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19.5.11

James Solberg



James Solberg - The Hand You're Dealt - 2000 - Ruf

Longtime Luther Allison sideman James Solberg has been a solid bandleader and formidable bluesman in his own right for 30 years. On The Hand You're Dealt (RUF 1043; 51:15) he flaunts some vicious Freddie King-inspired licks on originals like the rocking "Build You a Castle," the deep blue "When's the Last Time" and the funky Albert Collinsesque "What's Comin' Down." He handles the Louis Jordan jump blues "Buzz Me" and a rough rocker like Jim Liban's "You Got Me Knockin'" with equal aplomb and he testifies in no uncertain terms on "Still Called the Blues," a track recorded in 1994 which features a special guest appearance from Allison. A superb, hard-hitting offering from a major, if under-recognized, talent on the blues scene. Every bit as real as it gets. By & © Bill Milkowski © 1999–2011 JazzTimes, Inc. All rights reserved http://jazztimes.com/articles/11502-the-hand-you-re-dealt-james-solberg

It's not necessary to be a blues aficionado in order to appreciate James Solberg's recent release The Hand You're Dealt. Despite his long-time association with the blues — most notably with departed guitar great Luther Allison — Solberg drew liberally from soul, gospel, and funk influences to turn his fourth solo effort into a broader roots-oriented album. There are still plenty of straight-ahead blues songs (Buzz Me, When's the Last Time, You Got Me Knockin'), but overall The Hand You're Dealt has as much in common with classic rock groups like The Band as it does with other diehard blues artists. Indeed, Solberg is still haunted by the death of Allison. However, instead of plunging back into the drug- and alcohol-soaked haze he experienced in the early '80s, Solberg has chosen to utilize his grief as his muse. L.A. Blues, his 1997 release, was a bonafide tribute to his close friend. This time around, however, Solberg seems more reflective — as if Allison's death has caused him to revisit the path of his own life. Consequently, The Hand You're Dealt radiates raw emotion in such a way that the songs become simply irresistible. "I've seen stars shine and watched them fade," Solberg sings on the title track. His words — an obvious ode to Allison — are made all the more poignant by the song's striking resemblance to Bob Dylan's Knockin' on Heaven's Door. Solberg follows this with a gloriously jubilant rendition of the gospel-tinged I'm Goin' Home, on which he finds both solace and spiritual awakening through his music. Other highlights include a divine cover of Larry Addison's Members Only, the Chuck Berry-fueled rocker Build Me a Castle, and the heart-broken anguish of Ain't It Hard. Throughout it all, Solberg's vocals and guitar convey rays of hope that brighten the steady stream of tears that seep from his sorrows. Further, the words of his own compositions like Ain't It Hard and the title track are filled with world-weary wisdom of a man who has survived the worst that life can throw at him. Consequently, The Hand You're Dealt transcends the blues genre, much like Solberg has risen above his own troubles. *** ½ stars Written by & © John Metzger [First Appeared at The Music Box, September 2000, Volume 7, #9] © 2000 The Music Box http://www.musicbox-online.com/js-dealt.html

James Solberg from Eau Claire, Wisconsin is best known to blues fans for his association with Luther Allison, as well as playing with artists like Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters', the Nighthawks, Elvin Bishop and the Milwaukee based band, Short Stuff. "The Hand You're Dealt" is a great album of soul, blues, funk, and blues rock. James Solberg could do with more promotion. The guy has been around a long time and is still an underrated blues guitarist. He plays in the understated "less is more" fashion to great effect. Listen to his "L.A. Blues" album. His "See That My Grave is Kept Clean" is another good Solberg album. Read an interview with James @ http://www.mnblues.com/review/2003/solberg-intv1002-rb.html

TRACKS / COMPOSERS

1. Build You A Castle (James Solberg)
2. Buzz Me (James Solberg, F. Moore, Danny Baxter)
3. The Hand You're Dealt (Solberg)
4. I'm Goin' Home (Roy Tyler, Joe Thomas)
5. When's the Last Time (Solberg)
6. Members Only (Larry Duane Addison)
7. What's Comin' Down (Solberg)
8. Still Called the Blues (Earl Forest, George Henry Jackson, Robert Alton Miller)
9. You Got Me Knockin' (Jim Liban and Short Stuff)
10. Ain't It Hard (Solberg)
11. Funky Woman (R. Brantley and Short Stuff)
12. Perfect Strangers (Larry Dunn)

MUSICIANS

James Solberg - guitars, vocals
Luther Allison RIP - guitars, vocals
Charlie Bingham - guitar
Ken Faltinsen, Dave Smith - bass
Mike Vlahakis, Ernest Williamson - keyboards
Robb Stupka, Lloyd Anderson - drums
Jaqueline Johnson, Jacquelyn Reddick, William Brown, Bertram Brown - background vocals

