Jimmy Thackery review…October 30, 2014…

JIMMY THACKERY

EXTRA JIMMIES

BLIND PIG CD  BPCD 8014

WRITE IF YOU FIND LOVE–YOU UPSET ME BABY–RUDE MOOD–I GOT TO BE STRONG–LICKIN’ GRAVY–TAKE ME WITH YOU WHEN YOU GO–LOVE TO RIDE–TROUBLE MAN–I WOULDN’T CHANGE A THING–HONEY HUSH–FLYIN’ LOW–EMPTY ARMS MOTEL–MONKEY

We have been fans of Jimmy Thackery since his Seventies days with the Nighthawks, right on thru his illustrious solo career.  Blind Pig has just released “Extra Jimmies,”  thirteen cuts culled largely from 1992-1998, and mostly from out-of-print CD’s.

Over these cuts, Jimmy’s guitar and rough-hewn, soulful vocals lead the way, as we are treated to some of his classics and some choice covers.  The set starts with the ultimate kiss-off song to a lover, “Write If You Find Love,  since runnin’ around is all you think of!”  “You Upset Me Baby” and “Honey Hush” gives Jimmy a chance to rock, while he just plain lets hs guitar do the talkin’ on the classic instrumental, “Rude Mood.”

Jimmy shows us some cool New Orleans flavor on a couple of cuts, too.  “I Got To Be Strong” and “Take Me With You When You Go” both explore that second-line pattern, the latter featuring Chubby Carrier on squeezebox.

We had two favorites, both at opposite ends of the blues spectrum.  The deep, rich, slow blues of “You got me Lickin’ Gravy, baby, because your meat is too high to buy!”  shows Jimmy at his most powerful.  And, the set closes with “Monkey,” an all-out rocker that tells the tale of an “evil-hearted woman” who’s only out for herself!  Jimmy rips off one scalding solo after another on this one, and has a tremendous amount of fun!

Jimmy Thackery has been a major player on the contemporary scene for some forty years, and just keeps on rockin. “Extra Jimmies”  is an excellent overview of some of his best works!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Golden Novak Band review…October 29, 2014…

GOLDEN NOVAK BAND

GOLDEN NOVAK BAND

SELF-RELEASED

LET IT SHINE–RAT A TAT–CHASING–THE PHONE–HANDS ON–NEW SONG–GOOD ENOUGH

The Golden Novak Band hail from the Syracuse, NY, area, with their core formed by guitarist/vocalist Brian Golden, vocalist/fiddle player extraordinaire Jess Novak, and keyboard man Mark Nanni.  Their seven-song, self-titled EP brings together several musical styles, and shows off the band’s versatility and eclecticism.

The set starts with Brian’s wah-wah working overtime as he and Jess portray misguided lovers in “Let It Shine,” a Hendrix-inspired rocker.  Jess takes lead vocal  in her ode to the power of true love, the kind that makes your heart go “Rat A Tat Tat when you kiss me like that!”  “Chasing” reminded us of a Fifties-styled ballad, with tight harmonies and excellent fiddle work from Jess.  “The Phone” has more fiddle from Jess, while Brian’s guitar takes on a flamenco feel, in tribute to Santana and the grooves of the Sixties.  The set closes with Jess on lead vocal on an all-out rocker, as she wonders why she’s “not good enough to be your girl.”

Hands down, tho, our favorite was a tremendous homage to James Brown, entitled “Hands On!”  Jess fires up the funk on all 8 cylinders, while the band’s groove is cooking with nothin’ but hi-test!

The Golden Novak Band brings a varied, blues-based sound to the table that incorporates several styles, and they do ‘em all justice.  The only thing this one needed was to be longer!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Eric Johnson and Mike Stern review…October 27, 2014…

ERIC JOHNSON AND MIKE STERN

ECLECTIC

HEADS UP RECORDS  HUI 35768-02

ROLL WITH IT–REMEMBER–BENNY MAN’S BLUES–WISHING WELL–BIGFOOT–TIDAL–YOU NEVER KNOW–DRY ICE–SOMETIMES–HULLABALOO–WHEREVER YOU GO–RED HOUSE

The seeds for this album were sown when these two guitar giants played a show together at the Blue Note in New York in August, 2013.  The ease with which their styles blended and meshed opened the door for this fantastic collaboration, entitled “Eclectic,’ to come to fruition.

