Kenny Wayne Shepherd is ‘Goin’ Home’

Guitar hero revisits his roots to deliver a musical and personal landmark with help from friends Ringo Starr, Keb’ Mo’, Joe Walsh, Warren Haynes, Robert Randoph + more

Hear “Palace of the King” via USA Today:

“This is a homecoming in more ways than one,” Kenny Wayne Shepherd says of ‘Goin Home’, The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band’s May 19, 2014 debut on Concord Records in the US (Mascot Label Group in Europe). “I felt like I was retracing my steps and reliving all the good times that I’ve had in my life because of this music. And hopefully, that amount of happiness comes through on the album.”

Recorded in a mere 11 days, ‘Goin Home’ finds Shepherd revisiting a dozen of the vintage classics by B.B. King, Albert King, Freddie King, Muddy Waters + more that first ignited his love of the blues and inspired him to play guitar. Lending a hand on the project are several talented friends who shared Shepherd’s enthusiasm for this back-to-basics concept: fellow guitar icons Joe Walsh, Warren Haynes, Keb’ Mo’ and Robert Randolph, longtime friend Ringo Starr, Fabulous Thunderbird Kim Wilson, The Rebirth Brass Band, and one of Shepherd’s musical mentors, Pastor Brady Blade Sr. ‘Goin Home’ is Shepherd’s first album to be recorded in Shreveport, Louisiana, across the river from his hometown of Bossier City, where he had come of age musically but never actually recorded, raising the project’s emotional intensity.

Although Shreveport didn’t have a world-class recording studio when Shepherd was growing up, the city is now home to Blade Studios, the celebrated facility run by respected drummer/producer Brady Blade, who’s renowned for his work with Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and Dave Matthews. Shepherd and his crack band–singer Noah Hunt, ex-Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton, former Firm bassist Tony Franklin and keyboardist Riley Osbourn–cut the album on two-inch tape with no studio trickery and minimal overdubbing.

The process of choosing material for ‘Goin Home’ allowed Shepherd to relive some of his earliest musical epiphanies. “I dug through tons and tons of songs and artists’ catalogues, trying to find songs that I thought would be right for this record,” he explains. “That brought back all these distinct memories of sitting in the living room in front of the record player and cassette deck as a kid and learning how to play this material.”

“I feel like I’ve matured a lot as a musician,” Shepherd concludes. “My purpose for making music is the same as it ever was, but I’ve also learned a lot over the years. Less can be more. The great blues musicians who originally moved me didn’t always have to burn up the neck of the guitar by playing a bunch of notes. They knew how to play the right note at the right time, in a way that just pierces you right to your heart. That was an important lesson, and it’s my goal to move people in that same way that my role models moved me.”

Track Listing:
1. Palace Of The King
2. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright
3. I Love The Life I Live
4. The House Is A Rockin’
5. Breaking Up Somebody’s Home
6. You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now
7. You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover
8. Boogie Man
9. Looking Back
10. Cut You Loose
11. Born Under A Bad Sign
12. Still A Fool

For more information, please contact Matt Hanks ( or Chris Taillie ( with Shore Fire Media, 718-522-7171.

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“Landmarks” Debuts as #2

Brain Blade & The Fellowship Band “Landmarks” make record sales in their opening week. Billboard Top Jazz Album Chart: #2 (NE) (behind Michael Buble who has been on chart for 55 weeks) and on
Billboard Top New Artist Chart: #22 (NE)

Four records in 16 years may not be prolific, but clearly Brian Blade and his longstanding Fellowship Band aren’t about quantity. While a seemingly scant two years separated the drummer’s leader debut (and inspiration for the group name), Fellowship (Blue Note, 1998) from its even more impressive follow-up, Perceptual (Blue Note, 2002), the group’s next record, Season of Changes (Verve) came a full eight years later in 2008, and beyond a label change also reflected the trimming down of the Fellowship Band from its original septet to a sextet with the departure of pedal steel virtuoso Dave Easley.

