Mississippi Heat review…September 28, 2014…

MISSISSIPPI HEAT

WARNING SHOT

DELMARK RECORDS  DE 839

SWEET POISON–ALLEY CAT BOOGIE–COME TO MAMA–I DON’T KNOW–YEAH NOW BABY–BIRTHDAY SONG–NOWHERE TO GO—WARNING SHOT–SWINGY DINGY BABY–TOO SAD TO WIPE MY TEARS–RECESSION BLUES–EVAPORATED BLUES–YOUR CHEATIN HEART–A PART OF SOMETHING SPECIAL–WHAT CHA SAY–WORKING MAN

For their latest album, Mississippi Heat made a few changes over the course of the set.  Rest assured, these changes are all for the better, and gives this band more of an ensenble or old-school revue feel.  The album is entitled “Warning Shot,” and features sixteen songs, with fourteen of them new originals.

Pierre LaCocque remains the leader, with his harp playing, which was inspired after seeing  Big Walter when he was younger, carrying the day.  Inetta Visor’s big voice shines throughout, but some of the backing players are different.  Guitar duties are shared by Giles Corey and Carl Weathersby, (Carl on two cuts) while Michael Dotson adds guitar throughout, and takes lead vocals on three cuts.  The mighty Sax Gordon adds an extra dimension to the band’s overall sound, either playing or arranging horns on eight cuts.  The incredible professionalism of Pierre and Gordon is such that the melding of the harp and horns is seamless, and fits the band’s overall sound very well.

You can’t resist the swing of the opening cut, with Inetta calling out a no-good womanizer, comparing his love to “Sweet Poison.”  “Alley Cat Boogie” rocks with a steady roll, and Pierre and Sax work together perfectly here.  “I Don’t Know” finds Inetta on the fence about giving away her heart to a mysterious lover in this minor-key, jazz-tinged cut.

Michael Dotson takes vocals on three traditional-sounding cuts—the driving, freight-train choogle of “Yeah Now Baby,” and the rockabilly hi-test of “Swingy Dingy Baby,” with Pierre blowin’ the reeds out of his harp on these.  Michael’s other lead vocal is a foreboding, throbbing deep-Delta blues entitled “Evaporation Blues,’ and has a good ole Muddy vibe running thru it.

Pierre is not afraid to experiment with different sounds and rhythm patterns, either, as is evidenced by the Latin feel of “Come To Mama” and “Recession Blues,” while the fellows work out over a funky groove behind Inetta’s vocal on “A Part Of Something Special.”

We had two favorites.  The title cut again finds Inetta with “angry thoughts in my head” over a cheatin’ lover. who’s gonna get “one Warning Shot before I come for you!”  And, Pierre’s harp is mighty sweet and mellow blowing in tandem with the horns on one of the swinginest versions of Hank Sr.’s “Your Cheatin Heart” that you’re likely to hear!

Pierre LaCocque and Mississippi Heat have taken thee big-band concept and turned it into a full-fledged family of musicians all with the same mission–to bring us the best in blues!  “Warning Shot” definitely has award potential, and here’s wishing them all good luck along the blues highway!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Iko Iko review…September 24, 2014…

IKO IKO

BULLETS IN THE BONFIRE, VOL. 1

THE SONGS OF GRAHAM WOOD DROUT

LITTLE SILVER RECORDS

PARTY CAR–(I NEVER HAD AN) AMERICAN DREAM–CELEBRATION–DON’T MESS WITH THE VOODOO (LIVE)–MILLER’S WOODS–LATE HOURS (INST)–PET DE KAT–SNOWSTORM IN THE JUNGLE–TOO HIGH TO DRIVE–JALAPENO BE THY NAME–WALK WITH THE ZOMBIE–RIDING ON THE RIMS–MOTHERLESS CHILDREN (LIVE)–GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI (WITH ALBERT CASTIGLIA)–THE DAY THE OLD MAN DIED (WITH ALBERT CASTIGLIA)

Iko Iko, led by Graham Wood Drout, are truly a Florida legend.  They held court at the Miami blues venue “Tobacco Road” for thirty years, and, when Jimmy Buffett needed a band for his musical, Don’t Stop The Carnival,” these guys were his choice.  They began their recording career back in 1988 on the King Snake label with “Snowstorm In The Jungle,” and their current CD, “Bullets In The Bonfire, Vol. 1,” is a career retrospective that covers their works for King Snake and Little Silver Records.

