Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Micki Free “Tatto Burn Redux” 2017 US Blues Rock Electric Blues


Micki Free “Tatto Burn Redux” 2017 US Blues Rock Electric Blues
Official Blues Video 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAl9xxzXzOw

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An In Depth Interview with Micki Free! listen by mixcloud

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Blues-Rock done in the style of Jimi Hendrix, and classic blues-rock bands of the era. Great songs with “killer guitar and melodic hooks”! Some of the best musicians around guest on the CD; drummer Cindy Blackman-Santana for instance….~

There’s a restless spirit that lives inside of musician Micki Free. After cutting his teeth on rock and roll, he joined the band Shalamar and appeared with them on two monster soundtracks,Footloose and Beverly Hills Cop. The latter won him a Grammy Award. 
From there, he joined forces with Jean Beauvoir to create Crown Of Thorns, a hard-hitting rock band that shook up the 1990’s. After that, he began to explore his Native American roots and released albums of spiritual flute music. 
You know, just the average path of a guy who has just released one of the hottest blues albums on 2017. Yeah, right. 
Free’s new album on Mysterium Blues Records,Tattoo Burn – Redux, is an album that is difficult to pigeon hole, just like the artist who made it. At its heart is the blues, pure and simple, but there are elements of rock, gospel, and sometimes you can hear some Native American rhythms in the percussion. 
Free had some help from some great players on the album. Aside from handling the lead, slide, rhythm guitars and lead vocals, Free also played a little bass. Other musicians include Cindy Blackman-Santana and David “Hawk” Lopez on drums; Bill Wyman, Jack Dailey, Kenny Gradney, and David Santos on bass; Hammond organ played by Mark “Muggy Doo” Leach and Brother Paul Brown with Leach also playing the Fender Rhodes; and Randy Singer on harmonica. 
Special guests include Howard Hewett on the lead vocal duet and background vocals on God Is On The Phone; and Cary Bowden on 12-string guitar on Sometimes In Winter. Backing vocals were provided by Shea, Wendy Moten, Trish Bowden, Hewett, and Free. 
The first few funky notes set us up thinking the album is going to go one way, then God Is On The Phone gets going and you realize it’s heading in a different direction. Can we call this a spiritual funk tune? It has a few of the trappings of gospel, primarily with the keyboards, but the guitar is slick funk and they come together in a very satisfying combination. 
Free follows up with the title track, Tattoo Burn, and the opening guitar over drums creates an exciting sound. His music and lyrics put this one square in the blues category. I’m not sure if this is the first blues song to use the tattoo allusion, but it’s the first one I can recall. It adds a new territory to explore. Good song, I think it’ll end up with some airplay. 
Free dedicates the album to his mother, Delores Marie, especially for her “glorious greens and barbecue.” So, it’s only fitting that he pens a song called Greens & Barbecue. It’s a slow burning blues song and Free and company are in total control, both of the music and the vocals. I like this one a lot. 
That slow burn keeps coming with Six Feet Down In The Blues. This is easily one of the best tracks on the album. It’s tight, and Free’s voice hits every emotion without becoming overblown. I could see this one being a hit for any number of great blues artists who have come before and I think it will stand up among the very best for some time to come. Airplay? That’s a given. 
The next song, Mojo Black Coffee, has got a great title and starts off with a true blues riff. I know at least one person who shares my house for whom this song will become their mantra. I’ve learned not to speak until that first cup of coffee has been downed. Sounds like Free is in that same boat. It’s a clever song and the music is as strong as a 32-ounce cup of deep Black Insomnia! That’s the strongest coffee I’ve found to date, if you have another, please let me know so I can share it with Mrs. Professor! 
He follows up with the mellower Co-Co-Gin, which has a nice throwback sound. Free’s guitar is good, but he’s reigned it in a little in favor of the keyboards. His vocals are softer, but the story is still as strong as they come. I think by now, Free has got me firmly in his corner. He’s mixed in a few styles, but his heart is entrenched in the blues and he does a great job with them. 
There’s A Hole In The Heart Of The Blues starts off with some heavy rock and a scorching guitar riff. Once again, I was thinking that the song would go one way and Free takes off another. This one may be a little heavy for the blues purists, but for those who like their blues dipped in rock, this is going to be one of their favorites. 
Next up is Angels In The Room, and Free is back to the slow controlled burn of a master bluesman. I’m not sure who is providing the backing vocals for this number, but she has a great voice. Free does some good slide work and the percussion is solid. It’s a good song, and on a lesser album would probably be a standout. 
The one cover on the album is Jimi Hendrix’ Hey Baby (The New Rising Sun) (remix). The artist that first made Free want to become a musician was Hendrix, so it’s only fitting that he include a cover and homage to the man. You can hear a lot of Hendrix’ influence in the way Free plays guitar, but that can be said of many guitarists. It’s finding that heart that Hendrix had that’s the tough part. I think Free’s spirituality comes through in many of his songs, and not just lip service to the spirit. Free faces the dark as well as the light and recognizes that both are part of this life. 
There’s some hard rocking that opens Five Minutes Till Christmas. This is one that will be getting a ton of airplay come the holiday season. It’s a solid number with some clever lyrics, and it hasn’t been played to death previously. Free released this as a single to radio stations last Christmas and it was a welcome addition. Santa Blues is going to add this one to his playlist… 
Free closes the album with Sometimes In Winter, which features Bowden on 12-string guitar. It’s a mellower sound with some very churchy organ opening with some good guitar riffs filling in. I love the choir of backing voices that lift the song up and over the norm. It’s a fitting ending and a lush song. 
Free’s songwriting impressed me a lot. True he’s a hell of a guitar player and his vocals are nothing to sneeze at, but even a good voice and a great guitar can’t elevate a bad song. There’s really not a bad song in the bunch, although a few songs may be too heavily rock oriented for some, but there’s no way to please the entirety of a large group of blues lovers. 
I will be watching to see what direction(s) Free’s music might take from this point on. He’s explored rock, he’s explored his Native American heritage with albums of traditional music, and here he’s dropped a pretty damn good blues album. I have a feeling that he will continue to mix these different styles as they are all a part of his musical DNA. …Professor Johnny P……~


