Danny Rhodes' legacy lives on in new double-disc CD

Thank you, Danny Rhodes.

Thanks for the leftovers.

It turns out that the leftovers from the legendary bluesman's musical treasure chest amount to what would be a gourmet feast for any other musician ... with seconds.

The feast is a double-disc CD simply titled "Danny Rhodes." It's a collection of 28 songs recorded by the Arizona Blues Hall of Famer, both live and in the studio, between 1998 and even during his final months when he was a stage-4 cancer patient.

Rhodes died from stomach cancer May 23, 2008.

A native of Cairo, Ill., Rhodes was a Louisiana-bred bluesman who first began visiting in the Verde Valley in the early 1980s and moved here permanently in 1996. He played for several years regularly at the Blazin' M Ranch and was best known as the front man for the popular band Danny Rhodes and the Messengers. During his career, Rhodes played in all 50 states, Canada, Japan, and Europe with a wide variety of artists, including Charlie Rich, Mel McDaniel, and Brenda Lee. With these artists and with his own bands, Rhodes performed on Austin City Limits, the Grand Ole Opry, HBO, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. In the late 1970s, Danny spent two years in Austin, Texas, and shared bills with Stevie Ray Vaughn and the Neville Brothers. While living in Nashville, he performed with Dicky Betts, Gregg Allman, Rodney Crowell, Gatemouth Brown, and Dash Crofts. He was also a staff writer for Warner/Chappell (Warner Bros. publishing company) and wrote songs for several artists, including Etta James. His song, Get Funky, was the first single from Etta's Stickin' to My Guns album, released on Island Records.

Click "play" to hear Who Done It?

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Rhodes was inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame in May 2006.

The self-titled double-disc of all original music was both a labor of love and an antagonizing process for Rhodes wife, Lisa, and his musician son, Gabriel. "This was hard," explained Lisa. "It was hard for us to go through all his songs and listen to the songs and figure out what Danny would have wanted. Gabriel and I actually had some arguments over which songs to leave off and which songs to include. It was just such an emotional process for all of us."

What's so amazing about this collection is the breadth and depth of Rhodes' musicianship. As expected, it's chockfull of full-throttle rock-fueled blues. But there's also country, even bluegrass-tinged tunes. There are Caribbean-Calypso rhythms and Reggae songs. There are ballads and some of the most tender songs you will ever hear.

It's the latter category that generates what is probably the best song in the collection. My Own Little Son features vocal overdub harmonies by both of Rhodes' sons Gabriel and 7-year-old Aaron. It's likely the sweetest song you will ever hear.

One of Lisa's favorite recordings in the collection is Live Long Day, which Rhodes recorded live at the Page Springs Cellars in 2007.

"Live Long Day is probably not the best as far as vocals," Lisa explained. "Danny was flat on that a lot as he was at stage-4 cancer when it was recorded. But the message of that song is so powerful to me. It's about how all we have is today and you need to live today to its fullest and ask yourself what have I done today to make it worthwhile. I'm sure Danny would hate the vocals, but the musicianship is great and the message is great."

Click "play" to hear Your Own Little Son.

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Lisa said proceeds from the sale of the disc, available online at www.cdbaby.com/cd/rhodes3, will be used for a scholarship fund for aspiring music students in Arizona, Tennessee and Louisiana. "They will be $500 scholarships, three of them a year that I will give out," said Lisa.

The recording features a "Who's Who" of local and national musicians who played with Rhodes over the years. There is the regular lineup of The Messengers: Troy Perkins, Jim Hargis and Eddie Barattini. Other well-known names on the recording include Gerald Johnson of Steve Miller Band-fame, mandolin wizard Aaron Tyler, Zirque Bonner, Danny's brother Robbie, and his son, Gabriel.

The disc was engineered by Gregg Tauriello at Sweet Sixteen Studios, where Rhodes frequently recorded music over the years.

Said Tauriello: "This new CD is very special since these songs were never released on Danny's previous CDs. Danny always recorded an abundance of material so some of the songs go way back. But some of the songs are brand new. Danny was working on a new solo CD in my studio when he was diagnosed with stomach cancer, but that didn't stop him from booking sessions and recording. Even in his illness, Danny's perseverance and passion for music never diminished and that should be an example of how we all should live: do what you love and do it now."

As Danny Rhodes would say, "Well All right."

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