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Elli De Mon - Countin' The Blues - LP

Elli De Mon - Countin' The Blues LP
(Her first album for Area Pirata Records, Countin' The Blues features ten songs: some, such as Elizabeth Cotten's 'Freight Train' or Bessie Smith's 'Blue Spirit Blues' might be considered standards.
But the album contains also some lost treasures, unearthed by Elli and brought back into the light of day.
This is a due reissue with backsleeve slighty different)
Area Pirata 18.00

We are proud to announce Elli is now part of the Area Pirata's family.
Elli de Mon, for the best part of the past decade she's been thrilling blues audiences across Europe with her unique take on the form. To say she's a blues singer or blues guitarist is putting it waaay too simply: rezophonic guitar, drums, bells, voice and saturated sound – she is, in every sense, a real one woman band.

Strongly influenced by the primordial blues tradition (Bessie Smith, Fred Mc Dowell, Son House) crosshatched with primitive garage punk, Elli's sound is shaped into a lysergic journey through her soul. Sharing stages with the likes of The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Reverand Beatman and Cedric Burnside, she's released six albums since 2014, most recently a split release with the wonderfully-named psych-blues trio Daily Thompson.

During her pregnancy Elli wrote a book about the women blues artists of the 20s. The book Countin' The Blues: Indomitable Women was published in February 2020. Elli decided to record the songs that she wrote about in the book, in tribute to these great women, whose art has been forgotten by most.

Her first album for Area Pirata Records, Countin' The Blues features ten songs: some, such as Elizabeth Cotten's 'Freight Train' or Bessie Smith's 'Blue Spirit Blues' might be considered standards.
But the album contains also some lost treasures, unearthed by Elli and brought back into the light of day.

Recorded at Lesder Studio, Treviso with engineer Tommaso Mantelli, Elli accompanied herself on guitar, lapsteel, organ, drums and sitar. She arranged the whole album in a new key, close to her personal punkish style. A modern Ma Rainey playing dirty rock'n'roll!

Side A
1. Prove It On Me Blues - Ma Rainey
2. Blue Spirit Blues - Bessie Smith
3. Downhearted Blues - Alberta Hunter
4. Shave 'Em Dry - Lucille Bogan
5. Dope Head Blues - Victoria Spivey

Side B
1. Freight Train - Elizabeth Cotten
2. Wayward Girl Blues - Lottie Kimbrough
3. When The Levee Breaks - Memphis Minnie
4. Trouble In Mind - Bertha Chippie Hill

Bonus track "Last Kind Words Blues" - Geeshie Wiley

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Tommaso Mantelli at Lesder Studio in Treviso, Italy.
Bonus track "Last Kind Words" recorded and mixed by Bruno Barcella and Alessio Lonati at Tup Studio, Brescia, Italy.

Elli de Mon: guitars, lapsteel guitar, organ, sitar, dilruba, drums, vox.
Guest: Giusi Pesenti: spoons on Wayward Girl Blues

Cover Photo: Denis Ulliana
Design: Riccardo Bucchioni


NUZZ Prowling WOLF Blogspot 28/05/2021

Elli De Mon is an Italian one women band, Countin' The her sixth album,
and is what it says on the tin, clues are in the title. Ten tracks of music originally performed in the 1920's by the forgotten (unlike their male counterparts) American female blues musicians. Elli De Mon has injected a new garage punkish soul and sleaze into their songs, with guitar, lapsteel, organ, drums and sitar all played by Elli, these are well produced, dirty, simple, solid and sexy songs that storm the gates of hell. A fuckin' amazin' stuff. Fuck Jack White! This is Elli De Mon!

The Rocking Magpie - Americana, Blues, Folk, Alt and Country Reviews from a Bunch of Intrepid Music Lovers 08/07/2021

Diggin' The Dirty on Century Old Blues.

Elli De Mon will be a new name to 99% of the people reading this review; because she's from Italy and even though she has trawled the Blues Clubs and Festival Circuit of mainland Europe for the last ten years or more; but 'boy oh boy' does she have a dose of the Blues!
Many of you will already know my principled theory on the cover artwork on albums by artistes I don't know ........would I pick it up in a Record Shop?
In this case, it's a resounding YES!
Then; does the cover represent the music therein? Hmmmmm ...... mostly yes; but I doubt even 1% of casual purchasers would be disappointed …. although Blues Purists are in for a very bumpy ride.
During a pregnancy a couple of years ago De Mon wrote a book COUNTIN' THE BLUES : INDOMITABLE WOMEN and has now recorded a bunch of songs by these women; the Godmothers of the Blues as we know it today.
As soon as you hear that sparkling Resonator opening to Ma Rainey's Prove It On Me Blues you will know if you are in or out; if you're in .... you are in for a veritable treat.
Although I have the album from the recent Ma Rainey album; it sure don't sound nuthin' like this! To some degree Elli gives this century old song a Bentonia makeover; and now it's one helluva foot-stomper.
While most of the names that originally recorded these songs are known to me; the songs invariably aren't and it has to be said; Elli De Mon's 21st Century reinventions make comparison superfluous anyways.
You get where we're going as early as the second song; Blue Spirit Blues, first sung by Bessie Smith but now a dark and almost Gothic tale that will set your hair standing on end.
As the tempo and intensity picks up what follows will often send dogs scuttling for cover, as Elli turns Dope Head Blues into a Stones style Psychedelic sucker punch to the gut; Alberta Hunter's Downhearted Blues and the infamous Shave Em' Dry are now Punk infused Chicago Blues that conjure up memories of the first time I ever saw the Damned AND The Legendary Shack Shakers ..... Yikes!
Mercifully things slow down a bit on the B-Side of the album (second half of the CD) with Elli, taking a trip down memory lane in Greenwich Village on the winsome Freight Train and When The Levee Breaks; where her slide work is simply exquisite.
It's been fun selecting an actual Favourite Song here; as there is so much to choose from. Although I love the first four of five power-punk Blues tracks; I'm erring towards the simplicity of the latter solo acoustic work; with De Mon's woeful vocals and guitar picking on the charming Trouble In Mind being simply breath-taking at times; but I'm being drawn to the jaunty rendition of Lottie Kimbrough's Wayward Girl Blues as an actual Favourite as it ticks every box I have for Acoustic/Country Blues; great story, singing, guitar playing and in this case; accompanying hand claps.
While there are two very different and distinctive sides to this album; there is so much to enjoy I'm nearly lost for words. On the one hand it's been a great introduction to Elli DeMon; but also it's something of a gateway to the long forgotten talents of women who helped create the Blues we all love and adore 100 or more years after they first wrote and sung these songs ..... and for that alone, I tip my hat to Ms Elli DeMon.

Pennyblackmusic - jULIE cRUICKSHANK 06/2021

Stunning covers album from Italian Elli de Mon, paying tribute to the early female blues singers and songwriters

Elli de Mon, Italian one-woman blues band, has been wowing audiences across Europe for the last few years. She has released six acclaimed albums since 2014, and her latest, 'Countin' the Blues', is a tribute to the often overlooked early female blues artists. Her book, 'Countin' the Blues: Indomitable Women' was published in 2020, and has inspired an album of covers delivered in de Mon's own unique style. Recorded at Lesder Studio in Treviso for Area Pirata Records, the album was engineered by Tommaso Mantelli.

The impressive opener, 'Prove It On Me', is a take on Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey's tale of of a woman who loves women and likes to dress as a man ("They say I do it, ain't nobody caught me/Sure gotta prove it on me/Went out last night with a crowd of my friends/They must've been women 'cos I don't like no men"). De Mon plays a rollicking lapsteel with flair and aplomb. This is followed by 'Blue Spirit Blues', Bessie Smith's dark tale of a dream of the Devil, fuzzy guitar underpinning haunting vocals and creating a fittingly eerie atmosphere.

A song by Alberta Hunter, 'Downhearted Blues', is given the garage band fuzzbox treatment, as is Lucille Bogan's 'Shave 'Em Dry', spikily transformed here into an almost punky number. A further change of mood follows as Victoria Spivey's 'Dope Head Blues' is reworked into a slightly discordant sitar-led Eastern drone.

De Mon surprises again as she transforms Elizabeth Cotten's rather bleak 'Freight Train' into a sweet and sleepy acoustic number, her breathy vocals matching its musical mood. Lottie Kimbrough's 'Wayward Girl Blues' is given similar treatment, before the pace quickens and handclaps beat time to an upbeat finish. Memphis Minnie's 'When the Levee Breaks', made famous by the explosive Led Zeppelin cover, here in de Mon's version conveys a stark brooding sense of urgency. Final track 'Trouble In Mind' by Bertha Chippie Hill is followed by a glorious Raga Bhairavi treatment of Geeshie Wiley's 'Last Kind Words' (this track is only available on the vinyl version of the album).

