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APOLOGIES

Sorry about not re-posting. I've an illness in my family, but I will reply to all ASAP. For the time being, my beautiful friend, Eva is helping me out. Thank you for your understanding...Paul

15.4.12

Doyle Bramhall II & Smokestack



Doyle Bramhall II & Smokestack - Welcome - 2001 - RCA

Doyle Bramhall II (born 24 December 1968) is an American singer and guitarist. Known for his work in Arc Angels, he was also the second guitarist in Eric Clapton's band from 2004 to 2009. He has also played with Susan Tedeschi and toured with Roger Waters, and is the lead guitarist and vocalist in his own Smokestack band

"I've been searching for the perfect tone for years, and I heard that a shop called Norm's Guitars [in Reseda, California] had the only left-handed '60s Strat in the L.A. area. So I went there, and it was a beautiful '64 sunburst Strat -- almost like Buddy Holly's guitar -- with a finish that turns from fiery red and orange right to brown. Then I picked it up, and it was the lightest Strat I've ever felt. The wood must have been really dry before it was painted. Anyway, they also had a 100-watt Marshall 1967 Super Bass head. I plugged the Strat into the Marshall, and it was like, "Wow! That's the sound I've been looking for for years." I bought both of them immediately. It was outrageous how much it cost, but I had to have them. I took them down to the studio to record "Cry," and I thought, "This is it!" I ended up recording the whole record with that guitar and amp". © Doyle Bramhall II

Doyle Bramhall II steps out on his own with his band Smokestack on Welcome, the Austin-based singer-guitarist-songwriter's second album for RCA. A collection of hard-hitting, old-school rock numbers like "Green Light Girl" (reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix's "Fire"), "So You Want It to Rain" (a Blind Faith-ish anthem), "Problem Child" (a kind of SRV meets James Gang vibe) and "Soul Shaker" (see the Stones' "Street Fighting Man") and "Helpless Man" (a groove shamelessly lifted from the Beatles' "Come Together"), there is nevertheless an undercurrent of blues here that comes across ever-so-slightly in Bramhall's guitar work and vocal phrasing (particularly on the Muddy-influenced "Smokestack"). But make no mistake: file this one under rock rather than blues-rock. © Bill Milkowski Originally published in June 2001 © 1999–2012 JazzTimes, Inc. All rights reserved http://jazztimes.com/articles/12293-welcome-doyle-bramhall-ii-and-smokestack

In a career that has been defined by frustrating false starts and unrealized potential, it appears that Doyle Bramhall II has finally found an appropriate vehicle for his smoky voice and grinding guitar with the release of his third solo album Welcome (RCA). It isn't the first time we've crawled out on this particular limb. Way back in the dark ages of 1992 DRUM! predicted that the Arc Angeles (Bramhall's Texas supergroup featuring fellow guitar hero Charlie Sexton alongside the crackerjack Double Trouble rhythm section) would become the next big thing. Sadly they didn't, but in many ways Smokestack comes remarkably close to the sound of Bramhall's former outfit, cranking out raw hook-laden rock tunes informed by electric urban rhythm and blues. It's no secret where Bramhall came in contact with such influences. They blared out of the hi-fi in his dad's Austin living room. Doyle senior is a living legend in his hometown, known for mentoring a young Stevie Ray Vaughn, playing drums with the likes of Lightning Hopkins, and producing albums for rootsy acts such as Indigenous. But rather than recruit his dad, junior turned to his new drummer J.J. Johnson to cut tracks for Welcome. It was a great choice. Johnson has a round, live, resonant drum sound and a taste for simple and direct grooves and fills that perfectly complement the album's powerfully loose feel. We especially liked Johnson's respectful Bonham impersonation on the chorus of "So You Want it to Rain," as well as the way he contrasts a driving backbeat against Bramhall's Keith Richards-flavored guitar rhythms on "Soul Shaker," and the ultra-cool turnaround on "Problem Child," where the slow 6/8 blasts into a rocking 4/4 rave up not unlike the transition in of the Stones' "Midnight Rambler." In fact, there is a pre- dominance of 6/8 feels on the album, such as the rollicking mid-tempo "Life," the slinky slow burner "Send Some Love," and the Stax-meets-Hendrix blast of "Last Night." Bramhall is comfortably at the top of his game on Welcome, spinning out melodic Hendrix- and Clapton-inspired guitar solos and singing bluesy vocal lines over tunes that stick in your head for weeks. Get the feeling we like Welcome? It's simply one of the best jams we've heard this year. © Andy Doerschuk http://www.doylebramhall2nd.com/presspop_ups/drum.htm

