Friday, July 20, 2012

CD Review: “Blood Red Blues” Cee Cee James


Blood Red Blues

You have to suffer to sing the blues this way. You gotta have your heart not just broken, but kicked around and left in a gutter at 3 a.m. next to a crumpled up cigarette package– mugged, spit on, hung over, cut up with a switch blade knife and left for dead. Janis – you know which Janis, so shut up and listen – had this heart and there is her ghost running around in Cee Cee James vocal chords. This is rubbed raw, soaked in whiskey, drug out in the smoky blue moon blues. She shouts it, she wrings it out, she bleeds for it, she sweats for it she crawls across the floor for it.

I know you have heard that story about Lincoln and Kennedy had VPs named Johnson and those other eerie similarities. Well Janis Joplin had a guitar player named Sam Andrews, Cee Cee James has a guitar player named Rob Andrews. When Cee Cee shouts “I’ve taken all my lessons” you’ll hear Janis, and not just a little bit. When she lets that gritty shout go quiet and low you’ll hear her too. When she sings, “Walk On, walk on…” it’s there, baby. It’s Blood Red Blues.

“Blood Red Blues” Cee Cee James July 2012

This is her fourth CD  and after trying her hand at pop/funk with Spiritually Wet, her first release, which was really a success winning the Los Angles Independent Artist Of The Year Award as well as the John Lennon Songwriting Competition. Lotta people would have considered that a triumph. But it wasn’t home for this St. Louis based singer. Nope, she went searching and found that place that allowed her to feel at home. She immersed her self in the blues which led to her second CD, 2008s, Low Down Where The Snakes Crawl.

She hasn’t looked back (except to see if the devil was gaining) since. She’s won awards that led to foreign tours, led to number one records on blues charts. She was dubbed The Vocal Volcano by one critic. Had her 2010 live album pronounced the best live performance on the century. The Washington Blues Society gave her the Best Blues Songwriter Award and nominated her for Best Blues Vocalist last year.

“Low Down Where The Snakes Crawl” Cee Cee James 2008

But none of that is important here. What’s important is the way that she tears out her soul to tell her story. What’s important here is raw, blood drenched power. What’s important is the fearless surrender to the songs, to the emotion – eleven original blues and roots tunes written by husband Rob ‘Slideboy’ Andrews.

Don’t expect pretty, slick visuals. This ain’t MTV. Don’t expect heart-on-the-sleeve delivery, she tears her heart out on stage and cuts it up into little bitty pieces. When Janis said, “Take another little piece of my heart now, baby!” Cee Cee James thought it was stage direction. Don’t expect flashing lights and voice overs or auto tune. Don’t expect anything but the blood red blues.


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved


  1. Jesus!!!!!!!! wow!!!!!!!!! Thankyou!!!!!!!!!! My fans will fall at your feet for this.... xoxoxo

  2. I am so happy the rest of the world is loving Cee Cee as much as I do. Thank you for a great review. There may be some similarities with Janis, but Cee Cee is just, well Cee Cee. No trying to sound like Janis, or copy her. She feels every lyric and note that comes out of that mouth. A true I've lived it blues lady!!!!

  3. You pretty much captured the Cee Cee many of us long to hear time and time again. Her life story is written into this CD in the most raw and real artistry I've heard in many years. I agree that when listening to the CD, or seeing her live, it appears that Janis channels through her at times, but her music is more....... Her ability to sing a sweet ballad as well as belt out those notes that make your spine tingle, is just pure Cee Cee. Want a real rush? See her live! It will be etched in your mind forever. Good job on the review and so glad you posted some tunes!!!

  4. wow, great responses and comments. I am glad y'all approve of the review. And you're right, she isn't simply copying Janis-I've heard copy cats before and they rarely impress me as Cee Cee did from the first song. It isn't so much the voice that recalls the memory and music of Janis Joplin, tho' that comparison is obvious, but the honest and fearless display of emotion, of feeling and respect for the music and the pain and joy that life lays on everybody's door step. As a musician myself and a bass player I have a deep abiding tie to the blues. Tho' I started out as a country player and then a rockk player, I grew the most as a player in the blues. I had the privilege to play bass for Bugsy Maugh (among others) who was best known as the bass player for Paul Buttersfield Blues band during their most successful period. Bugsy also played live in Janis band, Big Brother and then her touring band after Big Brother and had a short lived affair with Janis, tho' I still think that affair lives in his heart. So I heard many many stories about Janis and her electric presence on stage and the way she poured her heart and soul out in the music. Those, more than albumm sales are the reason that Janis is still spoken of with reverence, and that is what impressed me more (and I get to listen to a ton of music writing this column) than anything about Cee Cee. That tearing your heart out inside the music. I hope to hear her live, as the blues is always extra special live, but until then, I be spreading the word right here. if you like, please "Like" the blogs fan page to keep in touch in Cee Cee's music as well as other artists I write about. On Facebook here,

    1. Thank you Robert for the kind words, and loving the CD. I'd like to take the time to thank Dan Mohler and Chris Leighton,
      If it wasn't for these Great side men, this project would not have the mojo that it does. Creativity at its finest!!! And alot of
      fun alway's with these guy's.

  5. Thanks for the comments rob, it was truly a pleasure to get to listen to this music and then write about it. And thank dan and Chris for me too. I spent enough years in the back of the stage away from the lights to know that they are very important to the work and I am sure they appreciate the cudos. Next time y'all make it to Portland, OR the drinks are on me.

  6. Here's the upcoming NW Tour Dates Robert.. hope to see at a show or two as Chris and Dan would definitely take you up on a round!!!


    - Fri 8/17 - Live Pre-Show Interview with Jane Martin Manning on KMHD - Portland, OR - 6pm

    - Fri 8/17 - Live Pre-Show Interview with Friday Freeway Blues at 6pm on KINK 101.9fm and

    - Fri 8/17 - TRAILS END - Oregon City, OR
    Call for reservations - 503-656-3031

    - Sat 8/18 - HARVEST MOON BLUES FEST - Lebanon, OR

    - Mon 8/20 - THE MIGHTY MOUTH BLUES SHOW NWCA RADIO with Jonathan "Oogie" Richards - Tacoma, WA

    - Wed 8/22 - THE CENTRAL - Kirkland, WA
    Call for Information: (425)827-0808

    - Thurs 8/23 - THE COMMONS - Langley, WA
    Scaled and stripped down intimate show with Cee Cee, Rob and David Malony on percussion. Call for Information: (360) 221-0127

    - Fri 8/24 - THE ROCKFISH - Anacortes, WA
    Call for Information (360) 588-1720

    - Sat 8/25 - COZY'S ROADHOUSE - Clinton, WA
    ADVANCE TICKET SALES HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - Purchase in person at Cozy's or Online at (Right hand side of homepage)

    - Sun 8/26 - THE UPSTAGE - Port Townsend, WA
    Call for Information: 360-385-2216