great blues. CJ has spent the last six years being a sideman performing all over the United States and Canada, playing guitar and bass with many different artists. After finishing his first EP, released in December of 2012, he has turned some of his focus to a solo career and making what he calls player's music. "Player's music is the tune that you can't forget. The song that always keeps your head bobbin." His debut effort, Imaginate, while clocking in at only twenty-three minutes, is a fine swath of music that represents the talents, interests, and acumen of a well-respected musician in only his mid-twenties. Featuring fellow Caravan-mates Bart Walker and Austin Curcuruto, CJ was able to culminate five songs as a musical picture that will hold up for years to come. The ensemble of music shines on his EP, particularly the work of Bart on guitar, whose blues-styled playing is second to none in refined intensity. "I'm very blessed and honored to be performing on the Blues Caravan, & playing with Bart and Austin is just icing on the cake.

But no band is complete without a kick-ass rhythm section. Drummer Austin Curcuruto from The Bart Walker Band will be driving the Caravan and will be joined in the engine room by bassist Ian McKeown from the Jimmy Bowskill Band. The musicians on the 9th Annual Blues Caravan take to the road in January 2013 and will be bringing it to clubs and at festivals throughout the year. For more information including current tour dates, go to:

Jamie McLean Band

From Madison Square Garden to Bonnaroo to Japan's Fuji Rock, Jamie McLean's musical footprint has marked every corner of the globe. Performing alongside musical icons such as Elvis Costello, Widespread Panic, and Dave Matthews, he has shared the stage with scores of prevalent names in the industry. Always in high demand, McLean has also lent his studio chops to everyone from Norah Jones to Chuck D, proving he is the quintessential workingman's guitarist. Backed by a dynamic voice loaded with soul, McLean's transformation from sideman to front man has been seamless. With drops of southern roots rock, blues, R&B, funk and soul oozing from their amplifiers, the Jamie McLean Band offers "honest rock and roll" that pulls no punches. Night in and night out, Jamie McLean's performances are smothered in soul and confident command of the six-string. Take the straightforward, no-nonsense rock of the Rolling Stones and The Black Crowes and mix in the personal sincerity of Ryan Adams and Tom Petty and the result is the Jamie McLean Band.

Best known for providing his tasteful guitar textures to the New Orleans based jazz outfit the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, along with the Jamie McLean Band, McLean's fret board mastery has garnered worldwide praise. The early years of the Jamie McLean Band saw Jamie splitting time between the extensive touring schedule of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band all while managing his own band's schedule. Now, the Jamie McLean Band is priority number one. With a new album, American Heartache, ready to be unleashed, Jamie McLean picks up right where he left off on his previous releases, 15 Minutes and This Time Around. Featuring twelve blistering cuts of that classic Jamie McLean sound, he grips and rips the necks of his squadron of Gibson guitars for that "heavy classic rock sound" he's always loved. Supplementing his twangy, southern rock infused guitar passages is a commanding voice packed with New Orleans soul and New York City swagger. McLean's songwriting on his second full-length album showcases years of musicianship, running the gamut of southern infused rock and roll (Can You Hear Me Now, Garden of Thieves) to longing ballads (Don't Do Me That Way, Bottle of Love) and everything in between. Recorded in March and April at the famed Allaire Studios with producer Stewart Lerman (Rufus Wainwright, Richie Havens) at the helm, American Heartache is clearly Jamie's best work to date. "Stewart was able to really steer the ship in the right directions. He helped to make the music really focused so that each song had its own character and each song was as strong and concise and meaningful as possible," states Jamie. Featuring special guests Luther Dickinson (The Black Crowes, North Mississippi All-Stars), the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and vocalist Shannon McNally, McLean is in the company of good friends on this record.

Returning to the place where he first recorded with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (Medicated Magic, 2001), McLean once again captures the magic of the hallowed recording grounds. "Recording American Heartache at Allaire was a dream come true. Allaire is the most inspiring location I've ever been to write and record music," recounts McLean. "Obviously the equipment, the staff and rooms are top of the line but there is something magical that happens on that mountain." The beautiful, isolated setting deep in the Catskill Mountains of New York allowed the Jamie McLean band to focus solely on the music and create the album they always wanted to make. "For our first record, This Time Around, we were still very young as a band and we recorded the album in a much shorter period of time. I'm glad we recorded This Time Around the way we did but with American Heartache I wanted to be able to sit with the music more in the studio." The result is an album loaded with twelve solid cuts and no filler. "Knowing that amazing artists like Norah Jones, The Black Crowes, My Morning Jacket, David Bowie and others recorded there was inspiring; but there was something bigger at work on that mountain and we could feel it." American Heartache also features additional recording done in New Orleans during the New Orleans Jazz Festival. Shannon McNally's sexy, smoky vocals were added after the singer happened to be strolling several blocks from where Jamie McLean was finishing up recording. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band's dissonant horn section was also added during the session.

Once American Heartache hits the streets, the Jamie McLean band will be hitting the road for the remainder of the year. Trekking up and down the east coast, McLean and company plan stops in all major markets. "We are looking forward to getting back to the cities where we have a devoted fan base and unleashing this amazing rock and roll album on them," says McLean. In the hopes of turning on a lot of new fans in a lot of new places, a full on coast-to-coast tour is in the pipeline. With countless hours of new material along with acoustic and live albums in the works, the future is bright for the Jamie McLean band. The creative juices are flowing and Jamie McLean foresees a busy road ahead. "I feel like the band is really firing on all cylinders right now. We are amazingly productive with songwriting, singing and touring and look forward to releasing and performing as much of this great music as possible."

For fans of : Stevie Ray Vaughn & Black Crowes

$8 online / $10 at the door


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