Ted is a proud endorser of GHS Strings and uses .10 to .46 Boomers sets.
Ted exclusively uses G7 capos on all of his electric and acoustic guitars.
Ted plays Zuzu Guitars #9, which he has affectionately nicknamed "the Green Monster."
Rocky Mountain Slides now offers a Ted Drozdowski signature model, hand-crafted by Doc Sigmier in Salida, Colorado. They're great sounding & playing pinky slides, and double as works of art.
Nashville-based amp guru Mickey Sandora has hand-built a point-to-point custom amp for Ted. Watch for Ted's new 18-watt Sandora powerhouse on the road and in videos/photos.
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
8/27/2106 (Saturday) Murfreesboro, TN Mayday Brewery -- Hot Chicken & Jorts Festival
A benefit for … well… something … the HK&J fest rocks! We headline at 7:30 p.m. with a 90-minute set. Hattie B's presents the heated bird. And Jackillacs and Thunder Frog also perform.
9/1/2016 (Thursday) Nashville, TN The 5 Spot — Ted guests with the Mark Robinson Band
Come catch my good friend Mark Robinson and his strong ensemble rock the house with some special guests, including Scissormen's Ted D on the diddley bow and some other contraptions. The show is from 6 to 8 p.m. and will include a Grande Finalé with a whole lotta love onstage!
9/3/2016 (Saturday) Nashville, TN The Family Wash
Ted plays a solo set, opening for our good friend Gina Sicilia, starting at 8 p.m. Get ready for songs and stories from the dusty backroads!
9/6/2106 (Saturday) Nashville, TN The Family Wash
Ted returns to the Wash for another solo performance on the club/restaurant's famed Short Sets night. He play from 8 to 8:30 p.m. And it's also Pint & Pie night—a pint of any tap beer plus the Wash house specialty, Shepherd's Pie, for just $12.
9/9/2016 (Friday) Memphis, TN Loflin Yard
Always happy to get back to Memphis! And especially cool to be playing the new Loflin Yard, an indoor/outdoor bar, restaurant and music room right in the heart of downtown, at 7 Carolina Avenue. 901-249-3046. We'll be playing from 7 to 10 p.m.—a nice long happy hour!
9/17/16 (Saturday) Marietta, GA Darwin's Burgers & Brews
Back to the best dang little blues club in the South, with a 2016 Keeping the Blues Alive Award for proof. Darwin's + Scissormen = a big time, every time. Don't miss this one! Show is at 9:30 sharp.
9/18/16 (Sunday) Nashville, TN The Bluebird Cafe
And we're back at the world's songwriters' Mecca for the Sunday showcase. This is a special free show, sponsored by SESAC. Come join people from all over the world as well tell stories, perform songs and work sonic voodoo.
10/13/2016 Nashville, TN Deep Blues Festival does Nashville!
Catch this special bill with Scissormen, 10 Foot Polecats, Mark Holder and France's Dirty Deep—a pre-Deep Blues Festival warm-up, before everybody heads to Clarksdale. Music starts with Dirty Deep at 8 p.m. Springwater is next to Centennial Park. where it's always been, at 115 27th Ave., North, just behind McDonald's.
10/14-15/2016 Clarksdale, MS Deep Blue Festival
Yup, we're coming back to a Deep Blues Festival. So far we're playing the Jeff Norwood Memorial Stage on Friday, the 14th, in the late afternoon. Precise time t/b/a. Stay tuned for more details and that show and several more performances. Always good to be back in the Coahoma the blues!
11/3/2016 (Thursday) Providence, RI Aurora
We return to Providence—hooray!—with special guest and New England music scene royalty Mark Cutler opening, at the Aurora art space and bar. This show will be a special event, and we look forward to seeing our Rhode Island family and musical family. Music starts at about 9:30 p.m. And Aurora is at 276 Westminster St., 02903.
11/4/2016 (Friday) Lowell, MA The Back Page
We're back at the Page to rage! We alway have crazy shows here with a packed house, so come early to get a table and meet all of our friends in Lowell. 9 to 1 p.m.
11/5/2016 (Saturday) Somerville, MA Thunder Road
We're playing the early shift at Davis Square's newest, hottest night spot, teamed up with our friend Peter Parcek. Peter plays at 7 p.m. and we play a concert set immediately after his last note. Get a table reservation or sit at the bar and dig this special early show!
11/6/2016 (Sunday) Middletown, CT The Cypress Restaurant
If you haven't been to the Cypress, you're missing one of the coolest old-school music rooms and restaurants in the state. Brothers Jim and Joe are your hosts. The food's terrific. The space is family friendly. The drinks are cheap, and the sound is terrific. This is a special dinner show, with two sets from 6 to 9 p.m. Don't miss this. And it's on Ted's home turf, so you never know who'll show up!