A wonderful set of songs in a myriad of styles, 'Countin' the Blues' establishes Elli de Mon as a fine interpreter of the blues and a highly accomplished musician.

FATEA RECORDS MAGAZINE (UK) - Mike Davies 16/06/2021

Big in Europe, Italian-born de Mon is a blues guitarist and singer who takes her influences from the early blues tradition filtered through garage punk. During her recent pregnancy, she wrote a book, Countin' The Blues : Indomitable Women, about female blues artists of the 20s such as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, subsequently deciding to extend that into an album, her first for her new label, in tribute to the same, mixing familiar standards with some long lost treasures, playing guitar, lap steel, organ, drums and sitar and arranging the material to suit her own style.

It's a Ma Rainey number that gets the ball rolling, slide guitar laying down the licks for 'Prove It On Me' as the drum thump kicks in, holding the tempo back with a sense of coiled tension before turning to Smith for a breathily-delivered, prowlingly slow burn gospel-infused 'Blue Spirit Blues'.

Some lesser-known names follow, first up being Memphis-born Alberta Hunter, the song chosen being perhaps her best known, 'Downhearted Blues', a co-write with Lovie Austin that went on to be a big hit for Smith. The original is more of a jazz number, but here de Mon cranks up the pace with a rumbling garage bass riff for more of a dirty Cramps/White Stripes feel. One of the first female blues singers to be recorded, Mississippi's Lucille Bogan was ranked alongside Rainey and Smith, her songs being recorded by BB King and Blind Blake. Here she's represented by 'Shave 'Em Dry', one of her vaudeville-like numbers, transformed into a dirty, driving stomp with echoey, mixed back urgent vocals and highlighting her generally sexually explicit lyrics ("I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb, I got somethin' between my legs'll make a dead man come").

Despite having worked with such names Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Clarence Williams, Lonnie Johnson and even Bob Dylan, Texas's Victoria Spivey, sometimes known as Queen Victoria, will be unfamiliar to most, the choice here being her 1927 song with Johnson, 'Dope Head Blues', a lazing narcotic number now revisited as a sitar-coloured psychedelic drone.

It's back to familiar territory with a stripped back acoustic fingerpicked and child-like voiced version of Elizabeth Cotton's 'Freight Train' followed (despite what the sleeve listing says) in similar vein with a frisky reading of Memphis Minnie's 'When The Levee Breaks'.

It ends with two now more obscure names, the first being country blues singer Lottie Kimbrough, again hewing to acoustic slide and fingerpicking for 'Wayward Girl Blues', followed in slow picked acoustic blues mode by 'Trouble In Mind' written by Richard M. Jones and popularised by Bertha 'Chippie' Hill from South Carolina, who recorded it in 1924 with Louis Armstrong on trumpet.

The vinyl version comes with a bonus cut of Geeshie Wiley's 'Last Kind Words', but those confined to CDs and downloads should be more than happy with this outstanding collection.

