New Robert Johnson Photograph Unearthed

A recently analyzed photograph from the mid 1930s purportedly shows a young Robert Johnson. With only two confirmed photographs of the Mississippi Blues legend in existence, the prospect of a third is enough to send the entire Blues world into a frenzy.

Robert Johnson

Newly unearthed photograph

The photograph was discovered in an antique Winthrop desk by 64 year old retired lawyer, and professor, Donald Roark, after he purchased the item at an auction in Florida, in 2013. Inside the cluttered drawers laid the three by five inch photograph, which shows four people seated at a table – Johnson on the left, with a drink in hand.

Upon first glance, Roark says the hat worn by the man in question brought back memories of the Johnson record he had at home, even ‘chuckling’ to himself over the similarities. It wasn’t until his wife made the same observation that he began to get serious. After two years of contemplation, Roark reached out to award winning forensic artist and facial analyst, Lois Gibson to get a professional opinion.

Gibson, who announced the identification of a Johnson photo in 2008 (that of which was accepted by the Johnson estate) receives on average five requests for photo identification each month, 95% of which she ‘shrugs off’. However, the forensic artist is said to have ‘paused’ when presented with Roark’s photograph, recognizing Johnson’s face immediately.

The greatest evidence was found in those pictured at the table alongside him; Calletta Craft, Johnson’s wife who had a known eye condition, Estella Coleman, who had housed Johnson, and Coleman’s son, Robert Lockwood Jr.

robert-johnson_1th (2)


 

Do you think this photograph portrays the real Robert Johnson? I for one couldn’t be more certain, and can only imagine what else is out there waiting to be discovered – Time shall hopefully see all our nerdy Blues wishes come to life!

Peace, love, and keep singin’ the Blues,

CKR

 

 

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Bluesfest ‘Heart Full Of Soul’ Announcement

With Brian Wilson, Kendrick Lamar,  The National, and a whole load of eclectic others due to perform at next years’ festival, today’s announcement is set to get a few folks excited.

Their ‘Heart Full Of Soul’ announcement includes a combination of 14 giant, and budding musicians:

D’Angelo & The Vanguard

Cold War Kids

Hiatus Kaiyote

Houndmouth

Fantastic Negrito

Con Brio

Kaleo

Mike Love

The Bros Landreth

Kim Churchill

Mojo Juju

Pierce Brothers

Harts

Steve Smyth

Speaking of the latest headliner, the festival’s director Peter Noble said “When Bluesfest confirmed Kendrick Lamar we had the guy who produced the best record in Hip Hop this year, and now we have the guy who recorded the best current record in R&B: D’Angelo. 

We now have playing at Bluesfest, on the same stage and on the same night, the two most important innovators in Rap and R&B today.”

And with the promise of “many more to come”, let’s hope there are a ton of Blues aficionados to be included, along with Ultra Underground favourites Joe Bonamassa, and mini Marc Bolan, Harts.

 

Peace, love, and keep singin’ the Blues,

CKR

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Contemporary blues in the Aussie music scene & The Vernons’ contribution

Decades ago, in the day of Little Willie John and T-Bone Walker, the blues were an intrinsic part of the mainstream music scene. From backyards to clubs to bars, to vinyl, the genre, a platform for venting worries, gave the folks of the silent generation a sense of comfort and belonging – it was and still is the ultimate soul food.

In 2015, with a bevy of genres taking over the airwaves, and swarming the live music scene, it’s almost hard to tell that the blues is everywhere, subtly sinking its teeth into much of the music we listen to. But with a stack of blues festivals held annually nationwide, from Hawkesbury Blues and Roots to the big boy himself, Bluesfest, it’s as clear as Albert King’s signature tone that there is still a strong following.

The Vernons contemporary blues

Although the majority of the followers are accustomed to the good old authentic stuff, many are opening up their minds and hearts to the contemporary style. The current take on what is arguably the most influential genre in history has been the Aussie music scene’s saviour, as guitar aficionado, and front man of Sydney blues group ZOUNIS, Peter Zounis says “Contemporary blues is pretty much keeping the Australian live music scene alive. It is what pub rock was to the 80’s and 90’s live music scene. It’s the last bastion of good, honest, original music to go see”.

The contemporary blues is all about paying respect to the greats, whilst adapting to the ever evolving ways of the modern music world, and Queensland lads The Vernons have been making their mark by doing just that.

Having dished out two singles Keep on Dreaming and Snap My Fingers as well as a new EP SNAP the boys are taking their modern blues round the country on a four date tour, offering established blues fans an alternative take, and blues virgins their first taste. Snap My Fingers is a platter of chunky blues riffs, with a quick tempo, swinging vocals, lashings of indie, and an almost rockabilly intent. This track alone is a showcase of exactly the kind of music that melds together the tried and tested genres with newfangled sounds.

