Photo by John Thomas Collins
Love & Life is Scissormen's new, signature album—a major evolutionary step that spotlights Ted's best songwriting, playing and production to date, with epic guitar performances and true-to-life stories including "Beggin' Jesus" and "Let's Go To Memphis"—both staples of Sirius/XM radio. Love & Life is also the band's first studio recording as a trio. Michael Ross in Guitar Player magazine said, "The band’s new record has three things current blues records often lack: great songs, a sense of mystery, and the concept of a record as a work of art in and of itself, and not just as a recorded bar performance.” And Joe Wolf-Mazeres wrote in No Depression. “Drozdowski and his Scissormen are adept in walking the line between purism and innovation. The band brings a reckless raw energy that drips with honeysuckle wine and the stifling yet comfortable humidity of the Deep South. There is mysticism and mystery in the music.” You need this album!
Letter from Hell
Let's Go to Memphis (featuring Mighty Sam McClain)
R.L. Burnside (Sleight Return)
Can't Be Satisfied
Black Lung Fever
Dreaming on the Road
Lived to Tell
Scissormen’s CD+DVD BIG SHOES: Walking and Talking the Blues documents the final reunion tour of the original two-piece version of the band. The set offers a live recording from the Key Palace Theater in Redkey, Indiana, and acclaimed roots music film maker Robert Mugge’s 90-minute documentary starring Ted and Rob that's part road movie, part blues history and all high-octane. The movie debuted at the Starz Denver Film Festival.
Mattie Sweet Mattie Intro
Mattie Sweet Mattie
Jumper On the Line
The Devil is Laughing
Move Baby Move
Jessie Mae Intro
R.L. Burnside Intro
Whiskey and Maryjane
When the Devil Calls
Big Shoes (Slight Return)
Scissormen’s first full-length studio album ranges from hill country to the Delta to, well, just about everywhere we go.
Move Baby Move
Mattie Sweet Mattie
Preachin’ the Blues
Whiskey and Maryjane
The Devil is Laughing
John the Revelator
When the Devil Calls
Do Wrong Man
A full length CD of Ted’s solo acoustic performances
Buy on iTunes
When the Devil Calls
Mattie Sweet Mattie
Rollin’ and Tumblin’
I Put a Spell on You
Emergency Lover Man
That’s Not Funny
12/22/2018 Madison, TN Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge — Ted with Surprise!
That’s right—this is going to be Ted with “surprise.” He’s been invited to be part of a multi-artist night by Luella, one of our favorite singers—who contributed stellar vocals to the next album, coming out in January! More details to come, but it’s a shoo-in that our new single, “My Christmas Wish,” is gonna get played!
2/1/2019 Nashville, TN Nashville Palace WMOT RADIO “FINALLY FRIDAYS” LIVE BROADCAST
We’re honored to be part of WMOT’s weekly 12 - 2 live lunchtime broadcast and stage show, from the Nashville Palace, right near Opry Mills. Set time tba. We’re big fans of Finally Fridays, and look forward to returning to the show to celebrate the brand new Coyote Motel album, which comes out January 25. Its a great venue, with good country cookin’ and booze.
2/2/2019 Murfreesboro, TN Mayday Brewery
Ted returns to Mayday for a solo show with a special guest—to be invited the week of the show. These gigs are about playing great music that’s stripped down and about experimenting—and about drinking great beer. Come on over to 521 Old Salem Road from 7 to 9 and dig in!
2/9/2019 NASHVILLE COYOTE MOTEL CD RELEASE CONCERT — THE 5 Spot, East Nashville, 6 p.m.
We’re playing a special early night concert to celebrate the release of the debut album by Ted’s new band, Coyote Motel, which is putting out a CD of the same name on January 25. Stay tuned for more info and expect special guests. A $5 cover charge at Nashville’s best live music room. Dig it. Be there!
2/16/2019 Sandy Spring, GA Darwin’s Burgers & Blues – Coyote Motel
We’re coming back to Darwin’s—for our Atlanta area album release show! And whether you’re in love or out of love, bring your post Valentine’s Day date or ennui to catch the brand new band, Coyote Motel, make its debut at Darwin’s. Coyote Motel will be playing from 8:30 to midnight, and we’re sure to cure whatever ails you. Admission is just $10, and the club is at 234 Hildebrand Ave, right in the Sandy Springs business district, with a big parking lot out back!
Ted leads a double life. Besides fronting Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen, songwriting and producing other artists, he’s also an award-winning music journalist and consultant. Obsessions of a Music Geek, Volume I: Blues Guitar Giants kicks off his series of ebooks. Blues Guitar Giants focuses on seven major figures: John Lee Hooker, Otis Rush, Johnny Winter, Freddie King, Michael Bloomfield, Z.Z. Top's Billy Gibbons and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Their stories, musical approaches, perspectives and historical impact are explored in warm and insightful interviews and essays delivered in Ted's informed and easy-to-digest style. Ted’s experience as a musician, music scholar and fan fuels the first volume of this free-ranging series that will explore a wide variety of topics, from guitar instruction to musical innovators to roots, rock and myriad musical genres and subjects. Order Obsessions of a Music Geek, Volume I: Blues Guitar Giants today!
