John Fred Young and Casper had a great chat about everything from Kentucky Headhunters, Home Life but more importantly BLACK STONE CHERRY new EP BLACK TO BLUES.
On the heels of their well-received 2016 album ‘Kentucky, US rockers Black Stone Cherry issue their long awaited 6-song EP, Black To Blues – a collection of blues classics and obscurities reimagined with the meaty moxie of classic BSC.
“I know it’s crazy for four rock n’ roll dudes to make a blues EP, but it’s us sharing with everyone the music that’s been our DNA from day one,” vocalist and guitarist Chris Robertson says.
‘Black To Blues’ pays homage to the fertile 1960s era of electric blues where the masters pushed boundaries with both experimentation and volume. The EP includes legendary songs made famous by some of the finest names in the history of the blues – Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, and Albert King.
Before their five critically acclaimed albums, the 12,000-cap arena shows, topping the UK charts, and sharing the stage with superstars like Def Leppard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bad Company, Alter Bridge and Shinedown, the guys in the Kentucky-based active rock powerhouse were just teenagers finding their way jamming on the blues.
“A defining moment for me was realizing all the rock n’ roll that I loved came from the blues,” Chris says.
With Mascot Label Group home to some of the finest blues icons of their generation such as Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart, Walter Trout, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Gales, Jonny Lang, Robben Ford, Bernie Marsden, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Sonny Landreth and more, it seemed the perfect time for Black Stone Cherry to release ‘Black to Blues’.
As a lead vocalist, Chris honed his burly pipes studying the power of the Texas Tornado himself, Freddie King, who they cover on ‘Black to Blues’ and, throughout their career, the group has always sprinkled in a few blues evergreens in their live set.
“The blues is such honest music. When you hear it, it’s like ‘I’m down on my luck, and, damn, that guy gets just how I feel.’” Chris shares. “I hope by sharing this music we have the beautiful opportunity to expose a new generation to the blues.”
The EP was recorded this past spring (US) at David Barrick’s Barrick Recording, the same studio where BSC recorded its recent album ‘Kentucky.’ Self-produced and tracked in two days, the band favoured a raw, in-the-moment production aesthetic to capture the inspired sessions.
Chris adds: “Our approach was to do these songs as if we had written them, with attitude and heavy guitar.”
Black To Blues opens with the Howlin’ Wolf classic ‘Built For Comfort.’ Here, they harness the song’s dark energy with foot-stomping burly riffage, impassioned whiskey and honey vocals, and a peaks and valleys arrangement that features virtuosic bursts of bluesy guitar brilliance, smoky quiet passages, and mountains crashing down climaxes. Throughout the EP, the imaginative arrangements, soulful vocals, and subtle band interplay evoke the halcyon days of heavy blues acts such as Free and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac.
On ‘Champagne & Reefer’ they mesmerise with deft slide guitar playing and powerful contrasting haunting and hefty dynamics. Other standouts include a raucous take of Muddy Waters version of ’ ‘I Want To Be Loved,’ complete with jaw-dropping blues-rock guitar solos, and a clever rendition of Freddie King’s ‘Palace Of King”, there they “moved one note to make it more dark,” Chris reveals.
The blues is always a sage teacher, and making the ‘Black To Blues’ EP was a transformative experience for Black Stone Cherry.
Chris says: “It was humbling and freeing at the same time. It reignited our passion for this music, and it will definitely have an effect on our next album.”
Black To Blues was released September 29.
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