A Review of Keith Richards’ Documentary ‘Under the Influence’

Most people have dual citizenships. Keith Richards has dual personalities.

In the documentary ‘ Under the Influence ‘ ( available on Netflix) – the lines are blurred with orgasmic pleasure for a true music fan.

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The general population love Keith Richards. The masses also know very little about the man.

They know the myth. They have read the tales of decadent behavior and the seemingly endless nine lives which appear to pursue Richards on and off the stage. Everyone loves a survivor. Especially one who has written the songbook of Rock n Roll with a middle finger left off the fret and pointed straight at the powers that be.

Keith Richards at seventy – one years of age, can do no wrong. He has earned the right to captain the Black Pearl.

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‘Under the Influence’, the documentary which coincides with the release of Richards ‘ first solo album in over twenty years (Crosseyed Heart), is a showcase of Richards’ mindset in the studio as he lays down tracks with his ‘Xpensive’ mates.

Instead of this documentary being solely a marketing tool to help sell copies of an album made by a Grandfather who ( in Rock n Roll history) should be passed his prime, the film instead utilizes the celluloid moments to open the drapes and let the rays of American music display Richards’ crevasses on his worn face as valleys of knowledge. In short – ‘Under the Influence’ is a proper documentary.

In short – Keith Richards is a proper musician.

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The Stones’ guitarist has forgotten more than most know. The Stones’ guitarist happily has not forgotten more than most know.

Director Morgan Neville takes that knowledge and places it elegantly into a history class. Not a Blues class. Not a Rock n Roll class. Not a Country music class. Not even a Great American Songbook class.

Neville and Richards deliver a top of the line University music class with the above ingredients both separate and blurred together. Just as elegantly as Richards himself.

The best thing? Lazy people need not apply …

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In the 1960’s, the Beatles reinvented popular music. They too were influenced by the same men who laid the foundation for the Stones’ songbook. The Beatles remained white British boys while the Stones transformed into a bunch of Black kids playing the Blues to anyone who would scream. The Rolling Stones with Brian Jones , Mick Jagger and Keith Richards leading the way, introduced American Blues to America white folks.

In 2015, in glorious irony, at a time when the music business and an entire generation of musicians appear ‘lost for words’, along comes Keith Richards ‘under the influence’ once more.

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Satan, God or whoever runs the show – every once in a while sends Richards into the forest as a musical Robin Hood.  A rich man giving back to the poor.

In the eighties, when Rock n Roll and all it’s edgy guitars took backseat to synthesized drums machines and keyboards, it was Richards’ ‘Start Me Up’ riff that kept Chuck Berry sane. While Mick Jagger was experimenting with every sound heard by dogs and people as a solo artist, Richards angrily released the album ‘Talk is Cheap.’ A project that is held in highest esteem by any musician worth their weight in music.

Richards’ kept the Rock n Roll/ Blues and R and B barge afloat without a ‘Life’ jacket.

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Here is where the dual personality kicks in.

Richards’ has also kept Country music in people’s consciences. From ‘Country Honk’ off of Let It Bleed’, the entire Beggars Banquet album and into ‘Dead Flowers’ off of the Stones’ classic 1971 album Sticky Fingers and everything in between, Richards continues the tradition and love of Country on his new album Crosseyed Heart. Keith Richards along with Hank Williams, George Jones, Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Wanda Jackson and thousands or millions more – have kept the world balanced within the structure of ‘Rock n Roll’.

No Country music equals no Blues or vice versa. No Blues / Country  means no ‘Roll’ in the Rock.

Richards likes his Roll … thank you very much.

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There is so much in Keith Richards songwriting than meets the bloodshot eye. ‘Under the Influence’ gives a glimmer of what makes one half of  The Glimmer Twins glimmer.

Hogey Carmichael and the Great American Songbook were a huge part of Richards’ post – war English environment. Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Solomon Burke and all the Soul and R and B men are the foundations of Richards’ indestructible frame. Mix them all together within a man with the backbone of a lion? The main ingredient of Richards’ and the Stones’ longevity. The ability to place a song ahead of the solos.

Craftsmanship.

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‘Under the Influence’ is a thoughtful insight into an ageing man’s psyche. Musically and as a human being.