WHISPERINANDHOOLERIN.COM (UK) - Simon Ovitch 17/06/2021

This is modern Italian blues woman Elli De Mon's seventh album and was recorded as an accompaniment or soundtrack for her book Countin' The Blues Indomitable Women that I'd love to read an English translation of. This album covers some absolute classic blues songs of the 20's, many of them have been covered endlessly over the years and she still manages to bring something to these great old songs, all that was missing for me would be some songs by Sippie Wallace and Wynonie Harris. Elli is a one-woman band and plays everything herself.
The album opens with her version of Ma Rainey's Prove It On Me Blues with great resonating guitar and very blowsy vocals as she starts to stomp along with this good down at heel tale of betrayal.
Bessie Smith's majestic Blue Spirit Blues is a slow spiritual blues howl of pain, that is as influenced by Lydia Lunch singing the blues, as it is by Bessie Smith and would also sound great next to some PJ Harvey, as while it stays true to the original it's a great contemporary almost Cypress Grove style update on it musically.
The version of Alberta Hunter's Downhearted Blues rumbles like a freight train going round a curve while having the intensity of how Guadalupe Plata treats the blues as the howling harmonica scream along with the backing vocals on this is deliciously dark song.
Lucy Bogan's huge hit Shave Em Dry is next, a song that turns up on countless Vintage sex song or female blues compilations, this is a good, distorted update, gone is that hissy warmth of the original and now we have pulsating Rezophonic guitar driving this along like Left Lane Cruiser being fronted by PJ Harvey giving this every bit as much danger as the original had when it came out back in the 20's.
Next up is a take on Victoria Spivey's first million selling single Dope Head Blues that Blind Lemon Jefferson had the first hit version of, although I prefer Victoria's own version of one of the first big hit singles about being strung out on heroin and dope. Elli almost turns this into a Persian Raga blues and takes a song I own dozens of versions of and totally makes it her own in a wonderful way this ought to be another hit version of this timeless song of addiction and despair.
Elizabeth Cotton's Freight Train is a song I really have lost count of the versions I own of it, as dad loved this song so much it has been ingrained in my mind for a good 50 years now. This is played just with an acoustic guitar being carefully plucked with nice whispery vocals that owe as much to Nancy Whisky as to Elizabeth Cotton.
Lottie Kimbrough's Wayward Girl Blues is also played acoustically and takes us down to Louisiana sat on a porch as her pain pours out for all the trouble she's in and has caused.
The Memphis Minnie standard When The Levee Breaks strips the song right back to its roots and has none of the bombast of certain rock takes on this classic as you get to really hear the sad trauma in the lyrics unfold.
Not sure I've ever heard Bertha Chippie Hills original for Trouble In Mind but I do, like most music fans own a good few versions, so this one is a carefully strummed and plucked take on it, that is close to the Geoff Farina/Chris Brokaw version.
Sadly as my review copy is on cd I haven't heard her take on Geeshie Wiley's Last kind Word Blues that is the bonus song on the Vinyl version of the album. Damn I love that song but then I love pretty much all the songs on this very fine album.

Colin MacDonald - Folkal Point 25/08/2021

FEMALE blues singers of 1920s America captivated a contemporary Italian musician to the extent that she whiled away her pregnancy writing a book about them.
Now Elli De Mon's UK album debut, effectively a soundtrack to Countin' The Blues: Indomitable Women, offers her one-woman-band approach (playing guitar, lapsteel, organ, drums and sitar) to ten of the songs she wrote about in tribute to women whose art has now been forgotten by most.
Tracks range from virtual standards like Elizabeth Cotten's Freight Train and Bessie Smith's Blue Spirit Blues to some darker material (most specifically Lucille Bogan's Shave 'Em Dry) that was known in its day as 'dirty blues' - and is too explicit for broadcast even a century down the line.

Others to receive Ms Mon's arresting attention include Bertha 'Chippie' Hill, along with Alberta Hunter, Lottie Kimbrough and Elli's reading in this week's programme of Memphis Minnie's When The Levee Breaks - which has even been covered by Led Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin IV, 1982). (Image of Bertha 'Chippie' Hill - copyright William P Gottlieb)

A later arrival on the scene was jazz and blues singer Louisa Dupont from New Orleans whose partnership, personal and professional with guitarist Danny Barker, created quite a stir.
So too, did their penchant for risqué recordings. By now known as Blue Lu, and backed by Danny's Sextet (I'm not making this up!) their Don't You Feel My Leg (1938) remains among their better-known songs.
Others include Georgia Grind, Look What Baby's Got For You and I Feel Like Layin' In Another Woman's Husband's Arms - which you can hear in this week's programme.
But it was their mainstream recording for Capitol of the syncopated and catchy A Little Bird Told Me with its call-and-response chorus that really clicked with the record-buyers of 1948.

Julie Cruickshank - PENNYBLACK MUSIC 03/08/2021

FEMALE blues singers of 1920s America captivated a contemporary Italian musician to the extent that she whiled away her pregnancy writing a book about them.
Italian blues musician Elli de Mon has released a dazzling new album, covering songs by early female blues artists in her own unique style. She speaks to Pennyblack about learning lapsteel and sitar, punk and garage influences and her experience of playing the blues all over Europe.
Pennyblackmusic: Your new album 'Countin' the Blues' is highly impressive. You have used many instruments, including lap steel and sitar. Could you tell us a little about the lap steel?
Elli de Mon: The first time I met the lap steel it was at a Ben Harper show, in the late '90s. I was a teen and I was really fascinated by the warm sound of this guitar. I was studying classical double-bass at the time so I was already familiar with a fretless instrument and I wanted to try the lap steel but I couldn't find one. I gave up and forgot about it for many years until I found a good luthier living close to my town. He built one for me four years ago and I started writing songs on it. It has a really clear sound and it is great for acoustic stuff, but I use it with a lot of fuzz also. It's great fun!

