Carolyn Gaines’ New CD, The Thrill Is Gone, has the up-and-coming blues singer reviving the classics but in her own “Blue Jazzy Way.”
She welcomes guests such as guitarist Ric Jaz and saxophonists Grady Gaines Sr. and Grady Gaines Jr.
Carolyn Gaines knows the blues! She was born in the blues world. Her father is Roy Gaines, one the great guitarist-singers like B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Buddy Guy. Carolyn is also the niece of saxophonist Grady Gaines Sr. Carolyn founded the Blues Schools programs for kids. She has developed into a powerful blues singer. Her previous recording, Beware Of My Dog, revealed her to be a highly expressive and rough-sounding vocalist in the tradition of Ma Rainey, Big Mama Thornton and Koko Taylor: while sounding very much like herself, infusing the blues into each note that she sings.
The Thrill Is Gone, released on Polka Dot Records, features Carolyn Gaines in sparse settings that perfectly fit her country blues approach. Guitarist Gino Baronelli is a strong asset throughout, including two duets with Carolyn on hit songs of Buddy Guy’s (“I Got Dreams To Remember” and “Guess What”).
Buddy Guy’s lead guitarist Ric Jaz makes a guest appearance on “God Bless The Child” with Carolyn’s cousin Grady Gaines Jr. The Thrill Is Gone guest appearances consist of her uncle Grady Gaines Sr. and Ric Jaz.
Blues diva is joined by a bassist on five of the dozen songs (three of which also have organist Moe Bleek), pianist Charles Sherman on three tracks, and there are a few appearances by Glen Doll on harmonica, and Carolyn’s legendary uncle 84-year old Grady Gaines Sr. and her talented cousin, Grady Gaines Jr. on saxophones. Having two members of the Gaines family join her on this memorable set was a particular thrill for the singer.
While one may look at the song list and expect predictable versions of such tunes as Muddy Waters “I Got My Mojo Working,” Bobby Blue Bland “Stormy Monday,” and Etta James “I’d Rather Go Blind,” Carolyn Gaines does not believe in merely copying the past. She performs those songs like Janis Joplin’s uniquely vocals and the others in her own very individual way. Unlike nearly every other version, her rendition of “I’d Rather Go Blind” sounds nothing like Etta James, and how many female singers perform songs by Buddy Guy (“Damn Right I Got The Blues”) or Jimi Hendrix?
The intimate settings (which do not include drums) are a throwback to early country blues yet Carolyn Gaines gives each of the songs her own contemporary spin, growling out some lyrics while occasionally purring. The performances, which she lists as being inspired by the likes of B.B. King (who made “The Thrill Is Gone” famous), Buddy Guy, Ma Rainey, Otis Redding, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Bobby Blue Bland, and Robert Johnson, are quite unique. Carolyn worked Jimi Hendrix hard rock ”Hey Joe” to become her own Woodstock style of rock n’ roll with new blues.
Starting out with a fairly quiet but heated Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Buddy Guy’s “Damn Right I Got The Blues,” Carolyn Gaines performs such numbers as a haunting rendition of “Deep Morning Blues” (recorded by Ma Rainey in 1923), “God Bless The Child” (which is much more lowdown than the versions of Billie Holiday and Diana Ross), and her fresh takes of such standards as “The Thrill Is Gone” (her tribute to the King of the Blues), Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters “I Got My Mojo Working,” and Bobby Blues Bland “Stormy Monday.”
Listeners who think that they have heard every version of those tunes will be surprised by Ms. Gaines’ variations which sound very different than what one might expect.
Throughout The Thrill Is Gone, ‘’Carolyn Gaines shows that she is one of the most important new voices of the blues.’’
Scott Yanow/Jazz journalist and author of 11 books including The Jazz Singers
10/26 “Fundraiser for
Imyoungandempowered Group” – Mini Gran
Prix, Las Vegas, NV
12/15 “Big Mama Part 2” w-Barbara Morrison, Carolyn Gaines & Audrey Turner – Barbara Morrison Theatre Los Angeles, CA
For booking: email Carolyn Gaines
For Publicity: email Jill Kettles email Jill Kettles
Top L-R: Carolyn Gaines – Guitarist Ric Jaz
Bottom L-R: Grady Gaines Jr. and his cousin, blues diva Carolyn Gaines
Grady Gaines Sr., Carolyn Gaines and Grady Gaines Jr. in Houston, TX