BLUES @ GREECE Q&A
The band released their 3rd full album, ‘Champagne Velvet’ (2016) on the Underworld Records label.The album is a slight change of direction from the band’s 2010 album “Upside Your Head” and 2013’s “Tell You What”, both of which featured a heavy emphasis on Texas rock and blues. ‘Champagne Velvet’ sees the band exploring their soul, blues, and country roots more in-depth than before with a sense of excitement and fire that is uncommon in the contemporary blues scene. It is a throwback to 1950’s jump blues, rockabilly, and Memphis soul. The guitar tones are cleaner, the bass and drums interplay with more dynamics and the grooves jump like a kangaroo on a hot sidewalk. All 13 original songs flow with an abundance of melody, harmony, and clever lyrics. At the same time, there is just enough variety to quench the thirst of fans of the more rock-oriented material of past albums. ‘Champagne Velvet’ is like a road trip from Dallas to Memphis, TN with a quick stop by the West Coast on the way. It perfectly captures the essence of the band doing what they do best, which is bringing unrestrained boogie to the party.
(Interview by Michael Limnios)
What do you learn about yourself from the Rock n’ Blues music and culture? What does the blues mean to you?
I've learned a lot about business and public relations, as well as what not to do. The blues, for me, is a canvas upon which I can paint many colors (sounds from other music genres) and completely express myself in the way that I like to. Blues music opens that creative door for me in a way that other music styles do not completely.
How do you describe Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch sound and songbook? What characterize ban’s philosophy?
Our sound is heavily influenced by the Texas blues sounds of Freddie King, Johnny Winter, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Junior Brown, and other guitar-based Texas blues/rock bands. We strive to incorporate various styles of American roots music (rock, country, soul, swing) into our blues music so that we can maintain an original style and sound unlike any other band. I like to follow Stevie Ray Vaughan's philosophy, which is to give the audience 110% of yourself each and every time you take the stage. I try to show this in my live performances.
Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
My wife has been the very most important. She has helped me through the dreadful times in my career and has also celebrated with me during the victorious times. She is very supportive and encouraging to me and my work. She attends every show that she is able and enjoys selling my merchandise and visiting with fans and friends when I am too pressed for time. The best advice came from her. I was worried that the blues traditionalists would not like me because I incorporate so much rock and other styles into my blues playing. I was preparing to change my sound in order to please them. My wife told me that I would be better served if I just remained true to the music that's in my heart and do my best at it. She said that people would respect and appreciate that more than trying to mold myself to fit into someone else's ideas and sound like everyone else. She was absolutely right. Again.
Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
Recently, at the official CD release party for Champagne Velvet (my latest CD), at the end of the night when the staff was sweeping up, they found someone's dentures on the floor. We had rocked the crowd so hard that someone lost their teeth!! And they apparently were so drunk that they forgot to get them back.
What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?
I miss music from the 1960's (all genres) when melody and harmony were essential and the songs had an organic vibe and unique voices. You could tell one band from the next and everyone seemed to be making music that has less pretense and gimmick. Also, the lyrics meant something back then. The music just seemed to have more substance to it than anything that has come out since then.
If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
More opportunities and pay for original musical acts. These days, the trend of dressing up and pretending to be someone else seems to be popular and many of the venues are hiring these type of tribute acts. It puts original artists in a dark corner and keeps the general public from experiencing new things and learning about genres and styles that they might not have known about. The live music experience seems to be cheapened by these type of bands that often pantomime along to pre-recorded tracks.
What are the lines that connect the legacy of music from Rock n’ Roll, Blues, Soul, to Country and Southern Rock?
They are all blues music, they just have a different way of getting the point across. At the center, its all blues. Some genres have a certain way of changing the chords or the rhyme structure but at the end of the day, they are all aimed at drawing an emotional reaction from the listener.
What is the impact of Blues and Rock music to the racial, political and socio-cultural implications?