"Ted is highly skilled at helping an artist realize his or her vision, potential and individuality and achieve artistic goals. He does this through thoughtful pre-production: helping select songs, potential musicians, studios, etc. He also has a deep knowledge of roots and other music forms and a broad palette of resources to draw on, and can articulate subtleties in nuance and approach. Ted knows how to get strong performances and is not afraid to be bold or reach high."
• “The band’s new record has three things current blues records often lack: great songs, a sense of mystery, and the concept of a record as a work of art in and of itself, and not just as a recorded bar performance.” – Michael Ross, Guitar Player
• “Drozdowski and his Scissormen are adept in walking the line between purism and innovation. The band brings a reckless raw energy that drips with honeysuckle wine and the stifling yet comfortable humidity of the Deep South. There is mysticism and mystery in the music.” — Joe Wolfe-Mazeres, No Depression
• “Admirers of Drozdowski’s guitar pyrotechnics will find much to savor throughout. Forward-looking, yet anchored firmly in its roots, Love & Life reinforces the status of Ted Drozdowski's Scissormen as one of the most outstanding bands on the scene.” — Melanie Young, Living Blues
• “A guitar player and songwriter of authority and heartfelt passion. This album proves how Drozdowski can tug at parameters, mixing seemingly disparate elements to make fresh, innovative music that’s unapologetically rooted in tradition.” —Rick Allen, Vintage Guitar Magazine
• “Ted Drozdowski does a first rate job penning excellent songs. This is not a cookie cutter blues album and may take more than one listen to fully grasp. It is worth the effort. Their energy and innovation carry over to the stage too.” – Rex Bartholomew, Blues Blast Magazine
• “Drozdowski’s Scissormen cut through the bullshit, with a contemporary cosmic blues drenched in reverb and the dark bayou demons that inhabit each day. Love & Life isn’t your typical virtuoso release. It’s the fulcrum wherein Drozdowski pairs his devotion to a music whose roots run deeper than democracy with his historian’s fervor. And I could go on, but why? If you’re reading this then you’re not listening to Love & Life and that’s the whole damn point, ain’t it?” — Mark Jurkovic, Elmore Magazine
• “Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen are unquestionably authentic. With touchstones from a century of blues and a plethora of rock styles, to pull it off with such élan is particularly noteworthy. The roller coaster ride he creates in the process is the cherry on the cake.” — Don Wilcock, American Blues Scene
• “It’s an album that is rooted in the deepest of blues yet explores the outer edges of the cosmos. True to form, on Love & Life Drozdowski uses the deep, hard hill-country blues of R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough as a starting point, then lets the music roam where it needs in order to make a truly modern statement. There's an added shade of tone and color that separates him from the blues pack, and a broader palette than what we've come to expect from folks working within the blues tradition. It's this willingness to buck the status quo while taking the music all the way back to its roots that makes Love & Life (and the live show that accompanies it) so damn enthralling.” — Sean Maloney, The Nashville Scene
• “Drozdowski favors evolution over replication, and with Scissormen, he offers up an idiosyncratic roar rather than a sonic museum piece. … Drozdowski’s intensity and slide guitar mastery are on full display, and interview segments reveal Drozdowski as a uniquely visceral scholar.” — Peter Cooper, The Nashville Tennessean
• “Ted Drozdowski is a trippy guitar player.” — Otis Taylor, Blues Music Award-winning guitarist/songwriter
• “In the traditional arts, all artists of note take what came before them and make it their own, incorporating their own interests, personalities and innovations. Nowhere has that been more true than in the blues, where Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Junior Kimbrough, and hundreds of others have taken what they were given and filtered it through their own times, their own backgrounds, and their own DNA. Among the artists doing that today is blues guitarist Ted Drozdowski, whose blazing covers of Delta and Hill Country standards – as well as his own clever originals – have made him the unchallenged Arsonist of the Blues. If the Devil is still partial to red-hot Mississippi bluesmen, he has to be pretty darn happy with the firestorm known as the Scissormen.” — Robert Mugge, award-winning music documentary filmmaker
• “Like the Black Keys, Scissormen leader Ted Drozdowski is a white guy raised in a depressed Northern city who’s drawn to the haunting and primal sounds of the Delta. But while the sound of his hipster counterparts from Akron bears a certain retro fetishism, Drozdowski’s music is a little more forthright and a little less, well, du jour. It’s also raw, hypnotic and occasionally jarring.” — Jack Silverman, The Nashville Scene
• “Not content to play with just a slide on his pinkie finger, Drozdowski climbed up on the bar and played with knives and forks; he got down on his knees on the floor and played with an empty ashtray; he interrupted someone’s meal in the café next door to play with their dinner plate.” — Buzz McClain, The Washington Post
That's right! Thanks to everybody who contributed online to our Indiegogo fundraiser and offline with cash and checks! We raise more than $7G and are deep into recording the next album. As of June 5, we've got 11 songs finished or in process. Of course, there's still more to do after that: mixing, mastering, artwork, pressing, etc. But we're well underway and going really strong—creating the most diverse and exciting album by Ted and his band ever! Stay tuned. You can also visit our Indiegogo campaign here (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/create-a-new-album-with-ted-drozdowski) to pre-order your CD or download!
