Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Jason Rosenblatt

Wiseman's Rag

First things first: Whatever the sales force  might try to convince you, this CD is not blues, it’s jazz. 

That said, it’s a fine album that will add joy and depth to any collection that embraces variety. 

Jason Rosenblatt, a Canadian, plays harmonica and keyboards, the primary instruments heard here. Other players contribute guitar, drums and bass – including jazz bass solos, one of which, if I may say so, sounds much like the next. But the album is driven largely by harp and piano. 

It’s a happy album. The harmonica dances lightly above the keyboards, which sometimes anchors the proceedings with an enjoyable ragtime beat. Even songs about break-up and loss bounce right along. No slow weepers here. Nor is this the kind of esoteric, free-form jazz that eschews melody, rhythm and sense. It’s good fun. 

Seven of the 13 tracks here are instrumentals. The other six feature Rosenblatt’s pleasant, androgynous vocals. 

True, two of the songs do feature the word ‘blues’ in their titles – Modern Life Blues and C Harp Blues. But calling a song the blues doesn’t make it so. 

In fairness, it must be said that the next-to-last track, You’ll Take The Highway, could be considered blues, but that’s the only one. 

Bottom line: People who listen to nothing other than pure blues should give this CD a pass. Audiophiles with diverse tastes will find this to be a pleasing addition to their collections.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Brassy, blue and bold

Lex Grey
Like big, brassy, strong women singing the blues? Tune into this week’s Big Fat Wide Americana Hour!

New stuff, old stuff – Marcia Ball, Candye Kane, Lex Grey, Etta James and so much more.

Plus blues from around the world, with country, bluegrass and soul stirred in, as well.

It’s a rollicking good time! See you there!

Your friend, M.D.

Etta James

Grey, Lex, and the Urban Pioneers

Lex Grey
Heal My Soul

By M.D. Spenser

If you like your blues sung by bold, strong, brassy women, add this CD to your collection at once. 

Lex Grey’s vocals are high-octane and top-notch. And the band, the Urban Pioneers, support her well, with rockin’ guitar, swingin’ clarinet and tasty sax, as the song demands.

Grey and the band are based in New York, and the 10 songs here are mostly reflections on city life and the urban landscape. 

The opening cut, Factory, seems to be the fantasy of someone living in a cramped apartment and longing for more space. Grey sings that she wants to live in a former factory, where all the rooms are big, no one can call her kitchen small, there’s a train set on the floor – “and urinals hanging on the walls.” 

Well, OK, whatever floats your boat. 

Other songs, such as Hobo Soup and Junkman, offer stark portraits of the cityscape. 

Not every cut works as well as the others. Black Stallion – which, yes, is a song about a horse – apparently stayed in the vaults a long time. And there it should have remained. 

But the real thing here isn’t the words. It’s Lex Grey’s hard-edged, oestrogen-fuelled vocals, which follow the in the footsteps of blues belters like Candye Kane, or Shirley Bassey doing Hey Big Spender, or even – dare we say it? – the great Etta James doing almost anything.

Unabashed sexuality infuses every note. You get the feeling Grey could sing from the phone book and make you get up and dance in a way you wouldn’t want your granny to see. 

It appears that so far the band’s audience is primarily regional. It should be global. She’s that good.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

The best of the best!

Mitch Ryder
New Keb’ Mo’, mid-career Aretha, young John Hiatt… this week’s edition of The Big Fat Wide Americana Hour has it all.

And crank up the volume for Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels! High-octane stuff!

We’re on a three-week hiatus at TBFWAH, so we’ll be playing the best of our past shows for your enjoyment! The best of the best.

Your friend,


Keb' Mo'

Friday, 12 August 2016

A Mexican Tribute!

Carlos Santana
New edition of The Big Fat Wide Americana Hour is online now!

A tribute to the vast influence of Mexico on American music! Carlos Santana, Tom Russell, Tish Hinojosa, Joe Ely, Doug Sahm, and so many others!

Along with our regular variety of blues, country, folk, bluegrass, etc., of course. The unexpected, always!

Tish Hinojosa
Great fun! Turn it up! 

Your friend,


Tom Russell

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Wowza! From zero to 34 in just six months!

B.B. King
I had hopes but I could never have imagined this.

In the six months since The Big Fat Wide Americana Hour was launched, it’s gone from nothing to a show that’s drawn listeners in 34 countries.

I wanted to commemorate the milestone – and do something that might bring the same kind of luck over the next six months, too.

Bonnie Raitt
Tune in and you'll see! As always, the show's at mdspenser.wix.com/mdspenser

To our fans around the world, a huge thank you.

And remember – turn it up. I mean, crank it!

Your friend,


Delbert McClinton

Saturday, 30 July 2016

A secret songwriter – and musical variety

OK, pop quiz: What huge 1986 hit by an all-girl group was secretly written by Prince under a pseudonym?

To find out, you need to listen to this week’s edition of The Big Fat Wide Americana Hour.

Stevie Wonder
Not exactly an onerous chore. The show – with Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell, Stevie Wonder, Guy Clark and so many others – might just be the most fun you have in one hour all week long.

See you there.

And remember – turn it up. I mean, crank it!

Your friend,