I'm not really sure as I am not too smart about politics and world matters. I simply try to get better at writing and performing music. I feel like that is how my voice can best be heard and my life utilized to its fullest potential. Music is so beautiful because it transcends race, sex, politics, or personal views. Everyone can come together, if only for a song, and enjoy being carried away by music.
How has the 60s Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?
I was born in 1978 so I'm not entirely sure about this one. I know that I do enjoy being a free spirit and smoking grass and listening to Black Sabbath.
Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day..?
I would probably go back and fix it so that my parents had sex more than one time. This way I might have some brothers and sisters who could play bass and drums and I wouldn't have to constantly hire new players.
Champagne Velvet Review
By: Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro © 2016
Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch are a three piece band out of Dallas, Texas. They consist of: Jason Elmore on vocals, guitar and tequila; Mike Talbot on drums and vodka; and Brandon Katona on bass and jagermeister. They describe themselves as a high energy trio who's styles of blues include jump, rock, soul, R&B and country, which they feel gives them the flexibility to please any demographic in any venue. Versatility = Longevity.
Their third release, "Champagne Velvet", features fourteen all original tracks. The disclaimer written inside the jacket states that "All sounds on the album were made by real people with guitars, bass, drums and vocals. No digital tricks or nonsense"....Just the way I like it. Also in the liner notes are listening directions and they suggest "In order to dig this record the most, get your head right, kick back, and put the damn thing on loud. Best of all, strap on some headphones." Since that's exactly how I listen when I write these reviews, I'm now going to put my seat belt on and get started.
Spread the word from New York to L. A. the guys are gonna boogie to the break of day, and on the opening track - "House Rockin' Boogie #7" - they're certainly off to a fast start. This is smokin', jump blues taken up a notch.
It's probably too late for me, but thanks to Jason's grandmother, I now know how to "Double My Money". Just like she told him, "you fold it in half and put it back in your pocket". Similar to my comment above, this is a shuffle - also taken up a notch. I hear a pattern here that I'm starting to like - things being taken up a notch.
While reading the one sheet accompanied with the disc, I saw a reference to the bands earlier releases that, unlike this one, were heavier on the rock side. That said, "Maybe" I'm listening to one of those rockers right now. Actually, there's no maybe about it - this is the disc's rocker.
Jason has a "Cross Eyed Woman" and although they get along quite well, they "just don't see eye to eye".....and that's just the start of the cunning comments on this cleverly written, humorous track. Musically, it's a monster as well. The guitar and rhythm work are some of best the disc offers.
From what I'm hearing on the title track, "Champagne Velvet", I think the guys need to add Jazz to the list of styles their music is comprised of. This one's a velvety smooth instrumental featuring a masterful guitar performance from Jason, very deep bass lines by Brandon and sublime snare and brush work from Mike. I'm no longer in my office because this one took me back some 40 years ago to "Sonny's Place For Jazz" in Seaford, New York. Wow! Thanks Jason.
Somewhere between track two and track thirteen, Jason seems to have stopped heeding grandma's financial advice. All of a sudden he's down on his luck and barely has a buck, his money now just goes from "Green To Gone". It's the only acoustic track of the bunch and between the fine pickin', soulful down in the Delta vocals, foot stompin' percussion and melodic hand claps, the guys have this thing down pat. I could take a few more of these, for sure.
Other tracks on this excellent recording include: "Midnight In Memphis", "Shine Your Light", "Lament For Evelyn McHale", "Right As Rain", "Wish", "Land Of Plenty", "The Promise..." and "Mary Jane" - who I'm sure Jason was thinking about when he said "get your head right" while offering his listening instructions.