Hey friends, please visit our new funding page at Indiegogo called Create a New Album with Ted Drozdowski. Here's the link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/create-a-new-album-with-ted-drozdowski/x/6077352#/ Our goal is to raise $5,500 to record, engineer, mix, master and manufacture a new album that we're calling Psychedelic Circus. It will feature the new version of the trio, which includes me, my longtime collaborator Sean Zywick on bass and drummer Kyra Curenton. Your overwhelming love and support allowed me to make 2015's Love & Life album. So I've returned to you to help realize a new vision in this album. With fresh sounds and ideas, we've been evolving our new, highly original approach to American roots and blues music and are ready to share it with the world. It's surprising, it's fun, its courageous, it's high-flying and at times it's even furious—a product of the times that strives to be timeless. Please join the Psychedelic Circus with me and help bring this album to life! In exchange for your contributions, there are a bunch of cool customized perks that you can select, from downloads and CDs to supercool guitar gear. I'll even write a song for you! Or we can come play at your home. Please check it out!
We'll be returning to the Family Wash stage with 6 dynamic poets this month for our second Poets, Playwrights and Players event on Friday, April 28. The performance starts at 8:30 and includes spoken word artists Destiny O. Birdsong, Jas Taylor, Larry Polo, Laurie Hoffma, Jessie Scott and Greg Greene. January's performance was a full house, so call ahead for reservations. The Family Wash is at 626 Main St., East Nashville. Call 615-645-9930. Do not miss!
It's been an exciting year. If you keep pace with what Ted's up to via Facebook, you've seen Mississippi festivals, new guitars, news about new recordings, and a lot more. And there's still more to come. We're about the embark on a mini-tour to support the free Stink Eye EP (available via NoiseTrade.com) with some early November New England gigs, and waiting in the wings is our recording of "Tin Pan Alley," a Jimmy Wilson tune made more recently famous by Stevie Ray Vaughan. And our version is, guaranteed, unlike any other SRV track out there. It's for a new SRV tribute compilation being released by the Orchard label, and we'll have more news on that soon. Meanwhile, you can keep track of Ted's interviews and profiles of guitarists of all kinds at Premier Guitar, as well as guitar and amp reviews. We'll also be re-pressing the Love & Life album, which will be sold out after this November New England run, in 2017. Also, we're now into the third run of Ted's signature slides, made by Rocky Mountain Slides, that are now available at shows, as are the brand-new Love & Life t-shirts.
And so the new year, full of fresh hope and opportunity, is upon us. Let's hang out! For real or online or by sharing music. Of course, you can still go to NoiseTrade.com and get the Stink Eye EP, with the beautiful Dolly the Dog on the cover, for free. Or, better yet, buy a copy of our critically heralded, much-airplayed album Love & Love for about $10 at CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes and other joints. And come catch a show. As the first few months of the year roll out, we'll be scheduling concerts that'll take us to our friends and supporters in places like the Midwest and Northeast, getting around the South, and throwing in some curveballs, too. Right now we're back home in Tennessee working on new tunes to share with y'all. Meanwhile, feel free to connect with us on line at Twitter or Facebook, or drop a line via the email address on this website. And if you want to get us to come play for you, drop a line via those methods or by calling or emailing our ace booking agent Steve at the Road Warrior Agency. And keep an eye open for Ted's stories and gear reviews at Premier Guitar. AND, if you've got any of your own music to share, we'd love to hear it. Post something on our pages or send us a link or file. Like I said earlier, let's hang out!
