Fighting Market Forces

Excerpt From:
Arts Media
Boston’s Culture Magazine


Music
Fighting Market Forces
By Joseph Viglione


The story of the musical group Stonecrazy and the creation of their album, “Stone Crazy,” is a snapshot of just how hard it is to record and market important art as the new millennium rambles on.  One would think the pairing of blues guitarist Kenny Pino – sideman to the legendary Johnny Copeland – and J. Geils’ bassist Danny Klein – would be the kind of combination major record companies would snap at.  You’ve got two players who toured Europe with Debbie Davies, giving these professionals time to find their own groove, along with seven to eight years to carefully put the pieces of Stonecrazy together.

Factoring in the collective longevity and ability to track solid music efficiently and effectively, signing the group to one of the J. Geils Band’s old homes, EMI or Atlantic, should have been elementary.  But we are talking about the nuttiest business in the history of the universe, and important art doesn’t always get its due.

With a torturously slow incubation, the initial Stonecrazy tapes, much like J. Geils’ starts and stops when Jon Landau was producing the early (1969 or so) sides that never made their way to vinyl, Danny Klein, Ken Pino, harp-playing brother Babe Pino and drummer Steve Shaheen put some music together in the studio.  With Shaheen’s drumming they had a good, laidback style, a live show in Chelsea caught on video back in the late 1990s documenting that part of their evolution.  The first CDR of studio material had a special charm in a world where the blues market is just glutted with material.  No label picked it up, and though it got aired along wih a Danny Klein interview on Mark Snyder’s AM radio show on WMSX, and with college radio play recognizing there was something here, the early Stonecrazy demos became casualties of record label indifference, and sought after collector’s items by hardcore Geils fantatics.

Enter Mark Hylander of the groups Sass and Duke and The Drivers.  Hylander phoned this writer up and asked if there was a band looking for his talents.  Knowing Shaneen was about to leave Stonecrazy, the thought of Geils’ bassist playing alongside Duke and The Driver’s drummer made perfect sense – “Duke,” after all, was a band that idolized the Geils attitude and mystique.  The union worked, and despite an interruption when Geils got back together to tour in 1999, the group has stayed intact with Babe Pino, Ken Pino, Danny Klein and Mark Hylander.

A little background on the concept’s development: Danny Klein is a Boston rock & roll pioneer and legend.  When Peter Wolf and Stephen Jo Bladd were in a 1960s band called “The Hallucinations,” Danny, John “J” Geils, and Magic Dick were taking classes at Worcestoer Poly Tech and playing in their ensemble – The J. Geils Blues Band.  When they all joined forces and signed to Atlantic, their unique brand of blues/pop-fusion started taking hold, especially with the classic “Homework.”  The band eventually recorded with the great duo Buddy Guy and Junior Wells on Atlantic in 1972.  A decade later Buddy Guy went on to release an album on Alligator entitled “Stone Crazy.”

Come 2005 the band finds their music released on Al Cocorochio’s Black Rose Records, a label that boasts Sal Baglio’s Stompers, Tom Hambridge, Boston Rockabilly Music Conspiracy and others.  That it took over eight years for the fourteen tracks to finally see the light of day is a good indicator of how tough it is to get the formula just right when major labels are too busy buying each other up to get behind the work of musicians who have already paid their dues.  Musicians who are the real deal.


Blues King Kirkland Plays the Real Thing

Excerpt From:
The Boston Sunday Globe
November 30, 1986


Blues King Kirkland Plays the Real Thing
Eddie Kirkland with The New Hawks and Pinetop Perkins, Luther Johnson and The Magic Rockers at Nightstage Friday Night
By Elijah Wald
Special to the Globe


“I’m 60 years old,” Eddie Kirkland crowed near the end of his first set.  “And when I get to be a hundred, on my birthday I’ll be right up on stage.  And I won’t be sitting down!”