Eric Johnson has been on the contemporary blues scene for nearly thirty years.  (We were fortunate to see him open for B. B. King back in 1993, and he was an amazing talent then.)  He’s won a Grammy for his instrumental, “Cliffs Of Dover” in 1990, and has ten albums released as a bandleader to date.

Mike Stern, himself Grammy-nominated six times, blends rock firepower with melodic jazz harmonies.  The two of them together have made a fantastic album, with neither man getting in the way of the other, just letting their natural, creative juices flow.

The journey takes flight with the blues grooves of “Roll With It,” with lead vocal from Austin soul man Malford Milligan.  “Benny Man Swing” has both players having a lot of fun, in tribute to Benny Goodman and Charlie Christian.  Christopher Cross takes backing vocals at the bridge of Mike’s wistful “Wishing Well,” as Mike sings the verses.

Both men show off sme serious chops on “Tidal,” Eric’s homage to one of his heroes, Wes Montgomery.  Mike does the same thing with “Remember,” patterned after John Coltrane’s “Impressions.”  And, “Hullabaloo” features the pair’s sizzling fretwork over a punchy horn section.

Our favorite was the bluesiest cut on the set.  Eric and Mike swap vocal verses on “Red House,”  with Guy Forsyth on harp, which had only one flaw—it was TOO SHORT!

Yes, “Eclectic” will be a good term to describe this scintillating set from Eric Johnson and Mike Stern.  One can also use “fiery,” Brilliant,” and, even “jaw-dropping,” as this is a guitar lover’s dream come true!!   Until next tme…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Billy Boy Arnold review…October 26, 2014…

BILLY BOY ARNOLD

THE BLUES SOUL OF BILLY BOY ARNOLD

STONY PLAIN CD  SPCD 1378

COAL MAN–I’D RATHER DRINK MUDDY WATER–YOU GAVE ME NOTHING TO GO ON–99 LBS–A MOTHER’S PRAYER–ST. JAMES INFIRMARY–DON’T SET ME FREE–WHAT’S ON THE MENU, MAMA–WORRIED DREAM–NADINE (IS IT YOU)–WORK SONG–DANCE FOR ME BABY–AIN’T THAT JUST LIKE A WOMAN–KEEP ON RUBBING

The name Billy Boy Arnold has been synonymous with the finest in blues harp for more than fifty years.  His sides for Chicago’s Vee-Jay label are classics, and his latest CD for Stony Plain, “The Blues Soul Of Billy Boy Arnold,” pairs him with guitarist and producer Duke Robillard, as well  as an All-Star backing band that includes the Roomful Of Blues horns.

This set includes some Billy Boy originals, some classics, and some of Billy’s favorites.  He starts off with the soul-blues infusion of Mack Rice’s “Coal Man,” and keeps that groove going with the rat-a-tat beat of “You Give Me Nothing To Go On.”

Billy’s originals capture the spirit and passion of his classic sides, especially the chugging “Dance For Me Baby,” and the full-on Chicago blues sound of “What’s On The Menu, Mama.”  This one features excellent acoustic piano from Bruce Bears, and an extended solo from the Duke.  And, the set closes with Billy’s good-time, double-entendre’-filled “Keep On Rubbing.”

Billy taps into some jazzy roots on a couple of cuts, too.  “Work Song” recounts the tale of  “breaking up the rocks out here on the chain gang,” while “Don’t Set Me Free” has a Ray Charles-ish feel, set over a cha-cha beat.

We had three favorites, too.  Duke Robillard has a good time on guitar on “Nadine (Is It You).  And, the whole band has a swingin’ good time on two classics, “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water,” and “Ain’t That Just Like A Woman.”

