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Playlist: Drew Verbis's Portfolio

 Credit: Produced by Drew Verbis
Image by: Produced by Drew Verbis 

Damn right we got the blues! Spreading blues out of the wild-Sonoran desert, this is your exclusive source for blues talk, Blues America; a little show from Arizona produced weekly from the Chico Chism Memorial Studio and featuring interviews with prominent and often rare blues guests.

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Blues America 15 - Ray Charles

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 54:14

Remembering The Genius, Ray Charles featuring interviews with an all-star cast of special guests.

Ray-1_small Remembering the American music icon, Ray Charles. A special tribute to The Genius, featuring interviews with BB King (blues icon), Ruth Brown (queen of R&B, Grammy award winner), Marian McPartland (English jazz pianist, host of NPR's Piano Jazz), Jerry Lawson (singing legend, Persuasions lead singer), Big Pete Pearson (Arizona and Texas blues legend), Bob Koester (founder of Delmark Records) and Johnny D (historian, disc jockey). All interviews conducted by Drew Verbis in 2004 shortly after the death of Ray Charles. Blues America is a unique talk radio experience broadcasting weekly on Arizona radio and syndicated around the world. All third-party content is licensed and used by the artist and label by permission. Morgan Freeman introduction is produced by Jason Stephens. The Blues Break Big #1: Chris James/Patrick Rynn - Lonesome Whistle Blues. The Way Way Back Blues: Mississippi Fred McDowell - Shake'Em Down.

Blues America 16 - Cedric Burnside

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 54:16

Cedric Burnside is an award winning blues drummer from Mississippi. He was the drummer for his famous grandfather, the Legendary R.L. Burnside.

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From Holly Springs, North Mississippi, critically acclaimed blues drummer, Cedric Burnside first hit the road with his famous grandfather, R.L. Burnside at the age of 13. He literally grew-up in the juke-joints living across the street from Juniors Place, a world famous juke joint operated by blues legend, Junior Kimbrough. The son of blues drummer Calvin Jackson, Cedric was the primary drummer for R.L. Burnside at the height of R.L.’s career; touring internationally, opening for the Beastie Boys and appearing on many recordings including the Grammy nominated album Burnside on Burnside. After the passing of his legendary grandfather in 2005, Cedric has continued the Burnside legacy with 3 solo albums and 4 collaborations. He has been awarded 4 Blues Music Awards for best drummer. 

Blues America 14 - Big Pete Pearson

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 54:09

Big Pete Pearson is an internationally recognized blues artist who has barely left the stage in the past 50 years.

Big-pete-2_small His voice is as big as stature; he screams and hollers the blues with an unbridled passion only equal to some of the greatest blues legends of the past. Before arriving in Phoenix; Pete made a name for himself in Texas, as LP Pearson who performed with TD Bell and the Cadillac’s and influenced the careers of Blues Boy Hubbard and his cousin, WC Clark. Pete is famous in his hometown of Phoenix where he is recognized as the King of Arizona Blues. He’s in the Blues Hall of Fame, and he’s released 7 solo albums, he writes most of his own songs, he’s won numerous awards, and performed for some the biggest stars in the Blues including Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner, BB King, T-Bone Walker, Etta James, Little Junior Parker, and Big Mama Thorton.

Blues America 13 - The Jerry Lawson Legacy Project

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 54:18

Special guest Jerry Lawson documents the Persuasions early beginning from the neighborhood basketball court to the recording studio.

Jlaw_small The Jerry Lawson Legacy project explores the history of Jerry Lawson and the legendary Persuasions in chronological order as explained in candid biographical commentary by Jerry and special guest host, Persuasions expert, Julie Lawson. Before 1969, a’cappella (singing without the use of instrumental accompaniment) was a boring term used to describe barber shop quartets and old-time doo-wop groups. That all changed when Frank Zappa recorded five guys from Brooklyn called, The Persuasions. Together, with lead singer and co-founder Jerry Lawson, The Persuasions made history and influenced a’cappella’s rise to the mainstream. All third-party content is licensed and used by the artist and label by permission.

Blues America 17 - Mary Wells

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 54:16

Author, Steve Bergsman talks about the life of Motown superstar, Mary Wells with revelations from his new book, the Seduction of Mary Wells and his deathbed confessional recordings of Mary which became her last interview.