On Friday night, that boast was easy to believe.  In an age when blues fans are mostly fed a diet of guitar technicians and unsubtle shouters, Kirkland was a taste of the real thing.  He had a high-energy drive and a degree of passion and emotional impact that have all but disappeared from the scene.  His dress was uptown, a red and black ensemble topped with a jeweled turban, but his music was down home.

Kirkland has been playing professionally since he was 12.  Best known for his guitar work on John Lee Hooker’s records from the 1940s and early ‘50s, he has recorded off and on as a solo artist and even toured for a while with Otis Redding.  Through it all all, he has maintained a raw, unadorned style and the great bluesman’s talent of being able to make even the most familiar material sound not only new but person and vital.

A high point of Kirkland’s set occurred on “Stormy Monday,” one of the most overdone songs in blues.  Following a choppy and searing guitar intro, Kirkland sang the standard verses and traded blistering solos with guitarist Silvertone Steve of the New Hawks.  Then, motioning into a long gospel-style digression on the theme, “You never miss your water till the well runs dry.”  He worried his words like an old time preacher, repeating verses of “Help me!” – each phrase more passionate than the last.

Kirkland’s guitar work was a far cry from the current mainstream.  He displayed a dirty, biting tone and performed with his whole body, twisting and crouching and wringing every scrap of feeling from solos that had no flashy runs but were constantly surprising as they branched out in odd directions and always came out right in the end.  He showed his best work during his endings, taking off on flights of imagination as the tension built, then crashing to a powerful close.

For the second set, Kirkland opened with another standard,  “Kansas City,” featuring his harmonica.  Carrying his microphone, he roamed the stage and came out to blow wailing solos in the audience.  Younger men may be winning the awards and the press attention, but Kirkland proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is one of handful of artists who art truly kings of the blues.

Friday’s featured attraction was a reunion of Pinetop Perkins time stalwarts of Muddy Waters’ band.  Johnson is a strong local favorite and he was in fine form, playing good guitar leads and neatly supporting Perkin’s rolling barrelhouse piano. 

Unfortunately for the Perkins-Johnson set, solid musicianship, a tight band and a bright, rocking sound were not enough to follow Kirkland’s show.  On any other night they would have been fine, but Friday they sounded like a back-up band in search of a strong front man.

Leaving ‘The Wreckage’ Behind: Tom Hambridge Packs Up for the Big Time in Nashville

Excerpt From:
Merrimack Valley Sunday
Vol 12 / No 2
Sunday, October 4, 1998


Arts & Leisure
Leaving ‘The Wreckage’ Behind
Tom Hambridge Packs Up for the Big Time in Nashville
By Chuck Ginsberg


Tom Hambridge’s “final” Newburyport gig is Oct. 11.

Six years to the day from his debut, he says goodbye to Sundays at The Grof, co-hosts Parker Wheeler and Fly Amero, and the groupies who listen avidly, sitting, standing, leaning, or dancing, right up until last call.

It ain’t about the booze; it’s all about the music.  Tommy Hambridge is too.

They were just getting started, Fly Amero recalls, and Hambridge, “had a spectacular reputation.”

Amero called up the “busiest guy in the world” and told him “we have this really cool Sunday thing going on.”

Hambridge came.  “It worked, we clicked, we hit it off immediately.”

The “wonderful player” who became a close personal friend “brought some serious credibility to this gig in terms of other people realizing it was here,” adds Parker Wheeler.

The feeling is decidedly mutual.  Hambridge, who has never had a real job, but once came dangerously close, refuses to close the door.

“I love playing with Parker and Fly,” he declares.  “They’re brilliant artists, why I keep coming back every week.  I love The Grog, that whole scene.  I get to play with different musicians ... friends who are great musicians ... every Sunday.”

His maniacal efforts not to miss a Sunday are legendary.

“Ask Parker,” he says, laughing, thought deadly serious.  “I’ll be in Denver Saturday at 11, fly back, come right from the airport to make the gig.  I’ll play New York City the night before, drive all day to The Grog. I want to be there.”


