If any single thing could be said about Magic Slim & The Teardrops, the watchword that prevails is consistency. Over eight CDs on the German Wolf label and the same total for Blind Pig Records – compilations notwithstanding – this group not only delivers time and time again with their electric contemporary urban blues, but continually reminds us of the forefathers that preceded them in making Chicago a focal point for this music. From classics by Elmore James, Roosevelt Sykes, Robert Nighthawk, J.B. Hutto, Clay Hammond, and Little Milton, Slim and the band put their foot to the wood and never let up on the gas, steaming through these classic blues songs with a rock & roll attitude. Three originals by Slim also reflect the same no-nonsense posture, but add updated, doubting Thomas inquiries, as on the shuffle rocker "Do You Mean It?," "Shame," and the sly Chi-Town blues of "Treat Me the Way You Do." While the smart, well-chosen material is the key to their success, it's how they play with utter confidence, energy, passion, and drive that sets this band apart from all others.
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One of the more imposing figures on modern blues scene, guitarist-singer Magic Slim serves up raw, passionate Chicago-style blues with his band The Teardrops on Scufflin’ (Blind Pig 5036; 40:53). Raucous, good-time romps like “Hole In The Wall,” Jimmy Reed’s “Down In Virginia” and Slim’s shuffle “Just Before You Go” sound like just another Saturday night at Florence’s on the South Side. And Slim imbues each tune with nasty licks from his trusty Fender Jazzmaster. Sloppy but powerfully intense, like the spirits of Albert King and Hound Dog Taylor mingling at a juke joint jam.
Chicago blues drips from the raw and gritty music of Magic Slim. His vocals are delivered like a champion boxer punches. His sharp, fast lead guitar notes are drenched in sweat. His rife rhythms rock like a ship that’s tossed about by a hellacious storm. His potent backing band – comprised of Jon McDonald (guitar), Danny O’Connor (bass), and David Simms (drums) – is more than capable of supporting the master. Together with Slim, they are considered to be one of the last real Chicago blues bands. Magic Slim doesn’t need to rely on guest stars in order to make a great CD. Still, eight confidant colleagues, including Otis Clay and Elvin Bishop, appear throughout the 47-minute disc. This is practically a 100% pure Chicago blues record. It was recorded in Chicago, it was produced by a Chicago blues artist, the cover photo and CD design were created by a Chicago graphic artist, most of the songs were written by Chicago artists, and the guests are all associated with Chicago.
Wisconsin-born, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter and guitarist, Jared James Nichols, returns with his new album Black Magic which is the follow up to 2015’s debut album Old Glory & The Wild Revival.
The Avant Garde was a coffeehouse in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that played host to a variety of rock, blues, and folk performers in the '60s, and Windy City guitar wizard Magic Sam (aka Sam Maghett) rolled in to play a few sets in June 1968. A local kid with an interest in recording named Jim Charne showed up with a reel-to-reel machine and a couple of microphones, and he captured Magic Sam's show on tape; 45 years later, those tapes have finally been made public on the album Live at the Avant Garde, and given the relatively small amount of material that's surfaced on the late blues legend (who succumbed to a heart attack when he was just 32), this set is a very welcome find. Live at the Avant Garde has a decidedly different feel than Magic Sam Live, which preserved radio broadcasts from 1963 and 1964 and a 1969 appearance at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival; while those recordings blazed with intensity, this captures Magic Sam and his band in more laid-back form, playing a small, booze-free venue rather than a rowdy bar or a festival audience in the thousands.