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Van Morrison will release his 37th studio album on Sept. 22 in conjunction with a handful of U.S. concert dates this fall, including two shows in Southern California.
The Irish singer-songwriter pays homage to the profound effect American blues music had on forming his own musical vision on “Roll With the Punches,” a 15-track collection blending Morrison originals with songs associated with several of his musical heroes.
Those include Sam Cooke, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bo Diddley, blues-jazz artist Mose Allison, Chicago blues harmonica master Little Walter, Texas guitarist-singer T-Bone Walker, gospel singer-guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Louisiana songwriter Rudy Toombs and jazz musicians Count Basie and Jimmy Rushing.
“From a very early age, I connected with the blues,” the 71-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member said in a statement. “The thing about the blues is you don’t dissect it -- you just do it. I’ve never over-analyzed what I do; I just do it. Music has to be about just doing it and that’s the way the blues works -- it’s an attitude.
“I was lucky to have met people who were the real thing -- people like John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Witherspoon, Bo Diddley, Little Walter and Mose Allison,” he added. “I got to hang out with them and absorb what they did. They were people with no ego whatsoever and they helped me learn a lot.”
The connective thread between those songs and the new material Morrison has written, he said, is that “they’re performance oriented. Each song is like a story and I’m performing that story. That’s been forgotten over years because people over-analyze things. I was a performer before I started writing songs and I’ve always felt like that’s what I do.”
His latest round of U.S. shows opens Sept. 10 with his appearance with Willie Nelson at the Outlaw Music Festival in Hershey, Pa., and brings him back to the Southland for stops Oct. 13-14 at the Show theater at Agua Caliente Resort in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs.