That time I asked Robert Cray if he was surprised that Eric Clapton covered his song “Bad Influence” on August

By Steve Newton I’ve interviewed Robert Cray four times, ’cause I reckon he’s one of the tastiest guitarists who’s ever strapped on a Strat. This was the first time, back in January of 1996, when he was touring behind his Some Rainy Morning album. Ten years earlier Cray had gotten a bit of a boost … Continue reading That time I asked Robert Cray if he was surprised that Eric Clapton covered his song “Bad Influence” on August

Album review: Robert Cray, Strong Persuader (1986)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 26, 1986 By Steve Newton When Robert Cray joined blues giants Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland for last year’s magnificent Showdown! album, it was as if the young guitarist had stepped out of nowhere to join the ranks of the blues’ top veteran performers. With his new album, … Continue reading Album review: Robert Cray, Strong Persuader (1986)

Robert Cray soars on spectacular sound at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver

photo by Kevin Statham By Steve Newton I’ve seen a lot of electric guitar-based concerts in the last 30 years or so. Heck, one of the main reasons I became a music journalist back in ’82 was to see a lot of electric guitar-based concerts. (That, and to get free albums.) But I honestly can’t recall … Continue reading Robert Cray soars on spectacular sound at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver

Robert Cray isn’t gonna hold his breath until the blues gets back in vogue

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 13, 2001 By Steve Newton We’ve all heard contemporary blues-rock artists covering the works of Elmore James, whether it’s ZZ Top getting lowdown on “Dust My Broom”, or Stevie Ray Vaughan tearing it up on “The Sky is Crying”. Heck, the Black Crowes even named their first album … Continue reading Robert Cray isn’t gonna hold his breath until the blues gets back in vogue

Robert Cray speaks on Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Chuck Berry, and Muddy Waters

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 20, 2000 By Steve Newton Since barging onto the North American music scene in 1986 with the double-platinum Strong Persuader album, Robert Cray has proven himself a formidable purveyor of guitar-drenched blues and soul. And with five Grammy Awards to his credit—including one for his latest CD, Take … Continue reading Robert Cray speaks on Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Chuck Berry, and Muddy Waters

Robert Cray’s Rykodisc debut is a paean to sixties soul

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 8, 1999 By Steve Newton Robert Cray isn’t known for covering other people’s material, but on his latest CD, Take Your Shoes Off, he was happy to take on Willie Dixon’s “Tollin’ Bells”, as well as the 1964 Solomon Burke chestnut “Won’t You Give Him (One More Chance)”. … Continue reading Robert Cray’s Rykodisc debut is a paean to sixties soul

Robert Cray gets the thing happening on Some Rainy Morning

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JAN. 18, 1996 By Steve Newton You wouldn’t think bluesman Robert Cray would be musically indebted to the Beatles, but they were the band that drove him to pick up a guitar. By the age of 10 Cray had already been soaking up the gospel, jazz, soul, and blues … Continue reading Robert Cray gets the thing happening on Some Rainy Morning

Robert Cray’s smokin’ show tarnished by news of CFOX canning Sunday Blues

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JAN. 27, 1994 By Steve Newton If there’s one thing that’s a sure cure for the sad-eyed, rain-soaked January blahs, it’s a blues show at the Commodore. And when that show’s on a Friday night (January 21), the headliner is Robert Cray, and the opener is Taj Mahal, then … Continue reading Robert Cray’s smokin’ show tarnished by news of CFOX canning Sunday Blues

Robert Cray and Colin James can’t match Jeff Healey in Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 10, 1992 The PNE isn’t normally the type of place you’d go to save money, but Vancouver blues-rock fans who paid just $7.50 (plus fair admission) to see guitar heroes Robert Cray, Jeff Healey, and Colin James last Thursday (September 3) got themselves a heckuva good deal. They … Continue reading Robert Cray and Colin James can’t match Jeff Healey in Vancouver