You may not be familiar with his name, but, unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past 40 years or more, you have heard his work. He worked with the band, Shalamar, was on the soundtracks for Beverly Hills Cop and Footloose, has played with Bill Wyman, Janet Jackson, Billy Gibbons, Santana and more. He has also won five Native American Music Awards. Free is a mixed blood Comanche-Cherokee Native American. Singer, songwriter, player of the Native-American flute, an exceptional guitarist, performer at blues festivals worldwide and more, Micki Free has done it all…and done it all quite well. His guitar work has been compared to that of Jimi Hendrix. Not one who simply emulates Hendrix, Micki captures the spirit of the iconic guitarist. Tattoo Burn-Redux, while it can get a bit heavy on the rock side of the blues/rock genre, is very tastefully done. With Micki Free and the band the music is the important aspect, and not the egos of the individual players. A number of players weigh in on this project including Howard Hewitt, Cindy Blackman-Santana, Bill Wyman, jack Dailey, Kenny Gradney, David Santos, Randy Singer, Gary Bowden, Mark “Muggy Doo” Leach and more…all top-notch performers. The result is an album that is powerful and passionate. Many of the performers with whom Free has worked are listed among the legends of the more contemporary music scene, including Bill Wyman, Carlos Santana, Billy Gibbons and a host of others. As I listened to this album, repeatedly, I asked myself the essential question…“What is the Blues?” One thing that blues is not, is a rigid musical form. With blues it comes down to heart, soul and passion. Blues has a way of cutting through all the crap and heading straight to the heart. I’ve been listening to blues and related music for the past 50 years or more. What I do know is that when I listen to Micki Free, I am moved. He stirs a passion deep within me. Tattoo Burn-Redux opens with a contemporary gospel number that is brutally honest and emotionally powerful. Follow that with a personal tale of lost love. The stories of heartache, pain and the hope for a better day continue. The disc closes with a slow-burning, passionate “Sometimes In Winter.” Tattoo Burn-Redux is the real deal…or perhaps better said, “Micki Free is the real deal, one of those artists who raises the bar”…and Tattoo Burn-Redux may well join the list of all-time classics. Many have tried to find that delicate balance between blues and rock that makes blues/rock a valid style. Micki Free has succeeded. Give it a good listen. You won’t be disappointed. - Bill Wilson…..~


