By Kevin on October 29, 2015
13 songs – 59 minutes
Multi-talented Kevin Selfe and his band, the Tornadoes, have been wowing audiences from their adopted home base of Portland, Ore., for the better part of a decade, but should make waves nationally with Buy My Soul Back, a thoroughly modern album that delves into themes that regularly run through the blues.
Originally from Roanoke, Va., Selfe discovered the blues late in life, when he was a student in meteorology at North Carolina State University. His roommate, a bass player, introduced him to the works of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Elmore James, and, by the time he graduated with honors, changed his path in life from TV weatherman to dyed-in-the-wool bluesman.
He was barely out of college when he joined the Fat Daddy Band, a regionally popular group based out of Roanoke, which was an International Blues Challenge finalist in 2002, during his six-year membership. A two-year partnership with 2008 IBC finalist Little Rodger Crowder followed before Selfe went on his own and formed the Tornadoes. In addition to touring on their own, the band worked behind a pair of Chicago greats, Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater and Cary Bell, accompanying the latter on the last gig before his untimely death.
Equally gifted as a guitarist and harmonica player as well as a songwriter, Selfe relocated to the West Coast in 2007 and has released three previous CDs under his own name, Self-Contained (2006), the nationally charting Playing The Game (2009) and Long Walk Home (2013), which peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Blues Chart.
He’s assembled an all-star lineup for this disc, his first on the Vizztone imprint. Joining him here are regular bass player Allen Markel (formerly of the Insomniacs), perennial Blues Music Award nominated drummer Jimi Bott, Mannish Boys’ harp player and bassist Mitch Kashmar and Willie J. Campbell, Ana Popovic and Tommy Castro organist James Pace and Fabulous Thunderbirds pianist Gene Taylor as well as guest vocals from Sugaray Rayford and backing vocals from 2015 BMA winner Lisa Mann. Also contributing are Kevin’s regular timekeeper, Don Shultz and a horn section consisting of Joe McCarthy (trumpet), Chris Mercer (tenor sax), Brad Ulrich and Peter Moss (baritone sax) and pianist Steve Kerin.
Virtually all bluesmen take a vow of poverty when they pick up an instrument, and the theme runs strongly through this collection of 12 originals and one cover. A New Orleans-style horn line kicks off “Picking Empty Pockets” to start the disc. It’s an autobiographical tune about smiling on the outside while living in the back of a beat-up van. Moss’ stellar baritone work sets the tone with Selfe delivering a searing six-string solo to conclude. Kashmar’s harp introduces “Fixed It Til It’s Broke” and remains stellar throughout as Kevin puts his picking skills on display. The song’s a stern warning to someone who wants to affect a change in the singer’s life when no alterations are needed.
The title cut, “Buy My Soul Back,” is a straight-ahead modern blues about having regrets years after selling one’s soul to the devil for musical success. It swings from the jump with another rock-solid performance from the horn section and tasty extended six-string solo. “Digging My Own Grave” sings about doing backbreaking work in the field to put food on the table. It’s delivered with a feel and simple arrangement that would fit in any Hill Country juke.
The pace changes dramatically for the contemporary “All Partied Out,” a slow blues regret about waiting up in the morning alone, hurting and wondering how the singer had wound up in this condition, but knowing it was from pushing himself in the wrong direction for so long. “Keep Pushing Or Die Trying” provides a much brighter outlook, delivered with a slight country feel and driving piano line from Taylor, as does “Bluesman Without The Blues,” featuring Rayford on vocals. It’s a funky number about dressing, eating and living too well to be making the music Selfe loves.
An interesting, countrified cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” based on Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” follows before five more originals bring the disc to a close. “Don’t Tear Me Down” is subdued jump blues plea to communicate better with his woman while “Double Dipping” is a New Orleans-flavored funk about a loose woman. “Viriginia Farm” sings praise for the simple life Selfe left behind while the instrumental “Pig Pickin’” comes across with a solid Chicago flavor. The poverty theme returns full circle to conclude the set with “Staring At The Bottom,” another solid blues with imagery of being so far down, the singer’s going to have to dig to the other side of the world to get out of the hole he’s in.