Okay, if you're reading this page, we love you… or at least we're infatuated with you. And we'd love to show our affection by offering you free music and a free ebook over the holiday season. This is going to require some cutting and pasting, so get out your virtual scissors and get ready. The Stink Eye EP not only features a photo of Ted's gorgeous dog, the official Scissormen mascot, Dolly on the cover, it's got a half-dozen tunes culled from the new album Love & Life and the earlier release Luck in a Hurry by Ted himself. And that's not all. The ultra-rare song "Josh Gibson," about the American baseball hero, is also on there. That song was previously released on a batch of 90 vinyl only EPs that were hand cut on a lathe, so hardly anyone in the universe has heard this song co-written and recorded by the current, killer band line-up: Ted, bassist Shawn Zywick and drummer Pete Pulkrabek. It's very much a group effort. Get you copy now for zero dinero at NoiseTrade at: http://noisetrade.com/teddrozdowskisscissormen/stink-eye
And while you're at it, double back to NoiseTrade for a free copy of Ted's debut ebook, Obsessions of a Music Geek: Volume I — Blues Guitar Giants. If you're a blues fan or guitar freak, you want this, even if you don't know it yet. The book features interviews with and essays about Johnny Winter, Freddie King, Mike Bloomfield, Otis Rush, John Lee Hooker, Billy Gibbons and Dan Auerbach. It's the real deal, whatever the hell that means. And it is also absolutely free at: http://books.noisetrade.com/teddrozdowski/obsessions-of-a-music-geek-volume Dig 'em both, and enjoy the holidays!
Yes, Blues Blast and Vintage Guitar magazines are the latest publication to give our new album Love & Life a rave review. You can read it here: http://www.bluesblastmagazine.com/ted-drozdowskis-scissormen-love-life-album-review/ And in other way cool developments, the Huffington Post has just premiered the second video from the Love & Life album, for "R.L. Burnside (Sleight Return)." Check it out Mike Rogana's music blog: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ragogna/electronica-and-grande-am_b_8285738.html Oh, and while you're at it, there is this aforementioned glowing review from Vintage Guitar: http://planetsixstring.com/ted-drozdowskis-scissormen/
The consensus from critics, writers and radio programmers is that it's a helluva good album. For more proof, check out the following.
You can stream the entire album for free at AllMusic.com by cutting and pasting this link: http://www.allmusic.com/blog/post/album-premiere-ted-drozdowskis-scissormen-love-life And if you like what you hear, get the download at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Life-Ted-Drozdowskis-Scissormen/dp/B00ZSABEWU Or you you can buy the physical CD at CDBaby.com here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/teddrozdowskisscissormen And if you want more proof of awesomeness, check out Joe Wolf-Mazeres' eloquent and detailed review of the album at No Depression here: http://nodepression.com/album-review/ted-drozdowski%E2%80%99s-scissormen-love-and-life-mind-bending-time-trippin-blues OR a live show review in No Depression here: http://nodepression.com/live-review/scissormen-brought-raw-and-gritty-blues-new-england WOW!!!!!!!!!! Stay tuned for more, with more tour stops including the Music City Roots radio show and more national coverage. AND you can hear Scissormen play and Ted talk on the famed 2.4-million listener Beale Street Caravan radio show here: http://bealestreetcaravan.com/listen/shows/2015-07-29 And this just in: a long interview with Ted in the highly respected publication for touring, Pollstar: http://www.pollstar.com/news_article.aspx?ID=819701 And wait, THERE'S MORE: another great review — this time from the Rev. Keith A. Gordon's That Devil Music blog: http://www.thatdevilmusic.com/2015/08/cd-review-ted-drozdowskis-scissormens.html And, and don't forget about The Boston Globe: https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/music/2015/07/30/drozdowski-scissormen-mix-blues-psychedelia-and-more/Fexybc0YzKoqT1rQFC9M8J/story.html Elmore magazine, too: http://www.elmoremagazine.com/2015/08/reviews/albums/ted-drozdowskis-scissormen There's also this feature interview in American Blues Scene: http://www.americanbluesscene.com/2015/08/ted-drozdowski-and-the-scissormen-authentic-innovative-and-a-tad-eccentric/ And if that's not enough, there's a cool interview with Ted in the Nashville Scene: http://www.nashvillescene.com/nashville/ted-drozdowski-and-the-scissormen-take-the-blues-into-uncharted-territory/Content?oid=5461375
We kicked off a special week of hometown album release celebrations in Nashville with a sold-out show at the world famous Bluebird Cafe on Sunday, August 9. Now the events continue with an in-store at Grimey's, one of America's top 10 record stores, on Thursday, August 13, at 6 p.m. Ted will also read from his new ebook Obsessions of a Music Geek: Vol 1 — Blues Guitar Giants during this free, all-ages appearance. And there's an album release concert and fundraiser for the medical costs of Mighty Sam McClain at the Basement on Saturday, August 15. The Basement show runs from 6 to 8 p.m. and admission is $7 for this 21-plus show.