Early on in their career, Graham’s songs had a bit of a harder edge, as evidenced by the aforementioned “Snowstorm In The Jungle,” but the seeds were sown for the “urban swamp music” that would come to define the music of this highly-eclectic band.  As the band grew in popularity, Graham began to write material that encouraged folks to get up and dance, and there are plenty of those in this collection.  Songs such as “Pet De Kat,” “Party Car,’ and a cool coming-of-age song about shooting bottle rockets and smoking marijuana down on the Gulf Coast, “I Never Had An American Dream,” are guaranteed to get you in the mood for Mardi Gras.

“Miller’s Woods,” and “Walk With The Zombie” explore Graham’s penchant for songs that deal with the hoodoo and voodoo  of that part of the country, the latter featuring an excellent solo from guitar man Larry Williams. Graham also does a deep-blues version of “Motherless Children,” with his vocal set over a sparse arrangement, also adding to its swampy, eerie feel.

We had several favorites, too.  “Jalapeno Be Thy Name” is a spicy splash of zydeco that pays tribute to everybody’s favorite pepper!  And, Bob Hemphill’ss harp and Nick Kane’s guitar lead the way on a brilliant ode to the classic instrumentals of Little Walter, “Late Hours.”

Graham has had a long and successful collaboration with fellow Florida bluesman Albert Castiglia, who appears on two cuts.  “The Ghosts Of Mississippi meet the gods of Africa, down where the Southern cross the ‘Dog” in this fine acoustic history lesson.  And Graham joins the whole band behind Albert to close out the party with “The Day The Old Man Died.”

Graham Wood Drout writes songs that not only will put you in a “party car” mood, but they also capture the feel of life down along the Gulf, and how that gumbo of blues, swamp, soul and rock and roll makes everyone who’s a fan enjoy the whole experience at a more relaxed pace.  “Bullets In The Bonfire, Vol. 1,” is a great introduction to this classic songwriter!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

The Duke Robillard Band review…September 21, 2014

THE DUKE ROBLLARD BAND

CALLING ALL BLUES!

STONY PLAIN RECORDS  SPCD  1374

DOWN IN MEXICO–I’M GONNA QUIT MY BABY–SVENGALI–BLUES BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY–EMPHASIS ON MEMPHIS–CONFUSION BLUES–MOTOR TROUBLE–NASTY GUITAR–TEMPTATION–SHE’S SO FINE

For his latest album, Duke Robillard wanted to touch on the many facets of American music that is based on the blues.  And, as you listen to the original music that comprises “Calling All Blues,” you will swear that you’ve heard them somewhere before, as Duke is such a master of blending his style of music within various genres’.

There are two covers, and they are great ones, too.  The set closes on a swinging note with Duke’s read of a Carter Brothers chestnut,  “She’s So Fine, ” which serves as an excellent workout for the horn section.  The other cover is one of our favorites, and a real highlight of the album. “Emphasis On Memphis, ” written by Gary Nicholson and Ron Sexsmith, has a Stax/Hi vibe with the horn section, and name-checks everyone from Presley to Pickett that had a hand in the Bluff City’s contribution to “sweet southern soul.”  Another cool thing about this song is that everybody in the band is on the background chorus of this one,  a first for the Duke Robillard Band.