Modern blues for modern times. Available through Amazon and iTunes, this one’s definitely worth a listen…or two…or three. A powerful statement from a musician who’s clearly on the rise.MORE >>
By Kevin on October 15, 2015
Back to the crossroads
It’s a story as old as the blues — some frustrated cat wants musical success and sells out to Satan to get it. However, Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame inductees Kevin Selfe and The Tornadoes have decided to flip the script, releasing a new CD titled “Buy My Soul Back” this week.
The multi-award-winning band’s release is Selfe’s fourth and will be marked by a bash featuring a who’s who of local blues folks, including national Blues Music Award winners Jimi Bott and Lisa Mann, as well as Allen Markel, James Pace, Steve Kerin, Brad Ulrich, Joe McCarthy, Chris Mercer, Don Shultz and Pete Moss.
The new record swings, walks, talks and growls, with standout cuts including the title song, which would sound just fine on a Robert Cray album, as well as the swampy “Diggin My Own Grave.” Selfe also covers the Bruce Springsteen tune “I’m On Fire,” which features a nice harmonica solo by Mitch Kashmar, one of our city’s finest harp players.
“It’s a wide range of blues styles, not pigeonholed into one thing,” Selfe says, noting “Buy My Soul Back” features contributions from members of The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Tommy Castro keyboardist James Pace.
“We didn’t just want a traditional blues album, or just West Coast swing, we wanted a variety,” Selfe says. “This record represents what you’ll hear from us live.”
Selfe adds the band plans to tour early next year to promote the record throughout the Southwest as well as the East Coast. You can hear bits and pieces of it at kevinselfe.com.
Kevin Selfe and The Tornadoes, 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E. Burnside St. $15 in advance, $18 day of show, $100 VIP.
Info: 503-206-7630, bossanova ballroom.com.MORE >>
By Kevin on October 8, 2015
The Roots Music Report Charts for the week of October 6, 2015 were released, and “Buy My Soul Back” made it’s debut at #42 on the National Blues Chart, and #1 on the Oregon State Chart! Thanks to all the DJ’s for playing the new disc, and thanks to VizzTone for believing in us and putting it out!
Posted in News
By Kevin on September 28, 2015
Buy My Soul Back
Kevin Selfe has followed up his highly successful album Long Walk Home with a recording just as strong if not more so. He showcases his knack for writing clever and catchy songs, sensational and tasty guitar work and his strong vocals to help him deliver the best package of music possible.
Buy My Soul Back finds Selfe on a new label, VizzTone, and he’s stepping right back in pace where he left off. It’s all original material with the exception of a very worthy cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.” Kevin takes that song and completely makes it his own. Are we sure that Bruce didn’t write this for Kevin? And you just know that these new songs will become classic Kevin Selfe songs that we’ll be calling for at his shows.
You know that a song really works to perfection that as soon as hear the chords the lyrics come immediately to mind. They fit naturally and that is something that Kevin Selfe is an undisputed master at accomplishing. The guitar lines opening the disc on “Picking Empty Pockets” does exactly that. That guitar pattern burns itself into your brain and you instantly start singing the lyrics. That same thing happens over and over again throughout the album. I listen to the chords of numbers like “Digging My Own Grave,” “All Partied Out” and “Keep Pushing Or Die Trying” and the words also just start flowing right out of my own mouth.
And another thing about Kevin, he has a wealth of friends that he can call upon at any time and they’ll step up for him. They aren’t a bunch of slouches either. These guys are amonst the best in the business in the Northwest and anywhere else for that matter. It’s like a cast of who’s who in Portland when you can bring in Lisa Mann, Mitch Kashmar, Peter Moss, Joe McCarthy, Chris Mercer, Brad Ulrich, Steve Kerin and Don Shultz. Or for that matter having Jimi Bott and Allen Markel as your regular unit. Then throw in nationally recognized artists from outside the Northwest such as Willie J Campbell on bass, Gene Taylor on piano, James Pace on organ and even Sugaray Rayford taking the lead vocals on one song (“Bluesman Without The Blues”).
