Get this crazy baby off my head!


James Armstrong

James Armstrong - Blues at the Border - 2011 - Catfood Records

James Armstrong , in Blues at the Border delivers a set of smoothly funky rhythm 'n blooz numbers unhinging the hipbone jes' a mite in a back-bar juice joint shuffle pretty much showcasing precisely what the fortunate listener's ears are in for. R&B is not easy to handle and rarely anymore sees its modalities so lovingly enshrined. Robert Cray was the last cat to make a significant mark, and if you've been waiting for the next in line, here 'tis. Armstrong's been performing since age 8, touring since 17, eventually sliding in with Albert Collins, Ricky Lee Jones, Mitch Mitchell (Hendrix's drummer), Keb Mo' and a whole lot more. 'Smooth as silk' would be the best phrase to encapsulate this multi-talented individual. Even when lighting up the fretboard, there's a practiced hand mellowing the flames in an aged casket of fine oak, the kind of treatment one would lavish on a good Scotch. Jessica and Jilian Ivey provide triple-sweet background vocals, and keyboardist Dan Freguson lays in a night-time ambiance erupting every so often with just as much class and back history as the quitar lines, but the real front element is Armstrong's voice, neither whiskey nor beer but cognac with a distinctive tang, a world of experience, and a street Humanism that would make Erasmus chuckle, reminisce, and sigh. The gent also writes with a deeply Southern hand despite Los Angeles birth, and when the opening glass finger lines to Devil's Candy crank up, fog and the pungeant musk of gumbo drift in like a tide zone, deeply accentuated by the middle eight, Armstorng making the most of brevity, packing his solos tightly. Tons of craftsmanship abound but the insistently catchy beat in each and every cut will distract from that until about the third or fourth listen—and, trust me, you will be playing this disc quite a few times once it's understood that, as said, hardly anyone knows how to put the mojo in this style any more. Stow Blues at the Border with your private cache, 'cause it'll be a while before someone comes along to take its place. © Mark S. Tucker written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange 2012 © Peterborough Folk Music Society. http://www.acousticmusic.com/fame/p07622.htm

First album in 11 years by the Ambassador of the Blues. His three albums on Hightone put James Armstrong at the forefront of contemporary blues. Several of those songs have been used in movie soundtracks. In a world where TV reality shows promise instant stardom and post 9-11 travel hassles have forced many artists to hang up their guitars, James continues to tour in the U.S. and internationally as he has for over 25 years. This album, recorded in New York and Texas, is his debut on Catfood Records. Backed by top studio musicians, his searing slide work and soulful vocals make this his best recording to date. These 11 well-selected tracks draw on his rock, jazz, country, and folk influences as well as his deep blues roots, as he manages to transcend the constraints of musical boundaries. CBC Radio wrote "James plays for his audience, extending the reach of the blues to include highly-charged sensuality, yearning and good lowdown fun. Full of haunting and subtle nuances that point to a life rich with experience, this musician has definitely paid his dues." Blues At The Border has made several best of 2011 lists, is receiving rave reviews and was selected as CD of the Month for February 2012 by the leading UK blues publication, Blues and Rhythm. - from Album Notes © http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jamesarmstrong1

An 11-year break separates blues singer/guitarist James Armstrong's third album, Got It Goin' On (2000) from his fourth, 2011's Blues at the Border, and in the latter album, he acknowledges that "the world has changed" in the interim. Specifically, the title song, in which that statement is made, explores a major change for a working musician, especially one who must maintain a following overseas. The 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001 have made travel much more difficult, and that's the subject of "Blues at the Border," the song, in which Armstrong, co-writing with his girlfriend Madonna Hamel (who lives outside the U.S.), details the impediments to getting around by air and from country to country, eventually expanding into comic hyperbole. This, of course, is not the usual topic for a blues song, but Armstrong also manages to address more conventional matters in songs like "Nothing Left to Say" and "Devil's Candy," in which romantic travails predominate over intercontinental travel. Yet Armstrong continues to be attracted to more individual concerns, such as in "High Maintenance Woman," which extols the virtues of such a person (and in which Hamel makes a guest appearance as the title character), and the autobiographical "Young Man with the Blues," in which he reflects on his father and his sons. Such material gives the singer, whose voice resembles the relaxed, soft-spoken tenor of Buddy Guy, a distinct persona, even as the songs' arrangements generally stick to familiar blues structures. Those structures leave Armstrong plenty of room for some stinging solos, and he also makes space for organist George Papageorge, who turns in some strong playing. It all adds up to a good blues workout from an artist who has been away from recording for too long. © William Ruhlmann © 2013 Rovi Corp | All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/album/blues-at-the-border-mw0002266529

Buy James' "Sleeping with a Stranger" album and support great blues rock [Track bitrates range from 239 - 271 Kbps: File size = 80.2 Mb]


Everthing Good to Ya (Ain't Always Good for Ya) (Sam Taylor)
Somebody got to Pay (Carroll / Trenchard)
Baby Can You Hear Me? (Trenchard / Greenwade)
Blues at the Border (Armstrong / Hamel)
Devils' Candy (Armstrong / Hahn)
Nothing Left to Say (Armstrong / Hahn)
High Mantenance Woman (Dave Steen)
Good Man, Bad Thing (Dave Steen)
Young Man with the Blues (James Armstrong)
Brand New Man (Perry)
Long Black Car (Bob Trenchard)


James Armstrong - Guitar, Vocals
Michael Ross - Guitar, Percussion, Loops
Malcolm Gold, Bob Trenchard - Bass
Bennet Paster - Piano, Clavinet
Dan Ferguson - Keyboards
George Papageorge - Organ
Warren Grant, Richy Puga - Drums
Rich Zukor - Tambourine
Madonna Hamel, Jessica Ivey, Jillian Ivey - Background Vocals
Sam Taylor - Sampling


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

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

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