Many times during the film Richards’ is on the cusp of melancholy and wistfulness. Tears are welling up behind the shades as much as his influences are masked by the shades of Rock n Roll. The documentary – a rare peek into Keith Richards as a man who has conquered everything on his own terms and has no idea how he has ended up as one of the most – loved people on the planet. No idea how he has ended up still ‘ on the planet’ for that matter.

It is called integrity Mr. Richards. See you at The Crossroads ….

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Visit Keith here!

 

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Matthew Barber; A ‘Big Romance’ with Songwriting …

Matthew Barber considers himself to be a romantic

A lover and observer of all things in the universe. A songwriter. A modern day poet. 

In his latest album; ‘Big Romance‘, this Juno Award nominee – places his heart on the line and finishes first. A blend of old school Blues, Folk and Country – blended purposely with a Pop / Rock mentality.

Surrounding himself with some of the finest musicians and singers in Canada, Barber places himself among the elite of a new generation of songwriters in this vast country of talent.

Please listen as Matthew speaks of his love affairs …

Matthew …?

 

 

Please Visit Matthew Here!

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‘Lil Andy – Up Close and Personal

Country music is alive and well in Montreal …

According to the genre’s rising star in this province – ‘Lil Andy would not like to play anywhere else – for long …

Listen as Andy explains many things including his latest CD, his influences and how he surprised his Mom!

Andy …?

Bobby Dove; Montreal’s Biggest Country Asset

Although Country music is not in very high demand in Quebec – especially ‘real’ Country music, singer and songwriter Bobby Dove is the one person who could change all that …

Blessed with vocals as sweet as Apple Pie – Bobby is determned to make a mark for herself in Montreal and the rest of Canada. Please listen as Miss Dove explains her album, her influences and her plans for the future.

Bobby … take it away!

Visit Bobby’s Site here!

Lee Rocker – Strays From the Cats …

What’s a bass player – without a bass?

A bass player of course. But not just any bass player. The musician in question who landed in Montreal just hours before his show at the Rialto Theater, sans bass, was former ( and current?) Stray Cat Lee Rocker

rockerbass“I am a little nervous …” Said Rocker moments before he took the stage following a great set by The Lustre Kings. ” I have misplaced my bass so I will be using the other guy’s  from the Lustre Kings. I hope it will be okay …”

Judging by the way Rocker handles himself onstage, the ‘other player’s’ bass was just fine. Rocker along with band mates arrived on stage just after 11 pm. A crowd of about three hundred, rushed the stage and demonstrated their love for Rockabilly, Rocker or The Stray Cats. Maybe all three. Complete with vintage cars parked right outside – the crowd consisted  of men straight from the movie Grease and a whole lot of Sandys. It was 1955.

Surprisingly, Rocker’s second song of the night was ‘Stray Cat Strut‘, the mega-hit for Lee’s first group, the Stray Cats. Musically, it could have been the ‘Cats’. Vocally – the tune seemed askew without Brian Setzer strutting his stuff and ‘no dough to pay the rent’. Once an adjustment was made by the audience, Rocker’s voice agreed with the musical pallets of everyone. Still – Stray Cat Strut’ – a strange second choice in a set-list lacking in Top 40 hits …

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Rocker – fit as a fiddle for a man at his half century mark, showed his strength by picking up the double bass and playing it as a guitar would be. Rocker pummels the strings so hard – sweat was beading down his forehead after two songs.

Lee left a permanent mark on Thursday. Standing on, spinning and rocking leerocker1his giant upright bass to many Stray Cats hits. “Rock this Town,” “Bring it Back Again”, “Rumble in Brighton” and “Sexy and Seventeen.” He also dipped into a long standing catalog of Rockabilly and early rock standards. Guitarist Buzz Campbell, guitarist/slide player Brophy Dale and  drummer Jimmy Sage were the concrete to Rocker’s strut. Rocker delivered an excellent blend of showmanship and a hard-earned and natural talent for his instrument.

Presley’s ‘That’s Alright Mama‘ (Arthur Crudup.) opened eyes to a past that was the beginning. Feet stompin’ – eyes wide open to a song that started many boys – like Rocker, to a career of Rockabilly. Rocker’s ‘true spirit’ came through loud and clear.

‘Lost Highway’ – the Hank Williams tune, once more allowing Rocker a chance to shine attached to a star long since extinguished. Williams may be gone, yet Rocker and his boys continue the fire with a passion contained by many and carried out by few.

