Nothing to be blue about

Nothing to be blue about

If the first week of 2007 has given you the blues, you are in luck. Eli Cook ( and his trio will release their new CD, Electric Holy Fire Water, on January 27 at Uncle Charlie’s in Crozet. The disc was recorded at Sound of Music in Richmond, and Cook says that Richmond-based metal band Lamb of God were recording in the upstairs studio at the same time. Vocal tracks were finished at the Music Resource Center here in town. Cook produced the new CD himself and describes the 12 tunes as “blues metal,” a rocked-up sound very different from his last acoustic record. You can find Cook’s CD at Plan 9 and CDBaby.

Metal head: Blues master Eli Cook describes his new CD as metal blues.

But you can get out earlier and see Cook’s African blues project with Darrell Rose at the Satellite Ballroom ( this Friday night. Cook and Rose have done a handful of gigs together, most recently at the Kennedy Center in November. With the incomparable Ali Farka Toure as their musical inspiration, Cook and Rose will play an early set, opening for longtime blues musicians Terry Garland ( and Mark Wenner.

Garland, who now lives in Richmond, and longtime D.C. resident Wenner have been as committed to blues music as anyone on the scene. Garland, who is a great live performer, cut his teeth on Robert Johnson and Jimmy Reed. He’s a master acoustic blues and slide player. Wenner began playing harp in high school in D.C. and was under the influence of Paul Butterfield while in college at Columbia, until he was “saved,” he says, by Charlie Musselwhite’s sound. Wenner was a founding member of the seminal local blues band The Nighthawks, who have been together for more than 30 years.

Other news on the blues scene: Corey Harris ( has signed on as a teacher and administrator with the Field School, an all-boys middle school that is slated to open next fall. Harris was recently awarded an honorary doctorate degree in music from his alma mater Bates College. At Field, he will be responsible for the arts and music program and Latin. (Ever wonder how to say “Since my baby left me” in Latin?)

But don’t start fretting that Harris will stop fretting. The songwriter and guitarist has a new CD that will be recorded locally and should come out this year on the Telarc label. The recording engineer on the job, Jeff Romano, states quite humbly, “I am going to kick its ass! It is going to be so good!” (His excellent ears and unrestrained enthusiasm have resulted in some very good recordings.)

Romano has also finished recording and mixing two of Ian Gilliam’s shows from Atomic Burrito and Starr Hill. Romano says of Gilliam, “He is on fire and it shows.” And Romano has been finishing mixes for the much anticipated Devon Sproule disc, which will be released soon in Europe and shortly after in the United States.

And even more blues: You can also get out this week and see the Matthew Willner Blues Thang at Orbit on January 24, as well as every first Friday at Atomic Burrito. Willner starts every Blues Thang gig on his National Resolectric guitar and then switches to his Telecaster later in the evening. Or as Willner puts it, “From Mississippi and African blues to Chicago blues. We may do a swing or a shuffle, but it is not rock.” Willner also asks a different lead instrumentalist to sit in on the BT gigs. Sandy Grey, Andrew Ewell and Tucker Rogers have all been guests, and at Orbit, Andy Rowland will blow his horn with regulars Drex Weaver, Darrell Rose and Stuart Holme.

Willner’s new CD has just been mastered by Greg Howard ( and is ready for the presses. The CD is all instrumental with an emphasis on jazz fusion. Featured musicians include John D’earth, Bobby Read, Darrell Muller, and James McLaughlin. Look for it soon.


Hey fellers, Whachya listenin’ to?

Corey Harris puts a classic spin on his career, teaching music and Latin at the Field School.

Jeff R: Have you ever been to It is a girl from Florida who plays classical arrangements like “Ode to Joy” with sounds from her butt. And Derek Trucks.

Eli C: A live Pantera CD. And as far as living blues players, I like Tab Benoit.

Matthew W: I’ve got an Amadou and Mariam record called Dimanche a Bamakou and also a live Donny Hathaway record, who may be the best singer ever.

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