California-based blues guitarist, songwriter, and singer James Armstrong may be small in physical stature, but his guitar playing, original lyrical themes, and singing will leave the most hardened of blues fans convinced of his brilliance. It's fair to say that Armstrong has the music in his blood: he is the son of a jazz guitar-playing father and blues singing mother. Raised in the Los Angeles area, he founded his first group in junior high school. He cites Jimi Hendrix, Robert Cray, Albert Collins, Albert King, and Eric Clapton as inspirational in his development. Highlights from his years in the Los Angeles area -- before moving north to the San Francisco Bay area -- include shows backing Collins, Big Joe Turner and Los Angeles veteran Smokey Wilson. After releasing the critically acclaimed Sleeping with a Stranger in 1995 for the San Francisco-based Hightone label, Armstrong's promising touring career was interrupted by tragedy. One night in April 1997, a robber broke into his home and nearly stabbed Armstrong to death. After weeks in the hospital and months of rehabilitation, Armstrong picked himself up, dusted himself off, and started all over again. In the late '90s and into the new century, Armstrong has hit the blues festival circuit with a passion, and put in a particularly impressive performance at the Pocono Blues Festival in Pennsylvania. By the spring of 2000, Armstrong again entered the studio to record Got It Goin' On an album that showcases Armstrong's delicate guitar stylings and soulful singing backed by Joe Louis Walker's rhythm section and a guest appearance on two tracks by keyboardist Jimmy Pugh of the Robert Cray Band. After his tragic stabbing, Armstrong found he couldn't run his fingers up and down the guitar neck as fast he once was able. He realized that faster isn't necessarily better, and recognized that good blues is more about feeling anyway, citing the slow, powerful, methodic stylings of one of his influences, the late Albert King. While Got It Goin' On showcases Armstrong's evolution as a songwriter since his debut release in 1995, both albums are recommended for blues fans who are tired of the same old themes. "2 Sides," a selection from Got It Goin' On was included in the movie Speechless starring Michael Keaton, but there are plenty of other originals on the release that demonstrate why Armstrong is to be taken seriously as a songwriter who continues to sail into heretofore uncharted lyrical waters. In 1999, Hightone released Dark Night, with Joe Louis Walker and Doug MacLeod taking lead guitar turns on two tracks. © Richard Skelly © 2013 Rovi Corp | All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/artist/james-armstrong-mn0000783716
Got It Goin' On is an apt title for this third release from California bluesman James Armstrong. While his previous release, Dark Night, was steeped in a soul/blues vein, this album is a solid, stripped-down blues session. Armstrong's guitar chops (especially on slide guitar) and impassioned vocals continue to gain strength following the horrendous attack on his life in 1997. Making an encore appearance is guitarist Michael Ross, who blends in with the dominant role Armstrong assumes, while the keyboard work is provided by Jimmy Pugh of the Robert Cray Band. The majority of cuts were written or co-written by Armstrong, including the heartfelt ballad "Another Dream," the funky rocker "2 Sides," included in the movie Speechless, and the New Orleans-influenced "Mr. B's." © Al Campbell © 2014 AllMusic, a division of All Media Network, LLC. | All Rights Reserved http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:gD8-ou3dlgsJ:www.allmusic.com/album/got-it-goin-on-mw0000619357+&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ie
Not a groundbreaking album but a hugely enjoyable album,and even though the songs' arrangements usually stick to familiar blues structures, they leave James plenty of room for some stinging solos. James’ “Blues at the Border” abum can be found on this blog. Check out his “Dark Night” album, and his "Sleeping with a Stranger" album is well worth buying. Support great blues rock [All tracks @ 320 Kbps: File size = 118 Mb]
TRACKS / COMPOSERS
1 Got It Goin' On - D. Mac Leod, D.Amy, F.Brown 4:24
2 Pennies and Picks - R. Lily, James Armstrong, M.Heaney 4:23
3 Another Dream - D. Amy, James Armstrong, J. Brown 5:23
