California Rocker

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Paul Nelson GRAMMY Nom: ‘My Friend the Late Johnny Winter Would Be Proud of Joe Louis Walker and Me’

EXCLUSIVE: Producer of GRAMMY-Nominated Blues Album Chats with California Rocker

By DONNA BALANCIA

Blues great Joe Louis Walker is getting some.  After all, that’s what he asks for in his GRAMMY nominated album ‘Everybody Wants a Piece.’

And Paul Nelson is helping him. Paul is the force behind the music, who rose the ranks as performer and as producer to, most notably, the late Johnny Winter. Paul produced and and also performed on Everybody Wants a Piece, which has been nominated for a GRAMMY Award this year in the Blues category.

“What I like about Joe Louis Walker is he’s a contemporary blues artist but he respects the tradition of the older musicians,” Nelson said about Walker.

 

Paul Nelson and Pork Chop

Nelson is no newbie to this GRAMMY business. He won a GRAMMY two years ago for producing the Johnny Winter album, Step Back, Johnny’s last record.

But with every musician there are different styles and different results from collaboration, Paul said.

Paul’s beloved dog, Pork Chop will be memorialized on the record – Photo courtesy of Paul Nelson

“With Joe, I wanted to get the best performance possible,” Nelson said.

The songs were recorded at Chop Shop, Nelson’s studio in Connecticut.

“We had a lot of fun,” Paul said. “And the album also features my dog Pork Chop, who died. He was a miniature Pinscher. He barked on one of the songs. So, he’s now a GRAMMY-nominated dog! He will be forever remembered.”

Nelson said he was proud of the work.

“Everyone on the record did a fantastic job,” he said.

Is the Blues Genre a Dying Breed?

Nelson says he doesn’t think the blues as a genre is going away any time soon.

Paul Nelson: The Blues Will Live On

“I don’t think the blues is dying, it’s meshing together with other types of music, like southern rock, or with music from New Orleans, that kind of mixture. There’s been a huge influence from Britain. Everyone’s looking at the Claptons, a lot of British fans know the tradition. Jeff Beck, a lot of singing guitar players. We’ve lost the art of frontman. It’s hard to find the next Bobby Blue Bland.”

Nelson said the music may be evolving and so is the presentation.

 

Paul Nelson – Photo courtesy of Paul Nelson

Acoustic Blues Guitar

“There’s a big call for acoustic because of the economy and it’s easier to hire one artist,” he said. “There are pockets of places in Florida and New Orleans where you’ll see that. It’s really becoming difficult for artists to survive these days. But the Blues isn’t going away. It’s the first thing people learn to play to this day. It’s not going anywhere.”

Paul says he thinks of Johnny often and still has a hard time without his friend and mentor.

‘Johnny Wanted Me to Succeed’

“Johnny wanted to be considered blues but he always had rock stigma because of the clothes, because of his style,” Paul said. “He always wanted me to succeed, he wanted me to do well. When we were finishing up recording Step Back, he leaned over to me and said ‘If we don’t get a GRAMMY for this, they’re nuts.'”

Paul said he had to keep his resolve when he accepted the GRAMMY for Step Back.

“When I hit the podium at Staples Center it was difficult,” Paul said. “It was very emotional. Edgar came up with me.”

As for this year, Paul said he is thankful.

“I’m just crossing my fingers and I appreciate everyone thinking of me for a second time,” Paul said. “And the great thing is, my phone is ringing off the hook.”

 

The Talented Phil Gammage Shares His Bluesy Life with New Album, ‘Used Man for Sale’

Phil Gammage is a 'Used Man for Sale,' but he sounds darn good - Photo courtesy Johann Vipper

Phil Gammage is a ‘Used Man for Sale,’ but he sounds darn good – Photo courtesy Johann Vipper

By DONNA BALANCIA

Phil Gammage has truly got the blues.

And that’s a good thing for listeners. The talented singer-songwriter’s state of mind has brought about the heartfelt works via his new album Used Man for Sale. 

Used Man for Sale, underscores Phil’s talent as singer-songwriter and is a thought-provoking piece that rifles through everything from love and success to breaking up and then getting away from it all.

Phil sounds like a combination of Elvis and the beloved folk singer Fred Neil, who was covered by everyone from Linda Ronstadt to Harry Nilsson.

But he’s got a new age edge and his rockabilly style has been put to good work on a range of TV shows and films.

Most of the songs on Used Man for Sale are tell of love or heartbreak, they’re beautifully written, and Phil’s excellent voice acts as a more than suggestive guide commenting on life’s ups and downs.

Phil takes a break from the heartbreak with a smile - Photo courtesy of Tim Macy - California Rocker

Phil takes a break from the heartbreak with a smile – Photo courtesy of Tim Macy

Phil’s a rare commodity in the do-it-yourself, cookie-cutter world of music today.  He takes the time to tell the story, he projects the words forward with deliciously simple melodies and sits back and lets the story unfold.