Mary-prx_small Mary Wells became Motown's first major superstar, recording several Top 40 hits before peaking with the No. 1 hit, "My Guy" in 1964. This was Motown’s first pop chart No.1. She also received Motown’s first Grammy Award nomination for her hit, “You Beat Me to the Punch.” Following her success she toured internationally with the Beatles. Sadly, she led a tumultuous life that was replete with drug use, serious illness, contentious lovers and industry woes. Steve Bergman, author of the book, the Seduction of Mary Wells, talks about her career. An unheard audio clip of Mary Wells from a rare 20 year old analog recording reveals a major bombshell about her relationship with Motown's founder which confirms Bergsmans controversial accounts of Marry's life.

Blues America 18 - B.B. King

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 54:08

Celebrating the week of B.B. King’s 90th birthday featuring B.B. King himself from interviews conducted by Drew Verbis before Mr. King’s death in May 2015.

Bb-400_small B.B. King, Joe Louis Walker, Jerry Lawson, Big Pete Pearson and Hans Olson are special guests. Celebrating the week of B.B. King’s 90th birthday featuring B.B. King himself from interviews conducted by Drew Verbis before Mr. King’s death in 2015. There is not anything that can be said about B.B. King that hasn’t already been said, so he's featured today in his own words. He took the blues from the cotton fields to the outhouse, to the Cotton Club to the White House. He’s earned every award that can be achieved including 18 Grammy’s, Honorary Doctorates from Yale and Brown, a Presidential Medal of Freedom and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There are clubs, restaurants, museums, highway markers, streets and children bearing his name. He is so famous, even his beloved guitar, Lucille, is more famous than the average Hollywood actor. He is the King of Blues, period. Program also features the Blues Break Big #1 with Shemekia Copeland and the Way Way Back Blues with Doctor Clayton.

Blues America 21 - Joe Louis Walker

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 54:17

Joe Louis Walker is a famous contemporary Blues pioneer who has been referred to as one the greatest bluesmen of his generation.

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Joe Louis Walker has been referred to as one of the greatest bluesmen of his generation and holds an international reputation as one of the blues’ most prolific and talented stars. After graduating college with a double major in English and Music from San Francisco State University, he spent the next 40 years trailblazing the progressive contemporary blues movement and earning international fame from his critically acclaimed recordings (24). A former roommate of Michael Bloomfield; JLW has been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, performed three times at the White House, appeared on Grammy-Winning records by B.B. King and James Cotton and won numerous distinguished awards while also earning a mind-blowing 52 blues award nominations. 

Blues America 22 - The Jerry Lawson Legacy Project 2

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 54:20

Jerry Lawson documents his early days in New York and discusses songs from the Persuasions first album, Acappella (1970, Reprise/Straight Records).

Jlaw4-400_small The Jerry Lawson Legacy project explores the history of Jerry Lawson and the legendary Persuasions in chronological order as explained in candid biographical commentary by Jerry and special guest host, Julie Lawson. Before 1969, a’cappella (singing without the use of instrumental accompaniment) was a boring term used to describe barber shop quartets and old-time doo-wop groups. That all changed when Frank Zappa recorded five guys from Brooklyn called, The Persuasions. Together, with lead singer and co-founder Jerry Lawson, The Persuasions made history and influenced a’cappella’s rise to the mainstream. In Episode 2, Jerry Lawson documents his early days in New York and discusses songs from the Persuasions first album. This is an exclusive Blues America feature. This program also features the Blues Break Big #1 with Joe Louis Walker and the Way Way Back Blues with Slim Harpo.

Blues America 27 - Alabama Mike

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 54:20

The downhome blues singer Alabama Mike is a “church house” tenor who was a Blues Award nominee for Traditional Male Artist of the Year by the Blues Foundation in 2011.

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The downhome ‘church house’ tenor has been featured on large festivals and shared the stage with names like the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Bobby Rush, Johnny Rawls and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. The Alabama native currently resides in Northern California and has released three records; two critically acclaimed solo releases and one with a trio called the Hound Kings.  His next project (due in the spring of 2016) was recorded at the famed Greaseland studios and features Kid Anderson, Aki Kumar and Jim Pugh. He’s also a featured artist on the upcoming Delta Groove release by Bob Corritore and Big Jon Atkinson. In 2011, he was a Blues Award nominee for Traditional Male Artist of the Year by the Blues Foundation.  The Blues Break # 1 featuring Francine Reed and the Way Way Back Blues featuring Curley Weaver.

