Santana-McLaughlin Montreux Re-Issue Is Another Shining Beacon From Eagle Rock

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Forty-eight years ago a man named Claude Knobs founded the Montreux Jazz Festival. In the decades since its founding, the once jazz-only festival has grown to become one of the world’s most renowned festivals featuring acts from every one of the music industry’s genres. Sadly, Knobs passed away two years ago. But even in his absence, the festival has continued on and remained one of the world’s elite music festivals. And thanks to the efforts of the people at Eagle Rock Entertainment that reputation has been held strong due to the label’s partnership with Montreux Sounds. The companies’ partnership has resulted in a number of performances from the festival’s history being released in recent years. That list includes performances from the likes of: Stan Getz, Phil Collins, Etta James, ZZ Top, and The Raconteurs among so many others. Last week, that list grew just a little more when the companies revisited Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin’s 2011 Invitation to Illumination performance and re-issued the concert in a double-disc CD presentation. Originally released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2013, this latest release is just as enjoyable for those that might not already own the concert’s original DVD and/or BD presentation. Of course it is just as enjoyable for anyone that already owns said presentations, too. The main reason that it is so enjoyable is its set list. Just as with Eagle Rock’s 2012 Santana live release, Greatest Hits Live at Montreux 2011, this show’s set list feels more like one giant jam session than a specifically structured set list. By direct connection, the stage presence of the musicians on stage is just as noteworthy in the recording’s enjoyment and success. Last of note in this recording is the concert’s audio mix. Those with surround sound home theater systems will especially appreciate that clarity of the recording’s audio mix. Together with the set list and the band’s stage presence, that expert audio mix is one more factor that reminds audiences why Eagle Rock Entertainment is the leader of the pack in live recordings. Collectively, all three elements show why this recording is one of the best of this year’s crop of re-issues.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new double-disc presentation of Carlos Santana & John Mclaughlin’s performance at the 2011 Montreux Jazz Festival is not the first time that the recording has been released. Despite that, this audio-only presentation is just as enjoyable as the concert’s 2013 DVD and Blu-ray presentation of the concert. This applies both for those that already own the concert’s DVD and/or Blu-ray presentation and for those that have neither. The main reason that it is so enjoyable for all involved is its set list. The nearly two and a half hour performance (two hours and fourteen minutes to be exact) is composed of sixteen tracks that touch on quite a few different genres. There is a tribute to Led Zeppelin early on as Santana and company cover the legendary rock band’s hit single ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ There are also tributes to Miles Davis and John Coletrane later in the performance in the form of ‘Black Satin’ and ‘A Love Supreme’ respectively. There is also another tribute to Coletrane earlier in the show in the form of ‘Naima,’ which is another of the legendary sax player’s greatest hits. As if these numbers aren’t enough, there are also of plenty of other original pieces performed by Santana and his fellow musicians pulled from Santana and McLaughlin’s 1973 album Love Devotion Surrender. The combination of the artists’ covers and original compositions results in a set list that is rich and completely engaging. Being so rich and engaging, audiences won’t even realize that so much time has passed by the time they reach the concert’s finale performance. That in itself is the mark of a truly talented group of musicians. Speaking of the musicians’ collective talents, their talents are another reason that audiences will enjoy this latest release of Invitation to Illumination.

