Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Sights and Sounds: Nina Simone, Paul Kelly, Buffalo Nichols

Several major announcements related to new and forthcoming titles are featured below...Robert Kinsler

'Nina Simone and Her Friends' deluxe reissue coming from BMG on Dec. 3, 2021; set includes four tracks from 'Little Girl Blue' recording session in 1957

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Originally released by Bethlehem Records in 1959, Nina Simone and Her Friends was a compilation album comprising the few remaining unreleased tracks from the 1957 Little Girl Blue recording session plus songs recorded by two other former Bethlehem artists, the powerhouse jazz vocalist Carmen McRae and the elegant song stylist Chris Connor. 

An RSD-Essentials exclusive “emerald-green” limited-edition 180-gram LP will be available, along with CD and digital/streaming versions (high-definition and standard) on December 3, 2021. The reissue features a fresh stereo master done by four-time Grammy winner Michael Graves as well as a vinyl remastering by the renowned Kevin Gray. Grammy winner Cheryl Pawelski produced the set, which includes a new essay by Daphne A. Brooks, author of Liner Notes for the Revolution.
As Brooks explains in her essay, “Bethlehem clustered their work — tracks that had previously appeared on the label’s Girlfriends compilation — together with the younger, upstart Simone’s and essentially offered up a collection of songs that span a range of genres — folk, jazz, pop song staples, and torch song laments, plus a couple of provocative original compositions by McRae and Simone. Each track is a reminder of the clear-eyed independence, verve, and confidence of three artists whose music, taken together, brims with the majesty and the assured talents of the late 1950s women artists who led with conviction and invention as musicians and song interpreters.” 
Available today, October 20, as a sneak-peak, “African Mailman” is an instrumental track recorded during the Little Girl Blue sessions, showcasing Nina Simone’s incredible piano playing. At the time, Simone was in her mid-20s and still aspiring to be a classical concert pianist. As Brooks describes it: “A magisterial original composition of Simone’s which, as she recounts it, ‘was made up on the spot in the studio and recorded in one take,’ finds her moving across an Afrodiasporic terrain of percussion, leading at the keyboard, rolling and tumbling, building waves of contrasting chromatic depth and spinning, ethereal flight.”
  1. Nina Simone – “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” 
  2. Chris Conner – “Someone to Watch Over Me” 
  3. Carmen McRae – “Old Devil Moon” 
  4. Nina Simone – “I Loves You, Porgy” 
  5. Chris Connor – “I Concentrate on You” 
  6. Carmen McRae – “You Made Me Care” 
  7. Nina Simone – “For All We Know” 
  8. Chris Connor – “From This Moment On” 
  9. Carmen McRae – “Too Much in Love to Care” 
  10. Nina Simone – “African Mailman” 
  11. Chris Connor – “All This and Heaven Too” 
  12. Carmen McRae – “Last Time for Love” 
Watch the "African Mailman" single:

Paul Kelly readies 'How to Make Gravy,' Australia's most popular holiday song; new single from 'Paul Kelly's Christmas Train' album due out Nov. 19 on Gawd Aggie/Cooking Vinyl in time for Gravy Day

MELBOURNE, Australia — As he gathered the material for his first Christmas album, Paul Kelly soon realized that a collection of 10 seasonal standards could never cover the richness he wanted to convey. He knew he wanted to make a record that drew out all the emotions and layers of the Christmas story, and in a way that reflected the holiday experience in the southern hemisphere, far removed from the snowy imagery of so many Christmas songs.
The result is an extraordinary 22-song double album that travels across the centuries, from a Latin hymn to well-known carols, from a traditional Irish folk ballad to songs with an unmistakable local flavor, and a sparkling new version of one of the greatest Australian Christmas songs of them all, Kelly’s own “How to Make Gravy,” scheduled for November 19, 2021 release on Gawd Aggie / Cooking Vinyl
“I’ve always been interested in Christmas songs and the variety of them,” Kelly says. “There is a double-edged sword to Christmas music because every year it is everywhere, pumped to you in supermarkets and malls. There is a lot of schlock attached but on the other hand there are so many great Christmas songs and so much to explore. I’ve chosen songs I love, which led me often to wander off the well-worn path, then chosen singers I thought best suited to them.”  