To find out more about Jason Elmore and Hoodoo Witch, check them out at www.jasonelmore.net and just search Jason Elmore on Facebook. Once you find them please tell them that the Blewzzman, on keypad and bourbon, sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Recipient
BLUES IN THE SOUTH (UK) REVIEW
This is the third album from Jason; lead vocals and guitar and his Hoodoo Witch cohorts Mike Talbot; drums and Brandon Katona; bass. The band is based in Dallas, Texas and they have once again returned to the Audio Dallas recording studios in Garland Texas, to maintain their unique sound, Jason has even occupied the producers chair to ensure they create the exact ambience he desires. Virtually all of Jason’s musical passions and influences were formed from the differing musical tastes that his grandmother and father held, they ranged from artists such as; Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley and Floyd Kramer to bands such as AC / DC. To complete his live musical education his father often took a young Jason to see such local musicians as Jim Suhler, Mike Morgan, Bugs Henderson and Smokin’ Joe Kubek. All these varying influences have emerged over time, delivering a subtle and very pleasing change of direction to Jason’s style which is happily to be found on this album. A good deal of the fourteen numbers here, are steeped in the mouth-wateringly juicy essences of the twangin’ and tremolo induced guitar sounds of the fifties, while the others explore a softer soulful, emotion infused feeling. The ringing, racing rockabilly “House Rockin’ Boogie #7”, starts the proceedings, with twanging guitars and frantic percussion putting us in a loose limbed footapping mood. A bluesy shuffling stroller in “Double My Money” slows the pace and tells the story of a couple who cannot see eye to eye, on how to spend their limited supply of folding stuff. The slowburning echoing blues of “Lament For Evelyn McHale”, is hauntingly captivating, with its low, spine tingling and chilling twinned guitars at its heart. “Green To Gone” is a tale of woe concerning broken stills and poor farming leading to the inevitable slide into the sticky mud; the attractively ringing resonator, solid footstomping and despairing vocals maintain a sombre mood. “Maybe”, is an enjoyable footstomping boogie infused with memorable guitar flashes and twisting burning solos. “Shine Your Light”, is a romantically swaying ode to the love of your life, the trembling, staggering echoing guitar burns through you, as the number lyrically soars to its expected highs. The outstanding and splendidly rocking “Mary Jane”, is without doubt a searing, soaring footapping ode to the frenetic and fantastic guitar skills of the legendary Cliff Gallup who was the mainstay of Gene Vincent’s signature sound, great! In a more soulful mood is the addictive Midnight In Memphis”, a smoothly rolling, strolling tearful lament of a lost love. Although dedicated to the memory of Smokin’ Joe Kubek the mellow and coolly swinging jazz guitar rich piece “Champagne Velvet”, also contains within it, subtle reminders of another great guitarist, that being Les Paul.
NASHVILLE BLUES SOCIETY REVIEW
Jason Elmore And Hoodoo Witch are Jason on guitars and vocals, Brandon Katona on bass, and Mike Talbot on drums. They lay down a mighty mean blend of blues-rock that owes much to Memphis and Texas, and everywhere in between. All fourteen originals on their latest set, “Champagne Velvet,” fit this format, and featured a nod to a more soulful side of the band than on their previous albums.
You know you are in for a good time when the pre-song banter on the leadoff cut has everyone saying, “we ain’t drunk–we’re just drinkin,” before launching into a Sun-splashed shot of rockabilly blues, “House Rockin’ Boogie #7, till the break of day!” A sweet shot of Southern-fried soul-blues deals with the loss of a lover “down on Riverside,” and is called “Midnight In Memphis.” The slow-blues groove of the instrumental, “Lament For Evelyn McHale” features dual-guitar intensity, and recalls vintage Allman Brothers.
These are all good, but we love it when Jason made sure we all had our dancin’ shoes on. The hilarious, double-time jump of “Cross-Eyed Woman” deals with a lover that “always gets along, but we never see eye to eye!” The loping groove of “Land Of Plenty” has our hero “starving to death” at the hands of women, gambling, and alcohol, and who’s always looking for that one big break! And, the set closes with another sweet tremolo-and-twang fest, as Jason’s on the hunt for that elusive “good girl, Mary Jane!” It’s full of every conceivable double-entendre’, set over a frenetic boogie-guitar reminiscent of Gene Vincent.
Jason Elmore And Hoodoo Witch dedicated “Champagne Velvet” to the late Texas bluesman Smokin’ Joe Kubek. We know Joe would be proud, as these guys are sho’ nuff all about lettin’ the good times roll! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.