Another six years have passed, but Landmarks represents not only another label change as it returns to Blue Note, but some additional shifting on the personnel front, with the departure of Kurt Rosenwinkel, a key member since Perceptual. These days, more often than not, the Fellowship Band is, in performance, a lean but very potent quintet with five of its seven original members intact; for Landmarks, however, the group enlists guitarist Jeff Parker (making a return after being part of the group that recorded Fellowship) and Marvin Sewell to flesh out seven of the album’s ten tracks.

While the core quintet is absolutely capable of standing on its own—and as a fully acoustic group to boot, as demonstrated in a knock-out performance at the 2012 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival and virtual roof-raiser at Nasjonal Jazzscene Victoria, during the 2011 Oslo International Jazz Festival—there’s no doubt that Parker and Sewell have plenty to offer on a recording that, while retaining some of the fire that’s fundamental to the group’s live sets, clearly treats the studio as a different environment entirely.

For one thing, the brief opener, Cowherd’s minute-long solo improvisation “Down River,” is performed on that unwieldy progressive rock stalwart, the Mellotron; but here, the distinctive warbling sound of fluttering flute tapes only gives it a more strangely haunting quality that’s the perfect setup for the title track, Cowherd’s only other compositional contribution to Landmarks, though his unmistakable piano and pump organ work—as much folk and country simplicity as it is jazz sophistication—is, as ever, a strong definer of the Fellowship Band sound.

“Landmarks” opens with a relatively rare solo from Thomas that, in duet with Cowherd, is the first of many demonstrations from the Fellowship Band members that it’s not about individual instrumental virtuosity, though that’s a fundamental anyway; it’s about surrendering to the needs of the song and, in this case its simply beautiful, singable melody. As Blade enters and Butler and Walden reiterate the theme on soprano saxophone and bass clarinet respectively, the tune unfolds into a soprano solo of similar reverence, as Blade’s light cymbal work is juxtaposed with more powerful runs around the kit, creating the punctuations for which he’s become known, not just in Fellowship, but with Wayne Shorter and Daniel Lanois. Cowherd takes the final solo and it’s a lengthy one but, like the entire album, it tells a story rather than merely demonstrating his intrinsic virtuosity—a mastery required to intuit when to let loose with fireworks and when to keep things spare and simple.

More than merely a reflection of the many physical places this group has traveled in its 16-plus year existence, the album title speaks to inner travels, and a spiritual quality that’s been palpable since the group’s inception, making its name more than just a word. It’s also a reflection of extracurricular activities brought back to the group, whether they’re Walden’s overtly jazz-centric Momentum (Demi Sound, 2009), more reflective In This World (Demi Sound, 2010) and aptly titled Countrified (Demi Sound, 2010); Blade’s exploratory work with Shorter’s Quartet (together almost as long as the Fellowship Band) and similarly searching work, albeit in a more rock-centric context, with Lanois on projects like Black Dub (Jive, 2010); or Cowherd’ s work with everyone from singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash and Canadian bassist Chris Tarry to saxophonist Marcus Strickland and punk idol Iggy Pop. But rather than any of these disparate elements being obvious, they’re subsumed into the unmistakable, singular voice that the Fellowship Band continues to evolve, gig after gig, year after year.

Landmarks feature s a number of brief, sometimes through-composed miniatures that act as thematic threads that join the album together as a conceptual whole. Sewell’s improvised piece of ambient soundscaping on “State Lines,” reflects and sets up the five primary notes of Blade’s “Ark.La.Tex.” which follows, a lengthy exploration that builds slowly, with Butler and Walden (this time on tenor and alto saxophones) creating the thematic unison lines that occasionally, wonderfully, diverge, only to reunite as one. The piece begins to pick up steam, leading to an open middle section where Walden’s prowess is bolstered by the joined-at-the-hip pocket created by Blade and Thomas, only to find its way back to the original theme and, ultimately, the composition’s primary five-note motif, ending, as it began, with Sewell’s ambient landscape, but this time with Cowherd creating a larger sound on pump organ. It’s a marvelous piece of writing that, in its construction, seems to expand and contract as its episodic movements move outwards from its gentler beginnings, only to come full circle by the time it closes, twelve minutes later.