BIO

GRAMMY nominated, two time winner of the prestigious W.C. HANDY AWARD for “BLUES BAND OF THE YEAR”, JAMES SOLBERG is now releasing his long awaited fifth solo release, “REAL TIME”, on the BLUES ECLIPSE label. Already being referred to as “unlike any blues record you’ve ever heard” this incredible CD is the culmination of JAMES’ “extraordinary guitar work, vocals and stellar songwriting”. Born in 1951, James first learned to play 5-string banjo, violin and guitar as a young kid. His real musical career began in the mid‘60s while performing in R&R cover bands around the Midwest. At age 15 he left school and headed for the source of the music he loved most…Chicago. He got to be friends with EDDIE TAYLOR, who showed him a lot of tricks on guitar. During this time, Solberg played with JOHNNY YOUNG, BIG WALTER HORTON and JIMMY REED, as well as with TAYLOR. Moving to Milwaukee in the early ‘70s he formed a rockin’ blues band with JOHNNY WINTER bassist JON PARIS. Also living in Milwaukee at that time was LUTHER ALLISON, just signed to the MOTOWN label, who would frequent the Monday night jams held at BROTHERS LOUNGE. SOLBERG and PARIS were soon opening for LUTHER on the college “showcase” circuit and before long JAMES became a member of LUTHER’S band. Touring together from ‘75 till ’79, they released “NIGHTLIFE” and “LUTHER ALLISON THE MOTOWN YEARS 1972-1976” (Motown- the latter released in ’94), “LIVE AT MONTREAUX ’76-‘94” (released in ’95), “LIVE IN PARIS” and “LUTHER ALLISON LIVE”. The next three years, JAMES was touring with “Midwest legends” SHORT STUFF, including JUNIOR BRANTLEY, (THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS and JIMMY VAUGHN) and harp virtuoso JIM LIBAN and recorded the album “TALK IS CHEAP”, the title track later recorded by guitar legend, JOHNNY WINTER. In 1981, after a decade of touring more than 300 one niters a year, SOLBERG packed it up and headed for the “North Country” to ride and build Harleys and Indians. As a machinist and mechanic at the local Harley dealership he began designing and fabricating his own innovative MC parts. Having “dried out” JAMES was back on the road with THE LEGENDARY BLUES BAND, featuring MUDDY WATERS’ alumni, PINETOP PERKINS, WILLIE SMITH, CALVIN JONES and JERRY PORNOY. (ERIC CLAPTON) In 1986 and ’87 JAMES was touring with THE NIGHTHAWKS and ELVIN BISHOP. At this time, James fired up the JAMES SOLBERG BAND who’s members included ROBB STUPKA on drums, MIKE VLAHAKIS on keys and KEN FALTINSON on the bass, all later to become the touring and recording unit for LUTHER ALLISON AND THE JAMES SOLBERG BAND. One of their first gigs as THE JAMES SOLBERG BAND found them at a posh night spot in Eau Claire, WI known as THE STONES THROW, where after a late night poker game following the gig, JAMES walked out owning the place! From 1987 through 1993 JAMES had a run of success which included appearances of virtually every major blues act currently on the road. While still touring occasionally, JAMES and the band never missed their weekly appearance at the club for the “WEDNESDAY NITE BLUES PARTY”. One of those acts to make appearances at THE STONES THROW was JAMES’ ol’ soul mate, LUTHER ALLISON who in 1993, desiring to return from his long and successful hiatus overseas, approached JAMES with the idea to reunite and “conquer the USA”. Soon, LUTHER ALLISON AND THE JAMES SOLBERG BAND would be headlining almost every major festival stage in the world! Before LUTHER”S untimely death in ‘97, LUTHER and JAMES began a “tour de force” that included the recordings often referred to as “the best three contemporary back to back blues albums of all time”. “SOUL FIXIN’ MAN”, “BLUE STREAK”, and “RECKLESS” won innumerable awards and accolades around the world. Considered “the definitive live record”, “LIVE IN CHICAGO”, was released posthumously, and also received W.C. HANDY AWARDS and GRAMMY nominations, as well as critical acclaim for LUTHER ALLISON and JAMES SOLBERG’S Creative work together. JAMES was there for all of it! JAMES the songwriter, JAMES the guitarist, JAMES the producer, arranger and bandleader. All during this period JAMES somehow found the time to release even more well received and critically acclaimed albums of his own. “SEE THAT MY GRAVE IS KEPT CLEAN” and “ONE OF THESE DAYS”, were each touted as “one of the best releases of the year”, respectively. Shortly following LUTHER’S death, feeling the need to “say something”, JAMES was back in the studio recording “L.A. BLUES”, a cathartic tribute album conveying his suffering and anguish at the loss of his close friend and partner. One of the cuts from that session found its way on “TANGLED UP IN BLUES: THE SONGS OF BOB DYLAN”. SOLBERG’S rendition of “BALLAD OF A THIN MAN” being hailed as “one of the strongest, most honest tracks” on the CD. Typical of his arranging and performing skills, he “grasped all the implications of DYLAN’S recording and then cranked them all up to a higher level, both instrumentally and vocally”. Another powerful release, “THE HAND YOU’RE DEALT” followed in 2000, expanding the diversity and prowess of his songs, guitar work and touching on the emotional highs and lows that accompany the sounds of Soul, R&B, Gospel and hard-drivin’ blues. Besides being a gifted musician, SOLBERG is also talented in helping other musicians sound good. Besides his work with ALLISON, he has arranged, written, produced, as well as played guitar on CDs for DEBORAH COLEMAN, THE NIGHTHAWKS, SANDY CARROLL, JAY STULO, BONNIE LEE and BARKIN’ BILL SMITH, to name a few. He has a “love for the creative process” and feels he’s “good at getting the most out of a musician”, being able to convey their message with a greater clarity after listening to their ideas. Despite his extra musical foray, the true artist within him states that “nothing beats doin’ it live”. © http://www.jamessolberg.com/JamesSolbergHomePage.htm

5 comments:

A.O.O.F.C said...

LINK

p/w aoofc

guinea pig said...

Thanks!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,gp (Numero Uno!). Thanks a million. How are you?....P

guinea pig said...

Few holidays til 25. A great day io our culture Cyril and Metodi - creates of our alphabetic 1500 years before.
Great company!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,gp! I was looking up Cyril and Metodi on Google. There's a lot of important history there. The holidays are a bonus! Thanks, my friend, & TTU soon...P