So, what is it that keeps people giving in all these years later? With the blues being in a state of flux since the beginning, bassist for The Chris King Robinson Band, Nig Turner says the reason for its longevity is universal – if played right, and with sentiment it allows feeling to flow and resonate with people from all walks of life.

There are purists, pop style, all sorts of blues, but the heart of the music is about expressing yourself, if you can then it’s as relevant now as it ever was, if you can’t, you leave people cold. I am a middle class white boy, I have had pain in my life, some troubles, and I love to use the blues vehicle to pour out my emotion in music, a Chicago blues fan would condemn me as a faker, but the white Essex, UK boy feels the blues, can weep to the blues, can have 3 notes played by Robin Trower or SRV and openly cry. Is it relevant? Yes… if it speaks to the musician it will speak to the audience.”

The blues, no matter the year, will always have a strong place in the Aussie music scene, whether that is through its underlying influence on the large portion of genres, or by continuing to blossom into the unfaltering, and endlessly evolvable style of music it is known to be. Inspiring generation after generation to let go, and just feel. Even if that message is topped with indie overtones, and rock n roll beats.

You can catch The Vernons at The Grace Darling in Melbourne on the 13th, or Sydney’s Brighton Up Bar on the 14th.


Peace, love, and keep singin’ the Blues,

CKR

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A night of the Devil’s music – AC/DC @ ANZ Stadium

With heavy rain, and a zombie like state (thanks to 3 hours sleep from over-excitement) I entered Olympic Park in the late afternoon, and suddenly I was faced with thousands of AC/DC fanatics, hundreds of Angus’, the comforting stench of VB, and a cover band. A wave of energy immediately washed over me. I felt at home.

IMG_9058

Staying around to watch cover band Dirty Deeds, I was expecting mediocre, but what we got was much better. With the front man’s vocals sounding eerily alike those of Bon Scott’s and a guitarist whose short stature, gorgeous legs, and guitar aptness echoed that of Angus’, it was a snazzy start to an even snazzier evening. People were dancing round, doing the duckwalk, and singing along, in stark contrast to what was happening inside the stadium. 

IMG_9080IMG_9032

After a spontaneous decision to scrap my nose bleed tickets and buy new, section B standing ones, I entered ANZ, where The Hives were seemingly boring the large majority of the crowd. With their wanky  ‘I’m better than y’all’ dispositions and extremely ordinary sound, people began booing from all corners, and telling them to ‘get fucked’, a little something front man Pelle Almqvist wasn’t too happy about. It was obvious that they no longer possessed that edgy flair they did in the early 2000’s. Or maybe they did, and that was the problem. Either way, I was hanging on their set ending. A rare occurrence for this music obsessive. 

Once The Hives had left the stage, everyone was anxiously awaiting the big arrival – and big it was. The stage lit up, and suddenly all three screens were showing a man on the moon being struck by AC/DC, as the intensity built the band jumped on out, going straight into a delicious rendition of Rock or Bust. My heart was pounding something fierce, and everyone around me was screaming.

As the show went on they performed everything from Sin City, which seen Angus play guitar with his tie, to Let’s Play Ball, to You Shook Me All Night Long, in which three topless women graced the screens. TNT saw the band struggling to stay in key, and resulted in some of the weaker attendees complaining of the ‘deafening’ sounds the wall of Marshall amps was producing. But despite letting their guard down for a few moments, Brian’s vocals hit as hard as straight alcohol, and trickled down like honey, while Angus’ guitar virtuosity ripped a few minds apart. Mid-way through the show most everyone in attendance was ‘horny’ and wet, and the stormy weather was relentless, but there was something euphoric about goin’ wild over the worlds greatest rock  band as the rain fell dramatically through the multi-coloured lighting. It was liberating.

IMG_9093

The standout moment of the night came as Angus embarked on what was easily the most phenomenal rock n roll solo I have ever witnessed during Let There Be Rock. He may be 60, but as the 23 minute guitar play rambled on into the night sky, it seemed as though his entire body was overtaken by some sort of higher being, or merely reaffirmed that he himself is a God. Sweat was dripping from all angles, and I’d successfully managed to lose the better part of my voice, I was awe struck. I felt like I was going to either faint, or melt, and I loved every second of it.

Upon the show ending, people were leaving and I found myself lingering around the stadium, not wanting the night to be over – my whole being as satisfied as it possibly could be. I’ve seen a few of my heroes play live over the past few years, and it had always been a surreal experience, but this time round things were different. I felt alive, and I felt present. I felt immense connection to each of the musicians up on the stage, and despite Malcolm’s absence, and their lack of crowd interaction between songs,  the instruments did all the talking, and oh boy, did they have a whole lot to say. Acca/Dacca rocked, and we sure as hell saluted.