The sacred and the secular, the ancient and modern, are all carefully woven into a collection destined to become a part of Christmases around the globe for many years to come. It is delivered by Kelly and his band with a big cast of Christmas helpers including vocalists Vika and Linda BullMarlon WilliamsKasey Chambers and Emma Donovan, along with contributions from the Kelly clan: nephew and bandmate Dan, siblings Mary-Jo and Tony, and Paul’s daughters Maddy and Memphis.
Christmas was a big part of Kelly’s upbringing in a large Catholic family in Adelaide. “We had Advent, the month-long build-up to Christmas. There was a small crib in one of the fireplaces with a pile of straw beside it. Every time you did something good or denied yourself something you would secretly put straw in the crib so it would be filled by Christmas, when a statuette of the baby Jesus would miraculously appear in the crib. The statues of the Three Wise Men started a long way off in another part of the house, secretly moving every night along mantelpieces so they would arrive at the crib for the Epiphany on January 6. That was all part of Christmas for us. It was fun and mysterious and had that magic about it.”
For the Kelly clan singing is always part of the season, especially on Gravy Day (December 21), “Sometimes we do it all together, sometimes the Queensland gang do it separately from the Melbourne gang, and we have the tradition of singing carols on Christmas Eve, not very reverentially.”
Part of the joy in Paul Kelly’s Christmas Train comes from discovering fresh ways to treat the best-known songs, from the Hawaiian guitar and ukuleles of “Silent Night,” with a verse in the original German sung by Alice Keath, to an astonishing performance by Marlon Williams singing “Tapu Te P?” (O Holy Night) in the M?ori language. The story of Jesus and Mary has strong associations with Judaism and Islam (the Qu’ran has a chapter devoted to the story); here on Christmas Train singer-songwriter Lior joins Paul, Alice, and Emily Lubitz for an a cappella reading of the Hebrew prayer of peace, “Shalom Aleichem,” and Waleed Aly recites the vivid poetry of Surah Maryam. Kelly and his band bring a ’60s-fired energy to “Christmas,” an Australian song of longing for home by brothers Chris and Wes Harrington, and Linda Bull tears up the place on “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home),” a song originally recorded by Darlene Love on Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You.
Kelly explains, “There were so many songs I wanted to have on there. Having the wider frame for this album allowed me to have the songs talking to each other, the way that Arthur McBride has echoes in the Brazilian song “In the Hot Sun of a Christmas Day.” There is a Hebrew hymn, an Arabic poem, folk songs, classical songs, rock songs. Then the fun, and the challenge, is to get all those elements to work together.”
“I hadn’t even thought about putting ‘…Gravy’ on the record but when I talked to friends, they all said, ‘Really? You’re not? Just do another version.’ Our live version has evolved from the original recording, so we said, ‘Let’s lay it down and see what we think.’ We have been doing it forever, so it was recorded in one or two takes. It’s 25 years since the song first came out so that’s another reason to have it here. Note that Peter Luscombe played on the original, too.”
The BBC describes Gravy Day, December 21st, as a date “deemed increasingly worth celebrating.” “Gravyday,” “the 21st of December,” and “Paul Kelly” have become trending terms on Twitter, with many posts playing off How to Make Gravy’s narrative. The song’s popularity has inspired media outlets to investigate the protagonist’s possible back story and the key question in the song: “Who’s gonna make the gravy?”  Several years ago, Kelly began to acknowledge the trend by hosting Gravy Day concerts.
Track Listing:
1. Nativity
2. Silent Night
3. Swing Around the Sun
4. Christmas
5. Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) 
6. Little Drummer Boy
7. Arthur McBride
8. The Virgin Mary Had One Son
9. Tapu Te P? (O Holy Night)
10. Shalom Aleichem
11. The Oxen
12. The Friendly Beasts
13. Three Drovers
14. Christmas Must Be Tonight
15. Surah Maryam
16. Coventry Carol
17. In the Hot Sun of a Christmas Day
18. How to Make Gravy
19. Christmas Train
20. Come Thou Font of Every Blessing
21. Intonent Hodie
22. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

