meet new faces in the blues field. I don't like to single
any one person out, but in this case there's no way for me
to skip one of the most up and coming guitar and harmonic
players that will make you sit up and take notice. His name
is Elam McKnight and featuring Great Britian's Mr. Keith
Carter. Now on tour with their latest CD, Braid My Hair."
Sunshine Sonny Payne, KBT host
King Biscuit Time
*****NEW REVIEW FROM GREAT BRITAIN***********
"This first album contains a real mix of styles and McKnight describes the overall sound as "Roots Blues". Opening track "Braid MY Hair" is a Delta stomper reminiscent of Elmore James/Hound Dog Taylor with
excellent slide guitar from Elam and wailing harp from Zack Reynolds. The other Delta blues here is a versionof Robert Johnson's "Terraplane Blues" which boogies
along at a furious pace and with the help of more sterling harp work and much whooping and hollering builds to an exciting climax. There are three Hill Country Groove/Stomps on which Elam is backed by various Burnsides. As you would expect, there is not
too much finesse on these sides but they don't half rollick along - raw and exciting, particularly "Three Legged Dog". And now for something completely
different - "Sugar Cane" is a tasty slice of Stax style soul complete with groovy backing vocals and a slinky, greasy piano solo from Ronnie Godfrey. There
are only two covers on this album and the second of these is an acoustic version of "Devil Got Religion" which gets a rootsy/traditional treatment. Would you believe that in the middle of all this there is a killer Chuck Berry groove, "Only Game In Town", featuring searing slide guitar and thumping "Jerry Lee" piano riff. This is an album packed with good vibes and feeling, raw and passionate. Catch Elam now before a big label signs him up and smoothes him out
too much"......Dave Drury
THE MOST READ BLUES MAGAZINE IN THE UK (GREAT BRITAIN)
"Blues rock all the way. Elam McKnight's song writing talent is more than evident and take this CD release to the room of fine listening. Elam sings with everything he has to offer. Blues never felt so good. (4 out of 5 stars)"
---Roots Music Report www.rootsmusicreport.com
"Braid My Hair" is the debut release from west Tennessee artist, Elam McKnight. This album dives deep into Delta-style Blues and explores that primitive part of the soul where roots music lives."
---Lori Presnell, Atlanta Blues Society Newsletter, May 2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the best and most authentic debuts I have heard in a while! Elam McKnight brings new energy and emotion to an art form that is reinventing itself. Some of my favorite tunes are: "Crying Shame", sounds like hard edged Punk-Blues, "Sugar Cane", mellow and Soulful, "Ms Maureen", makes the hair on my neck rise as well as find it very arousing. The acoustic songs show a versatility in his style and playing. Would really like to see him live and letting loose on these Blues!"
--Simon Aguilar KYNR Crazy Coyote Blues, Portland,OR
Elam McKnight is a rising talent who should garner a lot of notice with his new release, Braid My Hair. A Tennessee native, McKnight is a feisty young artist who specializes in the rough Mississippi Hill Country blues favored by the Burnsides (two of which, drummer Cedric and bassist Gary, appear on this album) as well as the blues from the Mississippi Delta. Supposedly, McKnight picked up the guitar after hearing a Robert Johnson record, and he covers Johnson's "Terraplane Blues" ably. Other than the traditional "Devil Got Religion" (with some tasty harp by Zach Reynolds), the rest of the songs are originals, and are pretty well done, ranging from Hill Country numbers like "Miss Maureen" and "Crying Shame" to the Memphis-based soul of "Sugar Cane" (two versions) to "Bob Zarecor Blues", a moving tribute to McKnight's grandfather. There are also two versions of McKnight's "Three Legged Dog". One version is a wild Hill Country version which should get you on your feet. The other version is an acoustic number with more great harp by Reynolds. McKnight is a great guitarist and his raw vocals match his guitar and the feel of the disc very well. The entire band is just outstanding. This disc really cooks throughout. Fans of the Burnsides or of the North Mississippi All Stars will want to get this one, but it's got something for everybody--Graham Clarke/Blues Bytes
