Ronnie Earl and The Broadcasters are aiming high with their upcoming album Rise Up.
Created to heal and move bodies and souls alike, Rise Up — due Sept. 11 on Stony Plain Records — finds the veteran blues guitarist and his band responding to everything from the current pandemic to the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, according to a press release.
“Blues musicians are lucky people and generally happy to be what they are. What they do pleases their listeners and satisfies a deep-down need in themselves,” writes guitarist Peter Ward (who also plays on the album) in his album notes. “But with Ronnie it’s more. The world’s injustices weigh on his shoulders. Bigotry, substance abuse and struggle are never far from his mind. He offers his music to relieve people’s suffering, even if the elixir lasts only for the length of a song.”
On the 15-track disc, those songs include the instrumental Blues for George Floyd, the unique talking blues Black Lives Matter, a cover of Bob Dylan’s Lord Protect My Child (sung brilliantly by Diane Blue) and Navajo Blues, dedicated to the Native American tribe disproportionately stricken by coronavirus. Along the way, and his band — Dave Limina on keys, Blue on vocals, Paul Kochanski on bass and Forrest Padgett on drums — take listeners on a journey through a wide swath of musical influences.
Fittingly, the album was created a bit differently than Earl’s other recordings. While recuperating from back surgery to alleviate a stubborn case of sciatica, Ronnie decided to hold the session at his modest home west of Boston. It took place in March, just before the coronavirus hit. The bulk of the songs were recorded in these “living room sessions,” with a vibe that puts the listener right in the room with the players. Rounding out the disc are several tracks recorded live at a Daryl’s House Club show.
“On Rise Up, Ronnie and his talented Broadcasters create music of spontaneity, tradition, and deep feeling,” writes Ward. “Part of the session took place in his cozy living room surrounded by the things that give him joy — guitars, baseball cards, music and photographs of blues-artist friends of his. The setting was tranquil, but like any mission involving Ronnie and artistic creation, it comes with a healthy dose of danger, too … Ronnie and his Strat lead a conversation with friends, tapping into humor and despair, coyness and brashness, anger and delight. Like the phone call, it’s person-to-person, and Ronnie’s the operator who makes the connection possible. On Rise Up he does it again — happily — for you.”
Rise Up is Ronnie’s 13th album on Stony Plain Records and 27th of his career. It’s another gem from a prolific artist who for over 45 years has created a deep lasting body of work. In a world of rampant commercialization, computer-derived music and diminishing standards, the 67-year-old continues to produce top-quality emotionally satisfying music his way, pleasing listeners and audiences wherever he goes.
“People tasked with having to describe Ronnie invariably note his passion,” writes Ward. ”It’s worth repeating because it’s true. Ever since he first appeared with Boston bands in the 1970s, Ronnie, wielding a Stratocaster and Super Reverb, has transfixed audiences with his distinct brand of emotion-laden blues. Still today, each time he performs he gives his audiences his all and shoots for the moon.”
Rise Up Track Listing
1 | I Shall Not Be Moved (2:17) – Traditional
2 | Higher Love (5:57) – Ronnie Earl
3 | Blues for George Floyd (3:39) – Ronnie Earl
4 | You Don’t Know What Love Is (4:32) – Fenton Robinson
5 | Blues for Lucky Peterson (10:18) – Ronnie Earl
6 | Big Town Playboy (4:01) – Eddie Taylor
7 | Albert’s Stomp (4:42) – Ronnie Earl
8 | In The Dark (6:09) – Lillian Green
9 | All Your Love (8:11) – Magic Sam Maghett
10 | Lord Protect My Child (6:08) – Bob Dylan
11 | Mess Around (3:40) – Nugetre
12 | Talking to Mr. Bromberg (3:28) – Ronnie Earl
13 | Black Lives Matter (6:23) – Muddy Waters, Ronnie Earl, Diane Blue
14 | Blues for J (6:01) – Jimmy Smith
15 | Navajo Blues (3:11) – Peter Ward, Ronnie Earl