All the Little Successes

While peers struggle, this music “lifer” is leaving a secure, lucrative, “cool Boston” scene where the phone never stops ringing.  His skills as drummer, singer, record producer, and songwriter are in constant deman.  In the 1980s, right out of Boston’s Berklee College of Music, he became Roy Buchanan’s lead singer-drummer, backed Chuck Berry, Brook Benton, Bo Diddley, and the Motown groups.  “Anything with an ‘s’ on it,” he explains, “Martha and the Vandellas, The Drifters, The Coasters, The Marvelettes, The Shirelles.”

More recently, he has toured with Patty Larkin, and Jonatha Brooke through the U.S. and Europe.

Last year, he backed up Carly Simon and Jimmy Buffett at Bill Clinton’s 51st birthday bash.  Just “Hillary, Chelsea, Bill Clinton, and some of his friends,” like Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen.  The CD Hambrdige produced for rising star Susan Tedeschi is on the charts, practically guaranteeing Hambridge years of residuals and name recognition in the industry.

The songs he wrote for the CD are also on the charts, cutting wide swathes, domestically and beyond.  They get constant play on WBOS, KISS 108, and WAAF in Boston, and on New York City morning drive-time radio.  One song, “Mad About You,” was featured on network TV in the Robert DeNiro movie, “Witness to the Mob.”

Locally, he and his band, The Wreckage, have garnered numerous Boston Music Awards for playing and songwriting.  They have four CDs and Hambridge is working on another.  He is proud of the band, the memories, and the friendships.


Why Leave?

Living is good and so is The Grog.  Why, then, is Hambridge loading wife Chris, daughter Rachel, and the cats, into a van, destination Nashville?  Sure it’s the big time, but every waiter, cook, and dishwasher there is a songwriter.  The glut of musicians means $30 for a live gig, and, often, a four-year wait to get it.  Studio jobs are locked up by players who’ve already paid their dues.  Records are made by huge labels with humungous budgets and in-house producers.

There are several reasons.  One of the main ones is his Boston success.  The pace has quickened considerably in the last 18 years, but Hambridge always planned “eventually to go to New York, Los Angeles, or Nashville, where the record companies are, where the business is.

“Why not be where they’re doing it everyday? On the way there, I got tied in with my own band ... developed a following.  The longer I stayed, the harder it would be for me to leave.  With all the little success I have going on right now, maybe this would be the only chance to go.”

Nashville is a chance to sequester himself, too.  Often his own worst enemy, Hambridge is easily seduced into spreading himself too thing.  He wants to play music, and when someone asks, it is too often, “wow, way cool,” and off to another recording session. Produce my CD?  “Sure, I have some ideas.”  An important gig?  “Ten new tunes? I’ll learn them this weekend.”

In theory, Nashville is the escape hatch.

“Initially, I’ll try to focus on getting some guy to play my music, produce my record, getting the record company interested in my songs.  That’s going to last as long as I can hold out, before my family is starving and I have to get on a bus and do four weeks on tour to make some money.”

Chris is impressed with the beauty of Nashville and the people.  Really excited about the move, she’s pretty sure it isn’t “forever.”  Both of them are excited, too, about the possibility of buying a house where prices are rising but still manageable.  It was, in fact, their Medford landlord’s eviction notice that gave added impetus to the Southern adventure.


Drumming On Everything

Born in Jamestown, N.Y., the youngest of four children, Hambridge attended a different school every year until the fifth grade.  His father, a trouble-shooter for the Dairy Queen chain, finally tired of airports and annual uprootings, and bought his own little store in Buffalo.

At age 5, Hambridge’s parents grew weary of his constant banging (“I beat on everything”) and bought him a set of toy drums.  Quickly demolishing that, he moved up to a full kit.  By the third grade, he was performing professionally with a band of high school kids, and it’s been bands ever since.

