By JenJo on July 7, 2013
Brandon Santini: Memphis Breath Blues
There are many different opinions as to what the future of blues harmonica will be. Memphis based Brandon Santini is undeniably a worthy player to keep an eye on as the next decade unfolds. His name is worthy of conversations that involve Jason Ricci, Billy Gibson, Dennis Gruenling, Rick Estrin and other frontline harmonica players that have become part of a new wave in the blues world.
With tasteful speed and licks, he combines his respect to traditional blues with a present colorful style of playing. Raised in North Carolina, Brandon relocated to Memphis in 2003 where he began to absorb the sounds and culture of the Delta, honing his craft night after night, sweating it out in local Beale Street clubs just like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and B.B. King. He fronted the Blues Music Award nominated band Delta Highway for six years and is now embarking on a solo career. Brandon’s second album “This Time Another Year” released on March.MORE >>
By JenJo on June 27, 2013
We are excited to announce that Brandon Santini has been nominated for The Sean Costello Rising Star Award in the 2013 Blues Blast Magazine Awards. Voting opens to the public on July 15! The awards will be held October 31st in Chicago. Click here to see the nominees and to learn more about how to vote!MORE >>
Posted in News
By JenJo on June 27, 2013
This Time Another Year
North Carolina native and current Memphis blues harp phenom Brandon Santini exudes cool. On Santini’s second solo release, the Beale Street club denizen paves his own distinct path. He is not simply mimicking a frenzied Little Walter lick or a coy Rick Estrin phrase; Santini is a rapidly maturing songwriter and showman as well.
Produced by Santini along with his guitarist, Jeff Jensen, the album sounds like the pulse of Memphis music itself. Got Good Lovin’ is a Saturday night blowout waiting to happen, with Santini’s Dr. John-meets-Delbert McClinton vocals mustering a little suggestive deviance along with the soul. On What You Doing To Me, one of a few cuts co-written with friend and piano contributor Victor Wainwright, you can feel the urgency of Santini’s longing to break free (“gonna go down yonder, travel down that road”), set to a lazy Delta backbeat.
Dig Me A Grave is a highlight, ripe for an emotional meltdown when performed live- the track’s sense of dejection is heightened by a stunning solo from guitarist Jensen. Fish Is Bitin’ wraps up things with a lighthearted rural country charm.
A likely successor to Rod Piazza, with a uniquely Memphis-by-way-of-New Orleans bump, Santini has got a swagger that should carry him well beyond the borders of Beale Street.
~ Mark Urichek, Living Blues
By JenJo on June 20, 2013
This Time Another Year Is A Brandon Santini Showcase
There are a lot of good harp players out there in the blues world right now, and it is really hard to stand above the crowd. Up and comer Brandon Santini is that player. He started playing harp at 15, and later moved to Memphis from North Carolina to learn and integrate different sounds and styles into his playing. He has made his bones playing the clubs on Beale Street, as did many masters before him.
This Time Another Year is a Brandon Santini showcase, simmering in places, and smoking in others. The album is mixed very well, and lets the music speak in a spirited voice. Production values are good as well, so nothing gets in the way of the music. Friends, this is some fine music too. The players on this album really impress: they are Brandon Santini – harmonica and vocals, Jeff Jensen – guitars and vocals, Bill Ruffino – bass, James Cunningham – drums, Victor Wainwright – piano, and Chris Stephenson on the organ.
This is a killer album! There are several standout cuts here. The fast moving opener “Got Good Lovin’” cooks with a rocking harp solo from Santini, and nice picking from Jenson on guitar. “This Time Another Year” is very restrained as Santini and company keep a tight lid on and let things build towards release. When release arrives, Santini unleashes some gritty, hardcore harp lines that are articulate and immaculate. Santini’s control and technique is admirable. “Late In The Evening” features some insanely good harp playing from Santini, and some fine string caresses from Jensen, complimented by the always stellar piano stylings of Victor Wainwright, who is just inspired and flawless here. “Things You Putting Down” is a sweet and slow Memphis soul outing that has Santini in fine form on vocals and harp, and again features a simple but righteous solo from Jensen on guitar.
The band’s playing is exceptional throughout the album, and they never fail to impress and draw the listener in. At 53 minutes, there is plenty of blues satisfaction in this package. Sit down, grab some BBQ, relax, and let Santini and company take you away.MORE >>
By JenJo on June 11, 2013
Tune into B.B. King’s Bluesville on channel 70 of Sirius XM Satellite Radio to hear songs from “This Time Another Year.” The album is currently #7 on the Picks To Click with six songs in heavy rotation!MORE >>
Posted in News
By JenJo on April 21, 2013
By Bman ~ www.bmansbluesreport.com
I just received the new release, This Time Another Year, from Brandon Santini and it’s a cooker! Opening with Got Good Lovin’, harpist Santini wastes no time taking a shot at contemporary harp champs like Magic Dick. A hot blues rocker, Santini has a cool voice and can really get the harp flaming. Bill Ruffino on bass and James Cunningham on drums hold down the bottom and Jeff Jensen flys through with some slick riffs of his own on guitar. This Time Another Year, along the lines of Help Me, is a great track with roots deep in the blues with really great harp tone. Santini holds the band back to a simmer as he builds the pressure vocally and then drop in on harp for the swat. Really masterful. Jensen coaxes some nice riffs from the strings and Santini has the control of Jim Morrison just waiting to unleash the dogs. What You Doing To Me, is a great New Orleans tempo track on chromatic harp. Santini has a real great sensitivity for when and how to reel in the track. Interesting guitar work backed by Victor Wainwright on vocal and piano makes this a particularly strong track. Late In The Evening, a slow blues track, really highlights Santini’s vocal work and really makes you wonder how this guy isn’t hugely successful already… or if you’re living under a rock. (Maybe I am!) This is a terrific track and Wainwright plays as nice a blues piano solo as you’ve heard in years. I mean this is terrific. Jensen has a nice sensitivity to this track and plays a strong but sensitive guitar passage. Up pops Santini to take it home. All I can say is wow! This is really really strong! Dig Me A Grave moves into the R&B style and Santini shows his versatility and style. Jensen opens with a really nice solo and Santini has such a strong voice… instrumentation overall.. and particularly intermittent riffs by Jensen (great tone by the way) and ongoing lead harp work from Santini make this a particularly airplay worthy track… and I like it too! Bye Bye Bird, an old Williamson/Dixon track gets a light acoustic guitar, drums and harp treatment. This release is just consistently really super. Things You Putting Down is a great New Orleans blues style track and again Santini shows that he has a really super voice. A really strong harp player, Santini shows that you don’t always have to be fast or high to get your point across. Jensen plays another solid solo on this track and the band remains contained. Been So Blue gets Santini out front right away and Jensen plays some really jazzy chords under the melody taking the blues to a richer spot. Santini gets his harp singing, showing a nice compatibility between the blues and it’s jazz brother partner. Help Me With The Blues is a really hot track. This is the kind of harp track that even people who aren’t hot on harp love. (Think Hoy Hoy Hoy or Wammer Jammer). This is a fast paced jump track and Jensen does his share of crankin the spring, followed by the superb Wainwright. Santini steps in and throws on the gas… ouch… that is hot!! Williamson track Raise Your Window (One Way Out) gets a Latin kind of beat and Santini again shines on vocal and harp. Taking it down low, Santini shows some real pyrotechnics. The final track on this outrageously cool recording is Fish is Bitin’, a cross between Cajun and Rock a Billy. Showing a nod to Ledbelly, this track is a cool wrap up for a really enjoyable and remarkable release. Excellent!MORE >>