Cowherd’s pump organ acts as the connecting thread from “Ark. La. Tex.” to “Shenandoah,” a lovely traditional tune that The Fellowship Band has explored at length in concert, but here keeps to a script, with Walden and Butler (on bass clarinet and tenor saxophone) delivering the familiar, bittersweet theme rubato, leading to Blade’s solo introduction to “He Died Fighting,” a song that could easily be transported into the singer/songwriter vein of the drummer’s unexpected Mama Rosa (Verve, 2009)—unexpected, because who’d have thought a drummer so capable of incendiary power would also be capable of such profound poetry, delivered with a voice so unassuming, tender and meaningful?

Landmarks’ longest piece, “Farewell Bluebird,” follows the largely through-composed “Friends Call Her Dot,” though Walden’s opening a cappella bass clarinet solo is not unlike Cowherd’s “Down River” in the way that it sets up this ambling, folkloric tune driven by Blade’s gentle but persistently propulsive playing and Parker’s subdued but essential tripling of the melody alongside Butler and Walden. It also seems to set up “Friends Call Her Dot,” which initially revolves around a four-chord motif and some lovely contrapuntal playing from Cowherd and Walden, a thematic duo that soon becomes a trio when Butler enters on soprano. The solo section features Cowherd’s most impressive solo of the set—a lesson in motivic evolution whose end signals a shift in time and a bluesy riff that drives a gritty solo from Sewell that combines outré ideas with frenetic slide guitar, marrying Cowherd’s modal support with the sound and feeling of the Mississippi Delta.

As the Fellowship Band has grown, it has moved away from overt traditional references, even though they’re an undercurrent throughout. Instead, as it explores milestones both inner and outer, Landmarks further speaks with the singular voice that the Fellowship Band has built upon since inception. Blending folkloric references, hints of church and spiritual concerns, jazz modality and countrified touchstones, Landmarks is the perfect name for Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band’s fourth album; beyond its meaning to the group, it truly is yet another landmark recording in the core quintet’s evolutionary travels. It may have come after a long gap in time, but that only makes it a wait all the more worthwhile.

Track Listing: Down River; Landmarks; State Lines; Ark. La. Tex.; Shenandoah; He Died Fighting; Friends Call Her Dot; Farewell Bluebird; Bonnie Be Good; Embers.

Personnel: Brian Blade: drums; Melvin Butler: soprano and tenor saxophones; Jon Cowherd: piano, mellotron, pump organ; Chris Thomas: bass; Myron Walden: alto saxophone; bass clarinet; Jeff Parker: guitar (7, 9); Marvin Sewell: guitar (3, 4, 6, 8, 10).

Record Label: Blue Note Records

Style: Modern Jazz

By JOHN KELMAN, Published: April 9, 2014

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Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band will return to Blue Note Records for the release ofLandmarks, the stunning fourth album from the remarkable collective which is led by acclaimed drummer and composer Brian BladeLandmarks – which is being released in cooperation with the Shreveport, Louisiana based label Mid-City Records – will be given an exclusive early release on vinyl for Record Store Day ahead of its official release on April 29.

Landmarks was co-produced by Brian and his longtime pianist and collaborator Jon Cowherd, who refract their myriad stylistic influences into their own musical poetry, with an ear to the individualistic styles of Myron Walden (alto saxophone, bass clarinet), Melvin Butler (soprano and tenor saxophone) and Chris Thomas (bass). For the recording of Landmarks, Marvin Sewell and Jeff Parker are featured on guitars. Excepting the guitarists, The Fellowship Band has remained a unit since their eponymous 1998 debut and its 2000 follow-up, Perceptual, both on Blue Note. That fact can be heard in the cohesion and exploratory spirit of their collective and individual interpretations, orchestrated and propelled by the leader’s in-the-moment beats and textures.

Seven of the ten compositions from Landmarks were recorded at the recently launched Blade Studios, which was founded by Brian’s older brother, drummer and producer Brady Blade, Shreveport, an inland port city situated 40 miles south of Arkansas, 20 miles east of Texas, and 100 miles north of the Gulf Coast, where the Blade Brothers were born and raised. Its location makes it a sonic catchment basin for numerous musical strains—gospel, blues, folk and various iterations of jazz.

