Horrified by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, Chicago blues guitarist Dave Specter turned to his guitar and his longtime friend, harmonica great Billy Branch. Specter wrote a tribute to Floyd titled “The Ballad of George Floyd” and Delmark Records is releasing it on 12” vinyl, along with one of the protest songs on Specter’s latest album, “How Low Can One Man Go”. The single is available digitally now, with a special vinyl release later this fall. The songs will appear on one side, and an original etching of Mr. Floyd graces the flip side. Branch sings and plays harp, Specter sings and plays electric guitar, John Kattke plays keyboards, while Danny Shaffer contributes acoustic guitar.
Specter recalls, “I wrote the song a few days after George Floyd was murdered and the lyrics pretty much wrote themselves. Injustice’s toll from an endless cycle of racist violence and police brutality. And it just happened again with Jacob Blake. I was reminded of a tweet from Congressmember Karen Bass, that when mass murderer Dylan Roof killed 9 people in church, the police bought him Burger King. Dylan Roof is white. But George Floyd didn’t die in vain. He helped spark a worldwide movement for justice and change. I am proud to collaborate with the great Chicago bluesman Billy Branch on this tune. We share the same vision and are inspired by the words of John Lewis: ‘If it hadn’t been for music, the civil rights movement would’ve been like a bird without wings.’”
Specter’s recent album Blues From The Inside Out is the most expressive project of Dave Specter’s 35-year career, and it is now a contender for “Album of the Year” at Living Blues Magazines. Featuring his debut as a vocalist, the album is an exciting and timely celebration of blues, soul, jazz, funk and gospel. Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane/ Hot Tuna fame, who also co-wrote one of the album’s 12 original tunes, plays guitar on two original songs.
Specter sings on “How Low Can One Man Go?,” a cold, cutting, call and response John Lee Hooker-inspired rebuke of Donald Trump, the sly boogie of “Asking For a Friend” and the title track, “Blues From The Inside Out.” “The theme is about paying dues and the long journey one takes in playing this music.” Specter said. “Let the blues be your shining light’ Specter sings. “Too many people have this stereotypical vibe about the blues being about down and out sadness”. I want people to realize it can be a positive force. It can channel any form of emotion or expression in your life.”
Specter has released an inspiring new video for his protest song, “March Through the Darkness”. “The song was influenced by Mavis Staples, Chicago’s guiding light of spirit and soul. “What she has sung about over her career is so important, “Specter said. “There’s alot of darkness that we are living through and we’ve got to get through it. It’s not what this country stands for regardless of your political party. I like the idea of going high when they go low, but sometimes when a bully confronts you, you gotta stand up and speak out.”