The extensive set list compiled for Invitation to Illumination is in itself plenty of reason for fans of Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin to pick up this newly re-issued concert recording. It runs nearly two and a half hours and spans some sixteen songs. At no point in that time will audiences ever find themselves checking the time as the concert progresses. Rather, they will find themselves becoming lost in the concert in the best way possible. That says quite a bit within itself. Of course the concert’s chosen set list is only part of what makes it so enjoyable. The stage presence of Santana and his fellow musicians is another reason that audiences will enjoy the show. Taking in a performance by Carlos Santana and his band mates is more than simply taking in a performance from the highly talented musicians. Taking in a performance of these individuals is taking in a full musical experience. This is just as true in Santana & McLaughlin: Invitation to Illumination as it was on Carlos Santana: Greatest Hits Live at Montreux 2011. It is incredible to hear Santana and his band mates sharing the stage throughout the two-hour plus performance. Unlike so many other acts out there today, Santana steps back on multiple occasions, allowing his band mates to get their fair share of time in the limelight. Simply put, he not only talks the talk, but walks the walk, too. Such humility, willingness to share the spotlight, and talent shows why Santana is still one of the greatest guitarists in modern music history. Audiences will be in awe at the talent of both Dennis Chambers and Santana’s own wife, Cyndi Blackman Santana as they work behind their kits. Blackman Santana’s skill with the sticks is unparalleled. Watching her perform whether with the rest of the band or by herself on her drum solo is like watching controlled chaos. By contrast, Chambers’ own performance behind his kit is the picture of talent and composure. Chambers’ body language is one of someone that is entirely relaxed. Yet his playing would seem otherwise. It’s an amazing juxtaposition. The band overall presents such talent throughout its performance. It’s yet another way in which the band’s stage presence shows itself to be an important part of the recording’s whole. Together with the show’s extensive set list, both elements show once again why Invitation to Illumination is a brightly shining live recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment.

The set list assembled for Invitation to Illumination and the stage presence of the assembled musicians are both key reasons that the recording is so entertaining for audiences. They are just part of the whole of the recording’s enjoyment in its new double-disc CD presentation. The concert’s final audio mix rounds out the reasons that the concert shines so brightly. Those with surround sound home theater systems will especially appreciate that clarity of the recording’s audio mix. That is not to say that those without a home theater system will be left out in the cold per se. Rather it is just to say that the audio mix really lends itself to a home theater system even having been recorded at an indoor venue. There is something about the combined talents of the musicians on stage that just gives the performance that much power. This includes both the concert’s more raucous moments and even its more reserved moments. Audiences will agree with this sentiment when they pick up this recording for themselves. Together with the concert’s set list and the performers’ stage presence, it becomes the finishing touch on a recording that is one more brightly shining recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment even having been previously released.

While it is not the first time that Eagle Rock Entertainment has released the concert, the company’s new double-disc CD presentation of Invitation to Illumination still shines just as brightly as the concert’s previous DVD and Blu-ray presentation. This is the case both for those that already own one or both of the previously released presentations and for those that don’t already own either. The show’s set list coupled with the stage presence and talents of the performers makes for plenty of enjoyment in its new re-issue. The concert’s expert audio mix makes it even more of a joy for audiences. All three elements taken together make Invitation to Illumination a concert that is just as enjoyable the second time around as the first. Santana & McLaughlin: Invitation to Illumination Live at Montreux 2011 is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:




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Blues Hall Of Fame Grand Opening Scheduled For Today

There’s big news for blues fans today.

The Blues Hall of Fame will officially open for the first time ever this morning at 10amET. Today’s grand opening of the band new building was preceded last night by the annual Blues Music Awards, which is now in its 36th year. The awards ceremony was held in front of a sold out crowd of 1500 people in downtown Memphis, TN at the Cook Convention Center.

Photo Credit: Charles Ragsdale II

Blues Hall of Fame Inductees. Some of those featured include: Tommy Brown, Bobby Rush, Charlie Musselwhite, Eddie Shaw, Dick Waterman, Billy Boy Arnold, John Hammond, Big Jay McNeely, Otis Clay, Bruce Iglauer and Mike Kappus. Photo Credit: Charles Ragsdale II

Twenty-four awards were handed out at last night’s ceremony. Elvin Bishop was the night’s big winner with three awards. His latest full-length release Can’t Even Do Right won for Best New Album. His Band took top honors in the Band category. And the album’s title track won for Best Song. Other winners on the night included: Joe Bonamassa (Best Instrumentalist—Guitar), Selwyn Birchwood (Best New Artist Album—Don’t Call No Ambulance) and Johnny Winter (Best Rock Blues Album—Step Back). The complete list of this year’s Blues Music Awards is noted below.

Blues Music Award winners (final)

  1. Acoustic Album:  Timeless– John Hammond
  2. Acoustic Artist: John Hammond
  3. Album: Can’t Even Do Wrong Right– Elvin Bishop
  4. B.B. King Entertainer: Bobby Rush
  5. Band: Elvin Bishop Band 
  6. Best New Artist Album: Don’t Call No Ambulance– Selwyn Birchwood                 
  7. Contemporary Blues Album: BluesAmericana – Keb’ Mo’
  8. Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Janiva Magness   
  9. Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Gary Clark Jr.
  10. Historical: Soul & Swagger: The Complete “5” Royales 1951-1967 – The “5” Royales (Rock Beat)
  11. Instrumentalist-Bass: Lisa Mann
  12. Instrumentalist-Drums: Jimi Bott
  13. Instrumentalist-Guitar: Joe Bonamassa
  14. Instrumentalist-Harmonica: Charlie Musselwhite
  15. Instrumentalist-Horn: Deanna Bogart
  16. Koko Taylor Award: Ruthie Foster
  17. Pinetop Perkins Piano Player: Marcia Ball    
  18. Rock Blues Album: Step Back – Johnny Winter
  19. Song: “Can’t Even Do Wrong Right” written and performed by Elvin Bishop
  20. Soul Blues Album: Memphis Grease– John Németh
  21. Soul Blues Female Artist: Sista Monica
  22. Soul Blues Male Artist: Bobby Rush
  23. Traditional Blues Album:  For Pops (A Tribute to Muddy Waters)– Mud Morganfield & Kim Wilson
  24. Traditional Blues Male Artist: Lurrie Bell
Blues Hall of Fame inductees at BHOF ribbon cutting ceremony: Otis Clay, Eddie Shaw, Big Jay McNeely, Bobby Rush, John Hammond, Tommy Brown, Billy Boy Arnold. Photo by Mariah Selitsch

Blues Hall of Fame inductees at BHOF ribbon cutting ceremony: Otis Clay, Eddie Shaw, Big Jay McNeely, Bobby Rush, John Hammond, Tommy Brown, Billy Boy Arnold. Photo by Mariah Selitsch

On the eve of the Blues Hall of Fame’s official opening, Little Richard, Tommy Brown, and Eric Clapton became the institution’s latest inductees. They join the likes of B.B. King, Etta James, T-Bone Walker and one hundred forty-three others that have been inducted over the past three decades plus. Fifty-one non-performers have also been added to the hall along with eighty-three of the greatest blues singles ever crafted, and forty books and magazines centered on the blues.

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Thorogood & Company Put On A Real Rock Party In Their First Ever Montreux Show

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Eagle Rock Entertainment and Montreux Sounds formed a new landmark business partnership a year or so ago.  The partnership in question allowed Eagle Rock distribution rights for a number of new and archived shows that were recorded at what is one of music’s most revered festivals.  And the recordings in question have been nothing short of impressive.  From the likes of Miles Davis, Stan Getz, and Etta James to newer acts such as The Raconteurs, the Montreux Jazz Festival has seen some of the industry’s top names take its storied stages.  Now, one more piece of the legendary festival’s history has been released to the masses in the form of George Thorogood & The Destroyers Live at Montreux 2013.  The concert, which was recorded this past July, marked the first time that Thorogood and his band mates—Jeff Simon (drums), Bill Blough (bass), Jim Suhler (guitar/vocals), and Buddy Leach (saxophone)–had ever performed at the venue.  And Thorogood himself makes note of his excitement at getting to finally perform at Montreux after more than two decades.  That excitement pored over throughout the band’s entire performance, too.  It’s one of the key factors of this recording that makes it so fun to take in.  The band’s set list is another reason that fans will enjoy this recording.  Thorogood and his band mates hit on every one of their major hit songs.  There is even a tribute to Johnny Cash thrown in for good measure.  If that isn’t enough for fans, the combination of the recording’s bonus interview and companion booklet will push the recording over the top.  They, along with the set list and the band’s performance, make this recording one more huge success from Eagle Rock Entertainment and Montreux Sounds.

George Thorogood has been making music and performing for over four decades.  So it comes as quite the surprise that 2013 marked the first time that he and his band mates played the famed Montreux Jazz Festival.  The festival, which started out mainly as a venue for the top names in jazz and blues, has grown each year to incorporate bands and artists from across the musical spectrum.  Thorogood and his band mates obviously held no ill will toward festival organizers when they took the stage at the festival.  Thorogood makes no bones concerning his excitement at finally being invited to perform at Montreux.  His positive energy isn’t confined to just that one moment, either.  From the high energy opener that is ‘Rock Party’ to hits like ‘I Drink Alone’, ‘Bad to the Bone’, and ‘Madison Blues’, the band exudes so much energy and excitement.  The audience in attendance feeds off of every bit of that excitement, too.  The mutual sharing of excitement and energy can be felt even by viewers watching this recording from the comfort of their own living rooms or bedrooms.  Home viewers may even find themselves feeding off of that excitement, dancing around and playing air guitar, etc.  That shows just how much fun Thorogood and company make their performance for all of their audiences.  Home viewers will discover this for themselves when they order or purchase the recording for themselves on DVD and Blu-ray.

The positive energy and excitement exuded by Thorogood and company is key to the overall enjoyment of this recording.  Whether one is seeing the concert for the first time or reliving the concert again, everybody can agree that the band’s stage performance alone is enough reason to take in this concert.  Just as important to the overall enjoyment of this concert recording is the set list chosen for the performance.  Fans won’t be disappointed at the set list chosen for the concert.  The veteran rockers included all of their fan favorites over the course of the near ninety-minute set.  From the likes of ‘I Drink Alone’ to the band’s now famous cover of John Lee Hooker’s ‘One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer’ to the Johnny Cash tribute in ‘Cocaine Blues’, the band leaves little if anything on the table.  Audiences will especially appreciate that in the tribute to the late country singer, Thorogood actually seems to channel him.  He actually sounds like Cash, vocally speaking, at points in the song.  The same can be said of his guitar work, too.  It is just one of so many high points offered throughout the course of the concert.  And it’s just one more part of what makes the recording as a whole so enjoyable for audiences of all ages.  It’s not the last, either.  The bonus interview and companion booklet included in with the DVD and Blu-ray put the finishing touch on this recording.

The songs chosen for this concert and the band’s performance collectively make up the most important and impressive part of this latest recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment and Montreux Sounds.  There is still one part of the overall presentation of this recording that puts it over the top.  That last part ifs the collective bonus interview and companion booklet.  The show’s bonus sit-down with Thorogood shows that the persona presented on stage was as real as it comes.  Audiences get even more insight into his excitement over playing Montreux at long last.  And through the show’s companion booklet, audiences get a brief history of Thorogood’s career leading up to his performance at Montreux.  Audiences will be interested to learn that along with George Thorogood and The Destroyers, ZZ Top was at Montreux this year, as were Prince, Sting, Ben Harper, Deep Purple, Leonard Cohen, and so many others.  It’s just a tiny piece of the whole history that audiences will enjoy learning in reading through the included literature.  And together with everything already mentioned, that history and the bonus interview make this presentation complete.  It all collectively makes this latest release one more huge success from Eagle Rock Entertainment and Montreux Sounds.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from Amazon at  More information on this and other concerts in Eagle Rock’s ongoing Montreux series of concerts is available online at and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

The Blues Broads Are Four Ladies Who Can Really Sing The Blues

Courtesy: Delta Groove Productions

Bonnie Raitt, Etta James, Koko Taylor.  All three of these women are among the most famous names in the world of the blues.  But how many audiences out there have ever heard of a female fronted four-piece known as The Blues Broads?  This four-piece is made up of some of music’s greatest female names.  The group is comprised of Mother Earth singer Tracy Nelson, Stoneground founding member Annie Sampson, Dorothy Morrison (of the Edward Hawkins Singers), and Angela Strehli.  Strehli has sung with some of the blues most famed names such as:  Muddy Waters, Albert King, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  The combination of these four women has led to what is one heck of a group.  And now thanks to the group’s new live CD/DVD release, odds are that the name of The Blues Broads may  become as well known as its members other projects, if not more so.

The Blues Broads’ live CD/DVD release was recorded at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, California.  This double disc set shows just how talented these women are.  The CD and DVD set lists aren’t exactly the same.  But that’s beside the point.  Every song in this performance makes for a great time for any blues lover and music lover.  There’s the up-tempo rocking cover of, ‘River Deep’, the easy going country/blues style of ‘Blue Highway’, and what has to be the absolute standout song from this performance in ‘Walk Away.’  This Stevie Ray Vaughan style song is classic twelve bar blues in every sense.  And while it was performed in a nice club (as is seen in the DVD portion of the performance), this is one of those songs that immediately conjures images of a smoky, dimly lit bar. 

The Broads are extremely talented singers.  There is no doubt at all about that.  The ladies’ backing musicians—Steve Ehrmann (bass), Paul Revelli (drums), Gary Vogensen (guitar), Mike Emerson (keyboards), and Deanna Bogart (keyboards, vocals, tenor sax)—add their own flair to each song.  All together, they add so much to the song that helped make Dorothy Morrison famous in ‘Oh Happy Day.’  Gary Vogensen plays as well as Stevie Ray Vaughan on ‘Walk Away.’  There is so much more that could be said and written of what makes this such an enjoyable live recording.  But audiences would do best to experience it for themselves.  It hits store shelves next Tuesday, September 18th.  While fans count down the days, they can check out all the latest from The Blues Broads online at and  Fans can also check out more about The Blues Broads online at

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Etta James Live At Montreux 1993 Another Fitting Tribute To Late Blues Legend

Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Etta James Live at Montreux 1993 is a wonderful companion to the recently released single disc compilation, chronicling her performances from 1975 – 1993.  While the audio portion of this collection was a fitting posthumous tribute to Etta, this new video portion is that much more of a tribute.

On the surface, what makes this new DVD and blu-ray release even better than the CD is that it expands on the CD’s presentation.  It boasts the same songs from the CD.  It also features a whole bevy of extra songs that weren’t included on the CD.  Included among those extra songs are instrumental takes on ‘Funky Good Times’ and ‘Hold On, I’m Coming’ just to name a couple.  There are far more extra songs for fans to enjoy, too.  It’s fitting that this whole chronicle opens with ‘Funky Good Time.’  Fans new and old alike will know from both the title and the…well…funky good music (Yes, that bad joke was intended) that they’re in for quite the experience.

Quite the experience is exactly what audiences get in this performance.  It’s one more live recording that epitomizes the importance of live shows.  It’s one thing to hear an artist’s studio albums and live shows on CD and/or mp3.  But it’s the actual seeing a performance that brings it all together.  An artist’s stage performance helps to bring everything together.  An artist’s stage performance really helps to capture the emotion of a song even better than a studio recording.  And Ms. James did that and more in these compiled performances.

Audiences see with this compilation of performances so much emotion from her.  That’s especially the case in ‘A Lover is Forever.’  There’s a certain gentility in her voice and her stage presence that adds that much more feeling to this song.  The same thing applies to her performance in the bonus song, ‘Hard To Handle.’  Seeing her really get into the song, feeling it, will get audiences into it, too.  Both with these songs and every other performance included in the new DVD and blu-ray, fans get a performance that’s a fitting tribute to this music legend.  Etta James Live at Montreux 1993 is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct via Eagle Rock Entertainment’s website,

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Shemekia Copeland’s 33 1/3 Is A Perfect 10

Courtesy: Telarc

Shemekia Copeland is only in her thirties.  But in the course of her career so far, she has already garnered the title of Queen of The Blues.  Her current slate of releases shows why she is more than deserving of that title.  And now her new upcoming album, “33 1/3” serves to maintain that reputation.  “33 1/3” is a solid record that ushers in the blues for a whole new generation of music lovers.  From the socially conscious opener, ‘Lemon Pie’ to the slower twelve bar blues style of ‘Ain’t Gonna Be Your Tattoo’ to the semi-country, almost Etta James style of ‘A Woman’, Copeland’s new record is a record that shows her musical prowess yet again.

“33 1/3” opens with a song that will grab audiences both with its groove and its lyrical side in ‘Lemon Pie.’  The gentle groove from bassist Kevin Jenkins and drummer Morris Roberts instantly grabs audiences right off the top.  When Copeland starts singing, something happens.  Even first time listeners of her music will be gripped by the power of her voice.  It’s not an angry sound.  But there’s a certain power and almost a sense of urgency to her voice that lets audiences know she means business.  She sings, “Train left the station/I didn’t climb aboard/price of the ticket was too much to afford/And I saw that politician/I know you know his name/Waving from the window of that gravy train.”  This is a great way to open her new album as it’s the kind of song to which everybody can relate.  She goes on in the song, “I’m hungry for a job/I’m hungry for a meal/I’m hungry for all the good things that/I’m too proud to steal/I’m barely getting’ by/I’m doin’ this and that/While people up top keep getting’ fat.”  It’s pretty obvious in the chorus that lemon pie is that proverbial piece of the pie that every American wants; that American dream.  Again, it’s something to which every listener can relate.  That combination of almost pleading lyrics and the up-tempo music makes this a great introduction for this album.

Copeland doesn’t lose her social consciousness after ‘Lemon Pie.’  The slower, ‘Ain’t Gonna Be Your Tattoo’ is just as hard hitting.  The way that she sings here, one can only imagine a combination of Billie Holiday and certain other blues greats.  Add in the soaring guitar work of Arthur Nelson, and listeners get what is one of this album’s top tracks.  Copeland sings on this song of a subject who was able to get out of an abusive relationship.  She sings as the song opens, “Just what I said wrong is anybody’s guess/But the bruise on my face/Was as blue as my dress/Broken bottle on the table/Broken lamp on the floor/Couple thousand miles/From the bed to the door/Lipstick on his cheek/from my last kiss/Took a ten from his wallet/Left the maid a tip/Ain’t gonna be your tattoo/Ain’t gonna be your tattoo/End up faded and blue/Ain’t gonna be your tattoo.  That opening verse is so powerful in itself.  As the song progresses, audiences will be hooked as she tells her story through song.  While it’s sad what happened in her story, what makes this song good (besides the outstanding music) is that she was strong enough to get away, and not “be that guy’s tattoo.”  If ever there was a song that was pure blues for the new generation, this is it.   

Copeland shows her blues chops throughout the course of “33 1/3.”  But something interesting happens on the song, ‘A Woman.’  She shows the close roots of blues and country music.  At the same time, she reaches a point in the song where she sings with a gritty growl that would have made Etta James proud.  Musically, this country blues hybrid hits all the right notes.  Lyrically, it takes a different turn than ‘Ain’t Gonna Be Your Tattoo.’  She sings about the right way to treat a woman so as to keep her.  She sings, “Any old fool can stay through the good times/And any old fool can run out on her/So you got to buckle up/And face that stormy weather together/And that’s how a woman wants to be loved by her man.”  That one verse alone is so powerful in its truth.  When she reaches the point about a woman telling a man not to put his hands on her unless he really loves her is the point when she hits that gritty vocal spot.  It perfectly highlights the song and makes both her and the song shine.  It’s one more that is bound to make programmers at any blues centric radio station take notice and want to play it again and again.