Our new album Love & Life arrived in the world on Friday, July 31, and has been getting an overwhelmingly warm reception from radio, journalists and, most important, fans. We've just completed the first leg of this year's touring behind the release, with shows in NYC, MA and CT and stops coming in MN, IN, KS, NB, CO and elsewhere. You can catch up with Love & Love now!!!! You can stream the entire album for free at AllMusic.com by cutting and pasting this link: http://www.allmusic.com/blog/post/album-premiere-ted-drozdowskis-scissormen-love-life And if you like what you hear, get the download at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Life-Ted-Drozdowskis-Scissormen/dp/B00ZSABEWU Or you you can buy the physical CD at CDBaby.com here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/teddrozdowskisscissormen And if you want more proof of awesomeness, check out Joe Wolf-Mazeres' eloquent and detailed review of the album at No Depression here: http://nodepression.com/album-review/ted-drozdowski%E2%80%99s-scissormen-love-and-life-mind-bending-time-trippin-blues OR a live show review in No Depression here: http://nodepression.com/live-review/scissormen-brought-raw-and-gritty-blues-new-england WOW!!!!!!!!!! Stay tuned for more, with more tour stops including the Music City Roots radio show and more national coverage. AND you can hear Scissormen play and Ted talk on the famed 2.4-million listener Beale Street Caravan radio show here: http://bealestreetcaravan.com/listen/shows/2015-07-29 And this just in: a long interview with Ted in the highly respected publication for touring, Pollstar: http://www.pollstar.com/news_article.aspx?ID=819701 And wait, THERE'S MORE: another great review — this time from the Rev. Keith A. Gordon's That Devil Music blog: http://www.thatdevilmusic.com/2015/08/cd-review-ted-drozdowskis-scissormens.html And, and don't forget about The Boston Globe: https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/music/2015/07/30/drozdowski-scissormen-mix-blues-psychedelia-and-more/Fexybc0YzKoqT1rQFC9M8J/story.html Elmore magazine, too: http://www.elmoremagazine.com/2015/08/reviews/albums/ted-drozdowskis-scissormen There's also this feature interview in American Blues Scene: http://www.americanbluesscene.com/2015/08/ted-drozdowski-and-the-scissormen-authentic-innovative-and-a-tad-eccentric/
Check out Jonathan Perry's Life in Analog blog to see his entire piece on Ted and the new album via this URL: http://rpmlifeinanalog.com/2015/07/22/love-life-lit-ted-drozdowskis-scissormen-cut-deep-to-the-blues-and-beyond/
And read this except review of Love & Life.
Ten years of doing anything you love is a victory in and of itself — a triumph of focus, dedication, and longevity– and that milestone is certainly worth celebrating. That celebratory spirit shines — or, perhaps more accurately, blazes — through much of “Love & Life.” At heart, it’s a fun, bracing work that stings with the fervor of open-road adventure, while also being a summation and embrace of the accrued miles, destinations, and experiences of the past. At its soul, a palpable sense of restlessness and yearning threads through the material. The feeling you get, right from the muddy shoe’d strut of “Beggin’ Jesus,” the opening track and first single (see the cool video link below), is one of a quest to find meaning amid tumult, redemption amid temptation, and the state-of-grace rewards suggested by the title. The next two tracks, “Letter From Hell,” a big, boozy, Bo Diddley-beat inspired workout, and “The River,” a slow smolder ofspooky-then-roiling majesty, capture the kind of approach their author has always placed at a premium: namely, standing at the crossroads of the blues and rootstraditions of the past, and then driving the music forward to new, unchartered territories as brazen and wide open as tomorrow.
Amid all the revelations, reveries, and reflections to be found (“Black Lung Fever” is, for instance, an account of the illness that claimed both of Ted’s Pennsylvania coal-mining grandfathers before he was born), there are tributes too. A couple of them were born out of affectionate gestures of respect (“Watermelon Kid” is about blues renaissance man Watermelon Slim; “R.L. Burnside [Sleight Return]” is an homage to Drozdowski’s friend and mentor, the late Mississippi hill country blues patriarch R.L. Burnside). Another track, the Stax-spiked ballad, “Let’s Go To Memphis,” also began as a tribute, albeit a very different kind than Drozdowski had in mind. Now it’s an elegy; a final farewell from one ofAmerican music’s great, if under-heard soul and gospel singers, Mighty Sam McClain, “a dear friend” for more than 20 years, as Drozdowski describes him.
