2013 Blues Music Awards-Part 1

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 2013 Blues Music Awards in Memphis, TN. The week-long trip included much sightseeing, and visits to popular local nightclubs to watch amazing musical performances in Tennessee, and Mississippi.

I also visited Cherry Street-a historical entertainment district located in Helena, Arkansas. I met so many talented blues musicians and singers, such as: Diunna Greenleaf, John Primer, Cassie Taylor, and Mud Morganfield – to name a few. Here is the photo documentation of my trip! There are more photographs to come (as well as video) so stay tuned!

























































































Clubs/bars featured: Hard Rock Cafe Memphis, Ground Zero Blues Club, B.B. Kings Restaurant & Blues Club

view more at VIOLAVALENTINE.COM!

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Lately

What a great week of jazz and blues! I had an amazing time at David Riley‘s birthday celebration at The Rhythm Room, and listening to a spectacular collection of 45s with Bob Corritore!











Jim James-Regions of Light and Sound of God

Kentucky-born “psychedelic” rock band, My Morning Jacket had me mesmerized when I discovered the original demos from their debut album Tennessee Fire (1999) many years ago. The stripped down, acoustic songs captivated me with not only the rawness of the chords but the sincere lyricism about love, change and the process of maturing.

 Jim James., Image courtesy of Google

Fronted by the emotive and eloquent, Jim James, the band has achieved much success in the indie music scene as well as securing mainstream notoriety with songs such as “Wordless Chorus,”(Z, 2006), “Just Because I Do”(At Dawn, 2001) and the heart-breakingly beautiful track, “Golden.” (It Still Moves, 2003).

 Jim James., Image courtesy of Google

Regions of Light and Sound of God (2013), is the first solo album for Jim James, delivered in his signature vocal style (impressive, and sweet falsettos, followed by moments of vibrato so rich in texture that it pulsates your bones). The album addresses many topics ranging from holy devotion, and belief, to being aware of (and challenging) deceiving messages about life.

The songs flow together cohesively in a manner atypical of My Morning Jacket; the music is soaked in hipster obscurity (vocals that blend almost too seamlessly, that are accompanied by stirring melodies that significantly slow the heart rate) and casts a introspective mood from the first tune to the last. Also true to his style, James effectively uses lyrics to make social commentary

Regions of Light and Sound of God, Jim James., Image courtesy of Google

In the opening track, “State of Art (A.E.I.O.U)” he expresses frustration and weariness for the technological age, and reliance on various gadgets in order to communicate:

“I used the state of art technology/supposed to make for better living/are we better human beings/we’ve got our wires crossed/our tubes are all tied/and I’m straining to remember/what it’s like to be alive.”

There are some downsides to this 40 minute album: if you do not focus on the differences of every song, there is little way to distinguish one ballad from the next, and the record generally requires a few listens to grasp the concept. But aside from the blurriness, Jim James has succeeded in expressing his emotional and musical growth-and has presented a bewitching compilation that only cements him as a talented figure in the pop-indie scene.

 

The Rhythm Room-Dave Riley and Bob Corritore

The Rhythm Room in Phoenix is the place to be on a Saturday night if you are a blues aficionado in search of an exceptional show. On January 19th, Dave Riley and Bob Corritore performed a mesmerizing line-up of jazzy -blues with a folk edge, like a dream collaboration between Leadbelly and BB King.








Lead vocalist and guitarist, Dave Riley smoothly transitioned through each enchanting melody, inspiring the crowd to take to the dance floor. The songs were skillfully accompanied by Corritore, on harmonica, who dazzled the audience with his resplendent musical ability.









The celebratory engagement marked the 8 year anniversary of the bands’ origination; and the group certainly impressed their fans and gained many more with their excellent performance. The Rhythm Room never fails to deliver with amazing music, delicious drinks, and great people!










*Click for a review of Tierra Del Fuego, and Biologia @ the Rhythm Room!*

Marjani-V Photography

Essence @ Char's Has the Blues- November 06, 2012

Just an hour after the announcement of President Obama’s victory of being reelected to a second term in office I found myself venturing into the night and stopping at Char’s Has the Blues, a jazz and blues nightclub in downtown Phoenix, AZ better known as simply, Char’s. The club was small and intimate; I noticed the cozy atmosphere right away that was created by extremely dim overhead lighting and exclusive seating areas near the entrance and also within the interior flanks. The crowd, mostly consisting of patrons approximately 30 years old + sat in various places in the club, including near the full bar where the bartender provided friendly service and delicious beverages.