Blues America 33 - Tommy Castro

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 54:07

Alligator recording artist, Tommy Castro is the 2010 BB King Entertainer of the Year.

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Blues America host, Drew Verbis speaks candidly with Alligator recording artist, Tommy Castro who is the 2010 BB King Entertainer of the Year. He’s one of the most recognizable names in the blues world. Since starting his recording career with Warner Brother’s recording artist, the Dyntones, he’s released 14 solo albums; most of which for Alligator and Blind Pig Records and built a remarkable legacy that includes winning 6 Blues Music Awards, touring with B.B. King, recording John Lee Hookers last session and working as the house band for three seasons of NBC’s comedy showcase. Plus the Blues Break Big #1 and the Way Way Back Blues featuring Ishman Bracey.

Blues America 34 - Guy Davis

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 59:00

Guy Davis is an award winning blues-roots musician and the son of Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. He talks about his new album, Kokomo Kidd.

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Guy Davis is the son of legendary actors and civil-rights activists Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Since the release of his first few critically acclaimed albums during the 90’s, Davis has been considered a major blues talent and champion of the traditional roots blues sound; often incorporating banjos, 12-string acoustic guitars and mandolins to his compositions. Guy has continued the important tradition of storytelling and is among a group of artists contributing to the much needed role of folk music in the blues genre that has been lacking since the days of masters like Leadbelly, Josh White and John Hurt. Guy is also a journeyman who has followed in the family business to fulfill his passion for acting on major Hollywood films, television and Broadway. Following the release of his new album, Kokomo Kidd, he was featured on the cover of the Living Blues Magazine.

Blues America 35 - Mr. Sipp

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 59:01

Hailing from Jackson, Ms., Mr. Sipp is the winner of the 2014 International Blues Challenge. The Malaco recording artist crossed over to the blues after a 20 year career as a gospel entertainer.

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On this program, Blues America 35: special guest Mr. Sipp, the Brand New Blues with Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin, the Blues Break Big #1 with Trudy Lynn and the Way Way Back Blues with Sam Chatmon. The Malaco recording artist, Castro Coleman, better known and more famous to the blues community under his stage name, Mr. Sipp  was a successful gospel star before crossing over to the blues and electrifying crowds with his showmanship on the road to winning the 2014 international blues challenge while also taking home the Gibson Best Guitar Award. In the same year he was featured on the cover of the blues genres leading publication, the Living Blues Magazine. In 2015 he collected another trophy, the JMA male artist of the year and toured internationally to support his second album, the critically acclaimed Mississippi Blues Child. The young blues star is already endorsed by Epiphone guitar and was recently cast in the James Brown movie, Get on Up. 

Blues America 38 - Zac Harmon

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 59:00

Zac Harmon is an award-winning guitarist, singer and songwriter whose distinctive style combines the best of old-school soul-blues artists with modern lyrics and themes that bring the blues into a new century. Since winning the IBC in 2004, he released his seventh album, on Blind Pig Records, Right Man Right Now.

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Zac Harmon is an award-winning guitarist, singer and songwriter whose distinctive style combines the best of old-school soul-blues artists with modern lyrics and themes that bring the blues into a new century.  His new Blind Pig CD is contemporary music that proves just how alive and relevant the blues is today. The Mississippi born bluesman is the son of Jackson’s first registered black pharmacist who introduced his son to his circle of close friends including Dorothy Moore, Bobby Rush, Sam Myers, ZZ Hill and even BB King. But Zac didn’t stay in Mississippi; he took his song writing talents to the big leagues of the Los Angeles where he is credited for writing songs for the O’Jays, the Whispers, Alexander O’Neal and being nominated for a Grammy-Award along the way. Since winning the IBC in 2004, he released his seventh album, Right Man, Right Now which is considered one of the top albums of 2015.

