Val Starr & The Blues Rocket
|Sacramento blues woman, Val Starr, describes her music as “songs written about love and loss, breaking free of bad relationships, and learning to live with the good ones.” All that, and more, can be found on the 12 tracks of her fourth album of all original material “I Always Turn The Blues On.” Starr is backed by the veteran trio The Blues Rocket, which includes her partner in crime, John Ellis on bass, Frankie Soul on lead guitar, and Paul Farman on drums.
The tunes run the gamut from traditional blues shuffles to bold blues ballads. Kicking off the album is a girl-power call out, ‘High Time To Go,’ followed by the easy swing of the title track featuring Todd Morgan of Todd Morgan & The Emblems on keys, while Starr spells out her love of the blues. A bumping groove underpins the life lesson ‘What Happens After Midnight (Nothin’ Good)’ that Starr wrote for her teenage sons. Bay Area guitar slinger Daniel Castro adds gritty lead guitar to the powerful anthem to social consciousness ‘Whether Blues’ and some fine pickin’ to the country ballad ‘Please Don’t Go Away Mad.’ Tim Barron joins in on harmonica for the bump and grinder ‘Bad Luck & the Blues.’ The Rockets show they know how to play authentic Chicago blues on the hot shuffle ‘Out With The Old’ and a touch of Memphis soul on the saucy number ‘The Baby Mama Song.’ Steve ‘Beer Dawg’ Wall adds angular lead guitar to the tale of a women scorned ‘Blind Eye.’ Starr shows off all her feminine wiles during the jazzy slow blues ‘Bye Bye’ and then closes out the set with a rambling blues tune about life’s up and downs ‘It’s Always Something.’
“I Always Turn The Blues On” from Val Starr & The Blues Rocket gives proof to her stature as an acclaimed female blues singer/songwriter and prominent figure in the Northern California blues scene.
Rick J Bowen
Val Starr has experienced a lifetime of music both as a performer and music industry executive. Raised in southern California, Val started singing and playing guitar at age 12. Her earliest musical influences were female singer/songwriters, such as Carole King and Joni Mitchell, and bands of the 60’s and 70’s. Her mother also instilled in her a love of musical comedy, which is apparent in the theatrical way she delivers her songs live, her catchy lyrics, and her amusing storytelling.
Her music business career began in the late 70’s working for record labels, ABC, Chrysalis and Polygram as an executive assistant. In the early 80’s her focus shifted to radio promotion and from then on into the late 90’s, Val had a successful career as an independent radio promoter. Val worked in the music industry by day, and at night, played the L.A. club scene, in original rock bands “Local Authority” and “Threshold.”
In 1983, Val married bassist, John Ellis, who remains the cornerstone of her band to this day. At the end of the eighties, the family, which now included son James (and later son Sean), relocated to the Bay area. For the next twenty years John and Val continued to write, record and perform with local bands in San Francisco.
At the start of the new millennium, streaming audio caught her eye. She had witnessed firsthand as an indie radio promoter how hard it was to get records added to the limited airplay slots available at terrestrial radio. As a result, she started one of the first streaming audio networks, Allradio.com, and went on to launch Choiceradio.com and Gotradio.com. GotRadio continues to be a popular global radio network and along with its 38 custom channels, features a 24/7 blues station called Bit O Blues.
In 2003, Val and her family moved to Sacramento and continued playing in local cover bands. Around 2010, tired of the cover band/club scene, Val and John started showing up at local blues jams in the area, where she found the talent to form her first blues band. “I found the blues and with it I discovered my voice,” says Val. “I had been singing covers for so long, imitating other singers, I forgot what my own voice sounded like. I may not have the ‘typical female blues whiskey voice’, but I know that I was always meant to sing and play the blues.”
Val Starr & The Blues Rocket released their debut album, “Cool Ride,” in 2012 to favorable reviews. Two years later, “Blues Away,” their sophomore recording, was well received at blues radio and went to #4 on the Airplay Direct Global Blues chart. In addition, Val had a #1 Airplay Direct holiday hit with ‘Spending Christmas With The Blues’ in December of 2015. The band’s 2016 release, “Woman On A Mission,” received solid radio support, holding the #1 spot on the Airplay Direct Global Radio Blues Charts for 5 straight weeks in March 2016. The band also debuted on the Roots Music Report blues charts at #39. Their radio success can be attributed to their talent, hard work and music business background.
For the past 4 years, John and Val have been actively bringing blues acts to Sacramento by way of their own summer concert series, Blues On The Patio. BOTP, along with other blues festivals such as the Blues & Bones Festival, Vacaville Blues Festival, El Dorado Hills Art & Wine Festival, Folsom Rhythm & Brews and Orangevale Pow-Wow-Days, have provided the Blues Rocket with the opportunity to share the stage with top blues artists such as Tommy Castro, Coco Montoya, Rick Estrin, Chris Cain, E.G. Kight, Dennis Jones, Laurie Morvan, E.C. Scott, Albert Cummings and more. The band was also a finalist in the 2012 Sacramento International Blues Competition.
I ALWAYS TURN THE BLUES ON
SANDWICH FACTORY RECORDS
AUGUST 1, 2017