5/6/2017 Hartford, CT Black Eyed Sally's
We return to this Connecticut blues institution after a long break, joining New Orleans groove master Shaka Bill and his band the Soulshakers. C'mon out and get shakin', but be sure to make a dinner reservation! Black Eyed Sally's is a 350 Asylum St., downtown Hartford, with plenty of nearby parking. Call 860-278-7427.
5/13/17 Chicago, IL Black Dog House Concerts
Woof! We're slated to play Chicagoland's wonderful Black Dog House Concerts Series for the first time next year. More info to come as we approach the date. Relax! There's plenty of time!
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
It's been a crazy, rocking year so far—with lots of great shows. Love & Life continues to get lots of radio play. Ted's signature slide is now available from Colorado's Rocky Mountain Slides. The band just cut a new track for a Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute album. Ted's got more solo gigs on the books, and the band's heading to MS and New England in coming months. Plus Ted's debut ebook is still available at Amazon and via NoiseTrade. And there's more in the works. You can read about it all … or at least most of it, in the new Scissormen newsletter by following this link: https://t.e2ma.net/message/5hpqi/12uxye
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.
ORNETTE COLEMAN, the American music innovator, died yesterday of a heart attack in Manhattan at age 85. Coleman was a wholly distinctive jazz voice whose saxophone playing and compositional abilities were unique, visionary and full of the detail and range that reflected both inner processes and the character of the times in which he lived. With early albums like Something Else!!! and The Shape of Jazz to Come, Coleman transitioned the music from bebop to a place with few limitations, where free playing and harmonically rich composition co-existed on a high plane. Coleman and my late friend and mentor Robert Palmer were close, and Robert's profile of Coleman in his posthumous collection Blues & Chaos edited by Anthony DeCurtis is a "must" for lovers of great music. (The book itself is a must for any serious music head.) I got to see Coleman a few times and found his live performances elevating and provocative, and left them feeling full of fresh ideas. With Coleman's departure, we lose yet another of our American geniuses of the arts, the men and women who are foundational or sustaining figures in disciplines that help define the heart and soul of who we are as a nation and a united people with many roots. Inevitably a bit of our national character and heritage is lost as each of them passes. Their work must be held high, treasured and sustained by those of us who are left – by those of us who believe in substance over the trivial, who believe in the fire of the soul and the power and truth within the creative heart and mind. These are things that make us great, and they are easily lost if they are uncared for. Remember to love music and the arts, love your friends and families, love your neighbors and love yourselves… and aim high, like Ornette Coleman did.
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.
The cat's out of the bag on our upcoming album. Love & Life comes out on July 31 and will become available shortly before that date. If you'd like to order an autographed advance copy, for June delivery, you can still visit our successful Indiegogo campaign and make a contribution. We'll be playing Johnny D's in Boston on the release date, in a special dinner show, but the Love & Life Tour officially starts on June 2, when we play the first of two nights at Memphis' world famous Rum Boogie Cafe. That show will be taped for an international radio broadcast. Watch our Facebook page for early premiers of songs from the album, and the release of the video for the first single, coming soon. Got questions? Got somewhere you want us to play? Drop a line, Clementine!
Hey friends, we're going to start supporting our upcoming Love & Life album with dates starting in June. We're coming to Massachusetts, New York, Atlanta, Denver, Lincoln, NB, Denver and Fort Collins, CO, and more. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us where you'd like to see Ted Drozdowski's Scissormen come play for you!
On April 1 we'll be announcing the street date for Love & Life, the brand new and long awaited album from Ted Drozdowski's Scissormen. The disc features 11 songs played by the band's new trio line-up, recorded on top of a mountain just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. We've got a very special guest vocalist, a video in the works for the first single, and will be posting more "Love & Life Tour" dates very shortly. And once again, thanks to all our fans/friends who contributed $14,000 to make Love & Life possible. Stay tuned for more!
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!!!!!
Please visit our campaign and see the fun video at http://igg/me/at/scissormen
We've launched out first Indiegogo campaign and have reached 25-precent of our goal but still need a lot of help from our friends like you. And we've got some very cool "perks" to offer in return, from advance copies to house concerts and Skype guitar lessons. Please check it out and consider becoming part of our new album! We'd be honored to have you aboard with us!
Please visit the fundraising campaign and see the video at http://igg/me/at/scissormen
And here's the scoop:
Over the decades I’ve earned an international reputation as an inventive, hard-working musician and entertainer, and respected and award-winning journalist, historian, educator and advocate. Every project I’ve undertaken has had the mission of bringing great American roots music to more people while making them happy. The next step in this mission is a new album called Love & Life, which will bridge the past and present in a fresh and authentic way with the best music I’ve ever made. It’s joyful music that touches the mind and inspires the soul.