Welcome, Doyle Bramhall's third effort, continues to blur the lines between rock and blues, but he doesn't always achieve success with this tactic. Although the album opens with "Green Light Girl," a frenetic tune with lots of rockin', driving guitar riffs, the majority of the songs veer toward blues, albeit unconvincingly. "Send Some Love," an aching ballad, calls for emotion-drenched crooning, but Bramhall's vocals are a tad too cool, and "Thin Dream" attempts at bluesy stylings but is really a rock power ballad. The last cut, "Cry," finally whips up some emotion from Bramhall, but it should have been spread throughout Welcome. Even contemporary blues needs a little grit. © Rosalind Cummings-Yeates © 2012 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/album/welcome-r535014

"Welcome" has received mostly favourable reviews. Allmusic.com's Rosalind Cummings-Yeates' review above says that "the majority of the songs veer toward blues, albeit unconvincingly", and "The last cut, "Cry," finally whips up some emotion from Bramhall, but it should have been spread throughout Welcome. Even contemporary blues needs a little grit". In truth, "Welcome" is probably more a rock than a blues album. Doyle, himself said that "Although the blues is one of his favorite genres, he finds that most of his attempts at bluesy songwriting end up sounding "corny," and his songs always tend to have more of a rock feel". Also speaking about "Welcome", Doyle said "Who wants to hear great guitar playing over terrible songs?" The album is full of great funk, rock, soul and blues grooves, and the songs are top notch. Doyle has a very distinctive vocal style. He is a guitarist of enormous skill, and the all-round musicianship on this album is superb. Listen to Doyle Bramhall II's "Jellycream" album and Doyle Bramhall's "Fitchburg Street" album. Arc Angel's s/t album is also terrific, and worth buying [All tracks @ 320 Kbps: File size = 149 Mb]

TRACKS / COMPOSERS

1 Green Light Girl - Doyle Bramhall II, Susannah Melvoin 3:05
2 Problem Child - Doyle Bramhall II 5:51
3 So You Want It To Rain - Doyle Bramhall II, Susannah Melvoin 5:18
4 Life - Doyle Bramhall II 5:27
5 Helpless Man - Doyle Bramhall II, Susannah Melvoin 4:16
6 Soul Shaker - Doyle Bramhall II 4:03
7 Send Some Love - Doyle Bramhall II 4:51
8 Smokestack - Doyle Bramhall II, Susannah Melvoin 7:03
9 Last Night - Doyle Bramhall II, Susannah Melvoin, Chris Bruce 6:33
10 Blame - Doyle Bramhall II, Susannah Melvoin 4:53
11 Thin Dream - Doyle Bramhall II, Susannah Melvoin 8:37
12 Cry - Doyle Bramhall II 8:09

MUSICIANS

Doyle Bramhall II - Guitar, Vocals
Craig Ross - Rhythm Guitar (except on Tracks 8, & 12)
Chris Bruce - Bass, Additional Rhythm Guitar on "Cry"
Benmont Tench - Piano, Organ
J. J. Johnson - Drums, Percussion
Susannah Melvoin - Vocals, (Percussion on "Life")