Peace, love and keep singin’ the Blues,

CKR

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Fleetwood Mac @ Allphones Arena – Climbed a mountain and still hangin’ round

Going to watch Fleetwood Mac live in 2015 may seem a tad mundane to the average baby boomer who witnessed them live in their prime, but I knew instinctively as I paid for my $75 ‘nose bleed’ section ticket, that it would be an indelible moment in time for me to see this illustrious band do their thing.

Throughout the concert I wrote a stack of notes that regrettably washed away with the night’s rainy weather, so although the following is not in complete order, it’s my recount of an evening with Fleetwood Mac, the original, complete, romantic as ever, five piece.

fleetwoodmac_koellner_-2015-02-15-at-2-19-44-pm

As their 105th Australian show, their first in more than 2 months, and Christine’s first time in the country in ‘almost 30 years’, the crowds energy levels were contagious. As soon as the lights dimmed, and the band emerged, some hearty drumbeats from Mick kicked them straight into The Chain. At first, I wasn’t too impressed. All the warnings of ‘mediocre vocals’ i’d gotten from people who had seen them in the past few years, were seemingly coming true. Lindsey could barely stay in key, and Christine appeared a little uninterested. But as the night went on, and as all parties settled in, their magic began to unravel.

Among the array of hits, including; You Make Loving Fun, Tusk, Little Lies, Second Hand News, Dreams, Rhiannon and I Don’t Want To Know, a few renditions and unexpected happenings touched my soul far more intricately then expected.

As Stevie’s effervescent voice softly sung the opening lines to Silver Springs, the band chimed in behind her. As the song reached an intense peak, Stevie turned to Lindsey to emotionally croon ‘you’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you’ and before I knew it, I was in tears. Witnessing a band who have gone through so much together, share such intimate moments on stage all these years later, gave the set a true sense of purity.

Things took a turn for the sexy, impressive and down right dirty, as Lindsey broke out into a long winding rock n’ roll solo during I’m So Afraid. LB tore up his guitar like it weren’t nobody’s business, except he made sure it was, by lettin’ some of the audience members’ lucky little hands touch and strum his gorgeous instrument, mid solo.

Mick and John were their usual selves, staying back and keeping the band in check, John shyly and Mick, well, wildly. With a gong behind him, chimes beside him, and his trademark jungle style beats, he called out to the audience during what seemed to be a 10 minute sweat inducing, panty dropping, crowd astounding solo.

After multiple mini outfit changes including a golden shawl for Gold Dust Woman, and a top hat, Stevie paused to tell a story from a time when she and Lindsey were ‘very young’ living in San Francisco, studying/playing in a band, and making some great money. She’d heard that some of the biggest women in rock n roll, including Janis Joplin and Grace Slick were buying their clothing from a small store called The Velvet Underground, so, she decided she would buy ‘something nice to wear on stage’. As she pulled on up and walked in she soon realised that despite wanting everything in the store, she couldn’t afford a thing. She recalled a ‘dream twirling over’ her in that moment, and having an epiphany, an internal feeling that someday she would be able to walk into the store, and buy anything she wanted, never having to look at a price tag again.

She then went on to tell the audience a little something along these lines – “NEVER let anyone tell you ‘you can’t have your dream’ that’s crap! You reach into the sky, grab your star and pull it down to you, go back to The Velvet Underground, and NEVER LEAVE!!!”

Before embarking on a solo, acoustic version of Big Love Lindsey also spoke about the immense power of change, a common theme throughout the bands’ 2 and a half hour show, that of which came to a lustful end with Christine, her piano, and Lindsey on guitar, doing a beautifully nostalgic rendition of Songbird.

Despite the soul invasive musicality enshrouding the Arena, and the surreal nature of seeing some of my heroes in the flesh, the greatest part of the night was the togetherness and connection between the band and the audience.

As they broke out into Don’t Stop, so did everyone around me – I felt apart of something bigger. I felt a complete wave of content wash over me. There we all were, in a sold out arena show, embracing the allure of the music, singing along, and doing so with the complete strangers around us, no judgment involved. That for me, was the nights defining moment.

Stevie may have waltzed on out of The Velvet Underground with a brand new attitude, but I strutted on out of their concert with an even greater appreciation for authentic music and its power to bring people together. Kudos for the wisdom Fleetwood, and kudos for showing us just how hot the flame still burns. Age is but a number for these legendary beings.


I recommend that each of you goes to see the band whilst they’re here in Aus, don’t think twice, just buy some tickets and bask in the glory of all things Mac & mystical.

