Alligator Records Begins 40th Anniversary Celebration with New Shemekia Copeland & Roomful of Blues


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As 2011 kicks off, Alligator Records, the company The Washington Post calls “the premiere blues label in the United States," celebrates its 40th anniversary. The celebration kicks off with the January 18 release of Hook, Line & Sinker from the kings of horn-driven swing, jump blues and early rock 'n' roll, Roomful of Blues, and Deluxe Edition, a collection of some of the finest blues, rock, soul and R&B tracks from one of the greatest blues voices of this (or any other) era, Shemekia Copeland.

At 43-years-old, New England's Roomful of Blues has been around even longer than Alligator Records. For all that time, they've celebrated the jump blues, R&B and early rock 'n' roll music of the horn-powered golden era of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Roomful don't simply recreate the famous and obscure 78s and 45s of those years. Inspired by the spirit of the groundbreaking bands of the post-World War II decade, they've breathed new life into vintage songs, infusing them with boundless energy and fiery, swinging solos and vocals. For the last two decades, Roomful has been led by Chris Vachon, one of the most underrated guitarists in the blues. For 40 years, their hard-charging horn section has been sparked by Rich Lataille on tenor and alto sax. Energizing the band on Hook, Line & Sinker is their terrific new vocalist, Phil Pemberton. Phil's performances showcase his flamboyant, multi-octave voice, fun-loving attitude and his deep understanding of the era when jumping blues bands were fronted by huge-voiced singers like Roy Brown, Wynonie Harris and Big Joe Turner. This album also gives more showcase space to Chris Vachon's tough guitar work. His version of Clarence Gatemouth Brown's “Gate Walks To Board" proves his talent can match that of the best string-benders. Hook, Line & Sinker is a proud addition to Roomful's glorious musical history.

Shemekia Copeland, at 31, has been performing professionally for more than half of her life. She has proven herself to be a brilliant, immensely soulful blues and R&B singer. Inspired by her father, legendary Texas blues guitarist/vocalist Johnny Clyde Copeland and tempered by her youth in the tough streets of Harlem, Shemekia began singing professionally at age 16. At first she was opening shows for her father and then before long was leading her own band. She signed to Alligator when she turned 18, and cut four albums with producers Dr. John, Steve Cropper, and the team of Jimmy Vivino, songwriter John Hahn and Alligator president Bruce Iglauer. Shemekia has an amazing ability to get deep inside a lyric, whether it's the swaggering Memphis soul of “Turn The Heat Up," the driving rock of “It's 2 A.M.," the tongue-in-cheek flirtatiousness of “Stay A Little Longer, Santa" or the naked intensity of “Ghetto Child," her father's song that climaxes almost every live Shemekia performance. Shemekia's career has gone from peak to peak—from playing small New York clubs to headlining blues festivals, to tours across the U.S., Canada and Europe, to multiple network TV appearances, and even to opening for The Rolling Stones. Deluxe Edition brings together some of the most thrilling and joyful recordings of the first part of what is already a storied career.

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