These three songs are just a tiny sample of what Shemekia Copeland has in store for fans in her new upcoming album.  There are so many other great songs such as:  ‘I Sing The Blues’, ‘Mississippi Mud’, ‘One More Time’, and ‘Can’t Let Go’ that shine here.  Fans might even have their own other favorites.  And that is the sign of a great album.  “33 1/3” will be available September 25th.  It will be available both in stores and online via Telarc’s website,  While fans wait on the new release, they can also check out all of Shemekia’s latest tour dates and news at, and  

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Etta James’ Manager Shares Her Memories Of The Vocal Titan

Good morning everyone.  I hope your day’s going well.  As I promised earlier, I have a couple of interviews that I recently conducted.  One of them is with the former manager of the one and only, Etta James.  You’ll recall I recenetly posted up a review of Etta’s performances at the famed Montruex Jazz Festival.  earlier this year, the world lost the vocal titan.  Now, her former manager, offers her memory of James.  Enjoy!

RR —  What did Etta’s music mean to you both as her manager and as a fan of her music?
L — I heard Etta perform live dozens of times.   She was an inspiration to me as I watched her onstage.. She was just amazing to me Working for her over the years was never easy but the end result was so satisfying.   Of course I love ” At Last ” but for me ” Mystery Lady “, Time After Time ” and ” Seven Year Itch ” are my most favorite.  ” Live in San Francisco is also one I love.  Etta record so many great records that I could go on naming more.

RR — This new compilation of songs is has already been released to CD, and is going to be released to DVD and Blu-Ray, too soon from what I udnerstand.  I’m curious, was this a project that was started on your end, or did eagle Rock get the ball rolling on this one?  Can you explain the process of how this project came to life?
LThe Montreux shows that Etta recorded I always knew would someday make it to disc and out to the world wide public.  It was always Claude Nobs intention to make this a commercial release.  .  He was a major fan of her music.  Claude contacted me in early in 2010 and we began preparations with Eagle Productions to get it released.  I’m happy with the result.

RR — One thing that I always loved about Etta was her ability to switch so easily between that really rough, gritty blues sound and the much softer, more gentle almost Billie Holiday-esque sound on other songs.  From your own vantage point, what about Etta’s singing impressed you more than anything?
L — Well some people consider her a Blues singer, some a Jazz singer, and others R&B or Soul singer.  The truth is that Etta had a gift.  Throw in Country and Rock too.  Etta could do it all.  With her ballads Etta made you feel the song. Every word and phrase she made her own. She brought the lyric to life. I f you didn’t feel the message then you were not listening.   I don t think there was a more powerful singer in modern music.  Etta could rock your soul with her gut wrenching approach.  It was all Blues based but   her music defied category.

RR — On that same note, was there one song that always stood out as your favorite from Etta, or are there simply too many to say for certain that there’s one?
LFor me Etta’s memorable shows were Montreux, The Hollywood Bowl  (which she did every year for 10-12 years) , and her shows at the  Monterey Jazz Festival

RR — There have been some books released on Etta’s life.  I’m curious to know, having known her personally, have you had the opportunity to read anything published about her?  If so, what is your take on what’s been written?  Are there any books about her that you would recommend to fans of her music? Also, do you know of any plans for any new material book-wise, to be released on her life?
LWell there is only one and its in Etta’s own words ” Rage to Survive ”  We hope to make a feature film of her life based on this book  I am ready to listen ,  We will consider  offers.  It would have to be an honest account of her art and life without any sensationalizing. 