PB: How long have you been playing the sitar? How does it compare to guitar and lap steel in terms of ease of playing?
EDM: I studied sitar for seven years during my 20s. In my town, Vicenza, there is a great course at the conservatory in Indian music and I attended it for six years. Then I have been to India to my Pandit twice. But it's been a while now - let's say I quit Indian classical music. It is really difficult, especially for a western classical musician like me. If you want to really get into it you have to move to India and study for many hours a day. But that wasn't my path. Maybe in my next life. Sitar is a completely different world compared to guitar. I mean, if you want to play just easy pop tunes it is not so hard to play, but if you want to get into Indian music, well, it's really, really difficult. You need to improve your ears a lot and ragas are a very complex system: fascinating and beautiful, with their own rules.
PB: Do you feel that female blues artists have sometimes been overlooked in retrospect?
EDM: Yes I do. When you read books about blues, female artists are rarely mentioned, except for commercial hits. But they did a lot, especially blueswomen of the 20s. They sang about sex, violence, job rights, religion, racism. A lot of historians of the blues claim that this music is not political at all, but when a woman sings out loud about sex violence and her need to fight for her rights, well... is she not political? Then I discovered really great guitarists, like Elizabeth Cotten and Memphis Minnie. They need to be much better known. PB: Are there any plans for your book 'Countin' the Blues - Indomitable Women' to be made available in an English version? It looks like a fascinating read. EDM: I will think about it. My book talks a lot about Italian music scene compared to what blueswomen sang 100 years ago. That's why I didn't think about an English version of it. But a lot of people are asking for it.
PB: There are a lot of punk/garage credentials too in your sound. How have these genres influenced you in terms of writing and performance?
EDM: A looooot! I grew up with the music of the Stooges, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the White Stripes and many more. I love their sound, especially of the guitar. I always search for great guitar riffs when I write, my music would not exist without them. My performances are full of energy, I am a pretty shy person and I try to hide it when I play - letting the music talk for me.
PB: You have toured all over Europe. In your view are there any particular countries which love the blues more than others, or is it popular all over?
EDM: In France I found a lot of interest in blues music. Even in Belgium and Germany. Italy is still lazy about this kind of music. And I've never been to the UK.
PB: Who are some of your favourite UK musicians and bands?
EDM: Apart from the classics, I would say PJ Harvey, Spiritualized, The Kills, who are half-English, the Smoke Fairies, Heymoonshakers, Arctic Monkeys, Blood Red Shoes, the Jim Jones Revue, and Little Fish.
PB: Do you have any plans to tour in the UK?
EDM: If the [coronavirus] emergency disappears, I would love to!
PB: Thank you.

Bertrand Tappaz - 21/02/2022 - VOIX DE GARAGE GRENOBLE

1ère collaboration entre Elli De Mon et le label italien, ces disques précédents étaient sortis (chronique ici : sur Pitshark Rds. Ce qui pouvait paraître une association surprenante, mais on s'en fichait tellement cet album était formidable !

De même, la retrouver sur Area Pirata peut sembler une idée biscornue. Sauf que les deux protagonistes étant habitués à l'excellence et ont une passion commune pour la musique c'était évident que ça devait matcher !!!!

Moins orienté mysticisme, et plus en plongée dans les racines profondes du Blues (dépouillement, guitare acoustique et forcément un peu de folk) la diva prouve qu'elle est toujours aussi habitée par la musique qu'elle aime.

C'est profond, sombre mais irradiant et puissamment émotionnel !

Elli De Mon ne joue pas un Blues de blanchette, ni un truc de zicos qui empilent les démonstrations vaines, elle fait la musique d'une femme libre !

Elle sait aussi jouer musclé et écrase les reste du fantomatique Jon Spencer quand elle s'y met vraiment !

A chaque fois que je reviens vers cet album je me dis que le package Elli De Mon / Area Pirata c'était finalement une évidence ET un ticket gagnant !

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