Peace, love, and keep singin’ the Blues,

CKR

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Top 5 John Mayer Guitar Moments

01MAYER-facebookJumbo-v3

As one of the greatest guitarists to have graced this generation, John Mayer is no stranger to busting into immense, 5+ minute solos filled with warmth and fervor. In celebration of his 38th year on this earth, Ultra Underground look over five of his finest moments on the guitar. All live, fiery, and full of evocative bluesy goodness, they are bound to sway your mind into a gorgeous reverie.

5. Little Wing (Live at Webster Hall, 2004)

4. Slow Dancing In A Burning Room (Live in Louisville, 2013)

3. Voodoo Child (Live at Red Rocks, 2010)

2. Covered In Rain (Any Given Thursday, 2002)

1. Out Of My Mind (Where The Light Is, 2007)


Peace, love and keep singin’ the Blues,

CKR

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

JJ Grey & MOFRO, Shaun Kirk @ The Factory Theatre – REVIEW

Thursday night was an interesting one from the start. As I made my way through Marrickville hoping to stumble upon The Factory Theatre, I got a little lost, and ended up getting directions from MOFRO bassist Todd Smallie, who seemingly knew his way round the suburb far better than this born and raised Sydney gal did. Further down the road I ran into new drummer Eric Kalb, I was skeptical… Could he match up to renowned ex drummer Anthony Cole? Only time would tell.

The night’s support was Shaun Kirk, a guitar slingin’ blues boy from Melbourne with a penchant for wide brimmed hats and hollow body guitars. Performing a set of originals, among Tony Joe White’s I Believe I’ve Lost My Way, Kirk took to the stage causally, with his trademark guitar, harp and bass drum combination, and what was produced was easily some of the most blood rushin’ raw Blues I’ve heard in my lifetime. Kirk’s vocals began intensely and built swiftly from there – he had the audience wrapped right on round his every lyric, every lick, and every sweet, demanding harp solo.

Pausing between songs to tell his story, alike one of the old bluesman, Kirk, in all his Aussie glory explained, “I wasn’t always a musician, I was an adolescent shithead… Then one day when I was 16, my mum put a guitar in my way”.

IMG_4229

The first song of the night Every Dog Will Have It’s Day featured some heavy bass drum, that thumped right through the floor and straight through the body. Hearing his vocals erupt so fervidly was easily the most psyche awakening, arousing moment of the entire evening… each person surrounding me, was in awe. I thought I knew just how strangely sexual the genre could be, but this Blues aficionado proved me oh so wrong!

The fourth song of the set, Find Me A Lady, was a fever inducing affair, with Kirk’s vocals dripping passion and exuding a distinctive bout of good vibes, it became evident with each word sung that this was not a musician who would fade out, but one who has the ability to leave a lasting affect on each person who witnesses him live. I was thoroughly impressed, and in a deep state of admiration for his Rory style pickin’ and his complete power to resonate.

But let’s be honest, what really won the crowd over was his confession to having watched Neighbours every night at the same time, because Lord knows we’ve all been there before!

IMG_4228 IMG_4227

As JJ Grey & MOFRO took to the stage, people rushed out to the front of the dance floor, in stark contrast to 20 minutes earlier when I was the only one getting my ‘boogie’ on to Kirk’s soul soothing concoctions. It was refreshing to see the mostly middle aged crowd, bursting with sheer energy as the band broke out into Ho Cake.

As the set progressed, and many bass, guitar, key, drum, trumpet and sax solos howled out into the sleazy inner west air, a magical moment occurred during the encore, as tears streamed down Grey’s face whilst playing Shining Down’s evocative 2 minute + guitar solo. This was a heartwarming thing for any music lover to witness, it proved the extent of the emotion Grey invests into his writing – for there to be so much meaning behind a track is an art form within itself.

The highlight of the set, however, was the bands’ rendition of On Fire with luscious dance moves,  the funkiest bass fills of the evening, and guitar solos that could rip a man apart – there’s no doubt that each and every woman in that audience was burnin’ up something fierce! Hell, when JJ handed me his pick, mid groove, I couldn’t help but feel a lil special.

All in all, the bands’ last show on the Aussie tour was a success. Despite JJ’s complaints of  ‘shit’ vocals, and the evident exhaustion hanging over their heads, they managed to bring down the Theatre with a round of their ‘Otis meets Lynyrd Skynyrd at a Lochloosa swamp’ goodness and we cannot wait to have another servin’. Hopefully next time with a side of Tupelo Honey.

SET LIST

Ho Cake

A Woman

Brighter Days

Hide & Seek

Every Minute

Your Lady

Lochloosa

Night to Remember

Everything Good

Slow Hot and Sweaty

Orange Blossoms

On Fire

ENCORE

Shining Down

Ol’Glory

Peace, love, and keep singin’ the Blues,

CKR

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized