News


ALLIGATOR PREPARES DOUBLE RELEASE
3/29/2004
Alligator Records has set an April 27 release date for WATCH YOUR BACK, the label debut from renowned guitarist/vocalist Guitar Shorty and RELEASE THE HOUND (AL 4896), a collection of previously unreleased live and studio cuts from the legendary Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers. Credited with influencing Jimi Hendrix, Shorty has been electrifying audiences for five decades with his supercharged live shows and his incendiary recordings (beginning in 1957 with a Willie Dixon-produced single on the Cobra label). With just two guitars and a drum set, Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers created a rocked-out, hypnotic, ultra-danceable sound that is as emotionally powerful and wildly energizing today as it was 30 years ago.

ALLIGATOR PREPARES DOUBLE RELEASE

GUITAR SHORTY – WATCH YOUR BACK

Produced by Brian Brinkerhoff and Jesse Harms, WATCH YOUR BACK finds Guitar Shorty singing and playing with ferocious urgency. While his previous releases have surveyed the musical landscape from New Orleans funk to Texas shuffles to classic R&B, WATCH YOUR BACK burns with heavy rock and roll fire from start to finish, putting Shorty’s infectious energy and guitar pyrotechnics on full display. In all the years Guitar Shorty has been playing and recording, he’s never reached the heights – either vocally or instrumentally – that he does here.

David William Kearney was born on September 8, 1939 in Houston, Texas and raised in Kissimee, Florida by his grandmother. He began playing guitar as a young boy, excited by the sounds of B.B. King, Guitar Slim, T-Bone Walker and Earl Hooker. At 17, he was already good enough to earn a gig as featured guitarist and vocalist in Walter Johnson's 18-piece orchestra. Being younger - and shorter - then the rest of the band, the club owner dubbed him Guitar Shorty, and the name stuck. After a Shorty performance in Tampa, the great Willie Dixon, who was in the audience, approached the teenager and said, "I like what you're doing; you've got something different. I gotta get you in the studio." A few weeks later Shorty was in Chicago with Dixon as producer and, backed by Otis Rush on second guitar, he cut his first single for Chicago's famed Cobra Records (first label home for Rush, Magic Sam and Buddy Guy) in 1957.

Soon after, Shorty met one of his idols - Guitar Slim, famous for his hit "The Things That I Used To Do" as well as for his wildman stage antics. Inspired by Slim, Shorty began incorporating some of Slim's tricks into his own shows. Soon he was doing somersaults and flips on stage, while continuing to hone his own high-energy musical style. He recorded three 45s for the Los Angeles-based Pull Records label in 1959. Those six sides - all Guitar Shorty originals - showcased his tough vocals and his wild guitar, and earned him a loyal following.

Shorty gigged steadily, working with Little Milton, B.B. King, Lowell Fulson, Johnny Copeland and T-Bone Walker. He eventually settled down in Seattle where he married Marsha Hendrix, Jimi's stepsister, and became a strong influence on the young guitarist. Hendrix confessed that in 1961 and 1962 he would go AWOL from his Army base to catch Shorty's performances. "I'd see Jimi at the clubs," Shorty recalls, "He'd stay in the shadows, watching me. I can hear my licks in Purple Haze and Hey Joe. He told me the reason he started setting his guitar on fire was because he couldn't do the back flips like I did."

Shorty migrated to Los Angeles in 1971, working as a mechanic during the day while playing gigs at night. By 1975 he was playing full-time again - although he still had his share of career tribulations, including a performance (albeit a winning one) on The Gong Show in 1978, playing guitar while standing on his head. After overcoming a serious 1984 auto accident, he recorded an EP and a few more singles, showcasing his fat-toned guitar licks and rough-edged vocals.