MORE ABOUT DOYLE BRAMHALL II / ALBUMS

YOU'VE NEVER HEARD... His guitar solos soar with the melody, speed and purpose of the greats from the '60s. No wonder Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters have all praised him. So why isn't Doyle Bramhall 2nd a star? "For a long time I didn't think I was great because it wasn't reflected in album sales," says the axman. "Finally, people like Eric calmed me in that respect." In fact, Clapton did more than fluff Bramhall's ego. After hearing the young musician's obscure 1999 album, "Jellycream," Clapton invited him to play on his CD with B.B. Kjng, "Riding With the King," on which Clapton even covered two Bramhall songs. After, Waters heard the young player's agile fingerings, he asked him to take the lead slot on his solo tour. Then, Clapton invited Bramhall's band, Smokestack, to be the opening act on his current road show. That has allowed Bramhall to promote his latest album, "Welcome," by far his most accomplished to date. On the CD, Bramhall plays with a fever and length seldom heard in this era. This isn't just an exercise in guitar hot-dogging. Bramhall's songs have sturdy melodies, his vocals have soul. "Who wants to hear great guitar playing over terrible songs?" he reasons. "The song has to come first." Also key is the interplay of the band. Far from faceless backup players. Smokestack's musicians give Bramhall the push and pull that made the guys in Cream or the Jimi Hendrix Experience cook. While most of today's wanna-be '60s stars, like Lenny Kravitz or the Black Crowes, sound' like sad knockoffs of classic rock, Bramhall's band sounds authentic. "In this generation, everybody has gotten lazy," the 32-year-old says. "They use pro tools [studio trickery that subs for real musicianship]. And they edit everything down, trying to get that perfect hit that will sell 5 million copies. They're making music for the wrong reasons." It's Bramhall's pure intent, and present-tense passion, that helps his music avoid the retro trap. Then again, he has been preparing for this moment for more than half his life. Bramhall's father played drums for blues legend Lightnin' Hopkins and for the late Stevie Ray Vaughan. The Bramhall and Vaughan families formed a tight clique in their hometown of Austin, Tex. Bramhall senior gave his namesake his first guitar at age 14, and "I pretty much stayed in my room and played for a good six, months before I surfaced," he explains. When he did, the teen found himself jamming with artists 20 and 30 years his senior. They were holdover hippies. He sported a blue Mohawk. In his late teens, Bramhall formed a band with fellow Texas guitarist Charlie Sexton, the Arc Angels, who landed a deal with Geffen Records. Loaded with talent, but also ego and expectations, the group fell apart after their debut, for the usual "Behind the Music" reasons. Bramhall, for one, had developed "an extremely evil drug habit." "I grew up in an alcoholic family and I had a heredity of being afraid of failure and fame and responsibility," he explains. "My dad dropped out because of it." Bramhall got clean for his first solo album,which was produced by ex-Prince associates Wendy and Lisa. But the record bombed and Geffen dropped him. "I was devastated," he says. "They didn't give that album a fair chance." RCA released his second CD, "Jellycream," but Bramhall felt he compromised himself for the project. "I didn't want to fail again. So I got caught up in expectations from the record company, and expectations from fans. I was trying find the quickest route to fame and fortune." When that album didn't click either, Bramhall decided to go with his heart. He had the idea to cut the "Welcome" album live but felt if the record company knew "they'd probably the plug. So I tricked them at first." Bramhall and his producers recorded just two cuts live, then moved up to four and, encouraged by the results, kept going "When we finished and tried to overdub a vocal or guitar part, it sounded like a foreign invader," Bramhall explains. The result was so exciting it convinced RCA to release it that way. In fact, "Welcome" has an immediacy that makes the listener feel like he's right in the middle of the music. Given Bramhall's earlier failures, he credits the superstars who've adopted him with restarting his career and with restoring his battered confidence. "I took a breath," he says, "then realized that if Roger Waters and Eric Clapton and B.B. King and the Vaughan brothers and my dad all think I'm great, then I maybe I am." In fact, more than maybe. © Daily News

BIO (WIKI)