ROOTSTIME (BELGIUM & NETHERLANDS) REVIEW
Jason Elmore and his band come from near Dallas, Texas and carpentry for several years on the road. At a young age he learned from his grandmother Elvis, Floyd Kramer and Nat King Cole. Because his father saw that Jason was interested in guitar blues, he took Jason age of eight weekends with Jim Suhler, Mike Morgan, Bugs Henderson, Smokin 'Joe Kubek and other premises, and he realized then that he was particularly attracted by tinged bluesy songs.
This continued until the day he saw another blues greats at work ... and the blue microbe caught Elmore. After these gentlemen he started like a man possessed to discovering the blues world, where he met all the great blues classics. He let himself be carried away by the primitive roughness of the music and the consequences were not from what started as a hobby, the love of his life was. Together with his band Hoodoo Witch Elmore touring almost constantly in the USA. Through the years, they are also a very well-oiled music machine become over which brings live a steamy mix of heavy rock and roll alternately spiced with jump blues, soul, R & B, jazz and even targeted country, thinking of fifties and sixties. Moreover, their repertoire consists overwhelmingly of Elmore originals.
Together with his band Hoodoo Witch, now consisting of Brandon Katona Talbot on bass and Mike on drums meantime he also recorded two CDs. "Upside Your Head" was their debut in 2010 and its successor "Tell You What" (2013) clearly showed their musical evolution seeing strictly roots-oriented rock and roll to a rock'n'roll band which actually no musical style is safe. His new album "Champagne Velvet" hides 14 great songs, good for a tasty, hearty serving of white American blues and roots. These songs can perhaps hear an unexpected turn in his sound. His guitar playing remains firm, but he knows his Texas swing-influenced blues more and more jump blues from the '50s - like the opener "House Rockin' Boogie # 7" and the closing "Mary Jane" - to which the album is so varied and different.
The opener also speaks volumes right away, who not think the imagination is forever lost for the genre. Other highlights there are plenty on this stunner. Our choice is mainly for the soul blues in "Midnight In Memphis", the instrumental ballad "Lament For Evelyn McHale," the acoustic "Wish" and the Mississippi Delta tinged "Green To Gone" by Elmore on dobro. Following is the closing "Mary Jane," a rocking song in which the mutual gameplay crackles from the speakers and Elmore's music gives final say as much. After this closing, you just have to grab a beer and you put another CD, because Jason Elmore sings deep and supporting, tickles and entices his guitar on "Champagne Velvet".
KEYS & CHORDS (NETHERLANDS) REVIEW
It is already several years ago that I saw the Texan Jason Elmore live at work. Then he immediately an overwhelming impression. And since then we have continued to follow him somewhat here. He was on tour to promote his album "Tell You What. The sequel to the clever 'Upside Your Head. " Jason grew up with an obsession for American roots music, and there are already origin will not be strange. Now Jason so with Mike Talbot (drums) and bassist Brandon Katona back with the album "Champagne Velvet 'that grand total of fourteen tracks is wealthy. The release varies somewhat with his predecessors that rely heavily on the Texas rock and blues sound. Now it is rather a return to 1950 jump blues as in 'House Rockin' Boogie # 17, "" Cross-eyed Woman 'and the closing' Mary Jane '
In between it is somewhat soulful blues with 'Midnight In Memphis',' Shine Your Lights "and" Right As Rain ". But the Texas Blues is not waived as in the song 'Maybe', and we go in the direction of the Mississippi Delta with dobro spirited 'Green To Gone'. And then there's the handsome instrumental ballad "Lament For Evelyn McHale," the acoustic composed song 'Wish', the blues pestle 'Land of Plenty' and the jazz-inspired instrumental title track. Jason Elmore modifies more than ever and will therefore certainly please a wider audience. The album "Champagne Velvet 'is therefore a must in size!
