New Duke Robillard and Ronnie Earl Albums Coming in August
Duke Robillard continues a fantastic year of successes, including winning yet another Blues Music Award in May from the Blues Foundation as "Best Traditional Male Blues Artist," and a Grammy nomination for his last CD, Stomp! The Blues Tonight.
Never an artist to stand pat, Duke Robillard has released previous albums that have saluted his love for jump blues, jazz, swing, and even exotica. With Passport to the Blues, Duke puts his personal stamp on music that the new CD's liner notes describe as his "grittiest roots – dirty, gutty, houserockin', shack-shakin', finger-bustin', down-in-the-bottom git-tar blues."
"This all-blues album was a chance for me to reach back deep into the soul of what I do and let out a lot of steam and emotion – especially on the guitar tracks," says Robillard. "I played a lot of my solos live with the band in the studio, just like we would on the road. The energy was fantastic. Making the album felt magical."
And what a band it is, featuring Duke's former Roomful of Blues bandmate Doug James on tenor and baritone saxes, Bruce Bears on keyboards, Brad Hallen on bass and Mark Teixeira on drums. Along with Robillard's always on-the-money guitar work and soulful vocals, this unit has crafted another album that's sure to be lining up for plaudits come awards time.
Passport to the Blues features a dozen tracks, all but one written by Robillard – the single exception being "Make It Rain," written by Tom Waits (a song Duke played as lead guitarist with Waits on his 2006 tour) and his wife, Kathleen Brennan. In addition to the timeless themes of the blues, the new CD has a decidedly modern take on songs such as "Text Me," a love song for the digital age, and "Honk Kong Suit," which deals with the rapid pace of contemporary life. Of special note is the song," The High Cost of Lovin'," written in the 1980s by Duke and legendary songwriter Doc Pomus.
As Robillard sums up in the album's liner notes, "All my life and career I've been fascinated by all kinds of roots music. Now I have the career and life I've wanted, playing anything that tickles me from country to blues to jazz to rock 'n' roll to New Orleans music. As long as it's roots, I love it all and I can't get enough."
During a career that began when he joined Roomful of Blues, Ronnie Earl has charted a course that has led him to become a legendary musician; one recognized around the world for his dynamic and soulful playing. For his sixth Stony Plain album, Spread the Love, Ronnie Earl has raised the bar even further, with 14 instrumental tracks that speak volumes of his amazing fret work, whether on originals or paying tribute to his influences such as Albert Collins ("Backstroke") and Kenny Burrell ("Chitlins Con Carne), or on the beautifully spiritual ballad written by Duke Pearson, (but perhaps best-known by trumpeter Donald Byrd's version) "Christo Redentor."
Ronnie Earl has been hailed by musicians and critics alike as one of the premier blues guitarists of his generation. He's played with such greats as Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, Earl King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and The Allman Brothers Band.