Robert Plant calls Shemekia Copeland, 23, “the next Tina Turner”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 26, 2002 By Steve Newton There are a number of things that can boost an up-and-coming recording artist’s career; one of the most effective might be having Robert Plant call you “the next Tina Turner”. Blues vocalist Shemekia Copeland, 23, had no complaints when the shaggy-maned former Zepman … Continue reading Robert Plant calls Shemekia Copeland, 23, “the next Tina Turner”

Leon Russell and Doyle Bramhall II help pedal-steel ace Robert Randolph shine

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JUNE 16, 2010 By Steve Newton Pedal-steel virtuoso Randolph had no problem getting people like Ben Harper and Leon Russell to perform on his upcoming CD, We Walk This Road, which is set for release on June 22. His mind-blowing musicianship alone might have convinced them to offer their talents, but having … Continue reading Leon Russell and Doyle Bramhall II help pedal-steel ace Robert Randolph shine

That time Warren Haynes told me how he came to record the haunting “John the Revelator” on Gov’t Mule’s Dose

By Steve Newton I’ve interviewed Warren Haynes six times, because he’s one of my favourite musicians of all time. I can’t get enough of his voice, his guitar, and his songs. And even if they aren’t his actual songs I’m crazy about ’em. Like when Gov’t Mule recorded the traditional gospel-blues tune “John the Revelator” … Continue reading That time Warren Haynes told me how he came to record the haunting “John the Revelator” on Gov’t Mule’s Dose

That time I asked Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin whether Steve Howe was a hard act to follow

By Steve Newton Way back in April of 1984 I interviewed Trevor Rabin, who at the time was the new guitarist in Yes. The band was on a world tour supporting its latest album, 90125, which had spawned the hit single “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and was topping the charts. At one point in … Continue reading That time I asked Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin whether Steve Howe was a hard act to follow

That time I asked Albert Lee how it was different touring with the Everly Brothers than with Eric Clapton

By Steve Newton I interviewed British guitar legend Albert Lee back in July of 1986, when he was touring with the Everly Brothers as their musical director. After chatting with Albert about how he first got involved with the Everlys, I asked him how it was different touring with them than with Eric Clapton, whose … Continue reading That time I asked Albert Lee how it was different touring with the Everly Brothers than with Eric Clapton

That time Jason Bonham told me that his famous father in Led Zeppelin was “just dad to me”

By Steve Newton When I did my first interview with Jason Bonham back in 1989, I asked him what it was like growing up with a father who was world-famous for being the drummer in Led Zeppelin. Turns out it wasn’t that big of a deal to him. Have a listen: To hear the full … Continue reading That time Jason Bonham told me that his famous father in Led Zeppelin was “just dad to me”

That time Joan Jett told me that it was the power of the people that made “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” a hit

By Steve Newton When I interviewed Joan Jett back in 1992 she was touring behind her Notorious album, which, while not a bad album, wasn’t exactly racing up the charts. Jett explained to me that it didn’t help that the record wasn’t getting much promotional push from Sony, the major label handling distribution. Then she … Continue reading That time Joan Jett told me that it was the power of the people that made “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” a hit

John Mayall believes the Bluesbreakers are better than ever on Chicago Line

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JAN. 13, 1989 By Steve Newton The biggest aim for most rock musicians when they’re starting out is getting on a major label. A major-label signing means that your music is available to the masses. It’s the first step on the road to international stardom. But it’s not just … Continue reading John Mayall believes the Bluesbreakers are better than ever on Chicago Line

That time Dickey Betts told me about the music business and the Allman Brothers’ “official” albums

photo by kirk west By Steve Newton I still have fond memories of seeing guitar legend Dickey Betts with the Allman Brothers back in the early ’90s, when he was trading killer licks with another of my fave pickers, Warren Haynes. When I did my third interview with Dickey, back in July of ’92, the band was … Continue reading That time Dickey Betts told me about the music business and the Allman Brothers’ “official” albums

Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues overflows with deathless blues classics