The Fellowship Band recently premiered several of the songs from Landmarks at the famed Village Vanguard in New York City, listen to the NPR Music/WBGO broadcast HERE. Read a Q&A with Brian and Brady from NPR Music’s A Blog Supreme HERE.

“The word ‘landmark’ seemed to have an arrow attached to it,” says Brian. “The idea is that we’re here right now, and we’re passing signs along the way that mark where we are. I like the journey aspect of Landmarks, the trip that the songs seem to comprise. There’s a lot of through-composition, some short, poetic things, then some long, epic landscapes that we travel. I try to write what I have discovered and realized with as much clarity as possible, while thinking of the band. When they play it, all this rhythm, melody and harmony becomes alive, and other ideas reveal themselves.”

Brian – who also leads a singer-songwriter project called Mama Rosa – is as comfortable composing word-songs and propelling and entexturing the flow for masters of that art like Joni Mitchell, Daniel Lanois, Emmylou Harris and Bob Dylan, as personalizing the complex codes of jazz drumming with the likes of Kenny Garrett, Ellis Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Bill Frisell, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and, for the last 13 years, Wayne Shorter’s extraordinary quartet.

“Wayne has been an enormous blessing in my life,” says Blade, who performed on Shorter’s recent Blue Note recording Without A Net and numerous 80th birthday events during 2013. “I’ve learned from him that we start from nothing, what he calls ‘zero gravity,’ and must be faithful to the idea of being fearless, taking a chance together to walk out on the wire.”

That same spirit of risk animates Landmarks. The tracklisting is as follows:

1. Down River (Jon Cowherd)

2. Landmarks (Cowherd)

3. State Lines (Brian Blade/Marvin Sewell)

4. Ark.La.Tex. (Brian Blade)

5. Shenandoah (traditional)

6. He Died Fighting (Blade)

7. Friends Call Her Dot (Blade)

8. Farewell Bluebird (Blade)

9. Bonnie Be Good (Blade)

10. Embers (Blade)


*article courtesy of BlueNote records


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Blade is on Fire with Anna Haas

Fiery redhead Anna Haas excites the senses instantly with a powerhouse voice and arrestingly honest lyrics, enhancing each line with wildly dramatic stage antics and thunderous, intricate piano playing.

A passionate risk-taker, Haas perpetually explores new ways to use the stage to make each show original and captivating, whether by incorporating subtle dance or fearlessly entering the audience. Staggering the thick line of influence of Lady Gaga and Patty Griffin, Haas is careful to keep the focus on the music, using her on-stage antics as an illustrative complement to the songs.

“I love to entertain, and constantly hunger for the opportunity. But, I care most about writing the truth, and creating a pure and honest reflection of what it means to be human from my personal experiences and observations,” says Haas.

Haas grew up in Nashville, writing music regularly and frequenting shows. When then took off to Boston to study acting and dance at Emerson College, she found herself singing in blues clubs, choreographing modern dance, creating installation art, and performing lead roles in musicals such as “Chicago” and “A Chorus Line.”

Following college, Haas danced her way to New York City, drenching herself in the city’s culture and rediscovering her family’s roots. While dedicating time to the performing arts – auditioning for Broadway shows, choreographing musicals and performing in a modern dance company, it wasn’t long before she rediscovered her voice and focused on writing music again. She became a regular at open mic nights, formed a loyal following and began playing in some of the city’s most celebrated clubs.

“I’m in love with both New York and Nashville. The culture of each is a distinct part of me. I don’t want to choose. I want to continue to be inspired by both. Those two cities are my home,” says Haas.
Haas’ debut album Crazy Is is a timeless yet modern tapestry of stories and musings blending lyrical sarcasm, intelligent metaphor and absolute vulnerability. The songs shift in subject matter from a secret affair and tragic loss to getting stoned with a lover and the imagined loneliness of Marilyn Monroe.

Crazy Is is a thrilling mix of the cities and artists that inspire Haas, and her signature, expressive voice is the crux that a legion of instrumentation swarms around: heavy, soulful piano, ripping guitar solos, ambient synthesizers, bluesy pedal steel, funky horns, and a symphony of strings.

