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Music Blog

Music Recommendation: Robert Johnson

“At first the music almost repelled me, it was so intense, and this man made no attempt to sugarcoat what he was trying to say, or play. It was hard-core, more than anything I had ever heard. After a few listenings I realized that, on some level, I had found the master, and that following this man's example would be my life work.” ― Eric Clapton

Robert Johnson – “The King of the Delta Blues” – was born 102 years ago today. Johnson’s legacy and influence still reverberate throughout popular music. Your library offers a few opportunities to explore the music of Robert Johnson. I recommend you check out the following titles:

Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues Singers includes many of Johnson’s classic recordings from the 1930’s.

Eric Clapton’s Me and Mr. Johnson serves as a full-length tribute to the blues master.

Big Head Blues Club released a great Robert Johnson tribute album in 2011 entitled 100 Years of Robert Johnson . This album was recorded by the band Big Head Todd & The Monsters along with legends B.B. King, Hubert Sumlin, Charlie Musselwhite, and Honeyboy Edwards.

Bob Dylan’s Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased, 1989-2006 includes a fitting solo-acoustic version of Johnson’s “32-20 Blues”.

Cream’s The Very Best of Cream has an excellent cover version of Johnson’s “Crossroads”. 


Music Recommendation: GRRR! by The Rolling Stones

I know it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but I like it, like it, yes I do!

The Rolling Stones, arguably the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of all time, recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. To commemorate this occasion they released GRRR! in November 2012.

My dad was a huge fan of The Rolling Stones. He still talks about listening to them and Jimi Hendrix on his transistor radio in Plain Dealing, LA back in the 1960’s. He was lucky enough to see The Stones when they played the Hirsch Youth Center in 1965. Man, I wish I could have been there with him!     

GRRR! contains 40 of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll songs of all time. My personal favorites include “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “Honky Tonk Women”, and “Beast of Burden”. If you are like me, sometimes you need that cheesy/gritty type of music that The Stones are simply the best at. I cannot listen to the opening chords of “Tumbling Dice” without wondering how Keith Richards is capable of making a guitar sound like melting butter. These songs are that good!

GRRR! was released in numerous formats. You can check out the two-disc version from Shreve Memorial Library.

You might also enjoy these selections:


Music Review: The Beast in Its Tracks by Josh Ritter

 Artist: Josh Ritter

 Title: The Beast in Its Tracks

Pytheas Recordings, March 2013

“I can’t pretend that all is well.  It’s like I’m haunted by a ghost.  There are times I cannot speak your name for the catching in my throat.  There are things I will not sing for the sting of sour notes.”  - Josh Ritter, "New Lover" 

The Beast in Its Tracks serves as singer-songwriter Josh Ritter’s response to his divorce from musician, Dawn Landes.  Ritter displays humor, anger, and warmth as he honestly processes his experiences and emotions through song. The result is an extremely intimate and rewarding album.

I was first introduced to Josh Ritter’s music by checking out one of his CDs from the library. Luckily, Shreve Memorial Library now offers three opportunities to explore the music of Josh Ritter. The Beast in Its Tracks and 2010’s So Runs the World Away are available for checkout. My favorite tracks from these albums include “New Lover” and “Joy to You Baby” from The Beast in Its Tracks and “The Curse” (possibly the greatest love song between an archaeologist and a mummy that you will ever hear) from So Runs the World Away. You can also download 2007’s The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter from SML’s new music service – Freegal.

Josh Ritter and The Royal City Band will be performing in Baton Rouge on Sunday, June 30th and New Orleans on Monday, July 1st.    


Music Review: The Magic Door by The Chris Robinson Brotherhood

Artist: The Chris Robinson Brotherhood

 Title: The Magic Door

Silver Arrow/Megaforce Records, September 2012

The Magic Door is the second release from The Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Formed in 2011, CRB consists of Chris Robinson (The Black Crowes), Neal Casal (Ryan Adams & The Cardinals), Adam MacDougall (The Black Crowes), George Sluppick, and Mark Dutton.

I have been a fan of The Black Crowes since their debut album, Shake Your Moneymaker, was released in 1990. As a matter of fact, their February 1993 concert at the Municipal Auditorium had a huge impact on me and strongly influenced my love of music. Needless to say, I was very excited to find this gem from CRB available at the library.

The Magic Door is a jam-heavy set of psychedelic/countrified roots music that I just can’t take out of my stereo. This album grabbed me from the opening cover of Hank Ballard and The Midnighters’ 1960 classic, “Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go” through the closing Grateful Deadish “Wheel Don’t Roll”.

Admittedly, I do not listen to the music of The Black Crowes or the side projects of Chris Robinson as much as I used to. However, I’m glad to see one of my favorite musicians of all time making some of the most inventive and inspired music of his 20+ year career.  

The Magic Door is available at the Main, Hollywood/Union, and Mooretown locations of Shreve Memorial Library.

Fans of this album should also check out the following titles from the library:

  • The Grateful Dead – Europe ’72 (available at Main)
  • Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger (available at Hamilton/South Caddo and West Shreveport)
  • The Allman Brothers Band – Live at the Atlanta International Pop Festival (available at Cedar Grove/Line Avenue)



Music Review: A Tear in the Eye is a Wound in the Heart by Black Prairie

Artist: Black Prairie

Title: A Tear in the Eye is a Wound in the Heart

Sugar Hill, 2012

A Tear in the Eye is a Wound in the Heart is the current release from Portland, Oregon’s Black Prairie.

Black Prairie is comprised of 3/5 of The Decemberists (Chris Funk, Nate Query, and Jenny Conlee) along with Jon Neufield and Annalisa Tornfelt.  Shreve Memorial Library offers three albums from The Decemberists in case you are not familiar with their music.  However, Black Prairie is a completely different band and sound. 

Americana-fusion is how I would best describe this album. Mixing elements of bluegrass, jazz, klezmer, and folk, the originality of Black Prairie is both refreshing and creative. Acoustic guitar, dobro, accordion, and violin comprise most of the instrumentation heard throughout the album, and the playing is phenomenal! Each and every instrument shines throughout. My personal favorite is the violin and vocal performance of Tornfelt.

I immediately knew I would enjoy this album when I saw the song title “For the Love of John Hartford”. Sure enough, this instrumental named for the late, great master of Americana music is a perfect tribute. Another song entitled “Richard Manuel” respectfully pays homage to the late multi-instrumentalist of The Band.

You can find this album at the Belcher, Cedar Grove/Line Avenue, and Main libraries. Check it out or place a hold today.

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