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Rocker’s love for Scotty Moore and Carl Perkins as evident as the moon on a harvest night. ‘Honey Don’t’ ( Perkins) and the title track from his latest album ‘Night Train to Memphis‘ ( Roy Acuff), a song introduced to Rocker via Perkins – played like a pupil trying to please the teacher. No mailing in bass lines or the bloody fingers that come from it. Rocker knows where he comes from and that place is but a pebble on the ocean floor known as rock history.

What’s a bass player without that …?

A Musical Trip to Ottawa …

The Blues Babes Guest House has a few more shows coming up this summer – all of them are at THE BEAN THERE CAFE – at the traffic lights in South River.

Lopez - chair (Crombie)We are always excited to bring great folks to town, but numbers are down for our shows and this is a concern when it comes to launching a new festival.  Summer time is busy and we all have things going on that take us away from the area, but if you are around next Saturday (July 27th), we’ve got THE MIGHTY LOPEZ (Mike Lopez Phillips) back by popular demand and he’s gearing up to record his first solo album….this promises to be a fun night of sampling songs that may be included, featuring his own original songs as yet performed in concert, but also covers by STOMPIN’ TOM CONNORS, JOHNNY CASH, HANK WILLIAMS, DYLAN and even some cool acoustic ROLLING STONES… Show details below.

Following Lopez, we have Folk Superstar GARNET ROGERS coming in on WED AUG. 7th.  He’s on his way to play the Red Rocks Festival in Thunder Bay and we get to have him with us en route.  If you’ve seen Garnet Rogers before, you KNOW of his brilliance and, I’m hoping that he will read more of the book that he is writing about his time on the road with his (in)famous brother STAN.  It is always a highlight for me and I cannot wait until this book is finally finished.  Show details below.

Garnet Rogers

Two upstart singer/songwriters that we love are coming on SAT. SEPT. 14th – JAMES GRAY and SCOTT GILSON.  You’ve seen them open shows for us, now it is their turn to shine.  Show details below.

Finally, WENDELL FERGUSON is back on FRI. SEPT. 27th.  This show was to launch a new music festival (Music In Colour) for Tom Thomson Park in South River, but we may put the festival launch over to next autumn pending turn-out to our concerts and if numbers of audience members come up.  Could be that instead of a festival we present SONGS FROM THE LAST WALTZ on Saturday Sept. 28th with some solo performances by some of the cast throughout the afternoon and evening.  Again, it will depend on getting concert attendance numbers up.

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We thank everyone for their support of Live music and for helping to keep South River on the touring schedule for many great artists that we have the pleasure to present.  You are important and any feedback that you wish to offer or comments that you wish to make are always welcome.

Here is the show info – all concerts are at

THE BEAN THERE CAFE – 106 OTTAWA STREET (at the traffic lights) – SOUTH RIVER (705) 386-BEAN (2326):

SATURDAY JULY 27th
An Evening with LOPEZ
In Concert
An Early show:  7:30 pm  Tickets:  $15.00 – on sale now at The Bean There Cafe – call to reserve your concert ticket and make dinner reservations

WED. AUG. 7th
An Intimate Concert with
GARNET ROGERS
Another early show (no special guests) – Showtime:  7:30
Tickets:  $25.00 and going fast.  Call to reserve your ticket and make dinner reservations before the show.SAT. SEPT. 14th

Two Future Singin’/Songwritin’ Stars of the Future
JAMES GRAY & SCOTT GILSON
Showtime:  7:30
Tickets:  $15.00.  Call to make pre-show dinner reservations or to reserve your ticket.

FRI. SEPT. 27th
Country funny man and amazing guitar player
WENDELL FERGUSON
Tickets:  $20.00
Call to make pre-show dinner reservations or to reserve your ticket.

Jim Henman Still Has That ‘Same Old Feeling ‘ …

It has been a long time since Jim Henman recruited Myles Goodwyn to play in a band which became known as April Wine

new_cover_All these years later, Mr. Henman – a pioneer in Canadian music, has a new album and it is a return to his roots. All the music he loved growing up – returns to haunt the musician along with his many fans. Thank the Lord – Henman has a great memory.

The Singing Brakeman”, Jimmie Rodgers and ragtime guitarist/singer Blind Blake layered the roots for Jim Henman.