Philip Verhaege (5)
I just received the newest release, Champagne Velvet, from Jason Elmore & Voodoo Witch and it's outstanding! Opening with fast paced, House Rockin' Boogie #7 and it's a rip snorting rocker featuring Jason Elmore leading the way on guitar and vocal. Joined by Mike Talbot on drums and Brandon Katona on bass this track is smoking! Cool shuffle track, Double My Money, is up next and it's got a great feel. Elmore slings out nicely on guitar with tasty Texas style guitar riffs. Very nice. R&B style Midnight In Memphis has a Rolling Stones (Beast of Burden) feel and should do nicely on radio. Slashing back to the front is Maybe, with it's heavy bottom and scorching guitar riffs. This guy really has a nose for hot riffs and knows how to push it. Excellent! Shine Your Light has an easy sway and a country rock feel. Nice and easy, another track that could easily become a top track. Another jump track, Cross-eyed Woman, has a great bass line by Katona. With nicely blended chords and cool guitar phrasing, this track is really super. Super nice! Opening with fat saturated arpeggiated chords, Lament For Evelyn McHale, pairs guitar leads giving the track a majestic base for Elmore to solo over. Very nice. Another radio style track, Right As Rain, uses it's warm melody, stylized guitar riffs and soft vocals to cut a memorable groove. Acoustic ballad, Wish, shows a more sensitive side of Elmore with arpeggiated chords supporting only Elmore's vocals. Very nice. Land Of Plenty has a real nice groove with solid blues foundations and loose guitar riffs on the top. Instrumental, Champagne Velvet is a super name for this smooth little jazz style track with silky smooth guitar licks laid comfortably on a lightly brushed drum and bass combo. Excellent! A bit more rural on the country blues side, Green To Gone, has real nice acoustic slide work over basic acoustic guitar and vocals. Cool track with nice contrast to the release overall. Closing with a rowdy rocker, Mary Jane, with clever innuendo Elmore tells the tale and then plays with reckless abandon. Excellent closer...a lot of fun!
JASON ELMORE & Hoodoo Witch/Champagne Velvet:
Think about it. If you're going to be a blues rock power trio from Texas, how are you going to distinguish yourself yet live up to the legend of everything from ZZT to SRV without getting a hernia from lifting all the baggage? In today's short attention span/no memory world you could just a wait it out and let everyone forget what came before no matter how much You Tube is available to remind them (yeah, check out some of the play counts on legendary stuff---that'll happen) or just freely dip into the well and let the party roll on. On this set of all originals, the third time around for this crew, they forge their own link in the chain by accenting the blues more than in the past and letting their vision serve as a beacon. The kind of set that can bring moldy figs and frat boys together to let some red cups go splashing, Elmore shows he knows you just can't go wrong with a non stop party. Hot stuff throughout.
Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch Deliver Texas Sized Fun With Champagne Velvet
Believe me when I tell you, I am not complaining. Lately there has been an avalanche of good music sliding across my desk. So much, that I haven’t been able to keep up with it, but stay with me pardner, because I’m going to keep plugging away at ‘em and highlight some of the best.
One of the first things I noticed about the album Champagne Velvet by Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch was a blurb inside the album cover. It reads, “All sounds on this album were made by real people with guitars, bass, drums, and voices. No digital tricks or nonsense.”
Oh man, I was ready for that. Sometimes I get tired of hearing too many “tricks or nonsense” on an album and that’s one reason I constantly harp on how a song might sound live. I want to hear the musicians and the singers blending their talents and seeing where that leads.
The three musicians in question are Jason Elmore, who provides all the vocals and guitars; Mike Talbot on drums; and Brandon Katona on bass. That’s it. No special guests in the studio or working a thousand miles away and sending in horn lines via phone lines or the internet.
Just good old fashioned, play it hard and sing it loud good times.
The main ingredient in this Texas style barbecue is fun. You can hear it echoing in just about every note. This is not just the blues. Since Texas created itself out of so many different and vibrant cultures in order to carve out its place in the world, so too does their music reflect different styles and genres. There’s plenty of blues for the traditionalists, but also listen for rock, rockabilly, and country in this musical mélange.