He finally cut his debut album for the JSP label in 1990 while on tour in England. Released in 1991, MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY won the W.C. Handy Award for Contemporary Foreign Blues Album Of The Year and revitalized Shorty's career in the U.S. The New Orleans-based Black Top label signed him and released three albums during the 1990s and Evidence issued a CD in 2001. All received massive critical acclaim as Shorty barnstormed his way across the U.S. and around the world, with stops in Europe, China and Malaysia. Appearances at major festivals brought him to larger and larger audiences. At the 1998 Chicago Blues Festival, Shorty opened for his old boss, Ray Charles, and thrilled an audience of thousands with his jaw-dropping stage show.

With the release of WATCH YOUR BACK, Guitar Shorty’s long rise to blues stardom continues unabated. The outpouring of soulful emotion, the power of his playing and the strength of the material all add up to the toughest album of Shorty’s renowned career. According to the man himself, “this is the record I’ve always wanted to do. The songs and the arrangements are what’s been in my head my whole life.” Now he’s rocking harder, singing stronger and playing with a passion and dedication almost unmatched in today’s music scene.


HOUND DOG TAYLOR – RELEASE THE HOUND

RELEASE THE HOUND is a sizzling collection of some of the best previously unreleased Hound Dog Taylor material in existence. Featuring over 68 minutes of music, RELEASE THE HOUND boasts 14 live and studio performances, including stunning versions of “Wild About You, Baby,” “What’d I Say?,” “She’s Gone,” “Sen-Sa-Shun” and “Gonna Send You Back To Georgia.” Taylor’s wild guitar exuberance and joyous, soulful abandon fuel each and every song. Three instrumentals on the CD showcase Brewer Phillips’ crazed lead guitar playing. From the audience reactions on the live cuts to the untamed blues energy of the studio tracks, RELEASE THE HOUND will delight old fans and introduce new ones to Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers’ one-of-a-kind blues experience.

Born in Mississippi in 1917, Taylor didn't start playing guitar until he was 20. He worked as a sharecropper by day and played at Delta juke joints and house parties in the evenings. After a harrowing encounter with the Ku Klux Klan in 1942 (he had a cross burned in his yard), Taylor moved north to Chicago, where he performed at the famous outdoor market on Maxwell Street, competing for tips with Muddy Waters and Robert Nighthawk. Hound Dog played in ghetto bars at night while working a factory job, until the late 1950’s when he became a full time musician. He recorded one single, “Christine”/”Alley Music,” for Firma Records and another, “Take Five”/”My Baby's Coming Home,” for Bea & Baby Records in the early 1960’s. Both records were good local sellers but went largely unnoticed outside of Chicago. A session for Chess remained unissued until the 1990’s. Taylor toured Europe without his band as part of the American Folk Blues Festival, playing behind Little Walter and others, but never got a chance to show European audiences the magic of his own music.

Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers appeared at the second Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1970 (and became a featured attraction at the third, fourth and fifth Ann Arbor Blues festivals), playing to thousands of cheering college kids. When his Alligator album hit the streets in 1971, Taylor’s transition from local hero to national and international blues hero was almost immediate. Taylor began touring the country, continuing to win new, young fans. And he never changed a bit. Taylor played his music with furious abandon whether he was at Florence’s on the South Side of Chicago or entertaining college kids at Yale or Harvard. “Nobody but nobody brings the house down with a frenzy and madness like these cats,” raved Living Blues. “Deliciously raucous,” said Guitar Player.

In all, Taylor recorded a total of three Alligator albums before dying of cancer in 1975. Aside from his self-titled 1971debut, Taylor's records are 1974’s NATURAL BOOGIE and 1976’s live, Grammy©-nominated BEWARE OF THE DOG!, released a year after his death. The success of these records gave life to Alligator, allowing the fledgling label to survive and eventually thrive. In 1982 Alligator issued the Grammy©-nominated GENUINE HOUSEROCKING MUSIC, a collection of unreleased studio tracks. The continuing demand for more of Taylor’s material has brought forth a number of poorly recorded, bad sounding bootlegs over the years –recordings for which Taylor and his bandmates never saw any payments or royalties.