On Tour Now Supporting Drive-By Truckers, 
December Dates with St. Paul and the Broken Bones

“Nichols’ spartan, self-titled debut album showcases not just his mesmeric fingerpicking, but also deep political beliefs…” - Mojo
“...Buffalo Nichols makes waves with his debut album” - Austin Monthly
“ of the most promising debut records to come out in quite some time” 
- No Depression
"His compelling self-titled debut album introduces a visceral new force in the genre: to spare but endlessly dextrous guitar playing, Nichols bends the blues into new shapes, in the process examining African-American history and the issues and attitudes that still dog the communities he grew up in. A real find" - The Sunday Times (UK)
“The recordings...feature little more than his honeyed voice and bluesy guitar. But that simplicity, and vulnerability, make them special.” - The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Exceptional” - Americana Highways
The self-titled debut album from Buffalo Nichols, Fat Possum’s first solo blues signing in nearly 20 years, arrived in stores last week to great press from Austin MonthlyBandcampNo DepressionPremier Guitar (‘Hooked’ series), Uncut (UK), Mojo (UK), The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and more—including an interview and live session with WNYC’s Soundcheck. The album’s release follows singles “How To Love,” “Lost & Lonesome,” and “Back On Top,” which have been earning Nichols additional early praise from Rolling Stone CountryGuitar World, and more. Listen to Buffalo Nichols now HERE.
The Austin,TX-based Carl “Buffalo” Nichols is currently on the road in support of Drive-By Truckers as well as playing a handful of solo shows throughout, and he performs next tonight at MOTR Pub in Cincinnati, OH. He also recently announced a run of dates with St. Paul and the Broken Bones in early December. A current itinerary is below.
Since his earliest infatuations with guitar, Nichols has asked himself the same question: How can I bring the blues of the past into the future? After cutting his teeth between a Baptist church and bars in Milwaukee, it was a globetrotting trip through West Africa and Europe during a creative down period that began to reveal the answer. 

“Part of my intent, making myself more comfortable with this release, is putting more Black stories into the genres of folk and blues,” Nichols explains. “Listening to this record, I want more Black people to hear themselves in this music that is truly theirs.” That desire is embodied in his self-titled debut album, composed largely of demos and studio sessions recorded between Wisconsin and Texas. 

Born in Houston and raised in Milwaukee’s predominantly Black North end, the guitar was Nichols’ saving grace as a young man. The instrument captured his fascination, and provided him with an outlet for self-expression and discovery in isolation. A friend invited the teenage guitarist to church for a gig and the opportunity proved to be Nichols’ much-needed breakthrough to music circles in the area. But over the following years, he began to feel overextended, and abandoned the demanding grind of a supporting role in nearly ten Milwaukee scene bands, none of which bore his vision as a lead performerStints in college and in the workforce led him overseas, where the appreciation of African-American folkways lit a renewed spark in Nichols. It was the bustling of jazz in places like the working class areas of Ukraine, or in Berlin cafes where expatriate Black Americans routinely treat fans to an enchanting evening of blues, that would lead to his a-ha moment. Nichols returned home to America, meditating on his own place in the music that holds the country’s truest values and rawest emotions between bar and measure. “Before this trip, it was hard for me to find that link between all these blues records I heard and people who are living right now. I figured out it’s not a huge commercial thing, but it still has value. So, I came home and started playing the blues more seriously, doing stuff with just me and my guitar,” Nichols says.

Nichols admits that anger and pain are realities that color the conversations and the autobiographical anecdotes behind his observational, narrative-based approach to songwriting. However, with his lyricism on Buffalo Nichols, he intends to provide a perspective that doesn’t lean heavily into stereotypes, generalizations or microaggressions regarding race, class and culture. The album sees Nichols wrestling with prescient topics, such as empathy and forgiveness, regret and loss, and the pitfalls of lives lived too close to the edge. At the forefront of each song is Nichols’ rich voice and evocative, virtuosic guitar-playing, augmented on half of the nine tracks by a simple, cadent drum line.

While acknowledging the joy, exuberance and triumph contained in the blues, Nichols looks intently at the genre’s origins, which harken back to complicated and dire circumstances for Black Americans. With this in mind, Nichols says there is a missing link, which he’s often used as a compass: Black stories aren’t being told responsibly in the genre anymore. To begin changing that, Buffalo Nichols gets the chance to tell his own story in the right way.

