This isn't your grandmother's blues. Sure, vocally, Oregon's Karen Lovely takes her cues from Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and Janis Joplin. These 13 original tracks, though, widen those standard blues progressions into another animal entirely. It's more a mellow soul groove from a great new singer and a hotshot band of Los Angeles studio stalwarts. The result is '10 Miles Of Bad Road' (Kokako) and if you want to traverse that, you have to be strong. Lovely is strong.
Combine a Prohibition-era daring with today's studio know-how and you've got one of the best soundtracks of the year in "Bessie: Music From The HBO Film," starring Queen Latifah, juxtaposing 1920s recordings with today's sophisticated facsimiles.
Fans will have to wait for their more intimate night with Janis Joplin Off-Broadway, but diva-themed shows are popping up all over.