Years after his death, Taylor’s legendary status still continues to grow. He was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall Of Fame in 1984. And his debut album received the Blues Foundation’s Classics of Blues Recordings Award in 1996. His influence on slide guitarists who came after him is immeasurable. Artists from George Thorogood to Sonny Landreth to Vernon Reid to Gov’t Mule continue to be inspired by Hound Dog’s music. That’s why these artists and others including Elvin Bishop, Luther Allison, Ronnie Earl, Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials, Son Seals, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Sonny Landreth, Dave Hole, Michael Hill’s Blues Mob and Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin contributed songs to Alligator Records’ HOUND DOG TAYLOR – A TRIBUTE in 1998. A 1999 “Best Of,” collection entitled DELUXE EDITION, continued to spread Hound Dog’s legend around the world.

Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers played foot-stomping boogies to make fans forget their troubles and dance. They played grinding slow blues to exorcise their demons. “I’m with you, baby I’m with you,” Taylor would shout when someone yelled a request out of the audience. “Let’s have some fun,” he’d holler after sitting down and plugging in his ultra-cheap Japanese guitar into his cracked-speaker Sears Silvertone amp. And with Brewer Phillips plying bass lines on his old Fender and Ted Harvey pounding away at the drums, this three-piece blues band made a lot of wonderful noise. “When I die,” Taylor once said, “they’ll say, ‘he couldn’t play shit but he sure made it sound good.’” Almost 30 years after his death, RELEASE THE HOUND proves just how good that sound can be.

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THE HOLMES BROTHERS TO APPEAR ON 3RD ANNUAL WILLIE NELSON & FRIENDS CONCERT / TV SPECIAL
3/28/2004
Music legend Willie Nelson invited Alligator recordings artists The Holmes Brothers to join him and many other soon-to-be-announced special musical guests on his 3rd Annual “Willie Nelson & Friends” concert. The show will take place on May 5 in Los Angeles at the Wiltern Theatre and will air nationwide on Memorial Day Weekend on the USA Television Network.

THE HOLMES BROTHERS TO APPEAR ON 3RD ANNUAL WILLIE NELSON & FRIENDS CONCERT / TV SPECIAL

In the past two years, stars such as Ray Charles, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Aaron Neville, Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, The Dixie Chicks, Ryan Adams, Norah Jones, Sheryl Crow, ZZ Top, Elvis Costello, Lyle Lovett and many others have appeared with Nelson in this relaxed and fun environment.
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Holmes Brothers on World Cafe
3/23/2004
Tune in Friday, March 26th to hear the Holmes Brothers on the nationally syndicated, Public Radio International program, World Cafe! Join the Holmes Brothers for an intimate set of songs and conversation with World Cafe host, David Dye. The Holmes Brothers will play selections from their new album, Simple Truths. Fans can find their local station by going to: http://worldcafe.org or they can listen online Monday to Friday at 2pm EST or 1am EST by going to http://www.xpn.org/listen.php

Holmes Brothers Live On Acoustic Cafe
3/16/2004
The Holmes Brothers will be the featured artists on the nationally syndicated program, Acoustic Cafe, beginning the week of 3/22. Join them for an intimate set of music and conversation as they play tunes from their new release, Simple Truths. Acoustic Cafe airs on over 70 stations nationwide. Check your local listings.

Holmes Brothers in Performance at the Kennedy Center
2/24/2004
Watch two complete Holmes Brothers performances recorded at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The first is from 2001, the second from 2004.

HOLMES BROTHERS TO APPEAR ON LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O’BRIEN
2/17/2004
The Holmes Brothers – guitarist/vocalist Wendell Holmes, bassist/vocalist Sherman Holmes and drummer/vocalist Popsy Dixon – will appear on NBC Television’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” this Wednesday, February 18. They will sing “We Meet, We Part, We Remember” from their new Alligator CD, SIMPLE TRUTHS – a song Entertainment Weekly called, “A timeless original.”