Read Buffalo Nichols’ full bio/download photos and cover artwork HERE.
Additional Praise for Buffalo Nichols
“With virtuosic guitar-playing and evocative singing, Carl ‘Buffalo’ Nichols returns Black stories to folk and blues.” - Bandcamp, ‘New & Notable’
“Anyone who fears the blues’ demise would do well to keep their eyes on Nichols – with guitarists like him carrying the torch and moving the genre into the 21st century, the blues’ll be just fine.”
 - Guitar World
“...Nichols emerges as a sharp, succinct, inventive and insightful songwriter, one who can convey complex ideas with just a few words.” - Uncut (UK), 9/10
“ aching number that lives up to its down-and-out title with a stripped-down arrangement of fingerstyle and slide guitar, plus Nichols’ world-weary delivery of his existential blues.”
 - Rolling Stone Country, about “Lost & Lonesome”
“An isolated retreat, ‘Lost and Lonesome’ finds Buffalo Nichols, Fat Possum Records' newest blues signee, wandering in the unfamiliar and grappling with dark, desolate truths. Six-string acoustics wade deep in the Mississippi Delta and reverberate along the pastoral countryside, carving through its barren back roads.” - Austin Chronicle
“And we believe Nichols will soon be blues royalty...Get to know this future legend” 
- The Revue, about “Back On Top”
Buffalo Nichols, credit: Merrick Ales
Buffalo Nichols tour dates:

10/20 - Cincinnati, OH – MOTR Pub
10/21/21 - Knoxville, TN – Bijou Theatre*
10/22/21 - Birmingham, AL – Avondale Brewing*
10/23/21 - Asheville, NC – Rabbit Rabbit*
11/3/21 - Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl*
11/4/21 - Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl*
11/5/21 - Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl*
11/6/21 - Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl*
11/8/21 - Wilmington, DE – The Queen*
11/9/21 - Washington, DC – Songbyrd
11/10/21 - Winston-Salem, NC – The Ramkat*
11/11/21 - Charleston, SC – Charleston Music Hall*
11/12/21 - Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse*
11/13/21 - Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse*
11/15/21 - Little Rock, AR – Revolution Music Room*
11/16/21 - Denton, TX – Andy’s
11/17/21 - Dallas, TX – Granada Theater*
11/18/21 - Austin, TX – Scoot Inn*
11/19/21 - Austin, TX – Scoot Inn*
11/20/21 - New Orleans, LA – Tipitina's*
11/21/21 - Lafayette, LA – Acadiana Center for the Arts*
12/02/21 - Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre**
12/03/21 - Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre**
12/04/21 - Columbia, SC – The Senate**
*supporting Drive-By Truckers
** supporting St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Bruce Cockburn releases career-spanning 'Greatest Hits (1970-2020)' on Dec. 3, 2021

 A well-deserved retrospective of the great singer-songwriter/guitar master Bruce Cockburn arrives on Dec. 3, 2021 courtesy of True North Records...Robert Kinsler


Inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame on December 4



WATERDOWN, ON - With 34 previous releases, 13 Canadian JUNO wins, two Hall of Fame inductions, countless honorary Doctorates, Officer of The Order of Canada — and new inductee into Canada’s Walk of Fame this year — all spanning a 50+ year career — it’s no small task to encapsulate Bruce Cockburn’s inimitable imprint when it comes to Canadian music and culture. But his newly announced double-album release, Bruce Cockburn Greatest Hits (1970 - 2020), is a good place to start.


Curated by Bruce Cockburn and set for release December 3rd, 2021 via True North Records, this definitive collection meticulously corrals the acclaimed singer/songwriter’s most-favored tracks — from songs that shot to the top of the charts upon release, to long-lauded fan-favorites requested on tour, time and time again.


Photo credit: Daniel Keebler

Expect to settle in for a chronological journey from the legendary artist’s earliest offerings, to today; assembled by Cockburn himself, the hand-picked selection of 30 songs revisit works from 1970 to 2020, and are accompanied by exclusive notes from the artist.