RR —  Speaking of her life story, having worked with Etta for as long as you did, I’d love to know are there any really fond memories that you can share with her fans that you could say yourself are your favorite memories of her?  They could be on the road or in the studio or just life in general.
LEtta had a incredible wit and sense of humor.  I recall being on the tour bus some times for days at a time.  Some nights Etta would come out of her mini suite in the back of the bus and come to where the musicians were gathered in the front.    She would hold court telling stories and jokes about people she knew.  She had a uncanny comic sense.   She would have the band laughing and in stitches.  Wow could she tell a story.7)  Blues music today still seems to be very much a niche genre in my eyes.  That’s not to say it doesn’t have a wide spread audience by any means.  But it still doesn’t really enjoy the mainstream success of most popular music.  What is your own take on the state of blues?  Would you like to see it ever go truly mainstream, or are you happy with where it is today?

RR — I have one more question before I go.   Being that you knew Etta James better than many people out there, in terms of her music and her as a person, what would you yourself say is her legacy?  I guess what I’m getting at is people will always remember her for her music, obviously.  So other than her music, what would you personally hope that audiences would remember her for that maybe they didn’t already know about her as a person?
LShe was and is an extremity important American singer.  Her music will be here for decades to come.  Anyone with an ear for great music from any generation will take note when they hear Etta on record.  Her music like all great music is timeless.

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New Live Release An Excellent Tribute To An Excellent Singer

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Records/Montreux Sounds

The world lost one of the greatest singers of all time earlier this year when Etta James passed away.  Thanks to the continued partnership between Eagle Rock Entertainment and Montreux Sounds though, her voice will never be gone, nor will the memory of the vocal titan.  That is thanks to the brand new live release, “Etta James:  Live at Montreux 1975 – 1993.”

The brand new release, “Etta James:  Live at Montreux 1975 – 1993 is a wonderful tribute to a wonderful singer.  She really was a singer among singers.  This compilation of her performances from the famed Montreux Jazz Festival is proof of that, as if she really needed proof.  It’s one more collection that will help keep her memory and her voice alive for many more generations.  The performances culled for this compilation show just how versatile she was as a vocalist.  She showed she was a powerhouse vocalist at times.  And at others, she was as soft and gentle as perhaps Billie Holiday.  It all combines to make an excellent tribute to an excellent singer.

Some of the best examples of James’ powerhouse abilities are in the likes of ‘How Strong is a Woman’, ‘W.O.M.A.N.’ and the compilation’s opener, ‘I Just Wanna Make Love To You.’  The way that she sings in the opener and in ‘W.O.M.A.N.’ gives the songs a gritty, naughty vibe, for lack of better wording.  Her style perfectly catches the sensuality of the songs, making them favorites for any happy couple.  And the power in her voice as she sings, “A woman is strong as a mule/for the man she loves.”  The way that the band drives the song gives it even more of an oomph, especially in the live setting.  It makes for one of the compilation’s highest of points.

James showed how powerful and bombastic her voice was during her performances at the Montreux Jazz Festival.  For all the power in her pipes, James also showed that she could be gentle and delicate, too.  One of the prime examples of this is in ‘A Lover is Forever.’  Again, the mix of her vocal prowess and the music makes for another amazing piece that expertly captures the emotion of the song.  this effect is also heard in the medley of ‘At Last’/’Trust in Me’/’A Sunday Kind of Love.’  She proved on all of these songs that she understood and respected her craft.  She was able to interpret the songs in a way that would translate them with ease to her audiences.  The same thing applies to her more powerful songs, too.

When it’s all said and done, “Etta James Live at Montreux 1975 – 1993” shows to be a fitting tribute to a woman who was a strong woman and an equally strong singer.  It is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered directly through Eagle Rock Entertainment’s website at  The companion DVD and blu-ray to this release will be released later this month via Eagle Rock Entertainment.

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