October 25, 2012
We've tried to use this space to show our love for some roots rock underdogs, but this week we've been on a kick that's had us focus on bigger fish. Blues belter Nick Gravenites is a bit of a jack of all trades, having mentored and participated on a cache of San Francisco music from the mid 60s on. He's played with Mike Bloomfield, written songs for the best Janis Joplin records, etc. Digging deeper into his recorded history, we stumbled on some gems. When Janis left them, Big Brother made two OUTSTANDING records that to these ears are the best representation of the pastiche of influences flowing through that city and also time in American music history. The rhythms are air tight, the bluesy licks complex and catchy, and a soulfulness flows through. How Hard It Is, tellingly in title, was released after Janis died. These guys never got as famous as she did, but they totally should have.