Micki Free had the perfect introduction to the bluesier side of rock and roll when his father was stationed in the military overseas and his sister took him to a Jimi Hendrix concert in Germany. This mind-blowing experience inspired him, and when the family moved back to the states and Micki started his own rock band, where Gene Simmons discovered him when they opened up for KISS. Free continued to refine his guitar and vocal chops, and in the 1980s he joined the rhythm and blues / soul group, Shalamar, earning three Grammy nominations and one win! Since then he has been creating his own material, collaborating with other Native American artists, and working with a few names you may have heard of before, such as Carlos Santana, Prince, and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. 
Micki’s latest project is a remastered version of his 2012 album Tattoo Burn, with two new original songs added to the mix. Tattoo Burn Redux is a thoughtful collection of original modern blues tunes that feature incredible musicianship, including killer guitar work from Free. If you look through the liner notes you will also see that he also acted as the producer and songwriter, and sang the lead vocals. He was joined in the studio by a stellar line-up of supporting musicians, including Bill Wyman (The Rolling Stones), Cindy Blackman-Santana (Santana and Lenny Kravitz), David “Hawk” Lopez (Crown of Thorns and Power Station), Kenny Gradney (Little Feat), Mark “Muggy Doo” Leach (JP Soars and Bernard Allison), Brother Paul Brown (The Waterboys), Jack Dailey (Lenny Kravitz), and David Santos (Billy Joel and Elton John). 
Tattoo Burn Redux kicks off with one of the new songs, and “God is on the Phone” is a tight duet with Howard Hewett, Shalamar’s frontman. This funky blues has a lovely melodic bass line and searing guitar leads that lay just under the Hammond B3 and gospel lyrics. This is a strong start, and it is backed up by the title track, which is a more conventional blues rocker with a heavy mid-tempo beat. These two songs are very different, but they are both well written and Free’s sweet vocal and guitar work tie them together so that the transition is seamless. This synergy carries over throughout the album, enabling it to work as a whole despite the varied influences of blues, rock, soul, funk, gospel, and roots. 
There is not a bad song on this CD, but there are a few standout cuts that should be noted. An ode to go-juice, ”Mojo Black Coffee,” is a full cup of old-school blues with a heavy riff and sublime harmonica from guest artist Randy Singer, who certainly knows how to blow a mean harp. The opposite of this is “Six Feet Down in the Blues,” which features amazing keyboards (including dramatic chords on the organ and fine improvisation on the piano) that plays well off of Micki’s guitar leads. Mr. Free has an amazing touch on the six-string, and his emotional output rivals that of any other bluesman I have ever heard. 
The album ends with a pair of seasonal tunes that you might want to work into your next holiday party playlist. “Five Minutes Till Christmas” is a spicy serving of electric blues that is fun and different than the standards that are already boring when the radio stations start playing them the day after Thanksgiving. And the closer, “Sometimes in Winter,” a Hammond-fueled ballad that features Micki’s voice at the top of his range, choir vocals from Shea, Wendy Moten, and Trish Bowden. This is the other new tune, and it is cool that Free bookended this release with two strong originals that his fans have not heard before. 
It is hard to say why Micki Free is not more of a household name, but he should be. Tattoo Burn Redux is a noteworthy release, as it is a serious set of soulful blues and rock that is performed flawlessly. I highly recommend that you head to the Mysterium Blues Records website to hear it for yourself, and while you are at it check out his Native American flute album, as it is a beautiful blend of flute, guitar, voice, and nature sounds. It is not the blues, but it does provide a great perspective for Micki and where he is coming from!…… BY REX BARTHOLOMEW…Blues Blast magazine….~

