A Hard-Rockin' Punk Blues
Thrill Ride by
New York City's
How do you like your rock ‘n’ roll? If the answer is safe, sterile, sexless and spat out by the corporate machine, then move along. But if your wish-list takes in soul, swagger and smack-in-the-mouth stagecraft, then Jane Lee Hooker is the band you’ve been gasping for.
Tearing out of their native New York in 2016 with white-knuckle debut album No B!, these five rockers fuse the sticky thrills of golden-era punk and blues with a healthy slug of modern attitude. “Not a lot of bands can capture the excitement, sweat and charisma of the ’70s bands we grew up listening to,” they say. “But we can and we do.”
Released in April on Ruf Records, No B! might be a debut album, but don’t mistake Jane Lee Hooker for a pack of overnight newcomers. Between them, Dana ‘Danger’ Athens (vocals), Melissa ‘Cool Whip’ Houston (drums), High Top (guitar), Tina ‘T Bone’ Gorin (guitar) and Hail Mary Z (bass) boast sprawling collective pedigree, having dodged the bottles and put miles on the clock in bands like Nashville Pussy, the Wives, and Bad Wizard. Yet it was their fateful 2013 hook-up as JLH that brought fresh momentum. “We’re a gang, a family,” says the lineup. “We love playing with, to and for each other.”
Ten of these tracks find the band digging back into the blues songbook, exhuming a fistful of standards including Muddy Waters’ “Champagne And Reefer”, Willie Dixon’s “Shake For Me” and Albert King’s “The Hunter”. In each case, Jane Lee Hooker claims ownership, pouring on the rocket fuel until even the dustiest standard becomes a stinging punk-blues thrill-ride, driven by jackhammer rhythms, twin lead guitars and Dana’s scorched-earth vocals.
“We basically play songs we like, and they end up turning into something that has our own take on it,” says the band of their respectful-yet-rebellious approach. “Like Mean Town Blues: it’s such an amazing song, and our version pays tribute to that. We feel the spirit of Johnny Winter is with us on the ride.”
Meanwhile, it’s testament to the band’s own songwriting skills that original tune “In The Valley” stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the celebrated moments on the tracklisting. “We’ve been having a blast taking the spirit of these amazing classics we’ve been playing and developing a style to write our own original songs,” says the band. “There are thousands of masterpieces out there that so many people don’t even know about. And at the same time, there are enough shitty songs in the world – we’re not interested in adding to them.”
When it came to tracking No B! last year in Brooklyn, the five-piece were equally clear on their mission statement. “We told our producer, Matt Chiaravalle, that we wanted it to sound exactly like the album Hard Again that Muddy Waters and Johnny Winter did in 1977,” recalls High Top (who coincidentally chose her nickname after Mud’s shout-outs to Pinetop Perkins on that record). “It’s the album that both Tina and myself played along to when we were kids, to learn how to solo. I still think it’s one of the greatest albums ever recorded and some of the finest from Muddy and Johnny.”
In the era of cut-and-paste, computer-driven recordings, No B!’s production was as minimalist, and the results explode out of the speakers. “We played live,” continues High Top, “and we used no effects. We all played in the same room at the same time. Most songs were done on a first take. I don’t think we played anything more than twice!”
Make no mistake: Jane Lee Hooker is moving fast. In the three years since their formation, the band have already torn it up on some of the US circuit’s most prestigious stages, from New York’s Irving Plaza to Antone’s Record Shop in Austin, Texas. Now, with live shows booked through 2016 and No B! at the heart of their setlist, this five-headed punk-blues juggernaut is coming for your hearts and eardrums. “We play with the same passion to twenty people as we do to a thousand,” says High Top. “The secret is we’re having a ball playing together. We are doing it all for us, and we are happy anyone wants to come along. It’s like we are driving up to your house in a Camaro and throwing open the door — we hope you climb in, but if you don’t, we’re still going.”
Carrier of the Spirit of
Nanji says, “B.B. King told me that the blues can take you out of all that and make you feel better. Blues doesn’t make you more depressed. It’s the kind of music that can make you feel more proud of what you’re doing and what you’re feeling and what’s going on in your life. That’s what connected me to that type of music. It’s deep-rooted music, and a lot of the natives were really into it back in the old days, people like Charley Patton (part Cherokee and considered byt some to be the father of the Delta Blues).”
Born and raised on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, Indigenous front man Mato Nanji (Ma-TOE NON-gee) dedicates his latest release Time Is Coming (on Blues Bureau International) to the indigenous youth and all young people on the indigenous reservations.
Mato Nanji’s father, the late Greg Zephier, Sr., was a well-known and highly respected spiritual advisor and spokesperson for the International Indian Treaty Council. In addition to this leadership role, he was an accomplished musician and a member of the musical group, The Vanishing Americans. Formed by Greg and his brothers in the ‘60’s, The Vanishing Americans toured nationally and shared bills with such legends as Bonnie Raitt. Besides being heavily influenced by the music his father and uncles were making, Mato was exposed to Greg’s vast collection of blues records by legendary artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and B.B. King. Consequently, Mato embraced and began utilizing his own musical talent at a young age. With the experience, love and wisdom of their father to guide them, Mato, his brother, sister and cousin formed the band Indigenous while in their late teens.
