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.

 

 

Ben Rabb EP review…September 10, 2014…

BEN RABB

UNTIL IT’S GONE

SELF-RELEASED

ON THE FENCE–NEW YORK–HERE RIGHT NOW–BILL–RAGGED BLUES–TAKE MY HAND

Ben Rabb grew up in the Midwest, listening to his sister’s folk music collection.  He moved to St. Louis seeking work after graduation, but soon began a city-to-city trek that would eventually land him in New York by his mid-twenties, his stories from that trip filling what would soon become his own repertoire.

Once in NYC, he embraced the Writer’s Nights and “in-the-rounds,” and fit right in.  However, he found the city to be in a constant state of flux.  His latest EP, “Until It’s Gone,” reflects that, as well as his struggles with the “should I stay or should I go?” question.

Ben is a classic fingerpicker with a rich, warm vocal style.  Over the course of the six originals and twenty-three minutes of this set, he exposes some of his most personal feelings and shares them with us.  The opening cut finds him recalling a youth where he “could never stay too long in one place,” but now as maturity sets in, he realizes that love is “two broken hearts On The Fence.”  Eric Law’s cello embellishes “New York,” while “Here Right Now” fnds Ben encouraging a lover to take that “leap of faith,” in the name of love.  “Bill” paints a portrait of a “simple, solemn man,” who’s motto has always been “what’s wrong with wonderin, as long as the ground’s planted under your feet.”

Perhaps the most powerful cut is the closing “Take My Hand,” written after seeing a news account of the Syrian civil war.  It puts a somber spin on “news linked to a world watching pain” and a place where “it’s been three years since the kids went to school.”  He really reaches out in this one, longing for compassion and perhaps some common sense from those who believe that war is the only answer.

Ben Rabb has that rare storyteller’s gift of being able to adapt his own experiences as well as those of others into concise, snapshot-like moments in time that bring listeners into his realm.  “New York” begs to be heard—and to be longer.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow,  The Nashville Blues Society.

Hurricane Ruth review…September 9, 2014…

HURRICANE RUTH

BORN ON THE RVER

SELF-PRODUCED

BORN ON THE RIVER–MAKE LOVE TO ME–SLOW BURN–THE WALLS–DANCE DANCE NORMA JEAN–MONEY TRAIN–COLD DAY IN HELL–BIG HELEN–WORK IT–WHISKEY CHUTE–REAL GOOD WOMAN

Ruth LaMaster was born in Beardstown, IL, a small town situated along the Illinois River.  She got the moniker “Hurricane Ruth” when fans found it hard to believe that such a powerful voice could come from a woman of such small stature.  The great Willie Dixon summed her up even better–“Ruth, you are the only hurricane I can appreciate!”

Her music is borne of that river, and the stories of the people who live along it and draw their livelihoods from it–honest, hard-working people who enjoy some gritty, tough blues to help them unwind at the end of the day.

On “Born On The River,” Ruth gives ‘em just that–eleven originals with a decidedly-hard edge, perpetuated by the fiery guitar stylings of David Lumsden.  Gary Davis and Jim Engel round out the foursome, on bass and drums, rspectively, and they let Ruth’s mighty vocals lead the way.

She starts off with the crunch of the title cut, basically an autobigraphy, as the river was always a part of her dreams as a child and her coming-of-age, and, seemingly always will be.  David has a huge, stinging solo at the turn on this one, too.

There are some hard-lovin’ women in these grooves, too, and Ruth shares their hard-luck stories.  A lover who’s gone for good causes “The Walls of this house to close in on me,” with another hell-bent break from David.  Ruth comes on strong in the passionate punch of “Make Love To Me,” and, in the set-closer, reminds everyone that she’s “A Real Good Woman,” lookin’ for that special someone to “share the love you save!”

There are some good times to be had on that river, too.  The working men are all familiar with “Big Helen” and her stable of “charmers,” set over a danceably-funky groove.  And, a trip down to the “Whiskey Chute” is a sure way to drown your pain!

Our favorite was easy.  A safe way to let off steam in this small town is to put on some records or the radio for some cleansing music.  “Mama ” danced to ‘em all—Little Richard, Fats, Chuck, Muddy, and many more—while “Daddy was at the tavern!”  This is the serious, boogie-chillen thump of “Dance Dance Norma Jean,” one huge slice of fun!