Last night, I lost my dear friend Mighty Sam McClain. Sam was a lion. An inspiration. A good and honest man. And one of the greatest soul singers who ever lived. Others may have sold more records and been more widely accepted by the music business insiders who call too many of the shots, but Sam was a unique and powerful artist with a big heart, big dreams and a special bond with his fans, who often sent him letters and emails telling Sam how much his music meant to them and how it had saved their marriage, their faith and, in some cases, their lives. I loved my conversations with Sam and am going to miss them greatly. We'd typically start by complaining about some music biz BS or another we were dealing with at the time, and end up talking about how lucky we were to have our art, to be creative and to be loved and cherished by the ones we love and cherish, with all sorts of left turns in between. The last time I saw Sam, I knew we were losing him. He was lying in a hospital bed and the vitality was slipping from his body and mind, and the cancer dug deeper. But the beauty of his soul was intact. He was one of the very best friends I've eve had. I am going to miss him every day for the rest of my life. But I feel lucky to have known Sam, and I am so happy to have recorded a song with him. "Let's Go To Memphis" on Love & Life meant the world to me when we recorded it. To have a song with his voice – truly, to borrow a phrase from Sam Phillips, "a voice from the place where the soul of man never dies" — means even more now. I love you Sam. I miss you, and I am going to carry your spirit, your work and the fire of your inspiration with me for the rest of my life.
Hey gang, all of the perks from our Indiegogo campaign, which drew 166 contributors from nine countries, are already in the mail or email, or just about to launch. The last item to go out will be the album downloads. Thanks to all of you, VERY, VERY MUCH! The new Love & Love album would not be coming out on July 31 without your help! Stayed tuned for more info about tour dates and more here, and on Facebook at Ted's personal page and the Scissormen page. Y'all rock, and we love YOU!
B.B. KING was a beacon for the best things about blues: it's beauty, depth of feeling, storytelling, originality, character and musical excellence and evolution. He was also a kind, generous and gracious man who cared about the people he entertained and the people he employed. And he was a living link to an era when performers were truly shining ambassadors of the arts – larger than life in a way that reflected a knowledge that with their status came certain responsibilities to themselves, their fans, their creativity and the qualities that made them special. I was privileged and lucky enough to meet and speak to B.B. quite a few times, and to see him perform even more. There were many highlights, including an incendiary performance closing the Newport Jazz Festival and his guitar intensive summer shed tours, including a year that he concluded his set at Mansfield, MA with a six-string shoot-out between himself, Lonnie Brooks, Buddy Guy and Eric Johnson in which he was clearly the last man standing. King was perhaps the most influential guitarist since the use of amplification, and carried the torch for many players who influenced him, with T-Bone Walker, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Nighthawk and Django Reinhardt — whose playing he studied reverently for decades — at the fore. Guitarists looking to perfect vibrato need only to look at and listen to King. And as a vocalist with supreme soul and authority, he had few peers. Until he was diminished by age, King also exemplified the idea that growth is a requirement for committed artists, consciously working to expand his playing abilities and his creative realm. And he embodied the Great Migration of African-Americans from the rural South to urban centers in the North — even if the North for King was initially Memphis — and he achieved all of the promise that Migration held for so many. When performers like King — and I also add the names Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington. Bill Monroe, Sun Ra, Les Paul, Miles Davis… — pass, we lose a part of American culture – in attitude, example, very literally in song catalog — that will never be replaced. King was more than merely the "King of the Blues," an easy tag for him because of his stature and world-wide recognition. He was one of the people who truly make Great American Music "great." And while it may seem cliche, there is only one song of B.B.'s — despite his vast and often moving catalog from "Three O'Clock Blues" to "When Love Comes To Town" – that I feel can carry this moment. And if you're a fan of King's, you know what it is.
THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! I've just completed an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to make and release the next Ted Drozdowski's Scissormen album, Love & Life. We hit our goal of $13,335 on Sunday, February 15, and exceeded it the next day. You can still visit http://indie.me/at/scissormen to pre-order an album or make any other contribution you'd like. All funds beyond the costs of making and releasing the album will go toward creating T-shirts and other costs. And please stay tuned here for more updates on the creation and release of the Love & Life album!!!!!
Nashville-based guitar daredevil, singer, songwriter and producer creates a sonic and soulful 10-song set,
funded by fans and featuring liner notes by Anthony DeCurtis. First single and video: “Still Among the Living.”
Hi. I’m Ted Drozdowski. Welcome to my Coyote Motel. I hope you enjoy your stay!
In case you don’t know me, I’m a moderately successful guitarist, songwriter, singer and producer, and I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife, Laurie, and our dog Dolly. We’ve got a good thing going.
And if you’re wondering how to pronounce my name, it’s three syllables: Droz-dow-ski.
There’s a chance you might know my other band, Scissormen. We’ve toured the U.S and played Europe, hitting everything from juke joints to coffeehouses to Bonnaroo, and put out six releases, including my previous, Love & Life, and the DVD/CD set BIG SHOES: Walking and Talking the Blues, which includes a 90-minute movie by the great music documentary filmmaker Robert Mugge. It debuted at the Starz Denver Film Festival, which I think is cool enough to mention. Along the way, we’ve gotten a lot of airplay and many people have said and written nice things about us.