Doyle Bramhall II (born 24 December 1968) is a guitarist and vocalist in his band Smokestack and is also the second guitarist in Eric Clapton's band. Doyle Bramhall II is a songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist. He was born in Dallas, Texas and is the son of singer, songwriter and drummer Doyle Bramhall, who grew up as a close friend of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughan. At age 16, Doyle Bramhall II toured with Jimmie Vaughan's band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, as second guitarist. Some of Doyle's influences include, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Donny Hathaway, Freddie King, Albert King, Jimmie Vaughan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Sly & the Family Stone, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Curtis Mayfield. In 1992 Doyle formed Arc Angels with Charlie Sexton and Stevie Ray Vaughan's rhythm section of bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton (also known as Double Trouble). Doyle and Sexton were only able to work together for one album but it was well received, with several songs receiving heavy rock radio airplay. They went their own ways after the album but have gotten back together and have been playing shows as Arc Angels again in 2006 and 2007. Doyle released his self-titled debut album on the Geffen record label in 1996 with backing support from Wendy and Lisa (Bramhall is married to Wendy's sister, vocalist Susannah Melvoin). In later interviews, he stated his intent with that album to establish himself as more than just a guitar player. The album received praise from reviewers but was received poorly with sales. Bruce Flohr, a former RCA record executive, came to the first live performance Doyle threw after writing a batch of new material for his new album. Flohr was blown away by the performance and immediately wanted to sign Bramhall to his label. Doyle agreed and signed with RCA, and released his second album Jellycream in 1999. He appeared on Austin City Limits in an episode shared with Robert Cray that fall. The record labels at RCA were unhappy at the sales records of the album and withdrew all funds for Doyle's new project. Flohr, who was a fan of Doyle's music and had faith in it, was powerless to prevent the waning financial interests of his label. It was at this time that Doyle phoned Flohr and asked to be cut from his deal with RCA. Still being friends, Flohr passed a copy of the Jellycream album to Eric Clapton. Clapton took an interest in Bramhall's music and included "Marry You" and "I Wanna Be" in a collaborative album he was working on with B.B. King, released in 2000 as Riding With The King. Doyle also formed a new band, "Doyle Bramhall II & Smokestack," and recorded a new album produced by Benmont Tench of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers fame. Released in 2001, Welcome marked a renewed focus on guitar. Doyle's recording relationship with Clapton continued to flourish, and he co-wrote "Superman Inside" for and played guitar on Eric's 2001 solo album, Reptile. He and Smokestack opened for Clapton on his 2001 world tour, and Doyle occasionally joined Eric on stage. By 2004, he was Clapton's second guitarist after Andy Fairweather-Low backed out of the tour. The 2004 tour was Clapton's effort at channeling his hero Robert Johnson and Doyle later admitted that he had never listened to Robert Johnson until getting the gig as Clapton's second guitarist. Doyle also appears with Eric in the 2004 CD/DVD release Sessions for Robert J. Doyle also played guitar on the 1999-2002 In the Flesh tour (captured on the In the Flesh Live album) by former Pink Floyd leader/bassist Roger Waters. Previous to that, Doyle also played a much lower key role backing his wife Susannah Melvoin's (who also toured with Waters during the In the Flesh tour as a backing singer) twin sister Wendy Melvoin for her band Girl Bros., and more recently with Wendy and Lisa in the groups Pacifico and Funk Sway. Pacifico consisted of Wendy and Lisa, along with Doyle, Mike Elizondo and Abe Laboriel Jr., and several recordings from a small club tour have surfaced. Funk Sway — Erykah Badu, Wendy and Lisa ?uestlove of The Roots, and Doyle, are featured in the music documentary Before the Music Dies.As a session guitarist, he has worked with Me'shell Ndegéocello, Sheryl Crow and Susan Tedeschi. He also toured with Eric Clapton as part of his 2006/2007 world tour along with slide guitarist Derek Trucks and he performed at the 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival at Chicago's Toyota Park. Of his songwriting, Doyle has said that although the blues is one of his favorite genres, he finds that most of his attempts at bluesy songwriting end up sounding "corny," and his songs always tend to have more of a rock feel. Doyle usually plays the Fender Stratocaster but will occasionally play some Gibson guitars, either playing on left-handed models or right-handed models upside-down. Doyle plays guitar left-handed but his guitars are strung as if to be played by a right-handed player, as was the case with Albert King. In other words, the low E string is at the bottom of his guitar, and the high string at the top. This fact and his unique playing style can be seen clearly in the "In the Flesh: Live" DVD footage.

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