Kevin’s songwriting strikes it rich not only with his lyrics, but the guitar playing also is above expectation, which says a lot as he is already considered one of the best players in the city. His acoustic work for example on his autobiographical “Virginia Farm” is superb. But then again, so is everything about this amazing release.
Kevin Selfe has delivered another sensational recording. Buy My Soul Back is sure to be amongst the best of list for many people at the end of the year. And it is deserving of such honors!
Total Time: 58:17
Picking Empty Pockets / Fixed It Til It’s Broke / Buy My Soul Back / Digging My Own Grave / All Partied Out / Keep Pushing Or Die Trying / Bluesman Without The Blues / I’m On Fire / Don’t Tear Me Down / Double Dipping / Virginia Farm / Pig Pickin’ / Staring Up At The BottomMORE >>
By Kevin on September 28, 2015
A very big thank you to the Cascade Blues Association members for the 2015 Muddy Award nominations this year! Some amazing talent on the list as always, and it is a true honor to be recognized along side these deserving musicians that we deeply respect and look up to. In all we were nominated for 3 awards…Contemporary Blues Act, Bass (Allen Markel), and Drums (Don Shultz). Also, 3 members of our big band were nominated as well, Steve Kerin (keys), Joe McCarthy (trumpet), and Brad Ulrich (sax). Only Cascade Blues Association members can vote, so if you aren’t a member and would like to join, please visit http://cascadebluesassociation.org/about/join-the-cba/ The award ceremony will be held on Wednesday, November 4 at the Melody Ballroom.MORE >>
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By Kevin on August 12, 2015
Very excited to announce the release of “Buy My Soul Back” on the VizzTone Label on October 16. The recording consists of 13 tunes, 12 of them originals, and features Jimi Bott, Allen Markel, Sugaray Rayford, Mitch Kashmar, Willie J Campbell, Gene Taylor, James Pace, Lisa Mann, Steve Kerin, Joe McCarthy, Brad Ulrich, Chris Mercer, Don Shultz, and Peter Moss.
From the liner notes – “Kevin Selfe has cemented his reputation as a masterful, dyed-through, true bluesman with his new release, Buy My Soul Back. This latest collection of songs reveals an unwavering dedication to the traditional blues school, and yields yet another deft homage to empty wallets, ne-er-do-wells, and the enduring theme of love’s rapid melt.”
There will be two CD release parties, one in Portland on Friday, October 16 at the Bossanova Ballroom, and one in Seattle on Saturday, October 17 at Highway 99 Blues Club. The Portland show will feature 2015 Blues Music Award Winning drummer Jimi Bott (Fabulous Thunderbirds, Rod Piazza), James Pace – organ (Tommy Castro, Ana Popovic), Chris Mercer – tenor sax (John Mayall, Freddie King), Allen Markel – bass (Insomniacs), Lisa Mann (2015 Blues Music Award Winner) Joe McCarthy – trumpet (DK Stewart), Brad Ulrich – baritone sax (Duffy Bishop), Steve Kerin – piano (Atomic Gumbo, Too Loose Cajun Band), Peter Moss – baritone sax (CBA Hall of Fame), Don Shultz – drums (Kevin Selfe and The Tornadoes), and other special guests! There will be seating and a dancefloor available.
722 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214
Tickets $15 in advance, $18 day of show (VIP packages are sold out!) This is a Cascade Blues Association Co-Sponsored event and members will receive $1 off at the door, or a $1 refund of advance ticket when presented with CBA membership card at the door. Tickets will be mailed up to week of the show. After that, they will be available “Will Call” at the venue the day of the show. Tickets will also be available for purchase at all our shows leading up to the Cd Release Party.
The release party in Seattle at Highway 99 Blues Club on October 17 will feature Jimi Bott, James Pace, Chris Mercer, Allen Markel, Joe McCarthy, Brad Ulrich, and Steve Kerin. Tickets are $18. For ticket information and reservations, please visit the reservation page.
1414 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98101
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