Severn Records Signs Big Joe Maher & Will Release His New CD, You Can’t Keep A Big Man Down, on February 15 November 30, 2010Posted by David W. King in Uncategorized.
SEVERN, MD – Severn Records announces the signing of veteran bluesman Big Joe Maher and the February 15 release of his new CD, You Can’t Keep a Big Man Down, with national distribution by City Hall Records.
The new CD was produced by Kevin McKendree, a long-time keyboard player for Delbert McClinton’s band, who also contributed piano and organ on the sessions.
The rest of the players on You Can’t Keep a Big Man Down included Texas blues guitar great Bill Campbell, who played bass on the new CD, as well as guitarist Rob McNelley and sax player Dennis Taylor. McNelley is also a regular in McClinton’s band, as was Taylor, who sadly passed away recently.
The new CD reunites Big Joe Maher with Severn Records, which released both his 1998 album, I’m Still Swingin’ (winning a Washington Area Music Association award for “Best Blues Recording”), and his 2000 release, All Night Long.
You Can’t Keep a Big Down showcases Big Joe’s bluesy, swinging vocal style and rock-solid drumming on a dozen tracks, evenly split between originals and covers, including his unique take of songs from B.B. King (“Bad Case of Love”), Billy Wright (“The Question – Whatcha Gonna Do”), Johnny Green (“Someday”), Jay McShann (“Confessin’ the Blues”), Jimmy McCracklin (“I’m to Blame”) and the album’s closer, “What the Hell Were You Thinkin’?, written by Delbert McClinton, Kevin McKendree and Tom Hambridge. Whether it’s the rollicking Chicago blues of the title track, the New Orleans influenced “Evangeline,” the Texas blues sound of “Bad Case of Love,” or the Kansas City jump style of “Confessin’ the Blues,” Big Joe always delivers the goods in spades on arguably his strongest album ever in a critically-acclaimed career.
“It was a real pleasure to make this disc at Kevin’s studio,” says Big Joe. “And it was a joy to make working with my late, good friend Jeff Sarli’s son, Evan, who was the engineer on the sessions.”
Speaking about the original songs on the new CD, Maher says the title track has its basis in fact. “ ‘You Can’t Keep a Big Man Down’ was written after I had my fall in 2001, which severely injured my back and almost took me out of commission for good, … but hey, here I am,” says Big Joe.
“‘Evangeline’ is named for my cousin’s two-and-a half-year-old daughter, who I promised to write a song about when she was born. The track, ‘Property Line,’ has an Albert Collins feel. It’s a true story about our moving out to the country and finding things still can be not so good when you are dealing with neighbors. The instrumental, ‘Supercharger,’ is my little tribute to the late, great guitar wizard Earl Hooker, often underrated in the blues world as one of the best at playing all types of music. And ‘Nothin’ But Trouble’ is a pretty straight forward song about economic times that we are currently in and not seeing any future for any of us to pull free.”
Based in the Washington, DC area, Big Joe Maher has been performing blues and jazz for over 40 years. In his high school jazz band, he was able to play with such jazz greats as Clark Terry, Urbie Green, Mundell Lowe and James Moody, which helped develop his innate style of swing playing that permeates his music to this day.
Over time, he’s shared the stage and backed up a diverse group of blues, R&B and soul performers such as Jimmy Witherspoon, Bullmoose Jackson, James “Thunderbird” Davis, Nappy Brown, Otis Rush and Earl King, among others. In the late ‘80s, after performing (and managing) a nine-piece DC swing band, The Uptown Rhythm Kings, as well as several years as the drummer in the Tom Principato Band, Joe formed his own five-piece jump-blues group, Big Joe & the Dynaflows. In between touring and recording sessions, Joe was musical coordinator for Mick Fleetwood’s club in Alexandria, Virginia, in the mid-90s.
His knowledge of local and national blues and jazz performers made him a natural for that gig, and the club was booked with top-notch talent during his tenure. Joe’s also produced a number of blues, jazz and R&B albums, including one by local DC saxophone legend Joe Stanley.
In addition to his previous releases on Severn Records, among the other labels Big Joe has recorded for include the late, lamented Black Top Records out of New Orleans (his Layin’ in the Alley album won the 1994 WAMA award for “Best blues Recording”), as well as the DC-based Powerhouse label, which released his Good Rockin’ Daddy CD.