‘Same Old Feeling’ was released in 2012. A  collection of his many loves. It is a treasure of tunes which makes every listener  feel at home …

Track One; ‘ Slow Down’ – is a song Jim loved as a kid but always enjoyed playing more as  a country blues tune. Originally written by Larry Williams and recorded by The Beatles among many others, the opening chords of Jim’s version, all of three seconds, proves Henman is a likeable fellow. This song and this type of music can do that to a fellow or woman. The chorus sets the hay straight in the back of the truck and Henman, as the driver, ensures just the proper amount of bumps are hit at the beginning of this joyous ride. Country blues are not meant to sound smooth – live or recorded. Henman’s lifetime experience is aware and delivers it on cue.

‘You Can Have My Heart‘ – the second song, delivers Henman’s heart right on a golden platter via Hank Williams. “This is my Hank song.” says Henman. “Not to sound vain but I can picture Hank singing this.”

The song is a gentle introduction to Henman’s songwriting prowess that commenced along with Myles Goodwyn’s back in the mid – sixties with Woodie’s Termites. “It feels good and it’s a true story for me.” Admits Henman. In this day and age where television shows, movies and music seem to pump out hatred by the minute, it is easy to forget that great songs contain stories. Great songs contain melodies which provoke whistling. This Henman gem does just that …

The title track; ‘Same Old Feeling’ is a remarkable song and a play on words … or feelings. Henman has carried this song with him for forty years. He started writing it in a cottage, completed the process many years later in a cottage and guess what? The song is about a cottage … go figure? Henman finds the finished product happy and laid – back. He had a good time writing it and hopes a listener will as well. No doubt as once more Jim provides comfort. Jim enables us to ‘walk in the warm, warm rain’ and not get wet.

‘Could be Heaven’ – according to David and Ritchie Henman’s cousin – brings out his ‘old rock n roll’ self. Written in ten minutes – Jim loves the solo and the end of the song which bookends the fifties – style guitar riff to start the song. Reminiscent of  old April Wine songs … Coincidence? Nothing complicated – just old-time rock n roll. The kind of stuff that got the Silver Beatles hoppin’!

‘Thats The Way It Goes’ is a tune about a beach.  A sandy piece of land which is close to where Henman resides. Martinique  is the name of the beach and ‘Baboo’ is the name of the cat. A combination which makes a great tune.   A tasteful, delightful romp led by John Appleby’s mandolin playing and followed by Jim’s next – door – neighbor – style vocals. Great songs lead to whistling. This song includes whistling. A great song to listen to by the water while your feet dangle in nostalgia.

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Ritchie, David and Jim Henman

‘That’s All I Got’ is Jim Henman’s autobiographical song. It is important to listen to the words on this song which could have been easily recorded by The Band. It reels the details of Henman’s rise to fame with April Wine and his ‘would be ‘ demise if he had stuck around to watch it destroy him. A musical sense throughout the song dictates happiness yet a skylight remains open for a feeling of doom to chase the Halifax native along.

‘Walk Right In’
“It feels like this song has always been in my head.” says Henman of the Gus Cannon tune “I have played it for years at home .. I like this feel and what Charlie Phillips did in the solos … Love it! Chuck Buckett on drums really did it for me when he added his  drum ideas!”

‘I Don’t Have No Blues’ was written 15 years ago by Henman and wrote itself according to Jim. His appreciation of John Sebastian‘s songwriting comes out in this tune. Jim is telling us “I don’t have no blues’ and we kinda believe him. “It’s a blues tune that is not a blues tune ..” Says Henman. Whatever it is – it is a toe tapping acoustic number ripe with a century of artists’ souls and acoustic playing which gently stokes a flame long ago extinguished by hip hop and rap.

The last track is not final.

‘Shame Shame Boogie’ is a fictitious song about a guy in Waverly where Jim lived as a teen. A small town story and a tale which could be about ‘many people’ concludes Henman. The club they ( many people) went to was named Creeque Alley in Dartmouth, N.S . “For anyone who knows what I mean by Shame Shame Boogie …. they get it!” Adds Jim. ” The audience loved to sing along with the chorus .. I love it when that happens!’

Henman is doing a full band version of this song with a certain Myles Goodwyn on electric guitar. It will be released as a single. It is due out in a few months.

Hmmm … Myles and Henman playing together once again! I bet they get that “Same old feeling!’

http://jimhenman.com/

©rickkeene