Coyote Motel is cosmic roots music. I’ve always heard what I call Great American Music as a glorious continuum, and I believe that, like parallel universes, all of the sounds that it encompasses exist and can be heard at the same time. So for me, the influences of Muddy Waters and Daniel Lanois, or Lonnie Mack and Sonny Sharrock, not only can but should exist in the same song. I also believe the mark of a true artist is to distil influences and ideas into an original voice. With Coyote Motel, I’ve done my best to live up to those principles.
To me, the 10 songs on Coyote Motel, which is also the name of the band, are a complete sonic vision. Some of my best lyrics and finest recorded guitar playing is here—but you should catch the band live. We have a reputation for explosive performances. We’re serious about upholding tradition while pushing the envelope, but we’re also seriously committed to everybody—including ourselves—having fun.
Coyote Motel was recorded in Nashville with me and my friend and longtime bassist, Sean Zywick, co-producing, and my newer friend, Kyra Curenton, on drums. Pete Pulkrabek also played drums on half the album’s songs. He’s a friend, too.
I write the songs and play electric, acoustic, resonator, and lap steel guitars, and a little percussion, and I sing. I’m joined on a few numbers by the great Nashville-based vocalist Luella Melissa Mathes, who some of you may know from Luella and the Sun and Crackerboots. Another friend, Mark Robinson, a respected singer/guitarist/songwriter who was voted Best Roots Guitarist in The Alternate Root’s readers’ poll, engineered half the album, and Sean recorded the rest. Mike Purcell mixed and mastered. Mike Windy created the cover painting and our longtime graphic designer is Katrina Grimwood. The liner notes are by the author Anthony DeCurtis. It’s nice to work with so many friends! It’s also terrific to have the support of all the people in many countries whose generous donations via Indiegogo allowed me to make both Coyote Motel and Love & Life. Angels exist!
As an instrumentalist, I’m mostly known for my slide guitar playing—which can be aggressive, wild, spacey, or deeply traditional—but Coyote Motel has allowed me to branch out in a lot of different styles and directions. So maybe now is a good time to talk about the songs. A few are simply good fun, like “Los Alamos,” which is a tongue-in-cheek ditty about the Apocalypse, or “57 Flavors,” which is about life’s chaos. But like anybody, what I see in the world today makes me reflect, so “Trouble”—which I played on a one-string electric diddley bow—and “Jimmy Brown” are protest songs. “Josh Gibson” is, too, but it’s subtler, letting the story of Josh’s amazing life in baseball do the work. I learned about Josh Gibson years ago through my friend Ronnie Earl, who educated me about the Negro Leagues.
“Still Among the Living” is an important song for me. It’s about living with the legacy of abuse, and it has a guitar solo that I think really gets to the tune’s heart. Luella does a killer job on it, too. “Frog Alley” is about the opioid crisis in East Tennessee, but it’s got a sense of humor. (Really!) “My Friend” was written for my dear friend, the great soul singer Mighty Sam McClain, but I think it’s also for anybody who mourns the loss of a valued compadre. True friends are too few in this life. And speaking of dear friends, “Down in Chulahoma” reflects on the years Laurie and me spent in north Mississippi having our brains rewired by R.L. Burnside (who inspired me to start Scissormen and changed my life profoundly), Jessie Mae Hemphill, and Junior Kimbrough, and absorbing the music of the hill country. Along with Sam and the jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock, they are my deepest musical and personal influences. I think of them all and miss them every day.
Some of these new songs have already had three or four lives. I kept pushing myself to make the lyrics true to the stories I wanted to tell, and sometimes a song that started as one thing evolved into another, and another, before it was recorded. Occasionally final lyrics presented themselves as I was singing into the microphone. Living in Nashville, there’s a high bar for songwriting, and I want to hold up my end.
There is one cover tune. I have been smitten with Stevie Ray Vaughan’s smoldering version of Bob Geddins’ “Tin Pan Alley” since the day I heard it. And I’ve long felt that a slow blues is an ideal departure point to reach for the stars, sonically—which Stevie did in his own way. Now, I’ve done that, too, taking a vastly different approach.
This isn’t a simple album, necessarily, but it’s not superfancy, either. It’s honest. It’s real. It’s an evolution for me and gets to the core of what I wanted to say as we recorded, both lyrically and musically. I’m really excited about Coyote Motel. I hope you like it, too.
If you’ve got any questions for me about any of this or the other stuff I do or have done, you can always drop me a line via the email address on the teddrozdowski.com website. It’s at the bottom. There’s also a lot of info on show dates, Scissormen, my ebook, my slide guitar and music history workshops, and my music journalism. Reach me via Facebook, too. And hey, if you’ve hung in this long, my sincere thanks!