“In 1969, when I was feeling the need to record an album of the songs I’d been writing, I had no concept of what that might lead to,” Cockburn shares. “Not unusual for a young person, I guess…


“In some organic way, it felt like it was ‘time.’ The future wasn’t really an issue. It still isn’t. For each of us, there’s a future or there isn’t.


“But looking back over the arc of fifty years of recording, performing, and travel — not to mention, relationships and personal challenges — I can only shake my head and mutter a word of thanks for all of it. Even if I’d been a planner by nature, I doubt I could have predicted how things have gone.


“And they’re still going!”


The release lands ahead of Cockburn’s “2nd Attempt” North American tour for his 50th Anniversary Concert, previously stymied by Covid restrictions.


Bruce Cockburn’s Greatest Hits (1970 - 2020) is available December 3rd, 2021 via True North Records.


Bruce Cockburn 2021/22 Tour Dates:

December 7, 2021            Center for the Arts, Grass Valley, CA      

December 8, 2021            Rio Theater, Santa Cruz, CA        

December 9, 2021            Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, Berkeley,       CA

December 10, 2021         Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, Berkeley,       CA

December 12, 2021         Soreng Theater, Eugene, OR

December 13, 2021         Tower Theater, Bend,    OR

December 14, 2021         Rogue Theater, Grants Pass,       OR

December 16, 2021         Aladdin Theater, Portland, OR

December 17, 2021         Aladdin Theater, Portland, OR

December 18, 2021         Bing Crosby Theater       Spokane, WA

December 19, 2021         Neptune Theater, Seattle, WA

February 24, 2022            Higher Ground, Burlington, VT  

February 25, 2022            The Egg, Albany, NY       

February 26, 2022            Academy Theatre, Northampton, MA

February 27, 2022            The Wilbur, Boston, MA               

March 1, 2022                    Opera House,    Waterville, ME 

March 2, 2022                    Centre for the Arts, Fall River, MA           

March 4, 2022                    Ridgefield Playhouse,    Ridgefield, CT   

March 5, 2022                    Newton Theater, Newton, NJ   

March 6, 2022                    Peter Jay Sharp Theater, New York,        NY

March 8, 2022                    The Ark, Ann Arbor, MI

March 10, 2022  Old Town School Of Folk, Chicago, IL

March 11, 2022  Old Town School Of Folk, Chicago, IL

March 12, 2022  Barrymore Theater, Madison,    WI         

March 13, 2022  Englert Theater, Iowa City, IA    

April 19, 2022                     Showplace Theatre, Peterborough, ON, Canada

April 21, 2022                     Centre In The Square, Kitchener, ON, Canada

April 22, 2022                     Massey Hall        Toronto, ON, Canada

April 23, 2022                     National Arts Centre,     Ottawa, ON, Canada

Urge Overkill say 'Oui' to first new album in over a decade due on Omnivore Recordings on January 28, 2022