A couple more of the band members get a shot at lead vocals, too.  Sunny Crownover has “Blues Beyond The Call Of Duty, bad luck and trouble I never knew,” singing this minor-key slow blues over Duke’s call-and-response licks.  And, keyboard man Bruce Bears gets the vocal nod on the stop-time, jazzy Mose Allison-ish “Confusion Blues.”  Duke rides a one-chord boogie with echo-effect vocals on “Motor Trouble,” and shows us how to liven up a crowd by firing off a few licks of “Nasty Guitar” to get everyone’s attention.  His closing solo here reminds us of vintage Duke from the days when Roomful Of Blues was young.

We had two other favorites, too.  “I’m Gonna Quit My Baby” was cut when Duke was recovering from a broken hand.  Thus, his slide solo is done with the two middle fingers taped together!  “Svengali” is perhaps the set’s quirkiest tune.  Duke’s multiple guitar attack captures the feel of “Vicksburg Blues,” and Mark  Teixeira’s percussion is unusual as well– to get a “pots and pans” effect, the fellows put two full bottles of wine to good use on this one!

Duke Robillard continues to be one of the true links to the great artists and styles of the past who can give those sounds a fresh, contemporary feel.  “Calling All Blues” has some of his most insightful lyrics and spirited playing, and is a must for all blues fans.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, the Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

 

Liz Mandeville Review…September 20, 2014.

LIS MANDEVILLE

HEART ‘O’ CHICAGO

BLUE KITTY MUSIC BKM-0013

CLOUD OF LOVE–THESE BLUES–DON’T DOUBT MY LOVE–SO CALLED BEST FRIEND–QUIT ME ON A VOICE MAIL–PARTY AT THE END OF TIME–SILVER LINING–TIC TOK–WHY WOULD A WOMAN SING THE BLUES–SMART WOMAN FOOLISH CHOICES–(LIFE IS LIKE A) WAVE

For her last album, Liz Mandeville ventured to the heart of the Delta to observe and absorb all the histories and mysteries of that part of the South where the blues came to life to create “Clarksdale.”  Her latest album is a natural progression of sorts.  For the many blacks who migrated north to cities such as Chicago after WWII to seek employment, the clubs in that city offered them an opportunity to play the blues.  Liz moved to Chicago in 1979 to study theater,  but her musical genes took over, and she has been associated with that blues mecca for four decades now.  That brings us to “Heart “O” Chicago”, eleven original cuts that showcases Liz ‘s sassy vocals and smooth guitars, and features special guests such as Eddie Shaw on sax, Charlie Love on vocals, and harp from Dizzy Bolinski and the legendary Billy Branch.

That soulful strut in her vocals kicks things off with “Cloud O’ Love”, simply brimming with the energy that Liz brings to all her works, this one featuring Eddie Shaw on sax as well as excellent B-3 work from Joan Gand.  A funky backbeat rides Liz’s vocals as she calls out a cheatin’ lover, doing the deed with “My So-Called Best Friend.”  Billy Branch adds the harp on this classic slice of down-home blues.  Liz’s ode to trying to give up smoking has a gospel feel, as we learn that “Every silver lining has got a black cloud.”  Charlie Love adds duet vocals on the swinging “Smart Woman, Foolish Choices,” because “at work she gets respect, but when it comes to romance this woman is a wreck.”  The set closes with a loping, Jimmy Reed-ish rocker, “Life Is Like A Wave,” and be careful not to get caught up, or “it might be the end of you.”  The harp is courtesy of Dizzy Bolinski.

We had three favorites, too.  Liz urges everyone to lay your troubles down and “sing like a crazy monkey on a Party At The End Of Time.”  Billy is back on the harp on this one.  Liz took a lot of flack early in her career from folks who called her out for singing the blues.  She gets the last word in this stinging funk blast, “Why Would A Woman Sing The Blues.”  She tells it like it is, but, sadly, not a whole lot has changed, because “I’ve been around since day one and I’m still paying my dues.”  Her scathing, extra-verse solo lets everyone know her feelings on this issue.  And, in a bittersweet look at the problems with social media today, Liz’s ex-lover breaks things off with the unkindest cut of all, when “He Quit Me On A Voice Mail” instead of face-to-face.  This one is done up as a classic soul number, with more sax from Eddie Shaw.