To celebrate my mother’s birthday, we indulged in Vodka Cranberry’s and Pina Coloda’s at amazing prices and settled at a side table to enjoy the live music. Essence, the headlining band of the night, excited the crowd with dazzling jazz melodies that were mixed with beautiful nuances and splendid subtleties that clearly showcased their talent. Shaun Johnson, the lead vocalist, smoothly crooned through many classic hits such as Michael Jackson’s, “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)” and “Bustin’ Out (On the Funk)” by Rick James. At one point in the evening, Johnson invited my mother on stage and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ with soulful accuracy, much to her extreme shock before continuing on with the designated set list.





The band, which is comprised of Sonte Vales, the lead guitarist, Dbazz who plays bass and Lawrence Ross on keyboards, delivered each song with marked passion that showed a deep and genuine appreciate for performance and music. The drummer, Jamarl Baker aka JB That Drum Killa executed every beat with brilliant precision and gracefully carried the quintet through each moment. The tiny crowd in Char’s Has the Blues responded to classy and equally impressive lineup with applause; a few of the club-goers took to the dance floor to sashay to the melody.





At the conclusion of the band’s lively set, the crowd disbursed for the night, either exiting from the small parking lot or lingering outside of Char’s for a smoke and conversation. As a whole, Essence was thoroughly impressive and deserves much recognition for their inexplicable talent and prodigious showmanship.

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Just a friendly review: Arriba's Mexican Grill

I was already fucking grumpy. I had not eaten since I was released from my 5 hour shift at my job and let me tell you: I was ready to take prisoners. After about…2 hours of driving, discussing and finagling; I finally convinced my mother to take me to Arriba’s Mexican Grill on Bell Road, in Phoenix. The place was packed of course because it was Friday and the time read 5:45 pm; apparently everyone in the valley had the same idea as to how to start the weekend.

 I was ready to start it off with a few 99 cent margaritas, so I waltzed in the place and found my mother and I, a bar seat because a booth would take 20 minutes and I did not have 20 minutes of patience.

Perched at the bar-seat, our lovey waitress with her drawn on eyebrows and black, gel-set curls, brought me two salty, wonderful margaritas and a cute virgin margarita for mi madre. She had to drive. In the middle of my second sip, mother decided to leave me to go shopping on the avenue and promised to return within the hour. I have to admit that I was slightly disgruntled but I managed to make my way to the bar which teemed with 30-somethings watching a basketball game on the two separate television sets.

I ordered a beef chimichanga with beans and rice, while I continued to pound 99 cent margaritas. Let me tell you, it does not take very many to get you to where you want to be. After drink #5 and a few bites of my food, I was already over the moon and struggling to keep my composure.

That is about when I started concentrating on eating my $11.00 dollar meal and also drinking water because, come on…who wants to get sick?  I began eating this massive and delicious looking burrito, but came to find it tasted like unseasoned ground beef and ass. I pushed it aside and relied on water and margaritas to sustain me, until my mom appeared at my side an hour later.

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I was speaking clearly and my vision was still favorable, so she suggested I keep drinking, ya know, to get my money’s worth. Who doesn’t like a challenge?  I ordered one last margarita (#7 at this point) and a beer (Corona) just for kicks.

 Meanwhile as I consumed my liquor, my mother attempted to eat my leftover food, which consisted of damn-near the entire plate. But after a few tentative bites and half-attempts at actually eating the burrito, she tossed in the white flag. I was gagging the entire time just watching her try to eat the food. She looked up at me with doe-like eyes and said, “this food is not good”.

I laughed, gagged and then reluctantly signed the check. We left the place without taking the mystery meal with us. I consider it a lesson learned. The only reason to go to Arriba’s and pay $20 dollars would be to drink 20 margaritas…which is not possible because they make those babies STRONG…so my advice is: dine beforehand  (and stick to the complementary chips and dip if you must eat) and focus on just the alcohol-your wallet and stomach will appreciate it.

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