A three-sport captain in high school, he made time for jazz bands, jazz fusion bands, and rock bands.  Every Wednesday, after practice, he borrowed his dad’s car and played a gig in downtown Buffalo until 1 or 2 in the morning.  It was not a completely misspent youth.  He loved drummer Buddy Rich: “a guy who has the chops” and Ringo Starr: “Nobody plays a song better than Ringo.”  He “nailed” Peter Noone’s Herman’s Hermits sound as an adult because he’d scoped it out at age 7.  The same with Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, and Del Shannon.  He or his siblings had played them incessantly.

“I always wanted to play college ball.  That was a big thing,” he recalls.  But he’s thankful he still has his faculties and extremities in good order.  To avoid going “nuts,” he settled on Berklee College of Music, a small school, a small scholarship, and no big-time football program.

His parents love it because they thought that “inevitably, I’d be making music the rest of my life.”  Despite all that, he missed football and contemplated a transfer, a road he now realizes was best not taken.

Berklee was four years of playing in bands “all over.”  Suddenly, he’d graduated.

Hambridge had worked in his father’s Dairy Queen, but, he’d never had another job.

“I got really spooked out.  Wow!  Now, I’m done. Life has got to be good to me; I’ve got this degree.”  Hambridge saw a phone number on TV to call about selling “Lazy Boy chairs or beds.”  He sat impatiently during the interview, hardly hearing the sales pitch for “this new world of work.”

Back home in Allston, Chris, his high school sweetheart, then girlfriend and now wife, said, “What are you doing?”  The phone rang and she answered.  It was an audition to play with blues guitarist Roy Buchanan.

“It was like God looked down and said ‘What are you doing?”  I never called the (Lazy Boy chair) guy back.”  That was his first big name gig and it led to more.

Hambridge constantly meets musicians who used to play music before they got married, or played until they had to get a real job.  He is blunt.  “I call myself a lifer.  You meet people who say ‘I’ve been struggling in this business for years, but it’s all I do.’  It’s in their blood, that’s what they do, and they can’t change.”

Chris understood.  “I knew he was a musician and married him anyway. You have to do what you enjoy,” she says.

Fortunately, making a living has never been a problem.  It has not always been easy.  There are the constant separations.  Christ has gone on some of the trips, like the one to New Orleans.  But the tours are long, evenings spent in lonely hotel rooms writing songs.  It’s tough, too, being away from the family.  Europe for six weeks just before Rachel’s birth; the U.S. for five weeks, when Rachel was only 2 months old.

A supportive wife helps.  “My wife and I have this relationship,” he begins, emotion cracking in his voice, “Chris knows this is what I do and this is how I support my family.”

He also does not go out just to go out.  “It has to be very, very creative musically, things that would be good for us,” he says.

Jonatha Brooke, for example, is on MCA, a big label.  “It’s an amazing gig.  A lot of drummers in the world want to play with her, and it’s done very correctly, very professionally.”  It’s done right financially, too, and that’s sometimes hard to come by.


Remembering the Legends

Rock legend memories trip off Hambridge’s tongue.  The Wreckage recently opened for Jerry Lee Lewis.  Lewis opened for Roy Orbison, James Brown, Chuck Berry, and Carl Perkins, when Hambridge played with them.  He loves the music and the musicians.  Opening for Leon Russell, he went out to watch the set, just wanting to hand with Russell.  With the highlights, however, comes reality.  Roy Buchanan is special, “the greatest guitar player I ever played with, or ever will in this lifetime ... just absolutely scary.”

The mysterious circumstances of Buchanan’s death reluctantly accepted, he says, “I loved him dearly. He’s gone and I miss him.” Hambridge played his last concert a week before Buchanan’s death.  He also opened for Roy Orbison three nights before Orbison died an did Brook Benton’s last gig.