With love from Nashville,
Left to right: Sean (bass), Ted, Kyra (drums)
NASHVILLE, TN — The most recent album by Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen, 2015’s Love & Life, was yet another leap forward for the band. It received a warm reception from press and radio, including a multi-page story on Ted in the December 2015 issue of Guitar Player magazine and extensive airplay on Sirius/XM and around the world. It also led to hundreds of live performances.
Like the albums before it—the full-length documentary DVD and concert CD set BIG SHOES: Walking and Talking the Blues (which includes the entire Robert Mugge feature film of the same name starring Ted) and the ghostly, hypnotic sonic experience Luck in a Hurry—the cinematic Love & Life was a major evolutionary step for Ted and the band, blending the sound of Great America Roots Music’s past, present and future, and enlisting the talent of such respected guests as the late soul powerhouse Mighty Sam McClain and the Grammy-nominated organist Paul Brown.
So what’s next? Yet another drive toward new sounds and new song concepts with an album in progress and a radical new approach onstage and in the studio that’s so daring it requires a new name: Coyote Motel. While any high-energy performance featuring Ted and his bandmates—longtime collaborator Sean Zywick on bass and textural sounds, and the dynamic, creative drummer Kyra Curenton—will take the deepest roots of America’s musical tradition and cast them in fresh ways, the early shows we’re playing as Coyote Motel are really a workshop for exciting, unpredictable music in this vein. They focus even more on improvisation and creating sounds not commonly heard in historic genres like Delta and hill country blues, old-school country, mountain songs, and the art of the songster. Let’s be blunt: This is a band with a unique sound and vision. It’s not for the faint-hearted, shortsighted, or genre-bound—and Ted and his musical friends wouldn’t have it any other way.
Stay tuned for the next chapter of Ted’s Scissormen and Coyote Motel—both bands alive and well. And for a new album due late in 2018 that promises to be yet another step in pursuing an increasingly unique and original vision for Great American Music.
Ted has been writing and consulting about music for 40 years. His work has appeared in a wealth of publications, from international magazines to newspapers to liner notes to genre encyclopedias to the Grammy and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame Induction books. He is currently a senior editor at Premier Guitar. This is some of Ted’s more recent writing about artists for that magazine:
Chrissie Hynde/The Pretenders: https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/24979-chrissie-hynde-if-it-gets-politegame-over
Start Playing Slide Guitar Now: https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/26244-dust-that-broom-a-newbies-guide-to-slide
Cedric Burnside: Lion of Mississippi Hill Country Guitar: https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/27890-cedric-burnside-lion-of-mississippi-hill-country-guitar
Ted calls his Zuzu guitar the Green Monster. Like all Zuzus, it is hand-built by Chris Mills, who also made the bridge pickup, which is an original design. The top and back are from an antique recycled packing crate. The body is solid mahogany, with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard. The bridge pickup is a Porter Overdrive. Positions 2 and 4 put the pickups in single-coil mode. You can find out more at zuzuguitars.wordpress.com.
Ted’s mainstay amp is a 2007 Carr “The Vincent,” which is a small, powerful and versatile combo with a 12-inch Eminence Private Jack speaker. (That’s Ted’s favorite speaker flavor.) It is switchable between 7 and 33 watts, and 7 watts is loud enough for most small clubs with or without a PA. It’s harmonically rich and has luxurious reverb. Turning the midrange dial all the way left engages a boost switch the moves the amp from super-Fender-like turf into Marshallville (but without sacrificing the richness of the lows and mids). It’s superb!
Ted’s main pedalboard (He has a second with a shifting line-up of pedals, for experimentation.) has a simple, direct chain of effects: TC Electronic PolyTune 2 tuner, Origin Effects Cali 76 compressor, a J. Rockett Archer for boost and a little dirt, an MXR Phase 90, a vintage Boss VB-2 Vibrato, a vintage DigiTech PDS 1000 delay, a DigiTech HardWire Supernatural Ambient Reverb (where the stereo signal splits) and a DigiTech HardWire DL-8 Delay/Looper (often set for backwards play).
This Sam Hill Custom cabinet was built in Nashville by Sam to match the Green Monster guitar, in a shade of Behr paint called Fish Pond. It’s solid pine and contains a single Celestion G12M 20-watt speaker, made to 1967 specs. This cabinet is badass and voiced like a classic, bigger Marshall cab.
2 vocal microphones (on bass and guitar positions)
2 guitar amps
1 bass amp
Kit 1: Kick, snare, 2 floor toms, hi-hat, 1 cymbal
Kit 2: Kick, snare, 2 floor toms, hi-hat, 4 cymbal
Power required at stage front for guitar and bass pedalboard
2 vocal microphones (on bass and guitar positions)
2 guitar amps
1 bass amp
6 piece kit: Kick, snare, 2 floor tom, hi‐hat, 1 cymbal
Power required at stage front for guitar and bass pedalboard