Turtle Dove Bounce


Blues and boogie, Americana, R&B and Country--solo and band, piano and harmonica; deep roots based piano and impassioned vocals.

I started working on this recording in May of 2013, at the end of 14 months of major illness. It kept me busy and allowed me to both study and pay homage to some of the great blues pianists of the early days, the men who invented the form as we know it.

  1. Cow Cow Blues – First recorded in 1928 by Charles “Cow Cow” Davenport. Fragments of this surface in many later songs, notably Ray Charles version of “The Messaround”
  2. How Long Blues – Also 1928, written and recorded by Leroy Carr and probably his biggest “hit”. Covered many times by many artists.
  3. The Vicksburg Blues – 1930. Written and recorded by Eurreal “Little Brother” Montgomery, one of the finest blues pianists ever, and the only one of these pioneers I got to meet in person. This is his best known piece, and he recorded it many times as both a vocal and a piano solo. It became “The 44 Blues” and is a minor Chicago standard in that form.
  4. Worried Life Blues – The newest of these songs, done by Big Maceo Merriweather in 1941. Recorded many times by many artists, notably Ray Charles and Eric Clapton.
  5. Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie – Clarence “Pinetop” Smith recorded this in 1928. He was shot and killed while playing piano not much later. This is “the” boogie standard, also known as “The Original Boogie Woogie” and “Tommy Dorsey’s Boogie Woogie”.
  6. Hard Times Coming – I wrote this for this project. I wanted to do something with the minor/major bass line, and I wanted to comment on the Depression that was still to come when a lot of this music was created. The lyric also refers to the I Ching, the Book of Changes, that teaches that life consists of continual cycles, good times to hard times, then good times and so on.
  7. Turtle Dove Bounce – This was written to provide an example of the particular boogie groove it’s based on. I wanted lyrics that might at least fit in with Leroy Carr’s songs, or others of that era. Then I started to really like it, and now it’s my favorite song.
  8. Drinking Blues – I’ve had my problems with alcohol, as did most of my fellow pianists here.
  9. The Fives – Jimmy Yancey recorded this is 1939, though he’d been playing around Chicago and influencing others since much earlier. He was a great player whose style particularly predates Roy Byrd, Professor Longhair.
  10. Baby Don’t You Leave Me No More – Also recorded in 1928. Robert Jr. Lockwood told me that Leroy Carr was Robert Johnson’s favorite. This song must have been the model for “Sweet Home Chicago”, “Dust My Broom” and many songs since.
  11. Good to Go Boogie – I came up with this and put it on my first CD, “Airn Beats Nairn” as a band instrumental. It’s taken until now for me to play it as intended, a piano solo. Live at the Poor House: This CD came about by accident, when a last minute decision to make a live recording was put in motion by Elvin Bishop and Jay Meduri from the Poor House Bistro in November of 2011. Elvin didn't end up using any of his material (it would have been on the Raisin' Hell Revue CD on Delta Groove), but I liked my sets and, after two years of intermittent work, I had it all mixed and ready for release. This is a typical live show, showcasing songs (Tipitina, Rockhouse, Mystery Train, CC Rider) that I've been playing for years and plan to continue playing as long as possible. There are a few of my songs (I would have done more if I knew I was making a record), and songs featuring other singers: Ed Earley sings "Let the Good Times Roll," Bobby Cochran covers the Meters' "Hey Pocky A-Way" and Percy Mayfield's "River's Invitation," and Elvin Bishop does Fats Domino's "Don't Lie to Me." The band here is the same band that backs Elvin on his live shows, with the addition of Nancy Wright on tenor sax. That band is: Elvin Bishop, guitar and vocals Bob Welsh, guitar Bobby Cochran, drums and vocals Ed Earley, trombone and vocals Ruth Davies, bass S.E.Willis, piano, harmonica and vocals. I don't play any accordion on this record. I think this is a really good example of my live show, and with Turtle Dove Bounce showcasing my solo work demonstrates what I do in a really thorough way. Purists will, I hope, like what I've done with the traditional blues and boogie, and those who want a party record should find plenty to enjoy in Live at the Poor House!
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