To do this, I need funding to create, mix, master and manufacture Love & Life, and to take it to the world with a marketing campaign that speaks to a broader audience. With your support, I can build a new, vital, living perspective on American roots music.
I’m offering large and small "perks" for your sharing at different levels, from a very important executive producer credit on the project to an autographed guitar to my first e-book to rare demos. And at every level of giving, there will be music for you. I’m also happy to tailor a package of rewards specifically for you.
If you can't make a contribution, even to preorder the CD, please spread the word about this campaign. Thanks!
BRING TED DROZDOWSKI’S SCISSORMEN TO YOUR EVENT/TOWN
Hey folks, if y’all want Scissormen at your club, festival, coffeehouse, house concert or other event this summer or fall, now’s the time to get in touch. Drop a line to email@example.com for booking information. Meanwhile, we’re building our schedule and will be posting a fresh series of festival and club dates shortly. Stayed tuned!
TED CHOSEN FOR NASHVILLE PERISCOPE ARTIST ENTREPRENEUR PROGRAM
Ted is honored to be among the 25 artists from multiple disciplines to be chosen for the Periscope artist entrepreneur training program in Nashville — a cooperative effort between Music City’s Arts Business Council, the Entrepreneur Center, the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and Delta Airlines. The six-week program starts at the end of March.
Left to right: Peter Pulkrabek (drums), Sean Zywick (bass), Ted Drozdowski
NASHVILLE, TN — Listening to Love & Life, the new album from Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen, is like taking an acid trip in a time machine. Day-glo guitars slither through stories about old bluesmen and coal miners. Tectonic plates of sound churn the past, present and future of great American music into a stylistic kaleidoscope. And a dizzy spray of vibrant slide six-string permeates the album’s performances, adding a fine sonic mist of unpredictable virtuosity to the mysteries in its 11 tunes, which ricochet between deep truths and bald-faced lies.
Drozdowski made the new album Love & Life in a tent down a dirt road in the woods on top of a mountain in the unincorporated hamlet of Pasquo, Tennessee. That’s just another example of this highly creative singer, songwriter, guitarist, bandleader and producer’s passion for thinking outside the box. And there are plenty more within the dynamic, evocative sixth album from Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen.
Love & Life will be released on the Dolly Sez Woof label on July 31. That same day Drozdowski, who is also an award-winning music journalist and educator, will publish the first in a series of e-books, Obsessions of a Music Geek, Vol. 1: Blues Guitar Giants.
Love & Life is evolutionary. For Drozdowski, the album celebrates the expansion of his internationally touring duo Scissormen — with stops at Bonnaroo and other major festivals under their belts — into a fiery, flexible trio also featuring bassist Sean Zywick and drummer Pete Pulkrabek. That core trio sound is made even bigger, with as many as seven of Drozdowski’s own guitar tracks layered on some cuts, while capturing his finest songwriting and studio performances. He’s also joined on the album by legendary soul singer Mighty Sam McClain and Grammy nominated organist Paul Brown. For great American music, it proves that traditional styles can be celebrated with authenticity while creating tunes that are contemporary, timeless and slammin’.
“I wanted every song on this album to tell a story and be deeply rooted in great American music,” Drozdowski relates. “I also wanted to apply more elaborate production techniques, like multi-tracking my guitars and treating them with multiple effects during and after recording, to create a broader, unpredictable sonic palette, and just plain get weird. That weird streak is what made the pillars of American music — Muddy Waters, Bill Monroe, Sam Phillips and others — original, authentic and evolutionary, and somewhere along the way the truth and beauty of honest weirdness got lost. I want to bring it back.”
Love & Life starts with “Beggin’ Jesus,” a riff-fueled yarn about temptation and the conflict between good and evil, with a wicked, sizzling, doubled slide guitar solo. A few songs later, “The River” unfolds as a ghost story. A swirling mist of guitars and Drozdowski’s soulful voice recreate the mystery and magic of the foggy, moonlit night along the banks of the Tallahatchie River in North Mississippi that inspired the song. It’s one of the album’s few tracks cut without overdubs, recorded live in one take.
Drozdowski pays tribute to two of his friends and mentors on the album. “Watermelon Kid” is an homage to the bluesman Watermelon Slim, and “R.L. Burnside (Sleight Return)” is a funky, psychedelic recollection of a night the juke joint blues patriarch came to visit – replete with a slinky groove and layers of backwards guitar. Drozdowski’s own family history as Pennsylvania coal miners fuels the grinding, visceral Mississippi hill country music inspired “Black Lung Fever,” citing an occupational affliction that claimed both of his immigrant grandfathers before he was born.