 Media Release

CHICAGO, Ill. — When the world was asked if it was time for new music from Urge Overkill, it responded with one word: Oui.
Urge Overkill is composed of two unique voices, Nash Kato and King Roeser. A double singer-songwriter attack. Oui, their first new release in more than a decade, is full of their signature mix of rock, hooks, and fancy bling, which is exactly what a post-pandemic planet has needed for far too long. Omnivore Recordings will release Oui on CD and Digital on January 28, 2022.
Roeser and Kato, two Minnesota native sons, met at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Pulling their name from Parliament’s title track “Funkentelechy,” Urge Overkill was born in 1984, releasing their debut EP Strange I… on fellow Northwestern student Steve Albini’Ruthless Records (with Albini in the production chair, as well).
Touch and Go Records founder Cory Rusk championed the band as well, and Jesus Urge Superstar appeared on that classic Chicago label, once again helmed by Albini (while the band was housed in his basement). Next came 1990’s Americruiser, this time produced by Butch Vig, featuring a sound and style that influenced fellow bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana, who would consequently use Vig on albums like Siamese Dream and Nevermind.
1991’s The Supersonic Storybook (named by Material Issue’s Jim Ellison) brought Albini back to the production role, and Urge opened for Nirvana on American and European legs of Nirvana’s Nevermind tour. At that point, Pearl Jam tapped them for their Vs. tour, and Urge Overkill was playing arenas.
Urge recruited Kramer (Bongwater, Butthole Surfers) to produce 1992’s Stull EP, which included a cover of Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” and the original “Goodbye to Guyville” — whose title was adapted by Liz Phair for her acclaimed debut. Even as just an EP, the release proved that Urge was ready for the big leagues, and they signed to Geffen Records later that year.
1993 brought the world Saturation, produced by the Butcher Bros. (Cypress Hill, Nine Inch Nails, Anthrax). Featuring radio hits like “Sister Havana” and “Positive Bleeding,” the band rock ’n’ rolled on. While working on Saturation’s follow-up, Quentin Tarantino picked Stull’s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” for inclusion in his 1994 film Pulp Fiction. The movie and soundtrack became a massive hit, rocketing Urge into the public consciousness. After 1995’s Exit the Dragon, Urge’s whirlwind first decade came to a close. It was time for a break.
Kato and Roeser reunited in 2010, playing a set at Tarantino’s Friar’s Club Roast, and sat on the podium alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman. Two years later, Rock & Roll Submarine was released to great acclaim (garnering four stars from MOJO magazine).
Now, a decade later, Urge Overkill returns with Oui — 12 new tracks, including 11 originals and an Urge-ified cover of Wham!’s “Freedom!” It’s the logical extension of everything everyone loves about Urge Overkill: killer riffs, memorable hooks, and the style and swagger of Nash Kato and King Roeser.
So, add the word that goes before “please.” It’s Oui.

Monday, October 18, 2021

‘Chuck Berry 1970s ES-355’ available worldwide; to honor the Rock and Roll legend, Gibson is releasing Chuck Berry’s favorite ES-355 Guitar in Wine Red

Today marks what would have been Chuck Berry's 95th birthday. Gibson has announced the release of a very special limited edition of the 'Chuck Berry 1970s ES-355' instrument. When I last caught Berry in concert in July 2010 he was playing his beloved instrument, as you can see in the photos directly below...Robert Kinsler

Chuck Berry performing with his beloved Gibson
 at the Hootenanny Festival in July 2019.
Photo: Robert Kinsler

Chuck Berry with lucky fans at the Hootenanny 
Festival in Orange County, CA in July 2019.
Photo: Robert Kinsler

Gibson Custom Shop:
‘Chuck Berry 1970s ES-355’
Available Worldwide, via
To Honor the Rock and Roll Legend, Gibson Is Releasing Chuck Berry’s Favorite ES-355 Guitar in Wine Red, On October 18, His 95th Birthday
 Chuck Berry: Live From Blueberry Hill’
New Live Album Available For Pre-Order via Dualtone Records (Here)
Above: Chuck Berry with his 1970s ES-355 in Wine Red
Photo credit above only: Danny Clinch.

