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Anthony Charles and The Blues Dolphins / Blog

The Dolphin Blues Review - Saturday March 30, 2013

Well blues nation I must say I was very pleased to be @ Bill's Pickin Parlor this week for their monthly blues night. "The Most Exalted Potentate Of The Honky Tonk Blues" himself was quite a treat. I'm referring of course to Luckyman Beall. First let me set it up for you. Luckyman is a very ingenious minstrel. He carries his gear in containers that he designed to double as a sub-bandstand. This he dresses out in a rich carnival quality skirting. He then sets up his rig. The rig is a bass drum, hi-hat and a large cushioned drum stool that "The Potentate" sits on to play his guitar and sing as he is setting down the pulse with the drum. The effect is that "The Most Exalted" is another foot or so above the bandstand, and the sound seems to project stronger. Quite impressive. The music is rich with influence and tribute to those who have gone on to meet their ancestors. The finely crafted tunes are mostly original. I heard ghosts of Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly, Lightnin Hopkins, Elvis and the living such as Merle Haggard, Charley Pride and Keb Mo. The tunes are layered and completely out of the box. (no pun intended) He does not conform to any particular song structure that would put him in a box. (although he sits high on a box) "Sombrero Of Doom", "I Want To Get Wicked Wif You", Ten Foot High Blues". Each tune creates a new sonic impression. No redundancy here. Luckyman's vocal ability is also quite interesting and well crafted. I would not call him a pure singer such as a Robin Ford or even Elvis. However he creates textures and plays with his dynamics very skillfully going from a belt to a country twang or a bluesy grit with relative ease. Doing this all within one tune. Luckyman also does some tribute tunes the most surprising of which was "Mama's Little Baby Loves Shortenin' Bread"! Wow I was blown away!! A really interesting and enjoyable evening of music @ Bill's Pickin Parlor. Let me wrap this by saying I was torn between this event and going to support my good friends "Fatback & The Groove Band" @ The 145 Club. I understand it was a smash! Another home run for the marvelous Elfi Lilliana Hacker and the 145 family. Missed you guys! Well thats "The Whistle" from this Dolphin. Good blues to ya!

The Dolphin Blues Review - Sunday March 10, 2013

Hello kiddies and seniors too! Here's the latest Dolphin Review. On Sunday March 10 @ The 145 Club in Winnsboro The Hartness & Charles Project made its debut. Yours truly and the very talented blues stylist John Hartness have teamed up together to form a "Blues Duo". I will continue to front Anthony Charles and the Blues Dolphins as well. Well if there is a cozier music hall, juke joint or barrelhouse in the SC Midlands then the 145 Club "shut the front door". Elfi Lilliana Hacker is the "earth mother supreme". (and a ravishing earthy at that) Very supportive to all in attendance. We had a great crowd for the Sunday Evening slot. A number of MBS members attended. The gig couldn't have been better. John and I have a strong vibe and the very authentic blend of his dobro and my harp really work. The feedback has been very positive. We have more shows on the calendar so please stay tuned. We thats "The Whistle" from this Dolphin Anthony Charles

The Dolphin Blues Review - Sunday Feb. 24, 2013

Hello all you blues fans I'm sure you are waiting with baited breath for my review of the Midlands Blues Society's Feb. Special Event! LOL. Well wait no more here we go. On Friday Feb. 22 Mac Arnold & Plate Full 'O' Blues left its mark on Main St, Columbia with a true "in the tradition", "old School" bluesing @ Mac's On Main. Let me say that Mac's On Main is stepping up it's game as a bona-fide "Jook Joint". Mac Arnold is the son of South Carolina "sharecroppers" and one of thirteen children, and here I'm going to borrow from the great harmonica master and scholar Adam Gussow and state that Mac's upbringing is what would qualify as "blues conditions". Blues conditions lead to blues feelings and that leads to blues music! And that's the point the music was off the charts. Mac brings a full bag of blues. Drawing from his resume with greats like Muddy Waters, Tyrone Davis, Paul Butterfield, Junior Wells, Big Mama Thornton, Jimmy Reed, Howlin Wolfe and John Lee Hooker. His show is a tribute to Blues and R&B at it's best. The band features Max Hightower on harp/ keys/ keyboard and vocals. Austin Brashier guitar/vocals. Joe Jones bass/vocals and a sub for the regular drummer Larry Brashier. This band lays down a very heavy "in the pocket" groove on every tune. There was a lot of chair dancing from the packed house @ Mac's. And a number of us could not stay in our chairs. The dancing was very spontaneous and it didn't stop! Mac Arnold has a very smoky, soulful singing voice that is completely authentic. He brings two homemade gas can guitars along for the ride. One has a traditional fretted neck with three strings and has a very "Wolfe-y" sound to it. He used that axe on "Smokestack Lightnin". The other gas can has a twin broomstick neck with three strings that he lays a bottle on. Whoa the tone cuts right thru ya. He could wake the devil out of a nap with this baby. This is the axe he takes out on a stroll thru the house and into the street that had everyone howlin! (no pun intended) When you put all the elements together from this band the result is heavy mojo authentic blues-ing. The opening tune featured Max Hightower on both the chromatic and diatonic harmonica in a break neck instrumental that had him "Blowin Like Hell" in William Clarke fashion. Next Austin Brashier put his guitar and vocal chops on display in a 12 bar AAB blues tune. One tune had Mac on his gas can guitar doing alternating solo licks, in a cutting contest manner, with bass player Joe Jones. Joe has major bass chops. Then in the same tune it flipped over to Max on harp and Austin on guitar doing taking the same format. A real crowd pleaser for sure. Unfortunately this writer had to cut out a tad earlier then I would have preferred due to priors. But let me say that this was a special night of blues and a real home run for The Midlands Blues Society. I understand the jam went on into the wee hours with a number of Columbia's own blues artists joining in. Ceasar, John Hartness, Rev Marv Ward, Shellie Bennet and David May all had their say. In closing I will speak for everyone who attended in saying that Mac Arnold's genuine kind and loving spirit comes shinning thru. He loves blues music and he loves bringing it to the people. If you missed this night don't worry The MBS will be bringing Mac Arnold back to Mac's On Main again by the end of the year. Well that's "The Whistle" from this Dolphin Anthony Charles

