Who is that there, in the iTunes blues page banner, right next to venerable Chicago bluesman Otis Rush?  It’s The Claudettes, featuring Chicago piano pounder Johnny Iguana — who has toured with Otis, by the way.

Look down in the first row beneath that banner to the New and Noteworthy grouping… and there are the Claudettes again!  It’s great to see iTunes trumpeting how special this new Yellow Dog release is, especially for those who dig blues piano and fresh, unique spins on the classic Chicago sound. The album’s already spawned features in publications like the Chicago Sun-Times and glowing reviews like this one.

Infernal Piano Plot…HATCHED! is still just a hatchling… stay tuned for more Claudettes news!

Summer may be over, but The Soul of John Black‘s A Sunshine State of Mind keeps that mood going year round.  Check out the new video for “Higher Power”, a soulful anthem with an uplifting message that affirms that “we’re all in this together.”

Elwood's BluesmobileCassie Taylor was recently featured on the nationally syndicated radio show Elwood’s Bluesmobile.  The hour-long show mixed cuts from Cassie’s new album, Out of My Mind, with interview clips.  Listen to Elwood Blues and Cassie discuss how she got started in music, her musical influences from Moby to Sharon Jones, and making an album — her own way.

Well, not quite, but The Claudettes did cause quite an uproar with their Legends debut.

The Claudettes eagerly awaited their first show at the famed Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago — which, as fate would have it, fell on Friday the 13th of September. Pianist Johnny Iguana had played Buddy’s dozens of times with other groups including the Junior Wells Band, while this was drummer Michael Caskey’s first time.

As she often does, the band’s boss Claudette sent her assistant Tatyana to sell beers from the stage; this was disallowed by the club. But Tatyana still had a strong effect at Legends, where her flower dress and tap shoes, thick Russian accent and the fact that she didn’t play an instrument caused consternation among the staff. The displeased club manager considered, aloud, throwing beer bottles at Johnny; clearly, some feathers at this Chicago-blues institution were ruffled by the Claudettes’ appearance.

The crowd, though, had a different reaction to the music. Even as Tatyana tried to sell neckties from the stage, chastised the musicians for not smiling and interrupted the band to take phone calls from a worried Claudette, smiles and cell-phone cameras flashed all around the room. Feet were tapping steadily to the amped-up, off-kilter blues attack of the Claudettes as they blasted through 13 songs in 45 minutes. Concerned that the band’s unorthodox sound and style weren’t right for the club and would send customers to the exits, the management cut their set at 45 minutes (it was to have been an hour). Many in the crowd used those 15 extra minutes to come talk to the band and buy Claudettes CDs.

The band rated the night a success. Claudette, like the club manager, was not pleased. Couldn’t Tatyana have sold beer out on the sidewalk where the manager couldn’t see?

The White Stripes and Black Keys rock the blues with a guitar attack. Like the Bad Plus, The Claudettes brandish a piano instead. But The Claudettes have created their own fanatical fusion of blues and soul-jazz — like Ray Charles on a punk kick. Imagine an amped-up piano hybrid of Otis Spann, Ray Charles and Mose Allison, joined by a jolly madman drummer and conducted in gonzo fashion by Raymond Scott. File under: post-burlesque? Neo-vaudeville? Cosmic cartoon music? You’ve never seen a piano-drums duo like this.

And let’s not forget the strange but true story of how The Claudettes came to be — starting with Claudette herself, an unhinged bar owner who hired the duo as her “house band” but works out deals to showcase them at other venues: traditional nightspots as well as unconventional locations including Blockbuster Video and Staples Center (literally; the center of a local Staples office store). To read more about the band’s bizarre history, see the detailed backgrounder: http://bit.ly/theclaudettesPR .

See The Claudettes, Live in the Studio:

Cassie Taylor - DaytrotterIt’s been the hippest of the hip for more than seven years: the Daytrotter Session. Everyone from hip-hoppers and electronic artists to blues-rockers and indie darlings have instantly upped their cred (and fanbase) by recording one-of-a-kind performances for Daytrotter, who have archived many thousands of performances and yielded many millions of downloads and streams.

Cassie Taylor recently made her debut at the already-legendary Daytrotter Studio in Rock Island, IL. Listen to her exclusive-to-Daytrotter live performances here including her tune “That’s My Man” from her acclaimed Yellow Dog release Out of My Mind .

By popular demand, we’re pleased to present our first vinyl-format release! Cassie Taylor‘s Out Of My Mind has been earning raves for its indelible and utterly modern sound, brilliantly melding influences ranging from a New Orleans second line to West African psychedelic rock.

Specially mastered for LP, Out Of My Mind is pressed on white vinyl, and like all compact discs purchased from our online store, comes with immediate download of the digital album.

KCRW“Magic Woman”, the lead track from The Soul of John Black‘s new album A Sunshine State of Mind, is featured today as “Today’s Top Tune” on the flagship NPR tastemaker station KCRW, Santa Monica.  As part of the feature, the track is offered for free download for the day and then for streaming thereafter.  Be sure to visit KCRW’s Today’s Top Tune to check it out!

Other recent “Top Tune” feature artists include the likes of Booker T, Mavis Staples, Valerie June, Iron and Wine, and Charles Bradley, and JB is thrilled to be included in their company.  This follows on the heels of a recent spin on KCSN’s LA Buzz Band show and airplay on stations nationwide.

We’re thrilled to release The Soul of John Black‘s A Sunshine State of Mind, a compilation of upbeat tunes that embody the “essence of summer”.  While four of the tracks were launched over last summer and fall as a series of preview singles, we now have the full collection to present in album form (including CDs!)

The inspiration for A Sunshine State of Mind came to JB during the winter in his home town of Los Angeles. “Although the sun shines all the time here, the mood brightens even more once the summer months arrive,” he explained. “I wanted to write songs that would keep that attitude going year-round.” Each of the tracks in the album has a lighthearted feeling, complimenting the upbeat theme of the overall collection.

From “Higher Power”, a soulful anthem with an uplifting message of community and interrelatedness, to the driving groove of “East LA Lady”, Bigham displays the unique stylistic fusion that has won praise from Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, National Public Radio, and others.

Cassie Taylor - Out of My Mind

At age 26, Cassie Taylor is already a veteran musician. She’s spent a decade playing bass and singing on stage and in the studio with her father, modern-day blues innovator Otis Taylor. Now she stakes her own claim as an artist of intelligence, power and soul, drawing on a wide swath of influences – spanning centuries, continents and cultures – to create her own indelible and utterly modern sound.

With influences ranging from a New Orleans second line to West African psychedelic rock, the album’s 12 original songs – all written and arranged by Taylor – are the work of a truly 21st century musical omnivore. From the record’s lead track, “Ol’ Mama Dean (Part 1),” which opens with drums and theremin, to the wistful piano closer “Again,” Taylor proves to be a gifted, independent-minded songwriter with a flair for the unexpected and a voice that will haunt your dreams.

Cassie talks about the making of Out of My Mind:

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