There were many surprises among the flood of new blues releases in 1997. That's the sign of a healthy blues scene, as we continue to find new artists coming out with excellent debut discs as well as established performers still pulling some new tricks out of their hats.
One of my favorite "surprise" CDs of the year came on the small
New York-based label NYNO. I had never heard of The New Birth Brass Band,
and wondered whether it was some kind of offshoot of the better-known Rebirth Brass Band.
I was encouraged by the fact that the disc was produced by Allen Toussaint, but was still
overwhelmed by the power of this band's music. Check the May issue
of Blues Bytes for the complete review.
Another pleasant surprise was the number of solid releases by soul/blues veterans, such as Johnny Rawls, Vernon Garrett, Jesse Yawn, and Lou Pride. I love good singers, and we had more than our share of nice vocalists this year.
Finally, I was also pleased by the quality of independent releases which came my way. My favorite in this category came from Connecticut band Tom Sanders & The Hornets, but that was just one of many good indies in '97.
I'm looking forward to an even better 1998. Thanks for your support of Blues Bytes.
- Bill Mitchell
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