Blues America 39 - Paul Oscher

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 59:01

In 1967 Paul Oscher became the first white musician to join a black blues group when he was invited to be an official member of the Muddy Waters Band. Since 1993, Paul has released seven solo albums, received 11 Blues Music Award nominations and won 2 Blues Music Awards.

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In 1967 Paul Oscher became the first white musician to join a black blues group when he was invited to be an official member of the Muddy Waters Band (which was considered the top blues group of the day). Paul is heard blowing harmonica on various Muddy Water Chess recordings from 1968 to 1976. Whether Paul is considered an innovator or simply in the right place at the right time, he led the way for many white players to follow like Johnny Winter, Jerry Portnoy and Steady Rollin Bob Margolin. Since his early days as ‘Brooklyn Slim’ and travels with the great Louisiana Red; Paul has recorded 7 solo albums (since 1993) and been nominated for 11 blues music awards taking home a trophy for 2 of those. In 2001 he married Suzan-Lori Parks, the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize. Plus, brand new blues with Harmonica Shah, blues at the break with Anthony Geraci, the blues soundbite with Muddy Waters and the way-way back blues with Barbecue Bob.

Blues America 40 - Benny Turner

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 59:00

Texas born bluesman Benny Turner continues the mission to spread the gospel of “Real Blues,” the way he and his older brother, blues legend Freddie King, learned from their mother, Ella Mae (King) Turner. Turner is respected as an acclaimed electric bass virtuoso who toured with his older brother for a decade and served as bandleader for Marva Wright, “Blues Queen of New Orleans” for more than twenty years. He released his fourth solo album, “When She’s Gone” in February 2016.

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Benny Turner is the little brother of Blues and Rock N Roll Hall of Famer, the Texas Cannonball, Freddie King. While this in itself is a tremendous honor, Benny has become a major player in his own right. After spending many years as the bass player for his famous brother he helped to establish bass guitar as an important instrument in gospel music during his time with two groups, the Soul Stirrers and the Kindly Sheppard’s.  Later Benny would continue his blues career with Chicago’s Mighty Joe Young Band before moving to New Orleans and teaming up with the Queen of New Orleans Blues, Marva Wright. Since her passing Benny has moved into the spotlight as a solo artist, releasing 4 albums including his critically acclaimed “Journey” and his new one, “When She’s Gone.” From attending legendary recording sessions as boy with The Howlin’ Wolf, to touring the world with Freddie King, he’s performed with the who’s who of great blues artist and has an amazing blues story to share. Plus on this program: new blues with Johnny Rawls, blues at the break with Linsey Alexander, the blues soundbite with the Howlin’ Wolf and the Way Way Back blues with Pink Anderson. 

Blues America 45 - Jarekus Singleton

From Drew Verbis | Part of the Blues America series | 59:00

At just 30 years old, Alligator recording artist Jarekus Singleton is a musical trailblazer with a bold vision for the future of the blues. Springing from the same Mississippi soil as Charley Patton, Muddy Waters and B.B. King, Singleton's cutting-edge sound equally rooted in rap, rock and blues traditions -- is all his own.

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 Alligator recording star, from Clinton Mississippi, 30 year old Jarekus Singleton tells his story and talks about the blues. He melds hip-hop wordplay, rock energy and R&B grooves with contemporary and traditional blues, turning audiences of all ages into devoted fans. With his untamed guitar licks and strong, soulful voice effortlessly moving from ferocious and funky to slow and steamy to smoking hot, Singleton is a fresh, electrifying bluesman bursting at the seams with talent. He was a top division 1 college basketball prospect before he was sidelined from a serious ankle injury that changed his career path to a full-time musician; this included gospel and rap before finding his calling as a blues star. After forming the Jarekus Singleton Blues Band he won the Guitar Center’s “King Of The Blues” contest, and in 2013 he earned the Jackson Music Award for Blues Artist of the Year, and the Local Blues Entertainer of the Year. In the same year, the Jackson Free Press named him as the Best Local Blues Artist. After his 2013 IBC performance, Alligator Records signed him and his debut release “Refuse to Lose” received critical acclaim.  His new album is expected to be released in the summer of 2016. Plus: brand new blues featuring Curtis Salgado, blues at the break with Janiva Magness, the Blues people sound bite with the Black Ace and the Way-Way Back Blues with Johnnie Temple.