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 18, 2003 By Steve Newton Many music fans have discovered the beauty of the blues while uncovering the roots of rock, yours truly included. Twenty-some-odd years ago I got set on that course by a pedal-steel guitarist and country-bluegrass performer named Smokin’ Joe Michno. As a dedicated hard-rock … Continue reading Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues overflows with deathless blues classics

Album review: Various Artists, A Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan (1996)

  ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 29, 1996 By Steve Newton The folks behind this latest tribute to blues-rock guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan could hardly lose when they got Vaughan’s older brother (and biggest influence) Jimmie to organize and host a one-off concert featuring Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, … Continue reading Album review: Various Artists, A Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan (1996)

Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist Jimmie Vaughan says his favourite thing about music, and life, is style

charles campbell photo ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 9, 1987 By Steve Newton Like the title of their latest album, the Fabulous Thunderbirds of Austin, Texas, are a Hot Number these days. Their previous LP, the Dave Edmunds-produced Tuff Enuff, sold nearly a million copies, and their latest disc, also produced by Edmunds, … Continue reading Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist Jimmie Vaughan says his favourite thing about music, and life, is style

album reviews

Aerosmith: Honkin’ on Bobo (2004) Eric Clapton: Me and Mr. Johnson (2004) Jimi Hendrix: Axis Outtakes (2003) ZZ Top: Mescalero (2003) Nickelback: The Long Road (2003) Joe Jackson Band: Volume 4 (2003) Led Zeppelin: How the West Was Won (2003) Yardbirds: Birdland (2003) Jimmy Thackery: Guitar (2003) Various Artists: We’re a Happy Family, A Tribute … Continue reading album reviews

Los Lobos reaches beyond roots-rock with By the Light of the Moon

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 29, 1987 By Steve Newton When Michael Jackson struck it huge five years ago with the Thriller LP, the phenomenal success of that album was not only seen as a breakthrough for Jackson himself, but as one for black music in general. Since then Jackson’s buzz has pretty much … Continue reading Los Lobos reaches beyond roots-rock with By the Light of the Moon

That time Yngwie Malmsteen told me that he was inspired by Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, and Leonardo da Vinci

By Steve Newton Yngwie Malmsteen is famous for his blistering speed on the fretboard, but his choice of reading material isn’t nearly as well known. The first time I interviewed the Swedish guitar legend, back in 1985, he had recently released his second solo album, Marching Out, which included a thank you to Stephen King. Turns … Continue reading That time Yngwie Malmsteen told me that he was inspired by Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, and Leonardo da Vinci

That time Yngwie Malmsteen told me that he escaped the Swedish army by threatening to shoot himself

By Steve Newton The first time I interviewed Yngwie Malmsteen, back in December of 1985, he was was touring with Ronnie James Dio as opening act on the Sacred Heart tour. He was only 22 at the time, and four years earlier had spent a very brief stint in the Swedish army. Like, two days. … Continue reading That time Yngwie Malmsteen told me that he escaped the Swedish army by threatening to shoot himself

Dickey Betts ponders an Allman Brothers reunion and wonders what Duane would think of the music scene in 1989

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 31, 1989 By Steve Newton Southern rock. The raw bite of the blues tempered by a free-wheelin’, down-home country feel. Gruff, unencumbered vocals and soaring, twin lead guitars. Songs about ramblin’ men, poison whiskey, and Saturday night specials. You have no choice: ya gotta like it. Unfortunately, in … Continue reading Dickey Betts ponders an Allman Brothers reunion and wonders what Duane would think of the music scene in 1989

That time Yngwie Malmsteen told me that heavy metal is disgusting, boring, and all crap

By Steve Newton The first time I interviewed Yngwie Malmsteen was back in December of 1985, when he was opening act on Dio’s Sacred Heart tour. Malmsteen was only 22 at the time, full of piss and vinegar–kinda like he is now!–and ready to toss opinions around like they were notes flying off his fretboard. … Continue reading That time Yngwie Malmsteen told me that heavy metal is disgusting, boring, and all crap