After much time invested in practicing and building a following, they began touring extensively across the country. In 1998, they released their award winning debut album Things We Do. The title track’s video, directed by Chris Eyre (Smoke Signals), won the American Indian Film Festival Award and was shown at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. Indigenous’ music caught the attention of blues icon B.B. King and the young band was invited to play on his annual B.B. King’s Blues Tour in 1999. Sadly, Mr. Zephier would pass away before seeing his children receive this great honor.
With momentum gaining, Indigenous’ 2000 sophomore release, Circle, was produced and arranged by Stevie Ray Vaughan’s longtime friend and collaborator, the late Doyle Bramhall, Sr. Three more cds; Fistful of Dirt (2002), Indigenous (2003) and Long Way Home (2005) would follow before the 2006 decision by the siblings to ‘disband’ and pursue their own musical paths but Mato carried on with the Indigenous band name. “Playing with my family for 10 years was a lot of fun, but it was time to grow and keep moving forward.”
Mato continued touring and in 2006 released Chasing The Sun. Two of the cd’s songs, “Come On Home” and “Leaving”, were featured on the hit Discovery Channel show The Deadliest Catch. “Come on Home” was also featured on FX’s Sons of Anarchy.
On 2008’s Broken Lands, an intensely personal record, Mato and Leah, his lyricist and wife, pay tribute to his Native heritage. The album decries the poverty, isolation and reality of life on the reservation with “Place I Know.” The album gains its title from the line, “all is lost in these broken lands.”
Of The Acoustic Sessions (released in 2010), Mato commented, “It’s a collection of some of my favorite songs that celebrate 10 years of releasing albums. Every song that I have ever written began with the acoustic guitar, so it only felt natural to create an acoustic album.”
Indigenous featuring Mato Nanji (2012) would mark Nanji’s debut on the Blues Bureau International label and the beginning of his collaboration with noted producer, Mike Varney. Joining Mato on the disc’s opening track “Free Yourself, Free Your Mind” is the soulful Jonny Lang. On it, the two guitar-masters trade vocals and guitar solos. It’s truly a blues lover’s ‘match made in heaven’.
In addition to his Indigenous ‘day job’, Mato Nanji has been a member of the critically acclaimed Experience Hendrix Tour since 2002. Playing alongside original Jimi Hendrix band members Billy Cox and the late Mitch Mitchell, the tour roster includes some of today’s blues greats including Buddy Guy, Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon (Double Trouble), Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Johnson, and Robert Randolph.
Once the 2012 Experience Hendrix Tour concluded, Mato and fellow EHT tour mates David Hidalgo (Los Lobos) and Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars) would collaborate and release the hard-driving, psychedelic blues-infused 3 Skulls and the Truth (Blues Bureau International) disc. The album’s no-holds barred setting is the ideal foundation for the three veteran axemen to simply ‘let it fly’.
February 2013 would bring the Mato Nanji-inspired release from trance-blues artist Otis Taylor, My World Is Gone (Telarc). Mato and Otis explore the plight of the American Indian people in a lightning bolt of musical creativity and social commentary. "Mato inspired the entire direction of this album," says Taylor. "We were talking about history backstage at a Jimi Hendrix tribute concert he had just played, and, in reference to his people, the Native American Nakota Nation, he said 'My world is gone.' The simplicity and honesty of those four words was so heavy, I know what I had to write about."
"My dad was my favorite musician so he really influenced me a lot with everything. I just felt it was time to pay tribute to him and his band," says Nanji. That tribute, Vanishing Americans, was released on May 21, 2013 and promptly found its place on iTunes Top 10 Blues Chart. Blues Rock Review (6/5/13) said: “each song is brought together with heavy and powerful guitar riffs akin to those of Carlos Santana and Jimi Hendrix, while bellowing, raspy vocals turn a talented guitarist’s vision into a relatable song for many, just as any praiseworthy blues album should.”
“Mato continues to refine his guitar and vocal vocabularies with each new release and is also expanding his songwriting skills with his wife Leah,” said producer Mike Varney of Time Is Coming (May 2014). From the infectious opening track of “Grey Skies”; the Soundgarden/Rage Against the Machine influenced “Won’t Be Around No More”; and the gut-wrenching blues of “Don’t Know What To Do”, and at all points in between, Mato Nanji “tears at his guitar strings, bending and shaking them to within an inch of their life, it is clear that he is no mere copyist. He is a genuine virtuoso…” (Rhys Williams, bluesblastmagazine.com 5/14).