Liz Mandeville is so synonymous with the city of Chicago, she was named to their Blues Hall of Fame in 2013.  She has returned that favor with this outstanding set of originals that puts her squarely in the “Heart “O” Chicago.”  Until next time, Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

 

The Knickerbocker All-Stars review…September 17, 2014….

THE KNICKERBOCKER ALL-STARS

OPEN MIC AT THE KNICK

JP CADILLAC RECORDS  JPS 1000

YOU UPSET ME BABY–TURN ON YOUR LOVE LIGHT–MOTHER-IN-LAW BLUES–LOVE DISEASE–JELLY JELLY–RECONSIDER BABY–IT’S LATER THAN YOU THINK–AIN’T THAT LOVIN’ YOU–FIVE LONG YEARS–SOMEBODY’S GOT TO GO–I’M TORE DOWN–ALONG ABOUT MIDNIGHT–GOING DOWN

Back in the Seventies and early Eighties in the Westerly, RI, area, “Open Mic At The Knick” was a guaranteed good time.  On Sunday nights, the area’s best blues and jump-blues players gathered at the Knickerbocker Cafe for an all-star jam session that included many of the players that would go on to help create or play in Roomful Of Blues.  That call to the bandstand also serves as the title of this most excellent set from those very same Knickerbocker All-Stars

Treating this one as a big-band revue of sorts, the band plays behind a varied cast of lead singers, each lending their own take to the classic R & B tunes selected for this affair.  The musicians are almost as well-known as the singers, and include Bobby and Fran Christina on drums, Nick Adams and Ricky King Russell on guitars, Rich Lataille on sax, Al Copley and David Maxwell on piano, and a host of other luminary sidemen.

Sugar Ray Norcia starts the party swingin’ with B. B.’s “You Upset Me Baby,” then returns later for another jump-blues ode to “havin’ some fun today, ’cause It’s Later Than You Think,” with Al Copley on piano.  Curtis Salgado’s take on “Ain’t That Lovin’ You” has a jazzy feel, while Mike O’Connell rides that killer riff from Ricky King Russell for all it’s worth on the Don Nix-penned, Freddie King favorite, “Going Down,” with David Maxwell on the piano.

The fellows dig deep for some serious slow blues as Willy Laws lays down a mean “Five Long Years,” and, one of our favorite singers of all time, Johnny Nicholas, brings the heat on “Along About Midnight.”  Nicholas had a hand in our other favorites, too.  Johnny often sat in with Roomful Of Blues whenever he would visit from Texas, and he adds the swing  to both “Jelly Jelly” and “Reconsider Baby,” again with David Maxwell on piano.  Malford Milligan’s read on Bobby Bland’s “Turn On Your Love Light” might be the set’s best cut.  It certainly has the energy, supplied by that hi-test horn section over Malford’s vocal, and the arrangement is as authentic as it gets.

“Open Mic At THe Knick” from the Knickerbocker All-Stars proves that good music, played by an awesome cast of musicians is timeless, and never goes out of style.  This one was a blast from start to finish!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Markey Blue review…September 15, 2014…

MARKEY BLUE

HEY HEY

SOUL O SOUND RECORDS   SOSRCD101

WHEN LOVE COMES ALONG (HEY HEY)–I CAN’T LET YOU GO–SOMETHING’S WRONG–FEELING BLUE–FLAMES–PLAY ME–ANOTHER LOVER–WITH YOU–VOODOO DO–AIN’T NO ANGEL–BY MY SIDE–BABY I’M CRYIN’

It has been our pleasure to have known Markey Blue for several years now.  She and her musical collaborator, Ric Latina, have been mainstays in the Nashville Blus Society, regularly appearing in weekly jam sessions as well as their own dates around town.  Markey has one of those soulfully-distinctive voices that can swing from blues shouter to sultry chanteuse with ease.  That vocal versatility plus the choice of material is the key to her latest release onSoul O Sound Records, “Hey Hey.”  Markey and Ric joined forces to create the twelve originals herein, and theses cuts bring to mind the glory days of Memphis and Muscle Shoals soul.