4 2 Sides - James Armstrong 3:48
5 Mr. B's - James Armstrong, J.Hahn 3:30
6 Love Can Make You Do Wrong - D.Steen 4:28
7 Beat Up By Love - D. Mac Leod, R. Lily, James Armstrong, F.Brown 4:33
8 Shut My Eyes - D. Amy, James Armstrong, D. Wilson 3:57
9 Likes Her Lovin' - R.Lily, K.Besbeck, James Armstrong 3:19
10 Lucky Guy - D. Amy, James Armstrong, K.Besbeck 4:17
11 I'll Learn Sometime - S. Brown, R.Lily 3:34
James Armstrong - Guitar (Lead, Slide & Rhythm), Vocals
Michael Ross - Rhythm Guitar solo on "Likes Her Lovin'"
Robert Watson - Bass
Endre Tarczy - Bass on "2 Sides", "Mr.B.s", & "Love Can Make You Do Wrong"
Mike Emerson - Piano & Organ
Jimmy Pugh - Piano on "Beat Up By Love", & Organ on "Pennies And Picks"
Stanley Hale - Drums
David Tucker - Drums on "2 Sides", "Mr.B.s", & "Love Can Make You Do Wrong"
James Armstrong (born April 22, 1957, Los Angeles, California, United States) is an American soul blues and electric blues guitarist, singer and songwriter.He released three albums on HighTone Records and is signed with Catfood Records. His songs have been used in the soundtracks of three films;Speechless, Hear No Evil, and The Florentine. Armstrong's father was a jazz guitarist and his mother a blues singer. Having learned the guitar at a young age, Armstrong formed his first band at school, and was touring the United States in his late teens. Inspired by Albert King and Robert Cray, his musical education included backing musicians such as Albert Collins, Big Joe Turner and Smokey Wilson. Armstrong relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area and, in 1995, released his debut album, Sleeping with a Stranger, on HighTone. However, in April 1997, Armstrong was almost stabbed to death by an intruder at his home. The shoulder injury necessitated months of rehabilitation, which still left Armstrong with limited guitar playing ability in his left hand. He adjusted his playing style, hired a lead guitar player, and realised that playing slide guitar helped to slowly recover his dexterity. His second, introspective, album, Dark Night, was issued in 1998. It incorporated Joe Louis Walker and Doug Macleod playing lead guitar on a couple of the songs.The album track, "Bank of Love", was used in the films Hear No Evil and The Florentine. Armstrong recommenced live performances on the blues festival circuit, with a noteworthy appearance at the 1999 Pocono Blues Festival in Pennsylvania. In early 2000, Armstrong returned to the recording studio to work on his next album, Got It Goin' On. He was aided in the project by utilising Walker's rhythm section, plus a guest appearance from the keyboardist Jim Pugh. In 2001, Armstrong's song "Pennies and Picks" from Got It Goin' On, earned him a W.C. Handy Award nomination for 'Song of the Year'. Armstrong himself was nominated for 'Contemporary Male Blues Guitarist of the Year'. "2 Sides," another song from Got It Goin' On was included in the film soundtrack for Speechless. Armstrong has worked with Albert Collins, Keb' Mo', Coco Montoya, Roy Brown, Chaka Khan, Ricky Lee Jones, Jan and Dean,Mitch Mitchell and Tommy Castro. Armstrong's 2011 release on Catfood Records, Blues At The Border, was his first recording in 11 years.
Living Blues: "... With a skintight band and a well-balanced combination of fire, technical proficiency, and taste, Armstrong continues on his way to the upper echelon of contemporary blues artists."
CBC Radio: “…full of haunting and subtle nuances that point to a life rich with experience, this musician has definitely paid his dues. James plays for and with his audience, extending the reach of the blues to include highly-charged sensuality, yearning, healing and good lowdown fun!”
JazzTimes: "...Demonstrates the kind of flexibility that allows him easily and convincingly shift gears from slow blues... to urban funk... to N’awlins grooves to rousing roadhouse shuffles..."
Tony Russell: "If you define 'blues' by the rigid categories of structure rather than the flexible language of feeling allusion, Robert Cray... Larry Garner, Joe Louis Walker and James Armstrong are a new and uncategorizable breed, their music blues-like rather than blues, each of them blending ideas and devices from a variety of sources – soul, rock, jazz, gospel – with a sophisication beyond the reach of their forerunners".