Micki Free is a blistering guitarist, and a Grammy-winner, who has worked extensively with the group Shalamar, as well as with the varied likes of Santana, KISS, Prince, and a myriad of others. He’s also a mixed-blood Comanche-Cherokee Native American, with a Voodoo Chile’s soul. His latest set, entitled “Tattoo Burn-Redux,” and the ten originals and one sweet cover are all gritty, guitar-fueled blasts of soul, blues, funk, and all his other varied influences rolled into one package. Micki and Howard Hewlett, from aforementioned Shalamar, get right down to the real nitty-gritty, y’all, with a scalding duet on the leadoff cut, a hellfire slab of funked-up gospel, where, no matter what your situation, just reach out, ’cause “God Is On The Phone.” That cool “needle drop” sound kicks off the title cut, where, with “her name burned into my body,” when the love is gone, you gotta deal with that “Tattoo Burn.” A delicious shot of minor-key slow-blues has Micki and his guitar crying over that girl “Mama said to stay away from,” who now has him feeling “Six Feet Down In The Blues.’
Now, Micki does have that Voodoo Chile in his DNA, and you can hear it in a sizzling tribute in the form of a killer read of “Hey Baby (The New Rising Son),” and again on his original tale of those “storm clouds gathering” where “only the good Lord can make it right,” the aptly-titled, “There’s A Hole In The Heart Of The Blues.”
We had three favorites, too. Micki channels his inner Muddy on the grindin’ story of a sure cure when you have a bit too much the night before, a potent blend of “Mojo Black Coffee,” featuring Randy Singer on the harp. A nearly-tragic tale of a young woman who turns her life completely around after “40 days and 40 nights” of seriously flirting with “Kentucky whiskey” and “the pure black sin of the flask of Co-Co-Gin” finds her righting the ship, savin’ souls, and entering a convent! And, is it ever too soon for a cool Yule tune? Nope–and the Berry-lishus licks of “Five Minutes Till Christmas–did Santa forget about me?” sho’ nuff fills the bill!
Micki Free is a musical innovator, never afraid to push the envelope when seeking the right sound. A powerful guitar, gritty vocals, and creative songs make “Tattoo Burn–Redux” a must-listen! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society….by… Blues Barb….~


This one took me by surprise. I quickly learned that Micki Free is a Grammy Winner and five-time Native American Music Award Winner. Free is a Comanche-Cherokee who was discovered and managed by Gene Simmons of KISS; he was the guitarist for R&B artist Shalamar and worked with Prince, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, and Santana. He had huge songs in movies like Footloose and Beverly Hills Cop, for which he won the Grammy for his contribution to the soundtrack. He’s spent most of his career in Europe too. So, how does a guy with this pedigree make a strong blues album? 
One answer is his ability to land guests Bill Wyman, Cindy Blackman-Santana, Mark “Muggie Doo” Leach (of Buddy Miles Express), Billy Gibbons, and vocalist Howard Hewlett. Together they concoct an intoxicating mix of hard-driving R&B, soul, funk and blues with a heavy dose of Hendrix-inspired guitar. So, that’s the second answer. There’s a more than a few genres here. 
The opener is the rousing gospel tune, “God Is On The Phone,” a duet with Hewitt. Billy Gibbons adds his wailing guitar to the title track. Free then moves into R&B with “Greens & Barbecue” and plunges blues deep into the slow burning “Six Feet Down in the Blues.” Other highlights include the grinding “Mojo Coffee,” and his Hendrix cover, “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun).” Free even adds a pulsating, humorous Christmas tune, “Five Minutes to Christmas.” The album closes on a rousing, uplifting gospel hymn, “Sometimes in Winter,” with Free’s guitar resounding amongst a gospel choir. 
Blues purists may not climb aboard but I find the variety of grooves, the incendiary guitar playing, and the passion in Free’s vocals compelling. Hendrix fans will adore this album. —Jim Hynes, elmoremagazine……~


Guitarist Micki Free(Shalamar/Crown Of Thorns) re-introduces a redux version his 2012 release, ‘Tattoo Burn’. Why it didn’t get the deserved recognition back then is a mystery to me? The album features a stunning line up of musicians. Micki Free on guitars and backing vocals. Howard Hewett on lead vocal duet and background vocals on “God Is On The Phone”. Cindy Blackman-Santana and David Hawk Lopez on drums. Bill Wyman, Jack Dailey, Kenny Gradney, David Santos on bass. Mark Muggy Doo Leach & Brother Paul Brown Fender on the Hammond. Randy Singer on harmonica. On backing vocals, Shea, Wendy Moten and Trish Bowden. 'Tattoo Burn’, is not an album that relies on an individual it is a collective of searing, imaginative individuals whose collaboration produces a sound that is modern, as it curls and shapes around the melodies, licks and lyrics whilst being deeply rooted in the tradition of electric blues. I love the way the album builds in excitement song by song, at the end of each track excited in anticipation of the next. As the listener will experience on tracks like, the soulful swagger of the title track, “Six Feet Down In The Blues”, highlighted by some tasty Hammond work. “Co-Co-Gin”, “There’s a Hole In The Heart Of The Blues” and “Angels In The Room”. The track, for me, that begs repeated play is, “Hey Baby (The New Rising Sun)”, Micki’s guitar work on this track just floored me. His guitar vibe on this album is something to behold, it touches you in a way that makes the hair on the back of you neck stand up and pulls you into the music. A truly superb release by one amazing musical talent. I could not recommend 'Tattoo Burn-Redux’ by Micki Free strongly enough. …by… Tony Sison …..~