Watch the interview with Charles Berry Jr. at Blueberry Hill: HERE.
"If you were to try to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 
Chuck Berry."--John Lennon
NASHVILLE, TN (October 18, 2021) For the past 127 years, Gibson--the iconic American instrument brand--has been synonymous with creating and shaping sound across genres of music and generations of players. Today, Gibson Custom Shop has announced the release of the limited-edition Chuck Berry 1970s ES-355 in Wine Red. A founding father of Rock and Roll, Chuck Berry’s stagecraft and musicianship laid the foundation for nearly every genre of rock and popular music. His playing, showmanship, and catalog of music helped inspire and launch many musicians’ careers, and countless players shared the stage with him for unforgettable performances. Ever present alongside Chuck onstage were his Gibson guitars. His favorite go-to guitar, a 1978 Gibson ES-355has now been meticulously crafted for fans to experience in the Chuck Berry 1970s ES-355, now available worldwide at
“Of all the guitars my dad played, the 1978 ES-355 by far was his go-to. The guitar traveled the world with my Dad for over 36 years,” says Charles Berry Jr. (Chuck’s son).“His last album Chuck and the new live album Chuck Berry: Live From Blueberry Hill were recorded with the Gibson Wine Red ES-355. It’s a real road warrior and Gibson has done a brilliant job making this run of excellent big bodies. Like his original, these new ones resonate to the point you can actually feel them singing. It’s a True Tone MONSTER! Tom Murphy’s mad scientists in the Murphy Lab have aged them wonderfully. Put on the Captain's hat, attach the conduit connector (if you dare), turn it up to 11 and rip!”
To honor Chuck Berry’s legacy, Gibson Custom Shop has made sure every aspect of construction and appointments is historically correct, including aged gold hardware, a Maestro Vibrola, Grover tuners, a Varitone switch, and a classic split diamond headstock inlay. The striking Wine Red finish features Murphy Lab custom aging, giving it the look and feel of the 1978 original. 
Only 100 Chuck Berry 1970s ES-355 guitars will be hand-made by the expert luthiers and craftspeople of the Gibson Custom Shop as part of this very special limited run. Gibson went to great lengths to source Chuck’s favorite Captain’s hat which he wore on and off the stage. Chuck’s Captain’s hat is included in the custom case, along with hisinnovative finger holder--an electrical conduit strap--which allowed him to play his ES-355over and behind his head.
Watch the interview with Charles Berry Jr. filmed on location in Chuck Berry’shometown of St. Louis, MO at the famed local music venue and local landmark,Blueberry HillHERE.
Click on the photo above to play the interview with Charles Berry Jr.
Chuck Berry played over 200 shows during a special residency at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis and the new live album CHUCK BERRY: LIVE FROM BLUEBERRY HILL will showcase those concerts for the first time. The songs include some of Chuck’s fan favorites including “Roll Over Beethoven” Rock And Roll Music,” “Johnny B. Goode,”and more. The band for the live recordings featured Chuck Berry (Vocals, Guitar), Charles Berry, Jr. – (Guitar), Ingrid Berry (Harmonica), Robert Lohr (Piano), Jimmy Marsala (Bass) and Keith Robinson (Drums). Pre-order the new live album which will be released December 17 on CD/Digital and April 15 on Vinyl via Dualtone Records and listen to one of the songs “Carol/Little Queenie” nowHERE.
His stage bravado gripped audiences from the jump and never let up over his 64-year career, Charles Edward Anderson Berry had a gravitational pull all his own. Chuck was charming, soft spoken and determined to succeed in an era that wasn’t kind to Black artists. His first chart appearance, “Maybellene” on the storied Chess Records label arguably created the term “cross-over”, ushering in a style of music to the mainstream that never betrayed its blues, swing, and country DNA, connecting with young audiences who were starving for something different: Rock and Roll.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Chuck Berry wrote his own songs. Not just any songs mind you; songs that were clever and relatable. Songs that resonated deeply with America’s youth. But as extraordinary as Chuck’s songwriting and performance craft were, at the end of the day it was that guitar phrasing that set his music apart: the boogie woogie roll...those double stops…and those multi-string bends coursing through his pickups that willed Rock and Roll into existence
Every rock guitar player of any stature has borrowed much from Chuck. He created the blueprint all of us have followed since he first slung a Gibson around his neck. And when he passed, Chuck Berry left the stage the way he took it, with little compromise and few regrets. And along for that ride, his most prized possession was his Gibson ES-355.
Above: the Gibson Chuck Berry 1970’s ES-355 in Wine Red.
Chuck Berry 1970's ES-355 spec sheets: HERE.
Chuck Berry:


About Gibson:
Gibson, the leading iconic guitar brand, has shaped the sounds of generations of musicians and music lovers across genres for 127 years. Founded in 1894 and headquartered in Nashville, Gibson Brands has a legacy of world-class craftsmanship, legendary music partnerships, and progressive product evolution that is unrivaled among musical instrument companies. The Gibson Brands portfolio includes Gibson, the leading guitar brand, as well as many of the most beloved and recognizable music brands, including Epiphonewhich has been on every stage since 1873, Kramer, the original MADE TO ROCK HARD guitar brand, MESA/Boogie, the home of tone, and KRKbehind great music for over 30 years. Gibson Brands is dedicated to quality, innovation, and sound excellence so that music lovers for generations to come will continue to experience music shaped by Gibson Brands. Learn more at and follow us on TwitterFacebookGibson TV, and Instagram.