Well, let’s “fire one up and knock back a few”  and celebrate the great blues of Hurricane Ruth and “Born On The River!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Rob Stone review…September 5, 2014…

ROB STONE

GOTTA KEEP ROLLIN

VIZZTONE LABEL GROUP  VTMQ 10013

WAIT BABY–WONDERFUL TIME–LUCKY 13–ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN–SHE BELONGS TO ME–MOVE BABY MOVE–STROLLIN’ WITH SASQUATCH–WIRED AND TIRED–COLD WINTER DAY–IT’S EASY WHEN YOU KNOW HOW–NOT NO MO’

A new album from harmonica ace Rob Stone is always welcomed, as he stays so busy touring all over the world that he hardly can find the time to hit the studios.  But, Vizztone Records has just released “Gotta Keep Rollin,” and it is more of the high-octane combo blues that Rob has been layin’ down since his first album, “No Worries,” back in 1998.

Rob is a Boston native, but honed his craft in the ultra-competitive Chicago club scene, and even spent some time playing in Colorado biker bars before Sam Lay called in the early Nineties.  Sam considered Rob as “the best harp player I ever worked with”—heady stuff, indeed, from a man who drummed for Paul Butterfield!  Chris James and Patrick Rynn were in Sam’s band back then, too, and they contribute guitar and bass, respectively.  Willie Hayes is on drums, and several special guests make this a powerful set, for sure.

The party kicks off with a cool cover of Chicago pianist Johnny Jones’ “Wait Baby,” a swingin’ groove that sets the tone for everything else that follows.  Rob’s harp takes on a “country blues” tone on the jump-blues of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Wonderful Time,” and this theme is revisited on “Move Baby Move,” with a cool sax break from legend Eddie Shaw.

Rob knows a bluesman’s life is a gamble, but his promise to “keep on rollin’ the dice” is found in the rockin’ blues of “Lucky 13,” featuring guitar from John Primer, and piano from David Maxwell.  A cool song about livin’ on a steady diet of caffeine is “Wired And Tired,” with Henry Gray on piano.  And, a lover who is given her walkin’ papers is told, “you’ll need me on some old Cold Winter Day,” a sweet slow blues again with John Primer on guitar.

We had two favorites, too, one cover and one original.  “She Belongs To Me” is sparsely-arranged, with brush-stroked drums and Chris’ leads set over a menacing, echo-effect vocal from Rob, telling anyone who’s listening that “if you fool with my woman, I’ll cut you, 1-2-3.”  And, the title cut is a cool band original that chronicles the travails and tribulations of a life on the road, as we all know “The Blues Keep Rollin’ On!”

Yep, those blues “Gotta Keep Rollin,” and we’ve gotta have guys such as Rob Stone to keep bringing ‘em to us.  He’s got the whole package–a tremendous vocalist and harp man, with a keen ear for insightful, clever lyrics.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society

Sena Ehrhardt review…September 2, 2014…

SENA EHRHARDT

LIVE MY LIFE

BLIND PIG RECORDS  BPCD 5161

STAKES HAVE GONE UP–THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T NEED TO KNOW–SLOW DOWN–HELP ME THROUGH THE DAY–LIVE MY LIFE–CHILLED TO THE BONE–TOO LATE TO ASK–EVERYBODY IS YOU–IF TROUBLE WAS MONEY–DID YOU EVER LOVE ME AT ALL–COME CLOSER

For her latest album for Blind Pig, Sena Ehrhardt has embraced some big changes as far as production and band personnel.  Of course, her big, soulful, passionate voice is the star,  but her bandmates and producer are different.  The set is entitled “Live My life,” and is produced by Jimmy Z, who has had great success with the likes of Prince, Buddy Guy, and Jonny Lang, just to name a few.  Sena’s father, who had been on guitar on her previous albums, has stepped aside for this one, in favor of Cole Allen.  Together, these changes give this album an overall harder edge.

Over the course of the album, Sena takes some hard looks at love and relationships, some good, some not so much.  A hard lesson is learned when you find out some “Things You Shouldn’t Need To Know,” altho it may be too late to save things.  This one features a great slide break from Smokin’ oe Kubek, too.  Cole’s hard-charging leads roll over Sena’s vocals on her powerful look at independence, “Live My Life.”  Cole’s guitar takes on a snarling, grunge-like persona as a doubting Sena begs the question, “Did You Ever Love Me At All?”  Sena and Cole  portray battling-then-apologetic lovers each wondering if it is “Too Late To Ask” for that mythical second chance.

Sena does manage to find some silver linings deep down, tho.  An ode to true love is “Help Me Make It Through The Day,” while a love affair borne of wartime in 1951 survives for a lifetime, weathering all the storms life can throw at the lovers, as each urges the other one to “Come Closer” for eternal safety.

We had two favorites, too.  Sena and the fellows break off into a very danceable, funky groove in “Everybody Is You,” and Sena stretches out vocally on a smokin’ read of Albert Collins’ “If Trouble Was Money, you know I’d be a millionaire!”

Sena Ehrhardt’s voice is a powerful instrument unto itself, and she sings from a place deep down in her soul with zealous conviction.  Her new band has given her a harder edge, and “Live My Life” is a very rewarding listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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