Billy Boy Arnold has long wanted to record an album of his favorites that crossed several genres’.  With the help of Duke Robillard and the rest of the incredible band, “The Blues Soul Of Billy Boy Arnold” has come to fruition!  Until next time..Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Howard Glazer review…October 25, 2014…

HOWARD GLAZER

LOOKING IN THE MIRROR

LAZY BROTHERS RECORDS  LAZ 13002

MIDNIGHT POSTMAN–BROKEN DOWN HOTEL BLUES–TAKE ME BABY–ALL I EVER WANTED–WALKING IN DETROIT–EVICTION BLUES–FEELING SO BAD–LOOKING IN THE MIRROR–WANDERING TRAILS–PUSHING THE LIMITS–MISUNDERSTOOD THE DEVIL–EMERGENCY

Blues-rock guitar man and native Detroiter Howard Glazer is back with a strong follow-up to his 2013 set, “Stepchild Of The Blues.”  This set, entitled “Looking In The Mirror,” is indeed a reflection of Howard’s playing and the many styles he presents over the course of the twelve originals presented herein.

There is straight blues, blues-rock, deep-Delta blues, and a few touches of psychedelia, and everything is punctuated throughout by Howard’s fire-and-brimstone fretwork.

The set kicks off with the late-night tale of that “Midnight Postman,” who will “lick your stamps and service all your postal needs!”  This one has some catchy call-and-response between Howard and B-3 man Larry Marek.  There’s nothing like a “forty-cent bottle of wine to drink away my blues”  down at the “Jack Daniels Pillbox Broken Down Hotel Blues,” and this one features a cool tremolo guitar solo.  “Take Me Baby” has Howard burning up the frets in a sweet duet with Maggie McCabe.

“Walking In Detroit” has Howard and Maggie trading vocal lines as they name-check several well-known landmarks.  David Kocbus also breaks off a hot trumpet solo!  The title cut is Howard’s tribute to the British Invasion blues bands of the Sixties, while he dabbles a bit himself in a touch of psychedelia with the closing cut, a look at the sorry state of 2014 Detroit, (and, one might say the rest of the nation as well), “Emergency.”  Howard’s wah-wah is working overtime, and Tom Schmaltz adds some timely flute, as the groove of this one is as foreboding as you might think for a song of this nature.

We had several favorites, too.  Another side effect of the sorry economy plays out in Howard’s deep, slow-blues groove of “Eviction Blues,” again with excellent guitar and organ interplay.  Howard’s Delta roots proudly show in tribute to Johnny Winter, with  “Feeling So Bad,” and again on a swampy visit to those mythical Crossroads, “Misunderstood The Devil,” complete with some cool backwards guitar!  And, our hands-down favorite of all is a Berry-fied rocker entitled “Pushing The Limits,” and you can almost taste those “fryers, broilers, and Detroit barbecue ribs!”

Howard Glazer’s albums are always fun affairs, and “Looking In The Mirror” is no different.  He shows not only his immense playing, writing and vocal talents, but gives us a glimpse into the myriad of styles he brings to the table!  Until next time..Sheryl and Don Crow.

Farmer Jason review…October 23, 2014…

CHRISTMAS ON THE FARM WITH..

FARMER JASON

COURAGEOUS CHICKEN ENTERTAINMENT CCE CD 015

CHRISTMAS ON THE FARM–SANTA DROVE A BIG JOHN DEERE–UP ON THE HOSETOP–ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A PUNK ROCK SKUNK–HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING–CHRISTMAS RIDDLE–THE ANIMALS SANG–RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER–AWAY IN A MANGER–EAT YOUR FRUITCAKE–JINGLE BELLS–WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS

For those who may not be familiar, legendary frontman for Jason and the Scorchers and an artist who has garnered the nickname “The Godfather Of Americana,” Jason Ringenberg has a cool alter-ego who makes music for children.  Inspired by his own children plus the fact that he himself grew up on a farm has led to Farmer Jason releasing three albums for children, and led to an Emmy-winning PBS program.  He has long wanted to release a Christmas album, and that idea has come to fruition.  “Christmas On The Farm” is an even split of yuletide classics and Jason’s own holiday-themed originals.  Joining Jason on this set are some of Music City’s most talented sidemen, including Dave Roe, Peter Cooper, Kristi Rose, Fats Kaplin, and the inimitable “Last of the Full-Grown Men,” Webb Wilder.

The set kicks off with the rockin’ title cut, which also features Justin Moses on banjo and fiddle.  Jason reminds us that sometimes, Santa gave the reindeer a rest, instead opting for “A Big John Deere.”

Jason slyly and subtly conveys a message to the younger listeners to get them to realize the importance of the farm animals, who were all around the manger where Jesus was born.  This is evidenced in “The Animals Sang,” with the farm transforming into “a holy place.”

As for the classics, we were partial to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” performed by Jason, Dave Roe, Molly Felder and Kelli Workman, done acoustically, around Kelli’s piano.  And, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” features a Figgy Pudding poem by Webb Wilder!

The originals are just as much fun, too.  We enjoyed Jason and Peter Cooper’s horn-heavy “All I Want For Christmas (Is A Punk Rock Skunk).”  And, Jason reminds us all to “Eat Your Fruitcake and save a landfill!”

Farmer Jason has crafted a fine holiday  set that will appeal to the young and young at heart.  “Christmas On The Farm” is a ton of fun, and teaches the young’uns how farm and family tie into the traditions of Christmas.  Eat your fruitcake, already, ok!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Rory Block review…October 22, 2014….

RORY BLOCK

HARD LUCK CHILD

A TRIBUTE TO SKIP JAMES

STONY PLAIN RECORDS  SPCD 1373

NEHEMIAH JAMES–SPECIAL RIDER BLUES–CYPRESS GROVE BLUES–IF YOU HAVEN’T ANY HAY, GET ON DOWN THE ROAD–LITTLE COW AND CALF IS GONNA DIE BLUES–DEVIL GOT MY WOMAN–JESUS IS A MIGHTY GOOD LEADER–HARD TIME KILLING FLOOR BLUES–I’M SO GLAD–HARD LUCK CHILD

Rory Block is not only one of the most talented blueswomen on the planet, but she shares a connection no one else can lay claim to.  As a young girl eager to absorb everything she could about blues guitar, she had the good fortune to mentor with some of the Delta masters.  Her latest installment of this series is dedicated to Skip James, and is entitled “Hard Luck Child.”

Over the course of these ten songs, Rory gives us a glimpse thru her own stylings of the incredible talents of James.  She leads off with an original composition, “Nehemiah James,” which serves as a mythical biography of sorts, showing how, back in James’ day, the lines between life and death and blues and gospel were blurred, to say the least.  Rory sings that a young “Nehemiah Curtis James” was called upon by the Holy Spirit to “preach the blues.”

Rory’s take on “Cypress Grove Blues” shows the melancholy side of James’ personality, which appeared in varying degrees on many of his songs.  Lyrics such as “I’d rather be six feet in my grave” and “you gotta reap what you sow” show his predilection for the stark differences between life and death.  Then, with a cut such as “Little Cow And Calf Is Gonna Die Blues,” he deals with the same subject, yet this one follows a livelier, jazzy progression, further attesting James’ talents.

James always kept an ear to his gospel roots, and Rory shows this side of him thru “Jesus Is A Mighty Good Leader” and “I’m So Glad,” layering her guitar and vocal parts to give these a full band sound.

Our favorite was easy.  Skip James was as expressive on piano as he was on guitar.  Rory’s expertise allowed her to play Skip’s piano leads on her guitar.  As such, “If You Haven’t Any Hay, Get On Down The Road” turns into a good-natured, jazzy affair punctuated by Rory’s playful yelps, scat-singing, and deft slide runs.

Rory Block continues to solidify her place in the blues pantheon as she brings a brilliant tribute to Skip James, “Hard Luck Child.”  She faithfully captures his ebullient and eclectic spirit thru the eyes and ears of a woman fortunate enough to have known and mentored with him!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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