The Dolphin Blues Review - Sunday Jan 27th

The Drink Small 80th Birthday Party On Sunday January 27th @ The 145 Club in Winnsboro, Elfi Lilliana Hacker thru down one monster mojo party for the legendary "Blues Doctor", Drink Small !! Blues artists travelled from all over the state to honor an American Treasure, and the jam went on for hours with the house packed and rocking. On the bandstand were John Hartness, Rev Marv Ward & Wallstreet, Juke Joint Johnny, Chris Reed, Caesar, CJ Mack, James "Bubba" Casey, Sollie Jennings and yours truly Anthony Charles and the Blues Dolphins with the great guitar wizard Doug Allen. My sidemen for the occasion were Jesse Murphy and Shellie Bennett. The " Blues Goddess" Clair DeLune was on hand snapping a gazillion photos and mixing in some of her folk lore-ish adventures in the blues! There were so many cameras flashing at times it looked like the paparazzi were in the house. The joint was jumping with "in the tradition" blues music and blues culture. Andreana Small (Mrs Drink) was all smiles all night. Of course the highlight of the event was Drink's set. He didn't hold back nuthin! He left his amazing gifts on the bandstand and left the house howlin with "Us Gotta Go". What a magical evening. I am honored to have been a part of this event. And I send out thank you's to all who attended. For those who missed this, keep your eyes peeled for the 81st birthday bash! Well thats "The Whistle" from this Dolphin Anthony Charles

The Dolphin Blues Review - Wed Dec 12,2012

"Mac's On Main Meets Utopia Wine And Spirits" (see The Jesters Meet The Paragons circa 1956) Last night at Utopia was a very special night indeed. The Columbia Blues Mob invited yours truly to be the "Featured Artist" at their regular blues jam. The CBM is a group of musicians and they are Doug Allen, Vic Scaricamazza and Cleve Edwards. Unfortunately Cleve had a prior so bassist Mark Solbus stood in. Well the Mob requested that I invite The New Midlands Blues Society members to join in, and join they did. Chef Fatback, Dave May, Terry Morgan, Jesse Murphy, Shellie Bennet and Deke Jackson all took their turns on the bandstand. Ceasar himself stopped in to bring his immense talent. Russ Marchese and Sonny D (the horn section from Elliot And The Untouchables) gave the bandstand an "all star" feel. The music was genuine mojo blues Chicago style. Except for a two tune foray into the "Soul" library. (Wilson Pickett's "In The Midnight Hour" and "Mustang Sally") The band covered a lot of ground. This was a momentous event for the Columbia "blues scene" as the two camps have kept their distance for some time. Hopefully that period is past history. There were very positive vibes all around. Speaking for the MBS I can say we truly look forward to more community jams. Lets keep our mojo workin! That's "The Whistle" from this Dolphin Anthony Charles

The Dolphin Blues Review - Sat Nov 24

'Jammin' at The 145 Club Well last night the MBS took the blues on the road to The 145 Club in Winnsboro SC. This was a membership drive hosted by Elfi Lilliana Hacker an owner of the club. What a great night of Blues, R&B, British Invasion and some American Rock! The MBS led by Chef Fatback And The Groove Band turned out in force to throw down some cool stuff. The mic was open so we had some very talented musicians from the MBS membership. All in all it was a great night of music and some delicious food was served up. We felt a ton of support from the 145 Club crowd and made some new friends. Thank you Elfi and 145 members! That's "The Whistle" from this Dolphin Anthony Charles anthonycharlesandthebluesdolphins.com

