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May 07, 2013

Stony Plain Records Releases New Electric Blues Albums

by Doug Levine

If you’re in the mood for some great electric blues, look no further than two new releases from Stony Plain Records. 

With veteran guitarist, singer and bandleader Duke Robillard you indeed get a healthy dose of blues, but you’re also treated to his signature blend of R&B, rock, jazz and Tex-Mex.  Duke’s guitar riffs are front and center on “Strollin’ With Lowell and BB” from his new album, “Independently Blue.”

​​Duke hails from Rhode Island where he co-founded the modern jump blues band Roomful of Blues.  He was a member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds and also played alongside Tom Waits, Pinetop Perkins, Bob Dylan and many others.  2013 marks his 20th anniversary as leader of the celebrated Duke Robillard Band.  Over the years Duke has earned two Blues Music Awards for Best Blues Guitarist, and he’s picked up two Grammy nominations: one for Best Traditional Blues Album and another for Best Contemporary Blues Album.

So, at age 64, is Duke finally slowing down?  Not a chance.  In a quote from the liner notes to his new album he says, “These days I tend to gravitate towards material that reflects my age and stage in life.”  He adds that he does his share of blues “bragging” in the track “Slow Groovin’" which features guest guitarist “Monster” Mike Welch.

Stony Plain Records Releases New Electric Blues

Also new from Stony Plain comes the live album “Just For Today” by Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters.

Bluesman Ronnie Earl took a serious interest in the guitar after seeing a Muddy Waters concert while attending Boston University.  After college he performed with various bands in Chicago, New Orleans and Austin, before replacing Duke Robillard as the lead guitarist in Roomful of Blues.

In 1988, he formed his band The Broadcasters, naming it after the very first Fender guitar, The Broadcaster.

​​Ronnie wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on “Just For Today,” including tributes to the late bluesmen Hubert Sumlin and Robert Nighthawk.  He recorded the album at three distinctive venues in Massachusetts: the 97-year-old Regent Theatre in Arlington, known locally as “Arlington’s Show Place of Entertainment”; in a former firehouse preserved as the Center for the Arts in Natick; and along the waterfront district at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River.

Now 60, Ronnie admits he has more passion for music today than ever before.  He told Stony Plain Records that “Playing, for me, is a very emotional experience,” adding, “I put every particle of my soul into it.”