Next Stage

Life is full of passages, and Tom Hambridge is embarking on another one.  He has not forgotten The Grog and the musicians he’s played with there.  George Leh is one.  “When George comes in, wow, I hear that voice and go, oh my gosh, what a voice.”  Amyl Justin is another.  Toni Lynn Washington is “just brilliant.”  Susan Tedeschi is “amazing.”  The list goes on.

Nashville may not be ready for the way he wants to make music, “too corporate, or too something.”  He may be back.  If not to stay, certainly to visit and sit in.  Fly Amero, however, is emphatic about the direction of Hambridge’s future, secure in the knowledge that they will play together again, if not at The Grog, then in Chicago, or San Francisco.

As for cracking the big time in Nashville, “It’s just a questions of how quickly people can understand what amazing tools he has,” Amero says.  “Tommy’s a great songwriter.  He’s not what you’d call a drummer.  He’s a musician ... everything that Tommy does is musical.  There are great drummers who can play fantastic grooves and really make the band rock, and lift right off the stage.  Tommy does all that, but he’s more.  When he plays he’s thinking arrangement all the time so everything has its context, everything goes from one stage to the next dynamically.

“That’s the beauty of Tommy.  That’s why you can’t put a price on his head.  That’s why he’s irreplaceable.”  Parker and Fly understand that Tommy has to do what Tommy has to do.  Newburyport has two more Sundays to be able to say, “I knew him when...”


Boston Rockabilly Music Conspiracy - Get Goin’

Excerpt From:
Goldmine
October 10, 1996


Rock Record Reviews
Boston Rockabilly Music Conspiracy - Get Goin’
Black Rose (1003)
By Joe Tortelli


The Boston Rockabilly Music Conspiracy is based in a city unconnected to the development of rockabilly, but the Beantown quintet shakes off regional stereotyping on this 14-song album.

“Get Goin’,” the lead track, sets the groove with its boogie-woogie piano, steady rhythm section, and pointed Carl Perkins/Scotty Moore style guitar riffs.  One of four tunes composed by bassist John Tate, “Get Goin’” is catchy, contemporary rockabilly that transcends its influences.

Instead of covering the most familiar rockabilly hits, B.R.M.C. selects rarer gems like Ray Sharpe’s “Linda Lu,” Hank and Eddie Cochran’s “Tired and Sleepy,” and Jimmy Pritchett’s “That’s The Way I Feel.”  Pianist Vic Layne uncorks his Jerry Lee Lewis piano-pumping and vocal pitches on “End Of The Road” and “Milkshake Mademoiselle.”  The band offers enthusiastic, authoritative interpretations of these and other classics, avoiding the trap of slavishly copying the originals.

That’s what Get Goin’ is about:  A northeastern, urban band of the ‘80s laying claim to a southern, rural tradition of the ‘50s.

(Black Rose Records, 24 Central St., Saugus, MA 01960).

Black Rose Records: 21 Years of Independence

Excerpt From:
Spectrum
New England Blues Society
www.newenglandblues.com


Black Rose Records: 21 Years of Independence
By Peter Cahill


Al Cocorochio had a vision back in 1980, the idea of having a record label that his friends could release their music on without giving up their creativity.  Al, a self-described “frustrated wannabe musician and singer,” decided that his love of music had to fit into this puzzle somewhere.

So in June 1980, he put together his first release, “Bert Paquette and the New Gamblers.”  Now he needed a name for his label.  At the suggestion of friends, he decided to name the label after Elvis’ favorite flower, the black rose. And so Black Rose Records was launched out of his home.

Today, 21 years and 30 releases later, the grassroots label is still housed out of his home in Saugus, Mass.  The catalog includes all his favorite types of music, blues, country, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll.

The musicians that have recorded on Black Rose are:  Bert Paquette and the New Gamblers, Cub Koda,  T.H. (Tom Hambridge) and the Wreckage, The New Hawks, Maynard Silva, Silvertone Steve, Big Bill (Rauworth), Liz Lannon, BRMC (Boston Rockabilly Music Conspiracy), Bobby Fosmire, Cold Cold Heart, Preacher Jack, Elijah Wald, Frank O’Brien, Brewer Phillips, Apache, Brenda and the New Hawks and Eric and the Hawks.