The Dolphin Blues Review - Monday Jan. 31, 2012

Elliot And The Untouchables @ Utopia Food And Spirits Powerhouse, thats what hits me in describing the music this band puts down. On Friday Dec 28th a full house at Utopia were "Rockin Around The Christmas Tree" while the room was pulsating with great sounds. This band comes armed and dangerous. The song list is a mix of jump blues, soul, jazz, dixieland, West Coast and Texas swing as well as the great Chicago brass band sound. Names like Musselwhite and Butterfield, in their respective horn section periods. The Neville's, early Chicago, The Buckinghams, Louis Jordan, Electric Flag, Roomful Of Blues and on and so on. Elliot is a badass guitar player and a more then adequate vocalist. His guitar covers a lot of ground. T-Bone, Lightnin' Hopkins, Skip James, Freddie King all come to mind. Dressed in a Red "zoot" he embodies the tradition and even conjures some early Elvis. The rest of the band? What can I say that hasn't already been said. "Crazy" Russ Marchese on trumpet/ backing vocals, Sonny "D" Dickey on tenor and alto sax, JT Anderson on bass/ backing vocals and Jim Heidenreich on drums/ backing vocals. Keyboard player Ken Largent was away. The horn section is solid gold. Russ Marchese pulled out a small Cornet that I dubbed "the pocket rocket" and just blew the doors off the building. And why not, Russ graduated from The Eastman School Of Music and studied under none other then Chuck Mangione!! Sonny D is a battle tested vet of the sax whose credits include Joey D and the Starlighters, The Drifters and too many to mention. What really comes across is the humorous banter between Russ, Sonny and Jim. These guys really have a good time. Both bass and drums are as solid as can be. Jim and JT provide a driving pulse without getting in the way.

The Dolphin Blues Review - Sat Nov. 10, 2012

Well this "Blues Dolphin" was very lucky to somehow land at Bill's Pickin Parlor for the inaugural launching of what they are stating will be a continuing series of blues concert.The first of which had two high quality artists. Local blues historian and multi instrumentalist Walter Liniger was the feature. The headliner being Luke Winslow King with Esther Rose on washboard and vocals and Cassidy Holden playing acoustic upright bass. This trio call themselves "The Ragtime Millionaires". The "Ragtime Millionaires" led by Luke Winslow King were up next and boy did they deliver. This group covers enormous ground and Mr King has a flare for history as well. There was a true sense of humility and gratitude for the opportunity to share their music. What a breath of fresh of air! Mr King is a very skilled guitarist! His slide work is stellar and he digs into the licks for maximum blues horsepower when using the bottle. He can go from slide to single note articulations on the same tune with ease. His tone and sense of rhythm are his strength. Mr King has a smooth, higher register singing voice and combined with his guitar he is full of pleasant surprises. The group played two great sets that had a wonderful mix of originals and traditional tunes. I heard strains of ragtime, pre-war delta blues, gospel, dixieland jazz and cajun swamp. Also mixed in were two waltzes. Whoa! One tune titled "Wind and Window Flower" was a Robert Frost poem set to music. A wistful tune conjuring images of man's insensitivity/impatience toward women and missed opportunity. This was truly a creative songwriting endeavor. The band covered a number of blues roots songwriters/ storytellers such as Miss. Fred McDowell, Lead Belly, Mamie Smith and even "The Father of Country Music" Jimmie Rodgers. ( not to be confused with the great Chicago blues guitarist by the same name) Also a caribbean protest song. Not much protest in this tune. Esther Rose played the washboard with amazing skill and her singing is the perfect compliment to Mr King's style. Her voice conjured images of the "Art Deco" era of style and music in America. Focused in her upper nasal area without being too nasal. She sings in the alto register and has fine vocal quality. She is also a solid soloist. Cassidy Holden held down the bottom with some very tasty playing. He uses his fingers and goes to the bow with major virtuosity. Mr Holden is a tone monster! Never stepping on the other members toes. He gives lots of space when called for or he can double it up and really create a driving undertone. Mr King and Ms Rose both use vintage Electro-Voice microphones that they send thru a single speaker using a vintage PA amp with no effects! Relying on the pureness of their voices. A wonderful evening of music! It was put together by Columbia's own Claire DeLune "The Blues Goddess" and hosted most graciously by Will Wells and Mrs Wells ( Bill's widow) Now let me say I'm a newbie to Columbia and this was my first time at Bill's Pickin Parlor, but I'm sure Bill was a happy camper up there in Bluegrass heaven! And I will definitely be going back to BPP for more great blues music.

Well that's "The Whistle" from this Dolphin. Anthony Charles of the "Blues Dolphins".

Anthony Charles anthonycharlesandthebluesdolphins.com