Supported primarily by fans through fundraising website, Crazy Is took Haas nearly two years to prepare, record and package. The album was recorded in multiple studios throughout Nashville and New York to create the best sounds for each instrument, using more than 27 of some of the most renowned and Grammy award-winning musicians, who each, stylistically, bring elements of their respective genres to the record, resulting in a wildly original musical creation.

Expect to hear the influences of music’s most distinct artists and Haas’ favorite muses in Crazy Is, from the soulful vocal reflections of Janis Joplin, Adele and Grace Potter and the lyrical wit and catchy piano of Regina Spektor to the angst of Fiona Apple and the passionate, climactic songwriting of Jeff Buckley and Florence Welch.

Haas is a true triple threat, unleashing every aspect of her fire to the public for the very first time to create an explosive experience that is wild, organic and absolutely honest.

Click here to see one of Anna’s videos. (bio and images provided by Anna Haas)

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Tegan & Sara Live!

Tegan and Sara are a Canadian indie rock duo formed in 1995 in Calgary, composed of identical twin sisters Tegan Rain Quin and Sara Keirsten Quin (born September 19, 1980). Both play the guitar and keyboards, and write their songs. They began playing guitar and writing songs at age 15, forming a band called Plunk without a drummer or bass player. In 1997, they used their school’s recording studio to record two demo albums: Who’s in Your Band? and Play Day. In 1998, they won Calgary’s Garage Warz competition, using the studio time they won to record their first professional demo, Yellow tape, which was followed byOrange tape and Red tape.

In 2002, the band released If It Was You, a foundational moment in Tegan and Sara’s creative path and musical identity. Its fresh sonic template and critical success in the US set up their fourth studio album, So Jealous, which ultimately provided their global breakthrough. On the heels of 6 separate song placements on Grey’s Anatomy, a US radio hit in “Walking With A Ghost”, and a North American tour opening for The Killers, So Jealous cemented Tegan and Sara’s status as one of Canada’s pre-eminent songwriting forces and musical exports.

In 2011, Tegan and Sara released GET ALONG a cd/dvd set that includes a live record and collection of 3 films that give a rare and intimate look into their lives and music, and which garnered the group their first Grammy nomination. The first film, ‘States’ uses American touring footage and interviews; the second film, ‘India’ chronicles their first ever tour of India; and the third film, ‘For The Most Part’ is a special 1hr 10min stripped-down studio concert, shot with a live audience of 75 fans, friends and family over two days in Vancouver, Canada. The live record features music recorded during these concerts.

Last night Blade Studios had the honor of having the duo in for a live listener lounge hosted by Bristol from K945. A small intimate setting was arranged for a group of the stations lucky winners. The power duo graced the listeners with four songs, a Q&A section and much comedic relief. Having to hit the road the same night, the duo wouldn’t do so before treating their fans with a photo op and signing a few autographs. What a pleasure and a joy it was to have Tegan & Sara in the studio and we welcome them back any time!

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K94.5 Listener Lounge with Cody Simpson


K94.5 and Blade Studios joined together and hosted a live listener lounge with the young pop sensation Cody Simpson. On last week, Cody graced a few adoring fans with his voice while playing acoustic guitar.

Cody Simpson is an Australian pop singer from Gold Cost, Queensland, who is currently signed to US record label Atlantic Records. Simpson’s rise to recognition was featured on The 7.30 Report in December 2009. He released his debut single, “iYiYi” (which features American rapper Flo Rida), on 15 May 2010. The music video for Simpson’s second single, “Summertime”, was released on 20 September 2010. Simpson relocated to Los Angeles in June 2010 with his family to record his songs with Atlantic Records and his producer Shawn Campbell. That same month, Simpson appeared on Sunrise. On 22 June 2010, it was announced that Simpson would participate in the Camplified 2010 Tour, along with other artists, touring across the United States. The tour began on 5 July 2010 and ended on 14 August 2010. Other tours that year included a middle school tour that took place from October–November 2010 and covered 9 U.S states. An EP4 U was released on 21 December 2010. The EP included five tracks in total, four of them being previously unreleased. Simpson recorded a remake of the song “I Want Candy” by The Strangeloves as the main theme song for the Easter-themed live-action/CGI-animated film Hop. In May 2011, Simpson was “egged” during a live performance at Miranda Fair in Sydney. Simpson told Australian radio show The Kyle & Jackie O Show that he was not in fact hit by the eggs, and that he was upset on behalf of his fans because the remainder of his show was cancelled because of security concerns.