The romantic ode to the Bluff City “Let’s Go To Memphis” reflects the classic sound and spirit of Stax Records, with shimmering B-3 organ and four intricately woven guitar tracks. But the song’s star is the legendary soul singer Mighty Sam McClain, who first appeared on the R&B charts in 1966 and whose passionate command and emotional depth are practically unparalleled today. “Sam and me have been friends for more than 20 years,” says Drozdowski. “I’d hoped to someday write a song worthy of his voice, and now I’m thrilled and honored by his performance.”
“Our friendship has grown over the years to a very beautiful place in our lives,” McClain concurs. “When Ted asked me if I would do a song with him, Hell, I couldn’t wait. When he sent me ‘Let’s Go To Memphis,’ I liked the title right away, because it was so Ted. I’ve heard him talking about Memphis and Nashville for so long. So ‘Let’s Go to Memphis’ was a no brainer for me! I would have sung almost anything for a chance to do this with Ted. But ‘Let’s Go to Memphis’ is a great song, written by a great person.”
Fans of the stripped-down juke joint aesthetic that has governed the sound of Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen until now will dig “Can’t Be Satisfied,” a raw take on the Muddy Waters classic as a full-throttle duet for drums and diddley bow – in this case, an intensely electrified version of the home-made one-string instrument that gave Bo Diddley his name. There’s also a solo number, “Dreaming On the Road,” that features Drozdowski playing resonator guitar. But throughout the disc a multitude of effects-laden six-strings slip in and out of the mix like foxes in a henhouse, defining his own sonic terrain among musical innovators.
To Drozdowski, risk-taking is an essential part of being an artist. Since the 1980s his bands have always pushed toward new ground. As a primary force in the alternative-rock band Vision Thing, the textural music ensemble Bloodblister and the explosively guitar-intensive Devil Gods, his narrative songwriting and tireless sonic explorations won him a cult following.
That cult has grown considerably since he established Scissormen a decade ago, under the influence of R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Jessie Mae Hemphill and other totems of Mississippi hill country blues. “R.L. in particular got me to play this music, which I initially resisted,” Drozdowski says. “But his encouragement helped me find my voice and my sound.
“After meeting and becoming friends with R.L., Junior and Jessie, who were making some of the most profound music I’d ever heard, yet living in obscurity and poverty, I devoted myself to bringing the music they and similar artists made to more people,” Drozdowski says. First, that was as a music journalist, and he received the Blues Foundation’s Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Journalism in 1998, in part as a result of that effort. Next, he became a visceral torchbearer with Scissormen, physically taking this deeply rooted music to a wider and more diverse audience with playful, high-energy performances built around his singing and incendiary slide guitar showmanship. Club crowds are as likely to find Drozdowski sitting in their laps, standing on tabletops and sliding with every object imaginable as they are to see him on stage. Another mentor, free jazz guitar granddaddy Sonny Sharrock, also had a major influence on Drozdowski’s slide playing.
Drozdowski has released five earlier recordings bearing the Scissormen name, including the 2012 collaboration with the award-winning music filmmaker Robert Mugge, BIG SHOES: Walking and Talking the Blues. The CD+DVD set was built around a Mugge documentary starring Drozdowski that premiered at the Denver Film Festival. He has also taken the band across the US and to Europe, playing up to 100 dates a year at everything from the major festivals Bonnaroo, Memphis in May and France’s Cognac Blues Passions to theaters to clubs to coffeehouses.
“Love & Life begins a new chapter for me, where I can connect all the dots of what excites me musically to realize my own vision of great American music as a vital, original and still evolving art form,” says Drozdowski. “But I couldn’t have begun to record it without help. I conceived of this album five years ago, but didn’t have the funds to go forward.” Enter Robert E. McClain, Jr., owner of the one-of-a-kind Omega Lab studio atop a mountain high above Nashville’s famed Loveless Café, and Whit Hubner, host of the Mando Blues Show, a program on Radio Free Nashville that’s recorded live at the tent — a ProTools based “green” studio with surround sound capability that draws less power than the average blow dryer.
“Rob and Whit, who are dear friends, invited me to make the album at Omega Lab,” say Drozdowski. But eventually costs intruded on the album’s progress, so Drozdowski turned to his fans, launching a successful Indiegogo campaign that raised nearly $14,000. “Knowing that more than 160 people from nine countries had my back when I needed them fills me with gratitude and makes me feel like I’m on the right path,” Drozdowski says. “And I intend to keep following it, wherever it takes me.”
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 1: 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