HOLMES BROTHERS TO APPEAR ON LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O’BRIEN

Produced by Craig Street (Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson) and released on January 13, 2004, SIMPLE TRUTHS is receiving massive amounts of critical acclaim, radio airplay and popular support. Stellar reviews appeared in USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard, The Washington Post, The Associated Press Newswire, The Detroit Free Press, Guitar World, GuitarOne, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and All Songs Considered. Currently holding the #7 spot on the Billboard Blues Chart, SIMPLE TRUTHS is receiving airplay on over 250 stations nationwide, and was the #1 album on the Friday Morning Quarterback’s Public Radio chart two weeks straight. The album is in the Top Ten on the influential Radio & Records Americana Charts and reached the Top Five on the CMJ Adult Rock chart.

Ever since 1979, The Holmes Brothers have been bringing their brand of gospel-inflected, spiritually moving and funky music to audiences around the world. Their breathtaking harmonies resonate with a passion and conviction matched only by their inspired musicianship and their ability to perform sanctified gospel, low-down roadhouse blues, deep soul, barroom country and pure pop--all in one set.

Originally from Christchurch, Virginia, brothers Sherman and Wendell Holmes grew up listening to traditional Baptist hymns and spirituals as well as country and blues music. After moving to New York, the two formed The Sevilles in 1963, often backing up touring artists like The Impressions and John Lee Hooker. In 1979 Sherman, Wendell and a fellow Virginian, drummer Popsy Dixon, formed The Holmes Brothers band. The sound of The Holmes Brothers is unique; the rhythmic foundation laid down by Sherman's bass playing and Popsy's drumming perfectly compliment Wendell's hard-driving guitar solos. But even more gripping than their instrumental prowess is their amazing three-part harmony singing, mixing Wendell's gruff and gravelly vocals with Popsy's soaring falsetto and Sherman's rich baritone.

The Holmes Brothers have recorded with many artists, including Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel, and Joan Osborne, and have gigged all over the world. They joined the Alligator Records family in 2001, and their label debut SPEAKING IN TONGUES amazed and delighted everybody who heard it. The Chicago Tribune called it a "a gift to the world of music."

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Holmes Brothers on Voice Of America
2/12/2004
The Holmes Brothers and their new Cd, Simple Truths, are featured in a five-minute audio feature on the Voice of America Radio Network.

Holmes Brother Feature Story in Billboard.com
2/5/2004
Writer Jason Macneil interviewed the Holmes Brothers about their new CD, Simple Truths, in this feature story for Billboard.com.

B.B. King Set to Headline Living Blues’ Second Annual Blues Today Symposium
1/26/2004
OXFORD, Mississippi – Legendary musician B.B. King returns to his home state February 26-28 to perform at the University of Mississippi’s (UM) second annual Blues Today symposium. Produced by Living Blues magazine – a publication of UM’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture – the event includes everything from a panel discussion on the current state of the blues to a goat roast at a local juke joint.

Holmes Brothers' Simple Truths Reviewed on National Public Radio's All Things Considered
1/20/2004
Critic Meredith Ochs reviewed the Holmes Brothers' CD Simple Truths on the January 19, 2004 edition on the National Public Radio program All Things Considered.

Kenny Neal & Billy Branch's Double Take Reviewed in Billboard
1/19/2004
Philip Van Vleck reviewed the new Kenny Neal & Billy Branch cd, Doubletake, in the January 13, 2004 issue of Billboard.

Holmes Brothers Simple Truths Championed on All Songs Considered
1/14/2004
The Holmes Brothers new cd, Simple Truths, received a glowing endorsement from reviewer Meredeth Ochs on the National Public Radio On-Line program, All Songs Considered. Ochs declares, "This is the best contemporary electric blues record I've heard in a long time." The Holmes segment occurs at the 31:22 point in the show.