DION has been recording since his “Santa Margarita” days of 1957. He originally recorded the Pomus / Shuman hit “A Teenager in Love” that was perhaps made more famous in the U.K. by Marty Wilde (1959). His “Runaround Sue” written with Ernie Maresca is probably the high-water mark of early 1960s doo-wop and was covered by Chubby Checker, Del Shannon and others.
Now the 80 year-old Grammy Nominated “Hall of Famer” and seasoned singer-songwriter has recorded 14 original songs with PAUL SIMON, VAN MORRISON, and BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and with further musical contributions from: Jeff Beck, Rory Block,Joe Bonamassa, Samantha Fish, Billy Gibbons, John Hammond Jr., Sonny Landreth,Joe Menza, Van Morrison, Patti Scialfa, Brian Setzer, Stevie Van Zandt, Jerry and Jimmy Vivino, and Joe Louis Walker.
“I needed to round up the best guitarists and musicians alive and pick them from every generation, every variation of blues,” he explains.
His new album “Blues With Friends” CD out June 5, constitutes the realization of a perennial mission. Dion explains the album’s motivation: “I wanted an album of songs that were strong and memorable and told stories that were worth telling.”
His songwriting efforts were supported by a contingent of exemplary players, each of whom seized on the opportunity to join forces with the living legend.
Dion is quick to point out just how sustaining this creative musical relationship has been for him: “The blues have been at the heart of my music since the early 1960s. ‘The Wanderer’ is a twelve-bar blues and I was covering Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed in my early years at Columbia…”
The first track to be released from the album is “Blues Comin’ On” with Joe Bonamassa (shared below). It’s a bump and chugging locomoter that arabesques around the intonation: “If I didn’t know better…” and comes packed with rawboned rhythms and lots of gusty guitar streamers. This is a high-tension blues roller from an elder statesman and the hotshot.
Dion’s Blues With Friends will be released on June 5th through Keeping The Blues Alive Records, a new label started by Joe Bonamassa and his manager Roy Weisman and is an offshoot of Keeping The Blues Alive Foundation, Bonamassa’s non-profit that aims to conserve the art of music and the rich culture and history of the blues.
The label’s objective is to provide a platform for musical talent in blues and blues-rock based music and to help encourage the careers of extraordinary musical talent. 10% of all profits from the label will be donated back to the Non-Profit for promoting music education to students and schools in need.