Al recently helped bring Jimmy D. Lane, son of the late great Jimmy Rogers, to town to record with legendary drummer Ted Harvey.  They recorded in the studio and also did a live recording at Johnny D’s.

He is also talking about producing a CD with The Wildcats (he says he loves Fay Shugrue’s vocals) and a project with Parker Wheeler and Fly Amero from the Sunday Night Blues at the Grog in Newburyport, Mass.

The only prerequisite to recording on Black Rose – Al has to like the material.  It’s a pretty simple formula in a world of red tape and disappointments from the larger labels.  No wonder why musicians are seeking out Al and Black Rose for their releases.

Last year, Black Rose released “20 Years of Black Rose (Vol. 1)”, which really gives a great overview of the diversity of the Black Rose family.  The release coincided with the Black Rose 20th Anniversary party held last June at Johnny D’s.  Most of the musicians that are on the label performed to a packed house.

After four solid hours of music, I had to leave the club to be up for work that morning, but I heard that the music kept going until dawn.

The CD really highlights the respect that Al has earned from the local music community.  It has 18 cuts on it from Black Rose releases, one unreleased live track, one of my favorites, “Open House at My House” by Kenny “the K” Krumbholz and a spoken word selection by Al.  Some of my other favorites include, “2x9” by The New Hawks, “Handful of Gimme” by Big Bill’s Band, “Two Men” by Liz Lannon Band, “Greenie” by Silvertone Steve, “Sacred Heart of Jesus” by Preacher Jack, “You Don’t Have to Go” by Brewer Phillips and “In the Groove” by Maynard Silva.

Being an independent label does have its downfalls though.  Although Black Rose doesn’t have the overhead of an office and a large staff, it is very costly and difficult to get your product noticed and to the consumer.  Most of the sales rely directly on the bands to distribute at gigs and word of mouth.  Black Rose records does have a link on Dirtywater.com, but distribution and major advertising costs big money.

Al said that the first question most musicians ask about it distribution.  This is a problem that he has been working on for a while.  Advertising is limited to local blues publications and any free press he can get.

Most of the seed money put into the production, etc. of the recordings is personal money invested by the bands and Al and his belief in the product.  Some people say he’s crazy to be doing this for so long and not generating money for himself.  But for Al, it all goes back to his love of music and the satisfaction of helping out.  Everybody has a good word about Al – he is one of the nicest guys in the business.

On Sunday night, April 22, Blues at the Grog with Fly Amero and Parker Wheeler presented an evening of Black Rose Records.  Featured artists were, Big Bill, Liz Lannon, Kenny “the K” Krumbholz, “Silvertone” Steve, Leroy Pina, and Diane Gately.

This was one hell of a blues show.  They knocked the crowd dead.  The evening started out with Fly and Parker fronting the band, with a three-guitar attack of Bill, Parker, and Steve. Leroy started out drumming and soon Diane was laying down the beat.  The Big Bill took over center stage and started belting out a few originals and was soon joined by Liz and did a few duets.

The place was smoking, everybody was dancing and Liz just brought the house down.  Four hours went by like minutes.  The musicians were so on target.  Sometimes you can forget just how great your friends can swing it up and then bring it right back down to the alley.  This was the blues at its best, and we can all thank Al for bringing it to us on Black Rose Records.

How ironic that on the car ride home from Newburyport, while listening to Blues on Sunday on WBOS with Holly Harris, that she would be talking about Black Rose Records and Al Cocorochio.  She played “Handful of Gimme” by Big Bill’s Band, an Alabama Frank selection and “Lightning Rod” by Maynard Silva.

Holly is so supportive of the local scene, she is to be commended for her effort.  She even mentioned that the show had gone on at The Grog that evening, and it just sent a chill through me.