Ric is a master of old-school R & B licks on the guitar, and there is a full horn and keys section behind Markey’s dazzling  vocals that adds to the party atmosphere.  Check out “Something’s Wrong”–Markey finds out her man might be cheatin, and that guarantees “there won’t be no more us!”  The power of all-consuming love is chronicled by those  “Flames” that engulf one as they go “higher and higher, spinnin’ me ’round and round.”  Ex-lovers try to rekindle the old magic as Markey begs her lover to “Play Me one more time.”  This one was co-written by Jack Pearson, who also adds guitar.  “By My Side” is a breezy soul jam with horn and organ work that brings to mind those classic sides from Felix Cavaliere and The Rascals.  The set closes with Markey’s poignant vocals where “raindrops on the window match the tears upon my face” as she realizes that her lover has moved on, in “Baby I’m Cryin.”

We liked Steve Cropper’s advice on this one, and we took it.  Listen to the set all the way thru and pick the ones you like best, so here are ours.  The leadoff title cut has an irresistibly-danceable groove over Markey’s vocal that deals with great lovers of the past getting stung by Cupid’s arrow.  Markey’s vocal on “Feeling Blue,” with its lyrics of the “whisky bottle that ain’t helping me feel no pain” has a definite Ann Peebles vibe.  And, she gets downright sultry over the slide guitar lleads as she begs the question “What do your Voodoo Do?”

This material works perfectly for Markey Blue and Ric.  You can see how they’ve matured a players and composers on this one, and the energy that they bring to the table makes “Hey Hey” a real treat!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

EG Kight review…September 13, 2014…

EG KIGHT

A NEW DAY

BLUE SOUTH RECORDS  BSR 0914

HOLDIN ON–GRAVEYARD DEAD BLUES–COMIN’  DOWN WITH THE BLUES–DON’T GIVE UP–CAN’T CATCH THE WIND–LET’S GET DOWN–BAD TIMES–MISUNDERSTOOD–LOW MILEAGE WOMAN–TIME TO MOVE ON

It is great to see our good friend EG Kight, “The Georgia Songbird,” back in the spotlight.  After overcoming a health scare a few yeas ago, she realized, as many of us do who get a “wake-up call,  that every day is a treasure to be savored.  And so it is with the ten originals that comprise her latest album,  “A New Day,” as they reflect her new outlook on life and the new path she is embarking upon.

EG used predominantly her touring band for this set, enlisting the aid of veterans Greg Nagy, Randall Bramblett, Tommy Talton and co-producer Bruce Hornsby to round out the cast.    On this set, EG touches a lot of bases—from straight-blues to gospel to some good ole Southern boogie.

Leading off is her ode to finding strength from her adversity, and urging others to keep “Holdin’ On.”  “Don’t Give Up” is a clarion call to give your burden to the good Lord–“he knows what to do.”  This one has a great backing chorus, giving it that Sunday-morning, tent-revival feel.

“Bad Times” is a sweet torch-song duet with Greg Nagy, and chronicles a love affair that’s seen its share of ups and downs, but “the bad times make the good times better.”  This one was co-written by EG, Tom Horner, and Ann Rabson.  And, on a great shot of Delta-inspired blues, EG warns a lover that if “you cheat or beat on me, you’ll wish you were Graveyard Dead!”

We had two favorites, too.  “Let’s Get Down” is a stone throwback to the good ole Capricorn Records days, because “the power of the music will soothe your soul.”  This one has a full band behind EG’s vocals that sets the tone.  The set’s most humorous cut is a clever take on the “girls and cars” scenario as seen from the female perspective.  EG describes herself as “an older model with a solid chassis” in “a Low Mileage Woman lookin’ for a hot rod man!”

EG Kight has had six Blus Music Award nominations, and recently had a cut featured on the ABC Family Network.  With “A New Day,” she’s withstood the storms of life and is still holdin’ on strong!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

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