AS HEARD ON:
Delta Frank's Blues Show WGLT - FM / Normal, Illinois
Sunday Morning Blues 95.3 WYHY Rockford, IL
"The Blues w/ Jim Santella" WBFO-FM-88.7 Buffalo, NY
"Emission T'as Pas 100 Blues" Dijon, France
"Sweet Home Chicago", Le rendez-vous des Bluesmen Paris, France
KYNR "Crazy Coyote Blues" Oregon
"Captain Boogaloo's Blues and Roots Extravaganza", WRBC Lewiston, ME
CKRL-fm 89.1Quebec City/Canada
CKLU Sudbury,Ontario, Canada
"Digital Blues"- United Kingdom
"Blue in the Face" CFFF 92.7 FM 95.3 Peterborough, ON Canada
"True Blue" BBC Radio Wales, UK
KUNC "FRIDAY NIGHT BLUES!" Greely, COL
UMKC's "The Fish Fry" Blues Show
"Everyday I Have the Blues" on live 365
"HOUSEROCKIN' Blues" WJZY-FM in Wilmington, NC
Blue Mondays Show in Atlanta GA
KCUR 89.3 FM "FISH FRY" Kansas City, KS
"Dr. Oz's Blues Show" 90.7 FM WWOZ New Orleans, LA
"Blue Collar with Dr Steve" Columbus Ohio
Chef Eddy Blues Show on 95.3 "The X" Fort Smith, Arkansas
Sunday Night BluesÂ¨ KINK FM 102 Portland, Oregon
KUNM FM 89.9 FM Albuquerque & Santa Fe, New Mexico
CIUT Toronto, Canada
KFAI St Paul, Minnesota
WETS-FM Johnson City, TN
Elam's CD, Braid My Hair is an interesting mix of influences and styles, he plays slide guitar in various forms from down home style steel acoustic to fuzzy and rocking electric, he also sings & plays well, doing both with a lot of soul. Elam has some great help on this one too, Casey Lutton on guitar, Steve Johnson & Cedric Burnside on drums, Michael Thorn & Gary Burnside on Bass, Zach Reynolds on Harp and Ronnie Godfrey on keyboards. Yes, those two Burnsides are related to each other, and RL Burnside, Cedric is a grandson and Gary is a son. All in this band are seasoned musicians, and have played with many greats. This Cd has a sound that is raw and fresh, it's what you would expect to hear if you heard this band live, this was the intent of Elam, and I would say he succeeded.
The title song Braid My Hair cranks right up and takes off with an Elmore James style slide, then slips in some heavy harp. This one has taste of Chicago in it, jumps right out and grabs you, it gets this CD off to a great start. Crying Shame is a blend of styles, for me it lands somewhere between down home blues and British blues, it has "that" sound that reminds me of early British blues with a down south flavor. Both this track and Miss Maureen have that quality, it would remind you of The North Mississippi Allstars, and with both Burnsides involved that is no suprise. Elam describes this sound as a "hill country groove", that works for me. Only Game In Town is a fun and rocking piano tune with Elam doing vocals that echo Chuck Berry, or if you remember Bob Seager doing "Get of Denver", it's the style of song where it seems that there are almost too many words for the song, but they all fit in.
Sugar Cane slows way down from the last track. It's a smoothie with background singers echoing Elam's lyrics. Just simple backing music, with nice piano work and it let's you hear the singers do their stuff. Devil Got Religion is a very basic, raw acoustic song. As the title suggests it's got a churchy feel to it. Just guitar and harp, maybe a few foot stomps too, real nice and well done. You just don't get to hear this kind of "unplugged blues" too often, I really like it. Terraplane Blues , yes Robert Johnson's song, is a real jumping tune with a hoe-down feel, it's a super harp song. It's not the song done the way you remember, but a twist on it, with a more modern sound. The harp really blows and blows on this song, nice guitar too. Three Legged Dog , what can you say? Great concept for a blues song, missing a leg? That's real blues. This track starts out as if it's going to be a quiet one, but don't be fooled. After the initial slow and haunting start, this song jams with both Burnsides in on this tune. It's back to that hill country groove again, what can you say, but wow, a blistering pace, well done. Bob Zarecor Blues is about Elam's grandpa who spent a lot of time milking cows. This is a acoustic number that seems a bit strange at first, hard to say exactly why, just odd sound. The more I listen to it, the more I like it. All you get is acoustic guitar, bass, light drum and vocals, it's a neat song, nice words, simple is good.
