Through the dust, dirt, insects, rot, grime and antique furniture of his grandpa’s hand-me-down West Tennessee farm, Joseph LeMay has hand-crafted something beautiful. It’s now his own self-released Seventeen Acres debut and he has to take care of it and his new wife. This takes perseverance, nerves of iron, commitment and doesn’t come without built-in desperation and fear. The songs he writes, produces and sings—like “Warrant For My Worry,” “Call It Quits,” “Nothing You Can Do” and eight others—are rooted in his own experience. They’re true. And that makes them more profound than if they came whole-cloth out of his imagination. He’s an arresting singer too and once you get caught up with how much of a trap life could be—with the advice that it’s up to all of us to rise up and out—the songs start to come alive in your mind, especially with repeated listenings. Remember all those “new-Dylan” tags put on artists as far-ranging as Springsteen, Donovan, Wainwright III and Ochs? Let’s do it again! Joseph LeMay is the Dylan Of The Farm.


Speaking of Dylan, I dig Mellencamp’s “Like A Rolling Stone,” Stevie Wonder’s “Blowin’ In The Wind,” Lou Reed’s “Foot Of Pride,” Willie Nelson’s “What Was It You Wanted,” Johnny Winter’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” Ron Wood’s “7 Days” and other live Dylan covers by the likes of Neil Young (who christened the event “BobFest”), Chrissie Hynde, Clapton, The Band, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roger McGuinn and more on Columbia/Legacy’s Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration on both CD and DVD (which contains 40 new minutes of backstage bliss). The Madison Square Garden show happened in 1992 in celebration of Dylan’s 1962 debut recording. Four hours long, the supremo backing band was three members of Booker T & The MGs with guitarist Jim Keltner and drummer Anton Fig. And, yeah, Dylan himself chips in with “Girl Of The North Country.”


Columbia/Legacy also has The Classics, a divine set by Tony Bennett (who demanded to pick the songs himself). It has his 1951 “Because Of You,” the cover of Hank Williams’ “Cold Cold Heart” that Mitch Miller ordered him to record (legend has it Hank called him up to thank him for ruining his song), and includes duets with Sinatra, Streisand, Ray Charles, k.d. lang, John Mayer, Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse and others.


DVD of the year just might be the long-lost inaugural concert for President George H.W. Bush: Shout Factory’s A Celebration Of Blues And Soul: The 1989 Presidential Inaugural Concert features—get this!—never-before-seen roof-raising blow-out performances by Stevie Ray Vaughan [1954-1990], Bo Diddley [1928-2008], Willie Dixon [1915-1992], Carla Thomas, Dr. John, Billy Preston [1946-2006], Albert Collins [1932-1993], Percy Sledge, Chuck Jackson, Koko Taylor [1928-2009], Eddie Floyd, Lafayette Leake [1919-1990], Delbert McClinton, Sam Moore, William Bell, Joe Louis Walker, Ron Wood, Jimmie Vaughan, Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn [1941-2012], Cash McCall and others from the Stax and Muscle Shoals crews. To think that this historic lineup with some of the world’s greatest jam-happy blues and soul performers on one stage at the same time had been locked in a vault unseen for over 20 years is mind-boggling.

Al Basile Woke Up In Memphis on his new Sweetspot/City Hall CD. This Roomful of Blues alum boils up a properly rockin’ bluesy soul stew produced by guitarist Duke Robillard and featuring a mighty horn section. Big Al’s a solid singer, hot cornet player and can write a tune fit to stay. These 14 originals snap, crackle and pop (it’s his 10th CD) with experience.

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