All 14 of the songs were written by Elmore and he shows a certain maturity and assuredness in his writing even while maintaining his mischievous attitude. His lyrics are clever – fun when they want to be (Double My Money, Cross-eyed Woman) and quiet and moving when that suits his mood (Right as Rain, Wish). The group even tosses in a trio of instrumentals (House Rocking Boogie #7, Lament For Evelyn McHale, Champagne Velvet) each with a different mood.
I wasn’t familiar with Elmore and Company prior to receiving this album, but within a couple of minutes I was genuinely hooked and will be looking for them in the future.
As a matter of fact, by perusing the band’s website (http://www.jasonelmore.net/
) I discovered that they have released two previous albums, so I’ll be getting my hands on them so I can give them a full feature on Time For The Blues.
This band is worth seeking out as they deliver a fun-filled album full of twists and turns that just make you want to hear more. I highly recommend it and hope they will find their way across the country so more of us can catch them live.
Posted 8th September
To start out, but a statement from the band before you listen to this album. "Everything sounds on this album are made by real people with guitars, bass, drums and vocals. No digital tricks or other nonsense. "In other words, pure music made with passion for music lovers.
Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch have for their third album created a musical switch. The previous albums had a particularly heavy sound based on Texas blues and rock. Why would you think this switch? Their fondness for true American roots music from the fifties and early sixties when the country has moved in this direction came at them more. So on this album "Champagne Velvet 'the solid rock is gone and we get served a delicious 50's sound in the form of jump blues, Memphis soul and swing roots. Of course you can hear here and there the history of this band where the guitars are pushed upwards slightly stronger. The texts provide the necessary listening experience for the men take care of a lot of humor in the lyrics.
Jason Elmore, vocals and guitar, Brandon Katona on bass and Mike Talbot on drums have some concerns me a refreshing look back at the fifties captured with their lyrics with a wink. But above all, jumps out every song the enthusiasm of this trio. One and all fun. And these thirteen songs and a spoken number long. From the opener House Rockin Boogie # 7 crack this event with rousing jump blues loose. Better can not start. The subsequent slide Double My Money is a lesson which Jason has learned from his grandmother for when you want to make quick money. Grab a bill out of your wallet, fold it in half and put it back!
The Midnight To Memphis song drips off the Memphis soul. The love of the early Stones herein comes forward with a small reference to Just My Imagination. Then Jason proves that he can get a reasonable chord in the heavy blues song Maybe.
American roots can be found in a slow country rock song Shine Your Light. Except that Jason is a gifted guitar playing, he can write damn good songs and sing. Lovely song to surprise your loved one once on the dance floor or elsewhere.
If you do though, you can try the same jive on that dance floor with the swinging Cross-Eyed Woman. It seems that Jason wrote songs during a fifties revival party full of petty-coats and cotton candy hairstyles.
With an instrumental Lament For Evelyn McHale with southern rock and to Allmans Brothers' standards break Elmore James and his mates in half the album. Notwithstanding fine to just also something to give the old fans which they might actually hoped. After this weeping-ode to a lost friend, we go back to the basics of the album in which the soul serves as the main ingredient. Right As Rain is such a song which you with a blanket to enjoy the afterglow at the campfire on cold nights.
Furthermore enjoy blown feel good West Coast song Wish. Amazing how a true Texas rocker that can transform into this kind of music. These roots is apparent at birth in the blood in these Texans. The subsequent slow blues song Land Of Plenty packaged very well.
The instrumental title track of this album is another snack that provides some variation and shows to what this band is capable of. Almost jazz.
After speaking Promise we reach a fab acoustically played back-to-the-bone slide blues song Green To Gone. Magnificent in its simplicity, beautifully sung where you think Robert Johnson experiencing a small resurgence. To end this very surprising album with the song Mary Jane to go back to the rock of the fifties. Pure rockabilly like The Stray Cats this too ever did. The party is not over and go by as long Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch playing.
The whole of this album can be seen as a road trip back in time from Dallas, where these men know their basis, to Memphis. And that in almost 50 minutes, which is also the West Coast is equally visited. Prima digest !!