Surfers Paradise is the second studio album released on 16 July 2013 by. The album includes the singles “Pretty Brown Eyes” and “Summertime of Our Lives”. Surfers Paradise picks up where Cody’s previous 2012 debut full-lengthParadise, left off, telling the story of how this talented teenage singer, songwriter, and musician, now 16, traded the sunny shores of his native Queensland, Australia, for the sunny shores of Los Angeles to pursue his dream of being performer.


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Watch Out For Gina Dempsey!!!!

We have said it time and time again that the Shreveport/Bossier area has some of the MOST amazing talent and we have proven it once again by working with the amazing vocalist Gina Dempsey.

Gina began singing country music at an early age on stages like Louisiana Hayride, Billy Bob’s and even showcased on the Grand Ole Opry at the ripe age of 14 and did warm-up acts as either a soloist or part of a group for Ronnie Milsap, George Straight, Tim McGraw, John Anderson, Marshall Tucker Band, John Conlee and many more. Gina has even worked with Harold Shed at Music Mill on a recording project.

At an early age in life Gina decided on a different direction from music. Many years later Gina landed back in church and her passion for music was reignited. For over 20 years now Gina has been apart of the wonderful music team at Shreveport Community Church where she gets to sing praise and worship along side some amazing people and talents like Teddy Grover, their worship leader, Forever Jones, Dez Duron, Willie Jones and many other incredible people.

Currently Gina is working on a project that has been a dream of hers to complete. It’s a country inspirational project which includes a couple of old hymns “revitalized” (as Gina likes to put it) as well as many new inspirational songs that have been thrown in for fun like a blues version of a Patsy Cline song. Gina’s current project is being produced by Jeoff Benward who has also written several songs for the album. Gina even has members of the gospel sensation group Forever Jones, which Jeoff Benward has written for also, blessing her on one of her tracks.

Gina says, “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the entire team at Blade Studios, everyone has been very professional and accommodating and regarding Chris perhaps one of the best engineers I have had the privilege to work along side_ya’ll are a BLESSING!” The Blade staff feels the same regarding Gina and her team. Blade is looking forward to the completion of this album and even more so it’s release!

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#4 on Billboards Top 200

Ace Hood’s Trials & Tribulations lands at #4 on Billboards Top 200 with 32.3k albums sold in the first week and Blade Studios was able to assist in this process.

As mentioned in previous blogs, while in town last month, studio time was booked for Anthony Hamilton to lay the hook on track 7 of the album titled The Come Up. Within a number of hours the hook was complete and Blade gained another credit for the work done.

Trails and Tribulations is the 5th album released by Ace Hood since his career began in early 2007. Be sure to go out and get your copy of Trials & Tribulations or down load it off iTunes.

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Mix Magazine July Issue

Do you have the July 2013 issue of Mix magazine? If not, be sure to go pick you up a copy. Blade Studios’ own chief engineer, Chris Bell, was interviewed for this months issue. Mentioning recent ventures the studio has partaken in along with the many wonderful amenities that makes our studio here in Shreveport/Bossier one of a kind.

Mix magazine is viewed by users in over 225 countries and is the world’s leading magazine for the professional recording and sound production technology industry. Mix covers a wide range of topics including: recording, live sound and production, broadcast production, audio for film and video, and music technology.

To read more from Mix click here.

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Released Today!!!!

Last month while in town for a concert with Mary J. Blige, Anthony Hamilton stopped in the studio to lay down a hook on an Ace Hood track called The Come Up. The album “Trials and Tribulations” has been released today with credit being given to Blade Studios for their participation on that track. Check out the single by clicking on the title. The album can be downloaded on iTunes or purchased at your local record store.

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