A longtime component of one the 80’s most stylish r&b sounds with the group Shalamar, guitarist Micki Free doses his own soulful blues fare with abundant style and drive. A sure-fingered guitarslinger whether in “clean” or distortion mode, Mr. Free’s fretwork and smoky vocals adorn fresh sounding blues-anchored originals; meaty lyrics are a constant. Standing out are “God Is On The Phone”, “Tattoo Burn” and “Six Feet Down in The Blues”. Ex-Stone Bill Wyman, Cindy Blackman-Santana and Howard Hewett guest….by Duane Verh…..~



Those of a certain generation will likely remember Micki Free as lead guitarist for Shalamar, the group created by Soul Train’s Dick Griffey and Don Cornelius. Free’s decade long tenure with Shalamar began in the ‘80s during what one might call his Prince phase, and included the hit songs “Dancing in the Sheets” from Footloose and “Don’t Get Stopped In Beverly Hills” from Beverly Hills Cop. After Shalamar, Free joined Jean Beauvoir’s heavy metal band Crown of Thorns, along with Tony Thompson of Chic and bassist Michael Paige. He later formed his own band, Micki Free Electric Blues Experience, and also released a number of solo projects. Though he’s perhaps best known for his collaboration with many African American artists, Free is actually of Native American descent, and in recent years has developed a Native Music Rocks program. 

Tattoo Burn-Redux is a remixed and expanded version of his 2012 release, Tattoo Burn. The album is a showcase for the many talents of Micki Free, who composed, arranged, produced and sings lead on the 10 original tracks and one cover, while also performing on lead, slide, and rhythm guitars. He’s accompanied by an A-list rhythm section led by Cindy Blackman-Santana and David “Hawk” Lopez (Crown of Thorns) on drums, with Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jack Dailey (Lenny Kravitz), Kenny Gradney (Little Feat), David Santos (and occasionally Free) sharing bass duties. 

The album settles into a funky groove on the new opening track “God Is On the Phone,” with Free sharing lead vocals with another Shalamar alum, Howard Hewett. “Greens & Barbeque” shifts towards blues-rock, allowing plenty of room for guitar solos in a song dedicated to Free’s mother and her glorious cooking. “Six Feet Down in the Blues” and the slow burner “Mojo Black Coffee” are notably anchored by Hammond organ master Mark “Muggy-Doo” Leach (Buddy Miles Express) and Brother Paul Brown on keys…..by Brenda Nelson-Strauss….~




Micki Free – vocals, guitar, bass 
Hovard Hewett – vocals on “God Is On The Phone” 
Mark “Muggy Doo” Leach – Hammond organ 
Paul Brown – Hammond organ 
Randy Singer - harmonica 
Bill Wyman - bass 
Jack Dailey - bass 
Kenny Gradney - bass 
Cindy Blackman-Santana - drums 
David “Hawk” Lopez – drums


Tracklist 
1 God Is On The Phone 3:57 
2 Tattoo Burn 4:03 
3 Greens & Barbeque 3:53 
4 Six Feet Down In The Blues 4:42 
5 Mojo Black Coffee 4:02 
6 Co-Co-Gin 3:57 
7 There’s A Hole In The Heart Of The Blues 5:32 
8 Angels In The Room 5:01 
9 Hey Baby (The New Rising Sun) [Remix] 6:25 
10 Five Minutes 'Til Christmas 4:50 
11 Sometimes In Winter 5:51 

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