Ultimately, Mato dedicates Time Is Coming, to the Indigenous youth and all young people on the Indigenous reservations. Of the song says Nanji; “still to this day, the struggle continues to just live in peace. Growing up here on the reservation I’ve seen a lot of broken families…broken homes. I feel our families’ “Tiospaye” are the core of what makes us who we are. Now family and its meaning is not as strong as it used to be for our people…almost non-existent. So I send my heart and soul out to the indigenous children having a tough time in their lives and in their homes. This record is inspired by them and made in their honor. I hope for the best for all. Tomorrow is another day.”
The Plateros, a three piece award winning family band from the Navajo Nation in Tohajiilee, New Mexico consider Mato Nanji and Indigenous one of their greatest musical influences.
Levi and The Plateros played their first show, a festival in Bird Springs, AZ in December 2004, and by April 2005, they would find themselves onstage performing at the largest PowWow in the world, The Gathering of Nations. Lead guitarist Levi, with his natural born talent, slid across the stage with power chords and screaming blues that amazed the packed crowd. He was just 13 years old.
In the years to follow, Levi, along with his cousins Douglas Platero on drums and Bronson Begay on bass would receive numerous nominations for native music and video awards, and their cd Hang On would take home a win for Best Blues Album at the 2009 New Mexico Music Awards.
In 2012, they joined Indigenous for The Kinship Tour, with The Plateros opening the double bill. They would join Mato for blistering encores that would bring the proverbial house down.
Touring in support of Time Is Coming in the summer of 2014, Mato Nanji would once again call on Levi, Douglas and Bronson to hit the road with him. This time, though, would be different. They would be onstage as Indigenous' rhythm section; Mato and Levi trading leads and solos while Bronson and Douglas provided the strong, stable rhythmic foundation that allowed the two guitarists to 'tear it up'.
As the band made its way across the east coast, the after show buzz was audible. The incendiary chemistry of Mato Nanji, Levi Platero, Bronson Begay and Douglas Platero innate.
They are Indigenous.
on the Iowa
Juliana Logan is an 18-year-old singer-songwriter from Davenport, Ia. She was selected by the Central Iowa Blues Society to perform at the International Blues Challenge Youth Showcase in Memphis, TN in 2016 and 2017. She has done countless performances for her hometown charities. She has opened up for Anthony Gomes, Lissie, and Toronzo Cannon. She was in the top 4 finalists for the 2015 WQAD River Roots Live contest as the youngest and only solo performer. She was the 1st runner up for the 2015 Iowa Blues Challenge Preliminary in Fairfield, Iowa in the solo/duo division. She had played in the Jr Jam tent for River Roots Live, and she and her band opened the 2016 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival and the Dawn and On Festival. She began her melodic journey participating in The RME Rock Camp, Lessons, Winter Blues Camp, open mic nights, and songwriters in the round for the past 8 years. This year she and her band will be playing for Bowlful of Blues and for Iowa Stock just to name a few.
International Blues Challenge Winner
Best Self-Produced CD
Rob Lumbard gives Iowa a great name in the world of blues, most recently receiving well-earned acknowledgment at the International Blues Challenge. Check out his award-winning recording Blues In a Bottle!
& the Zydeco
“America’s Hottest Accordion” winner, Dwayne Dopsie plays a unique, high energy style of zydeco. Dwayne hails from one of the most influential Zydeco families in the world. Although inspired by tradition, he has developed his own high energy style that defies existing stereotypes and blazes a refreshingly distinct path for 21st century Zydeco music. This singer/songwriter and accordionist has performed all over the world since debuting his band, Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers, at age 19.
Dwayne, born March 3, 1979 in Lafayette, Louisiana, was the last of eight children. Dwayne attributes his musical ablilities to his father, Rockin' Dopise, Sr., a pioneer of Zydeco music. As a small child, Dwayne was interested in the washboard, but quickly realized he had incredible talent with an accordion. He has played the accordion since age seven and states, "This is my calling - Zydeco music is in my blood and it is my heart and soul." As a tribute to his late father, the most influential person in his life, Dwayne plans to record an album of his Dad's greatest Zydeco hits.
25th Annual BOWLFUL of BLUES
SUNDAY • SEPTEMBER 3, 2017 • Maytag Park • Newton, Iowa • Noon - 10pm
Gates open 11:00 a.m. • $25 advance, $30 at gate • 15 & Under free with parent
25th Annual Bowlful of Blues
"Get Your Happy On!"
with # 3 in the World!
International Blues Challenge Finals, The Norman Jackson Band is led by, “The Soul Machine” Norman Jackson, his protege and musical son on saxophone, Rick Shortt and backed by the groove inducing rhythm section of Danny Williams on Bass and "The Boogie Man" on drums.
"The Baddest Soul Band in the Land" promises to make you "Get Your Happy On" with their virtuoso musicianship and smile inducing showmanship.
A true Blues band that harnesses their close relationships with one another as fuel for the most energy filled music experience you'll ever witness.
Highlighted at Blues festivals around the world, any performance is guaranteed to stain the walls with sweat and soul whenever The Norman Jackson Band "Get Down"!