The last three tracks are different versions of previous songs. There are acoustic versions of Miss Maureen and Three Legged Dog and a longer stretched version of Sugar Cane. I like the added versions here, can't have too much of that down home, back porch stuff J . Elam wrote all but two of the songs on Braid My Hair and co-produced the CD too. Looks like he did a good job, it all went together well. This is another young blues artist who is doing music in his own style, and not trying to be someone else he isn't. If you like your blues acoustic or slide, or are a fan of that hill country groove, you will like this one.
Chris Puyear - moblues.org
Album: Braid My Hair
Artist: Elam McKnight
Braid My Hair is the debut album from Elam McKnight. It is an exploration into Deep Blues and Elam refers to the overall sound produced on this album as "Roots Blues". "This is common folk's music. It is inspired by the times of old when music was a vibe thing and capturing a performance was the goal and not whether it sounded polished enough." Three tracks on the album feature Cedric and Gary Burnside (Grandson and Son of Living Blues Legend R.L. Burnside.) "I met Cedric(drums) in Nashville one night and he invited me to Mississippi to jam. I did and met Gary(bass) who is also a wonderful musician. They are both steeped in the Hill Country sound and it was obvious once we hit it off that I needed them to contribute their piece to the overall project. You can tell instantly the tracks they played on and one of the things I like about those recordings is that they were done in a house in Chulahoma, way back in the country. That is about as raw as you can get. And with those two it is like 'one, two, three go' and you better hang on!"
Also joining Elam on his excursion into Deep Blues is "Hypnotic" Casey Lutton, a Nashville Blues veteran and former member of the Hypnotics. "Casey holds court over a Monday night jam that I began attending and he is one of the major reasons this album was even made. The guys (Casey, Steve Johnson-drums, and Michael Thorn-bass) knew I was trying to record an album and Casey said 'let us be your backup band.' I was more than happy to oblige." Also included are Ronnie Godfrey (piano and keys) and Zach Reynolds (Harmonica). "Both Ronnie and Zach are like hot sauce over an already good plate of food."
All but two of Braid My Hair's tracks were written by McKnight and the album is like a classic car with all the added features, built for comfort and speed. "We run the gambit. You have Delta like Braid My Hair and Terraplane Blues (Robert Johnson), Soul with Sugar Cane, Hill Country Stomp with Crying Shame, Miss Maureen, and Three Legged Dog. Then you have some Roots acoustic numbers like Bob Zarecor Blues (a song about Elam's Grandfather), Devil Got Religion and alternate versions of Miss Maureen and Three Legged Dog. I wanted to make an album I would like to listen to. One that has all the bells and whistles."
1) Braid My Hair (3:57) A Delta stunner reminiscent of Elmore James and Hound Dog Taylor.
2) Crying Shame (3:18) A Hill Country Groove with Cedric and Gary Burnside. Very Rollicking.
3) Only Game In Town (3:11) A Chuck Berry type groove replete with killer piano.
4) Sugar Cane (4:46) A Soul song that comes off sounding like something out of the Stax catalog.
5) Devil Got Religion (3:42) An Acoustic number with Harmonica. Traditional song.
6) Miss Maureen (3:41) Another Hill Country Groove with a cool break thrown in for good measure.
7) Terraplane Blues (3:27) An adaptation of the Robert Johnson song. You can really feel the Harp on this one
8) Three Legged Dog (3:08) All that can be said is hold on. Features the Burnsides.
9) Bob Zarecor Blues (3:20) A song about Elam's Grandfather who was a Dairy Farmer for 50 years.
10) Miss Maureen/Acoustic(3:04) Acoustic version that feels like a back porch some where.
11) Three Legged Dog/Acoustic (2:21) Acoustic version with a very driving Harp.
12) Sugar Cane/Unabridged(6:21) This is the full blown version with great Back up Vocals and a very soulful outro.
ROOTS BLUES AND PLENTY OF IT!
Check out the artist's website:
1. Braid My Hair
2. Crying Shame
3. Only Game In Town
4. Sugar Cane
5. Devil Got Religion (Traditional)
6. Miss Maureen
7. Terraplane Blues (Robert Johnson)
8. Three Legged Dog
9. Bob Zarecor Blues
10. Miss Maureen (Acoustic)
11. Three Legged Dog (Acoustic)
12. Sugar Cane (Unabridged)