Stream Used Man for Sale here: https://soundcloud.com/wwv/sets/used-man-for-sale

Phil sounds like he’s a little road weary, or that he’s tired of running. It’s obvious he’s been on the road looking for the next thing.  When will it come?  He has a big train on the album cover, which indicates the strong possibility he’s been around or lives in a perpetual state of motion.

Regarding the track list, “Locomotive” is good with a lot of power, we love the lusty “I Beg of You,”  the adventuresome “Ride With Railroad Bill” and the hopelessly upbeat “Lost in Loserville.”

Perhaps one of the best assets is Phil’s fantastic voice. It’s a voice that will make any gal swoon.  It’s a rare talent Phil was born with and wherever he’s going next, we want to tag along.

Punk Rock Legend Chip Kinman and his New Band, Ford Madox Ford, Release Single, Announce Tour

Guys Behind Rank and File Create ‘Blues-Punk’ With Ford Madox Ford

Chip Kinman and Ford Madox Ford release a new single, "Expect It" - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Chip Kinman and Ford Madox Ford release a new single, “Expect It” – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA

Chip Kinman, the power behind Rank and File and The Dils, is using his new band Ford Madox Ford to take the Blues into the future.  The innovator behind “cow-punk” has re-envisioned “blues-punk” and is taking it on tour.

Kinman, the well-known SoCal punk legend, has put together Ford Madox Ford with guitarist — and son — Dewey Peek, bassist Matt Littell and S. Scott Arguero on drums. His brother, Tony Kinman, produces and writes the music.

Ford Madox Ford plays The Pike in Long Beach on June 18 and La Cita on June 24; there’s a live radio gig on KXLU on June 29 and then they’re off to tour Canada in July with the band Three O’Clock Train.  Ford Madox Ford returns to The Pike on July 30.

“We’ve got a great single and we’re going on tour,” said Kinman. “I’m happy to be playing music again.”

Dewey Peek with Chip Kinman during a Redwood gig - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Dewey Peek with Chip Kinman during a Redwood gig – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

On The Road

Kinman had taken a break from performing — a 10-year break — but is coming back strong; just wrapping a residency at punk hangout, The Redwood Bar and Grill, with his cool band.

The new Ford Madox Ford single is called “Expect It” written by Chip and Dewey, and on the B side is the tune “Before The Fall,” written by Chip, Dewey and Tony.  Tony also produces. The music is on Porterhouse Records.

Ford Madox Ford has been bringing its music to the people, playing gigs all over. Tony, too, has been on the scene, recently belting out “Big Train,” one of the Kinman boys’ most famous and most covered classics.

Watch Tony Kinman sings "Big Train" at Redwood - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Watch Tony Kinman sing “Big Train” at Redwood – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Chip and his brother are coming back into music at a time when technology has taken over. A lot of things have changed.

“There are a lot more outlets for social media, but there’s no substitute for a good band,” Chip said. He feels his music relates not only to died-in-the-wool punkers, but to music lovers in all age brackets.

“Our band ranges in age from 58 to 21,” Kinman said. “But I have rules: No one can be older than me, no one can be fatter than me and no one can play shittier than me.”

From Country to The Blues

The Kinmans set the West Coast punk rock standard in the late ’70s.  The Dils were famous for their politically-energized songs like “I Hate The Rich,” “Class War” and “Mr. Big,” which were covered by all sorts of famous, and not-so-famous bands too.  Their band, Rank and File, was a departure into country, a genre that was getting no attention, but the Kinmans blew it up.

Chip said while Rank and File put a punk spin on country, he’s trying something new this time around in adapting the blues to his punk style.

“Blues is a great form, open to interpretation,” Chip said.  “It’s something I’ve never done before and I knew I had something to offer.”

Chip and Matt Littell - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Chip and Matt Littell – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

While he says there are a lot of good up and comers out there, Chip said that among the younger bands, he’s into the Katellas and Florida Mistakes.

“They’re two great young punk bands,” he said. “All punk bands should be young. It’s noooooooo place for old people, sorry.”

And given that, what does Kinman think of vinyl making a comeback?

“It’s great fun,” he said.  “Vinyl is perfect for the blues and punk.”

Carlsbad Guys

Chip and Tony grew up in Carlsbad and moved to Burbank years ago.  But they have fond memories of growing up in the San Diego County village.

“Carlsbad’s a lot different than Burbank,” Chip said. “We didn’t go to the beach, we were always punk rockers.”

Chip Kinman looks to see if guitar is OK after slamming it to the ground

Chip Kinman hurls his guitar down on the ground to end the Ford Madox Ford set at the Redwood – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

But in general, Kinman is pretty easygoing and it seems like he and his wife, Lisa, would be happy living anywhere in Southern California. Lisa’s the one behind the merch table at most shows.

“We’re really excited about Ford Madox Ford,” Lisa said. She’s Dewey’s mom, so she brings a new appreciation for the family band.

“They’re really happy playing in the band and the audience really likes the music,” she said. “They’re getting ready to record and that makes the guys happy.”

Chip said he’s looking forward to touring again.  And he has a special affinity for logging miles along the Great White North.

“They always loved us in Canada,” Chip said. “And we’re ready to bring our music out on the road.”

 

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