Once again, Al Cocorochio had pulled together another great show.  And once again, that little record company from Saugus, and its artists made big splash in the blues pool.

So go out and support the local independent labels.  They are pure blues with no red tape.

CD Review: Big Bill’s Band: Handful of Gimme

Excerpt From:
New England Blues Spectrum
The Official Publication of the New England Blues Society
Volume 1 / Issue 1
Fall 1998


CD Review
Big Bill’s Band: Handful of Gimme
By Peter Cahill


Big Bill Rauworth has really outdone himself on “Handful of Gimme”, he has gathered a grammy award winning rhythm section, Kenny Krumbholz and Leroy Pina, the raw guitar of Silvertone Steve, and the incredible harp and piano of Tom Jesser, to round out his guitar and vocals.

Together they are Big Bill’s Band, no ego’s here just a funky blues groove to get your feet tapping and hips swaying.

This debut by the band is a great CD from beginning to end, with just the right selection of covers by some of Bill’s favorite artists and a couple of originals that blend just perfectly.  Bill has a monotone voice, sort of half-talking his way through, and his clean guitar playing is complimented by the raw and wild guitar playing by Silverton Steve.  Tom’s piano and harp playing is remarkable, and the rhythm section just kicks throughout.

There are ten selections on the disc, two of which are originals and a couple of reworked standards.  “I Am the Blues” is a tip of the hat to the death of Willie Dixon, and the influence on Bill’s Blues.

“Handful of Gimme” is an honest look at the ups and downs an artist must face when playing the blues for a living, from the opening line “You come in smiling / say you gonna make me a star” to the chorus “I know what you’re selling.... Handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged.”

The finale song on the disc “Oreo Cookie Blues” is a howl and sung with such conviction, it makes you want to run to the store and pick up a bar or two.

This CD should be a must for anyone looking for a great party record, it’s not going to make Billboard top 11, but it can’t find its way out of my CD player....


Black Rose Record Party

Excerpt From:
The Grog Restaurant Newsletter
Sunday, October 14
www.thegrog.com


Black Rose Record Party

Al Cocorochio a.k.a. Al C. has spent many a Sunday at the Grog over the years as a friend and mentor to “T.H.” Hambridge (an original Black Rose artist), Susan Tedeschi, Sal Baglio.  Tonight we get to meet Al C. as he shares many of the fine artists featured on his Black Rose Record Label.  Founded 20 years ago, Black Rose has become a tight knit family of blues artists who’s projects have intertwined not only because of their common denominator in musical style, but, like any fine ensemble, are backboned from the bottom up with a solid foundation.  Tonight the chores are handled by a pair of Grammy Award winners from “The New Hawks” – drummer/vocalist Leroy Pina and bassman/vocalist Kenny Krumbholz.  Besides adding his touch to many of the Black Rose projects, guitarist “Silvertone” Steve credits include stints with J.B. Hutto and The New Hawks, Eddie Clearwater, Sunnyland Slim, Carey Bell, Eddie Kirkland and Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson.  Drummer Diane Gately (Liz Lannon Band, “Weepin” Willie) will add her touch to the proceedings.  Vocalist Liz Lannon (“Blues Party,” “Live at the Bluetrain.” “Liz Lannon Band” rocked this house last year with a surprise guest appearance with Shirley Lewis.  Liz has stormed the New England music scene.  Vocalist/guitarist “Big” Bill Rauworth (“Handful of Gimme” “Mahogany Hall”) and I first met in 1992.  It was my six week hiatus from the “Blues Party” and the transition from the open jam to my partnership with Fly Amero took place.  Things seemed pretty low my first week away and a force of nature compelled me to “The Blue Note” in Lynn, Massachusetts and “Big” Bill’s jam session.  It was a wonderful night and I knew on my ride back home to Maine what I had to do to make everything all right.  The rest is history.  Thanks Bill.